She’d had to wait most of the night, but she was there when he arrived, more than a little blotto from the sound of it.
“Schlayer! Where were you tonight? O lost thou art, and still I search, the darkness never ends,” he singsonged drunkenly, then sighed. “Looked all over for you,” he grumbled, and Buffy thought he’d already realized it was her standing in the chains, pretending to be his captive in the darkened corner of the room. His next sentence dispelled that notion. “Guess I’ll have to make do with you then, whore.” His amber eyes focused on her, a low growl rumbling in his chest.
“What kinds of fun shall we have tonight?” Spike tilted his head as he stalked closer, tongue tracing his fangs.
Buffy’s entire body thrummed with the need to make him pay, but she forced herself to hold still, to wait for his approach. She wouldn’t let him escape, not this time. She tensed as he neared, ready for the instant when recognition dawned in his eyes, glad he was wearing the face of the demon and not his human mask. The moment he paused his predatory slink, nostrils flaring, she sprang at him.
“You bastard,” she choked out, sending him crashing into the far wall. “You sick, fucking bastard.”
He gaped at her, bewildered, blood trickling down the side of his head. “What I do now?”
Her mouth worked in silent outrage, but her fists worked fine, battering him until he lifted an arm to defend himself, shoving her away. “What?” he repeated. “You mean that girl? Didn’t kill her, did I? What are you so worked up about?”
Buffy stared at him, bile making her throat burn. “Are you serious? Do you really think what you did was okay?”
“Well, no,” he countered, and then he was coming at her, a booted heel catching her in the jaw. “But, I didn’t have you to play with, so I had to make do.”
She was incoherent now, fighting him with everything she had, and quickly coming to the realization that his studying had been paying off. He had learned her moves. Combined with the sloppiness her fury was eliciting, he held the advantage.
“This ends tonight, Spike.” She kicked his legs out. “I’m not letting a thing like you live.”
“Prolly best if you don’t,” he leered, leaping to his feet. “From your point of view, mind. I get out of here, you know I’ll just do it again. I’ll think of you, and I’ll enjoy it.” Her vision blurred with hot, sick tears as he laughed, infuriating her until she could barely think straight, fists and feet lashing out in an uncontrollable blur.
Then she was pinned to the ground, her cheek scraping on the cold stone, Spike heavy upon her back. “’Course, you could just stay with me,” he panted into her ear as he ground his erection into the cleft of her thighs, forcing her legs apart. “Offer yourself up to take the next one’s place. Play with me, like.”
She took a breath to quell her panic, centered herself, then exploded upwards, sending Spike flying to land flat on his back, staring at the ceiling in a daze.
Buffy was deadly calm as she approached him, stake in hand. “I would never let you touch me, Spike. You make me sick.” She plunged the stake downward, just missing her target as he rolled out of the way at the last second. The vampire sprang to his feet, engaging her again, trading blows, but this time around it was clear Buffy would emerge the victor. After getting in a desperate kick that sent her backwards, he sprinted for the door.
“Spike!” she called out. “Wait!” He did, turning to see what she wanted, and she whipped her stake at him, the pointy end driving straight towards his heart.
He caught it in the nick of time, between two flat palms, eyes wide with surprise as he gaped at the blood trickling down his chest. “Bloody hell!” he said, looking up at her in dismay. “You were really going to-”
“Did I not make myself clear? You die. End of story.” There was no trace of Buffy Summers in her voice, only the Slayer, her tone so cold and devoid of feeling, it sent a shiver down her own spine.
Looking down at the stake again, Spike’s face faded to human, a multitude of expressions flitting across his visage. The Slayer no longer saw the man who had fought for her sister in that face. She saw instead the demon who had chained her up and threatened to feed her to Drusilla, the vampire who had turned to Adam and almost gotten them all killed, the foe who had kidnapped her friends and done his best to kill her a multitude of times.
Buffy narrowed her eyes as she stalked towards him. “I’m done. If you manage to make it out of here tonight, understand this: I see you again, I will dust you without a moment’s hesitation.”
Spike stared at the bloody tip of the stake once more. “Think I’ve received the message,” he said, his voice strangely forlorn. Sketching her a small salute, he whipped the bloodied bit of wood back at her head and raced for the door.
