Things Present – Things Past
By Estepheia and Marcee
Part 20 - Picking up the Pieces
took quite some time to get Anya off the floor and into a chair. Even then, her body slumped over so the
others couldn't see her face. Not that
they needed to. They knew what it looked
like: pale cheeks...bloodshot eyes. She
was devastated. Sad for her own loss,
terrified for Xander.
thought. *Gone.* She sniffled a bit. *And we never got to tell anyone
about our engagement. I didn't get to
pick out my dress or flowers. I didn't get a party or presents.*
and Maeve took some time to try to comfort her with words like, "He's not dead"
and "We'll get him back". But nothing
*Gone.* The word resounded in her head, hollowly. Already
she felt empty, as if part of her was missing, that part which gave her
direction and purpose. What would she do now? Who was she to rely on now? *Who
will hold me and have sex with me?*
thought started a whole new barrage of tears.
*What if he's trapped someplace in between? What if he's just stuck
there and can't do anything? That would be awful! Or..or..even if he made it to 1880 - what
would they do to him there? Oh Xander!
Will I ever get a piece of mail addressed to Mrs. Xander Harris?*
they left her alone to grieve and stood over Tara as she quietly tended to Willow.
redhead remained prostrate in the circle where she had fallen. Several minutes
had passed since the portal closed, yet dark blood continued to seep from her
nose. Tara caressed her lover's face
with a damp paper towel, murmuring to her, cajoling her to awaken. Spike was smoking. *To hell with the rules,* he thought, *Out
the window they go...along with Xander.*
He took another look at where Harris' things remained and at the sobbing
ex-demon. *Not like Anya's in any
shape to complain about the smoke.* He knew he was being callous, but it
still infuriated him that they had ignored his warnings. He watched as Tara
tended to the witch; the others looked on with grave expressions.
Dawn was antsy, her foot vibrating with excess
energy. "What are we gonna do?"
okay, Dawn," Tara answered. *It's
hard to be convincing when you don't even believe your own words.*
"But Willow. I
mean, this is bad."
know, Dawnie," was all Tara could muster in response. She turned to face the girl and saw desperation
in her eyes. She stood and took Dawn
into a tight embrace. "Really, Dawnie,
we'll be okay. We'll work this out."
does she think she's so all-powerful anyway?" Dawn asked angrily, pulling away
from Tara. "She should know if...she
should have known she couldn't handle it."
Tara said quietly. Dawn looked away from
her for a moment, and when she turned back, there were tears in her eyes.
"But what if she never wakes up?"
"She will," Tara murmured, stroking the girl's hair.
*Oh please, let her wake up.*
Then Tara suggested, "Do you want to see if you can
find a blanket for her?"
Dawn gladly agreed.
Anything to take her mind off the circumstances.
didn't even get to tell him how happy he makes me.* Anya was lost in her heartache. *He was trying to protect me. This is all
my fault! Why did this have to happen? I
didn't mean to fall in love. I knew. I
knew how horrible love turns out. I
should have seen this coming.*
glanced down at Willow as she walked through the broken circle. She noticed blood still was oozing. Then she stumbled over Xander's shoes.
call Giles," she stammered. "This is
really, really bad."
"We should call an ambulance," Spike suggested, and
took a long drag.
shook her head, "No. Willow will come out of it." *I hope. The hospital is too scary to consider right
now. We need Mr. Giles.* She was
back on the floor next to her love and looked at Maeve, then Dawn, with wet
eyes. "But we should call Mr. Giles,"
then, through clenched teeth, she added, "Now." She was fighting tears. *I'm
so sorry, Willow. I should have stopped
you. I should have seen this coming.*
could you?" Giles exclaimed, after seeing the aftermath of the spell. "How could you go behind my back..." he wasn't
yelling at anyone in particular, he was just yelling. Then, more to himself, he began to
mumble, "I can't believe..." He approached
Willow. "...dangerous magic..." He leaned over the comatose girl. "How could you be so irresponsible?" He
grabbed her wrist to check her pulse. "...what on earth were you thinking?" But
inwardly he berated himself. *How could I be so trusting. I knew she was
overconfident, reckless even. I should
never have left them. I should have seen this coming.*
told them, Rupert," Spike said melodramatically. "I warned them. But does anyone ever listen to me?"
Giles held Willow's face and turned it from side to
side checking for any other blood.
"Who cares what the vampire thinks? His opinion doesn't matter," Spike mimicked.
"How long has she been out," Giles asked Tara.
a half hour," Tara answered. "She's
never been out this long before." There
was a hint of alarm in her voice. "I
thought she'd come out of it soon, but now I'm not so sure. I haven't moved
her. Just elevated her head and watched her breathing."
Giles looked at the table she was slumped at.
