TITLE: A Future of the Past

DISCLAIMER: It's not mine and it's not fair! It belongs to God (aka Joss)

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Chapter 3 ~ Watch me

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"I win!"

"Ugh - Again?" Dawn asked staring at Anya, somehow sure that the game was fixed,

"You have to be cheating?" She said standing up and stretching,

"How can you cheat - at - at -" she looked at Xander for some kind of information as to what the game was called,

"Jenga." He said nodding at his girlfriend,

"At Jenga! I'm just good at this is all!" Anya said smiling gleefully before starting to stack the pieces again.

"Shall we play again?"

"Who wants a drink?" Dawn asked moving away to the kitchen,

"I'll help you with that." Xander said following her lead,

"I'll set up another game then." Anya called after them.

"God no." Dawn sobbed as she pulled a bottle of juice out the fridge,

"It'll be alright. Buff'll be back soon."

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Buffy pulled her Watcher to his feet awkwardly, holding him steady as he swayed heavily on his feet. She watched him rub at the back of his neck as they started to move towards Willow and Tara who were bringing themselves to their feet,

"Well done you two." Giles said, his words slurring. Willow looked up beaming, but her smile faded as her eyes fell on Giles,

"Giles you look awful." She said as she watched him sway, but Buffy was there, grabbing at his arm causing him to immediately recoil, hissing through his teeth. Buffy apologised as she sat him on a nearby bench. Willow turned for a moment to help her girlfriend to her feet before they both moved to stand over Buffy and Giles seated on the bench.

"Buffy I'm just tired is all. I haven't been sleeping well lately." Buffy didn't care about the words that were coming out of Giles mouth; she was more interested in his arm, which looked like it had been put through a shredder,

"Hospital first, then home." She said putting her arm round him and pulling him to his feet again. Willow's eyes watched Giles in concern as a bruise started to appear above his right eye where he had been thrown to the ground.

"Buffy I'm perfectly able to stand on my own two feet."

"Oh really?" Buffy asked sarcastically, moving away from him. She watched him for a moment as he swayed violently, descending into a fit of coughs. She caught him before he hit the deck,

"How you planning on getting to the hospital now Giles? You gonna crawl there?" she said a harshness in her voice. He didn't reply, only looking at her, defeat in his eyes.

"Sorry." She mumbled, before turning to Willow and Tara,

"Go home and call Xander. Tell him to come to the hospital." She said before moving off, her Watcher draped over her as he started to cough again. He stopped her though,

"Buffy -" his voice was hoarse and rasping,

"Buffy there was a girl. She came through the portal. She -" she hushed him as they continued to head towards the opposite graveyard entrance from the one they had come in,

"Spike's gone after her."

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"Oi!" Spike called as he continued to chase the girl down the alley, hoping she would turn left into the dead end, but he had already found that she knew the streets of Sunnydale pretty well,

"I want answers!" he called as he watched her disappear round the corner. He turned a moment later only to discover the girl had disappeared. He stopped running, panting heavily, and leaning on his knees for a moment,

"Blood-" he was cut off as someone jumped him from behind, knocking him to the ground in the alley. She flipped him and he was face to face with the girl he had been chasing,

"Spike!" she said in surprise, getting off him and pulling him to his feet,

"I thought you were him." She said apologetically. Spike looked at the girl confused,

"How do you know me love, when I don't know you?" the girl watched him confusion in her eyes,

"You don't know me?" she asked, her voice wavering,

"Sorry love. All I know is you came through a portal along with them demons who told me I had a soul, when all's I got is this bloody chip in me head." He said pointing a finger at his head,

"Which by the way love I would really like some answers about."

"Portal? You mean I'm not - what year is this?" she asked looking him in the eyes,

"Millennium. Year 2000. What the hell's that got to do with my answers?"

"It's 2000. I'm from 2000. I came through a portal. You don't have a soul here. Buffy, she's not dead right?"

"Slayer? Nope she's still alive and kicking." The girl nodded, before continuing to think,

"Xander and Will still in Sunnydale? Dawn - she's still here? Oz? Angelus?" Spike didn't know what to say to the poor kid,

"Things not like this in your world?" the girl shook her head,

"Giles? He's not - he's -" the girl couldn't seem to get a sentence out,

"Old Watcher's still alive too. Although he's getting a bit old and rough around the edges." Spike paused watching her for a moment, as she looked about her feet with a scared, hungry look.

