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Bright Star

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Methos had woke early, his dreams battering him with fragments of ancient memory and twisting events and conversations in directions that he didn't think had been quite accurate. Then again, while being immortal meant his health was fabulous, he would be one of the first to admit that his early memories were a bit patchy. Maybe it was a result of injuries, maybe from too many Quickenings, or maybe it was just the sheer amount of time. The why didn't matter that much. Methos began working on some omelets while he fretted, figuring that the food would be good for him.

What Pazel had said kept chasing memories and old questions around. It might explain so many things... and if true, raised other questions. Could he and the other immortals be part-blooded children of the efreet? Or would it just be a conveniently plausible lie that appealed to someone desperate for answers and explanations? If this were true, what status and role would part-bloods have among the efreet? Did Pazel and others like him seek part-bloods to bring them into the fold, or to keep them from drawing unwanted attention to the efreet? What would being part of the efreet community mean if they did accept?

Ugliest question of all, where the hell had the whole head-chopping 'There Can Be Only One' business come from? Who's idea had that been, when and why?

Was Pazel being honest with them? Connected but not the same, could they trust him? What possible benefit was there to Pazel in approaching them?

He couldn't dispute the suggested explanation for Faith's kidnapping. She was an attractive woman - his bright star was absolutely beautiful, and deadly with a blade. Nor could he argue that abducting a desirable woman and keeping her, assuming that you could accomplish such a thing, used to be commonplace, and for much longer was now considered reasonably excusable if the woman didn't have apparent protectors. His main objection, other than that if he had to adapt to the changing times so should everyone else, blast and burn it all, was that Faith had a protector. Him.

As much as he wanted to growl that he'd kill anyone who hurt her, he'd been making that quite apparent. He'd killed Tebron - if that was his name - and his minions. He'd killed the vampire Benjamin. He'd be quite willing to kill again. And he'd be willing to keep trying new methods until he found one that stuck if necessary. He might not share Faith's strength that being a Slayer - for however long that lasted - gave her, but he had centuries of experience. Killing was an area where experience mattered. Had this been what happened to Efre? Had he become one of them? Fled when he could no longer pass for human? He knew that Efre hadn't been quite the same as he was, knew that Efre's wives had borne him children, children that had too much of Efre's looks not to be his own flesh and blood. That was something that didn't happen with what he'd considered 'normal Immortals' - no aging, no children.

Methos found himself wondering just what signs there were to look for to determine if someone had efreet heritage if you were uncertain about their parents. He'd known many orphans and foundlings over his lifetime. He'd also seen many, many instances where the husband was not the father - modern daytime television wasn't exploiting new messes, just a newfound willingness to talk about them. Enough things fit that he had to call Pazel's words plausible. He'd seen enough, done enough over his life that he wasn't willing to believe it just because it made sense and fit a scattering of pieces. Wasn't willing to trust Pazel just because he offered a few answers. Though his ponderings were giving him a few more questions to ask Pazel the next time they talked.

Trusting too easily or fast could be fatal. Could be worse than fatal.

On the other hand, dismissing things just because they countered previously known 'facts' or because he didn't trust the source could be a problem too. As could dismissing something just because it sounded crazy. After all, once upon a time, people believed that the world ended at a range of mountains. That there was nothing beyond the ocean. The world was flat. Many people out there didn't believe in vampires. And - for absurd sounding - how about rumors of people who'd never get old, and would live forever unless you cut off their head?

"Tasty as the omelets can be, what did the mushrooms do to you that you're chopping them like that?" Faith's voice from the doorway alerted him that his star wasn't asleep anymore.

"It wasn't the mushrooms," he tried to keep his tone light. "I was just considering what Pazel had to say last night."

Faith moved closer, her fingers combing through her hair. "What he had to say... it fit what's been happening. What we've seen, what's happening to me."

"Does that mean you believe him?" Methos tried not to sound challenging.

For a moment, Faith was quiet, fiddling with the coffee-maker. After it began to gurgle, she offered, "I don't have a better explanation right now. His seems to fit and makes sense. It's internally consistent, and I know there's demons that can interbreed with humans, I know there's demons that can convert humans into more of them, and I know there are things that can awaken a little bit of not so human in someone's ancestry."

"There was internal consistency," Methos agreed. He wouldn't argue Faith's knowledge of demons, not when she had the books to back it up and he'd spent most of his life trying to avoid them.

