2003 and Beyond!
“You’re taking me to a cupboard?" Buffy deadpanned. “A cupboard in a deserted museum, no less. Thanks Spike! Best date ever!”
Spike rolled his eyes. “Not a cupboard. A room.”
“Ooh a room,”
“Oh, shut it you,” He motioned to a panel on the wall by the closed door. “This room will tell you all you ever wanted to know about the history of this lousy planet. More than you’ll want to know, in point of fact.”
Buffy folded her arms and leant against the wall. “The room talks?”
“It talks, it shows, it’s all very hi-tech.”
She glanced at the door sceptically. “You know, as fun as that sounds –”
“I’ll set it to the year you went through the portal. That way you won’t have to hear about all the tedious stuff – ice age, Victorian era, holocaust, yada yada yada…” Spike began punching in numbers on the panel.
Buffy snorted. “Yeah, I bet those events were real tedious at the time.”
He ignored her as he was imputing whatever data the talking room needed. Buffy looked him over and shook her head. He was a hard one to figure out. He always had been but now even more so.
The room made a beeping sound and a light lit up green. Spike pulled on the door handle and it swung open. He motioned to her to go in. To the pitch black room.
The Slayer stood up straight and arched an eyebrow. “Oh, okay, a darkened room. Now, this is more promising.”
Spike gave her an insistent push into the doorway and she grumbled as she stepped inside with him close behind. Then he closed the door. And nothing happened. Buffy stood in the darkness and could see nothing, could hear nothing. She reached out for Spike and found his arm, clutching it protectively.
“Give it a minute,” he said quietly. “Thought it might be a good idea for you to see what happened to the world after you left it. I can only tell you so much.”
As he said that the room lit up so suddenly and so brightly Buffy had to shield her eyes for a few moments, as she blinked and squinted. The room was empty and about the size of a ballroom. It was painted an ugly industrial grey.
She was about to make some scathing remark about the future’s idea of entertainment when a holographic figure suddenly appeared before her. It was a vision of a man, pleasant looking if a little plain. Buffy could see right through him.
“Welcome to the year 2003,” he smiled slightly. “And beyond.”
And then he was gone. Replaced by images of war and rioting, blackouts and terror. All very moving in its own way, but no more so then watching a show on The History Channel. She wasn’t personally connected to the events, she didn’t witness their effects firsthand and so she felt a sort of detachment from it all.
Then Buffy watched as Sunnydale appeared around her, sunbathed and beautiful-looking. The Sunnydale she remembered – minus the monsters. The scene flickered and in its place was a giant crater. Buffy stood at the edge of it, looking down into the chasm.
“Mysterious circumstances caused the small Californian town of Sunnydale to collapse in upon itself, taking the largely deserted houses and businesses along with it,” a disembodied voice announced.
Buffy kept her eyes on the image as she said. “Mysterious circumstances, huh?”
“That’s me,” Spike replied.
The image flicked again and showed dozens of demons and vampires descending into neighbourhoods, all running from the Hellmouth and it’s destruction. A vampire ran right past her and Buffy nearly tried to deck the hologram instinctively. Spike and she stood right in the middle of the rioting around them, watching it unfold but unable to do anything. These events were past and Buffy was about thirty years too late to help. That bothered her more than she liked.
The images shimmered and she saw the police getting involved - both sides suffered, human and demon. This fighting took place all over the world by the looks of the scenes that changed around her.
Suddenly it stopped.
Buffy was about to speak when a group of men materialised in front of her. They stood in a line, all dressed in suits, faces serious. She recognised only a couple of them. The President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the UK who Giles was always bitching about. She figured the rest of the men were world leaders too.
“The world leaders united,” the voiceover guy said again, confirming her suspicions. “They revealed to the world that Supernaturals and Humanoids were indeed very real. Many months of negotiations amongst themselves and the leaders of the Supernatural communities resulted, finally, in a truce of sorts. New laws were laid. Alliances were forged. And the world became a new place.”
“The organisation Humanoids United was formed,” the voice continued. “Fighting for the equal rights for Humanoids. A synthetic blood was created, meaning Humanoids – referred derogatorily to as ‘vampires’ – no longer had to resort to violence to keep their condition under control.”
Buffy arched an eyebrow at Spike. “Condition. People really think being a vampire is a ‘condition’?”
Spike put a finger to his lips and then pointed at her to keep her eyes front. She turned back and Giles stood in front of her. Buffy’s lips parted in surprise. He stood only three foot in front of her, at a podium, his eyes looking directly at her. Buffy’s hand reached up to touch him before falling in remembrance.
Giles wasn’t really here. She could see through him to the grey beyond.
The voice spoke again. “In the year 2006, there was a massive uprising against the new status of Humanoids, a large portion of the Human community of the United States – the world even – were against instating equal rights. They led a campaign of hate and violence against all Humanoids, indiscriminately. Even going so far as to murder hundreds in cold blood. This so-called ‘war of terror’ was led by one Rupert Giles and his followers were many,”
Buffy couldn’t believe the way Giles was being portrayed here. Vampires weren’t humans, they were demons. Demons to be slayed. To keep the world safe. That’s all Giles had wanted to do and this was what he got in return. Labelled a racist, of sorts. It made her feel nauseous.
“What follows is a portion of perhaps Rupert Giles’ most infamous speech, addressed to a crowd of thousands in New Sunnydale Square. Right outside the Humanoids United headquarters…”
Her Watcher braced his hands on the podium and stared out at the crowds in front of him. Buffy and Spike now stood in the middle of the square, part of the thousands who had come out to watch him.
