The Time Machine...Part XIV...

Main Theme (Stargate SG-1)

Across from the cemetery where Tara, Xander, and Andrew faced former Fearless Leader Warren and his new and improved Buffy-bot II, Anya watched, waited, and fretted in Xander’s car...

She looked at her watch...Thirty minutes since they’d gone in...

Surely time enough...But, stay put, her heroically noble fiancee had said...If things look bad, go to the shop and call Giles in England, he’d said...

Don’t try to come in after us...

Above all...Do not call Dawn...

Oh...It was just like Buffy to do something like this...Putting poor Xander in terrible danger while she’s probably off touring Victorian London’s fashionable sights with Willow and Spike...

When this was all over she’d really have to put her foot down regarding this sort of thing...

Not that she’d not found it all romantic...Spike off to 1880 to do...Something...To change history and win his Buffy...Buffy off in search of him...

Most romantic of all, of course...The noble Xander...The noble, gallant, and all too breakably human Xander...Off once again to rescue his “sisters” from whatever evil menaced them...

With no thought of financial reward...And not even a prayer of sexual recompense...

She hoped...

What to do?...Even now he and Tara might be in the fiendish grip of the pudgy nerd genius Warren Mears and his sidekicks...Or at least Warren, if his sidekicks weren’t lying and had deserted him...

She couldn’t believe Xander wouldn’t have come out by now to let her know all was well...Although he did tend to forget little things like his devoted and loving fiancee when engaged in acts of selfless heroism...

Of course if she just went to the crypt entrance, listened for a bit to see that all was well, and then scurried back to the car...It wouldn’t really be a violation of her pledge...

And it would prevent her from unnecessarily bothering poor Giles...

A rap at the car window brought her out of her reverie...

“Anya?!...” Dawn frowned at her...Standing beside the car...

Where’s Buffy?!...

“Is she in the crypt over there with Spike?...” she demanded...

“Are you guys keeping tabs on her?!...Did Willow and Xander put you up to this?!...Where are they?...”

Well?...

“Are Buffy and Spike?...” Dawn gulped... “Making out over there?!!...”

She frowned...And rapped again...

“Would you please roll your window down so I can talk to you?...” she asked...

***
In 1880 London, a slow wave of dropping vampiral jaws was surging across the speechless crowd now turning to face Buffy, Willow, and Jonathan...

A Slayer?...Here?...They looked at Mr. Pointy on the ground...

Buffy grabbed Mr. Pointy...Hmmn, just a few too many of them, even for me...

And raised it overhead...

“My trophy!...” she cried, doing her best to sound sufficiently evil...

The former Slayer’s favorite stake...she announced...

Now mine...she grinned wickedly...

Neat...thought Willow...Too bad Spike can’t see from back there...

He’d be so proud...She’s picked up a lot from him...That’s his most Spikean smile, for sure...

Isn’t the current Slayer in India?...One of the crowd nudged his fellow...

***

Spike, his view blocked by the crowd around the fight area, had turned to try and learn the source of the sudden shift in the nest’s attention...Giving Angelis a chance for a quick and complete victory...

However, knowing old grandad all too well, Spike had been expecting something like this...If not from dear old grandsire himself, then certainly from old vamp mum Dru or grandmum Darla...And thrust an arm forward, while whirling back to face his opponent...

Angelis fell back, startled...How’d he know?...

Damn you, Darla...he thought...This one is not gonna be easy...

Darla?...He looked around...

What the...?

He caught sight of her moving back through the crowd...

Away from the fight area...Away from him...

Dearest?...Ummn...

We are a team, you know...Angelis thought...

I count on your faithful support...Darling?...

Spike closed in and Angelis fell back...

Still trying to catch the rapidly vanishing Darla’s eye...

You’re not gonna leave me alone to fight... “William the Bloody Spike”...?...Honey?...

Morey was pleased to note that fighting had at last begun...Although the new distraction was a bother...He moved through the crowd to see what was going on...

