This story is a TYR/Highlander/Angel crossover. Just a little background on the show, Highlander. It is about a man named Duncan MacLeod, the Highlander. He was born in 1592 in the Highlands of Scotland, and he is still alive. He is Immortal and has been alive for 400 years. He is constantly facing other Immortals in combat to the death. The winner takes his enemy’s head; and with it, his power (1).
Angel is on the WB. It is a spin-off of the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The character of Angel, as portrayed by David Boreanaz, is a 248-year old vampire who is cursed with a soul after he feeds upon a gypsy girl. In this story, however, he is Angelus, a vampire without a soul, one who terrorized half of Europe and took special pleasure in destroying people who were close to him.
Darla is played by Julie Benz. Originally a "lady of the night", Darla would have died four hundred years ago if The Master hadn't turned her into a vampire. In 1753, she sired Angelus.
Fitz is played by Roger Daltry of the Who. Fitz and Duncan knew each other for a long time, and while it seemed they had something of a rivalry going. They were however, very good friends and had learned to read together. Fitz loved wine, women and song, something which frequently got him into trouble.
In this story, our Teaspoon is going by the name Ichabod Crane, the character from Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and is very loosely based on the same book.
Ichabod felt the familiar buzzing sensation in his chest. Quickly he raised his head from the dead body he had been examining. The town doctor had been kind enough to allow him to examine the body, after he had promised to write down his findings. In fact, the doctor had seemed relieved, as it freed him of the responsibility of preparing a report for the sheriff. “Duncan,” he said softly, letting out a loud sigh of relief.
Duncan grinned at the schoolteacher. He had been quite shocked to see an Immortal, especially one as skilled with a sword as this one was, playing such a mild role. Aloysius, known as Ichabod in this town, was the teacher in Sleepy Hollow and he appeared to be a bumbling idiot. With his gray hair, flying about in complete disarray down to his ill-fitting clothes, no one would ever fear this man. Duncan decided that this must be Ichabod’s plan. If anyone ever took it upon themselves to challenge this man, they would be rudely awakened.
When he had first met Aloysius, Duncan had removed his sword and delivered his usual pronouncement, “I’m Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. Have you come for me?” And much to his shock, Aloysius had laughed at him.
“Son,” Aloysius had admonished him gently, “I don’t come for anyone. Live and let live is my philosophy.” Soon after that pronouncement, Duncan and Aloysius had become fast friends.
Duncan tipped his head in the direction of the body Aloysius had been examining. A few weeks ago, right after he had arrived, the town of Sleepy Hollow had been plagued by a series of grisly murders. Aloysius was doing his best to solve the crimes, “What do you think?” Duncan asked.
“Don’t know what to make of this,” Aloysius muttered. “Each death is more grisly than the last one.” The first gentleman’s neck had been broken. The second man was stabbed through the heart. The third victim was a woman whose throat had been slashed, as was the latest victim.”
Duncan cleared his throat. “Do you think it’s an Immortal?”
“An immortal? Why? You been feeling another one around here?” Aloysius asked quickly.
Duncan nodded. “I’ve not seen one, but I can feel him.”
“Sure he’s a he?”
“You think a woman could be capable of committing such crimes?” Duncan exclaimed.
“I’ve been around a bit longer than you,” Aloysius said sagely. “Women are just as capable of committing these acts, given the right motivation.”
Duncan simply shook his head.
“In fact, I’ve heard a couple of the townsfolk point their finger at you,” Aloysius added. Seems as if the people of Sleepy Hollow regarded strangers with a great deal of suspicion.
Duncan saw the twinkle in Aloysius’ eyes and knew the man didn’t believe he was the murderer. Still, had others been accusing him? “Me?” he sputtered indignantly.
“I assured them that you were a gentleman, in spite of the funny way you talk,” Aloysius grinned.
“That’s just wonderful,” Duncan shot back. “Now my reputation is tied with yours.”
Aloysius chuckled. “I’m just trying to teach you, son. Don’t ever go around making assumptions. We can’t be sure who is committing these crimes.”
Duncan nodded his head in agreement. “You said some of the victims’ necks were slashed,” he said, trying to piece the puzzle together.
“You think it could be vampires? I ran into one in England a while back,” Duncan said slowly. “Nicholas Banks.”
“A real vampire?” Aloysius asked, his voice rising in interest.
“No, an immortal pretending to be a vampire,” Duncan told him. Briefly, he filled Aloysius in on Nicholas Banks, an Immortal who married rich women and killed the men of their families by draining their blood.
“Heard tell that there was a real vampire in these parts,” Aloysius drawled.
“You actually believe in vampires?” Duncan half shouted. “What utter folly!”
“I keep telling you about those assumptions.” Aloysius shook his head. “Been my experience that there is always some basis in the legends folks believe in.” He tapped his chest. “Look at us. You think anyone would ever believe that I’m seven hundred years old?”
Duncan sighed loudly.
Just then, the door of the doctor’s office flew open and one his students, Eddie Tyler, ran in. “Mister Crane,” he cried, gasping for breath.
“Sit down,” Duncan said, pushing a chair in the boy’s direction. But the boy continued to stand, holding his side.
“Mister Crane,” Eddie repeated. “You’ll never believe what old man Brody said.”
“What?” Aloysius asked.
“He said that there was a headless horseman riding away from the spot where Mister Evans was killed!” Eddie shouted. “A headless horseman!”
Aloysius and Duncan just exchanged glances.
Aloysius crossed to the boy. “Now calm down, Eddie. Tell me exactly what Mister Brody said.”
Eddie took a deep breath. He looked from his schoolmaster to Duncan and finally at the body across the room. When he saw it, he collapsed into the chair Duncan had offered him earlier. “He was over at the tavern. Said that he was walking home around sunset. He had to cross the bridge. He was about halfway across when he almost got run down by a big black horse. He was about to yell at the rider to be careful when he noticed that there was something strange about him.” The boy paused, looking at the two men, dread filling his eyes. “He didn’t have a head,” Eddie whispered. And he saw Duncan and his teacher look at each other once again. “Not too long after that, Mr. Van Ripper was hollering about finding a body,” he concluded.
