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.
Author's Note: So, here is the very last chapter! Thank you for accompanying me on this journey. I do hope you have enjoyed the story and the final revelations. If so, I'd be delighted to know. It's been such fun to write. I'll miss it!
Chapter Thirty-Five: Consequences
1943 - France
John Baxter, red-headed, freckled, nineteen years old, from Doncaster in England, rear-gunner of a Lancaster bomber, realised he was about to die. He reckoned it was a damn shame after he'd finally managed to grow a moustache and survived parachuting out of his crippled aircraft when the rest of his crew had perished on their return flight from Germany.
He'd been lucky enough to be picked up by the French Resistance and passed from house to house, hidden in cellars, attics, even under the floorboards of one farmhouse. But someone had betrayed the last group who'd been helping him on his way back to Blighty. A German patrol had attacked the house, shot his rescuers and now he was being man-handled out of the farm, towards a plain black van.
When the monsters came, John was too bewildered to understand what was going on. Figures leaping out of the dark, people with odd, contorted faces, monsters from his comic books, demons from Saturday morning flicks, their eyes gleaming yellow in the moonlight. The screams as the Germans died chilled his blood to ice and he waited, without hope, for them to kill him, too. He reckoned he was going mad; watched bloody fangs being bared in his direction and hoped he would be too far gone to understand when it happened to him.
"Get behind me and stay behind me!" The words were snapped out in English but no Englishman ever looked like that. John stood watching in disbelief as the monster dispatched another two German soldiers, then rose, wiping blood from his mouth, his face shimmering back to what seemed like a normal face.
"Don't worry, chum. You'll be on your way home soon." It clicked a lighter on a cigaette, the flame illuminating brown curls, a scarred eyebrow.
"Who – what – are you?"
"Me?" The monster laughed. "Hate to use the word, but I'm your sodding guardian angel."
It gave a couple of orders to the monsters that now looked just like people and John was hustled away, head whirling, his feet hardly touching the ground. He remembered very little of the rest of his journey back to England and when he was debriefed on his return, he reckoned he'd sound daft telling the officers what had happened, so he kept silent. But until he died, many years later, John Baxter had nightmares about the monster whose blue eyes turned yellow…
1943 – Dorset, England
Valerie Figgs, Witch in Residence to the Watchers' Council, looked up from her calculations, smiled in delight and picking up the phone, asked the operator to be connected to the Watchers' Rochester office. Minutes later she was speaking to her old friend, a weary sounding Colonel Monroe.
"I say, Monroe, it's Figgs here! How are you? How's the war going in Rochester?... Oh, right… yes, same here… Listen, Monroe, thought you'd like to know, the charm's been used…. yes, the one we gave Buffy Summers and the vampire. All the signs tell me it's been taken – so she's gone back or forward, rather!…. What… oh, yes, no sign of her in our time at all. ….Well…neither of them should remember anything at all, but…. Oh no, they won't have any definite memories, I'm sure of that… but… I've discovered the charm is based on magnetism – pulling people from one time to the other…. yes, I know opposite ends of magnets attract, that's what I'm concerned about…. the link might still be there, pulling them together through time… no, no, I'm not really worried, old bean… I mean, we know a vampire's life is short. At the best William the Bloody will only be with us a few months, then…. oh yes, I'm certain…. we've nothing to worry about at all…. What good did she do coming back?"
Valerie stared round her dark, pungent smelling office. It seemed empty without Henry. She missed her toad, but he'd been determined to go with the Slayer to France. She sighed and continued her conversation down the crackling telephone line.
"I have absolutely no idea what the purpose of her coming back could have been… as you said in the beginning, she had to come back in time in order to save the world. I had rather thought she might stop the War in some way…but …well, obviously not! I suppose we'll never know…"
A few days later, Valerie was translating a very old document - which contained fascinating but probably completely fanciful details about the power of certain monks to alter memories - when footsteps sounded on the stairs and her door was flung open.
Sir Philip Travers stood there, a man in civies and a stern-faced young woman at his side. "And this is the temporary office of our Witch in Residence – Miss Figgs. Valerie – this is Doctor Walsh and his wife, Dr Walsh! Important guests of the Council. I'm showing them around our home from home. Of course, our headquarters in London are very fine, but we've had to rough it here in the country to avoid the bombing. The Walshes have just arrived from – well, from abroad and are on their way to America, when we can find a suitable vessel or plane."
