We Will Remember Them….
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Somewhere in France – 1943
Branches sliced at Buffy’s face, brambles snapped at her legs as she ran. Ahead of her, she caught swift glimpses of Spike shouldering his way through the undergrowth. He had tossed aside the blanket he’d thrown over his head and amidst the dappled browns and greens of the thick wood, his brown leather jacket gave him good camouflage.
‘Big plus for not bleaching your hair, Spike!’ she thought. ‘Platinum blond would have been dangerous, far easier for the Nazis to see.’
She glanced behind her, but there was no sign of pursuit yet. But she was sure the Germans would be following. If they were desperate to catch Joy’s husband, one of the leaders of the French Resistance, then they wouldn’t give up easily their hopes that the English girl would lead them straight to him.
Buffy glanced down at the baby she was holding in her arms. The little girl was awake, but quiety, seemingly enchanted by the motion of running. A little fist reached up and tugged at the locket swinging from Buffy’s neck.
“Glad you’re happy, baby!” Buffy gasped and then skidded to a stop as she realised the woods ahead were thinning out.
Spike was standing behind the broad trunk of an old oak tree. He had dumped Joy unceremoniously on the ground and was peering out at the sunlit field in front of him. “Sodding hell!”
“What?” Buffy placed the baby in Joy’s outstretched arms and joined him.
“There’s a guard on the Tiger Moth. They’ve found the plane.”
Buffy sighed. “Spike, it’s right out in the open! A blind man bound hand and foot could have found it! Couldn’t you have – I don’t know – parked it better? Under the trees?”
Spike turned, then stepped back, feeling uneasy to be standing so close to a Slayer. An expression of disgust crossed his face. “Look, Slayer, if you can’t say anything sensible, I would suggest you don’t say anything at all. It’s a plane, not a car!”
Joy struggled to her feet. She looked exhausted but with the fresh air, some of her dungeon pallor was vanishing. “We need to move. Fast. The Germans will guess we’ve come here. They’ll have circled round by road to cut us off. Why did you run straight to the plane? Why do something so stupid, vampire? Do you want us to get caught?”
Spike ran his fingers through his curly brown hair, tugging at it. “God, you bitches never let up, do you?” He pointed at Joy. “You, shut up. I wouldn’t be in this god-forsaken, snail-eating, hell-hole if it wasn’t for having to rescue you. And you – ” He pointed at Buffy who glared back at him. “You just – well, just stay out of my way.”
“I’d be thrilled to do just that. A long way out of your way. Thousands of miles out of your way! But before that can happen, we’ve got to get Joy back to England, or have you forgotten that small fact?”
“I’m not going anywhere near England!” Joy said angrily. “Whoever told you to bring me back can just forget it. I’m needed here.”
The baby began to whimper and she hushed her. “And first and foremost, we have to get away from this plane. And I need to find milk for Aurore.”
“OK, where do we go? You tell us,” Buffy said.
Spike stared at the two Slayers in angry bewilderment. “Stop yakking about the bloody kid. Help me kill that guard and we can get Joy into the plane and I’ll fly her to England. She can bring the baby with her if she has to, but I’m not sodding around France looking for a cow!”
Buffy and Joy ignored him.
“This way,” Joy said and gestured into the deepest part of the woods. “There’s a village a mile away. If I can reach it, I can send a message to Pierre. My husband will know what to do.”
“I’m not wandering around these woods all day,” Spike snapped. God, these women were driving him crazy. One Slayer was bad enough, two was impossible. He itched to kill them both, sink his fangs in those slender white necks and drain them both of every drop of blood that ran through their veins.
But even as his face itched to change, the picture flashed into his mind of Dru, imprisoned, waiting to be staked if he didn’t keep his part of the bargain. No, killing them wouldn’t help his Princess. He needed a Plan. A good Plan. That wouldn’t be difficult. He was bloody brilliant at Plans.
“Then stay here,” Joy snapped. “I don’t want you near Aurore, anyway.”
Spike vamped into game face, then shimmered back again. Bloody women! Let them see how far they got without him! Turning on his heel, he strode away, vanishing into the shadowy woods within seconds.
Buffy stood staring after him, biting her lip, feeling rejected and ridiculously betrayed. Spike never walked away from her. He was always there to guard her back.
She gave herself a mental shake. OK, he so wasn’t ‘her’ Spike; she could stop feeling all deserted girl. But – what was more important at the moment, he was still William the Bloody and likely to do something incredibly stupid and unexpected at any moment.
“I’d rather keep him where we can watch him,” she said but Joy just shrugged and began to hurry in the opposite direction.
“I can’t stand vamps. They give me the shudders. I know I should thank him for rescuing me, but I’m feeling stronger now. I don’t need help from a vamp and I don’t understand how you can bear to be near him. You had your hand on his shoulder just now. I saw you.”
Buffy flushed. Joy’s tone reminded her, in a weird way, of Willow. That accusing tone, the odd sensation she gave that she was right and Buffy was in the wrong.
Had she touched Spike? Well, yes, okay, she had, just for a moment as she was trying to see the guard around the plane. It hadn’t crossed her mind that there was anything wrong with that. It was only Spike. She had touched more than his shoulder recently! But, of course, to Joy he wasn’t ‘Spike’; he was a deadly, vicious, evil thing! And he will be for many years yet, she reminded herself. You must remember that.