***
“You took that from the current Slayer...?” a female eyed Buffy...And Mr. Pointy, firmly in her hand...

Those nearest Buffy in the crowd keeping a respectful distance...She might not smell like a Slayer or a human...And her story might be barely plausible...However...

Former...Buffy corrected...

Willow and Jonathan kept near her...

“Try to look evil...” Willow whispered to Jonathan...

***
Darla, pushing her way through the crowd, had reached the circle around Buffy, Willow, and Jonathan...

As had Morey...

“So...” Darla smiled pleasantly at Buffy...Several others pulling back respectfully...

“You killed the Slayer?...And this is her stake?...”

Might I see it?...Just a moment...she asked...

Buffy, struggling to tone down her instinctive glare, passed the stake over...

Darla sniffed...It had seen considerable use, no doubt about it...

But...

“Isn’t the Slayer in India just now?...Last I heard she was fighting demon assassins in New Delhi...”

Hmmn...Buffy thought...Darla...Almost certainly trying to catch me up...

“Hardly matters where you heard the Slayer was, miss...ummn...?...She was in my field of vision last time she had this...” Buffy smiled...

“Darla...” Darla smiled back...

“Buffy...”

Willow rolled her eyes...

Buffy...I love ya and I would never fault your sweet Mom for naming you as she did...But look around you...

Couldn’t you come up with something a leetle more....

Hmmn...Darla thought... “Buffy?”...Silly, but perhaps deceptively so...

Morey had reached them and looked at Buffy and co...

“Well...Morey?...” Darla looked at him...

Might I?...He looked at Buffy pleasantly and reached for the stake which Darla released to him...

“Yes...” Morey nodded carefully...
This is the Slayer’s stake...He handed it back to Buffy with a slight smile...

“I saw her with it in India a few years back...Quite a fiend with it she was...”

Buffy blinked just a bit...Willow as well...

What the...?

Jonathan was curious but felt under the circumstances it was best to defer any questions...

Morey turned to the crowd...About half of which now faced them...

“Ladies and gentlemen... ‘Ats off and ‘eads bowed to the memory of our late and great opponent...The Slayer is dead...May her newcomer have a short and uneventful career...”

To Buffy’s and Willow’s surprise, many males did so...Even the females in general bowed their heads...Polite century, this...

But what the hell was the old demon up to...?...Backing them up like that...

Darla frowned but hearing some of the crowd watching the fight area cheer, made a choice in favor of mother love, and dived back into the mob...

No doubt her boy was in desperate straits without his devoted mate on hand for back up...

***
Which he was...

Spike had leaped up and over him to block his retreat back to the edge of the crowd...

Assuming “work-face”, Angelis held his ground and then suddenly charged, Spike nimbly dodging at the last minute...

Angelis stumbled into the crowd, staggering...To the general delight...

Nothing like a gallant underdog to win a crowd over...

As Angelis returned, Spike lept up in Buffy-style and rammed his feet into the tall vampire’s chest...Knocking him to the ground...

Gotta thank Summers for that one, Spike noted happily...

Pity she can’t be here to see it in action...

***
The crowd had mostly returned to watching the fight...Morey remaining beside the three newcomers...

“Slayer?...” he hissed to Buffy quietly...

Buffy blinked at him...

Follow me...Slowly...He told her...

***

Spike whirled up, kicking out, and let Angelis have it in the face...

Oh...Not the face, several dozen females sighed...

William...The Bloody...A good number more sighed...Dreamily...

Angelis was not having a good day...

However...

He was not “the mighty Angelis” for nothing...And caught Spike’s next kick, throwing him back and off balance...

***
In the quiet corner of the warehouse basement where he had led the three time travelers, Morey introduced himself properly...

Morey...Special Observer attached to the Watchers’ Council...And British State Security...

Observing and reporting on the movement and activities of London’s most powerful underworld dwellers...Courtesy his half-demon nature and carefully established connections...

