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We Will Remember Them by Lilachigh
Chp 22 Promises, Promises
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We Will Remember Them…
By Lilachigh

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.
Laurence Binyon

We will remember them

Chapter 22 Promises, promises

Buffy was flying – soaring effortlessly through the air, out of time and place – woken from a warm dream to fly…….the air whooshed out of her lungs as she hit the ground, instinctively rolling over, on her feet, hand reaching for the stake in her belt.

Two figures were struggling in the gloom at the back of the barn – Spike held a guy with his arms twisted behind him and was angling his head to bite down on the exposed neck. The man was squealing in fear, his feet kicking up dust from the straw scattered on the barn floor.

She knew from the aching on her arms – his touch burnt her skin at any time – that it had been Spike who’d thrown her across the barn and even as she whirled round, another man fled out of the door, shutting out the daylight that was flooding in.

“Spike! Don’t!” But she was too late. The face she loved changed and fangs bit down to reach the blood he needed so badly. The man screamed, then began to gurgle as his life started to leave his body. Buffy hurtled across the barn and smashed a fist into the side of Spike’s head, pushing him flat on his back, away from his victim who dropped, groaning, to the ground.

Spike shimmered back into human face and stared up at her, anger and confusion vying for dominance in his eyes, blood still running down his chin. “Hey! What’s that for? I just saved your sodding life there, Slayer. He was about to stake you, which would have made a right mess of your miserable Slayer heart!”

Buffy knelt next to the man. Not a vampire, she’d known that immediately she’d seen him. And, thank god, he wasn’t dead, just shaken and petrified. She felt a wave of guilt sweep over her. She’d conveniently forgotten again that this was not her Spike. This man would think drinking a bag of pig’s blood bought from a butcher was the same as chewing on a sewer rat. He was hungry, he fought, he killed, he ate. And that was going to be the last time she forgot that or else other innocent people were going to suffer this fate.

She pulled a pristine white handkerchief from his top pocket and dabbed at the fang marks on the man’s neck. “Hey, I think you’ll be fine. Don’t worry. He won’t hurt you again.”

He struggled to sit up and she lifted him effortlessly to his feet. He stared at her, puzzled and backed away hastily as Spike stood up and glared at him, wiping away the remains of his meal with the back of a very dirty hand.

“Who are you?”

“My name’s Angus Rae. Who are you?”

Buffy frowned. “Are you from the Watcher’s Council? I sure hope you are, otherwise the next few minutes are going to be really complicated!”

Angus dabbed at the wound on his neck and threw a look of pure hatred in Spike’s direction. “How do you know about the Watcher’s Council, Miss - ?”

Buffy blinked, then took a deep breath. “I’m a Slayer. My name’s Buffy Summers and I’m from California in America.”

Angus Rae stared at her, his eyes widening. “I thought you were a vampire! You were holding hands with William the Bloody!”

“Told you the bastard was about to stake you, Slayer!”

“Be quiet!” Buffy hissed. “You’ve done enough damage.”

“Oh excuse me for saving your life! Excuse me for cluttering up your nice comfortable little meeting with Mr Watcher here. And anyhow, where’s that bloke Colonel Monroe? And what’s happened to my Dru?”

Angus Rae ignored him. He shuddered; how he hated vampires, they disgusted him. And that – that – thing had touched him! He could still feel the strength of those thin pale fingers on his flesh, the touch of that mouth on his skin! He’d been seconds from death, or something worse.

“So Joy is dead? An American Slayer – well, that is unusual. But how did you get involved with the vampire? And who’s your Watcher? I don’t understand.”

Buffy sighed and sat down on a hay bale. “Neither do I! It’s a long story but believe me, Joy isn’t dead. She decided to stay in France and fight the Nazis. But she is married – well, jeez, widowed now, I suppose and she has a daughter, Aurora.”

“A daughter!”

“She gave her to me to look after, to bring to England. The people at the farm are caring for her, but she needs someone in authority to take charge of her until Joy gets back.”

Angus waved a hand impatiently. “Yes, yes, we have all sorts of procedures for dealing with children, especially those orphaned by the fighting or bombing. I’ll take care of that. I still don’t understand how there can be two Slayers at any one time. This is something that Sir Philip needs to oversee. I think the best course of action will be for you to accompany me to Watchers’ Headquarters where the whole matter can be sorted out.”

Buffy sighed with relief. She’d been terrified that no one would believe her, but surely once the people in power listened to her story, they would find a way of getting her home.

“And what about me? I can’t travel during the day. And you still haven’t told me what’s happened to Dru? I kept my side of the bargain. I’ve brought you a poxy Slayer back from France. OK, not the one you were expecting, but one’s as good as another in my book. Or as bad!”

With one hand under Buffy’s elbow, Angus Rae edged towards the barn door. “I’ll make arrangements to have you transported to Headquarters,” he muttered. “In the meantime, you remain here, vampire.”

“What? No way am I staying locked up here – Slayer!” He flung himself towards the closing door, but was too late. He crashed against the solid oak as it shut behind them and he heard the heavy bar drop into place on the outside. Vamping out, he roared his anger and kicked violently against the unrelenting wood.

