'Just a Guy'?... Well, Maybe In This Crowd
'As soon as I get my hands on Joe I'm going to kill him.' That's the first thought that runs through my mind when I hear the surprised gasps of six out of the seven people who are waiting for me. They are studying me with suspicion, with far more suspicion than Adam Pierson should warrant even from the most paranoid... and yes, that most paranoid would definitely be me.
I try to study them without making them any more nervous than they are but it's not working, it's almost as if they could see right through me. I had been expecting a watcher and a slayer, as well as some of their friends, but I hadn't imagined them to be anything like this. To make matters worse I know Joe told the watcher about my immortality, though he didn't tell him my age. That means at least one of them knows how to kill me if I spook them and I'm not sure that 5,000 years of experience would be enough to best a pissed off slayer armed with a sword which means I have no choice but to do something that terrifies me. I drop the Adam Pierson act completely and I raise my empty hands, keeping them well away from my body in that almost instinctive show of good intentions that has remained unchanged ever since I can remember. It seems to work, and it allows me an opportunity to study them, to try to place them within the context of everything I've ever encountered.
I can recognize the slayer, I had been expecting her so she doesn't come as a surprise except maybe in the fact that I really expected her to be taller, I also identify the watcher in the man who first opened the door... he is a powerful one, then I turn my attention to the others in the room. There are two girls sitting next to each other, both of them are looking at me as if I had two heads though neither one of them seems to be particularly concerned about my presence. It is clear that they don't see me as a threat... which would be just fine if it weren't for the little fact that I suspect that they are not underestimating me and that can only mean trouble. The good news is that they don't seem to be too trigger happy, though my instincts warn me that I don't want to make them mad, especially not the redhead. Then I turn my attention to the three guys.
The guy with the eye-patch is studying me with some suspicion but he is the only one who did not automatically react to my presence so I assume that his mistrust is based on how the others responded and I know he will probably follow their lead, which means he is the lesser threat. The other two guys seem like a study in contrasts at first sight, yet they come together almost as a single entity... it's been so long that it takes me almost a full minute to recognize them for what they are. That is a surprise, I haven't run into a Shaman/Guardian pairing in centuries and I certainly wasn't expecting to find one here.
Having recognized the true nature of most of the occupants of the room I start talking... fast. Not my preferred approach under normal circumstances, however these are anything but normal circumstances and that is the only approach that will work with this crowd. I am well aware that lying is not an option here and I know I can barely hope to get away with a couple of half truths. I have unwittingly walked into the lion's den and I have to tread carefully if I want to make it out of here with my head still attached.
We spend the next couple of hours talking and that turns out to be one of the most bizarre experiences of my life. The first surprise is their acceptance. I can see their curiosity, especially in the eyes of the shaman, the watcher and the redhead but they are not asking questions, at least not yet. They allow me to tell my tale and even though I barely mention some of the most unsavory parts of my past I am still amazed when they don't judge me... and then it's my turn to listen to their story.
At first it sounds reasonably normal --and I use the term loosely-- a slayer and her friends fighting the forces of evil, but then they get to the events that followed the destruction of the Council, the defeat of the First Evil and the events that led them to request my presence here. I feel the blood drain from my face when I realize what that seemingly innocent little redhead who is sitting on the couch did. Almost singlehandedly she altered the basic principles of the war against darkness, she released the power of all the slayers... no wonder she wasn't afraid of me. She could easily turn me into dust with barely a thought, and I'm not even a vampire!
This is definitely not what I signed up for but maybe I won't kill Joe after all. Yes, it's true that because of him I walked unwittingly into the lion's den when my first instinct would have been to run the other way, but he couldn't have known that. Besides I am old enough to know that once the lion welcomes you into his den you would be hard pressed to find a safer place and who knows --in spite of Mac's and Joe's teasing-- maybe in this crowd I can be what I've always been... just a guy.