After all...The seat of the greatest Empire on earth could not be allowed to fall into the hands of
those committed to the triumph of evil...Particularly with the...former?...Morey looked at Buffy... Slayer fully occupied defending the jewel of the British imperial crown...

Hmmn...Buffy thought...Gee...

I do tend to forget the guys and I weren’t the first to battle and defeat evil...
***

“Why are you here?...Miss...er...” Morey asked Buffy quietly...

“Buffy Summers...” Buffy introduced herself and the others...
Jonathan, her Watcher...Jonathan nodded solemnly...Willow...Her magics expert...Whose expertise had allowed this penetration of the west London nest... Willow grinned sheepishly...

As for why?...Well...

“Poor Amara...” Morey noted sadly...

How did she...?

No, no...Buffy hastily explained...

The...er, other...Slayer is fine...she noted...

“I was summoned...Sort of by accident...”

She didn’t think now was the time to have Jonathan try and explain the principles of time travel...

Ah...Morey sighed with relief...Just like the 1821 incident, eh...Premature burial of the Slayer after her “death” from illness and the new one popping up just as the old emerged from her crypt?...

Ummn...Yeah...

Well, he smiled...Always good to have more than one Slayer around...

American, eh?...he grinned...

“You Yanks always do like to enter with a bang...” he noted...

Still...He looked around...Not the safest place to take your place on stage...

Dangerous lot this...Especially the Angelis pride...

“Are they why you’re here Miss...?” he asked her...

Or is this new fellow, William, the problem?...

Had rather hoped either he or Angelis would dispose of at least one of them...

Which might still be the happy result...he noted, looking towards the fight area where cheering could be heard...

“Actually...It is William I’m here about...” Buffy told the half-demon...Looking carefully at Willow and Jonathan...

You see...There’s something special about him...she began...

***

Spike regained his footing as Angelis charged for the kill...And hopping up, struck him full in the face...Again...

Oh...Wailed Angelis’ adorers...

A cold and furious look came over Angelis’ face...One not to be matched until Angel would take the path of redemption a century plus from now...And would face Spike under different circumstances...

“Angelis!...” Darla called to him...Reaching the edge of the crowd...

Now?...She wants to talk...Now?...he thought...Looking at Spike...

“William!...” she called to Spike...

Waving at them both...She threw her beautiful scarf into the area...Signal for a brief halt to the fighting...

The crowd fumed...Just like Darla to spoil a first-rater...

“Watch ‘er, there William me boy...” one called out...

“She’ll be like to stick you one the moment you turn ye back...”

Eyeing Grandad cautiously, Spike followed him over to where Darla stood...

“Morey has betrayed us to a Slayer...” Darla told them quietly...
***

“So you see...We have to get William safely out of here...So he can continue his fight against evil...Until his redemption is won...” Buffy noted to Morey...

You know...Willow thought...When you actually hear that “vamp with a soul” curse story...It sounds preety...

Thought Spike came back to get his soul, Jonathan wondered...

Clearly Morey had his reservations...However he agreed to do what he could to let them get over to William...Before Angelis...And the vanished Darla...got to him first...

Buffy nodded gratefully and they began moving back towards the fight area...
Well...A “vampire with a soul”, eh?...Morey pondered...

Of course, there were a few rare confirmed cases of vampire redemption and more anecdotal ones...But...He was a skeptic by nature...And profession...

Who was well aware of the attractions a charming and clever young vampire prince might hold for a young and inexperience Slayer...

This young American would not be the first to fall from grace in that way...

And more important...

Well-trained and keen-eyed observer that he was...He’d not failed to notice the old bite scar Miss Buffy was carrying...

***
The Time Machine...Part XV...

A rather disoriented...Effects of Darla-administered laudanum and her natural psychosis...Drusilla awoke in the 1880 London hotel room she’d been sharing with Grandmother Darla and Papa Angelis...

Who were nowhere to be found...

She cautiously strolled the hotel corridor...Fortunately, windowless...