When days had passed without any sign of Spike, Buffy began to believe he’d taken her advice and left for good. Maybe it was better that way. Out of sight meant out of mind. Well, not really. She’d never be able to forget him, forget what he’d done.
But he was out of killing range.
Which meant the future she knew was still more or less safe. Buffy didn’t know quite how she felt about that. Her fury and disgust with the vampire wasn’t fading as the days passed, and she was left with an uneasy sense of failure that she hadn’t dusted him. Not much she could do about it, though.
She pushed thoughts of Spike and her failure away, focused instead on her work and on the reports trickling in from nearby towns about slaughters of entire field hospitals, most of them occurring on the German side of the line this time. Buffy sent the news on to the Watcher, hoping to get some kind of ID from him so she could kill the slaughter-happy demon.
Maybe she couldn’t stop Spike. But there was plenty of evil left to fight.
In the weeks that followed, Buffy suffered a recurrent dream, a Slayer dream, coming to her in Technicolor bits and pieces, night by night. For what felt like the millionth time since Glory’s portal had spit her out into the past, she wished Giles was around to help her interpret it, but no such luck. She was on her own, what with keeping the Council in the dark about Anne Barrowman’s accidental ascendancy to Slayerhood.
All she could do was record the details for a time when they might begin to make sense. She skimmed her previous entries quickly.
Me, Edith, and Doc holding hands. Chanting. Smelly herbs, big salt circle, full moon. At the Fricourt hospital, then at the one in Albert. Maybe at others too? Hard to tell. Dead guys everywhere, looks like the carnage at our hospital. A demon – big, blurry, can’t make details – rushes us, roaring, bounces away. Like a vampire off a mystical barrier.
Doc keels over, gasping, Edith shouts ‘Carpe Diem’ and falls too. The demon is there and I run, leading it away, through? Restfield Cemetery. Which makes no sense. Past my mother’s grave. Past mine (oh look, there I am – “I Saved The World A Lot”, how fitting). The demon almost has me, and then Spike is there, my Spike, with swirling leather coat and crinkly smile and
She’d scratched the rest of that sentence out.
He’s shaking some warlock-y looking guy, and every time he shakes the man, demon dude wibbles and wobbles but won’t fall down. Spike punches the warlock, which leaves the stupid vampire clutching his head in pain. This repeats, over and over, but he doesn’t let up until the warlock is dead. Spike tells me he loves me, bites first Edith then Doc Reynolds (and they got there how?). This makes them stronger. Vampires? They’re in the sunlight so… no? He makes to bite me too. I tip my head to let him, but as his teeth close, I stake him. He floats away, dust.
The previous dream had ended there, but last night’s had continued on, and Buffy recorded the newest scenes in her notebook.
We’re in a tank. (Haven’t seen a single tank yet in this war, are they invented yet? Nobody seems to have heard of them). We’ve got those silly metal helmets. Just me and Spike. Past Spike. His hair is shorter, slicked back. Still brownish. He’s belting out that song, ‘Take me Back to Dear Old Blighty’, slowly advancing over everything in his path with the tank, crushing Germans, demons, trenches, all kinds of things, grinning like a loon.
The tank comes to a standstill, he turns to me.
I hear Willow whisper my name. Others echo her whisper. Anya, Tara, Xander, Giles, Dawn, Mom? Not sure. Spike screams. A flash of light, the smell of blood, can’t breathe move speak.
Buffy was spending the remaining minutes of the day’s shift at the Albert hospital with Clay, the young soldier who’d first insulted then helped her so many weeks ago. He’d managed a blighty wound, the loss of his foot, and was awaiting discharge papers before he could head back to England. Buffy was amused by how cheerful he was. Only here at the Somme were men happy to be mutilated for life.
“So, Miss Anne, can I be taking you out to dinner before I head home?” he smiled at her.
“That’s Mrs. Barrowman,” she reminded him gently, smiling back.
“Oh! Nothing improper intended! Just a meal between friends.” He looked away, blushing. “Miss Gladstone is welcome to attend as well, keep things proper. The pair of you have been awfully kind to a poor, homesick lad.”
