Things Present – Things Past
By Estepheia and Marcee
Part 39 - On Your Mark
picked up the receiver and cradled it between his chin and his
shoulder. “Magic Box.” He continued to fill in order
forms to replace some of the damaged stock, deliberately projecting a
certain normalcy for potential onlookers.
believe we have something that is yours,” the voice said
beg your pardon?” the Watcher said with a frown. A sudden sense
of foreboding hit him and he put the pen down.
little girl. I presume you’d like her back, wouldn’t
felt a sudden chill. Instinctively he looked at the door of the shop,
as if part of him was hoping Dawn would walk in and contradict the
voice on the phone. He was furious with himself for not having
foreseen that Dawn’s mysterious blackmailers might actually
snatch her. But when he spoke, his voice only betrayed his genuine
worry: “Dawn? What do you mean? Is she alright? Who is this?
What do you want?”
we are is really no concern of yours. What we want, well, that’s
a bit complicated. You see, we’d like you and your witches to
do a spell for us. That’s all. Do a bit of mojo and you’ll
get the girl back.”
What are you talking about?” Giles asked, playing dumb.
insult my intelligence by pretending you don’t get it, old man.
You may be a good librarian, but you’re a lousy liar. Now shut
up and listen. We don’t have much time…”
jotted down the instructions, then checked his watch. Two hours. They
had about two hours till sundown.
at them, it’s like poking a stick into an anthill,”
Warren smirked and put down the receiver. He nodded at the
surveillance screen that showed a visibly nervous Giles looking at
his notes and talking to Anya, then using the phone to round up the
cool,” Andrew agreed, even though he knew nothing about
outdoor-y things like anthills.
found it hard to concentrate on the monitor. His eyes were drawn to
the tied up figure that sat in the middle of the room with a dark
pillowcase over her head.
was holding on to the glowing map with one hand and the back of
Angel’s shirt with the other.
does every lair have to be underground? It’s smelly and dark.
Why can’t our creepy blackmailers have a lair in a nice hotel
or in the mall or something?”
way?” Angel asked.
going straight,” she answered. Then continued, “I mean,
really. Evil can be just as scary in Bloomingdales. Well, actually,
I knew this girl who worked the make-up counter at Bloomy’s…
there IS evil in the mall.”
Almost there. This tracking device thing is so cool. It’s just
like the GPS in Mom’s Lexus.” Cordy made a face. “Until
she had to trade it in for the,” she swallowed, “Corolla.”
must have been quite a tragedy,” Angel mumbled.
wandered through the dark passages in silence for a few more minutes.
Then: “Ooh, stop!” Cordy said. “Right here.”
where?” Angel answered. “Dead end.”
the book should be right in front of us,” Cordy said and shoved
the glowing map in front of Angel’s face. “See?”
was a beeping sound and Angel brandished his cell phone. “Angel
here,” he answered in a lowered voice, then listened intently,
his face grave. “Could you repeat that?” He shook his cel
phone. “I hate these things,” he mumbled and put the
phone back to his ear. “Yes…Yes. Okay, we will.”
He turned to Cordelia. “They didn’t just take the book.
They snatched Dawn,” he said gravely.
am I not surprised? Maybe it’s because I said all along Giles’s
plan wouldn’t work,” Cordy said with a patented sigh.
“What do they want?”
wordlessly passed her the phone. Cordelia repeated her question. Then
smiled. “Are you sure? When? Can I make a suggestion?”
Tara, Anya and Giles were waiting patiently on the floor inside their
newly created gem circle when the trio arrived. Maeve was handcuffed
to a chair behind the counter. The boys flounced into the Magic Shop
with a flourish. Andrew was wearing a lopsided grin. Jonathan was in
a cape. Warren…now Warren was a sight to be seen. He must
have invaded the local Salvation Army Thrift Store. He had on high
top green Converse sneakers and a pair of black parachute pants with
zippers just about everywhere. He was wearing a ripped up Coca-Cola
T-shirt and a stone-washed studded denim jacket. The Ray Bans looked
way to big for his face and there was a black Adidas bag slung over
his shoulder. The spellbook that Dawn had stolen from the shop could
be seen tucked under his arm.
Good boys and girls,” Warren patronized. “I can see you
followed my instructions to the letter.”
