Things Present – Things Past
By Estepheia and Marcee
Part 19 - The Bare Necessities
opened his eyes. First thought: *It's cold.* Second thought: *Where am I?* Third thought:
*Oh my god! I'm naked!*
scrambled to his feet, instantly covering his private regions. Panic evident. *I'm
dreaming, I must be dreaming.* It
was almost black, but he could just make out that he was indoors, standing in a
darkened room. Stark naked.
he said to himself. "Okay, I was in the
Magic Box. And now I'm not." *Please let
me be dreaming.* "In the Magic Box,
valiantly fighting a Fyarl demon." *I'm
naked. How did I get naked?* "And
then I tripped and fell..." *Oh no!* He finally pieced it together. "I tripped and
fell into the portal." He covered his
face with his hands. *Such an idiot!* Then, realizing that covering his face with
his hands left his nether regions exposed, he repositioned them.
let's see. Where am I?" As his eyes adapted to the gloom he was able to see
more of his surroundings. Wooden floor, paneled walls, ugly paintings, a long
wooden table in the middle. Chandeliers. *Wow!
Now that's what I call a mess.* Most of the chairs were overturned, and
there were all kinds of things littering the floor. And there seemed to be dust
*Okay. I get it now. I'm in
the 1800's.* He sighed, somewhat relieved that he finally
understood what happened to him, then: "But why am I naked?" he asked aloud.
"And where's Buffy?" *Let her be here,
let her be here, let her be here!*
fell on a wooden stake that was lying discarded on the floor. "Buffy?" he
called. And then louder, "Buff, hey, it's me, the Xand-man, can you hear me?
Say yes, and you'll make me the happiest man in the world."
He listened, but there was no answer.
*No Buffy. Okay, I'll settle
for second best. How about a portal? Or, maybe a hand reaching through an
invisible window right about...now!* He did a 360 degree turn. *Hmm. Didn't think so.*
walked towards one of the windows. "Ouch!" he yelled, as he stepped onto
something painfully sharp. Forcing himself to refrain from madly hopping around
on one leg, he gingerly reached for his foot and pulled out a thumbnail sized
glass shard. *Swell! Now I've got a
bleeding foot. As if a bruised arm wasn't enough!*
walked on, more carefully, avoiding a dark puddle on the floor that he
fervently hoped wasn't blood. He pulled the curtains back. The panes were
filthy. Even so, he was momentarily blinded by bright daylight. Through the
grime, an alley was visible. There was a derelict building on the opposite site
of the road. He didn't see any people. Which was just as well, considering his
lack of clothing.
walked to the door. It was stuck. He pushed and managed to dislocate whatever
was obstructing it from the other side. Squinting, he peered through the gap
into a hallway. *Gah!* A body, and an
ugly one at that. It reminded him vaguely of Olaf the troll who had crushed his
hand the year before. Except this troll was dead, his throat torn out. *Ew! Vampire leftovers. What else is new?*
seemed the portal had brought him to the right place. Stakes, vampire victims...
But where was Buffy?
sighed dramatically and edged past the body into the hallway. *Ooh!
Clothes!* he thought and bent over the smelly troll body. He grabbed for the beast's giant tunic, but
it wouldn't budge. He was pulling at it
with one hand - the other, still covering his lower half. After a minute or so of fruitless tugging,
Xander decided to brave the use of both hands.
Bending awkwardly at the knee, he grabbed the frock with both hands, and
using all of his weight, tried to pull it free.
No use. The clothing thing would
just have wait for a lighter dead guy.
followed the hallway to a sturdy door. It was slightly ajar, letting in a
brilliant shaft of light. Xander stepped outside, into the dirty road. He
thought he saw a few people at the mouth of the alley, about 200 yards away.
covered himself with one hand and waved sheepishly with the other. There was a distressed smile painted on his
no answer. The people he had seen took one look at him and hurried away. The
only living thing that remained in his vicinity was a nasty looking cat that
eyed him nervously.
he mumbled. *I have no idea what Maeve
looks like. Or where she lives. I guess Spike was right. Never thought I'd hear
myself think that. But why am I the one with the consequences - this stupid
spell wasn't my idea! And how am I gonna get out of this one?* He kicked at the dirt with his bare
(non-hurt) foot and searched the area for some answers. *If
only we'd waited for Giles. This never
would have happened. I'd still be in the
twenty-first century...FULLY CLOTHED.
Buffy'd be back by Tuesday...*
scanned the rooftops for a familiar landmark - without success. *Where's Big Ben? I always wanted to see Big
Ben and it's usually just round the corner in the movies...*
was a sound. At first, he assumed it was his heart beating in his ears. But when it grew louder, he realized it
wasn't his blood pumping...it was the sounds of hooves. Horses.
spun around, looking for cover...or at least, something to cover him! Nothing!
Before he had time to dash back into the building - the carriage was
upon him. Unfortunately *or fortunately* the carriage didn't slow
or stop. He only just managed to jump out of the way.
