Things Present – Things Past
By Estepheia and Marcee
Part 16 - Live and Learn
"I..." Angel began, "I think
I..." his voice cracked slightly. "Giles,
I think I killed her."
"When Cordy was describing the vision, I
remembered. I remembered her, Giles,"
Angel said. His voice was shaking
"No, no, Angel. It isn't
possible," Giles said.
"Giles, I was there.
I was there when she died. And if
that was Buffy..." Angel couldn't finish his thought. "I was obsessed with
her. I played with that girl for years.
Mind games," he mumbled. "Cordelia told
me she saw a hand-carved stone angel in her vision. That was...I left those on her doorstep, to let
her know I was there." He paused, then
whispered: "Giles, what did I do?"
"Calm down, Angel.
You didn't kill Buffy. I have
Maeve's Watcher's journal here," Giles told him. He glanced at the group. They were all still
gathered around Maeve and Buffy's letter. He lowered his voice to say: "Buffy
is trapped in the year 1880. According
to the journal, Maeve did not die until 1885."
"1880?" Angel repeated. "So that means...I didn't kill Buffy?"
"No, Angel, you didn't."
Maeve. We have to warn her. I have to...I need her to know," he struggled
for the right words. "I need to tell her
that I'm... "
"You can't," Giles interrupted. "You can't tell her
anything. You cannot alter history. We're already concerned that Buffy could
cause a time paradox."
"But Giles, I was so cruel.
For years - I was fixated. You can't
"Oh, I understand," Giles said, his voiced tinged with
anger, "I understand all too well." *I
remember Jenny. I remember the way you
tortured me. I understand. Oh, yes, I understand all too well.*
There was silence on the
Giles cleared his
throat. "Be available in case we need
"Of course," Angel answered solemnly. "I'll stay here,
at the office. Call me, if there's anything I can do..." It was Giles who cut the
connection, unable to find anything else to say to the uneasy vampire.
As the conversation with Angel came to an end, the
gang migrated to the area in front of the counter.
Maeve remained seated, still clutching the letter she
had just read. It had been strange to read the words of another Slayer.
Everything she had ever read about other Slayers had been written by
Watchers...in a Watcher's perspective. But Buffy's words produced in her a
strange feeling of kinship. This `Buffy' sounded like a very confident person,
she was so much in control of her life and she had found so many people who
knew about her duty, who loved her and who even helped her. At home, she only
had one person to confide in, beside her Watcher. Charles. And it seemed Buffy
had recruited him to aid her, something Maeve never would have dared. She
sighed, watching these strange, but kind, people crowding Mr. Giles. The
thought of going back to her own, much lonelier life, was beginning to trouble
"We must hurry," a distressed-looking Giles told the
group after he returned the phone to its cradle.
He was standing behind the counter, thumbing through a
stack of fax pages about two inches thick.
Without raising his eyes to meet their questioning gazes, he said, "The
longer it takes to get Buffy back, the more dangerous this situation becomes. I
have Edward Willoughby's journal at my disposal, but there doesn't seem to be
any additional information concerning the spell he attempted that caused this
mess. In fact, the whole incident is not mentioned at all."
"It wouldn't be," Maeve spoke up cautiously. "He was not always..." she paused, considering
her words carefully, "completely forthright with the information he provided to
"Oh, we understand that completely, Maeve," Anya told
her, patting her gently on the shoulder.
"We don't like the Council much either, do we Giles?"
Giles just shook his head.
"So, what did the poof in shining armor have to say?"
Spike wondered aloud, not letting on that his superior hearing had allowed him
to follow at least the end of Giles's conversation. *1885, eh?*
"It seems Cordelia had a vision regarding Buffy's...and
your," he nodded toward Maeve, "situation."
"You mentioned some powers, Giles." Xander said
anxiously, "What powers? What do powers have to do with this?"
Giles grimaced. "I'm not sure," he admitted, "but we
must figure that out. And quickly."
"What's next then, Rupert?" Spike asked as he rolled a
shiny purple rock between his fingers.
"How do we get the Slayer back?"
The purple stone slipped and fell to the floor between his black boots. *If
he tells me one more time not to worry - that everything will be alright I'll
...I'll what? Ask him again? Talk him to death?
Please let him be right.*
Anya shrieked. "If you damage the merchandise, we're
going to deduct it from your pay," she threatened.
