Chp 27 "...promises to keep..."
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.
Chapter 27: “… promises to keep…”
London – Watcher’s Council Basement. 2001
Dorcas Twigg, Witch in Residence, removed the end of her long scarf from her coffee mug and stared at the crystal ball sitting in the middle of her untidy desk. Her toad, Flanagan, sat next to it, his emerald eyes unblinking.
She reached out and stroked the cold glass surface, wishing she could make up her mind. “I really do not like calling up past witches,” she sighed. “I mean, you never know if it’s a convenient time – do you remember when Mr Travers wanted to contact Witch Beatrice in 1838 and she had to miss Queen Victoria’s coronation! She was not pleased. Not pleased at all.”
Flanagan, who at that time had been called Melbourne – sometimes he forgot all the names he’d had over the ages, but he’d been particularly fond of Melbourne – blinked his agreement.
“The amount of power needed! So expensive and the accounts department always throw a tantrum. And it’s always so exhausting and never good reception. But dear Rupert has asked again if Buffy Summers has indeed received the charm from Valerie Figgs to return her to Sunnydale. Of course, in my opinion, he shouldn’t have sent her back to 1943 if he can’t cope with the consequences.”
Flanagan blinked again and hoped the fly buzzing around the room would come close enough to be an early lunch.
“Still, 1943 isn’t that far back. Let’s give it a go!” She sighed again and rubbed the top of his head. “I do wish you could talk. You were there. You would know. Really, why the Powers that Be couldn’t have arranged for you to have a voice is beyond me.”
Flanagan – who would have been delighted to have related What He Did During the War – could only blink his agreement.
Dorcas placed her hands on the glass globe and taking a deep breath, began…..
* * * * * *
Rupert Giles sat in his office and poured himself a large Scotch. He stared around the room, not seeing the shelves of ancient books and interesting objects he’d collected over the years. He sipped the whisky, feeling pain gathering behind his eyes. He’d just heard from Dorcas that Buffy had managed to get back to England from France; she’d been given the charm and returned to France so she could take it at the place where she’d arrived in 1943. So why had there been no phone call from Sunnydale from a furious Slayer, asking why the original return potion hadn’t worked?
Giles reached for the phone, then hesitated. If his Slayer hadn’t returned it would only alarm and worry Dawn and the others. There was still plenty of time. The day still had a few hours to run. He’d been promised that Buffy would be back before the day ended.
“Where on earth are you, Buffy?” he muttered to himself. “Just eat the charm and come home.”
But at the back of his mind, a worm of doubt was twisting. Because Dorcas had also told him that William the Bloody, an unchipped vampire, was still with Buffy. And Giles had no great belief in Buffy’s ability to accept just how dangerous Spike had been in the past. Well, she’d had plenty of opportunity to find out and perhaps that was what was causing the spell to go awry.
* * * * * *
“If he looks at me funny again, I swear I’ll kill him!”
“Spike, he’s a toad. He can’t look at you in any particular way.”
“Still don’t understand what the bloody hell I’m doing standing here in the middle of poxy France with a Slayer and a frog. Thought you’d have gone home in a puff of smoke and clap of thunder by now.”
“Toad, not frog,” Buffy replied absently, staring out of the window. The hut was built on the edge of a field where the woods thinned: the sun was rising and she could see cows appearing in ghostly fashion out of the early morning mist. She could also see her own reflection quite clearly – Henry was peering from her jacket pocket - but as usual there was no sign of the vampire she knew was standing behind her. “And you know Valerie insisted we bring Henry with us. She said – jeez, I’m not quite sure exactly what the witch said because you were talking at the same time, but I think she meant it was important to my getting home that Henry was here when we – ”
“Shagged?” Spike asked, brightening up.
“Ate the charm and – well, anyway, Henry was part of the deal if we wanted to get to France again.”
“And how does he get home? Hop all the way? Not that I care two hoots, but if he’s not bloody careful, some garlic chomping bloke with a big black moustache will have his legs off him! I’d have a munch myself, except I don’t expect he’s got more than a few drops of blood in that body. And it would taste fishy, too.”
Buffy sighed. She’d forgotten just how irritating this Spike could be. The man she knew back home seemed more mature. Could sixty years make such a difference? Spike had been obnoxious all the way across the Channel. Crouching in the bows of the small fishing boat that Colonel Monroe had found to transport them, it had been a difficult journey – cold and wet, spray cascading over them as the boat butted into the wind. It had been a long, dark night as they picked their way down the heavily mined coastline to where the captain insisted was a safe place for them to scramble into a dinghy and row for the French shore.
