Things Present – Things Past
By Estepheia and Marcee
Part 18 - Window of Opportunity
think we're ready." The witch's words seemed to echo in Maeve's mind. *What if I am not?* It wasn't the spell
that frightened her - although the matter-of-fact way in which these people
were preparing the use of magic was more than a little disconcerting. Unlike
the vampire, she wasn't worried about the spell going awry, she was worried
about the spell succeeding as planned.
I am not ready to go back?* Back to what? A Watcher who had betrayed her? A
Council who used her like a pawn? A life without friends?
felt everyone's eyes on her. They were expecting her to take her place in the
circle in order to begin the ritual. They wanted their friend back. They had
every right to.
"I think it's time to say goodbye," Tara said with an
encouraging smile. "I hope..."
Spike interrupted, "can I just have a word with her?" He looked at Maeve and
nodded towards the training room. "Slayer?"
"Of course," she said. "If that's all right with you?"
she asked Willow.
the witch replied nonchalantly. "But don't take too long. We don't want to keep
Buffy trapped in the past longer than necessary. Not that I have anything
against your century or anything. I mean, I'm sure it's nice and all, you know,
horse drawn carriages and stuff are kinda quaint, but I don't think your time
and Buffy are mix-y."
Maeve nodded and followed Spike into the training
wonder what Spike would want with her?" Xander mused, when the door had closed
behind them. "He really has a thing for Slayers, doesn't he?"
the others stared at him, he quickly did a verbal back-pedal. "Not that I'm
thinking what you think I'm thinking. I bet Spike's asking her to invest a few
bucks for him in her time so he can live on the interest from now on. Which
doesn't sound like such a bad idea, come to think of it."
I should ask her to do that for me, too," Anya said, sounding hopeful. "It
would be like a dowry for me. If I want a house with a white fence, two cars, a
college fund for my children and a dog, it might be a good idea to start
capital growth in 1880."
Spike closed the door behind them, Maeve walked to a collection of throwing
knives that were hanging on the wall. She traced each of them with her
fingertips. When she turned around to face him, her features were composed. As
always, there was no outward sign of what went on inside her, but the vampire
sensed her distress, anyway.
don't want to go back," he stated.
I would have liked to stay a little longer," she admitted.
waved towards the closed door. "They're not YOUR ties. You have to make your
own. Back then."
know. But I don't know how."
will, trust me."
There was a silence.
did you want to talk to me about?" Maeve finally asked, and was surprised to
see that the vampire looked... embarrassed.
shrugged. "It probably doesn't make any difference," he said, more to himself.
"I just want to make sure...What the hell! Look, can you do me a favor?"
looked at him. She did not need to remind herself that he was a vampire. She
could sense it. Like a hunter senses his prey. *He killed two Slayers. He
told me himself. He should be the enemy.* And yet, she didn't hesitate.
"Of course," she nodded.
you get back, can you check on my mother and my sister? After I was turned - it
was in June 1880. I don't remember the exact date - when it happened, my... the
other vampires I was with, they wanted me to kill my family. You know, severing
all ties to humankind and all that. I... well, let's just say they weren't in
when we called on them. Can you just make sure they really are safely elsewhere
once I... disappear?"
held out a crumpled piece of paper. "Victoria." It was a pencil drawing that
showed a pretty girl of perhaps 16 years. Name and address were written at the
know you can't take it with you, but maybe you can memorize it? I didn't draw
her glasses, cause she refused to wear them in public." *A lot like me, she
took the portrait and studied it. Then she looked at him. The resemblance was
striking. She nodded solemnly. "I would have recognized her even without the
picture. And to answer your question: yes, I will make sure that your family is
safe. I will have my Watcher invite them to stay with us. It's the least he can
do." There was a sudden hint of steel in her voice. She folded the paper
carefully and put it into her pocket.
He fiddled awkwardly with his packet of cigarettes but then he squared his
shoulders. "I mean it's not like I care or anything. To me they've been dust
for bloody ages, but it would be kind of risky to mess with time, and since I
remember them not being there, we should see to it that it really happens that
"I understand," she said. And she did.
something else," he said, suddenly looking very nervous. "I saw your Watcher's
"Oh," was all she said.
you wanna know when and how you're gonna die?" He studied her intently. "Cause
if you do, I'll tell you."
the Slayer and the vampire finally left the training room, the others looked at
them expectantly, and not without curiosity.
walked over to where they were sitting. "I am ready now. I guess, it is time
for me to say farewell."
rushed towards her and embraced her warmly, sad to let her go. In just two days
they had discovered a fondness for each other that could have easily turned
into friendship, given half a chance.
you, Anya. For everything," Maeve said, fighting the tears that were
threatening to well up. "I will miss you."
ex-demon, as usual, expressed her feelings rather bluntly. "I know it is futile
to wish for things one can't have, but I really wish you could stay. There are
so many things I would have liked to show you. And you are so much easier to
get on with than Buffy. Why can't we have both of you? It's not like `there can
only be one'."