A young chambermaid came by... “Two o’clock, miss...” she answered in reply to Dru’s polite query...

Strange, strange time for the others to be out and about...Dru noted to herself as she fed gently on the young maid in an empty room...

True, Father Angelis might be annoyed with her feeding in the very place they were staying...Still, she thought, rather peevishly...If he’d wanted her to behave he should not have left her to her own devices...

Besides...It wasn’t like young women were never found murdered in London hotel rooms...

Two o’clock...she sighed...Not a time she could go out and about seeking her missing ones...

Unless...She used that sewer tunnel Grandmother and she had taken to follow Father to his most recent battle a few days before...

Perhaps they were there...Having another lovely fight with others...Blood and gore to spare about them...
Rather cruel of them to leave poor Dru all to herself while having such a nice time, she noted...

Well...If she could remember the way back...Perhaps there’d still be something left for her...

***

Darla had proposed to the mysterious William that an alliance be formed...

At least a temporary one...Until the Slayer and their treacherous half-demon “promoter” were both destroyed...

Angelis smiled his trademark leer...Nothing he liked better than an alliance...Of temporary duration...Ending with the ally receiving a short, sharp stabbing in the back...Or being used as a lure for the object of the alliance...

Hmmn...Spike thought...Don’t think killing the current Slayer would exactly enhance my chances for soul recovery...Besides, isn’t she in China?...Nope, that’s 20 years from now...Well...

On the other hand, keeping close to the old ones would be his best chance for getting a line on Dru’s whereabouts...Not to mention a possible chance to gain a few bonus redemption points by offing two of history’s worst killers...Should that chance occur...

And of course saving the current Slayer was sure to be something Buffy would appreciate...Her soul in the afterlife, at least...A sort of courtship present, you might say...

And, how many Slayers besides Miss Summers had Angel saved anyway?...

Yes, he pleasantly nodded to Darla...Given the grim news she’d brought he could see the advantages of an alliance...

***
In 2002 Sunnydale, Anya nervously twisted her hands as she sat with Dawn in Xander’s car...

Explaining in edited terms as best she could, the situation as she knew it...

Buffy and Willow off...Nearby...Helping Spike deal with a dangerous foe...

While Xander and Tara waited in the crypt...Meeting with one of the...Hopefully former...Minions of that foe...

Well...Dawn frowned...

“Why are we sitting here?...Lets go in...”

Can’t...Anya explained...Promised Xander I’d stay here in case the minion was lying and an ambush was planned...

“Well, what the heck are you supposed to do if they don’t show?...They could be dying in there!...” Dawn noted...

We have to check things out...Now...she insisted...

Well...Anya hesitated...

“I was thinking of just going by the crypt entrance...Listening to see if all’s ok...Then right back here...”

Dawn nodded...Now that was more like it...

She’d do it...she told Anya...

Being smaller it’d be easier for her...

Hmmn...Makes sense, Anya thought...

But wait...Adult humans don’t let their young expose themselves to danger...

If they know about it and aren’t the cause of it...

At least nowadays...Rather a change from her former human times...When exposing unwanted infants to the elements was what passed for modern birth control...

“We’ll both go...” she firmly noted...
***

March 13th, 1880, London...2:10 pm...

Miss Cicely Addams, wealthy young beauty and object of adoration for a number of London’s eligible bachelors, emerged from her cousins’ the Henricks’ townhouse for an early afternoon promenade...

She was looking forward to tonight’s party where no doubt she would be the object of many a young gallant’s devotion...

Of all people, the image of young William Soames Walthrop, her distant cousin Henry’s friend, popped into her head...

Odd...

A handsome enough, even rather engaging, little fellow, but hardly one worthy of consideration...Still, she’d been polite to him for Henry’s sake on their few chance meetings here and at the various events Henry...Social radical that he was...Insisted on bringing his “friend” the charity case to...

She was aware that the little...Poet?...Yes, that was it...Was coming to tonight’s party, but why he should suddenly come to mind...?