Aloysius put a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Thank you, Eddie. Do you know if anyone else has seen this headless horseman before?”
Eddie nodded. “Folks been talking about him for as long as I can remember. They say he is the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon ball, in some nameless battle during the revolutionary war; and who is ever an anon seen hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind. He haunts the valley, the adjacent roads, and especially the vicinity of the church. He’s buried in the church-yard and rides forth the scene of battle in the nightly quest of his head; and he must rush back as dawn approaches to be back in the church-yard before daybreak.” (2)
“Like a vampire,” Aloysius whispered to Duncan.
Duncan ignored his friend and said, “I heard someone telling that story the other evening at the tavern. I can’t remember who it was doing the telling; I was busy trying to find someone.”
Aloysius nodded. “Eddie, why don’t you go on home? Mr. MacLeod and I will check out Mister Brody’s story. Thank you for telling me about it.”
When the boy left, Aloysius turned to face Duncan, “Tavern, huh? Enjoy yourself?”
“I told you I sensed another Immortal,” Duncan said wearily.
“You felt the other Immortal in the tavern?”
Duncan nodded, “There were lots of people crowded together in the main room so I couldn’t figure out who it was. I did notice one man that I wanted to check more closely, but I lost him before I could get down to him. He was acting rather suspicious.”
“He kept to the shadows like he didn’t want anyone to see his face clearly. He was tall, dark, broody. His laugh was chilling, almost evil.”
“Anything else?” Aloysius asked his curiosity peaked.
“He was with a rather good-looking blond. Come to think of it, she was also talking to our Mr. Evans here. Seemed a mite friendly, if you get my drift,” Duncan added.
Aloysius didn’t say anything for a few seconds as he pondered this news. Duncan let the man think. He’d seen Aloysius solve many a puzzle and knew better than to bother him while he worked.
“You think you would recognize them if you saw them again?” Aloysius finally asked.
“Well then,” grinned Aloysius, “Let’s go have us a drink.”
“I’m bored with this town,” Angelus complained.
Darla patted his arm soothingly. “No one seems to know or care about us here, so why rush off when everyone is so friendly.” She let her fingers brush the arm of the young man beside her. The young man gaped at her until he caught sight of Angelus and then he quickly abandoned his spot at the bar.
“It’s easier to blend in the city,” Angelus told her. A real city, he thought to himself, not this burg.
“Easier to be caught as well. All we need is another Holtz after us,” Darla snapped. Holtz was a man possessed. Ever since his family had been killed by them, Holtz had spared no effort in trying to hunt them down. Hence, Angelus and Darla had left Europe, giving the new world a try.
“Holtz,” Angelus snarled the name. He turned his head then when he heard the loud laughter. He saw an older, rather incompetent looking man and a younger, dark-haired man who spoke with a Scottish accent joking with the barkeep. But Angelus noted that while the voices might be jovial the eyes were not. Both men were looking at each and every person in the bar, as if to memorize their faces.
Angelus took a step back when he saw the younger man focus his attention on Darla. He smiled to himself. If this man pursued Darla, he would be in for a treat.
Duncan nudged Aloysius in the ribs. “That’s her,” he whispered, jerking his head in Darla’s direction.
“Well go and work your charms,” Aloysius said with a grin. But even as he spoke, he kept his eyes peeled for the woman’s companion.
Duncan ordered another drink and when it arrived, he picked it up and threaded his way through the crowd until he reached Darla’s side. “You looked thirsty,” he said, placing the drink before her.
Darla fluttered her lashes at the handsome Scot beside her. She gave Angelus a quick glance before returning her attention back to the handsome stranger. Angelus was getting a little complacent, she decided. Time to teach that youngster a lesson.
“I’m quite parched. Thank you,” Darla said with a suggestive smile. She picked up the drink and took a sip. But not for this kind of drink, she thought. And for a while, she was content to banter with the fellow. But eventually she grew bored with this man.
“You mind seeing me home?” Darla asked, giving Duncan a look of helplessness.
“I’d be quite honored to see you home,” Duncan said, rising to his feet. He took Darla’s arm as they left the bar.
“My buggy is at the livery,” Darla said. And Duncan gently steered her in that direction.
Once inside the barn, Darla waited until Duncan’s back was to her.
Duncan hitched the horse to the buggy. “Ma’am,” he said, gallantly holding his hand out. But when he caught sight of Darla’s face, he took a step backward, falling into the straw.
Darla moved slowly toward Duncan, still smiling. “I really am thirsty,” she said.
Only his training for doing combat with other immortals saved him. Before she could grab him, Duncan was back on his feet, sword at the ready.
Darla noted the sword and took a step back towards the door.
Duncan cut off her retreat.
“Let’s not do anything rash,” she said.
Duncan nodded, but kept his weapon poised to strike. “Who, no, what are you?”
She laughed. “I thought surely you knew, what with the sword and all. Aren’t you a vampire hunter?”
“A what?” asked Duncan.
“A vampire hunter,” Darla repeated. “You know, a person who tracks down and kills vampires, like me.”
Duncan took this information in. So, vampires really do exist. The old man was right once again.
“The man you travel with, is he like you?” Duncan asked.
“Angelus, like me?” Darla asked. She thought for a while before grinning and saying, “Yes and no.”
“What does that mean?” asked Duncan.
“It means exactly what I said,” Darla replied with an evil smile.
Duncan decided to try asking in a different way. “Is he a vampire?”
Darla nodded, “But he’s not near as charming and friendly as I am, especially when he’s hungry. We haven’t had a good meal in quite a few days.”
“So you aren’t responsible for the recent deaths in town?” Duncan inquired. He relaxed a bit as Darla changed her face back to her more human form and dropped her gaze to the ground.
“Attacks?” Darla inquired sweetly.
Duncan hoped that this was not some sort of ruse, but he decided to play this the same way Darla was, straight-up. “There have been several deaths in town as of late.”