"Anya." Xander reprimanded her.
"What? Counting Faith we already have two. Why can't
we have a third Slayer?"
shook her head. "No, I don't belong here. I wish I did, because you have all
been so very kind to me. Thank you all."
She looked at Xander. "I am sorry about your arm," she said.
nothing of it," Xander said. "I always get beaten up. It's like a running gag,
only less funny. Also, it's usually the nasties who do it, but if I had to
choose, I'd rather get walloped by a pretty girl... and that came out a little
more suggestive than it was supposed to. Shutting up now." He grinned sheepishly.
"Take care of yourself. Burn a few corsets."
"I promise," Maeve replied with a smile.
more, she looked at each of them, memorizing their faces. "Give my regards to
Mr. Giles, please," she said, before stepping into the circle.
"I will," Xander promised.
and Maeve sat down cross-legged in the middle of the circle, while the rest of
the gang quietly took their places around the outside. Willow had an open book
in her lap and Buffy's `Mr. Pointy' directly in front of her. There was a tall cylindrical glass vial
filled with a purplish powdery substance between them. The curtains to the shop were drawn to keep
out the afternoon sun. There was an eerie line of light where the curtains met
-but didn't quite close- that glowed bright yellow. The line of light was mirrored on the
floor. It cut through the center of the
circle, making the glass vial twinkle with life. The silence was deafening; the anticipation,
almost tangible. Spike refused to take
part. Instead, he stood away from the
group, leaning against the wall - tapping his pack of smokes against his leg,
debating whether he should bother climbing down into the sewers or stay and
baby-sit the kiddies and wait for the sun to hurry up and set so he could
finally have the cigarette he so desperately needed.
took a deep breath and proceeded with a brief summary of what the spell would
entail. "First, I will track Buffy's
exact location using the spell I began earlier.
That's the easy part. Then, once
I know exactly where she is, I'll tag her and..."
her?" Xander interrupted. "Like they do
to Grizzly Bears on the Discovery Channel?"
a way to track her," Tara answered.
"It's like a magical mark that Willow can see through dimensions and
follow wherever it goes."
"Uh huh," he answered. "Like she's a Grizzly."
Willow continued. "After she's tagged, I will perform the portal spell. Basically, what should happen is...I'll draw a
square on the floor symbolizing the doorway and after I perform the
incantation, we will sprinkle the powder onto the drawing and the portal should
materialize right here in the circle."
"Cool," Dawn mumbled, awestruck.
look sort of like a window. We'll be
able to see into 1880. It should be
pretty amazing," she said proudly.
"Can they see us?" Xander asked.
"No. I'm pretty sure it will be invisible on the
other side. But Buffy should be able to
hear us and once Maeve puts her fingers through the doorway, Buffy should see
the hand materialize in her time. All
she'll have to do is reach out and touch it, and they should return to their
own bodies." Maeve looked
skeptical. Willow reached forward and
took her hand. "It'll work Maeve. You'll be home in no time."
*That is precisely what I am
I'm going to need silence," she gave Anya a pointed look. "Everyone should focus. Just concentrate on the words I'll be saying,
and if I need to, I will be able to draw from your energies."
uncomfortable with that, but didn't object. "Let's begin," Willow said.
per articulus," Willow recited loudly. "Reperio per tractus." Her
hands began to glow pink. "Reperio Buffy Summers." The stake, again,
began to rise above the floor. "Effringo fenestra!" A small point of light
exploded above the floating stake. "Reperio Buffy Summers!" The point
of light began to dance around Mr. Pointy.
It circled and swooped. "Per
tempus! Per tractus!" Willow's eyes turned black. Her body stiffened as raw
power surged through her. Maeve's eyes grew wide. "Reperio itaque macula Buffy Summers!" The point of light moved even faster, until
finally, it shot straight into Willow's forehead and disappeared with a final
bright flash. Willow closed her eyes.
Everyone was silent.
Everyone was anxious. The seconds
seemed like hours.
see her," Willow whispered. "I found
her." She smiled, opened her eyes and
put Buffy's stake aside.
The gang exhaled in unison.
"Okay, now for the next step," she said.