Odd...She looked at herself in her small purse mirror...And startled, saw another face there...Similar to her own, yet different...And blonde-haired...

She carefully returned the mirror to her purse, trembling slightly...And caught herself as an elegant young man passing by, bowed to her...

Perhaps...Her promenade should wait a bit...

Clearly her corset stays were being laced much too tightly...
***
There was no way of knowing how many of those in the crowd were Morey’s people, Darla pointed out...Angelis having suggested they simply inform the crowd of Morey’s treachery and let the mob deal with the problem...

It was quite possible a lynch mob might end up under his control rather than theirs...And most of the crowd would not much care who was lynched...So long as they got their proper share of the lovely gore...

Spike interrupted politely...

Why not let him deal with the Slayer?...While they prepared a surprise for their former associate and provided a quick exit in case of difficulty...

“You’re willing to take on the Slayer?...Alone?...” Darla looked at him...

Quite an interesting little fellow...

Pity he had to be so short...

Spike nodded...He’d had a certain amount of past experience with Slayers...And rather enjoyed a dance or two with them...

“Dance?...” Angelis frowned...

The little fellow seemed to think this was a game...Dance, indeed...

You’ll be in dancing on the end of her stake if you don’t take this seriously...Angelis solemnly noted...
Spike rolled his eyes slightly...Same old grandad...

God, he must have freaked when he came to beside Buffy that morning after...Spike noted...

Waking up after all that time in limbo...Next to the Greatest Slayer of All Time...

Pity I couldn’t have been there...The look on his face...

***

Buffy and her friends were slowly making their way towards the fight area...Still too blocked to see the object of their search...Jonathan cautiously pulled out his remote to scan for the signal from Spike’s chip...

Morey followed closely, watching them carefully...

A few of his people scattered through the crowd watching him...

“Morey?...” Darla came through the crowd...Smiling at Buffy and her friends...

Angelis would like to see you...It seems his opponent has fled...He’d like an explanation...

“As I’m sure this crowd would...” she noted...

And indeed, Spike having headed off from the fight area to “lie in wait” for the Slayer as agreed, the crowd was beginning to sense the fight had ended prematurely...And was expressing its displeasure in no uncertain terms...

Jonathan noting Spike’s position moving to the rear of the basement area, began moving in that general direction, Buffy and Willow following...

Morey frowned, watching the others move on, but there was little choice...He signed to two of his people to watch the departing Americans and followed Darla back towards the fight area where Angelis waited...

A small, rather young vamp noted Jonathan’s rather sparkling and twinkling toy...And grabbed it...

“Hey!...” Jonathan cried... “Give that back!...” Willow and Buffy turned back to look at him...

The little vamp shoved him back...Hard enough to knock him down...

Buffy and Willow raced over...Jonathan would not last long here dissed like that...

“We’ve got to have the remote...” he hissed to Buffy...Who headed after the little vamp and grabbed him just as Morey reached the waiting Angelis...

“You have my friend’s property...” she told the little vamp, twisting his arm back until he dropped the remote...Jonathan grabbing it as Willow came up, and called out to Buffy...

“Buffy!...” she cried, pointing...

To where a furious Angelis was lifting old Morey by the throat...Darla by his side...Watching for the demon’s friends and glancing over to where Buffy had released the little vampire...

Buffy hopped up and raced towards Angelis and Morey...Several of Morey’s “people” were likewise moving up...

Darla called out to Angelis, just as the choking Morey pulled a vial of holy water and threw it at his assailant...

Angelis released the half-demon, screaming in pain...Darla moving to him in a fury...Which quickly calmed as she saw the extent of the threat opposing them...At least five plus that Buffy and her friends had come to Morey’s defense...

And the crowd naturally was not pleased to see a popular old friend like Morey being unmanhandled by what they took to be an posturing Angelis peevishly upset over the fight’s outcome...

Time for a strategic withdrawal...And to see if that “Spike” was going to keep his word and “deal” with the Slayer when they led her to him...