“Deaths,” Darla repeated, her eyes dancing. “No,” she said. “It’s a pity too. I rather liked young Mr. Evans. I was toying with the idea of changing him into one of my kind; thought he could add a little spark to my life. Angelus has been a bit gloomy since leaving Europe. I had Mr. Evans all primed for the kill. It should have been him in here with me this evening. Then some fool goes and ruins it all by killing him,” she sighed. “You know the worst part of the whole mess?” she asked grinning slightly.
Duncan shook his head “No” marveling at the way her moods changed and the ease she had with herself.
“His being killed like that - all the blood being drained. It was such a waste of a perfectly good meal,” she said sadly dropping her head and looking at the ground.
Soon she looked back up to meet Duncan’s gaze. “Do you plan to use that on me, or may I leave?”
Duncan lowered the sword. He couldn’t bring himself to behead her when she wasn't threatening him. He knew this was a weakness he had, but he still didn’t enjoy the act of killing when he felt there was a chance that the other person could change. He didn’t know enough about vampires to know if they could be anything but evil so he decided to let her go. “Leave,” he said, “But don’t be troubling the good folks here or I will use it.”
Darla smiled. “We were just talking about going somewhere else anyway.” She gathered her cloak that had dropped to the ground earlier. “Maybe I’ll see you again, Duncan MacLeod,” she said. “You’d better be ready, especially if I see you first. I won’t be taken by surprise a second time.” She was gone before Duncan could answer.
He waited a few seconds and then unhitched her horse and returned it to the stall. He gathered his wits and headed back to the tavern to find Aloysius. He needed to share this news with his friend and let him know that they were following the wrong people. These two weren’t their kind of immortals.
He entered the tavern and immediately spied Aloysius in the back. He was standing in the shadows talking to a man who very well could be Darla’s companion. Duncan needed to warn him. He began walking towards the far corner of the tavern. As he passed a large group of merrymakers, the buzzing sensation indicating the presence of another immortal struck him. He stopped moving and looked around. He was still too far away from Aloysius for it to be caused by him. The other one was near, but who? Duncan wished the tavern wasn’t so crowded and that it wasn’t so important that he reach his friend. He decided to postpone the search for the third immortal in town. As he continued on his way, he wondered. . . what happens when one of his kind is bitten by a vampire?
But the instant Duncan reached Aloysius’ side; the dark broody gentleman had vanished.
“Tarnation,” Aloysius muttered. “I thought I had him too.”
“He’s a vampire?” Duncan asked warily and Aloysius gaped at him.
“Believe now, do we?”
Duncan nodded. “The blond was a vampire. She... she...”
“She changed on you?” Aloysius asked, his voice gentling.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Duncan admitted.
“Never seen it myself,” Aloysius said. But he couldn’t quite bring himself to tell Duncan that he would like to see it, purely for scientific purposes. Aloysius stood. “Let’s see if we can catch that fella.”
Duncan got up as well. “If he’s like his friend, catching him won’t be so easy.”
Aloysius grinned as they stepped into the moonlit night. “They may be out of the ordinary, but so are we. And this time it will be us who has the element of surprise.”
Duncan felt some of the tension that had filled him since he left the livery lift from his shoulders. Aloysius was right. What kind of creature was a vampire? Were they really so cowardly that they would flee at the sight of a sword? Certainly no self-respecting immortal would flee upon seeing a sword.
Duncan was just about to voice his agreement, when he felt himself fall backward. When he raised his fist, prepared to strike his attacker, he looked up and saw a small brunette sitting on his chest, brandishing a wooden stake. Duncan began to laugh. He had just been attacked by a child holding a piece of wood.
“Something funny?” the girl said with what was supposed to be a menacing sneer. She placed the stake on Duncan’s chest, right above his heart. “Laugh now, vampire.”
Duncan deftly flung the girl off him, right into Aloysius’ waiting arms. The girl struggled mightily to free herself. She sagged slightly and when she did, Aloysius relaxed. It was then the girl whirled about and dropkicked Aloysius in the chest.
“Just try it,” the girl snapped.
Both Duncan and Aloysius got to their feet and eyed the girl; both of them had a hand resting on their swords, prepared for anything this time.
“Who are you?” Aloysius asked calmly.
“Matilda, Matilda Webber,” the girl answered. The vampires deserved to know who they were dealing with. “Most folks call me Matty. And I’m a vampire slayer.”
“Matty, the vampire slayer,” Aloysius mused. “Nice ring to it. But what’s a vampire slayer?”
“It’s a calling,” Matty explained, her eyes jumping between Duncan and Aloysius in a state of ever present readiness. “We slay vampires.”
“Sorry,” Aloysius said. “That should have been obvious.”
“So why did you let her go?” Matty asked Duncan.
“Who?” Duncan asked.
“Darla,” Matty replied. “I saw you go into the livery with her and she was the only one who came out. But then I saw you again, so I knew you were working with her.” She turned to Aloysius then, her eyes flashing. “And you let Angelus go.”
“Darla and Angelus,” Aloysius said, almost ruefully. “So that’s their names.”
Matty lowered the stake upon hearing the genuine surprise in Aloysius’ voice. “You didn’t know them?”
Aloysius shook his head.
“My watcher told me they came here from Europe. Fearsome, that’s what they are,” Matty said, awestruck. She gave the two men an assessing look. “So what are you?”
“He’s the teacher in Sleepy Hollow,” Duncan informed her. “And I’m... I’m... I’m a vampire hunter,” he said finally.
“Vampire hunter?” Matty said, furrowing her brow. “Then why’d you let Darla go?”
“She got the jump on me,” Duncan answered.
Matty moved close to Duncan and placed her hand on his wrist. It was warm and there was a steady pulse beating there. She did the same to Aloysius and found the same result. She let out a loud sigh of relief. “Good. I’m glad you’re here then. I could use the help.” She went on to tell the two men about what she knew about the killings in town while Aloysius and Duncan did the same.
“You sure it’s a vampire?” Duncan asked Matty.