"What pay?" he smirked. But his heart was not really
in that response. He was overcome by a strange sense of foreboding. The date
Buffy had given in her letter had sounded way too familiar. *If Buffy messes with the timelines, if she
stops Drusilla from turning me...* Dying
- or getting dusted - was one thing, but fading into nothingness because he,
Spike, never existed... the mere thought caused him physical discomfort.
He bent down to retrieve the rock.
"I'm working on it," Giles told the impatient
vampire. "I might have a solution, but I
need to check a few things first. I'll
be in my office." He retreated to the
back of the shop. He didn't notice the
vampire's interest in his departure.
Everyone turned to look at
*Oh my God, Dawn. We forgot about Dawn!* Tara screamed internally.
"Hi everybody!" Dawn said as she bounced happily into
the shop. "No one was home so I had
Janice's mom drop me here."
"Uh, hi Dawn," Tara said. "Didja have a good time?" She glanced back at Maeve for a moment, took
a deep breath, then turned her attention to the child before her.
"Yea, her mom's a good cook. You know, contrary to popular belief, a
teenager CAN get tired of pizza," she looked at her sister as she dropped her
backpack on the table. "No offense,
Buffy just smiled awkwardly.
"So anyway, what's the haps?
Any new monsters I should know about?"
"Actually, Dawn, we need to
talk to you," Tara said seriously.
Taking advantage of the distraction Spike swiped the
forgotten Watcher's journal off the counter, put it on one of the chairs and
draped his duster over it.
"So what do we do?" Dawn asked an half hour and a
somewhat detailed explanation later.
Her face was solemn.
During Willow's narration, she glanced nervously at
the-girl-who-was-no-longer-her-sister at least a dozen times. She also looked to Spike for reassurance. He gave it to her in small increments
throughout the discussion. A "Don't
worry, Bit, the Slayer's safe," here. A
"We'll get her back. I promise,"
there. Here a nod. There a smirk. Everywhere a wink-wink.
"Giles said he's working on something," Tara comforted
the girl. "It'll all be fixed soon."
Dawn glanced from the letter in her hand to the
new-Buffy and tilted her head. "Maeve,
The pseudo-Buffy nodded. "Yes," she said quietly. "Pleased to meet you, Dawn."
"I guess we should be getting you home," Tara
commented. "It's late. We should all go back to the house and get
some sleep. We'll have plenty of work to do tomorrow."
"Oh, come on!" Dawn said. "I want to help. I want to get my sister back now." She gave
Maeve an embarrassed smile. "Sorry, it's not like I want to get rid of you or
anything..." She shrugged.
The shy Slayer just nodded.
"I know, Dawnie. We all do. But we won't be any good to her if we're
exhausted. Most of us didn't sleep much
at all last night," Tara explained and she glanced at the others. They did, indeed, look weary.
Dawn sighed dramatically and
rolled her eyes. "I can help, you know."
"I know," Tara answered
honestly. "Get your things, come on."
Dawn grabbed her backpack and slung it halfheartedly
over her shoulder. "You coming, Buf-...I
Maeve glanced around the room
questioningly. "I-I'm not sure where I'm
"You're needed in bed," Anya said officially. "You haven't slept a wink since you...well,
since you got here." She nodded approval of her own statement. "Why don't you come with us," she suggested,
"it must be awkward for you sleeping in Buffy's house." *Besides the bizarre circumstance of living with Dawn's surrogate
lesbian parents.* Then added, "And I promise, at our place, no one will
call you `Buffy'."
"I would not wish to
Anya interrupted, "It's
settled then. Xander, give me the keys,
"Looks like we're outta here," Xander told the group
as he fished his keys out of his pocket with his good hand. "Tell Giles we'll
be here first thing tomorrow morning."
"We're leaving, too," Tara
said as she took Willow's hand.
"I'll let Rupert know," Spike told them. "Go on, then.
Get your beauty sleep. God knows
you need it."
"Bye Spike," Dawn said as she
then. Time to catch up on some reading.* Spike took the journal from
its hiding place, sat down at the table and propped up his feet.
The apartment was blanketed in inky shadows. If it weren't for the small lamp on the end
table in the living room, the house would be wholly black. Xander was fast
asleep in the bedroom. Though both girls
were working on less than two hours of sleep, they were still wide awake. Second wind, it's called. Maeve and Anya sat side-by-side on the couch,
a book open across their laps.
