Things Present – Things Past
By Estepheia and Marcee
Part 26 - All the World's A Stage
should be able to get the supplies together in time for you to be sent through
first thing tomorrow morning," Giles said.
I'm all for going back to my beloved death-place and all," Spike said, "but
landing somewhere with blue skies under the hot, bright, English sun is not
really at the top of my list."
come on, William," Angel said. "It's at the top of mine."
is a concern," Giles said.
it's not," Willow interrupted. She was lying on the couch eavesdropping on the
conversation in the kitchen. Dawn was watching TV from the floor in front of
her. "I actually still have a kind of remote link to Buffy," she said as she
stood carefully and made her way into the kitchen. "I can kind of feel what's going on around
her. Nothing very substantial or specific, but enough to know that it's
daylight or dark. Tomorrow morning should work out perfectly, actually."
Giles said as he poured himself a cup of tea. "Well, thank you, Willow." He
smiled at the witch before turning his attention back to Spike, Cordelia and
next issue at hand is the lack of power. Willow is a very strong witch and it
will be difficult to match the level of power she used the first time the
portal was opened."
was hard for Willow to hide her self-satisfaction.
can perform the ritual, but I do not have the magical strength that Willow
possesses," Giles continued.
about Willow's friend, Tara? She can help, right?" Cordelia asked.
still," Giles commented as he ran his finger down the length of the page in
front of him. "I'm uneasy about the
possibility that we will not be able to keep the portal open long enough for
Spike to pass through unharmed."
bout our vengeance girl?" Spike suggested. "I'd wager she's got some powers left
in her yet."
Giles agreed. "With the three of us..."
just might work," Cordelia finished the sentence for him.
so I go through. Get Xander out of his mess and then meet up with the Slayer?"
We'll have to set up two separate liaisons at specific times and places in
order for you to return to Sunnydale."
at night or indoors," Spike added.
Angel blurted suddenly. He nodded towards the door. "We need to talk."
Peaches, what's on your mind?"
rolled his eyes, but stood and followed the other vampire out into the dining
room. When they were out of earshot, Angel grabbed Spike's shirt and pulled him
forward harshly so their faces were inches apart. "I don't know how you managed to fool Giles.
He, of all people, should know better than to trust you. But you can't fool
me," he whispered to Spike malevolently. "I know you. What's to stop you from
wreaking havoc once you're in London? Do you really expect me to believe that
you'll waste your precious time doing something that doesn't benefit you?"
don't care what you believe," Spike chuckled, refusing to be intimidated.
"Nobody asked for your opinion, Angel."
doesn't matter what Giles says, William," Angel declared. "You're not going.
Not until I'm convinced that you'll behave yourself."
didn't try to free himself from the angry man's grip. Instead, he simply
returned the accusing glare. "I don't have to prove myself to you."
yes you do." Angel tightened his grip on Spike's shirt.
off!" Spike snapped, losing his
patience. He tried to brush the older vampire off but Angel shoved him
backwards and pinned him against the wall, dislodging a photograph of the three
stared at the younger vampire, unwilling to believe that this might be the face
of Buffy's rescuer. *If he betrays us or if he fails, Buffy will die in a
time not her own, away from her friends. And she'll die by my hands.* That
thought made his legs feel weak, but he managed to keep his face impassive.
Barely. "It's up to you, Spike. Convince me you're on the level and you can go
and play Dr. Who. Piss me off and you'll fit into an ashtray," Angel told him
harshly. His voice was barely a whisper,
but the anger in his tone was palpable.
"What do you want him to do? Swear on a
turned to face Cordelia who was standing in the hallway. They stared at her
with a mixture of surprise and confusion.
beings with such acute senses, you guys certainly don't notice much." She
long were you..." Angel started.
we all know Spike's a screw up," she said.
that incident with the hot pokers? We know he wouldn't receive a sparkling
two vampires shared a look of mutual dislike.
I trust Giles. If he says Spike will get the job done, then I'm all for it,"
released his grip. "But..." he said.
" Could you stop fighting for a minute, and spare a thought
to the problem at hand? Cause if I wanted to hear some self-righteous
egocentric crap I'd rather get it from Buffy."