Matty’s head bobbed up and down vigorously. “Oh yes, sir. My watcher told me about him. We figured for while it might be Angelus. He’s a nasty creature. But he likes to play with his victims first. He made one poor lady crazy before he turned her into a vampire. But now I’m not so sure it’s him. The way you explain it, well it’s seems more random, just simple feedings.”
“Feedings?” Aloysius asked. “Not just murders.”
“Most definitely feedings,” Matty declared. “My watcher and I examined those bodies this morning.” She grinned at Aloysius. “We looked at them right before you got to the doctor’s office. You almost caught us.” She turned serious then. “Didn’t you see that the bodies had been drained of blood?”
Aloysius shook his head. “Didn’t think to look for it.”
Matty gave Duncan a disdainful look. “Some vampire hunter you are. You should have caught it.”
Duncan just looked at her sheepishly.
“Well, let’s go then. We ain’t got but a couple of hours before daylight hits and I don’t wanna waste another day.” Matty couldn’t stand the thought of letting another person die. She was a vampire slayer and she took her duties seriously.
As Matty strode away, Duncan and Aloysius trailed after her. And it was Aloysius who turned to Duncan and asked the question that had been plaguing Duncan. “What if an immortal is turned?”
“Have you taken up mind reading now?” Duncan asked.
Aloysius looked at him, “What on earth are you babbling about?”
Duncan laughed, “You just asked me the very question I was planning on asking you. What happens if one of us becomes a vampire? I don’t know enough about vampires to even guess.”
It was Aloysius’ turn to chuckle. “I guess you wouldn’t since until a few minutes about you didn’t even believe they existed.”
“So,” Duncan said, “Tell me about them.”
“Only know rumors myself,” admitted Aloysius. “I suggest we see if young Matty here can tell us more. Maybe we can separate so I can quiz her. I can’t very well be asking her to explain all about vampires with a vampire hunter along side us.”
“I could go back to the tavern,” Duncan suggested. “The other immortal is there. I felt him again when I came to join you, after my most recent educational experience.”
“That sounds like a good idea,” Aloysius said. “I’ll find out what I can from Matty and then meet you back at the school a little after sunrise.”
“How are you going to explain my sudden disappearance?” Duncan asked.
“I’ll tell the young lady that you went to follow a different lead, and that you were feeling a bit embarrassed about letting two women get the best of you in one night,” Aloysius laughed.
Duncan groaned as he turned back to the tavern. He felt certain that the answer to the murders lay there with the other immortal. He just wished he could figure out why an immortal would be killing innocent humans in such a random way.
Aloysius quickened his gait and was soon walking beside Matty. “So, tell me some more about this calling of yours.”
“It’s really quite simple,” Matty said. “Every generation a slayer is born. She spends her life fighting and killing vampires. She continues until one of them eventually bests her, and the next slayer is called.”
“Oh,” said Aloysius with a newfound respect for the girl. She said the words so calmly and she was talking about her own death. Obviously, she had made peace with the idea. Either that or she was simply too young to really understand it. “It’s a life-long calling then?”
After a few moments of silence, Aloysius asked, “Any idea where they went?”
Matty shook her head. “They are new to my watcher and me so I don’t know their patterns or habits. Since we’ve only been in the area a few weeks, I’m not familiar with possible hiding places.”
Aloysius nodded. “Well,” he drawled, “I’m fairly familiar with the area, but I’m not too knowledgeable about vampires. What can you tell me about them that could help me figure out where they might hide?”
Matty stopped walking. “You’re best friends with a vampire hunter and you don’t know anything about vampires? I find that hard to believe.” She looked around suddenly aware that Duncan was no longer with them. “Where is he anyway? What kind of game are you playing?”
Aloysius turned to face the girl. She was on the defensive, her guard up, ready to pounce if need be. “I’m not best friends with Mr. MacLeod; we’re really more just acquaintances. I didn’t realize he hunted vampires. He went back to town to follow up a lead of his own. Really, I’m not playing any game. I’m just trying to solve a murder.” He noticed that Matty was relaxing so he continued, “You seemed to think that these two vampires, Darla and Angelus, could help us find the killer. I was just tagging along to see if you were right.”
Matty let out a deep sigh. “It’s beginning to get lighter. Wherever they are hiding, they’ll be there by now. They’ll hold up and wait for nightfall. Let’s go talk to my watcher, Fitz. He can explain things to you much better than I can.”
Aloysius hid his surprise at the name he thought he’d just heard. He nodded his agreement and asked, “What did you say your watcher’s name was?”
“Fitz,” said Matty. “Well, really it’s Hugh Fitzcairn, but that’s just too much to say.”
“That’s who I thought you meant,” said Aloysius.
“You know him?” asked Matty surprised at this reaction.
“Not personally,” said Aloysius. “I’ve just heard some things about him.”
“We’re staying with the Van Rippers. They think he is my uncle from my mother’s side,” she explained. “We tell people that he’s taking me back to England because of her untimely death, but wanted to see a bit of America before he had to return. That way no one bothers about us traveling together. In reality, he is my watcher. He took over after my first one was killed.”
They walked a few more miles before she turned into a gated path. “This is their house,” she said. “We stay in the small room out back by the stables.”
As soon as she opened the door, Aloysius felt the buzzing sensation in his chest. He slowly moved his hand to his sword hilt and prayed that he wasn’t going to need it.
“Matty!” Fitz exclaimed, exhaling loudly in relief upon seeing her. But he was not pleased to see her companion. He grabbed the girl. “You stay away from her,” he ordered Aloysius.
“Fitz,” Matty chided him. “He’s the town teacher and he’s just trying to find out who’s doing all the killing ‘round here, same as we are.” She stopped then. Fitz took out his sword for one reason and one reason only. “He’s an Immortal?”
“She knows?” Aloysius shouted. “Duncan told me you were an idiot.” Their existence was supposed to be a secret.
“Idiot!” Fitz bellowed. He unsheathed his sword, brandishing it over Matty’s head. Aloysius quickly drew his own weapon, prepared to battle, until Matty knocked them both into the dirt.