*I'm beginning to hate this
was just about to go back into the house to search it for clothes or anything
else that might be useful, when he heard brisk footsteps coming near.
*Oh, yay! More embarrassment.
Can't wait.* He struck the same pose as before: one hand
on groin, the other in the air - plastic smile in place. This time, however, there was no horse-drawn
cart. Instead, two men approached him.
They were wearing long coats and funny hats and had...*Great Gatsby! They're police officers!*
came to a halt several feet from where Xander was standing (mortified). Both exchanged worried glances and placed
their hands near their billy clubs.
you robbed, Sir?" one asked, straining his neck to look up into his face. He
and his colleague were at least a foot shorter than Xander.
*Robbed? Yes, I was robbed.* "Yes, I was robbed. They took everything."
"Who? Could you describe them, Sir?"
Uh. The robbers. They were...uh wearing
masks and they um...hurt my arm. I think it may be broken." He held up his
injured arm, which was still slightly swollen.
two officers looked at each other then back at the odd naked man with the
strange dialect. They took in his size, his powerful build and his tan. They
also noted the blood on his hand.
that your house?" he asked, dropping the honorific. He used his club to point
at the inn.
"Where are you from?"
"Sunnydale," he answered without thinking. "Um.
"America?" the officer questioned.
"Uh. The United States." Xander's nakedness was
beginning to affect his brain.
"How did you arrive in London?" the policeman asked.
"A portal," he mumbled, shaking his head.
"Stay there," the burly policeman ordered. He motioned
the other Bobby aside.
"Sure." Xander said, shivering.
two policemen stuck their heads together. They kept their eyes trained on the
"What d'you think?" the younger of the two asked
"He's not quite right in `is head, now, is he?" the
"Most likely he escaped from St. Luke's."
if he's from St. Luke's it might earn us a few shillings from the Doctor when
we bring him in."
"You think he's dangerous?"
"I don't intend to find out, now, do I?"
The other man nodded and both approached Xander
watched them, hoping they'd take him to some kind of police precinct. Or maybe
a doctor. He needed clothing - and a new
sling. Besides, maybe someone there
would know Maeve. *What was her last name again? MacIntosh?*
*No, that's a computer,* he figured...right before the
policemen swung their clubs against his head and it was `lights out'.
"Will! Wait for me!"
young girl bounced down the stairs and reached him at the door. "You said you
would go to the Museum and to the bookbinder today and that I could come
smiled indulgently. "What about mother?" he asked, as he picked up his hat,
gloves and cane.
is not feeling well today. She said she would take her medicine and try to
rest. Surely the maid can look after her? Please?"
well. But we mustn't spend any money. No more books for you, Victoria, until
you've finished the ones we bought last time."
I already finished Descartes' `Meditationes' and Goethe's `Leiden des jungen
Werther'," she complained as she took his arm. "And there are only a few pages
left in `Middlemarch.' Can't we buy some more poetry? Browning, I'd like to
"Browning? Well, I will think about it."
*That is almost a yes,* Victoria Crawford thought
waited for her to choose her purse, shawl and parasol. Then he took her arm and
they walked outside to hail a cab.
my dear brother, how was Cecily last night?" the young woman asked excitedly,
to the merry hoof beats that accompanied their ride to Bloombsbury. "Did you
get to converse with her?"
I am afraid she did not take any notice of me at all." William replied with a
self-depreciatory smile. "She has many admirers to choose from, and they are
all more dashing than I." He saw the protest in his sister's face and shook his
head. "We both know that, so don't say it's not true."
have to talk to her!" Victoria exclaimed. "Then she just HAS to see how
wonderful you are." *And how much you love her.*
brother laughed at her, good-naturedly. "You are an incurable romantic, my
dear. But just to please you I will try to approach her. The next time I see
her I will actually try to speak with her."
promise. I will probably make a complete and utter fool out of myself, but
that's what love is all about, is it not? Allowing the heart to overrule
She squeezed his hand, affectionately.
may I help you, young Masters?" the bookseller asked cordially. He recognized
the boys from previous visits. Their father was a regular customer. "Are you
looking for anything in particular?"
Willoughby handed him the list. "Would you have these in stock? We will be
needing them next term." His brother George quietly disappeared behind a large
bookshelf. As usual, his interest was with Philosophy and Theology.
bookseller scanned the list. "There are two titles here that I will have to
order. The others I have in stock. This may take a few minutes. Perhaps you
would like to have a look around, Master Willoughby?"
thank you." He strolled though the shop, picking up a book here and there.
Suddenly there was a high pitched shriek and a young girl toppled down a ladder
on which she had been standing in order to reach the top shelves.
caught her more by reflex than by design. Holding her steady in his arms he
looked into startled blue eyes behind wire rimmed spectacles. The girl's pretty
face was framed by honey colored curls. And there was something strangely
familiar about her.
"You can put me down, now," she said with a shy smile.
um... yes of course, forgive my manners," he stammered and complied, blushing. He
had just touched a girl's waist. Only to catch her, of course, but nonetheless.
young woman, she was about the same age as Charles, blushed, too. "Thank you. I
am glad you had the presence of mind to keep me from injury."