"Mind telling me your name and life story seen as you know a hell of a lot 'bout me?" the girl looked up at him, a sense of confusion about her,

"Erin." She said after a moment,

"I'm - I live here, other here though." She paused as she watched the wall behind Spike for a moment, before she brought her eyes to look at his,

"I don't exist here do I?" she asked the blond vampire. He was taken aback by the question and didn't know quite what to say that would make her happy so he stayed quiet.

"This - everything sucks because of me." Her knees gave out as the shock sunk in. She started to breath shallowly,

"I - he could still be alive. Everything could be - you could be happy - all of it." This girl Erin wasn't making sense to Spike anymore. He knelt beside the girl, eyes now dashing about the alley wildly,

"Oh God." She hissed through clenched teeth, as she suddenly stopped breathing, after hyperventilating for so long. Spike put a hand on her shoulder,

"Bloody hell love, breathe. You'll pass -" she collapsed on the floor of the alley,

"Out." Spike sighed heavily, watching the somehow familiar girl. Maybe she did exist in this world, but her world was obviously a lot worse than this place. He thought it best to take the girl to the Scoobies. As much as he hated the Slayer and her little band, he still wasn't willing to leave the girl lying in the streets for any hungry vamp to come along and take as a snack. He felt sorry for her, cast into a world she didn't know that somehow seemed a whole lot better than hers by the sound of it,

"Poor kid." He mumbled under his breath as he lifted her up in his arms. She was a kid he supposed; I mean she didn't seem any older than Dawn. He shifted her weight in his arms as he headed down another alley, keeping to the shadows as he made his way to the Slayer's house.

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Buffy put her Watcher down in one of the waiting room seats before she went to the desk. The ER seemed quiet for a Saturday night in Sunnydale she thought as she gave the nurse Giles name and details. The nurse had a knowing smile on her face as she typed away at the computer,

"Someone should be with you soon Miss Summers." Buffy smiled at the nurse, sure she recognized her before seating herself next to Giles who seemed to be dozing, his right arm hung limply at his side. Her and Giles had become well known at Sunnydale General by now, it seemed they knew almost all of the nursing staff and doctors, especially the ones who were on night shift. Buffy carefully lifted Giles arm up from where it was dangling beside him and pulled his jumper tighter over the gapping wounds, afraid that if they left them out here much longer he would bleed to death.

"Mr. Giles?" Buffy looked up swiftly at the familiar face; her hands still wrapped round Giles arm. She smiled nervously at Dr. Wells before turning to look at Giles. His eyes were still closed and Buffy was going to nudge him but Joanna was there first,

"Rupert?" she asked placing a hand on his shoulder. His eyes opened suddenly, searching for the owner of the voice and finding it in front of him, the familiar figure of his doctor smiling warmly at him. They both helped him to his feet, Buffy placing an arm round him as Dr. Wells lead them down the corridor and into a cubical. Buffy helped him onto the bed and moved away, knowing the doctor needed room to work,

"If you'd wait outside please Miss. Summers?" Buffy nodded nervously casting a wary glance at Giles before retreating out the cubical. She hesitated as the curtain was pulled back over, and soon decided it wasn't her place to hear the conversation, moving down the corridor to the coffee machine.

Dr. Wells parted the shredded sleeve of his jumper, inspecting his arm and the deep gouges that had been taken out of it,

"You'll need quite a few stitches." She said under her breath, but Giles did not reply, his eyes had closed again. Her brow crumpled as she watched the man that had become her most frequent patient. She placed his arm back on the gurney, which caused him to frown, groaning in pain. He opened his eyes to meet that of the doctors.

"You'll need some stitches Rupert." She repeated as her eyes fell on the forming bruise on his temple,

"Been hitting things with your head again?" she asked, a faint smile on her face, before inspecting is head.

"The ground." He mumbled under his breath,

"Headache?"

"Yes." He said answered faintly, as if he was ashamed of it,

"I don't think you've done any serious damage to your head this time." She said watching him swallow painfully, before asking him to open his mouth. After several 'ahs' and blinking of torches in eyes, and asking of many more questions she started to write on his chart,

"I'll get someone to come stitch your arm up. But I want you to take it easy for the next couple of weeks. You've been ill for a day or so yes?" she watched as he nodded in resignation,

"My guess is, knowing you, you haven't been off of work either. I suggest you take some time off. Unless of course you want to be taking up residence with us for a week? You've got the flu and if you don't take it easy you'll get pneumonia." She moved towards the curtain, pulling it back,

"Let Miss. Summers take care of you of you for a while instead of the other way round." And with that she left Giles alone. He tried to dwell on that thought of Buffy taking care of him, but the effort was too great and he found himself slipping into sleep.