“That will be quite enough,” Matty told both men. “If you want to cut off each other’s heads, fine, go ahead. But you will wait until we have solved this mystery.” She placed her hands on her hips, glaring at them.
Aloysius rose to his feet, feeling quite foolish right about now. “I’m Ichabod Crane to most in Sleepy Hollow, but you can call me Aloysius,” he said, making the decision to be honest with this fellow. Duncan said he was an idiot, but he was also his friend. He scuffed his toe on the ground. Aloysius was still not able to meet Matty’s eyes right this second. First he was bested by the child and now he was being lectured by her and the worst thing about all this was that Matty was right.
Hugh got up as well, brushing the dirt off his backside. “Hugh Fitzcairn,” he said, extending a hand. “Call me Fitz.”
After the two men shook hands, Fitz asked, “Duncan is here?”
“In town,” Aloysius replied. He cleared his throat, finally looking at Matty. “So you know about Immortals?”
Matty’s head bobbed up and down. “Yes, sir. Fitz here took me in after my first watcher was killed.” She gave Fitz a sidelong look. “I was quite suspicious of him. He was nothing like my first watcher.” Fitz was a great deal more jovial and far more skilled with all types of weapons than Mr. Bishop was. “He thinks he’s quite clever now, posing as a watcher, fooling all those old stooges in the watcher’s council,” she explained.
“Almost as long as there have been Slayers, there must have been watchers. A watcher’s job is to train, prepare and guide the Slayer (3),” Fitz added. “And they are a pompous lot. Wasn’t even a challenge to sneak in and pose as one.”
“Whatever possessed you to do such a thing?” Aloysius exclaimed. He would have questioned Fitz further had the other Immortal not shot him a warning glance.
“Matty, my love,” Hugh said. “You mind running to the house and fetching us poor old men a bite to eat.”
“Can I get one for myself?” Matty asked archly.
“Of course,” Fitz answered, waving a hand at her in a magnanimous gesture.
Once Matty had scurried away, Fitz looked at Aloysius and Aloysius was shocked to see the seriousness in his eyes.
“What is it?” Aloysius asked.
“Her former watcher was an Immortal. Wallace Bishop was his name and I think he was training Matty to go after Immortals as well as demons, vampire and the such,” Fitz explained. “I went after him, but he escaped.”
“Is that why you are posing as a watcher?” Aloysius asked. “To fix this Bishop fella’s mistakes?” The last thing an Immortal needed was a slayer after him. He wasn’t sure that Matty could be defeated so easily.
“Partly,” Fitz said. “I told her about us because I didn’t want her slaying an Immortal because she doesn’t understand what we are. But mostly it’s because I’ve grown fond of the girl.” He beamed at Aloysius. “She reminds me a little of myself when I was a child.” Fitz didn’t like the idea of Matty being killed by a vampire or anything else. She was a formidable foe in any fight, but with him by her side, she was practically undefeatable and he meant to keep it that way.
“Are you still tracking this Bishop?” Aloysius asked, stroking his chin.
It was Fitz's turn to be surprised. “Why yes I am.”
Just then, Matty came back with some plates of food. As she handed one to Aloysius, she asked, “Is Mr. MacLeod that I met tonight the same MacLeod that Fitz is always telling me stories about?”
“One and the same,” said Aloysius wondering what stories she’d been told.
“Then why did he say he was a vampire hunter?” she asked as she sat down to join in their discussion.
Fitz’s deep belly laughed filled the early morning. “Duncan, a vampire hunter?”
Aloysius grinned, “He had to explain his being here somehow. He couldn’t very well say he was Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod, Immortal Extraordinaire.”
“True,” said Matty. “But why a vampire hunter?”
“Beats me,” said Aloysius. “Unless, it’s because he’d just been accused of being one by the charming Darla.”
“So, where is old Duncan now?” asked Fitz.
“Back in town trying to track down an illusive Immortal. He keeps sensing someone at the tavern, but he never can pinpoint who it is. We’re hoping he has better luck this time. In fact, I should be getting back. I’m supposed to be meeting him at the school shortly,” Aloysius explained. “We aren’t so sure these killings are being committed by vampires. Duncan suspects this invisible immortal; seems he experienced a similar incident before.”
Fitz nodded. He had heard about the fake vampire killings. The watchers council had been intrigued as to why anyone would want to pretend to be a vampire. He hadn’t realized it was an Immortal that was responsible for the killings.
The three were sitting in silence eating. Suddenly, Fitz jumped up, “Did you say Duncan went back to the tavern?”
“We need to get back there quickly. If I’m right about the Immortal I’m tracking being here, Duncan could be in serious trouble. He uses any trick he can to get the upper hand. Since he was always already in the tavern when Duncan sensed him, he would have noticed who recently entered the building. That means he knows Duncan is an Immortal and might have developed a plan on how to capture him.”
“Let’s take the horses,” suggested Matty jumping up next to Fitz. “We can travel faster that way.”
“Excellent thinking,” said Aloysius standing to join them.
Fitz turned to face Matty, “No, girl. You need to stay here and rest. I’ve told you before I don’t want you becoming involved with any Immortals if we can prevent it.”
“But Fitz,” Matty whined.
“No, Matty. That’s final. Besides, there are only two horses,” Fitz replied sternly.
“Rats,” said Matty kicking the ground before she gathered the plates and went back inside. She knew not to argue with Fitz when he got this way. She hated it when he was protective of her like this. She knew she could fight as well as any old Immortal.
Aloysius watched her leave. “You think it’s Bishop?”
Fitz nodded, “Yes, and I really don’t want her to know he’s still alive. Nevertheless, I also don’t want her involved with other Immortals at all, if we can help it. She’s too important to the world, to me, to be killed because she feels she has to help fight my battles.
Aloysius was glad to see that Fitz wasn’t a complete idiot. He could understand now what Duncan saw in the man and why he held him as a close friend. Thinking of Duncan made him remember the urgency of their situation. “Let’s get them horses saddled and get going. If you’re right about Bishop, Duncan may be in serious trouble.”
