24 Enough for Two?
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 24 Enough for Two?
Buffy moaned – then moaned again – hot water! Wonderful hot water on her body, soaking her hair, washing away days of grime and sweat and – well, never mind what else it was washing away. After all, as Sir Philip Travers had said to her recently, “there is a War on!” and people often did things during times of great stress that they shouldn’t do. Making love with Spike in France had been stupid, okay, she knew that, but that was behind her now. He was William the Bloody and she would not forget it again.
The sliver of a soap that smelt of disinfectant was growing even more transparent by the time she reluctantly stepped out of the bath and scrubbed herself dry with a thin towel that smelt of sunshine and a windy day. She found herself deciding that when she got home, she would always hang their clothes outside in the fresh air, not rely on the dryer in the basement –
She combed her wet hair with her fingers and tried to think. Would she ever get home? After he’d rescued them, she’d followed Colonel Monroe out of the Council’s mansion house, half carrying the badly beaten vampire, waiting all the time for sounds of pursuit. Monroe had pushed them into the back of a car and driven away into the dark of the English countryside, down lanes so narrow the bushes and trees brushed the sides of the vehicle as it passed.
“Can you keep him under control?” Monroe had said as they’d been tossed from side to side – the car jolting over deep ruts, branches scratching the windscreen. Buffy could see his face reflected in the window – he looked ill, pale and drawn, as if every ounce of his energy was being used to keep himself going.
“He’s OK. He won’t hurt me or you – at the moment.”
“It’s the next moment I’m more worried about,” Monroe muttered. “And the one after that. I’m still trying to tell myself I’ve got a live vampire in my car and he isn’t bound and gagged!”
Buffy heard Spike wince and curse as the jolting threw him against the side of the car. “He’s beginning to moan – he must be feeling better! I’ll gag him for you if he gets too loud.”
The Colonel laughed. “You sound as if you know him very well, Miss Summers. You’ve become very familiar with the vampire during your short time in France.”
Buffy muttered a vague reply, glad he couldn’t see the colour flood up into her cheeks. What would he say if she told him that she knew Spike better than anyone? That every inch of the body pressed against hers now was as familiar to her as her own? And not from the few days they’d been together fighting the Nazis – no, from a time he would never know – well, not unless he lived to be very, very old…
Finally they’d broken out of the woods and driven down a road into a village, stopping outside a small, stone house. Buffy had been so thankful to get indoors that she had hardly noticed who opened the door to them. A woman, who didn’t seem at all surprised to see them, had ushered her upstairs, and showed her to the bathroom. “Wash first, then we’ll talk, Miss Slayer,” she’d said briskly.
“Spike ? “
“You mean William the Bloody? You call him Spike? What an odd name. Is that what he calls himself? I must add it to our records. Don’t worry - we’ll take care of the vampire. Throw your clothes out onto the landing and I’ll find you something clean to wear. Nothing will fit –“ she laughed, sounding as if vampires and grubby Slayers appeared on her doorstep every day – “but I don’t expect that will bother you!”
Now Buffy opened the bathroom door and peered round it, clutching the wet towel. She found a small pile of clothes on the floor and once she’d shooed away a very large toad that was sitting on top of them, she could get dressed. The shirt and some much washed type of overalls were far too large but there was a belt and with that cinched to its tightest and the sleeves rolled up to her elbows, she was at least decent.
There was no sign of her jeans or shoes and barefoot she padded along the narrow passageway. Suddenly she stopped: vampire – Spike! She sensed him with every fibre of her body. Pushing open a door, she found a small room and Spike, tied to a chair, staring at the doorway, the blood still marking his face, the bruises purple on his pale skin.
“Took you long enough to get clean, Slayer! Blimey, what is it with you Yanks and hot water? And you stink of carbolic soap! Even a Fljeeisj demon could smell you yards away and they don’t even have a nose!”
Buffy found herself smiling, almost against her will. She’d been more worried about the extent of Spike’s injuries than she’d liked to admit, but the snarling sarcasm meant, to her ears, that he was on the mend.
“Jeez, Spike, why do you always moan when you’re healing, never when you’re actually injured?”
Sharp blue eyes gleamed beneath the dark brows and brown hair she was now used to - “You know that’s not the first time you’ve sounded as if we’ve met before, Slayer. Just what the hell’s going on? I know I would have remembered you – Slayer and all that, right? So it’s some sort of mojo, isn’t it? To make me forget things. Have you been doing spells like our nancy boy Colonel?”
“I’m the Slayer, not a witch!”