Willow exclaimed incredulously. “How can you be a part of this?
We know each other! We went to high school together! I mean, it’s
not like we were best friends or anything, but…But Buffy, she
saved your life!”
looked uncomfortable in his skin, but didn’t answer. Willow
shot him an icy glare.
with the reminiscing,” Warren snapped. He examined the shop
quickly and turned to his apprentice, Andrew.
for any spells, booby traps or other funny business,” he
nodded and proudly whipped out some kind of mini hand-held computer
that looked uncannily like a Star Trek tricorder and made the same
whine-y noises. He tapped the screen with a pen and then stretched
out his arm and swung the machine back and forth in a large arc in
front of him. Then he spun around and repeated the procedure.
better hope he doesn’t find anything or that little girl might
grow up faster than you’d like,” Warren threatened,
flaunting his XXL sized ego.
you just fall out of a Banarama video?” Willow asked coldly.
have you know, I did my research,” Warren answered harshly.
“There’s no way I’m going to end up naked in the
middle of a city in 1986.”
clean,” Andrew confirmed.
1986?” Giles wondered aloud.
he’s going to tell you,” Jonathan whined.
you think you're doing, it's dangerous. You are rank amateurs
meddling in things far beyond your control,” the Watcher
rushed over to Giles and backhanded him across the face. The
expression on the Watcher’s face hardened, but he didn’t
not sure we can do the spell,” Willow interrupted, trying to
divert Warren’s attention.
worked, because he turned around and stepped towards her menacingly.
“You’ll do as you’re told, bitch.”
mean, of course we can,” Willow explained. “Like, we’ve
done it before and everything, but it’s pretty tiring, you
know, the burn-out factor is wicked, and I’m not sure we should
try this again so soon.”
aren’t you just lucky I brought my own warlock along. Take your
place in the circle, Andrew,” Warren said with a smug grin.
went public March 13th, 1986 at a share.” Warren dropped
his bag on the ground beside Giles. “Open it.”
unzipped the bag. In it, there were wads of bills. s, 0s…
must be a quarter of a million dollars in here.” Giles was
plan on buying 10,000 shares,” Warren smiled.
was weary. She hadn’t slept in how many hours? She couldn’t
remember. But since then she’d been out on a stake out, had
investigated the events at the asylum, been subjected to all kinds of
physical and mental exercises and tests, kissed Spike *Nice
memory*, and now she’d spent all night patrolling and
keeping watch, making sure everyone inside the inn was safe.
from who? She wasn’t quite sure. The Council? Maybe. They were
dangerous, no matter the century. Angelus? Maybe. One of her worst
fears was the possibility of having to fight him again. Just thinking
about Angel or Angelus hurt. Or safe from Spike? No, she wasn’t
worried about what Spike might do, but… *What’s going
to happen when we get back?*
hours, Buffy” Spike said. “Another fourteen hours or so
and you’ll go home.”
shrugged. She knew she ought to be happy to get out of this century.
Part of her was, but another part of her dreaded going back.
Everything was so complicated.
is it?” Spike asked softly. “You have that look again.”
look? I don’t have a look.” She scoffed.
Have a drink. Tell me.” He offered her a bottle of brandy.
remember what happened the last time you gave me alcohol?” But
a tiny smile played around her lips.
you cost me a bunch of kittens. Go on,” he urged. “A
little drop won’t hurt.”
kittens weren’t yours by right anyway, you cheat,” but
she accepted the bottle, took a swallow and stuck out her tongue in
smiled, totally smitten. She looked like Maeve, but every move she
made was pure Buffy.
tell me, Buffy. What’s bothering you?”
says something’s bothering me?”
not the Council,” Spike hazarded a guess. “Cause that
would be a first. Bunch of nimrods.”
smiled weakly. “You’re right. It’s not them. I
dunno, I was just thinking, what if I’d never come here? I
mean, I know all that chosen one blah, every generation, blah, long
line of warriors of the people, stuff. I read about other Slayers, I
even met two. But until I got stuck in Maeve’s life I always
felt alone, like I was the only one who had to go through all this.