"They sell this?" Maeve asked
incredulously, "At a public
"Yes, or you could borrow a copy at a public library,"
Anya answered. "Look Maeve, I remember
what it was like in the 1800's," she said, "I was a vengeance demon for over a
thousand years. I remember the sexual
repression in England. It was absolutely
no fun for women those days."
Maeve only nodded and turned
the page...and gasped.
"Oh, yes," Anya said in response, "That's one of my
favorite positions. And to think, this
book was published almost 30 years ago."
She shook her head in amazement.
"Granted, people have been kinky for...well, forever. But to put it into
print...well, let's just say that Mr. Comfort was way ahead of his time." She smiled at Maeve, "The author of this book
was from London, too, you know." She turned the page.
"Oh?" was all Maeve could
"I should probably also give you a lesson on birth
control," Anya mentioned. "I just have
to remember what was available back then."
She thought for a moment, "Can Slayers even get pregnant? That's something I've never discussed with
Buffy. Maybe Giles would know."
"I-I would suppose so," Maeve answered.
"My bodily functions are...they are normal functions." She turned the page. Both girls tilted their heads sideways
"Yes, that one is difficult to master," Anya remarked
offhandedly. Back to the pregnancy
question: "But, you have Slayer-power and healing ability and stuff that normal
people don't have. Besides, I would
assume it would be difficult to fight vampires with a bun in the oven."
Maeve nodded, head still
tilted...her gaze trained on the image before her.
"I've also occasionally wondered if a Slayer-orgasm
would be more intense, considering that you have, you know, special
Slayer-muscles. Plus, the stamina factor. But then, you wouldn't know."
"Yet," Maeve said, trying to
stifle a nervous giggle.
"That's the spirit!" Anya said. "I'd say `let me know when you find out'
but I guess that won't be possible."
Maeve frowned slightly. "Oh, don't get all mopey on me now," Anya
said, "Just wait `til we get to page 109."
The frown disappeared and was almost immediately replaced with a quiet
Willow opened the curtains with a wave of her hand and
a word. The light streamed into the
bedroom, rousing Tara.
"Good morning, Sleepyhead,"
Willow told her lover as she nuzzled into her neck.
"What time is it?" Tara asked
"Eight O'clock. I think Dawn's already awake."
"We'd better get dressed
then," Tara said, and pushed the covers away.
"Oh, not yet," Willow
whimpered. "Let's stay in bed just a
"Willow, come on. We have work to do. Buffy could be in trouble."
Willow sighed, "Okay.
But we need to shower anyway, right? It'll be faster if we do it
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
"Xander," Anya whined.
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
"Xander!" a little louder.
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
"What? I'm up, I'm up!" Xander said, after bolting
upright and reflexively slamming his hand down on the alarm clock. Torn from his dream of chocolate covered
potato chips and Playboy Bunnies.
"Bunnies? What? Where?" Anya
squealed and jumped out of bed.
*Oops, did I
say that out loud?*
"Sorry, An," Xander said, "I
was having a dre- a nightmare."
"Oh," she said seriously, "I've had that one
before. The one where bunnies are
nibbling your bloody stumpy toes?"
"Yea, something like that,"
he answered with a disgusted look.
"Do we have time for
breakfast?" she wondered aloud.
"Who wants breakfast after an
image like that?"
"You're probably right. Let's just get dressed and head over to the
Magic Box. I wonder if Giles bothered to
go home last night. I hope he didn't
make a mess of the shop."
Xander shrugged and pulled
his fiancé into his lap for a big good morning smooch.
"I should wake Maeve," Anya
murmured to her lover's lips.
"She could use another twenty
minutes of rest, don't you think?"
"Well, we were up pretty late, reading all about the Joys of Sex ," Anya admitted. "Speaking of which, we haven't tried page 130
in a while." She grinned mischievously
and slid her hand under his PJs.
Spike woke with a start as the sleepy-eyed Scoobies
began piling into the shop. He had one
white page lying face down on his chest.
The rest of the journal was shoved neatly under his chair and out of
sight. As he pushed himself up into
something more akin to a sitting position, the solitary page fluttered
gracefully to the floor. He was quick to
grab it, and shove it into his pocket before anyone could notice.