"This giant cloud of testosterone is really not good for my
complexion. Do vampires even have
testosterone? Whatever." She rolled her eyes and headed back toward the
kitchen. She turned back to the slack
jawed vamps to add, "Now hug and shake hands or whatever it is you do and get
your asses back in here."
They turned back toward each other, awkwardness evident. "Hmm," Angel expressed confusion.
"Look, what she said," Spike said.
Angel just nodded. "Just bring
them back Spike." It was more of plea than an order.
wonder if there are any sculptures of someone I know," Anya said cheerfully.
and Maeve exchanged worried glances. The ex-demon was trying so hard to be
brave, useful and optimistic, it was getting kind of grating.
you know?" Tara asked patiently, but with an inward sigh.
I know lots of famous demons. Many had
sculptures created for them. I should
have gotten a sculpture," she pouted.
"But no, instead Hercules - I'm a god, worship me - decided he needed a
few marble statues of himself. He took up all of Puget's time. Narcissistic
bastard." Anya made a face. "I was even in France when Fred built the famous
sculpture of Bernice."
she was a demon. Nice girl. She ate
gasped. "She was a vampire?"
"No. She was a Carackphlar Demon. She didn't drain their blood or
anything. She ate them whole," Anya said
indifferently. "But she didn't eat important people. Mostly homeless people or
drunks. She would sometimes even get tipsy after devouring an alcoholic," she
laughed. "I remember this one time,
after she ate a foul smelling sailor, she..."
Tara interrupted her reverie.
that's not the point. I was explaining about Bernice. Well, Fred was trying to convince her to
leave Paris. He promised he'd build a statue of her and send it over to the
Americas where people would come and sacrifice themselves to her. He convinced her that New York Harbor would
be an all-you-can-eat buffet."
S-statue of Liberty?" Tara questioned, appalled.
can you believe it? Fred pretended it was a gift for the U.S.," Anya snickered.
"When it was really just a bribe to get Bernice out of Paris."
Statue of Liberty?" Tara repeated incredulously.
You know, `Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses ...blah blah... I'll
eat them all and you'll never have to worry about them again.'"
was all Tara could muster.
anyway, I'm going to see if there's anyone I know." Anya smiled and hurriedly
turned the corner.
later there was a shrill squeal.
Maeve ran toward the scream. "Anya, what happened?"
was standing in the aisle with her hands over her eyes. "It's dead right? Or it's fake?" She was hyperventilating. Maeve bent down in front of Anya. "Are you
okay?" she asked. "What is wrong? Are you hurt?" Anya was just shaking her
looked at the display Anya was turned away from. It was a sculpture of a
magician in a tuxedo holding a top hat with his left hand. In his right hand he was pulling something
from the hat... "A bunny," Tara chuckled.
"It's not real, Anya. It's okay." To Maeve, she said, "Rabbits. Anya's
afraid of rabbits." Maeve simply nodded.
walked further down the aisle as Maeve comforted the frightened ex-demon.
would they put something so horrible in a museum?" Anya was mumbling. "Children
might see it!"
glared back at the offending wax figure.
guys?" Tara interrupted. She waved them over to where she was standing. "Do you hear that," the witch asked.
what?" Anya echoed.
listen," Tara answered.
was an indistinguishable murmur. As if
many people were all whispering at once.
They continued down the aisle slowly, listening as the murmuring grew
louder. As they rounded another bend,
they found themselves looking into the central room of the museum. It was a large circular room filled with
dozens of displays, all roped off from the center of the room. There was a large sign reading "New museum
additions". The room was filled with people.
There were three large groups of middle school-aged children, a tour
group of senior citizens and a few random couples wandering from exhibit to
we're not alone," Anya muttered unhappily.
are we going to do?" Tara asked.
not going to be able to check all of these figures for anatomical correctness,
that's for sure."
just have to look around until we find something suitable for Spike to wear and
then perhaps you can create a magical wall around the display so we can take it
without anyone seeing," Anya said. "I'll be sure to leave a note letting them
know the clothing will be returned in a few days."
will I put up a wall without people n-noticing?" Tara stuttered.
do I always have to think of everything?" Anya asked. She sighed
dramatically. "I suppose we will just
have to create a distraction when the time comes."
distraction?" Maeve sounded worried.
nodded, as if certain she had made the right decision and then strutted
purposefully to the first exhibit.