Turns out, I’m not so special after all. Except, that’s
not true, I AM special, because all Maeve has is her Watcher and I
have friends who know about all this stuff and are okay with it. I
mean, they even help. They're like family to me.”
nodded, wondering if she included him in that group. He didn’t
want to interrupt her, so he fought down the urge to ask and took a
swallow from the bottle instead.
face became serious and her lip trembled. “I haven’t
forgotten, what they did. They shouldn’t have brought me back,
but now that I am…” She squared her shoulders and took a
deep breath, trying to leave all thoughts of gloom and doom behind.
now that I’ve seen that what you were like when you were alive,
some things are gonna change,” she said in a brave attempt at
that so?” Spike asked, eyebrow arched.
Next time we hit the books for research, you’re gonna be stuck
with it, just like the rest of us, William.”
people? What are you waiting for? Get on with it!” Warren
ordered, when all the wards against possible Chronoth demon
appearances were in place.
oops, I kinda forgot the chalk,” Willow said innocently.
glared at her. “Stop stalling, witch. Get what you need and
start the spell. Remember, if anything goes wrong, we’ve still
got the girl.”
I know. I’m sorry. But, you know, nervous,” Willow
babbled. She went to the counter and opened a drawer to retrieve the
chalk, then returned to her place in the circle. Warren glanced
nervously at his watch. Willow held out her hand towards him. “The
spellbook?” she reminded him. He squinted at her suspiciously
and checked all the preparations for the spell. Everything seemed to
be in order: The circle, the purplish powder that twinkled in the
little glass vial and last but not least the chalk that was needed to
draw the portal.
You up to this, man?”
with her power to draw on, I can do it,” the blond warlock
replied with a nod in Willow’s direction. “It’s
simple really, once you understand the basics - like wormhole
technology, only with magic.”
handed him the spellbook. Andrew found the right page and placed it
open on his lap. Then he held out his left. Willow took it
reluctantly and reached for Tara’s. Tara took Giles’s
hand, he in turn held Anya’s, who grabbed Andrew’s right
hand, closing the circle.
have to use the restroom,” Anya suddenly said, letting go of
No bathroom breaks!” Warren screeched incredulously.
I have to go,” Anya stated. “I can’t concentrate
when my bladder is so full.”
suppressed a smirk.
then. If the spell messes up because of me, you just remember why.”
let her go,” Jonathan whined
Make it quick.”
you,” Anya smiled sweetly. “Don’t worry. This
doesn’t make you any less evil.”
the time Anya was back in the circle, Warren was fuming. “Showtime,”
he repeated, even though it didn’t sound half as cool as
before. He went to the big shop window and adjusted the curtains,
letting through a thin yellow shaft of light. Anya set the little
glass vial into the sunbeam’s path. The light of the setting
sun caused the powder to sparkle.
about finding the right time?” Willow asked.
do the calibrations when the portal is stable enough to see through,”
Andrew answered. “It’s gonna be cool, like watching a
videotape backwards - we’ll just rewind till we’re
Warren snapped. “The light is fading. Get on with it!”
nodded. He glanced at the open pages in his lap and began to chant.
His voice was shaky at first, but he grew in confidence, as he felt
the combined power of the circle surging into him. It was a heady
experience, more power than he had ever felt before. His whole body
stiffened. His eyes turned black. He didn’t have to look into
the book any longer, he was one with the spell!
reached for the chalk and painted a large square on the floor.
Something like an electrical current made everybody’s skin
closed his eyes and started with the final incantation that would
call the portal into being. He did not speak the words out loud. He
didn’t have to. They echoed in everyone’s mind.
shaft of sunlight faded away, but the purple powder in the vial still
sparkled, woken by the sun’s final touch.
Andrew commanded. Anya let go of his hand and took the vial. She
spilled its content into the chalk square. Moments later, a small
blue square of light appeared, hovering over it. It began to grow,
very slowly and bright light erupted from it. Andrew felt the energy
pouring out of him and into the growing portal. He greedily sucked
power through his link with Willow to replace it, but it felt like
her power was trickling through him. Was she resisting him?
other two thirds of “The Trio” watched the proceedings,
Warren with impatience, Jonathan with apprehension. Andrew’s
blackened eyes made the Caped Crusadork more than a little nervous.
down. Let’s go,” Angel said to Cordelia. She nodded in
response. He helped her up the ladder, following right behind. He
couldn’t help taking notice of her perfect ass…ets.