"Morning Spike," Dawn said. She was the only one of group who was even
close to chipper this morning. "Did
Giles end up staying the night?"
"Uh, yeah, I think so," Spike
mumbled as he struggled toward alertness.
"Was it like a sleep-over?"
Dawn snickered. "Did you bond?"
"Yea, we bonded, Bit.
He stayed in his office, I hung out right here," Spike told her. "It was
a regular brotherhood-fest. Popcorn and
pillow fights and all that."
"Did you find anything new?"
"Nothing terribly useful,"
the vampire admitted.
Giles' head was on his desk, eyes closed. Even in sleep, his glasses remained in his
hand. The desk lamp, still burning, painted his face with a translucent yellow
cast. He looked old. Two volumes were laid open before him. Willow approached his desk quietly and
traced her fingertips over the text on the open pages. *No,
this isn't good,* she thought. She
turned a page and shook her head. "This
will take too long," she mumbled quietly.
"But it will work," Giles answered sluggishly as he
raised his head and replaced his glasses.
"Sorry, Giles. I didn't mean
to wake you."
"No, no. It's time to get
up. Is everyone here?"
"It will work, Willow."
The gang sat around the table while Giles paced back
and forth before them. He had a large
book open in his hands and while he spoke, he occasionally referenced its
pages. Maeve was seated between Anya and
Spike, her face - Buffy's face - crumpled with apprehension. She noticed, every-so-often, the vampire
would glance in her direction.
Inspecting her. *No doubt missing the real Buffy,* she
figured. She watched the Watcher as he
described the plan, amazed at the involvement of the group around her. A child, a vampire, an ex-demon, two lesbian
witches *Anya was such a fountain of
knowledge in that regard*, and a normal-ordinary-human-friend. *I wish
I had this kind of assistance,* she thought, *I wish I had friends.*
actually a very simple spell," Giles was saying. "But we must wait for certain astral
constellations to be met."
is that?" Xander asked. "We don't want
Buffy back when she's seventy-years-old.
No good could come of a wrinkly Slayer dragging an oxygen tank behind
her. The vampires would make fun of her."
Giles shot Xander a look of irritation.
mind him," Anya told Giles, "he didn't sleep well. He had nightmares." She looked at the group and nodded knowingly,
be able to perform the ritual in two days," Giles said, ignoring Anya's comments.
*Why does Spike keep looking at me?* Maeve wondered. She sighed and
closed her eyes for a moment. *I'm not
sure I even want to go back.*
Buffy's and Maeve's spirits want to return to their true forms," Giles said,
almost directly contradicting Maeve's thoughts.
"All we need to do is nudge them slightly, and they should go back to
where they belong. Universal balance and
whatnot." He closed the book. "Simple,
really. We only need a few items and a
"But, Giles. I can just open a door to where Buffy's spirit is..." Willow
Willow. No. We will do this the simplest and safest
possible way. We will not be opening
doors to anywhere. It is far too
dangerous," Giles dictated.
"No. Absolutely not," he interrupted.
"End of discussion."
looked as if she was going to say something more, but Tara put her hand on her
shoulder to quiet her.
the book down on the table in front of Anya.
"Please gather the ingredients we will need and go over the spell with
Maeve and the others," he told her.
"Right now, I need to go home and shower. We can meet again tomorrow night to go over
the details and then we will perform the spell on Tuesday."
"Can I get a note for school?" Dawn asked.
"We'll see," Tara answered her.
back to his office to grab his jacket, said goodbye to the Scoobies and
-Jingle. Jingle.- left.
"Look you guys," Willow started, "I can do this."
"You heard Giles," Xander
"I know what Giles said," Willow interrupted, "But we
could have Buffy back by dinner time.
It's easy. I can trace her exact
position in the space time continuum and then just draw a door directly to her."
"Willow," Tara said quietly.
"Giles said it's dangerous. We can wait
"Tara, you know I can do this," Willow looked at her
pleadingly. "Let me do this. I want to help."
"You're playing a dangerous game," the vampire spoke
up as he stood. "Magic. Consequences. I
know you've heard that song before." He shot a pointed look at Xander before he
about-faced and headed to the back of the shop.
"Don't listen to him, guys," Willow said. "Look, I know you think it's dangerous. But it could be even more dangerous if we
leave Buffy there any longer. She could
create a time paradox. If she does one
thing. Just one little thing
differently...kills one extra vampire...or lets one live...everything can change."