"Anya?" She didn't move. "Anya - where is the hartshorn?"
There a was a brief pause.
Third compartment from the left," she mumbled her response without lifting her
head. *My fault.*
"Dawn?" Giles asked.
"I'll get it."
She hopped up, and then looked at Giles.
"What is it?"
"It's a powder.
Like a baking powder. We should
be able to use it as smelling salts."
Dawn nodded and
immediately ran downstairs.
said, `we should wait and do the starry alignment bit'," Spike continued his
rant. "Let's see, what was it Willow
said? `I can handle it.', `I know what I'm doing.'"
quite enough, Spike!" Giles shouted. He
stood abruptly and stomped over to the surprised vampire. "I've had enough of you!"
"What'd I do?" Spike backed up against the wall as the
angry Watcher approached.
let them do this!" Giles was getting louder, and closer, his face mere inches
from Spike's. "You knew better. You were the adult here. You could have
stopped them and instead you stood by and watched. You watched," he growled, "as these children
risked their lives. You watched with that offensive smirk on your face as they
put themselves in inconceivable danger!"
"I..." Spike tried.
what?" Giles interrupted, growing increasingly agitated. "You leaned casually against the wall smoking
your cigarette? Why Spike? Why'd you let
them do this? Were you bored? Nothing
around for you to kill? You knew what
would happen! You knew!" he
shouted. "It must be really gratifying
for you, to be able to say `I told you so' when you didn't do a thing to stop
"No, I..." he tried again.
slammed his hand against the wall next to Spike's head, cutting off whatever it
was Spike was about to say. "I imagine
you stood by and made a few standard snide remarks. Then you delighted in
skewering a demon or two. Am I right so
far, Spike?" There wasn't even time for the vampire to attempt an answer. "Then Xander disappeared. I'm certain you
found that supremely amusing. Did you have a good chuckle? Was there a clever
remark to accompany your sneer?"
"Giles," Dawn tried to end the confrontation. She held the bag of hartshorn up.
tilted his head and narrowed his eyes - eyes that bored straight into Spike's
brain... or at least, that's how the vampire felt in this situation.
is how you get your kicks, isn't it?" Giles asked him, seriously, his voice low
and menacing. "This is like one big soap
opera to you."
Dawn tried again, with more force. She was looking at Spike, trying to make eye
contact, wanting to somehow give him her moral support but the vampire wasn't
looking at her. He held the Watcher's gaze for a moment, then dropped his
cigarette and ended the staring contest under the pretense of stamping his boot
Giles turned his attention to the girl holding the bag
of white powder.
"Thank you, Dawn," he said quietly.
straightened his duster, ran a hand through his already mussed hair and stalked
to the training room to get away from the scene.
took the pouch and sprinkled some of the powder onto his fingertip. He kneeled next to Willow and waved his
powder-coated finger just below her nose. On her second inhale, she coughed
slightly, took a deeper breath and her eyes snapped open. She immediately tried
to sit up, but Giles held her down, pressing gently on her shoulder.
there, Willow," he said. *How could she do this? Draw upon these powers?* He shook his head, *There will be further
consequences.There are always consequences in the wake of this kind of
magic.* His own dealings with Eyghon had taught him that.
girl laid her head back down on Tara's sweater and closed her eyes. "Ow," she
Tara squeezed Willow's hand reassuringly.
"Will she be okay?" Dawn asked.
is quite possible that she is suffering from a concussion. We should watch her
carefully. Perhaps get her to a bed. I
suppose she should see a doctor, too." Giles was rubbing his forehead in
"And Xander?" Dawn prodded.
of course. We'll have to get to work on that immediately." Giles stood and moved away from Willow. "Keep her still, Tara," he ordered.
walked to the wall where he had just finished verbally battering Spike and
leaned back against it. "Dear god, first
Buffy and now Xander," he mumbled. He
took off his glasses and squeezed the bridge of his nose. "Very well, we'll
have to go about this rationally. It won't do us any good if we were to fall
into some kind of unproductive panic." He replaced his glasses and began
restoring merchandise to their respective places. *Order, we need some kind
of order. After that we can concentrate on the immediate problems.* He returned a tattered book to its shelf,
collected shards of a broken container, then approached the table where Anya
was still seated. He righted a chair and
sat down in it, burying his head in his hands. He suddenly felt very old and
tired. He only needed a moment to gather his wits, then he'd take charge as
usual. Just a moment...
the Watcher currently out of commission, the witch - sick, and Anya, still a
crumpled mass of anguish, Maeve decided to find the only person she thought she
might be able to get through to.
"I'll be right back," she said to Dawn. The girl nodded.
Maeve said quietly as she entered the training room. He was standing near the window, in shadow,
watching the sun set. He didn't turn
"Spike, this was not your fault. I know that you know
didn't respond. He just stared at the
glowing pink ball from his place in the darkness.
