Chp 32 Run Now, Think Later
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.
Run Now, Think Later
In the basement of the Watchers’ Council in London, the Witch in Residence, Dorcas Twigg sighed heavily and tapped her finger against the glass globe in front of her. “Rupert, please stop breathing so heavily. I can see nothing when the glass is all misty!”
The man leaning over her shoulder winced and took a small step backwards. “Sorry! But Dorcas, she should be back by now! Buffy’s been gone for four days in our time. I was told only two days would pass before she returned. It’s double that now!”
Dorcas flicked a long mauve scarf back over her shoulder and leaning forward, peered earnestly into the glass. She hated using this clichéd way of summoning the past; it wasn’t accurate and made her feel like a fortune-teller in a fun-fair. But people like Rupert seemed to think it was a sign that she was working, rather than watching her sit, stroking Flanagan’s scaly head and letting her powers take her where she wanted to go.
“Time lines are never easy to read. At the moment it seems as if all is well, that the Slayer has either succeeded in her mission or is about to. I think there would be much more disruption in the evidence if she’d failed in some way.”
“Then why isn’t she home? You said the charm had been sent and received. So what did Buffy do then? Why didn’t she eat it and come home? Can’t you contact that witch again and ask her? Aren’t there records – diaries – what about the Watchers’ records for 1943?” Giles tried to keep his voice steady, but the long stream of agitated questions showed how the worry was beginning to grow and grow.
He’d already had to deal with an irritated Willow on the phone, wanting to know how long Buffy was going to be away on Watcher business. He was booked on a flight back to the States that night, determined to be on hand in case he was needed when his Slayer finally returned.
Dorcas sighed again and hushed Flanagan who was croaking in a way she was sure he didn’t mean to sound rude – but it did. “There was a war on, Rupert, dear boy. The records were scattered throughout the country to keep them safe from the Blitz. Most of them vanished without trace. You know that Quentin discovered a Slayer had to be sent back to 1943 – because a Slayer had been sent back! - from the odd notes someone had left that were found quite recently in Rochester. And sadly I’ve used up all my powers for a while to contact 1943 directly through the globe. I can only look and try to make sense of the time lines.”
“So what is she doing? Is she still alive?”
The witch sat up as the light faded from the glass ball. Wearily she rubbed her eyes then winced. The raw garlic she’d chopped up that morning – weirdly, Flanagan seemed to enjoy it – stung and she blinked away the tears.
“Yes – well, I think so. There’s certainly a lot of emotional energy being sent out from that time, but that’s probably due to the War. Thousands of people were dying and fighting. Finding a trace of one girl and a vampire isn’t easy!”
She could say no more, but after Rupert Giles had left, his frown deepening by the second, Dorcas held out her hand and stared down at Flanagan as he settled down in her palm, burping gently.
“Something isn’t right, is it? I do wish you could talk, Flan! You could tell me, couldn’t you? Is it the charm? Didn’t I make it strong enough to bring her back? Is it the vampire who’s the trouble? Oh, I wish some of my predecessors’ records still existed.”
Suddenly an idea hit her and dropping an irritated toad onto her desk, she began to pull ancient books off the shelves, throwing them carelessly onto the floor as she hunted for one entry she knew she had seen at some time. And there it was! The charm she had made so carefully and sent back in time to 1943 worked perfectly well in returning one person to their own time and wiping their memory as it did so. But, if for some reason, the charm was shared, then physical contact had to exist between the two people involved and if even the slightest part of the charm was lost, then its power to wipe memories completely was diluted.
“But that can’t have happened,” Dorcas muttered. “Why should the charm have been diluted, even if it was used by two people?”
Flanagan, who didn’t do guilt, licked his lips reminiscently. The purple and black charm that he’d been forced to sit on for many hours in the Slayer’s pocket when he’d been called Henry, had tasted too sweet. He’d only had a few small licks to sustain him on the journey. He dismissed it from his mind and wondered when lunch would arrive.
Dorcas sat gloomily considering the myriad problems of trying to influence the past, wondering exactly what Buffy Summers was doing at that very moment and whether it would or could have any bearing on the future of the world…..
Darkness – utter darkness - as if every gleam of light in the world had been destroyed. The doctors and their dreadful experiments, the uncaged demons and vampires now free to roam and feed, everything faded to nothing. The hands holding Buffy, the icy lips on her mouth were the only real things in the world. If Spike took them away, then she knew she would be lost, she would fall down, down, down, through the dark into loss, loneliness, despair.
Spike felt her fingers tangle in his hair, pulling it, twisting his head to get his kiss even deeper. Her mouth was burning against his and he was aware of a hunger beginning to grow in him that he had never felt before. He couldn’t break away, didn’t want to break away, but he had to because if he didn’t he would fall down and down and down and be lost forever….as his fingers touched hot skin and he couldn’t stop the moan echoing inside his chest….
Time stopped - she was warm and safe and happy, once more she was in heaven and this time no one was going to pull her out, back to reality, back to a world where –
Suddenly, from a long way beneath them, a bright flash of light threw dancing shadows up the shaft of the dumb-waiter and the distant sound of shouting echoed up towards them.
Vampire senses for survival kicked in, bringing Spike spiralling back to the real world. “Oh sod! Some bugger’s found us.”