"How do you do?" Valerie said, holding out her hand, then wiping it swiftly on the bottom of her khaki trousers because it seemed to be covered in some bright orange sticky substance.
The two doctors ignored her gesture: they looked tired, pale and drawn. The woman was clutching a large leather bag to her chest, as if it contained all the secrets of the universe.
Sir Philip pursed his lips. Really, Figgs was a nightmare; a relic from the past. She reminded him of his old Nanny, full of energy and an iron determination to make him drink his ghastly evening tonic. He wished he could get rid of the ridiculous position of Witch in Residence. This was 1943: the time for witchcraft in the Council was long gone.
"Sadly, Professor Walsh, the doctor's father, died on his way here," Sir Philip said smoothly. "A vampire attack, I believe."
Dr Walsh nodded. "It was horrible. So fast; we were lucky to escape with our lives."
"But one day we will defeat them," his wife said, her voice sounding remarkable Germanic to Valerie, although, of course, there was no way she could be. "I have the remains of the Professor's research here with me. We will go to America and start again."
"Jolly good show," Valerie said enthusiastically, not understanding a word of what was going on.
"Look! You can see from these charts drawn by my father-in-law – we will build an establishment to rid the world of vampires and demons once and for all!" The girl pulled a folder out of her bag and her husband and Sir Philip bent over it eagerly.
Valerie, wondering wistfully when she could return to her manuscript, was the only one who saw a large, irritated toad hop out of the bottom of the leather bag. She bit back her delighted exclamation as Henry burrowed his way under the papers on her desk, looking for a piece of cheese he'd left there weeks earlier. He'd had a long, boring journey home after his flying leap from the Slayer's pocket into the safety of the deep leather bag during the final fight in France. But he wanted to be out of sight before the owner of the bag realised several important papers had been eaten.
Henry belched quietly. Well, there was a War on.
1997 - Prague
Dru opened her eyes – one second asleep, the next wide awake. The room was dark but at the square of the window the curtains had been pulled back, showing a sky turning from orange to deepest red as the sun sank. And the pale shape of the man standing with his back to her, gazing out at the coming of night, was the shape of the man who should have been lying next to her.
She reached out a hand and pulled Miss Matilda from under her pillow. She pressed her lips against the blood stained hair – Miss Matilda had got too close to the supper table last night and now needed a wash: Miss Matilda was in disgrace.
"Go back to sleep, lover. It'll be evening soon."
"Will we have a picnic tonight? A picnic with people running and screaming with jam. And cake."
Spike sighed. "We need to keep a low profile tonight, Princess. We've killed and fed well this week." He loved his Dark Princess with every nerve in his body, but sometimes her desire for death made him feel – not so much uncomfortable, as unworthy. She was like Liam and Darla – they slaughtered for the fun of it. Well, so did he, of course! Big Bad, here, killing wasn't a spectator sport. But once you'd eaten – the constant torture could become a bit – monotonous – and he hated being bored.
He lit a cigarette, clicking his lighter on and off, watching the little flame quiver in a draught. The silver metal case fit so neatly into his palm; he frowned, it was odd, but he couldn't quite remember where he'd got it from. He thought it was during the time he'd been leading his vampire band in France during the War, but he reckoned he must have been knocked on the head at some time because his memories of that time were vague and muddled. But he knew it had been fun: he'd lost count of the number of Germans they'd killed before the advancing British and Yank armies had put an end to their little games.
Spike gazed out of the window to where the sun had finally vanished. Every evening here in Prague he found himself waiting until he could open the curtains and stare out across the Hansel and Gretel rooftops to where the sun was setting in the West.
He didn't understand why he felt this overpowering need to travel in that direction again. He'd been to America years ago – enjoyed himself, dyed his hair – the compulsion to become blond had been oddly overwhelming - purloined his leather duster and killed a Slayer in the process! Good times!
And that had been weird; all the while they were fighting on the Subway, even as he broke her neck, he'd had the oddest feeling that she was the wrong Slayer. She'd fought a good fight, but somehow he'd expected – much more. As if he'd been looking for gold and had found brass.