He also noticed that she'd said she lacked a better explanation right now, not that she believed him. And that she hadn't said she trusted him.

"I don't trust him yet. I can't argue with anything he said, and he may be right about what's happening to me. But I do know that if we keep track of him, that's better than just knowing that he's out there somewhere, doing who knows what." Faith's soft words were punctuated by rattling as she grabbed a pair of mugs from the cupboard. "Always prudent to keep track of enemies and potential enemies," he agreed.

"He said he'd be there if we had more questions. I know there will be more questions. Those books may not have all the answers, may not have the right kind of answers," Faith paused, perhaps remembering Pazel's caution about those who watch the vampires. "But if we keep track of what he says, and keep track of how that matches up with what's happening..."

"Listen, but verify," he mused.

"I let myself be caught up in sweet sounding words before," Faith whispered. "The price was too high. With the right words, if you pick your moment, you can own someone. "

"And yet we both fear the idea that this could be real, and that we might reject what could be good for fear and old pain," he poured the mixture of eggs, cheese and vegetables into the skillet.

Faith nodded, her expression full of worry.

"We have time, my star. There is no need for us to make a hasty choice." After all, he knew too well that sometimes the hasty choice was made by either wild hope or old pain instead of reason and wisdom. They couldn't afford to let blind hope or old pain - which he and Faith both had in abundance - chose for them.

Inside, hope burned that this could be real. That this could be a family, a people of their own. A future that didn't involve constantly watching his head. At the same time, he feared that it might be a cruel deception. Or that the place offered might be considerably less appealing.

Time would, as always, tell.

"Right. This is too serious to dismiss the guy that might have answers just because he's not human and we don't like what he said," Faith sighed, pouring some coffee into mugs for both of them. "The idea of not being human anymore..."

"Of possibly never having been fully human, if what he said about part-blooded children is true..." he whispered.

"That too. The idea scares the hell out of me," Faith admitted. "Not surprised that you're a bit freaked out."

"I thought I had an idea what I am. Someone showing up and suggesting that everything I knew, that millennia of Immortal tradition is... guesswork and mistaken is disturbing." He grabbed one of the mugs of coffee. "And nothing he said would explain the beheading."

"What did Joe call it? The Game?" Faith sipped at the coffee, making a face at the heat. "Hell of a game."

"I don't know if anyone can explain who came up with that or why. It's been there, been in motion as long as I can remember," he admitted.

"Pazel said that beheading was normally bad for them too. So cutting heads off wouldn't be their idea of an evening's fun and games. So..." Faith shook her head. "I got nothing good, not even anything firm on that one."

"Do you want to share his words with anyone else?" he glanced at Faith. She seemed to have respect for Giles, who was part of the vampire-tracking Watchers. But did that mean she trusted him enough to mention an efreet trying to tell her that she would become one of them? Even if she did, would that trust be deserved?

"Not just now. I'll tell Giles that there's someone with things to say, but that I'm iffy about their truthfullness. I trust Giles, I do..." Faith's words trailed off, and she shivered.

Methos nodded, reading that as she wanted to trust Giles, and maybe her head did. But her gut didn't quite trust him. "Telling him that there is someone offering information of unproven veracity would also give him a place to start looking if anything happens."

"Veracity... That sounds like a word Giles would like. Is that a fancy way of saying truth?" Faith gave a small grin as she sipped the coffee.

"Truthfulness, accuracy... the ability to rely on the information or judgment. It's also a term that gets used by some of the snobbier translators," he winked at her, "And some of the stuffiest bastards translating in the Council buildings are so far off in their work that it's hysterical."

"What do we do if he's telling the truth? If we are changing into something that can't pass for human?" Faith whispered.

Methos sipped his coffee, and sighed. "I don't know. I really don't."

What else could he say? He didn't know if Pazel was telling the truth. He didn't know why Pazel would lie to them, or why Pazel would seek them out if he was being truthful. He didn't know how much Faith would keep changing - since he couldn't deny the evidence that she was changing. He didn't know if they could trust Giles with what was happening to Faith. He didn't know if they could trust Joe with the whole mess about efreet and Faith maybe becoming one and himself maybe being kin to them... all the Immortals maybe being kin to them. He just didn't know. Methos hated not knowing.

End Bright Star 19: In Light of Those Words.