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Xander pulled the car up outside Sunnydale General, parking it not far from the door. Willow and Tara had returned to the house without any sign of Buffy, telling him he needed to go to the hospital. Anya had insisted coming along, even though she was involved in another game of Jenga with Dawn. Dawn had wanted to come too, but Will had stepped in.

Apparently it wasn't that serious, but Xander could see the worry and fear in her best friend's eyes. He wrapped a comforting arm around Anya as they entered the ER department. Xander's eyes immediately fell on the petite blond stood next the coffee machine, kicking it absentmindedly,

"Buff?" he asked, pulling away from Anya and going to her,

"Hey." She said looking up at them both, giving Anya a warm smile,

"Is he alright?" Buffy shrugged,

"The doctor's in with him at the moment." Xander nodded, relaxing slightly. Buffy didn't seem worried, so he saw no reason to worry.

Buffy was terrified though. Every time she brought him into the hospital she was scared she was going to lose him, scared she had got him killed, scared that he had done permanent damage. She hated the feeling of dread and guilt she got every time she set foot in a hospital with Giles. Every time she realized just how much she needed him, and just how big a gap it would leave in her life if she lost him,

"Miss Summers?" Buffy looked up from her sneakers, her eyes meeting with Dr. Wells, as she was torn from her morbid thoughts,

"Is he alright?" she asked, leaning off of the coffee machine,

"Can I have a word?" The doctor asked, shifting her weight to point down the corridor, gesturing for Buffy to follow her.

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Willow moved out of Tara's hold, getting up off the couch, as there was a knock at the door. Dawn looked up from her place on the floor at Will, a hope in her eyes that Willow would hate to dash if it weren't Buffy. A second knock came as she pulled the door open, revealing Spike with a girl in his arms. Willow automatically stepped back a pace as she came face to face with the vampire,

"Spike!"

"Got a present for the Slayer." He said nodding at the unconscious form of the girl in his arms,

"Who is she?" Willow asked as Dawn came to the door,

"She came through that portal you closed." He said stepping into the house,

"Put her on the couch." Willow said, closing the door behind the vampire. Spike placed the unconscious form of Erin on the couch that Tara had just vacated,

"Is she alright?"

"Should be. Girl forgot to breathe is all." He said chuckling slightly,

"She's from a messed up form of our world though. She were panicking a bit when she realized things weren't so messed up here."

"Not me vampire world?" Willow asked desperately, but all Spike did was shrug,

"Slayer's dead. Watcher's dead. You, bit and Xander have flitted according to 'er. She mentioned Oz and that wanker Angelus." The name Angelus coming out as a bitter twisted sound. Willow frowned,

"Not me vampire world. But it sounds just as bad." She mumbled under her breath.

"What do we do with her?" Dawn eventually asked,

"Not my problem bit," Spike said sniffing, moving towards the door,

"Give the Slayer my best and I hope you get the kid home." He said before leaving the house,

"Spike, wait!" Willow called going to the door, but he was already gone,

"How do we get her home?" she asked to the silence.

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"That's you." The nurse said, tucking the last part of the bandage in making it secure. She pulled the gloves off and put them on the tray beside the bed before helping Giles to his feet,

"I don't want to see you in here again." She said as she pulled back the curtain. She suddenly realized she was being a bit unreasonable,

"At least not for a while." Giles smiled faintly,

"I'll try my best Molly." He said heading off down the corridor after the nurse,

"You know your best isn't good enough." She said smiling mischievously, before going into the nurse station. He lent against the desk there for a moment, unaware of the small group moving towards him.

"G-man!" Xander exclaimed coming closer,

"Xander I thought I asked -" he was cut off as Buffy flung her arms round him. He grunted and she pulled back,

"Sorry - Oh God sorry."

"Buffy I'm fine." He said looking down at her, as she tried to hide her bloodshot eyes,

"Buffy." He said so softly that it caused her to turn her eyes upwards towards him. He placed a hand on her shoulder,

"I'll be fine." He watched her for a moment scared she would burst into tears again, but also wondering what had brought her tears on,

"There you are Mr. Giles."

"Thank you Molly." Giles said taking the painkillers from her and pocketing them,

"I'll see you soon no doubt?" she asked as she hurried off down another corridor, her pager beeping,

"No doubt." He mumbled under his breath as he stifled a yawn.

"Come on lets get you home." Xander said moving away from Buffy and Giles to rescue the coffee machine from Anya who was shouting at it for swallowing her change. Buffy's arm went round her Watcher, helping him to walk as he continued to sway liberally on his feet, but he did not protest. He was too busy trying to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other while keeping his eyes open.