"Are you sure about this, Willow?" Tara questioned
"Yes, baby," she said and smiled at her concerned
girlfriend. "I can do this."
approached the circle and carefully, so as not to disturb the crystals, sat
down near Willow.
"What can we do?" Xander asked.
"Be ready to welcome Buffy home."
Maeve shifted uncomfortably.
took the chalk in her hand and drew a large square on the floor directly in
front of her.
closed her eyes and rested her hands face up in her lap. She began to mouth words, foreign words, so
quietly they were barely a whisper. The air in the shop began to crackle with
could feel the hairs on his arm stand on end (the other was still
sling-wrapped). He glanced at the
others, wondering if they were feeling it too.
They were. And though Willow
continued her chant inaudibly, Xander began to hear the words echoing inside
his head. It gave him the creeps. *Patefacio foris...What the? What's a foris?
Get out of my head. Okay, that's me, that's my voice. I'm still in here.* Xander was about to panic when someone else did
it for him.
"Guys! Oh no! Guys!" Dawn started yelling. "W-who are they?"
turned his head to follow her distraught gaze and found himself almost face to
face with a floating blue-cloaked...something!
He stumbled backward into a bookshelf
its contents onto the floor. "You mean, WHAT are they?!"
no," Tara said as she glanced at the still entranced Willow and then back at
the floating blue figures.
the front end of the shop, three pale humanoid creatures floated serenely about
two feet from the floor. Their hands
were clasped in front of them, and the hooded cloaks they wore plunged their
eyes into shadow. Their white lips were
pursed in an expression of distaste.
stood abruptly, knocking over the powder-filled vial, spilling its contents
into the square. *Still not perfectly
accustomed to this body,* she thought. She warily moved to the being
closest to her and began an inspection of it.
She walked a circle around it.
Oddly, it remained still and allowed her investigation without comment
"What are they?" Dawn mumbled nervously.
"Chronoths," Spike answered.
Everyone turned to look at him.
"W-why are they here?" Tara asked the vampire.
shook his head. "You mess with time, you
call upon you the wrath of the Chronoth Tribe. They," he tilted his head toward
their visitors, "are drawn to temporal power.
Ran into a few of them a while back when Dru decided she wanted to see
if she could contradict her visions."
"Wrath?" Xander asked.
"We don't want any wrath."
can't hurt you," Spike said. *I don't
think.* And to prove his point, he grabbed the purple stone he was
previously playing with off the shelf and tossed it at the nearest entity. The pale face didn't flinch as the stone
passed through its cloaked figure and landed with a thud on the floor behind
"So, wrath?" Xander asked again. "Where's the wrath."
they're just observing," Spike answered.
"Should probably wake Red up and wait for Rupert's starry alignment,
though. Don't think we should be messing
with these kinds of powers."
as everyone's attention turned back to the witch in the center of the circle, a
small blue square of light appeared and hovered over the chalk outline on the
floor. Tara gasped.
"The powder," she said. "Maeve spilled the powder. The portal is
then, the Chronoths began to chant. They
floated into a small huddle, still chanting.
"What?" Xander asked.
"Looks like they don't want this spell to happen
before Xander could utter a half-hearted "Oh no" - something crashed through
the window of the Magic Box.
Willow remained spellbound as chaos erupted around her. The cloaked figures floated away from the
ruckus toward the edges of the shop. The
two Fyarl demons they had conjured attacked straight away.
away from the mucous!" Spike shouted as he kicked one in the gut hurling it
into a bookshelf.
was on the second demon in a flash. Punch. Kick. Duck. Mucous splattered
against the ground to her right. She
grabbed a chair and smashed it into the creature's head. It staggered a bit, but quickly regained its
composure. It lashed out at Maeve,
scratching her arm with its claws. She
barely noticed the blood as she pummeled the ugly horned demon with her
fists. She backed it into a table and
kicked it...hard. It bounced off the table
and fell forward trying to take Maeve down with it. She moved quickly, though, and jumped over
the falling creature - landing on the table behind it.
was furiously attacking the other demon.
Kicking and ducking. But the
Fyarl swung hard and clipped the vampire's head. Spike went down, momentarily dazed. Xander rushed into the skirmish to help. With a large urn in hand, he careened toward
the beast and broke the granite container over its head. It fell backward, landing on its rear. It was still rubbing its head as Xander
pulled the vampire upright with his good arm and dragged him away from the
waited for the creature to regain its feet before she took a step forward and
launched herself off the table, sending her heels into the back of the demon's
"Weapon!" she shouted.
"I need a weapon."
ran to the counter and yanked open a drawer.