When they got to the top, he reached past her to push open the
manhole cover. They both stepped out into a small residential
this is the place,” Cordy said. They hurried up to the front
door and Angel knocked. “Let me handle this,” she
whispered. “Just follow my lead.”
older woman came to the door. “Hello? Can I help you?”
hi,” Cordelia said pleasantly, taking the woman’s hand
and shaking it. “Pleased to meet you. I’m Cordelia Chase
and this is Angel Vanderwhedon.” She spoke so fast and
confidently Angel was caught slightly off guard. But he remembered to
keep his mouth shut and only smiled and nodded at her side. “Our
production company sent us here to scope out the perfect suburban
house for the TV series we’re working on, ‘Benjamin’s
River’. Maybe you’ve heard of it?” Cordelia didn’t
wait for the woman to answer. “Anyway, they gave us your next
door neighbor’s address, but Angel,” she motioned to her
tall dark counterpart, “he’s the director. He thought the
look of your house was so much better. The lighting, the landscaping.
It’s perfect. Isn’t that what you said, Angel?”
nodded hurriedly, and then in his most flamboyant voice, he added,
“The structure is architecturally magnificent.”
The woman seemed slightly overwhelmed.
Cordelia continued. “The production house pays very well for
these types of things so we thought we’d come over and take a
look.” She produced her most captivating smile, not letting her
the woman pulled on her lip in consideration. “I’m not
that’s too bad. I guess we’ll just go next door then.”
Cordelia turned to Angel. “Mr. Harris will be pleased that we
went with his suggestion.”
so unfortunate,” Angel pouted. He turned to the woman in the
doorway, “You have such a lovely home, Miss…?”
Mrs. Mears,” she responded.
took her hand and placed a dainty kiss upon it. “Thank you for
your time, Mrs. Mears.” He took a step back and admired her
house. He shook his head. “Shame.”
turned to leave but Mrs. Mears stopped her. “Wait. I mean, I
guess you can take a look,” she said. “They’ll
really pay me just to film my house?”
yes, most definitely,” Cordelia said as she walked through the
doorway. “Come on, Angel,” she called over her shoulder.
without the lady’s permission,” he said smoothly.
please, Mr. Vanderwhedon. Come in.” She took his hand and led
him through the front door. “I’ve never met a real life
they walked through the house, Cordelia pretended to take notes on a
piece of paper. Angel rambled colorfully and occasionally stopped to
inspect rooms with one eye closed, through a small square he created
with his fingers. "Of course that half-wall by the kitchen has
goooooot to go. It disrupts the whole flow of the room," he
babbled merrily. Cordelia glared at him, but a smirk was playing on
her lips. As they passed through the dining room, Angel couldn't
help himself, "Oh, a tapestry on that wall, maybe something
floral, but not toooooo floral, would be faaaaabulous! Oh, I'm
tingling! Are you tingling? Tell me I'm not the only one tingling."
they came to the closet in the hallway, Mrs. Mears shook her head.
“Oh, I don’t go down there. That’s my son’s
private clubhouse. He and his friends play cards and video games down
that’s great,” Cordelia gushed enthusiastically. “A
teenage hangout. Exactly the kind of thing we’re looking for on
I promised him I would never go down there. And everything I’ve
read says that parents should respect their children’s
Mears, wouldn’t he be thrilled if his room was chosen to be the
backdrop of a popular television show? I mean, that’s gotta be
every kid’s dream, right? His friends would practically worship
him,” Cordelia persuaded. “Maybe we could even score him
a part as an extra.”
he does watch a lot of movies,” the woman contemplated. “His
friends would be impressed.”
don’t have to break your promise, you know. You promised YOU
would never go down there. But you never said anything about us,”
Cordy gave her a dazzling smile, flashing perfect teeth. “You’d
still be keeping his privacy intact.” *I deserve an Emmy
for this,* she thought.
Mears smiled. “I guess it would be okay, then. I’ll just
go make some coffee.”