Spike struggled against the ropes that tied him to the chair, then gave up, vamping out and back again. The beating from the Council had been bad but not that bad. Bloody hell, he’d had far worse from Liam in the past and learnt to bear it without a murmur because wincing just added to his grand-sire’s pleasure. No, he was groaning because he had the feeling he’d been made a fool of by this slip of a girl. He’d – well, not trusted her because Big Bad would never believe a word a Slayer said to him – but he had to admit he’d sort of come to respect her in France. When she’d left him in that barn, left him to be captured and beaten by the Council, he’d felt – betrayed? Yes, he was man enough to admit it – he’d felt sodding well betrayed!
And here she was now, standing there in a pair of dungarees several sizes too large for her, with bare feet, wet hair pulled back in a silly knot, smelling of carbolic soap and part of him was still determined to forgive her. So it had to be magic!
“You haven’t answered my question. Why do I feel we’ve met before?”
“We’d like to hear your answer, too, Miss Summers.”
Buffy spun round to see Colonel Monroe and the woman who’d spoken to her when she arrived standing in the doorway. She blinked as she realised the large toad was now sitting on the woman’s shoulder, blinking emerald eyes in her direction and croaking gently.
“My name’s Monroe, as I think you both know. The vampire and I met a few weeks ago.”
Spike snarled up at him. “You promised if I went to France and rescued your Slayer, then Dru would live. Well, I got you a Slayer, even if it wasn’t the one you wanted. But you couldn’t keep your promise, could you? Wanker!”
Colonel Monroe sighed. “The female vampire, the one you call Dru is, as far as I know, unharmed.”
Spike blinked and a warm smile slowly spread across his face. Buffy bit her lip, astonished at the flood of jealousy that raged through her at the sight of that expression.
“Not dead? Then – oh, don’t tell me – she escaped, right? Ha! I’ve always said the prison hasn’t been built yet that could hold my Dark Princess! Good for Dru! And I bet she didn’t go without – “
“She killed three men!”
“That’s my girl!” Spike beamed round the room and then fell silent as he realised his glee wasn’t being reciprocated. “Well, I mean, I’m sorry and all that – No, I’m sodding not! Dru’s a vampire. It’s what we do. No wonder the Council decided to get rid of me; with her gone, they had no way of making me jump through their little hoops!” He frowned: “But why did you save me? And what gives with toady over there?”
“I rescued you because I thought it unlikely Miss Summers would leave without you. And the toad, whose name is Henry, belongs to Miss Valerie Figgs, here, who is Witch in Residence to the Watchers’ Council. This is her sister’s house we’re in. Luckily, the lady in question is away.”
“I knew there was mojo involved! Just bloody well knew it!”
Valerie walked up to Buffy and stared into her face. “You’re a long way from home, my dear. A very long way, but we’re not sure just how far.”
Buffy glanced at Spike who had fallen silent and was obviously listening to every word. “You two, you’re the ones who sent for me?”
Colonel Monroe nodded wearily. “All the signs told me that a Slayer from another time and place had to come to France because if she didn’t, the world would end. It was clear that there were two Slayers at one time, so one could be spared. It seems obvious that you were meant to rescue Joy, our Slayer who obviously has some great task ahead of her, but you haven’t and so – well, I’m afraid it looks as if the world will have to look after itself. Mind you, if the War goes badly for us all, then that will happen anyway.”
“Jeez, you don’t have to worry – “
“No – you must say nothing to us. Nothing at all. I’m deeply sorry that we have caused you all this trouble for nothing. Miss Figgs has a charm – sent to us by – well, future colleagues in the Council, be they British or German – that will send you home. I’m not quite sure why you weren’t given a return potion by whoever read my instructions, but at least they made amends finally.”
Buffy shuddered: she remembered the dreadful feeling of betrayal when the liquid Quentin Travers had given her failed to work. She wondered who had realised she was trapped in 1943, who had cared enough to try and rescue her and bring her home. She felt a wave of something very like disappointment sweep over her. Which, hey, ridiculous much! She had to go home, wanted to go home, of course she did.
“OK, that’s great. They’ll all be worried sick, especially my sister, Dawn; I’ve been away longer than – “
“Oh no, that’s not how it works!” Valerie said cheerfully, rescuing Henry who’d jumped onto Spike’s knee and was staring at him with an interested expression on his face. “Only two days will ever pass in your home while you’re away. That’s part of the charm. And quite a clever one, even if I say so who shouldn’t.”
“So I could stay?”