The harsh words broke Buffy out of her dream and the heat of her body turned her damp t-shirt to ice. This was no heaven; they were trapped inside a cold stone shaft in the middle of a French chateau with the German guardroom only inches away on the other side of the dumbwaiter shutters. Below them the sounds of a battle raged – screams and shots fired as the guards tried to cope with the demons and vampires Spike had freed.
And it wasn’t her Spike kissing her, it was a deadly vampire who was obviously just using her because – well because that was what men did when given the chance! They kissed you and left you and - Ruthlessly she thrust the thoughts away. She wanted this vampire to leave her! She was leaving him and the sooner the better.
“Pull the ropes. Send us further up! There must be an exit into another room,” she snapped, knowing that silence was no longer an option.
Spike could hear some of the shouted orders coming from the basement area. “Too late! They’ll start firing up the shaft any second now, Slayer. No time to get higher. We bail out here!”
“No – wait – you can’t ! ”
But it was too late. Spike let go of her, half turned in the small space and kicked at the wooden shutters covering the dumb-waiter opening into the German guard-room. With a roar, he flung himself through the splinters, leaping down onto the floor in full vamp face, fangs glistening, the blood lust burning in his yellow eyes.
The young German soldiers in the room were relaxing, laughing, joking, jackets off, eating a meal when Hell on earth suddenly appeared amongst them. Two died almost immediately, their necks broken before they could leave their chairs. The rest headed for the door in a terrified yelling mob except for one who turned to fight, reaching for his rifle, then he tripped. Spike pounced like a great cat.
Buffy followed through the broken slats then grabbed at Spike’s arm as his fangs dug deeply into a young man’s throat and he began to feed.
“Spike! Stop! William – please. Spike!” Using all her strength she hurled him off the body and across the room. He crashed into a bookcase and slid to the floor, half dazed, his face switching back to human, his expression suddenly bewildered and – although it was stupid to think it – upset.
“No feeding! Oh God, you’ve killed them. You didn’t need to do that. They’re only kids. Why – Jeez, Spike. Get up! We’ve got to get out of here. But I’m telling you, if you try feeding on anyone again, I will stake you where you stand!”
Tightlipped, so angry with herself that she could hardly think, she raced for the door. The soldiers had vanished and across the wide expanse of the gloomy entrance hall she could see the open front door of the Chateau and outside the dusk of a lovely evening in France. Her feet echoed on the stone slabs as she ran – Fool ! – Vampire! – Moron! – Vampire! – Not Spike – Is Spike – Son of a Bitch! - Not Spike – Idiot! Fool! - Jerk! – Vampire!
Buffy could hear Spike’s boots thudding across the hall behind her. She didn’t know whether to be pleased or sorry that he was following her. Whatever was happening between them was so wrong – he was evil! A plain, unchipped, evil, killing machine. And time and again she forgot that. Time and again he only had to touch her, and the years between vanished in a blink.
‘I’m a pathetic excuse for a Slayer,’ she thought as she reached the door and years of training took over, her emotions were banished once more and she stared round, assessing the danger outside. ‘Sent back all this way just to mess up big time. I can just imagine what Giles would say if he knew!’
Bitch! – Bitch! – Bitch! – Bitch! – Bitch! – Spike’s boots beat out one word as he loped across the great hallway. Trust a Slayer to come on all hot and willing one moment, then threaten to stake him just because a couple of Germans got killed and he was having the first decent meal he’d had for days! Now they were on the run again – and he was fed up! He wanted to fight – anyone, anywhere, vamp, demon, Bosch, Brit, Yank, Frog, even a bloody Aussie if he could find one!
As she peered out of the doorway, he stood sullenly behind her, his gaze tight on the curve of the slender white neck he could see under her stupid blonde hair that was tied back, looking like the unbrushed tail on a pony.
He lifted his head as the noise from behind them grew louder. It sounded as if the soldiers had regrouped and he was certain they would be out for revenge. “Once you’ve finished admiring the view, it might be a good idea to get your arse moving, Slayer. I can outrun most things and the odd bullet won’t harm me, but your soft Yankee skin might look a bit odd with holes in it.”
Buffy hesitated; she glanced over her shoulder but the hall remained empty, although shadows were moving at the far end but the were too far away to tell if they were human or demon.
She knew he was right, but once they left the Chateau any chance she might have had to accomplish something of her mission would be lost forever. “What’s happened to the demons and vamps you released in the laboratory? Are they all dead or have I got to deal with them as well?”
Spike shrugged. “Reckon the guards took out some of them, but they were strong, fit – I expect some have managed to escape. You can ‘deal’ with them, if you want to, Slayer, but seems like a waste of time and effort to me!”
“I need time to think,” she muttered. “Dr. Walsh’s father is returning from Berlin tomorrow, so he said. That’s the only chance I’ve got now of stopping these experiments.”
Spike jerked his head impatiently, grabbed her hand and half pulled half lifted her down the long flight of stone steps that led down to the driveway. “Run now, think later, Slayer. Always been my policy. Now move it, fast!”
And bending low, they sped across the grass as bullets spat at them and then, just as they reached the shelter of the woods, Buffy gasped as a stinging pain tore through her shoulder and she was sent tumbling over and over onto the muddy ground.
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