A man came around the corner. Charles recognized him immediately. "Mr.
Crawford. How do you do?" He exclaimed with a polite bow. Now he knew why the
girl had looked so familiar. The family resemblance was obvious.
Willoughby, what a pleasant surprise. May I introduce to you my sister, Miss
Victoria Crawford. Victoria, this is Master Willoughby. His father is a
business associate of Mr. Hartford."
"It is a pleasure, Miss Victoria. How do you do?"
"How do you do?" She quickly took off her glasses and
put them in her purse.
and Mr. Crawford exchanged cards. They were joined by George, and the rites of
formal introduction were observed once more. Charles had the impression that
young Miss Victoria was secretly amused by the procedure.
stood around a bit awkwardly. Charles craned his neck to look at the small pile
of books Miss Crawford had chosen so far. `Frankenstein', ` Les Trois Mousquetaires', two slim volumes of poetry and a
collection of stories by Sheridan Le Fanu.
* `'Carmilla'? He lets her
Charles thought, amazed at her audacious taste. This was hardly suitable
reading material for a girl of sixteen or seventeen years! Mother would object,
but Charles found himself drawn to both brother and sister. They piqued his
the astonished glance of his brother, Charles drew the Crawfords into a lively
but amiable discussion of Shakespeare's History plays. When Mr. Crawford
suggested that they go to a coffeehouse for some refreshments, he accepted
gladly, because it gave him the opportunity to extend an invitation of his own
for the following day.
*I wonder what Maeve will say
if I bring her Mr. and Miss Crawford for afternoon tea.*
woke to the murmur of two voices conducting a conversation almost out of
earshot. He could also hear birds chirping.
looks strong like an ox, sir... "
"Indeed, he does. Let us just hope he is docile and
does not give us any trouble..."
the first speaker's accent was unfamiliar and difficult to understand, the
second man sounded very much like Giles, perhaps a little more decisive.
had a splitting headache but when he tried to touch his skull where it ached
most he found that he couldn't move his arms. He couldn't sit upright, either.
*Oh god, please don't let me
be paralyzed!* He opened his eyes. A bare
ceiling. He turned his head sideways. Bare walls. A window was letting in
bright sunlight and a slight breeze. *Oh
oh. Iron bars? Now, this is disturbing.*
lifted his head to check his body and became instantly woozy. He was stretched out on a hard cot. His arms
and legs were restrained by metal shackles and a broad leather strap was
fastened over his chest. He was effectively pinned. *Not good, this is so not good.*
least he was no longer naked. He was clothed in some kind of hospital gown. And
his foot was bandaged.
*They hit me! I thought
English policemen were supposed to be well-mannered! They hit me. Bastards!*
He heard steps approaching and quickly closed his
touched his hand, turning it over, examining it from all angles. Dropping it,
looking at the other.
callused, tanned, short nails, not manicured, do I smell a hint of sap?
Carpentry, perhaps? And not very good at pretending to be unconscious," the
cultured voice said.
opened his eyes. He saw before him a man in his late forties. He was dressed
impeccably. He had a bushy moustache and his black hair looked prematurely
"Ah, you are awake. Good. I am Dr. Burton, Chief
Alienist of St. Luke's."
What's an alienist? Do I look like a martian to you?" Xander babbled before he
could stop himself. *Great, now I sound
like a complete idiot.* He would have smacked his forehead if he weren't
shackled to this cot. A rather uncomfortable and much to narrow cot.
me where it hurts," the doctor said and proceeded to examine Xander's head.
There were two noticeable lumps that hurt considerably. Xander told him so. The
man nodded, took a look at his eyes and checked the bruised arm.
you please answer a few questions?" the man asked, brandishing a pad and a
you untie me. This is kinda uncomfortable," Xander suggested without great
won't be possible just yet, my friend," Dr. Burton said kindly. "Perhaps later.
Now, can you tell me your name?"
"Al-, er... Clark Kent."
"What is your address?"
don't have one." Xander said. "I only just arrived from America. Sightseeing.
You know, Big Ben, Madame Tussaud's, Piccadilly Circus. And then..." he carried
on, getting into the swing of things, "...before I could find myself a nice hotel
I got robbed. They stole everything, my money, my suitcases, even my clothes."
"What is today's date?" The doctor asked, scribbling
things into his notebook.
June 1880?" Xander laughed nervously. "I don't... er... remember the exact
day. Must be the hit on the head," he
added hurriedly. *Amnesia is not that
uncommon, or is it? I mean every single one of my favorite TV shows had at
least one amnesia episode...*
"When and where were you born?"
"What kind of hospital is St. Luke's?" Xander asked
Luke's is an asylum for the criminally insane," the doctor answered, studying
his reaction carefully.
Xander groaned and closed his eyes. *Why do these
things always happen to ME?*
Continued in Part 20 - Picking up the Pieces