"She's right, you know," Anya said. "One little difference can mean an awful
lot." *Like when Cordelia wished that Buffy never came to Sunnydale. That was fun.
Ooh, Xander as a vampire. He was hot.*
"And what if...what if Buffy gets seriously hurt in
Maeve's body? What then? What if the Council finds out? What will they do to her?" Willow's voice was growing louder and more
urgent. "What about Angelus? Buffy
won't kill Angelus...I don't think. I
mean, what would happen? That could be bad."
Spike made his way to Giles' office to get away from
the others for a while. When he finally had a bit of privacy, he pulled the
crumpled paper out of his pocket to look, once again, at the faxed gray, blurry
image of a girl he once knew a few lifetimes ago. *Penthesilea.
Good to see you again.*
Willow began collecting things from the shelves in the
shop. As she grabbed powders and
colorful vials, she continued her reasoning.
"I mean, think about it," she said.
"Angelus would be fighting for his life and Buffy won't be able to stake
him." She put the contents on the
counter and went back to the shelves.
"And she doesn't have us there to help her. She's all alone. What if she gets killed?"
"Can you really do this, Will?" Dawn asked . It was
obvious what answer she wanted to hear.
Willow turned to look at her,
"Yes, Dawn. I know I can."
"Well, that's good enough for
me," she answered. "How can I help?"
"Clear a space on the floor and lay these out in a
circle," Willow answered, handing over a basket of crystals. "Also, I'm going to need some chalk."
Tara hesitated. She had no doubt that Willow had the
power to perform this powerful spell, because Willow's grasp of magic already
surpassed her own abilities. Was is selfish and jealous of her to look at
Willow's accomplishments with a certain apprehension? Where was the line
between trust and concern?
Dawn took the basket and made
her way to the middle of the shop.
"Anya, I left a book upstairs. It's the one with the big circle on the front
with the two squiggly lines going through it..."
"Articulus Tractus?" Anya
"Yes - will you bring it down
Anya look at Xander.
He shrugged. He looked to Tara
for her input. She was usually pretty
impartial when it came to magic-issues.
But Tara was conveniently looking at the floor. Xander nodded to Anya. *Willow's my best friend.*
Anya went to the stairs.
"What can I do?" Buffy's
voice never sounded so uncertain.
"Come help me, Maeve," Dawn
called from the floor. "Help me set up
*Penthesilea. I guess she doesn't recognize me. Should I say something... would she remember?* He stared at the picture for
a moment, laughing internally at his human counterpart, when something else
occurred to him. *I met her right before
I was turned. I met her in 1880. I met her when...oh bloody hell! I met Buffy!* He smacked his forehead. *A bleedin' failure I was. When she gets back I'll never hear the end of
this!* He shook his head and stuffed
the image back into his pocket. He
started back toward the populated area of the shop wondering about the
significance of his chance meetings with the Buffy-infected Slayer of 1880. *No wonder she was so odd.*
When he walked back into the main part of the shop, he
was surprised by the activity. Potions,
books, vials, crystals. *I should've
known.* He shook his head. As usual, he was out of the loop. Just like last
time... "So, you're doing the spell, then?"
"Yea," Dawn answered. "Willow says she can have Buffy back in a
matter of hours."
"What did I tell you about consequences?" he asked no
one in particular. "The Watcher is right
about this one. You shouldn't be playing
with magic. This is dangerous stuff."
"You want Buffy back, don't
you?" Dawn asked.
"Of course I do.
More than anything."
Maeve looked up at him from the circle of crystals she
was forming. Her eyes glittering with
"But I want it done the right
way. I don't want anyone gettin' hurt."
"No one will get hurt," Willow answered him. She wasn't looking at him; she was busy
preparing ingredients. "I know what I'm doing."
Spike shook his head.
"Don't say I didn't warn you, children." *Right, since when does a vampire have anything worthwhile to
contribute to the discussion? Listen to a reckless witch, maybe even give some
credit to an ex-demon, but a vampire? Might as well be talking to Dru. Damn I
need a smoke.*
"Here's the chalk," Tara said
as she handed it to Willow over the counter.
"Is that it?"
Willow nodded. "I think we're ready."
Continued in Part 17 - Alley of Fear