Life here in Prague was getting difficult. Dru was – well, not out of control, but taking risks that were going to land them in big trouble soon. America would be fun – full of life and colour, great cars and great music. But not New York, not this time. He wanted to travel across country to California – there was a Hellmouth underneath some poxy little town, so he'd heard. That could only be a good thing.
He turned to Dru, but she was asleep again. Tenderly he tucked Miss Matilda back under the pillow and flung himself down onto the bed. He felt happier now he had a plan – he was good at plans. Dru wouldn't like it; she hated Amcrica, but for some reason he knew he had to get there - soon.
1945 - England
The ceremony was carried out with all solemnity. Even though peace had just been declared, the Watchers' Council were far from their grand London headquarters; they were still scattered throughout the country, the chief officials living in the old manor house in Dorset.
Sir Philip Travers sat at the top of a long oak table and waited until everyone was seated. He stood up, raised a hand for silence, then opened the vast leather-bound ledger in which were written the names of every Slayer for as long as records had been kept.
He solemnly inked a neat line through the name Joy Gastonet, wrote the date of her death in the margin and then on the next line entered the new Slayer. "Ladies and Gentlemen – Fellow Watchers – I am both saddened and proud to announce that we have a new Slayer. Called yesterday. Her name is Francesca Lucco."
"Italian?" someone asked.
Sir Philip had the overwhelming desire to say, 'no, Egyptian', but refrained. Sometimes the stupidity of the people he worked with was overwhelming. "So it seems. Called in Rimini. Our Italian Watcher is on his way there now."
"Do we know what happened to Joy?"
Sir Philip shrugged. A dead Slayer meant nothing to him, except a great deal of paperwork. "No – but as Francesca Lucco has been called, obviously Joy Gastonet is dead. There is some evidence that she was held in one of those camps we are just learning about."
A servant padded silently around the table, handing out drinks and the Watchers stood to toast the arrival of their new Slayer. Sir Philip glanced surreptitiously at his watch and hoped they could cut short these tedious celebrations: his son, Quentin, was coming down from Eton for lunch.
As the group dispersed, one of his assistants hesitated in front of Sir Philip. "What about her child, Sir?"
"Child? Oh the wretched Gastonet's child, the infant that odd American who said she was a Slayer brought across from France – I'd forgotten about it. A girl, wasn't it? Some weird Frenchiefied name – Aurora – that was it!"
"We're paying to keep her in a foster home. Do we continue with that expense now her mother can no longer arrive in England to claim her?"
Sir Philip shook his head decisively. "Certainly not! We're not a charitable institution. Just – well – show some initiative and tidy up all the loose ends, there's a good chap. Pack her off to an orphanage abroad somewhere; Australia, New Zealand, one of the colonies. It'll be a new life for her."
2001 – London, England
Rupert Giles ran lightly down the long spiral flight of steps into the depths of the basement under the London headquarters of the Watchers' Council to where the Witch in Residence had her office. He felt years younger – the news he'd just received had taken a vast weight off his shoulders. She was back and Buffy would never remember that he had sent her into the future without any way of getting back. She would trust him as much as ever: he didn't want the smallest crack to grow in their relationship.
"Rupert – I thought you would be flying over the Atlantic by now on your way back to Sunnydale."
"Delayed a few days. Buffy's home! I got a phone call minutes ago from Willow. I'll let her settle into her normal routine before I visit."
Dorcas smiled and reached out a finger to stroke Flanagan's scaley head. "Yes, the signs told me, too. Good news. Mind you, I always thought the charm would work – although – "
"I can't tell you what a relief it is," Giles said, interrupting her and so never knowing that Dorcas had been about to tell him that, according to the indications, the charm had somehow been diluted and she was no longer completely sure that all attachments to the past would be eradicated.
"The thought of explaining to Dawn – what are you doing?" He gazed round the pungent smelling office. There were packing cases everywhere and the usual untidy chaos seemed to have doubled.
"Didn't you hear the news?" Dorcas said sadly. "I've been made redundant! Travers has decided the Council no longer need a Witch in Residence."
"He thinks it's an out-dated position, so Flanagan and I are packing up and moving out."
"That's arrant nonsense! Let me speak to him. Where are you going?"