Come my love...We’re not properly appreciated here, she noted...

A furious Angelis, however, was not willing to leave without some measure of revenge...

He pointed a finger at Buffy, now standing by Morey...

“That is a Slayer!!...” he cried...

We have all been betrayed...And a Slayer let into our very midst...By Morey...

“A Slayer?...” Morey laughed...Having recovered some breath...

Does anyone sense a human, let alone a Slayer, here?...he asked...

Don’t press it, mister...Willow thought...That scent-covering spell of mine will only last so long
...And Darla’s already seen through it...

Throw them out!...Outside!...One of Morey’s agents began a cry...
The crowd siding with their local, the chant was eagerly taken up...Angelis and Darla beat a retreat...

“Stay with Morey...” Buffy called to Willow and Jonathan, taking the remote from him...

She moved off in the direction where Spike waited...

***
Waiting at the spot agreed to for the Slayer’s “ambush” Spike had heard the cries of the crowd and a vaguely familiar but too garbled cry...

If he didn’t know Buffy was back..er, ahead...in 2002...He’d almost swear that sound was...

Ridiculous...Love was clearly beginning to impair his senses...But then, maybe all Slayers’ cries sound alike...

But more important, he’d sensed a new presence approaching...Still at a distance, but definitely closing...

A boy knows his mother’s scent...

Angelis and Darla raced up to him...The Slayer had “taken the bait” they told him quickly...And hurried on into the sewer tunnel...

Likely their new partner would become the object of the increasingly angry mob’s attention...All to the good if his murder would provide them with just enough time to escape...

Well...Spike thought...Seeing his “family” flee...And hearing the mob’s now inflamed cries...

Angelis and Darla fleeing a howling mob...

Just like old times...Pity old Dru was not yet here...Still...Since the Slayer, whoever she was, was now safe from Angelis and Darla...No need for him to hang around and become an afternoon’s entertainment for a crowd of disappointed vampires...

Besides, he was anxious to catch up with “Mum”as long as she was nearby...Lots to thrash out between them...
***

A confused Dru greeted her family near the tunnel entrance...

Why had they left the poor little...

They raced on past her...Leaving her blinking after them...

And turning to follow...Quickly and steadily hurrying her pace...

Dru might be insane...But her survival instincts were honed to a fine, vampiral edge....
***
“They won’t come after us...” Darla called to Angelis as they reached the main tunnel...

Too much chance of attracting attention from above...

“What about the Slayer...And Morey?...” Angelis noted...

With luck, William has dealt with or slowed her down being dealt with by...the Slayer, his mate noted...

As for Morey...Another time...Which would not have been necessary if you’d have just killed him instead of waiting to pause and make a speech when you had him...she groused...

A whining Dru came up, demanding that they take her along...

Not nice the way the old ones treat little Dru...No...

They heard the sound of rushing feet, stumbling over trash in the unlit dank connecting tunnel behind them...

Who’s coming?...Is it William?...Darla turned to Angelis, nearest the connecting tunnel...He went over and peered down the dark passage...

“Good luck, my love...” Darla called to Angelis, hurrying on down the main tunnel...Dru in hot pursuit...

Darling?...Angelis looked after her...

***
Fortunately for poor Angelis...It was Spike...Who’d set out to catch up to his “mum” if possible...And if his fate would have it...Catch the whole “family” circle together or separately somewhere along the tunnelway...

“Well?...” Angelis called to his new “ally”...As Spike came up to him, looking about for any sign of Dru...

Hmmn...Pity I didn’t think to grab one of those short wooden poles back at the fight arena, Spike thought...Good chance to deal with old Grandsire alone...

Interestingly enough a similar thought was occurring to Angelis...This William was presenting a formidable challenge to his status...He’d have to be dealt with sooner or later...

However...Hearing the cries of the approaching mob...Apparently Darla having underestimated their persistence...He felt it was best to view the “big picture” and maintain the alliance for now...