“He won’t stay away. He’s under orders to get you back to England.” She cast a swift look at Joy. “Do you know why? Is it the Council who wants you rescued so desperately?”
Joy shrugged. “Look, I don’t understand what’s going on. I can tell you’re a Slayer, but even that doesn’t make sense. Unless, I suppose it’s the war. Maybe there is more than one of us called during a world war.”
Buffy frowned. There was no way she could tell Joy that she was from the future, so the ‘two during the War’ was as good an idea as any.
“Yes, that must be it. I’ve been sent - from America to – to help. Get you back to England.”
Joy sighed as the baby began to cry a little louder. She hushed her, rocking her in her arms. She cast a long look behind her but there was no sign that the Germans had spotted them: hopefully they were following the vampire.
“I can’t think why the Council are so keen for me to go home. They ordered me here after Dunkirk because of the huge numbers of vamps that were appearing in France. They were flocking out of Germany and Russia and heading for England. I was supposed to check out the situation and kill as many as I could. I can’t see that much has changed, except that the Nazis do a lot of my work for me by rounding up the vamps and putting them in camps.”
“What do they want with them?”
Joy shrugged and clambered up a steep slope, her strength obviously returning with every step. “No idea and I really don’t care. I do know that they never come out of the camps, so that’s top hole as far as I’m concerned!”
Buffy frowned. Of course Joy was right. A dusted vamp was a success story, whoever was doing the killing, but – she shook her head to clear it. This, as Spike had told her recently, was War.
“And you met your Pierre over here?”
“Yes.” Joy smiled briefly. “He was my contact when I parachuted into France. It was very romantic. Love at first sight. As you can imagine it was not a good time to fall in love and get pregnant, was it? But for once I was doing something I wanted, something that wasn’t controlled by the Council.” She grinned, her dark eyes full of mischief. “I quite enjoyed sending them a coded message, telling them I was no Madame Gastonet!”
Buffy winced. Was there ever a good time to fall in love when you were a Slayer? Or a good person to fall in love with? And was this disobedience the reason the Council wanted Joy back in England? Because she’d got married and had a baby?
Buffy wondered suddenly what Quentin Travers would have done if she’d got married, had a family. But then, whom had she ever liked enough to marry. Angel? When she was very young and naive, yes, probably. And now? She pushed all thoughts of her ‘Spike’ away. All this French air and talk of romance was making her dizzy.
Suddenly Joy’s hand shot out, stopping Buffy in her tracks. “Quiet! We’re coming to the village.”
The two Slayers crouched behind a bank of bushes and tried to see what was happening in the little village street. A couple of chickens scratched in the dirt road and somewhere a cow was bellowing, waiting to be milked. In the bright sunlight, little children were playing under the trees and in the distance Buffy could see a square where some old men were sitting, smoking and watching their friends playing boules.
“It’s quiet enough,” Joy murmured. “The children wouldn’t be outside if the Germans were around. Hopefully they’ll still be watching the plane, waiting for me to arrive there and for Pierre to turn up to meet me. Listen, I’ve got to get milk for baby. She must be fed soon or else she’ll start to yell. And she’s very wet as well! Stay here. The house I want is on the far side of the village. I’ll be back for you within the hour.”
“I’ll come with you.”
“No!” She stared at Buffy, at the strange top and trousers. “You look so – foreign. Someone will notice and there are spies everywhere, reporting to the Nazis. No one will bother me. I look like all the other French women.”
Buffy hesitated. One part of her could see that Joy’s reading of the situation was probably right. After all, she was the Slayer who knew the area and what would look odd. But the other part of her, the part that had fought in too many battles, saved the world and her life – twice! – was pretty damn sure that she should go with her.
She glanced at her watch. “OK, half an hour, not a minute more or else I’m coming to find you.”
Joy nodded and slid out from the shelter of the bushes and walked swiftly down the road into the village and vanish out of sight.
Buffy watched her go, then settled down to wait. The minutes ticked past with agonizing slowness and she wished that Spike was here. Even this time zone’s version would be someone to talk to.
“Stupid vamp. Sulking around. He’s worse that Xander. If he’s planning some stupid trick rescue, I’ll….”
A farm cart lurched down the track, the pony’s hooves kicking up little spurts of dust. The sun rose higher and higher but still Joy did not return. The children vanished from their play and even the old men in the square wandered away, out of the mid day sun.
Suddenly she felt the hairs on the back of her neck flare and spun round. A vamp was lurching towards her and even as her hand flew to the stake in her waistband, she gasped. She had never seen anything so horrific in all her years as a Slayer. It was worse than Adam. It’s whole face had been rearranged! It’s eyes were in it’s cheeks and it’s mouth was somehow stitched across the middle of it’s neck.
And as she feinted to her left and swung the stake over and down, she realised that the word coming from it’s mouth was “Mercy!”
“Sorry, I don’t do mercy,” she snapped as she brushed the dust from her face.
“He wasn’t asking for mercy, Slayer.” It was Spike, appearing silently from the shade. “He said ‘Merci’. He was thanking you for his death!”
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