Morse invents the telegraph," Maeve read the display description. "Morse Code,"
she said. "I know Morse Code."
know Sam didn't really invent Morse Code," Anya explained. "Morse Code is really the language of the
Samoy Clan. They communicate by
clicking. I can't believe he took the credit." She shook her head.
neat," Tara said. "The Addams Family. I used to love that show when I was a
know, Tara," Anya began.
tell me, Grandpa was a real vampire, right?" Tara asked.
god no!" Anya replied. "They would never let a real vampire on the set of a TV
Morticia was really a witch?"
Anya said. "I was just going to tell you
that I dated the actor who played Thing."
he was more than JUST a hand," she said, smiling slyly.
wish to go over this one more time before the girls return," Giles said.
Cordelia started. She had been taking
notes throughout the discussion and was ready for the review. "Tomorrow
morning, you..." she directed her pen at Giles, "Tara and Anya will work your
mojo and open up the portal."
dive in," Spike added.
then in precisely forty-eight hours, you will open another portal in the same
reach through and make the portal all glow-y so you can find it easier," Willow
me and Harris can jump right back into the future, right?"
Cordelia answered. "Then Maeve should be
able to reach through and take Buffy's hand..." she looked at Giles. "And then
what? How will we know if it worked?"
will work," Willow assured her. "And
the contingency plan?" Angel asked morbidly.
by some chance, Spike is unable to make the determined meeting in forty-eight
hours, we will open the portal again in another twenty-four hours," Giles
answered. "That should be enough time to find Buffy and get to the location at
which you were first dropped."
that may be," Spike muttered.
you could always send us another letter if you need to," Cordy suggested.
no guarantee it will be delivered on time, or at all," Giles cautioned.
worry, Rupert," Spike said. "I'll be on time."
looks right," Maeve exclaimed, thankfully interrupting Anya's dissertation on
all the things a disembodied hand could actually do.
was standing before an exhibit entitled "Through the Looking Glass, Authors and
Poets of the 19th Century".
name under the first author was "Charles Lutwidge, a.k.a. Lewis Carroll".
boring," Anya said.
wrote the story `Alice in Wonderland'," Tara clarified for the others.
ex-demon inspected the display more closely.
"No one will mind if we take his clothes. Anything to make this exhibit
more interesting would be a good thing. Tara, get read to put up a wall."
suddenly became extraordinarily antsy. "What are you going to do, Anya?" She
glanced around at the room full of unsuspecting patrons.
always gets distracted when girls take their tops off," Anya suggested.
"Perhaps I should?"
Tara and Maeve shouted in unison.
turned at the sound of their outburst.
Tara shouted again, scrambling for an idea. Then she noticed one of the girls
in the group next to them was wearing an N'Sync backpack. Lightbulb. "No," Tara
repeated a third time, "Justin Timberlake doesn't want to sign autographs. He's
only here to they can cast his face for the N'Sync exhibit."
had no idea what Tara was talking about but she was smart enough to notice the
reaction of the children in the museum. "Oh, the in sync exhibit," Maeve
repeated, unsurely. "The one they're setting up back there?" She pointed to a
hallway in the back of the room.
Suddenly, a throng of twelve-year-olds rushed toward the hallway. Teachers scurried after them, trying to keep
order. In moments, the girls were left
in the central chamber with just a few museum patrons.
about them?" Maeve whispered to Anya.
distract them," Anya said. "Tara, when I have their eyes diverted, put up some
kind of magical barrier so they can't see us strip Mr. Carroll."
began wandering over to area where the remaining people where gathered.
you do, don't take your clothes off," Tara whispered after her.
and Maeve waited nervously near the exhibit while Anya pranced over to the
"Elvis" display. She stepped over the velvet rope and approached the hunka
hunka burning love. Several of the
remaining patrons turned to watch the spectacle.
everyone," she said and clapped her hands loudly. "Attention please."
began to gather in front of the Elvis display.
was a handsome man with a promising career," she began. "It's a shame I had to
curse him." She shook her head. "You know famous people are cursed all the
time," she told them. "It's unfair, really.