Dorcas smiled and shook her head. "No, please don't stress yourself, Rupert. I'm quite happy to go. Things aren't the same here as they used to be. We're off to Devon – to a coven there. Flanagan is delighted. He loves the countryside."
Flanagan stared at his mistress with unblinking, emerald eyes, wondering how such a clever woman could be so stupid. He hated the countryside! He'd never got over the time, when his name had been Henry, spent hopping through a French wood, looking for the Slayer so he could get home to England. But – he blinked twice – they needed to be out of this basement – he could see a vast explosion, death, destruction, this room buried under hundreds of tons of rubble. Yes, Devon, for all its mud and fresh air, would be the better choice!
2001 – Sunnydale
The charm was smooth in her mouth, Buffy could hear Spike's voice saying he would find her…..and - the hard earth of the French woods vanished and there was just the softness of the familiar sofa in her family room. She was home! What did that mean? It was early evening; she could hear footsteps upstairs, the sound of the shower running, Dawn singing some hideous pop song.
OK, she was home. So, that meant - she'd been away. Geez, good thinking, Buffy! Yes! Quentin Travers had been here, had asked her to save a Slayer – in…in… 1943! She remembered the date. But where had she gone, what had happened? Had she succeeded?
Wisps of memory floated through her head and she tried desperately to grasp at them as they dissolved. A plane – a dark-haired baby – fighting – men in uniform – Spike's mouth on hers – well of course she would remember Spike! She spent most of her time these days trying to put him out of her mind. But he would have played no part in what she'd been doing in 1943. No, she had to concentrate on these other memories – but even as she tried, she knew that, like dreams, they were fading away and all she could see clearly in her mind was the ridiculous picture of a large green toad!
"Buffy! You're back!" A flurry of very wet hair, long legs and arms and Dawn was hugging her fiercely. "How was L.A.? You might have told me you were going? You look tired? Lots of Slaying? You're not injured, are you? You look OK. Oh, by the way, I'm going to a party with Janice. Willow said it would be OK. Oh and Spike's looking for you and I want to wear the locket."
"Hi, I'm fine, sorry, I didn't know I was going away and there wasn't time to tell you - what sort of party? – and no, I – lost the locket," she said without thinking, then as her hand went to her throat to fiddle with the catch on the side of the gold heart that would never open, Dawn pulled away, pouting.
"You so did not, Buffy Summers. You're wearing it! You promised you wouldn't when you were going Slaying. You know Mom and Dad said we should share it. How come you get to have it all the time?"
Buffy felt confused; why was she quite certain that she'd lost the locket? She undid it and Dawn spun away with it in her hand, smiling now.
There were a hundred things Buffy needed to do but – only one person she wanted to see….when she got there, the crypt door opened under her touch: the top chamber was empty but Buffy could hear movement in the lower room.
"Lock the door if you're coming down here, Slayer. Obviously anyone can walk in – you all seem to think this is open house."
Buffy climbed down the ladder – Spike was sprawled in a chair, drinking what she hoped was red wine from a glass she was certain had once belonged to Giles. "Hi!"
"Slayer – back so soon? What was the problem – Liam too busy to scratch all your itches – oh, no I forgot – poor boy can't do that, can he, otherwise you'd be dealing with dear Angelus!"
"I haven't seen Angel," Buffy said - even if her memory was faulty, that was one thing she was certain about. "And anyway, it's none of your business who I see!"
"Or shag," Spike drawled, gulping down another mouthful of wine. "Quite agree, Slayer, but we had a date – well, not a date because that means going out where people can see us! – but you were coming round here and you couldn't even do me the courtesy of letting me know you were going away."
Buffy felt her cheeks redden. "I'm sorry – it was all a rush – I had to go – "
"Away – for the Council," she added.
For the first time, a gleam of interest showed on Spike's face. "Those poxy bastards? I thought you'd finished with Travers and co."
"I have – I did – it was – " she paused: it was all too complicated to explain that she couldn't remember. "Geez, can't you just trust me?" she snapped. "I don't want a row - I've had a long journey and I wanted to – "
"Check up on what's been happening? Well, you can relax, pet. I've kept an eye on Dawn, patrolled every night, got rid of a nest of Embrefiz demons and avoided your Scoobie friends like the plague. So, that's my news. Satisfied?"