“Did you kill the Slayer?...” Angelis asked Spike eagerly...

Wounded her only, I’m afraid...Spike told him...

Her friends grabbed her before I could finish the job...And circumstances being what they were...I thought it best to join you good folks down here...Spike explained...

Coward...Angelis thought to himself, mentally sneering...Bet he never let the Slayer get within a foot of him...

Still...Might be best to accept his story for now...Until they were safely away, the extra help might come in handy...At least as something to throw at the mob as they charged in...

The cries were getting loud...Fast...

Hmmn...Speaking of letting the Slayer get too close...

***
The Time Machine...Part XVI...

March 13th, 1880...London...2:30pm...

In his borrowed digs at Forster Arms, William Soames Walthrop, human, was composing a second letter...This to his young brother, Philip...

Good lad, Phil...But, as a rather practical sort, inclined to avoid the finer things...All well and good for a boy of poor family to want to make his mark...However...As his elder brother pointed out, it was their right, even duty, to lay claim to those “finer things” as well...And not abandon them to those wealthy enough to have the leisure to enjoy them full-time...

After all, one could count on one’s fingers the number of comfortably wealthy types who made any major contribution to Beauty...Or even if Phil insisted on the practical, Science...At least until the great geniuses had made their first mark and acquired wealth and position, many, perhaps nearly all were poor...Look at the great scientist Faraday...

For Mum’s sake, Phil, he concluded...Mum who loved the beautiful and had so little of it in her life...We have a duty to try to pause now and then to take...And make...Our fair share of the world’s beauty...

However much the world may try to deny us...And Fate may intervene to keep us down...
***

Underneath west London, Angelis and Spike were slowly falling back down the main branch sewer tunnel...Much of the mob from the warehouse basement fight arena who had been pursuing them seemed to have dropped back, probably in fear of attracting human attention...But there were clearly a small number still in pursuit...

No doubt including the current Slayer, whoever the young lady was, Spike thought...

Glad as he was to have helped protect her from Grandsire Angelis and Great-grandmother Darla, he was not anxious to meet her in the flesh just now...Rather unlikely she’d accept his explanations of why he was here or allow him to continue on his quest...

Brave lass, though...To have taken a chance like that, raiding the west London nest against what must have been at least 200...Good thing that demon promoter, Morey, was apparently some kind of double agent...She’d probably make it unscathed...

Funny such a courageous one didn’t leave more of an impression in history...Well, look at his poor Buffy...Saved the world countless times....Nobody remembered her after death...

Excepting of course her Watcher, now off to England...Her few friends...

And her loving poet-historian...Who had documented her exploits...And intended to see those exploits and her story, told...

Of course, to be fair to 2002 Humanity, no one but the old gang and he had known Buffy had been dead...

Yes, her story would be told...He patted his manuscript, carefully stowed away in his suit...If only to his human counterpart...Once human Will was safe...And the history of this timeline at least, rewritten...

A story he knew his human counterpart would cherish...And a woman...Whom Spike was sure...Would become the love of young Walthrop’s life...And existence...

Even if the young poet could only hope to meet her after death...

He had an instinct about this one...

***
Angelis glanced quickly at his “ally” as they approached a branch tunnel..Boltable inspection door left open by some careless fight attendee...Hmmn...A chance to kill two birds...Leave something to keep the crowd amused for the time it’d take him to escape...And eliminate a new and hardy rival...

He slipped off into the branch tunnel, slamming and bolting the door behind him...

Well...Spike sighed, hearing his “grandad’s” gleeful crackle as Angelis fled down the side tunnel...

Nothing surprising there...Too bad I couldn’t have dealt with him here and now, though...

Still...Darla and poor old “mum” are the focus of attention for now...

And old gramps had the right idea...Best to avoid the locals just right now...

He hastened his pace down the main tunnel, the scents of Darla and Dru lingering heavily in the dank air...

***
Buffy was continuing cautiously down the tunnel connecting to the main sewer,. Jonathan’s remote, set to track the signal from Spike’s chip, in her hand...