They're spotlighted, so when they make a mistake, everyone knows about
it." She peeked into his sparkling sequence bell-bottoms. "Not anatomically
correct." The crowd laughed.
began to chant quietly. Maeve watched in
should have been nicer to Priscilla," Anya explained. "But, like many men - not like my Xander - he
ignored her and was constantly traveling. She was lonely. Then she began to
suspect him of cheating. I told her I'd
check into it for her. I know what
you're thinking? I couldn't be older than twenty-one." She smiled. "But it's
amazing what plastic surgery can do these days."
paced the length of her stage as she lectured.
Tara's wall was almost complete, it was still fluttering in and out of
reality, but soon it would solidify.
they finally got divorced, it was easy to get her to start wishing." She
smiled, remembering. "It was fun. She wished he would get so fat, no women
would want him. Of course, she had no idea I was granting her wishes..."
noticed the wall was up so decided to conclude her story. Tara had created a
fake partition with the words, "This exhibit under construction" stenciled on
the front. Perfect.
then she wished he'd drop dead and that's the end of the story," she said and
hopped off the small stage. Several
members of her make-shift audience clapped. Others just looked at her with a
mixture of fear and puzzlement. But at
least she had kept them occupied. *I like being the center of attention,*
she noted. *I should do this more often.* Just then an older man in a security guard
uniform approached the Elvis exhibit.
I'm going to have to ask you to come with me. You're creating a disturbance,"
he told Anya.
and Tara hid behind their magic wall.
I was only entertaining the patrons," she told him. "This is a very boring
facility. I was just trying to make it interesting."
just come with me," he repeated. "I'll show you to the exit."
don't know why you're kicking me out. It's not like I'm doing anything bad like
breaking your displays or stealing expensive items."
began pulling the clothing off of the wax figure and stuffing it into her
about Anya?" Maeve asked.
she'll make enough of a scene that we can take the wall down without anyone
about the note?"
wanted to leave a note explaining that we will return the clothing."
pulled out a pad and pencil and scribbled a quick note. "IOU Mr. Carroll's clothing."
I was just telling a story. Museums are old and dusty and boring. I think you should hire me to tell stories at
each exhibit," Anya was explaining to the security man as he grabbed her arm in
order to drag her back toward the lobby.
to me, Mister," she continued. "I have a store myself. I know what sells. This place
could be raking in the money if only there were some form of entertainment."
done, Tara took a quick glance around the wall and noted that the
Anya-spectacle had escalated into a scuffle between her and the security
man. Anya was trying to pull her arm
away while swatting the older man with her tiny purse. "Let me go," she yelled. "Get your hands off
quickly dropped the wall revealing a naked anatomically incorrect author and
hurried to retrieve her flailing friend.
"Anya!" Tara said. "Anya!" She
took her friend's arm to keep her from bashing the old man with her purse
again. "Oh, officer, I'm so s-sorry,"
Tara said. "My friend Anya here is in a
special program." She put emphasis on the word special. Then she whispered to the man, "She's
somewhat delusional." He stepped back from the crazy woman. "She just needs her
m-medication," Tara stuttered.
needs to leave," he told Tara.
take her back to the hospital," she told the man. "I'm so sorry this happened.
It's her first field trip."
man nodded knowingly. "Well, maybe you can try again when she's more...stable."
was awake after a not-so-great night's sleep.
There was a nervous tension in the air.
A `today's the day' vibe. Cordelia and Willow were busy clearing the
dining room table. There were several
pancakes and slices of French toast leftover. *Guess no one was really hungry
this morning,* Willow thought. Tara was
in the kitchen washing dishes when Dawn
rushed in and dragged her, grabbing Willow and Cordy on the way, to the foot of
stood grinning before the miniature audience she had created. "Presenting,
Spike's new look!" Dawn announced throwing her arms up in the air as if she
were a game show spokesmodel. Everyone
glanced up, but the stairwell remained empty. "Come on, Spike," Dawn urged.
bugger," was heard from the top step.
blonde vampire came plodding down the stairs with a pout. "I look like bloody
Dr. Watson." He was wearing a starched
white high collared shirt, a pair of tan trousers that fit him rather snugly
and a long black jacket.
you look like Mr. Carroll," Anya replied.