Mrs. Mears walked into the kitchen, Angel slowly opened the basement
door. He reached under his coat, behind his back, pulled out a small
axe and passed it back to Cordelia. “I thought she’d
never leave,” Cordelia whispered. As they quickly made their
way down the staircase, they took in the marriage of toys and
technology. There were action figures everywhere and comic books
galore. But there was also heavy duty computer equipment, video
monitors and electronic components. Even something that looked like a
my god, Dawn!” Cordelia gasped as she ran past Angel, down the
rest of the stairs. Dawn was bound and gagged, sitting uncomfortably
on a chair in the center of the room. There was some kind of dark
pillowcase over her head.
followed behind Cordelia, scanning the room for any threats.
rushed to the chair and dropped her weapon on the floor, then pulled
the hood off. Dawn was shaking her head violently. “What
sweetie? What’s wrong?” Cordelia began untying the cloth
gag. “Mmnnn! Mmnnn!! Nooo!” Dawn shouted as the gag came
off. Suddenly a yellow bucket fell from above her.
Angel ran to her aid.
found herself covered in a thick clear substance. As she looked up to
see where the attack had come from, something else over her opened up
and dumped glitter and feathers down from the ceiling.
out,” Dawn mumbled belatedly from her seat.
stopped just short of the sparkling bird fiasco, a lazy grin planted
firmly on his face. “Nice look.”
shook her head and tried to wipe off the offending confetti, but it
was no use. “This is just great. So much for my Versace.”
She rolled her eyes and tried to run her fingers through her hair.
“Oh god, my hair!”
a little help, please,” Dawn struggled with her restraints.
think I might pass out,” Cordy complained.
slightly, Angel began untying the intricate knots that kept Dawn
secured to the chair.
did you find me? I got so scared when those guys left here with that
tracked it here and waited for them to leave. Figured it was safer,”
Angel told her.
know, these guys are really weird. Kind of lame. And I think I
actually know one of them. I know I heard his voice before.”
was urgently trying to pluck the feathers out of her hair. “Whoever
they are, they’re so gonna pay for this,” she fumed. She
turned back toward Angel, "I bet you think this is just
get out of here,” Dawn suggested.
was all Cordy could muster.
not going anywhere.” Warren stepped out from behind a large dry
up,” Spike said. “Time to wake the others. You should go
and get some sleep, luv. Before you pass out…”
parted the curtains to peer through the sooty dining room window. It
was true, the sky was still dark, but it had a strange rusty hue, as
early morning light filtered through polluted air.
alright,” she lied, squaring her aching shoulders. She
readjusted the curtains to keep the light out. “Not sleepy. How
about you? Morning equals bedtime for vampires. So, YOU go.”
not going to sleep without you,” Spike protested.
folded her arms, pursed her lips and gave him a pitying glance. Spike
blinked and did a verbal back-pedal. “Um, that’s not what
I meant.” He paused, then rapidly changed gears. “Although,”
he drawled, prowling towards her, “although, it doesn’t
sound half bad. Come on, Buffy, how about we find ourselves a nice
big no to that.” Buffy interrupted him, her determination only
slightly contradicted by a slight blush that crept up her cheeks.
you say, luv.” Spike smirked, unfazed. “Look, we’ve
been patrolling through and around this sodding place all night. You
KNOW you’re not as sharp as you should be. If you don’t
let up, you’ll be no good to anyone.”
I know. Maybe I should lie down,” the Slayer considered. “You
promise me they’ll be safe.”
promise,” he smiled at the redhead. And then, as he walked
toward the room Xander was dozing in, he added quietly, “And I
never break a promise to a lady.”
continued chanting inaudibly, causing the portal to grow until it was
large enough to allow a person to step through. Then - like he’d
predicted - an image began to appear, an aerial shot of L.A. at
night. Like a camera zooms in on its target, the portal seemed to
swoop down, towards the city, and into its network of streets and
alleys. The sky alternated between light and dark, faster and faster,
until the blur of day and night made everything gray. Finally, Andrew
found what he was looking for, a newspaper stand. The images changed
too fast to make out humans, but every now and then he slowed down
his search to look at the headlines, checking for the dates on the
the LA Times showed “March 12th 1986 - 6 More Die; Soviets
Punish 3 for Delaying World Alert,” Andrew froze the portal in
He’s one of them. But you’re…you’re gone,”
Dawn stuttered as she backed away from her assailant. “I heard
you leave.” She turned to her saviors, “I heard him
squatted and picked up her weapon. “Angel?” she said,
without taking her eyes off her enemy.
approached Warren with little regard. “What do you think you’re
gonna do?” the vampire asked him. Warren punched Angel so hard
that he went flying back into the opposite wall. He crashed to the
Cordelia gasped and brandished her axe.
must be some kind of spell,” Dawn said. “He made himself
got up and dusted himself off. “Okay, I didn’t like that
at all. It almost hurt.”
was fast approaching Cordelia, but Angel was faster. He ran up behind
Warren, swung him around by his shoulder and punched him in the face.