“Spike, calm down.” Buffy pressed her hand against the door, wincing as she heard and felt the raging fury inside. “It’s broad daylight. You can’t come out in this. They’ll send a car for you this evening, I’m sure. Let me sort things out. I promise – ” she hesitated, hating to say the next words, but knowing she had to – “I promise to do the very best I can to find out about your girlfriend when I get to Headquarters. Trust me.”

There was silence from inside the barn and for Buffy that was far worse than any rant William the Bloody could have made towards her. Did he trust her? She doubted it and, for some weird reason, that hurt her so much that she couldn’t even think about it.

‘This is the right thing to do,’ she thought, as she followed Angus Rae to his Rolls Royce and sat in the luxurious leather interior with Aurora on her lap, speeding away from the coast and heading inland. But as she cuddled the warm, chuckling child, doubts began to crowd in from all sides. She’d left Spike behind, abandoned him as a prisoner. But what else could she have done? He was dangerous around ordinary humans. He’d attacked Angus for no good reason and would have killed him if she hadn’t intervened. OK, he said the Council guy had been going to stake her, but that was so unlikely. He’d just over-reacted in the way Spike used to before – well, not really before, of course, but years later he would and – No! Nothing made sense.

But she’d had no choice but to leave him, no matter that her feelings told her to stay by his side: she had to reach someone in authority, someone who knew that she’d been summoned from the future and knew how to send her back.

“Do we have far to go?” she asked at last.

Angus shook his head. “No, quite close by. We’ve moved out of London, of course, to avoid the bombing. The Council offices are scattered across most of the southern counties. I believe there’s even an outpost as far away as Truro, but that’s going a bit too far. I mean Cornwall?” He laughed. “They don’t even know there’s a war on down there.”

“This Sir Philip, he’s your boss?”

“Sir Philip Travers, yes.”

“Travers?” Buffy’s voice squeaked. Jeez, was she never to be free from this family?

“Very clever man,” Angus said reverently. “I’ve learnt a great deal from him. Has no time for the namby-pamby dilettantes who’ve been running the Council up till now. Made a clean sweep, put all the old boys out to pasture and moved the ones who are too nervy for their own good, too busy imagining all sorts of dire apocalypses to places where they can’t do any harm.”

“Sounds a real star,” Buffy murmured.

“Indeed he is.”

She stared out at the passing fields and woodlands. Lush grass, cows placidly chewing, big black birds circling round the tops of tall trees. The war, the death and destruction in France, all seemed a long way away, but she knew that every night in the towns and cities of Britain the bombs rained down, shattering buildings, destroying lives. It was tempting to ask Angus if there was a Mr Giles working for the Council at the moment, but the thought of meeting Rupert’s father was just too bizarre.

Suddenly the big car slowed, turned through a wide entrance between two tall stone pillars and continued slowly up a gravel drive full of weeds that wound its way between overgrown shrubbery.

“Ah, home at last,” Angus said cheerfully. “I expect you could do with a nice cup of tea.” He laughed. “We can’t run to coffee at the moment, I’m afraid.”

“All I need is a hot shower,” Buffy said wearily, clambering out of the car and gazing up at the stone portico of the vast mansion that lay before her. She hefted Aurora onto her hip, aware that even in a few days, the child felt heavier, her dark hair thicker and longer. For a few seconds Buffy wondered if Joy was still alive, but surely she must be because Angus would have known if another Slayer had been called.

She dropped a kiss on the baby’s head as a brisk woman in uniform plucked her from Buffy’s arms and carried her away.

“Her name’s Aurora,” Buffy called after them. “She’s half French. Her mother is the Slayer.” But the woman didn’t look round and Buffy’s last glimpse of the little girl was two dark eyes gazing back at her over a starched khaki shoulder, a gleam of gold at the chubby neck.

Angus ushered her up the steps into the house, through the echoing depths of the central hall whose black and white checked floor tiles were cracked and broken, the pale squares on the dingy walls reminders of paintings and tapestries long buried in some far away vault out of harm’s way.

He escorted her into a small room off the central hall “If you would kindly wait here, Miss Summers, I’ll see if Sir Philip is busy. I know he’ll be anxious to talk to you.”

Buffy spun round. “Hey, talking’s good, but I need to know what you’re planning on doing about Spike. Can you collect him tonight? He can’t stay in that barn much longer.”

The Englishman pulled a face and touched the bite marks on his neck, trying to hide the shudder that coursed through his body. “Yes, yes, well, we’ll have to see what Sir Philip says, won’t we?”

Buffy frowned. “Hey, this isn’t negotiable. I promised him. He saved my life in France. He saved your Slayer’s life. You owe him – ”

Angus raised a hand to stop her. “My dear Miss Summers, you may have your own quaint American ways of dealing with vampires, but I can assure you that over here, we only have one way. And that is to dust them as quickly as possible.”

“But – ”

“Oh, I appreciate that he was useful. Obviously we needed someone to fly the plane out to France and hopefully rescue Joy. But let’s face it, he failed to do so and even managed to crash the plane on your return – a very valuable asset to the Council that is now ruined beyond repair, I might add. In my opinion, William the Bloody is owed nothing by us and I’m sure Sir Philip will agree with me.”

Buffy stared at the smooth, implacable face in front of her. “But I promised,” she repeated slowly.

Angus laughed as he opened the door. “Come, come, Miss Summers. A promise to a vampire is no promise at all!”


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