In the early or mid-'90s, I read a young adult sci-fi/fantasy novel that I can't now remember the title of. My recollection is that the novel involved a main character (a teenage girl, I think) from the modern day, who became aware of two immortal characters: one who was a "good guy" (who she befriended) and one who was a "bad guy".
The main thing that stuck in my head was that in this novel, the process of becoming immortal involved drowning. The "good guy" vividly describes the sensation to the main character at one point (and it's that passage that has stuck in my head.) IIRC, the only way for an immortal to die, once they had undergone this process, was for them to drown again; and I think this happened to the bad guy at the end of the novel (something involving a flooded tunnel or other underground chamber.)
The two immortals may originally have had some kind of master/student relationship or have been fellow students before gaining immortality; I'm pretty sure they thought they were the only ones who knew the secret. Both were male. I don't recall the immortals being presented as having a particularly old or young appearance, though given that it was a YA novel I would presume they were supposed to be no older than their 20s.
I remember very little about the plot, other than that the "bad guy" was trying to build some kind of device (for what purpose I can't remember) and the "good guy" was trying to stop him.
The title of the novel may have had the word "Machine" in it, but I'm not 100% sure. I also have a vague recollection of the cover depicting (among other things) a character standing in front of a bank of computer/TV monitors, viewed from above. (If I'm remembering this right, the figure was in shadow, so I don't have a better description than that.)
I posted this question on Ask Metafilter a couple of days ago; the answers there did not identify the story, but you can rule out:
- The Immortal, Christopher Pike
- The Tricksters or Changeover, Margaret Mahy
- Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt