Through Time to Me
Chapter One: A Mere Child
The Watcher smashed his fist down on the table, sending ink splashing from the inkwell to spatter over the parchments laid out in front of him. “How could this happen?” he roared at the Council member standing in front of him. “She is a mere child! No more than what, ten years? How can she be the new Slayer?”
Young Lord Travers fingered the elaborate gold embroidery on the sleeve of his plum coloured velvet jacket. He fastidiously flicked away a piece of fluff – or worse – that had settled there. Really, this man should be able to keep his rooms cleaner than this. He wasn’t poor. He made a good living and was paid a small but regular income from the Council. He sighed. “Nothing will be gained by losing your temper. We have no control over who is Chosen, as you know very well. It is just unfortunate that your last Slayer – ”
“Helena!” His voice was suddenly hoarse with pain. She’d been his Slayer for two years and he still blamed himself for her death. She hadn’t even been slain by a vampire, but had caught a chill because he’d insisted she waited out on the marshes south of the river at Vauxhall to catch a covey of demons. The chill had turned to a bloody cough and then she was gone. He hadn’t expected to be given another Slayer. There were plenty of Watchers in the Council; one of them would surely get the next girl to train. He hadn’t believed it when Lord Travers arrived with the bewildered child in tow.
She was downstairs now, being given food by his cook. Her name was Maria; a thin, grubby urchin with big eyes and a ravenous appetite. God knows how the Council had found her, but there she was, the new Slayer. All she knew was that suddenly she'd become stronger than the other street beggars she ran with, that something had attacked her in a dark runnel and she’d turned with a piece of wood in her hand and – well, that wouldn’t the last time she did that!
Lord Travers moved restlessly towards the door as all over London, bells began to chime the hour. “I have an appointment at Westminster. Do your best. Don’t forget – there’s every chance that this All Hallow’s Eve will bring us to the very edge of chaos. She must be ready.”
The Watcher waited in silence until the tall, elegantly dressed courtier had left. Ready by October 31st! He’d be lucky to have her ready in a year’s time, let alone one day!
He was so busy, working every hour the good Lord sent him. And now this. He stood up and crossed to the window, gazing down on the busy, bustling city street. It wasn’t hard for him to imagine the demons and vampires that fed off the humanity who crowded into London every day. London, where footpads and cutpurses were the least of your worries when you walked alone after dark.
And one small Slayer was going to make a difference? All Hallow’s Eve was usually vampire free, but there had been portents and warnings galore this year. Any Watcher worth his salt would have realised that the vampires and demons were not going to stay quiet: they were set to make an all out attack with just one end in mind, bringing the country to its knees. He hesitated for a long minute. What he was planning to do – if it went wrong - he knew everyone would blame him for all eternity. It was the blackest, the darkest of magics. But what choice did he have? They needed help. He had less than a day to turn his little Slayer into a killing machine and that wasn’t long enough. Come October 31st, she would need the help of another Slayer.
He pushed the heaps of paper aside and, from a secret cupboard under his desk, he pulled out a dark red velvet bag. Nestled inside was a black glass sphere. He’d inherited it, along with its powers, from his grandfather, who‘d been a Watcher fifty years ago deep in the Warwickshire countryside. He’d never dreamed the day would come when he’d have to use it. Nervously, he crossed the room and knelt in front of the fireplace. He placed the sphere in the hot ashes, then returned to his desk, took a twist of paper from the same cupboard and sprinkled the contents across the globe’s pitted surface where it glittered, red and green and gold. Now all that was left to do – he took a deep breath, pulled out the small dagger he wore on his belt and slowly and deliberately made two crossing cuts on his palm.
Refusing to wince or show any pain, he held his hand over the sphere and watched as the blood dripped onto the powder and hissed into the glowing cinders. Taking a deep breath, he said the words in the ancient lost language he’d learnt by heart many years ago. Translated, it was one of the worst rhymes he’d ever known, but then he was a purist when it came to poetry.
“I call for help from a Slayer,
One who is yet to be.
Leave your home and life behind
And come through time to me.”
* * * *
Buffy pulled on her boots and zipped up her skirt. She couldn’t find her thong – again. What did Spike do with them? She had visions of a drawer somewhere in his crypt with half her underwear inside it. He might remember that they cost money, money she didn’t have. She hadn’t meant to stay, hadn’t meant to have sex with him tonight. Oh yeah, a voice mocked inside her head. That’s why you wore a skirt instead of jeans and no bra, is it?
He hadn’t spoken for some time now. He’d dressed before her tonight and was sitting on top of a stone coffin, moodily smoking a cigarette. Buffy headed for the crypt door, then hesitated, turned and went back to him. OK, he was a vampire, so hey, no injured feelings to worry about, but she still didn’t like to leave when he was looking miserable. Which was ridiculous.
She reached out her hand and he took it, linking his fingers tightly with hers. He looked up, his eyes serious, the mocking expression long gone. “What is this thing we have, Slayer?” he asked quietly.
“Thing? We don’t have a ‘thing’, Spike. We just have – this!”
He tossed his cigarette aside and took her other hand. “Stop avoiding the question, pet? I love you, you know that. Just tell me what you feel for me. That’s all I want to know.”
Buffy bit her lip. Since she’d come back from – what had she called it – heaven – she felt as though she was walking through life encased in glass, feeling nothing, touching nothing. The only time she felt real was when – she pulled her thoughts away from that. She didn’t want to analyse why she only felt alive when she was with the vampire. “I’ve got to get home. There isn’t time for this, Spike. Why can’t we just go on as we are?”
“Time, pet? Well, I’ve got all the time in the world. How much time do you need?”
Buffy gazed into his eyes; they were so darkly blue in the gloom of the crypt, she felt she was falling into them…then, to her horror, she realised she was falling…falling…. whirling round and round her hand still clasping Spike’s.... and…
* * * *
“Bloody Hell!” Spike rolled across the floor and was on his feet in seconds, vamping out, fists clenched, looking for trouble. Buffy shook her head to rid it of the ringing noise and reached for the stake in her belt.
She focused on a man standing in front of a small latticed window. She could hardly see him; the room was dark, wooden beams crossed the ceiling and a smoking fire was adding to the general gloom.
“Where the hell are we, Slayer? What just happened?”
The man by the window spoke and for five long seconds Buffy could hardly understand a word he was saying. She knew it was English, but it sounded weird. Then a click in her head and she realised he was staring at Spike and shouting, “Vampire! Kill it, Slayer. Kill it!”
“What? Listen, whoever you are. That’s Spike. He’s harmless.” She ignored the angry swearing from her lover and went on, “OK, yes, he’s a vampire, but he won’t hurt you.”
The man walked forward and Buffy gasped. He was about thirty, as tall as Spike, wearing a doublet and hose; black velvet with a white lawn shirt underneath. He was quite good-looking with piercing dark eyes, a small neat beard and thick dark curly hair. Without taking his gaze from Spike, he held out his hand and pulled Buffy to her feet. “Slayer?”
Buffy nodded. “Buffy Summers. Look, where the hell are we? What just happened?”
“More like when are we, pet,” Spike said, walking to the window and gazing out.
The man gazed at Buffy with an expression that was half wonder, half horror. “I am a Watcher,” he said slowly. “I called for a Slayer.”
“A Watcher?” Buffy’s head ached. “Oh - Kay, but what d’you mean, you called for a Slayer? Don’t you have one? You must do. When one dies, another one is Chosen, yada, yada, yada.”
“Oh, don‘t worry about it. Look, do you have a name? And I know all you Watchers think a little slowly, but hey, I’ll repeat myself, ‘What the hell just happened’?”
“My name is Will. I am deeply sorry to have called you forth, but my last Slayer died only four days ago!”
“I’m so sorry,” Buffy whispered, a little shudder running across her body. The death of every Slayer hurt her.
“Helena.” The man paused, shutting his eyes in pain for a second, then went on. “The new Slayer is very, very young. I have no idea why she was Chosen, but here she is, a mere child. It will take me weeks to turn her into a fighter and the world does not have weeks to wait.”
“Don’t tell me, big apocalypse, snakes, demons, stone monsters about to suck us all into Hell. Got the T-shirt. Buy one get one free. I’ve done them all. ”
The Watcher shook his head. “It isn’t an apocalypse, Miss Summers, but still a threat to the very heart of our world. I had to have a Slayer to use, but not a child who does not even know how to make her own stakes. But can you tell me, pray, why do you travel with a vampire?”
“That’s Spike. He’s – well – he’s useful but harmless to humans.”
“Hey, still evil here,” Spike growled from where he was staring down into the street below, obviously fascinated.
Buffy ignored him. “The government put a – ” she hesitated: how on earth did she describe Spike’s chip to this man. “A device to stop him hurting people is inside his head,” she finished lamely.
The Watcher drew a sharp breath. “Witchcraft!”
“No way, mate,” Spike broke in. “Just good old army know how.”
“The army? Ah. Interesting.”
“Now, how about some more information from your side. Where are we, when are we and what the heck is that dreadful smell!”
“We are in London, of course. It is the year of Our Lord, 1594, and I can smell nothing strange or dreadful.”
“Fifteen – ” Buffy tried to talk and couldn’t make the words come out.
“You can smell the privy – and the sewage in the streets. Unwashed bodies, rotting garbage, the smoke from a thousand chimneys. Tudor London, pet. I don’t quite believe it, but we’ve come back in time a very long way.”
Buffy crossed the room and stood at Spike’s side, gazing out through the small, thick glass windows to the bustling, noisy, narrow street below. The houses opposite were lime-washed with black timber beams, the upper storey jutting out further than the lower. This house was obviously constructed in the same way; you could look straight down onto the heads of the people below.
Suddenly the full impact of what had just happened to them flooded over her. They’d travelled back in time, to another country! And she didn’t even own a passport and Dawn would be sitting up, waiting for her to come home from patrol and – oh god, they were in 1594! She didn’t know any history before the French Revolution!
“I must go back.” she said. “Send us home – now!”
The Watcher looked at her gravely, his dark eyes solemn but very male, taking in every detail of her body under her thin T shirt and cotton skirt. “I understand that this must be – ”
“I have responsibilities,” Buffy said angrily. “You can’t just pick people up and move them from one time to another without a word of warning.”
“If what I have read is correct, time is not passing where you were,” the Watcher said calmly. “Of course, I cannot keep you here against your will. I will give you a few minutes to consider. Perhaps some ale will refresh you.”
He left the room and Buffy listened to his footsteps on the stairs. She turned to Spike. “Jeez!”
He grinned at her, mischievously. “Bloody hell, Slayer. Most guys get a cuddle and a ciggie after sex. I get time travel and Tudor England. Can’t be bad.”
“Spike, I know this is fantastic, all sorts of weird, but hey, we have to go back. How the heck can we help here? We’d look like aliens if we set foot outside the door. Probably end up being thrown into prison.”
Spike’s eyes gleamed. “Thrown into the Tower, pet.”
Buffy coughed as the smoke eddying out from the fireplace fought with the richer smells that were catching in the back of her throat. “Do you think he can get us home?” she asked suddenly, a chill of worry worming its way up her spine.
Spike shrugged. “Reckon if he got us here, he can send us back. But, hell, Slayer, don’t you want to at least have a look at London. This is bloody fantastic – we’d be fools to go back before – ”
“OK, you stay, then!” Buffy snapped. “I’ve got Dawn to think about.”
“But the Watcher bloke has already said time isn’t moving in Sunnydale. We’re still standing in my crypt – come on, Buffy. What’s your real reason?” He looked sharply into her face. This was so unlike the girl he knew and loved. He knew she didn’t have a cowardly bone in her body, but at the moment she was acting like a nervous schoolgirl. And as much as the idea of her in black stockings and a tunic made him as randy as hell, he still wanted the grown up version to shag. Although he reckoned he might file that image away in his brain for a later date when they were alone in the dead of night once more.
She bit her lip, then threw back her head and stared at him defiantly. “OK, say we stay. What if – what if I die here, Spike?”
“Never going to happen, pet!”
She shrugged. “Got to happen some time, somewhere. Could be here. Bad enough to die at home. But to just disappear. For you to tell Dawn, hey your sister’s dead again but this time for good because she was called back through time. I couldn’t do that to her. She’s only just recovering from the last few months.”
Spike started to speak and then, for once, had the grace to keep quiet. He knew there was nothing he could say to that. It would kill Dawn. If Buffy went away again, he didn’t even want to imagine how the teenager would deal.
“You speak of a sister.” The Watcher was standing in the doorway, a large pewter jug in one hand. “Slayers do not usually have families.”
“In our time they do,” Buffy said, deciding that this wasn’t quite the right moment to explain about Dawn, green energy, Glory and closing demon dimensions by dying.
“What year have you come from? 1685, 1710 perhaps?”
“Try 2001,” Buffy said.
The colour drained from Will’s face. “2001!” he whispered. “That is…I cannot… ” The Watcher sighed, his shoulder slumping with worry. “I should like nothing more than to learn about your time,“ he said wearily. “But - ” he stood aside to let a small girl enter the room. She was carrying two tankards and nervously cross the room to place them on the table.
Buffy stared at her. She was pitifully thin, wearing a filthy dress with an even dirtier pinafore over it. What Buffy could see of her hair was pulled back and hidden under a cotton cap. But although she looked scared and jumpy, her eyes were bright and intelligent.
“This is Maria,” the Watcher said softly. “Maria is my Slayer.”
Spike poured some ale from the jug into one of the tankards and swallowed it in two gulps. “Bloody hell, Will. You can’t send that up against any self-respecting vamp or demon. She wouldn’t last two minutes.”
“Exactly. You can see why I called for help. Maria, this is Miss Summers. She, too, is a Slayer. The same as you.”
The child bobbed a little curtsey, then reached out a curious finger to touch the stake that Buffy had stuck back into her waistband. “ Nice,” she said in a husky voice, the Cockney accent so thick that Buffy could hardly understand her. “Could do with one of those.”
Buffy handed her the stake, smiling as she fingered the point and then tucked it away in her apron pocket. “‘E’s a vampire,” she said suddenly, turning and gazing at Spike. “‘E makes my skin itch.”
Buffy tried not to laugh as she heard Spike growl. “He makes me itch, too,” she said, and realised she was going red when she heard him splutter halfway through another mouthful of beer. She stared down into the child’s bright hazel eyes. Oh God, there was no way, no way at all that she could leave Maria to fight vampires and demons before she knew how. She would have to stay.
To be continued