Chp 16 Counting the Cost
We Will Remember Them…
Chp 16: Counting the Cost
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.
London – 2001
The Library of the Watcher’s Council was the most important room in the whole building: oak shelves, grey with age, covered every wall, groaning with the weight of priceless books and manuscripts. The windows looking out onto the beautiful gardens at the back of the building were shrouded in dark red velvet curtains that were never opened and the small desk lights shed only a little more illumination than their much lamented oil ancestors.
But for all its sombre appearance, Rupert Giles had never seen it empty before. There had always been a custodian sitting at the entrance and one or two researchers perched high on library ladders, making copious notes and muttering under their breath. Now the only person in the vast room was Quentin Travers, sitting in a leather chair, not reading, not writing, just gazing into space, sipping brandy from a crystal goblet that had been old at the Battle of Waterloo, his face impassive.
“Any news regarding what happened in France?” Giles asked, closing the door behind him.
“News? Ah, no, unfortunately not.”
“Shouldn’t something have happened by now? I mean if Buffy failed to rescue Joy then another Slayer would have been called and then – ”
Travers glanced up at him and sighed. “Do sit, Rupert, and stop hovering. Patience has never been your strong point, has it? The fact that the time line has remained unaltered is, so far, exactly what we wanted to accomplish by sending Miss Summers back to 1943.”
Giles stared at him. He’d never liked his boss, could see no humanity showing on that bland, upper-class face, hear no warmth in the cut-glass accent. But he’d known him a long time and one thing he was sure of, the head of the Watcher’s Council was hiding something. Not lying, no Quentin was far too devious to lie outright, but not all the truth about Buffy’s mission to war-torn France had been revealed.
“So she’s still alive?”
“So far, I imagine, yes, she is.”
Giles pulled off his glasses and began to polish them on the end of his tie. He took a deep breath and confessed, “I’ve – I’ve taken precautions to have a charm prepared to help her return to her own time – if she can get back to England.”
Travers looked at him and a fleeting hint of amusement crossed his face. “Of course you have, Rupert. I would have expected nothing less of you. I take it you have used the services of Dorcas, our dear Witch in Residence? After all, that is what we pay her for.”
Giles felt a fool – no, more like a schoolboy facing his headmaster. “You’ve known all along that’s what I would do!”
Travers smiled. He poured himself another brandy. “I thought, being aware of your involvement with Miss Summers, that you would think it wise to make some convoluted plans to get her back to her own time.”
Giles pushed his spectacles back on his nose, feeling the temper he had kept in close check for so many years begin to stir in his blood. “I had no choice. You persuaded me that for the good of the world, she had to stay in 1943. I agreed to betray her for that reason and that reason only. Have you any idea what that felt like for me? You didn’t seem to be concerned if she lived or died, but I am still Buffy’s Watcher. I am responsible for my Slayer until she dies.”
Travers swirled the alcohol round in the goblet, savouring the rich aroma. “Really, Rupert, you have such a volatile nature sometimes that I wonder how you ever passed to be a Watcher. Academically, she is no longer the Slayer, remember. Faith Lehane holds that role. Miss Summers is – in this time – expendable. You know this as well as I do. The cost of that charm to return her from 1943 when her task is completed would have taken almost my entire year’s budget.”
“Cost!” Giles stood up, towering over the older man, his fists clenched. “Betraying Buffy has been to do with how much it cost not to?”
Travers looked slightly bewildered. “You keep bandying the word ‘betrayal’ about. I would call it a necessary reduction of obsolete stock. You seem to think we run on unlimited funds here at the Council but I have a yearly budget and a vast number of projects to fund. Evil, sadly, does not seem to have the same fiscal restrictions as Good in this world, or if it does, it certainly doesn’t have to answer to a Board with its yearly accounts.”
“You sicken me!”
Travers shrugged. “Losing your temper will get you nowhere, Rupert. I would advise you to calm down and try to think rationally about the whole affair. No real harm has been done. As I surmised, you have made provision for Miss Summers to return to her own life. I will have the cost of that charm deducted from your salary in yearly instalments. You should be out of debt to us by, oh let us say 2009. Obviously, feeling as strongly as you do about things, you will not be too concerned to pay for your gallant gesture.”
“The charm only works if she manages to return to England.”
Travers nodded. “And believe me, I most fervently want her to achieve that goal. I believe that is why our ancestors here at the Council sent the vampire, William the Bloody, to France. They had no idea Miss Summers existed, of course, but in order to save his paramour’s life, they relied on him helping Miss Joy return to England. And by default, if he doesn’t kill Miss Summers, he might well be of use to her. They knew that was important and we knew from the fragments of records that remain that a Slayer helped him do so. We had to choose a Slayer - Miss Summers was the obvious choice to make.”
Giles waved away the thought of Spike helping Buffy in France. For all he knew, she had already dealt with William the Bloody. After all, no matter what her misguided feelings for Spike had been, she had no connection whatsoever with the vampire he used to be.
* * * * * *
“It’s no use lying over there sulking, Slayer.”
“Be quiet! The Nazis might hear you,” Buffy hissed from the far side of the farm cart. “And I’m not sulking. I had – I had a nightmare, that’s all.”
