Chp 21 Safe and Sound?
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 21 Safe and Sound?
Somewhere in England, 1943
“Banging on the door isn’t going to do a bloody bit of good, Slayer!”
Buffy spun round and glared at the vampire lying indolently on a pile of hay in the corner of the barn. “What the heck are those guys playing at? Locking us up! And who are they, anyway? They’re not in uniform.”
Spike wriggled around to make himself comfortable. The injuries to his legs were mending but itching as they did so. “They’re from the Home Guard. Ordinary men who have ordinary jobs during the day and then play at soldiers in their spare time. You must have heard of them, even in the States. They are what stand between England and the hordes of the German army – God help us!”
Buffy thumped on the barn door again, but knew in her heart that no one was going to answer her. “Jeez, brave much, but those pitchforks aren’t going to be a real help against German tanks! And - what the heck are you doing?” Her eyes widened as the vampire had unbuttoned his trousers and was thrusting his hand down inside - “Stop it!”
“Vampire injuries always itch when they mend. Why, what did you think I was doing?” He raised an eyebrow and she turned away, angry with herself as the colour flooded up into her face.
“And where have they taken Aurora?”
Spike sighed and did up his fly buttons again. “That guy’s old woman took her off to change her nappy. And let’s face it, by the pong, it needed doing badly.”
Buffy struggled through the language barrier and worked out that the farmer’s wife had taken Aurora to change her diaper.
“She’ll be fine, Slayer. Stop worrying. Kids are resilient. Hey, perhaps they’ll adopt her – or were you thinking of doing that?”
“She’s Joy’s child – remember? But I still feel responsible for her. Joy entrusted her to me.”
Spike shrugged. He had a nasty feeling that the English Slayer’s time on this earth wasn’t going to be that long. He watched the American girl pace round the barn, checking out every possible way of escape. But the building was made of solid stone and had stood for hundreds of years. It was impregnable.
He wasn’t quite sure why he liked watching her move so much, but he did – she walked as if dancing, balanced, supple, every inch of her body ready for any type of action….
“For god’s sake sit down! You’re making me dizzy.”
“This is all your fault. If you’d just landed the plane, without crashing it, then we’d have been okay.” She flung herself down into the hay, suddenly bone weary. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d slept for more than a couple of hours: she was dirty, tired, hungry and if she’d had a fortune, she’d have given it all to be able to wash her hair.
“Relax, Slayer. The farmer bloke’s gone to phone some bigwig on the Council. They obviously know who uses the air-field. I expect they get a nice little rent for it.”
“Then what?” Buffy glanced at him, her gaze suddenly sharp. Her own future was worrying enough – would the Council believe who she was? Would they have the power to return her to her own time? And if they didn’t, what the heck would she do, living in 1943? She flinched as a voice inside her head whispered, ‘live your own life, no Dawn, no Scoobies, no mission, no responsibilities.’ Was that what she really wanted? No, she had to get back. But what if she couldn’t? Would that be so very bad? Spike was in this world and so -
Spike, William the Bloody – yes, this was his world but one in which he was a prisoner, fighting to keep Dru alive. The woman he loved beyond reason. She was only now realising just how much that was. Spike had had every chance to escape when he was in France, but he hadn’t. Dru meant that much to him, which was weird when she remembered that this Spike was unchipped, evil, without a soul or any shred of compassion.
And even if Dru hadn’t survived, there was no reason to believe or hope that Spike would look at her and - She snapped off her thoughts with years of practice.
“Do you know the guy in charge of the Council?”
Spike shrugged. “You mean the wanker who got me into this mess in the first place? Not sure if he’s in charge. Poncy git called Monroe. Officer in the Army, member of the Council and bit of a warlock, if my senses didn’t betray me.”
“What will happen to you – you know, with the not bringing Joy back from France?”
Spike rolled over on his side and grinned at her. “Ahh, Slayer, just for a second there, you sounded as if you really cared! Me – oh, I’ll probably finish up as a pile of dust on some prison floor.” He sighed, his eyes suddenly unhappy. “Like to have saved, Dru, but reckon she’s gone already. Council never big on keeping their word – especially a promise to a vamp.”