Buffy glared at him and turned to go. She just couldn't deal with Spike in this snappy mood. Anyone would think they were married, the way he acted. Suddenly an odd thought crossed her mind and she found herself turning from the ladder, asking, "Spike – what did you do during the War?"
"The Second World War."
Spike frowned and gulped down the remainder of his wine. "Spent most of it touring round Europe with Dru – fun times. I remember once in Berlin – "
"So even though you're a Brit, you didn't fight the Germans?"
Spike hesitated – so many deaths, so much blood and carnage and a lot of it caused by him. He recalled his vampire army quite clearly – couldn't remember just how it had come about, but knew they had caused havoc behind the enemy lines. Not that he was going to admit that to the Slayer – he still had the remnants of his reputation as the Big Bad to guard. "We fought whoever would provide us with a decent meal, pet."
Suddenly something in her expression cut through his jealousy and he leapt out of the chair and was at her side, wrapping his arms round her, letting her weight fall against him as it always did when she was very, very tired. "I'm sorry, Slayer," he muttered. "Whatever you've been doing for the past few days, I'm sure it needed doing, but Niblet told me you'd gone to L.A. and I imagined – " His arms tightened,
Buffy felt her treacherous body relax into the angles and curves of his, as if it belonged there. That was what terrified her when she lay alone in the dark, night after night. Why should she only feel this sensation of being complete when she was with Spike? It was unnatural, wrong, the same sort of wrongness that had stopped her killing him when they first met in the alley behind the Bronze all those years ago, why she had fought in the school without weapons – as if she already knew his strengths and weaknesses and had no desire to stake him.
Reaching up, she twisted his hair round her fingers and shuddered as he began to kiss her, hungrily, desperately, as if they had been apart for decades, instead of a few days. They slid down onto the floor together, hands feverishly tugging clothes away: skin on skin was the only thing that mattered.
"How long have we got – Dawn? – " the words broke from his mouth in a groan.
"Hours – Dawn partying – she's wearing our family locket – she'd better take care of it. Ohhh!" She arched her head back, baring her neck as his hands got to work on her body. The last words they spoke for a long time were, "I thought you'd lost it?" and "So did I!" and neither of them stopped to wonder about what they were saying.
2001 – London
Quentin Travers shut the grubby little notebook with an angry snap. Such a waste of time and money: the Slayer was back in Sunnydale, nothing had changed. She hadn't been killed or saved the world or changed anything so far as he could see. He frowned: he'd been so sure that Colonel Monroe's scattered notes about a Slayer returning to 1943 to save a Slayer and the world were true.
Opening his wall-safe, he threw the notebook inside, slammed the door shut and spun the dial to lock it. The man had probably been off his head when he wrote the notes; suffering from some damn silly stress caused by the bombing, no doubt.
He poured himself a large brandy and thought, for the hundredth time that if it wasn't for Slayers, being Head of the Watchers' Council would be a damn fine job!
1959 – New York
Holding hands, the couple walked nervously into the private clinic. The doctor looked up from behind his desk and smiled. "Good afternoon. Did you have a good journey?"
The man nodded. "It was OK. We're heading back to California tomorrow on the train. Can we – can we take him with us?"
The doctor smiled again, walked out of the room and came back carrying a baby wrapped in a thick white shawl. He placed it in the woman's arms, pleased to see the wonder in her face. "He's a fine boy. It was a difficult birth but he's come through it well."
The man touched the child's cheek with his finger. A son, after all this time. "And his mother – she won't – there won't be any trouble from her?"
The doctor shook his head. "She's hardly more than a child herself. She knows there is no way she can look after a baby. She just wants him to have a good home: she's been very brave."
"What's that wrapped round his wrist?" the woman asked.
"All his mother had to give him. A gold locket she thinks her own mom must have given her before she was sent to America from England. She's had it all her life, anyway."
"We'll keep it safe for him to give his children," the woman said softly, wiping away the tears of joy that were running down her face.
The doctor watched them go. He felt satisfied with this adoption. The Summers were a good, kind couple. Not the sort to go out and save the world, but he was sure their boy would grow up to father children of his own and, the doctor chuckled to himself, stranger things had happened, perhaps one of those would one day save the world!