Several carved wooden stakes rolled toward her; she grabbed one and
flung it toward her sister. "Here
Buffy!" she shouted, before realizing her error. "I mean, Maeve," she mumbled.
caught the stake in her right hand and drove it through the creature's
back. Green sappy blood oozed from the
wound and the creature laid still. She
yanked the stake out revealing an ugly gaping hole.
other demon was regaining its composure and had a hankering for some
Xander-flesh. It growled as it stood and
lumbered toward the man and the vampire.
Xander scrambled for something else he could hit it with while Spike
propelled himself at the beast. Vampire
visage to the fore, Spike growled and punched its face.
came to his aid - from behind the demon, she drove her stake through its
neck. There was a gurgling noise and the
creature clawed at its neck. Spike could
see the point of the stake protruding from its scaly skin. Still, the demon had strength. It whirled on its attacker, swinging its
gargantuan arm at her head. Maeve ducked
an instant too late and she was thrown several feet, landing with a crash - and
perhaps a fractured bone.
risked a glance back toward the witch and noticed the portal had doubled in
size. It was now a window the size
of...well...a window. Tara was trying to
coax Willow out of the spell, but it didn't seem to be helping. He had just
turned his attention back to the green-ooze-spurting demon when he heard Anya
shriek. Spike bolted out of the demon's
reach and looked around the shop. Xander
had run to Anya's aid - they were both hammering the hole-y demon with large
books. *You can see right through it,* Spike thought. *Neat.*
Spike yelled over the cacophony. "You
need to kill them with something silver!"
heard his instructions and scanned the shop from where she was lying. Xander
and Anya were ineffectually trying to fend off one demon. It was winning, pushing the duo closer to
Tara and the circle. Tara was still stroking her lover's arm - trying to bring
Willow out of the spell and close the ever growing portal. Spike was keeping the other monster
occupied. Dawn? Where was Dawn? Oh, cowering behind the counter. Good.
On the far wall, in the back of the shop, there was an umbrella
stand. There were swords in the umbrella
stand. Swords were silver. *Hopefully.*
stood and ran (with a slight limp) to the back of the shop. She grabbed the handles of two swords and
made her way back to Spike. He was
barely holding his own. Blocking
powerful punches took a lot out of a vampire.
Maeve edged up behind him. "Right hand. Sword," she said as she handed
over the weapon. He took it, gladly.
where she stood, Maeve could see that Anya had been cut badly and was leaning
on the counter for support. "Anya, are
you alright?" she shouted.
"I'm okay. Just please help Xander," she replied.
was trying to keep the Fyarl busy by kicking its legs and hitting it with his
weapon of choice: "The Lost Fire Rituals of the Sacred Mongol Brotherhood". It
was difficult for him to keep his balance, holding the heavy volume with one
hand. The creature had finally had
enough of the book-bashing and grabbed it from Xander's grasp. The fear on Xander's face was evident as he
backed away from the enraged demon.
Unfortunately, he backed right into Tara. "Xander! No!" Maeve yelled. But it was too late. He toppled backward over the frightened witch
and landed (well, fell, really) right into the hovering portal. There was a flash of green energy that filled
the room for less than a second and Willow fell backward from her sitting
position, the spell finally broken.
bolted over to the surprised demon, and taking advantage of the magical
diversion, plunged her sword into its gut and yanked it upward - leaving a
trail of gore in its wake. The Fyarl
demon's eyes opened wide as it fell to the floor, finally dead.
currently too busy fighting to be able to keep an eye on the others, punched
the remaining beast with his free hand and then, behind his back, quickly
switched the sword to his left. He kicked the demon in the shin and as it
hunched over in pain, he brought the sword up, and in a swift downward arc,
lopped the horny head clean off its scabrous body.
the spell was broken, the Chronoths began to fade. They floated backward and
dissolved into the air. In a matter of seconds, the chaos and clamor in the
shop was replaced with an eerie silence.
"Xander," Maeve murmured.
"Oh please, not Xander," Anya moaned as she collapsed
in a heap on the floor.
Maeve ran to her side.
was hunched over Willow, dabbing at the girl's bloody nose with her
sleeve. Dawn was standing at the
counter, and Spike had just finished wiping off his sword on the dead demon's
about Xander?" he asked as he turned toward the others. Noticing the missing
Scooby, he continued, "Where IS Xander?"
pointed to the center of the circle where all that remained of Xander was a
pile of his clothes, his watch and pair of ratty sneakers.
Spike's eyes widened in shock, "Oh
god, tell me he didn't get dusted."
Continued in Part 19 - The Bare Necessities