A heavy sea had been running and Buffy had found it all she could do to concentrate on not being seasick, without the mutterings and moanings from the vampire sitting next to her.
The American passport was burning a hole in her pocket. The guy Spike had killed in France had been coming to see a Professor Walsh at the Chateau! Not her Professor Walsh, obviously, but it was too much of a coincidence. The Germans were obviously experimenting on vampires – she’d seen the horrible results herself. So a sort of Initiative was here, in France, in 1943. And an American called Walsh was connected with it.
Buffy rubbed her fingers across Henry’s rough head. He was travelling quite happily in her jacket pocket, seemingly oblivious to the rough seas.
Was this the start of the Initiative? A Nazi based organisation? It made a dreadful sort of sense. She bit her lip. As far as Spike and Colonel Monroe knew, they were headed for France so she could eat the charm, have some sort of physical relationship with the vampire and then – wham – she would be back in Sunnydale. And the Spike she met there would have no memory of their time together in France. That was mega weird.
So, she should do just that – go home. The edge of the passport dug into her thigh. That was her first problem. She wanted to know about this earlier Professor Walsh, she wanted to discover if this really was the beginning of the Initiative.
Her second problem was, should she tell Spike that in the future, people like these Germans would put a metal chip in his head that would stop him from killing and feeding? Would, in fact, change him completely from the vampire he was here and now.
The fishing-boat wallowed sickeningly in the heavy swell and Buffy fought to keep her stomach where it was as it tried it’s hardest to climb up into her throat. She knew that telling Spike would result in one thing - he’d want to fight them; he’d insist on releasing the vamps and she knew she couldn’t allow that. The French had enough to cope with, living with an occupying army. A horde of vampires wandering through the country was not a good idea. No, it was better that Spike thought she’d returned to her own time and went on his way across Europe to find his beloved Dru.
Buffy had no idea why she was so determined to check out this organisation. She just felt it was important. She remembered the expression on Valerie Figgs’ face when she’d handed over Henry. It had obviously been mega hard for the witch to part with her beloved toad, but her eyes had pleaded with Buffy to take him. Whatever was coming, Valerie thought Henry could help.
“Perhaps you turn into a Prince Charming and slay all my enemies to save my life,” Buffy muttered and pulled a face as her present Prince Charming continued to complain bitterly about crossing the Channel in something no bigger than a bath tub!
They’d been met on the shore by a thin, dark man driving a lorry. Two black eyes glinted at them from under a greasy beret and when he spoke it was obvious he didn’t understand English. To Buffy’s amazement, Spike had chatted to him in what sounded like fluent French but there had been no time for explanations. The man had gestured to the back of his lorry and for the next few hours they’d jolted along narrow country roads, wedged between large sacks of potatoes.
“Avoiding Nazi road blocks,” Spike had muttered as the lorry swung round bends into narrow lanes where they could hear trees and bushes dragging along the sides of the vehicle.
“When did you learn French?”
Spike shrugged. “I was a poncy bloke before my darling Dru found me. Latin, Greek, French, Italian - wasted my time learning the lot when I should have been out having fun. Tried to forget them, but things like that stick in your mind, don’t they?”
Buffy muttered a vague sound of agreement. She and foreign languages were very unmixy. Even the English that Giles and Spike used was sometimes unrecognisable.
Hours had passed and just when she felt she would scream at the aching in her arms and legs, they’d screeched to a halt and the back of the lorry had been flung open. The man had beckoned urgently for them to get out and hustled them into a damp, dark shed that was obviously used for storing cattle feed.
“Ask him how long until we reach the Chateau again?” Buffy said urgently, but the Frenchman ignored Spike’s question and with a crashing of gears, the lorry vanished into the grey dawn of another day.
“So what next?” Spike snapped impatiently, throwing himself onto the floor and moodily kicking at a pile of hay bales. “When do you do the charm thing, Slayer? When do we shag so you can go back to the future? Where, according to you, I’ll be delighted to see you! Huh! There is no way that can be true.”
Buffy ignored his question. “How far do you think we are from the Chateau?”
“What – do I look as if I’m a walking atlas of France? How the hell should I know? And why does it matter. Surely a couple of miles one way or the other isn’t going to make such a difference to a spell that’s powerful enough to bring you years into the past? Be a friggin’ poor charm if it has to be done on the exact spot where you actually arrived.”