Carroll," Tara clarified. "You know, Alice in Wonderland."
dressed me up like a soddin' children's book writer?" Spike asked
incredulously. "You'll pay for this..." he muttered.
applauded, Angel suppressed a chuckle and Giles commented: "I think you look
rather dashing." With that, the house
erupted into laughter.
all the chuckling finally had died down and everyone had made a suitably
sarcastic comment, the group moved into the living room, which was now cleared
of the majority of furniture. In the
center of the room, a circle was created using stones and candles gleaned from the
Magic Box after Anya, Tara and Maeve had returned home last night.
we be expecting any more Fyarl demons?" Spike asked uncertainly.
prepared for anything," Giles answered.
He was sitting cross-legged in the center of the circle with Anya and
Tara. A book was open between them.
were weapons scattered throughout the living room. Angel was leaning on his
broadsword, Cordelia had a sword as well and Maeve was armed with a stake and a
silver dagger. Dawn and Willow were
sitting on the coffee table that was now pushed up against the back wall.
stood just outside the circle and watched the proceedings impatiently. His
breakfast had consisted of three bags of blood from the hospital, making him
feel alert and adventurous. He had only one complaint. He felt vulnerable
without his duster.
pulled a gold chain from his pocket. At
the end, a round gold watch dangled. "This is for you, Spike. Please take good
care of it." The vampire took the timepiece. "Forty-eight hours," the Watcher
hours," Spike repeated.
to make a mental note of your exact location."
blonde vampire nodded. "Don't worry, Rupert. I've got it."
Giles asked the witch and the ex-demon. Both nodded.
clutched hands and lowered their heads.
Giles began to whisper the words from the book in front of him. Tara and
Anya soon joined in. The air in the room
began to crackle. Willow closed her eyes and concentrated on the words. The whispers began to echo throughout the
room. Suddenly, the familiar blue
cloaked figures appeared hovering near the curtained window.
bloody hell, not again," Spike mumbled.
Maeve and Angel stood at the ready.
who was standing near the front door, abruptly fell against the wall clutching
her head. The Chronoths turned and
glided toward her. Her eyes were closed,
but it looked as if she might be communicating with the creatures.
must sense her connection to the Powers," Angel whispered. He was on his toes,
ready to come to Cordelia's rescue, should it be necessary.
pale figures floated in a huddle near Cordelia who finally opened her
eyes. She reached out to touch one, but
her hand passed through it without resistance. She closed her eyes again and
whispered something inaudibly. The
cloaked figures bowed their heads and floated back toward the window, where
they remained...hovering about two feet from the floor.
just want to stay and watch. No demons," Cordelia smiled sheepishly.
Spectators," Spike mumbled.
drew a chalk outline of the window on the floor beside her. Anya sprinkled
powder onto the square. They joined
hands again. When their hands met, there
was a crackle of power, but the chalk outline remained just an outline.
need help," Willow murmured.
Chronoths added their voices to the chant.
Immediately, the outline began to glow, white light poured forth from
the small square on the floor. Then the
portal began to grow.
looked into the opening abyss, pulled a cigarette out of his pocket and lit it.
He took a long drag. Dawn rushed to him and hugged him tightly. "Please be
careful!" she said into his jacket. "I will, pigeon," he answered and after a
moment's hesitation stroked her hair.
me you'll come back," she pleaded.
promise," he said solemnly. "Now stand back."
He took another puff and scanned the room.
He nodded at the Slayer. They had already said their farewells, because if
everything worked out as planned he'd never get another chance to talk to her
voyage," she replied with a sad smile.
approached the edge of the circle warily.
" Wonder what the in-flight movie will be... " he
stepped into the portal. In a flash of
energy, he was gone and the portal closed behind him.
there was a small pile of things in his wake.
Dawn rushed over to put his cigarette out. She lifted up a white shirt.
it was a reproduction," Tara said. She
picked up his shoes. "These too."
this?" Dawn said. She was holding
something tiny between her finger and her thumb. "It looks like a...a...microchip."
Continued in Part 27 - Pandemonium