She stared up into the darkness where the tarpaulin had been pulled tightly over the top of the cart. She’d woken up feeling wonderful – relaxed, lazy, every limb tingling, ready to take on the world. Exactly how she felt when she and Spike – the truth had hit her with the power of a lightning strike.
A nightmare – something she’d experienced many times since Willow had dragged her back to this life. Shut in, trapped in her coffin, fighting to get out! Then he’d been there – Spike – and everything had seemed simple and straightforward. With him she could conquer any night terror –
Then – but she couldn’t – they hadn’t – it wasn’t possible! Not this Spike. Not now. No, jeez, surely that had just been a dream! She hadn’t let this Spike make love to her. He was unchipped, evil, not her Spike. Fearfully and surreptitiously she’d run her hands down her thighs, shuddering as she realised her jeans were tangled around one foot.
Buffy pulled her hands away as if they’d been scorched, confusion flooding through her body. Why did she feel she’d been unfaithful to Spike! If the evidence was to be believed, she’d just had sex with him in her sleep. But this wasn’t ‘her’ Spike. This was William the Bloody, unchipped, evil, who didn’t love her, who still adored Drusilla. And Buffy was honest enough to know that was what was causing her confusion. She could sleep with Spike at home in Sunnydale because he loved her and she –
“It’s no use lying over there sulking, Slayer.”
“Be quiet. The Nazis will hear you. And I’m not sulking. I had – I had a nightmare, that’s all.”
“That’s interesting, Slayer - ” the whisper came from inches away as he rolled towards her - “I had the same nightmare. I dreamt I did a Slayer. It was one of the most horrifying moments of my whole unlife!”
Buffy struggled to pull up her jeans. “Can you just not talk? I was asleep – and – and - if you ever mention this to anyone – I’ll – I’ll – ”
“Me mention it! I’d rather you staked me! I reckon you’ve put some sort of curse on me and I’m telling you, Buffy Summers, I’m staying as far away from you as possible from now on.”
Then, before she could speak again, his hand was across her mouth, cold against her hot cheeks. For a second she thought he was trying to make love to her again, then she heard the sounds he’d heard seconds before her, the tarpaulin was pulled away and soft, cool night air swept away the heat from her body.
“You two are supposed to be quiet!” Joy was glaring down at them, outlined against a dusky sky. “We could hear you talking from the other side of the clearing. What if we’d been the enemy? This isn’t some sort of game we’re playing here. This is for real.”
Feeling ashamed, Buffy sat up and swung herself out of the cart, refusing to look at Spike. “You should try being shut up with him for a whole day!” she muttered, knowing she was in the wrong.
Joy’s cool gaze never faltered. “Your choice, Buffy. I would have staked him long ago.”
“Oi! Don’t mind me! I’ll just stand here, shall I?”
The two Slayers ignored him. “I should have let you!” Buffy said crossly, then swiftly shot out a hand to stop Joy reaching for the stake in her belt. “But he could still be useful. I need to get back to England and he’s the only one available to fly the plane.” She gazed round; Joy’s husband, Pierre, was not with her, just a couple of slim, swarthy guys who were staring at Spike with dark, wary eyes. “What’s the plan?”
Joy looked tired. “There are German patrols everywhere. We think there must be something big happening at the Chateau tonight or tomorrow. Lots of important looking cars have been arriving. Lots of heel clicking and saluting.”
“How does this effect us?”
“Well, on the plus side, they now only have one soldier guarding the plane.”
Buffy sighed and scrubbed at her face with her clenched fists. “There’s a minus side, I can hear it in your voice.”
Joy sighed. “Pierre and the rest of the Resistance cell are planning to launch a surprise attack on the Chateau tonight. He can’t spare anyone to help you take back the Tiger Moth.”
Buffy frowned at the tone in the English girl’s voice. “You don’t agree with him?”
Joy shrugged. “There are too many of them and too few of us. But he insists we have to make a – a statement. To show the Germans we are not defeated, that we will always fight them – to the bitter end if need be. To show London that they should send us more supplies, more guns and ammunition.”
“Great!” Spike said, lighting a cigarette. “Now we’re involved with a group of death and glory boys.”
“Shut up, Spike. We realise you haven’t got a clue about fighting for your country.”
William the Bloody stared at the American Slayer through a cloud of acrid smoke, fighting to keep his face expressionless. Weird – he felt hurt by her words. How bloody stupid was that? A poxy Slayer bint couldn’t possibly have the power to hurt him. Of course she was right. This war was nothing to do with him or any other vamp: it had been fun the last couple of years to watch the death and destruction. Except – and he thought of those poor vamp idiots captured by the Germans, being experimented on, turned into God knows what, then exterminated. What had the Slayer said, “not cricket”? That was the sodding truth. So perhaps this war did have something to do with him after all.
For a minute he was tempted – he could tell them he would stay and fight with the Resistance. Release the prisoners, turn them into a vamp army that could really hurt the sodding Germans. Then he mentally shook himself. How could he have forgotten Dru? She was still there, in prison in England. She was his priority: he had to get back for her sake and if that meant flying the Slayer across the Channel, then that was what he would have to do.
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