Impulsively, Buffy reached out to touch his hand. “So why did you do the whole flying to France and – well, you know – everything – if you thought your girlfriend had – well – had gone? Why didn’t you make a break for it?”
“You have some weird expressions, Slayer, but – “ he shrugged, “Always a chance I was wrong. You can’t go through life – or death in my case! – giving up because the odds are stacked against you. Like a bit of a fight, I do. Bit of a scrap. My grandsire – bloke called Liam – he’s always moaning on, wanting to walk away from trouble. Big girl’s blouse! Hey, he’s over in the States right now. When you get home, you could look him up. You’d probably like him – girls usually do! Mr Tall, Dark and Broody, that’s what I call him. Goes by the name of Angel.”
“Angel.” Buffy tried to keep her voice even. “I’ll remember that.”
Spike yawned. “God, I’m tired. Can you stop nattering for a few minutes, Slayer. I need to sleep.”
“Jeez! I wasn’t the one - !” Buffy began indignantly, but the vampire just grunted and wriggled himself deeper down into the hay. She watched as the dark lashes flickered down and a little snore sounded in the silence of the barn.
OK, he was without doubt, the most irritating man she had ever and would ever meet, but sleep seemed a good idea. She curled up at his side and her last thought was that she really must let go of the hand that was still clasping hers.
* * * * * *
Valerie Figgs, Witch in Residence to the Watcher’s Council, pushed her toad, Henry, back into her skirt pocket, knocked briskly on Colonel Monroe’s door and marched inside when his soft voice bade her enter.
The Colonel looked up from where he was packing a box with the books he refused to leave behind – and sighed. Valerie was a very large, very cheerful girl – he’d heard her heavy footsteps all the way along the corridor - but somehow her boundless energy exhausted him these days. He was so bloody tired!
“I say, Sir, I’ve just heard that you’re leaving us. Pretty bad show, if you don’t mind my saying so.”
The Colonel’s mouth twitched. “They’re calling it a promotion.” He gazed vacantly around the room. “I’ll miss you all, but Rochester is a nice little town. Lovely cathedral. Not much vampire activity, so I’m told, but I’m sure the Powers that Be have a good reason for sending me there.”
Valerie gazed at the man in front of her. Tall, dark haired, with a face that was too thin and too pale. Deep creases snagged their way down his cheeks and she realised the hands packing the books were shaking slightly. She recalled a remark someone had made in the staff canteen only the day before “Hear poor old Monroe’s been put out to grass. Having a bad war.”
She wondered fleetingly who was having a Good War. Too many young men could be seen on leave wearing expressions similar to Colonel Monroe’s. Young men whom only a couple of years ago had been at school when death was something you enjoyed during the Saturday morning pictures when the cowboys killed the Indians and saved the heroine from a dreadful fate.
“Did you want something, Valerie? Or was it just to say goodbye?”
“Oh! Yes, rather!” She jolted back to the present day. “This came into the office – “ She plunged her hand into her pocket, pulled out a fat green toad who promptly leapt for safety and a black and purple sweet, the size and shape of a large, unwrapped toffee.
“Came into - ?”
“Nice girl in the post room found it in the magical input tray. I’ve examined it, of course and it’s fascinating. From the future, would you believe?”
Frowning, Colonel Monroe picked up the sweet. “The future? What is it?”
“Well, Sir – “ Valerie was crawling under the desk to rescue Henry – “if I’m not mistaken, it’s a very sophisticated recall device. You know, return someone who’s out of their time back to where they came from. And I was wondering – Aha! Got you!” She grabbed Henry and stood up, her face flushed with success – “if it had anything to do with –“ she dropped her voice to a whisper that could have been heard three rooms away – “your extra Slayer problem.”
Colonel Monroe sat down, as if his legs could no longer carry him. Valerie was the only other person who’d known about his plans to bring a Slayer from the future to help rescue Joy. The witch’s help had been invaluable; it had taken all their joint power to send the details of the charm forward into a time when there was a spare Slayer in the world. He’d often wondered who she was and why there were two in existence in the future, but the signs told him that was the case.