Giles spoke, his voice strong with belief. “Never let anyone tell you different. Vampires are not human. They are the things that kill humans. Things that burrow into their bodies, cast out their soul, steal their minds and their memories and pervert them. If they look like a loved one just remember this – they are the thing that murdered your mother, father, sibling or friend. They took their life in a violent and vicious manner. They do not love you. They are incapable of it.”
Buffy shifted on her feet, the fingers of her right hand brushing against Spike’s leg. He stood straight and unmoving beside her. She glanced at him covertly out of the corner of her eye. He watched the image of Giles with a blank face. As though he were trying very hard to keep any emotion from his face. It was then that she realised he knew she was looking at him, so she looked away.
Giles faded away and Buffy watched as dozens of people were arrested for killing vampires. She looked out for any sign of Angel but saw none.
The voiceover went on to talk about the integration of vampires into society and Buffy watched the unfolding images carefully. Vampires marrying, corporate business-vampires, adoptive vampire parents. She half expected to see a chorus of little choir boys singing ‘We love vampires, they rule!”. It was all very, very surreal. They didn’t walk around in game face in the images or anything but just knowing that the man hugging the little girl was undead creeped her the hell out.
Soon, however, the walk through history broadened it’s horizons to talk about other events that the world had undertaken in the years that Buffy had been vacationing in The Funnest Dimension Ever.
She saw wars and sadness, people in suffering. Floods. Earthquakes. She saw pain. And Buffy thought, with a tinge of sadness, that the world really hadn’t changed all that much. And then she saw other things. One day in 2012 it rained flower petals in Dubai. Buffy saw the invention of the first flying car. And then the failure of the first flying car. Spike nudged her at that point and she grinned. She witnessed the leaps and bounds made in prosthetic limbs – sadly not bionic – and the new treatment given to burns victims so that their scars were barely visible at all. She saw Presidents come and go, saw cities all over the world build and economise and prosper. She saw the first tourist on the moon. And then the second tourist on the moon. And then the third. They couldn’t get enough of the damn moon.
Buffy turned to Spike. “So, has the future decided whether aliens do exist?”
“No,” Spike smiled. “Although there is a theory about vampires coming from another planet. So, you could be standing next to one right now.”
She shrugged one-shouldered. “They may have a point. I do remember some probing…”
Spike shook his head and laughed as she grinned and jostled him gently.
“2033 - present day,” the voiceover announced. “Thank you for stepping through time with us. This tour is updated daily. Please come again.”
The room plunged into total darkness again. Buffy decided that the whole plunging darkness thing was a design flaw of the talking/showing room. She felt Spike’s cold hand take her arm as he shuffled her in the general direction of the door.
She reached out and placed her hand against his back so she knew exactly where he was. And also because he had a nice back. After a bit of fumbling around – not the fun type – they made it out of the room and back out into the museum proper.
“How long were we in there?” Buffy asked.
Spike looked at his watch. “I want to say 30 years, but it was actually about an hour and a half.”
She tilted her head. “So, we’ve still got time for other things?”
“Like what?” He scanned her face with suspicion.
Buffy grinned. “Nothing ‘untoward’, don’t worry. It’s just after all that depressing history I feel like I should have some future fun. The future does have clubs, doesn’t it?”
Spike paused, smirking, as he said. “Oh, it really, really does.”
+ + +
When Spike got them to the front of the line of a clearly very popular club, Buffy was a little impressed. When he got them a round of free drinks she was even more impressed. Obviously being H.U’s ‘top man’ had benefits. The club he had brought her to was nameless – very chic – and also kind of enormous. There were three floors to it and they were currently propped up against the bar of the middle floor.
Buffy could see over the balcony to the floor below which was really just a huge dancing space, full to the brim of futuristic dancers doing futuristic dance moves. When she saw one guy attempting the robot she just smiled. The music blaring through the neon-blue painted building was some machine-generated techno-pop thing. Clearly not to Spike’s taste as he squinted in mild pain and nursed his half pint.
Buffy downed the last of her interesting alcohol drink and eyed the bottles of bright blue liquid behind the bar. Spike had explained to her that it was a relatively new type of beverage which was capable of sinking a small elephant, or a tiny Slayer, in one gulp. By the looks of the half dozen people dozing on the plush couches – and in one case the middle of the floor – she was inclined to believe him.
The dance beat was beginning to call to her. She elbowed Spike to get his attention and he pulled a face at her. When she inclined her head in the direction of the dance floor he shook his head sullenly.
“Okay,” she shrugged. “I’ll find someone else to dance with. Don’t wait up –”
Spike darted around in front of her as she tried to move away. “Sorry, love. Can’t let you do that. Have to keep an eye on you at all times.”
Buffy smiled slowly. “Well, you can watch me from up here.”
“Not my idea of fun,” he replied looking down at the floor of dancing people.
She stepped into him. “And just what is your idea of fun these days, Spike?”
He shrugged one-shouldered. “I’ll let you know when I find that out.” He said darkly.
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Balderdash!”
Spike started, and looked at her surprised. “You what?”
“Balderdash,” she repeated a little less enthusiastically. “I don’t buy it. Your whole moody, ‘my life sucks’ vibe. It does not. You’ve got Mya. A job. Magical sun block. And, now you’ve got me. Which totally rules.”
He smiled slightly and looked down at the floor. “I s’pose so.”
“You know so,” Buffy reached out and took his hand. “So, are you gonna dance with me, or what?”
Spike paused a moment. “How in hell am I supposed to dance to this?”
She pulled him towards the stairs. “I guess I could just dance on you.”
Spike overtook her and started down the stairs. “Right then, I’m in…”
Buffy grinned and let him lead the way.
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