Fitz nodded and headed to the stables with Aloysius following close on his heels. “I just hope we get there in time,” Fitz said. “If Bishop realizes who Duncan is, there’s no way he lets Duncan have a fair fight. He knows Duncan is better than he is.”
Meanwhile, back in town Duncan MacLeod was beginning to get worried that something had happened to Aloysius and Matty since the schoolteacher was late getting back to meet him. He had just opened the schoolhouse door to start searching for them when someone called his name. As he turned, he felt the familiar buzzing sensation. He put his hand on his sword just as something hit him in the face and everything went dark.
When Duncan opened his eyes, he saw the sunlight streaming in through the cracked window. And silhouetted in the window was a figure of a man. He squinted his eyes, trying to ignore the throbbing below his left eye.
But the figure made it easy on him. He moved away from the window, crossing the small room to the teacher’s desk. “I was hoping it would be that idiot, Ichabod here, but instead it’s you.” The man let out a loud sigh. “Oh well. Let’s hope you are as seasoned as he is.” The man raised his sword and swung, aiming for Duncan’s neck.
Duncan closed his eyes. Not even a fair fight, he thought to himself. He was going out like a lamb being lead to slaughter. But his eyes quickly popped open when he heard a loud crash. Instead of feeling the cold bite of metal against his neck, he felt a pair of hands and heard a familiar voice.
Quickly Fitz untied the knots that kept Duncan’s hands behind his back. “Good to see you again MacLeod,” Fitz said gleefully.
Duncan managed a small smile. Fitz! The last person he expected to see, but he wasn’t about to look down on this unexpected, yet fortunate turn of events. “How did you find me?” he asked. Look down, no. Question, most definitely.
“Aloysius and I went looking for you at the tavern,” Fitz explained. “When you weren’t there, we supposed that you might be here.” He gave Duncan a quick grin. “Lucky for you, our hunch was right.”
Duncan was just about to make an appropriate retort when he heard a loud crash reverberating throughout the room. Aloysius and a man he had never seen before were fighting furiously. Duncan noted that the stranger was an older man, his dark hair threaded with gray. The man had just removed and thrown his black cloak across one of the schoolroom desks. Aloysius and the man had pointed their swords at one another.
“Bishop.” Fitz breathed the name.
Bishop turned and gave Duncan and Fitz a malevolent smile before turning his wrist, deflecting what should have been a death blow. Duncan realized then that this man was well versed in the art of swordplay and Aloysius would not have an easy time defeating him. He longed to be the one to face this man, but how could he? Now with Aloysius already engaged in battle?
“Bishop!” Matty shouted, standing in the doorway.
Bishop stopped then, staring at her. “My young charge.”
“What are you doing here?” Fitz bellowed at the girl.
Matty flashed Fitz a grin. “Mister Van Ripper got home. He left his poor horse outside and all saddled and ready, so...” She let the words trail off.
“Get home. Now!” Fitz commanded her.
Duncan gave Fitz a warning glance, to shut him up. Aloysius did not need this distraction. He needed to be focused on the man in front of him.
Bishop took a step sideways, avoiding Aloysius’ quick lunge. “Do you remember your training?” He made an odd whistling noise.
Matty clutched her head, as if in pain. Fitz ran to her side. “No, Matty. We broke through that. He doesn’t have a hold on you, not anymore.”
Matty sank to the ground, Fitz’s arms still around her. When Duncan moved to Matty’s side as well, Fitz murmured, “when he realized he couldn’t make her kill us, he tried to hypnotize her. I think that whistle is the trigger.”
“But she fought it,” Duncan whispered, but his eyes were firmly glued to the spectacle in front on him. What was he supposed to do? Sit there like a lump of clay and watched as his friend died? Interfere in a battle that was already in progress?
But he didn’t have to do anything. Matty leapt to her feet and moved with a ballet-like grace to where Duncan’s sword lay underneath one of the desks. She grasped the weapon and raised it. “Mr. Crane,” she called out, her voice clear and steady. “This is my fight.”
Aloysius raised an arm and blocked an ill-timed punch from Bishop. “Fitz, control your slayer,” he shouted, continuing to thrust and parry with this enemy.
But Fitz did nothing. He looked once at Matty, his eyes filled with sorrow. But he didn’t call out to her. He simply moved aside, his hand on Duncan’s shoulder, moving him as well.
Matty saw the movement and nodded. “Mr. Crane,” she yelled once more. “What Bishop did, he did to me first. He was supposed to train me, instead he tried to make me a murderer, like he is.” Matty spat out the last few words.
Bishop’s laughter filled the room. “You’re going to let me face an innocent child?” he asked the three immortals.
“A child,” Matty said, moving closer to Bishop. “Maybe.” She swung the sword, placing a thin, almost neat tear in Bishop’s white shirt. “Innocent, no.” She swung once again and Bishop jumped backward, surprised by the accuracy of the movement. Matty was toying with him. “You took care of that.” She spun around, deftly avoiding Bishop’s sudden thrust. “A well trained slayer, that’s what I am.” She gave Fitz a nod of the head. “Thanks to my watcher.”
Bishop suddenly began rushing toward Matty and she toward him.
They met in the middle of the room with a clash of steel. Matty moved with a grace and skill unmatched by anyone Duncan had ever seen. She easily blocked everything Bishop threw at her
“Why?” Matty asked, almost calmly. “Why did you kill those innocent people?”
Duncan, Fitz and Aloysius exchanged bewildered looks. Bishop was obviously no vampire. He was stepping in and out of the sunlight which was quickly filling the schoolhouse.
Bishop laughed at her. “You can figure out who killed those people, but you can’t figure out why? I’m disappointed in you, Matty. I taught you better than that.” He swung at Matty, but instead of aiming for her body, he aimed for the blade. And when the steel hit steel, the sword in Matty’s hand went skittering away.
As Bishop took aim at her heart, Matty adroitly caught the blade between the palms of her hands. She would have pulled the sword from Bishop’s hand had he not reached out with a foot and sent her down to the ground. Matty rolled away when Bishop plunged his sword downward. And when she sprang to her feet, Duncan, who had retrieved the lost blade, tossed it back to her.