“Ow, he’s hard!” Still, Angel punched again, this
time in the stomach. “Must be some kind of golem,” Angel
said after landing a third punch to his face.
grabbed Angel by the neck and lifted him off the floor.
moved slowly up behind Warren and raised the axe above her head. She
closed her eyes and swung it down in a hard arc. The axe connected
and showered sparks all over the floor. Warren’s hand loosened
and the vampire was dropped to the ground.
robot!” Dawn exclaimed. “He’s a robot! Oh, I get
it. The guy who built the buffybot - he must be one of them.”
Cordelia and Angel echoed as one.
tried to dislodge the weapon, but it was stuck. Angel scrambled to
his feet and rained several right crosses to the robot’s torso
until it was almost backed up against a wall. Sparks were still
flying and it seemed there might be some wires loose, but the damned
android was still fighting back. It swung, hard, and sent Angel
crashing into a bookshelf. He crash landed in a pile of Battletech
ran up and hurled a powerful sidekick at the Warrenbot. It crashed
backward into the wall, sending the axe deeper into its circuitry. It
twitched, but then lunged for Cordelia. It grabbed her by both
shoulders and threw her across the room. Dawn ran to her.
was up again and casting about for another weapon. Leaning against a
small display case, he noticed a metal replica of a lightsaber.
Angel ran toward the display case, tripped on bookshelf debris and
ended up crashing into the glass, shattering it. Action figures
tumbled onto the floor and were crushed underfoot as Angel thrashed
about trying to regain his feet. The Warrenbot armed himself with a
piece of a broken wooden shelf and made his way toward the vampire.
powers are weak, old man," the droid said. His voice was a off a
bit, and half of his face looked slack.
Angel responded, reaching behind him for his new weapon.
are you talking about?" Cordelia interrupted. "He's
ageless." She reconsidered, "Alright, so he's put on a
little weight lately, but..."
Angel gasped and glanced down at himself.
Warrenbot suddenly raised his arm to plunge the stake into his
enemy’s chest, Angel quickly and fluidly raised the saber and
impaled the bot with it. There were more sparks and wires. The
robot backed away from Angel, twitching, and fell to the ground in a
sitting position. He looked around at the mess of his maker’s
lair and shook his head. Then, he noticed something on the floor
beside him amongst the shattered glass. He lifted it carefully in
front of his face. It was a broken action figure.
no. Not Boba Fett.” And then his eyes rolled back and his head
shouldered up his fortune and approached the portal. “Catch you
on the flip side,” he quipped, when the high pitched
beep-a-deedle-beep of a cel phone broke his stride with an electronic
rendition of ‘Que Sera Sera’.
when Maeve burst into action. She jumped to her feet and threw
herself against the counter, with enough force to smash the chair
she’d been cuffed to between the counter and her body into a
pile of splinters. A few graceful contortions later she was able to
swing her cuffed arms in front of her. She rushed Warren.
by the crash he took his eyes off the portal for a few seconds. When
he saw the Slayer rushing towards him, he panicked. Still clutching
his bag he ran towards the portal. It was now shimmering strangely,
kind of swirly and cloudy, maybe because Andrew was distracted.
Warren only had a moment to decide. “You’ll pay for
this,” he shouted.
jumped. Blue sparks crackled. For a moment it looked like the portal
literally sucked him in, then Warren was gone.
backed away, towards the door. The portal was still there. Something
wasn’t right. He turned around, unlocked the door with
trembling hands and flew out into the night.
the circle Willow pulled her hand out of Andrew’s grasp.
Immediately, Andrew’s eyes lost their blackness. Blood gushed
from his nose, as his primary power source was cut off and the portal
sucked everything he had left out of him. He tried to break free but
before he was able to, he fell over and passed out.
Continued in Part 40 - Get Set
many thanks to Mikelesq for several very funny lines.