Buffy covered her mouth, hiding her charmed smile. He’d turned out to be a sweet boy despite the terrible first impression he’d made, and she considered his invitation. She and Edith hadn’t done anything ‘fun’ in awhile. “Sure. Why not? You let us know when they set you free, ‘kay?”
His brilliant grin made her chuckle. “Absolutely, Mrs. Barrowman,” he agreed.
The day after their dinner with Clay, where she and Edith had sent him home to England with a kiss each on his cheeks, it suddenly hit Buffy that this was her life now. She was stuck here, in the past, far away from the world she knew, far away from her friends and family, likely to die long before they were even born, with only Edith to make it bearable. She had no idea why she was here, no idea how long she would be forced to live this alternate life. No idea what would happen when the war was over and she no longer had a set role to play. If she even lived that long – maybe she was still slated to die before the war ended. She didn’t know, and the uncertainty was just as wearing on her psyche as the rest of it.
Buffy had initially assumed that she had ended up in this time and place because of Spike, but the notion seemed ludicrous now. He’d left, hopefully for good, still evil despite her efforts. She hadn’t changed him. Or killed him.
Nope, no mission, no reason. I’m just here because the Powers like screwing with me. No rest for Buffy Summers, no sir. You wanted to be done? Stupid girl. We’ll just plug you in somewhere else.
She pushed through the days, a small part of her hoping that the automobile wreck intended to end Anne Barrowman’s life would claim hers as well.
Permanently this time.
It was a solid week before Buffy’s mood began to pick up. Just a little. She’d had a good day, Edith boosting her spirits, and the attentions of a very charming, very handsome young soldier boosting them even more. Maybe this borrowed life wasn’t so bad after all. At least the weight of the world wasn’t on her shoulders; there was a different Slayer to handle those responsibilities, leaving her to live her own life with relative freedom. It was a cheering thought.
Her improved spirits didn’t dampen when she saw the letter from Sir Wyndam-Pryce awaiting her. Buffy hurried into their room and lit the candle, hoping the fat envelope contained good news on the soldier-killing demon front.
“My Dear Mrs. Barrowman,
Based upon your observations, I believe the creature you are dealing with is a demon known as Heliwr o’r Boen, or Hunter of the Hurt. Without a physical description, this is merely an educated guess; however, the Heliwr o’r Boen has been observed in other war zones throughout time. The demon is summoned from the Bena’ar dimension by a shaman; once here it seeks out areas with a high concentration of the wounded, namely hospitals and the like, feeding upon the unfortunate.
The Heliwr o’r Boen is considered unkillable; rather, it must be banished to the dimension from which it came. In order to achieve this end, the original summoning spell must be found and destroyed. I fear such a course of action shall require the Slayer, and I have contacted the council to request her aid. If granted, she and her Watcher shall journey to your location with all due haste.
In the meantime, please spread the word amongst the local witches – there is a spell which has proven effective in repelling the demon in the past. The spell is simple, and I have included the incantation in this packet.
Should you see the Hunter yourself, do not attempt to engage; its strength is far beyond your capacity. The demon is particularly tall, nearing nine feet, with a thick, orange hide and a horned crest upon its brow.
I have also included for your perusal a prophecy discovered during the course of my research. This prophecy makes reference to Heliwr o’r Boen. I admit to being puzzled as to its meaning, as well as whether it applies to this specific appearance of a Hunter, but perhaps your perusal of the prophecy shall trigger some sense of recollection regarding the details of its attacks, which may aid in deciphering the meaning.
Wishing your continued health and well-being,
Sir George Wyndam-Pryce.
Buffy read the letter through once more, puzzling over the information provided, then checked the spell. It did look easy, easy enough she might even manage it on her own. Which was of the good, considering she had no clue who the local witches were. Her hand hovered over the remaining sheet of paper, hesitating before picking up the carefully copied prophecy.
Knowing my luck, it will be a prophecy all about me and Hunter boy. Because I haven’t had to deal with any prophecies in the last couple months. Just what I needed to feel right at home here in the past…
With a sigh, she snatched the document up and began to read, then dropped her head into her hands, letting the paper flutter to the ground.
It’s official. I’m screwed.