He’d been so sure of himself – the portents told him clearly that the Slayer must be brought back to England at this time. If she failed to appear, then at some time in the not too distant future, the world would end.
And then having sent the vampire to rescue Joy, he’d had what seemed like a brilliant idea - to bring a second Slayer, one from the future, to help. In fact, some of the signs made it seem as if bringing the future Slayer to 1943 was vital in saving the world.
But days had passed and no news had reached England from France. Obviously his plan had gone badly wrong, William the Bloody had failed, Joy was still in France and Sir Philip Travers had made his views quite clear during their last interview.
“You’re obviously not well, old boy. Losing your touch. Need a long rest, somewhere quiet. Pack your things, there’s an opening in our branch in Rochester. Small town in Kent. Nice cathedral. On the Medway. Get a bit of sailing, perhaps. Forget about vampires and Slayers and saving the world.”
He’d gone on like that for some time, explaining that Slayers were dispensable items. You didn’t need to save them; that was a waste of time, resources and money because when one died, another appeared. It was an extremely economical system.
Colonel Monroe placed the charm on his desk and stared down at it. “So someone in the future knows that we called for a Slayer. That someone – “
“Must be a Witch in Residence – “ Valerie broke in cheerfully. “No one else would know which post room to use.”
“ – that someone also knows that the Slayer, for whatever reason, can’t get back to her own time and has made us a returning charm to give her.”
He laughed, but it wasn’t a happy sound. “That would be wonderful if the Slayer had succeeded and returned to England. She is probably either dead or shut up in a German prison and God knows what’s happened to Joy, although as another girl hasn’t been called yet, I suppose we can hope that – “
“I say, Sir!” Valerie looked at him wide-eyed. “I thought you knew, or maybe, what with you going to Rochester, perhaps Sir Philip didn’t want to bother you. I mean, I know people say he can be difficult and bad-tempered but I’ve always felt that – “
“Sir Philip didn’t want to bother me with what?”
Colonel Monroe had had long experience in cutting through to the heart of Valerie’s remarks.
“There was a coded message from France to say the vampire and the Slayer were flying back to England.” She glanced at her watch, ignoring Henry’s cross croaks at being turned upside down. “That was a few hours ago. They must have arrived by now. Lord, yes, but don’t worry, Sir. The old man’s pet assistant, Angus Rae, has been sent to take care of them. ”
* * * * *
Angus Rae stepped out of the Rolls and screwed his face up in disgust as his best Church’s leather shoes squelched into something vile. “So where are they?” he said abruptly to the oaf looming next to him.
“Good evening, sir. They’re safe and sound, never you mind. Got them in the barn, sir. Nice and quiet and dark, seeing as I was told to expect a vampire. No Colonel Monroe tonight, then?”
Angus walked gingerly across the farmyard towards the stone barn. “What? No, Monroe’s been – er – promoted. What did you do with the girl?”
The man looked bewildered. “Why, she’s in there with him, Sir. Wouldn’t be parted, they wouldn’t, try as I might and I didn’t want to damage anyone, not without instructions, like.”
Angus quickened his step. Stupid fool had locked their Slayer and a vampire into a barn together! Did the idiot have no brains at all? Well, maybe Joy would have done them all a favour and dispatched the vamp now they were back in England. After all, he’d only been needed to fly the plane and Joy would have realised that.
Silently he pointed at the heavy wooden bar holding the door shut and the farmer lifted it clear. Angus pushed the door open slightly, not bothering about the sunlight that flooded inside. He stared in, heard his breath hiss between his teeth as he reached for the stake he carried in a hand-made leather sheath that hung from his belt.
At the back of the barn, in the gloom, he could just make out two figures sprawled in the hay. One of them was William the Bloody and the other was a complete stranger, definitely not Joy. But – and this he realised, put a whole new twist on things - she was obviously another vampire because, even in sleep, their hands were clasped together.
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