"We have to do something," she said.
She waited for a response she knew she wouldn't get.
know you care. I know these people are not only Buffy's ties..." She let that sentence remain unfinished.
looked at her. At Buffy's face. She looked concerned. Open. Genuine. *How many times can I see her face, and
not really see her?* First it was
her, the real Buffy, the Slayer. *She got under my skin the first time I saw
her.* Then it was Faith. *Slayer muscles, yeah right.* He
smiled at that memory. Then the bot. *What
was I thinking?* And now Maeve. He looked away from her. *S'Not the Slayer that I miss, not her
body, not her face.* He turned his gaze
back toward the window. *I miss that
irritating, self-centered girl that comes with the package. And we're nowhere
nearer to gettin' her back...*
was pain in his expression. He wanted to
talk, to spill. But he just couldn't
bring himself to do it.
the Slayer," he said quietly. "You do something." There wasn't much conviction
in his tone. "I'm just a vampire. I'm evil."
thought he sounded tired. She approached the window. Standing next to the vampire, she watched the
sun fall below the horizon. She was
bathed in its remaining luminescence.
The sharp distinction between the glowing Slayer and the silhouetted
vampire was surreal. They watched in
"Xander could be in real trouble," she said finally.
began picking at the tape that covered the cracks in the window pane. "And Buffy is still trapped there."
sun was almost gone. Only a sliver of
light remained. Spike's gaze was fixed
"I am sure she misses everyone terribly."
She spoke quietly, without looking directly at him.
am sure she misses you." And then she whispered, almost inaudibly, "If I ever
get back home, I know I will."
Spike was finally protected by the complete darkness of the room, he spoke
"How are we going to get Xander back? Don't even know where he is."
"We know when he is," she answered.
"Will's hurt. She won't be able to work any mojo any
time soon, I'd guess."
"Is Tara not a witch?"
"There's a thought."
"What did Giles have to say after..." Spike paused,
could hear the sadness in his voice. "He
had nothing to say," she answered. "I believe he is in as much pain as you."
Spike stifled a mirthless laugh.
is trapped in 1880, in his own body.
Without clothing, no less. He
could be in serious danger," Maeve reiterated.
Maeve felt Spike move toward her. She
tensed. But then she felt him grab her
hand and began to pull her back toward the shop. He strode valiantly toward the others,
dragging Maeve behind him.
"Tara," he said.
"You have to send me after him."
"I'm not letting you go by yourself," Cordelia
Now it's a matter of allowing me to do things?" Angel answered as he tossed a
change of clothes into a duffel bag.
"Yes. I will not allow you to go without me."
"What if I have a vision?"
Wes and Fred will all still be here. You
guys can handle it without me," Angel answered.
but...but what if it involved you? Or..or Buffy?" She really wanted to go to Sunnydale
shook his head, "No, Cordelia. I'm not going for a friendly visit. This isn't about saying `hi' to the
gang. I want to make sure Buffy gets
back and they're going to need my help."
"Why? They didn't ask for it," she told him matter-of-factly.
shoved a few formidable looking weapons into the bag. "Look, Cordelia, I'm
going. You're not." He slung it over his shoulder. "Be nice to Wesley."
don't care what you say. If I want to go to Sunnydale, I'll go to
Sunnydale. I'll call a cab if I have
to. A cab YOU'LL be paying for." She folded her arms across her chest and set
That settled it. Angel knew he wouldn't win this one.
"Fine, but I'm leaving now."
not," Giles responded vehemently. "We
cannot risk any more..." he was going to say `lives', but changed his mind. "We
cannot risk any possible time paradox. This is already completely out of hand."
"And with Willow hurt..." Dawn trailed off, forcing back
a fresh siege of tears.
had moved Willow to the couch in the training room where Tara was looking after
her. She was gradually becoming more
alert, but was still in a lot of pain.
Spike looked at Maeve, silently requesting back up.
"Tara has power as well, correct?" Maeve asked.
is not something we can simply dive into," Giles said. "It takes planning and research and time."
is something we don't have Rupert," Spike interjected. "Xander does not know where he is, in a time
period he knows nothing about! I
remember - I LIVED there. I can help
him. And then you can bring us all
lived there, too," Anya said. She was
still sitting at the table, but her tears had since dried up. "I could go.
I could go find him."
too dangerous for you, Anya," Maeve said and approached the wearied
ex-demon. She rested her hand on her
shoulder and said, "Spike can do this. I know he can."
"What can Spike do?"
turned to look out of the broken store window toward the source of the new
"Hi guys," Cordelia said.
"Oh bloody hell, who invited the SuperPoof?"
Angel walked in behind Cordelia. "Good to see you too,
Continued in Part 21 - House and Home