Matty caught the sword and swung it again, blocking yet another thrust. “I’m the one who should be disappointed.” She slid to her left, causing Bishop to miss yet again. “I don’t know why I ever admired your sword fighting skills.” She caught Bishop on the forearm, causing the older immortal to grimace in pain. “Why did you kill them?” she asked again.
Bishop sighed loudly. “It was for you.”
“Me?” Matty frowned, flicking her wrist, the movement sending Bishop backward.
“I knew you couldn’t bear the thought of innocents dying, especially if you thought it was a vampire who was the one responsible,” Bishop explained. “When you heard about the rash of killings in Sleepy Hollow, I knew you’d come. And it was quite fortuitous that a few actual vampires decided to show. Pity they didn’t finish you off for me.”
“Pity yourself, for I will finish you now,” Matty retorted.
“No, now it’s time to finish what I started.” He reached in his pocket with his non-sword hand and withdrew a handful of sand, which he tossed in Matty’s face.
Blinded, Matty stumbled backward, the sword in her hand flaying wildly. It was then, Fitz took up the fight. He jumped between Matty and Bishop; blocking Bishop’s swing, preventing him from beheading her. Duncan grabbed Matty and pulled her out of harm’s way, while Aloysius brought her the washbasin so he could tend to her eyes.
“Pity you had to cheat,” said Fitz, dancing away from Bishop’s blade. “Must be sad knowing you could be bested by a child.”
Bishop glared furiously at him, but said nothing.
Aloysius turned to Duncan. “You know Fitz better than I do. Can he beat Bishop?” he asked softly.
Wiping the last of the sand from her eyes, Matty picked up Duncan’s sword, “No, but I can,” she said, stepping between the two men. She blocked Bishop’s thrust, kicked him in the stomach, and watched him fall. As he knelt, trying to catch his breath, she raised Duncan’s sword preparing to end it.
Aloysius, Duncan, and Fitz all screamed, “No! Matty, don’t do it!”
Fitz stepped up and grasped her hands. He took the sword and tossed it to Duncan. “This is our fight,” he told Matty, who was staring at Fitz, her eyes filled with surprise. “Not yours.” He bent down to whisper in her ear. “You showed him. You won. He has no power over you. But the battle we as Immortals wage isn’t for humans to enter into.”
Duncan stood facing Bishop, who had managed to rise to his feet. “I am Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod. You came after me. We finish this now.”
Duncan raised his sword and waited. Bishop turned to face him. He looked at the others in the room. He raised his sword above his head and charged Duncan. MacLeod deftly blocked the charge. Bishop kept running past Duncan and across the room. He grabbed his cloak, before he jumped through the window. They heard him laugh as he said, “Maybe some other time, MacLeod. Maybe some other time.”
Matty raced to the window. “He’s getting away,” she cried.
Fitz caught her. “Leave him. He isn’t worth it.” Duncan and Aloysius soon joined her at the window. They watched as Bishop flung the cloak around him and leapt on to his black stallion. Much to their shock, Bishop fashioned the coat over his head, giving every appearance of having no head.
“Well I guess this explains the legend of the Headless Horseman,” Aloysius mused aloud. An Immortal pretending to be headless, who would have figured?
“But he’s getting away,” Matty shouted once more. “What if he tries again?” She stopped speaking.
“It’s not your fault,” Fitz said gently.
“We’ll take it from here,” Aloysius added. Duncan simply picked up his sword.
Matty watched the three Immortals carefully.
“I’ll get him for you, Matty,” Duncan said finally.
“And if he don’t, I will,” Aloysius chimed in.
And Matty met his eyes and smiled. She turned around then, burying her head against Fitz. He was so much more than her watcher. He was her teacher, her friend, her savior, her father.
Rock Creek, 1861
Teaspoon’s eyes flew open as the door of the marshal’s office slammed shut. “Well, what’s wrong with you?” he asked Rachel. She looked like she was ready spit nails.
“Nothing,” Rachel snapped.
“Nothing, huh?” Teaspoon asked with a smile. If that was nothing, he was certainly hate to see what something was.
Rachel sighed loudly. “I just let my dreams get in the way.”
“Way of what?”
“You know how we were talking about me teaching?” Rachel said. She and Teaspoon were talking about life after the Pony Express. They both knew that day would come, sooner than anyone of them ever wanted, but it would come. Teaspoon had said that he would like to continue as marshal while Rachel mentioned maybe becoming a teacher.
“Well Rock Creek just went and hired one,” she continuing, her face crumpling. Before she even had a chance to pursue her dream, it had been dashed. Rock Creek had just laid out a good sum of money for a fancy teacher from back East. There would be no way that they would ever part with this teacher, not for the likes of her.
“New teacher?” Teaspoon frowned.
“Bishop, something or other,” Rachel said tearfully.
Teaspoon placed a comforting arm around her, as his own face clouded over. It couldn’t be could it?
Teaspoon continued comforting Rachel. When she calmed down enough, he sent he back to the way station. He went to the corner of his office and carefully took out his sword. He hid it under his clothes and headed over to the school to meet the new schoolteacher. If this really was Wallace Bishop, he had to end things now before the man could cause any trouble for his boys - his carefully selected, handpicked bunch of riders.
He made his way across town. As he approached the schoolhouse, he noticed two things simultaneously. One: the buzzing sensation was too strong to be just one immortal, and two: there was a fight in progress. He rushed to the building and threw open the door just in time to see Duncan MacLeod slice Bishop’s head off his shoulders.
Teaspoon jumped back into the street to avoid the lightening that accompanied the quickening that always came with a beheading. He also wanted to make sure that none of the good people of Rock Creek noticed what was going on. He didn’t want to have to explain a lightening storm inside a building in the middle of a cloudless day.
Presently, Duncan joined him on the steps of the damaged building. “I suggest we burn it before anyone gets here,” he said, glancing at the silver star on Teaspoon’s chest. “There won’t be an inquiry, I trust?”
“No, there won’t,” Teaspoon agreed.