Spike glared across the hut at the American girl. God, she was annoying! He was beginning to seriously doubt his own sanity. Magic! He hated the bloody stuff. Look at him – trailing around after a Slayer! He’d been thinking about that during the past few days. Here he was helping her, fighting by her side, not even attempting to kill her. Only magic could have weakened him in such a way. He knew Dru was free and somewhere in Europe. A few weeks ago he’d have just broken Buffy Summers’ neck and gone after his darling girl. All the Watchers and witches in the world wouldn’t have stopped him. So why was he still here, dancing to her tune?
He wished she would just use the charm and vanish out of his life! Her and the toad together. He could feel his temper fraying, odd sensations he’d never felt before were running along every nerve in his body, growing stronger and more painful. He needed to move, to get out of this bloody hut before he went mental.
Buffy left her position by the window and walked across to him. She stared down at the hunched shoulders, the thin, strong hands plucking at a bootlace. “What’s up with you? Bad moody or what?”
Spike stared straight ahead, then realised the top of her legs were level with his eyes and he was gazing at the place where the material around the zip was fraying. It would take very little to tug it open and –
“I’m bloody hungry, Slayer! That’s the problem. Do you realise how long it’s been since I had a proper meal?”
Buffy bit her lip. “You had that steak for breakfast and – ”
Spike swung to his feet. “I need blood. Pints and pints of nice, hot, red blood. I’m getting weaker by the minute and I don’t intend to fade away just because you’re a Slayer. Look – I said I’d help you get home and I always keep my word – especially to a lady. So, let’s eat the toffee thing, give me a kiss or open your legs, or whatever else you have to do to make it work and then you’ll be home and I can get on with – ”
Spike roared and vamped out. “It’s what I do, you stupid Yank.”
Buffy’s fist arced towards his face before she’d even realised she was going to punch him. But Spike’s hand swung up and caught her fingers in his own and they stood, glaring into each other’s eyes, each fighting to overpower the other.
Spike’s face shimmered back into human and with a growl he threw Buffy’s hand down and away. Panting slightly, she pulled Henry from her pocket and put him on the floor. The black and purple candy had been squashed under the toad’s body and with one short gesture, Buffy pulled the charm apart, giving one half to Spike. “OK! There you are! Jeez, I’ll be glad to see the back of you. You’re much – ” She stopped abruptly; she’d been about to say “You’re much nicer in 2001,” then realised how ridiculous that was. Spike was himself – she had to accept that.
The man she wanted wasn’t there – yet. It was no use wishing for the Spike she could talk to, no use longing for the warmth that came from knowing he would always be at her side and believe she was doing the right thing – even when she wasn’t.
Spike peered at the black and purple toffee in his hand. “So, what do we do now? Do you want me to – “?
Buffy took a step backwards and forced herself to say. “No! We don’t have to do that. I reckon if you can bear to kiss me, that should be enough. And don’t pull that face! I’m not some monster from the deep and it’ll be just as difficult for me, but I’m not complaining, am I?”
“So we kiss – then do we swallow the charm?”
Buffy hesitated. She had no intention of eating her half yet but once Spike had taken his, all his memories of their time together would be erased. She’d be left with a vampire whose only aim in life would be to kill her.
Spike watched the emotions chase each other across her face. It was alarming how easily he could read her mind. The Slayer had no real idea if this was going to work. “I get it; you don’t want me around in case this is all a gigantic cock-up. OK, Summers, I’ll stay here in the hut with Henry and you make your way towards the Chateau. It’s about half a mile away – through the woods.”
“What! You told me you had no idea – ”
“I lied. So bite me, Slayer! Now, are you going or not? I’ll give you half an hour, then I’m eating our little striped friend here.”
Buffy slid the candy back into her pocket and bent to pick up the toad. “I’ll take him with me, but OK, give me thirty minutes.
Then – well – I suppose it’s goodbye.”
“Don’t you mean au revoir? Not as if we’re never going to meet again, tragic though that thought is.”
Buffy nodded. There would be the Bronze, a vampire, and this man clapping his hands in appreciation of her fighting skills. Fights, arguments, liking and loathing and love, well lust, anyway, she thought hastily.
“Right – do I kiss you, or you kiss me?”
Buffy tried not to smile at the hopeful expression on his face. Swiftly she crossed the room in two strides, took his face between her hands and let her lips touch his. She’d only meant it to be the lightest of kisses, a mere graze, nothing more. She’d certainly not expected her lips to open, for his mouth to tease hers, his tongue and hers dance in an explosion of sensation.
Henry – squashed between two bodies that seemed determined to mould into one – croaked his indignation. Buffy stumbled backwards towards the door and, for a second, through his whirling vision, Spike was certain he saw tears on her cheeks.
“Half an hour,” she whispered. “Goodbye.”
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