The Colonel smiled wearily. “Well, of course, physically you could, but there’s all the problem of you saying something to someone – well, you understand the difficulties.”
Buffy nodded. Of course she had to go home. “And will I remember everything – France, Joy, Aurora – “ She threw a quick glance sideways – “Spike?”
Valerie shook her head. “No, the charm wipes away everything, as if it never happened. And, of course, nothing has! You failed to rescue the Slayer and so the future will continue unchecked.”
“And what happens to Spike now?”
“Oh, remembered about me, have you, sweetheart! That’s the last time I save your miserable Slayer life, for all the gratitude it gets me.”
“The vampire will be released, unharmed, as long as he promises to leave England as soon as possible.”
“Can’t wait! Poxy place. I’m heading for Europe. Easy pickings out there at the moment. Blood by the gallon. Bet that’s where Dru’s gone.”
Colonel Monroe stared at him in disgust. “I thought you had some love for your country left inside you?”
“What me? Bloody hell, no. What’s England ever done for me?” Spike shrugged, wishing desperately for a cigarette and knowing from the gleam in the Slayer’s eyes that she didn’t believe a word he was saying.
“Right, then, I suggest we have a meal and then we can get to work,” Valerie said, clapping her hands together. “I’ll cook breakfast – I think the hens laid a couple of eggs yesterday - and check on the rules governing the charm. There might have to be some little ritual. There usually is.”
Buffy nodded as the witch left the room, then frowned as a thought hit her. “Um… Colonel, you say I’ll forget everything when I take the charm, but how will you make Spike forget what’s happened?”
“I’m not taking some sodding charm! Why do I have to forget anything? I hate magic. There’s always consequences with magic.”
Colonel Monroe looked at the slim girl in front of him. She looked almost childlike in the oversized overalls, her feet bare. He’d seen the way her gaze rested on the vampire, almost as if – as if she was fond of him. Which was ridiculous, of course, but he supposed there might be some little attachment, even between a Slayer and a vampire when they’d gone through a war zone together.
“Well, I don’t want to upset anyone, but vampires don’t have a long existence on earth, Miss Summers, as you know very well. I truthfully believe that William the Bloody will not be with us by this time next year so his memories will make no difference.”
Buffy bit her lip and walked across to the window to look out at the dark night sky. It was windy and ragged clouds were scuttling across the moon. She knew it was the same moon she saw from the yard in Sunnydale, but she still felt a long way from home. Colonel Monroe joined her
“I hate to ruin your plan, but Spike is still with us in 2001. The charm must work on me because I had no memory of him when we first met. Jeez – I just wanted to stake the idiot.” But of course, she hadn’t, and that was the million-dollar question. Why not?
She was back outside the Bronze, the leather-coated guy clapping his hands as she fought and dispatched a vampire. Then at the school – she’d had plenty of chances to kill him, but hadn’t. All through these years she hadn’t staked him; let him live. Had she known, somewhere deep inside her that they had met before? Had the bond that existed between them been there even then? Had he sensed the same thing?
She shook her head and cast a quick look across the room to where Spike was watching her, his eyes puzzled and wary. “I’m quite certain he had no memories of me at all when we first met. So is there enough charm for the two of us? And it isn’t just a memory wipe thingy, is it? I’ll go forward in time, but where will it send Spike if he takes it?”
There was a noise at the door and Valerie Figg came in, her normally cheerful face grave. “I heard what you said. And we have a problem. Well, two, actually.”
Colonel Monroe groaned and ran his fingers through his hair. “And they are?’
Valerie held out a large purple and black striped lozenge. “I can cut this in two, no problem. I think it is strong enough to wipe both their memories and Miss Summers should be returned home. The vampire was here to start with, so I think he will remain here.”
“So where’s the problem?” Buffy realised she was standing behind Spike’s chair, her hand resting casually on his shoulder. She realised Colonel Monroe was looking at her and whipped it away as if it had been burnt.
Valerie looked abashed. “Well, firstly – and hopefully this part won’t be too difficult to arrange – you will have to go back to France, because the charm to recall you has to be taken in the place where you arrived, so to speak. But secondly – ”
“How can I put this – according to my sources, it will only work on two people if they have a – er – a connection, a physical connection,” she finished, almost under her breath.
“You mean I have to hold his hand? I can manage that.”
Spike, who still didn’t understand what the hell was going on, could read the woman’s face far better than the American girl. “No, she means a real physical connection, Slayer. For some weird reason, the witch wants us to have sex!”
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