Then he and Duncan went back inside where he started a fire next to the body. He definitely wanted to make sure it was severely damaged. He slipped back out the door, “I’ll come see you later this evening. I hear there’s a dance,” Duncan said. Nice unobtrusive way to blend in, he decided.
Teaspoon nodded. He watched Duncan slip away and then waited a few minutes before sounding the fire alarm. By the time the fire was out, the building and poor Mr. Bishop’s body were nothing but ashes. “That was for you, Matty,” Teaspoon whispered as he watched the people return to their homes. “That was for you.”
That evening, the town dance helped take everyone’s mind off the afternoon’s unfortunate events. Teaspoon stood in the back corner of the dance hall watching the crowd. He was causally visiting with a younger man - a stranger in town. No one paid them much mind. “I didn’t realize it was your town,” Duncan explained. “Last time I saw you was in Sweetwater. I didn’t realize you’d left.”
“Been here a few months,” Teaspoon replied.
“Managed to keep all your boys, I see,” Duncan said with a smile.
“So far,” said Teaspoon. Just then, a gunshot shattered the evening air. Teaspoon hurried outside and found the local gambler, Neville, standing over the dead body of Emily Metcalf’s father.
“Damn,” he muttered.
Duncan came up beside him. “Can I help?” he asked.
“Nope,” said Teaspoon. “Best help you can be is staying invisible. I’m not ready to introduce you to the boys yet.”
Duncan nodded, melted into the crowd, and slipped away.
The day of Mr. Metcalf’s funeral arrived. Ike and Buck attended with Emily. They left her to take care of some family business only to find out that her business was going after Neville. They raced to the saloon. Ike got there first, and pushed open the door, knocking Emily aside, just as Neville drew and fired. Ike fell on the sidewalk, a large red stain spreading across his chest.
A few hours later, all the other riders, except Buck who had left to go pray, and Emily were crowded into the room where Ike lay. He gave them one last smile and then breathed no more.
Duncan who had been lurking quietly outside the doctor’s office, approached Teaspoon once he saw him step out.
When Teaspoon saw him, he hurried to his side and pulled Duncan aside. “You go wait at the Metcalf place. Know where that is?” he asked. When Duncan nodded, he continued, “I’ll keep Emily with us for a while. I figure you can stay at her place for a day or two before anyone notices, or she gets too concerned about going home.”
When Duncan looked at him questioningly, he added, “I’ll get him there.”
Inside the doctor’s office, Ike awoke with a start. Something was wrong; he could feel it in every fiber of his body. He looked carefully around the room. He should know this place, but he didn't. Slowly, he rolled off the bed and crawled to the door. He pushed it open just a crack. There were people sitting in the next room. They seemed sad.
"Why did this happen?" a young lady asked. "I'm so sorry, I never meant for this to happen. Why. . ." she broke down into sobs.
An older man crossed the room and went to stand next to her. "It wasn't your fault. You didn't ask him to get involved," Teaspoon Hunter said. He glanced at the door leading to the room where Ike McSwain's body lay awaiting burial. He stared at it just a few seconds before continuing, "I think it's best that we all get some sleep. It's been a long, hard day; everyone's exhausted, and tomorrow ain't going to be any better."
There was a general murmur of protest. "I didn't ask who wanted to go to sleep; I told you all to go. Now move." It wasn't often that Teaspoon used that tone of voice. The other riders had learned that when he spoke with the voice of authority he meant business. They consented and slowly filed out of the doctor’s office to go to the bunkhouse where they slept. Rachel stood and faced the young lady who still sat sobbing into her hands, "Why don't you stay with us tonight?" she asked.
"That's a good idea," agreed Teaspoon. "You two go on with the others. I'll tend to things down here."
Rachel put her arm around Emily's shoulders and led her away.
Teaspoon turned and faced the door. He carefully looked around before heading across the room. He wanted to make sure the others were all gone. No use in making this any harder than it already was. He noted the shadows just inside the door changed as he picked up the lantern. He knew that the boy would be frightened and probably hiding. This was always the hardest part -- making someone who died believe that they couldn't. They were so confused and scared; they were also usually a bit rebellious. It was this last part that also made them dangerous.
Teaspoon pushed the door open and gave the room a quick glance before carefully slipping inside. He held the lantern high above his head as he closed the door behind him. "It's alright, son," he said. "I want to help you. I've been through what you're going through. Come on out so we can talk." He sat on the chair next to the bed and waited.
Ike McSwain slowly crawled out from under the bed. As he stood the light from the lantern illuminated the blood soaked bandage wrapped around his chest. The memories all came flooding back over him like a wave that kept pounding on him until he went down unable to breath--the funeral, Emily saying she was going to tend to business elsewhere, Cody seeing her going to the saloon, Neville shooting him as he tried to stop here, dying. He sank to the bed and looked at Teaspoon, *How?*
"Don't rightly know how," said Teaspoon. "Just know what. You and I are what's known as Immortals. We can't be killed unless someone cuts off our head."
*But, I died,* Ike cut in.
"Yes, that's true," Teaspoon agreed. "But, if you've noticed, you didn't stay that way. We die, but come back." Teaspoon explained to Ike that all immortals are involved in a "game." Since he had now joined them, he would be expected to play. This meant that others like themselves would come looking to take his head, and with it his power. Ike was going to have to leave Rock Creek and never come back.
*I can't just leave,* Ike protested. *That's so unfair to Emily, to Buck. Why not just tell them I got better?*
"You want to put them all in danger?" Teaspoon questioned the young man. "If you stay here, when the others come they will use your friends to get to you. Do you want to put all of them at risk?"
Ike shook his head.
"I didn't think so. You need to stay dead here and go some place else to start a new life. New name, new job, new past."
*You mean I need to live a lie,* said Ike. *I need to live a lie and be alone, forever? I'd rather be dead.*
"You won't be alone. I have a friend who can help you. He'll teach you what you need to know to stay safe. He'll teach you how to play 'the game'. You can stay with him as long as you like," Teaspoon said reassuringly. "You can stay until the next one comes along."