Fortunately the mob continued to accept her as one of them based on Willow’s scent-covering spell and Morey’s vouching for her claim to have killed the former...er, current...Slayer...

Even more fortunate, most were now backing off and returning to the warehouse...Fun was fun but survival was more important...And even idiot humans were sure to get suspicious hearing the cries of a couple of lynch victims coming from the sewers of west London...

So that they were content to leave the hunt for Angelis and Darla to Buffy and the few hardy unsouls who dared continue...

***
Back at the warehouse, Morey guided Jonathan and Willow to a relatively safe corner...Willow having explained her spell to cover their human scent would only last so long...

They were anxious to continue in pursuit of Buffy but with the tunnel still crowded with returning vampires...In a highly agitated state...Morey felt it was best they hang back a bit...

Willow agreed...After all, without the remote they could easily get lost in the tunnels...

“Any idea where Darla and Angelis would go?...” she asked their half-demon friend...

Probably straight back to their hotel, he noted...They’d be quite safe there, no vamp or demon being foolish enough to risk making a scene at such a place...And a safe house in any case, pledged by all underdwellers to remain so...Under any circumstances...

Hmmn...Hotel, eh...Angelis and Darla must be riding high these days...Say...

“Is there another vampire, a young female, with them?...” Willow asked Morey...

Miss Drusilla?...The crazy one?...he looked at her...

Is she the one the Slayer is concerned with?...Rather interested in her myself, he noted...She seems to possess some rather dangerous abilities...The Council’s been anxious to learn more abut her...

Dru...Of course...That’s who Spike’s after...His siress...That’s why he took on Angelis here...Willow thought...Trying to get a line on Dru...

It’s Dru he’s come for...she noted to Jonathan...

Dru?...he asked...

Who’s...?
***
One never knows where fate and a sewer tunnel will take one, as Angelis now learned to his regret...Just ten minutes after he’d abandoned the mysterious William the Bloody to face whatever the local lynch mob had in mind...

Light suddenly streamed down just a few feet in front of him...From a grated manhole cover...

Blocking the way forward...No choice now but to turn right back...

Reaching the connecting door to the main tunnel, he cautiously unbolted the inspection door...And slipping through, found himself face to face with...The Slayer...

Buffy glared quietly at Angelis...Holding a torch in one hand...

Damn...Thought you were Spike lurking in there...

Hmmn...she thought...My old vampire love...Unsouled as yet, of course...But if I kill him now, he and the Buffy of this timeline’s future will never meet...

And he’ll never father Darla’s kid...

She placed the torch in a wall bracket...Mr. Pointy emerging from her skirt pocket...

Angelis backed up against the inspection door...

My God, look at him...The great Angelis...He’s shaking like a leaf...

Hadn’t he ever fought a Slayer before me?...

“Slayer...?” he pleaded... “It’s not me you want...I can lead you to the others...I’m not the threat to Humankind...You want Darla, Dru...That Spike fellow...”
You know Spike?...she held Mr. Pointy, aiming for his chest...

“A mighty prince of evil...” Angelis nodded... “Not a simple fellow hunting for his existence like me...”

Attractive girl, he thought...Rather like my Darla, only shorter...Which I’d have no problem with...

“Let me help you...I can bring you to him...To all of them...” he told her...

Hmmn...He’s lying, no question...Regarding Spike anyway...They only met a short time ago...

Still, she thought...If he knows where Darla and Dru are going...Spike is sure to head there...

Might be faster than tracking with the remote...

And if I kill Angelis, Angel and the Buffy of this timeline will never go on to battle evil, fall in love, separate...

And he’ll never leave her for...Darla...er, excuse me, I mean...Redemption...

Yeah, right...

Boy, this Buffy is never gonna know how lucky she is...

But, she sighed...Later...

“All right...” she waved the stake towards the path down the tunnel...

Lead me to this “prince of evil”...

Spike’d get quite a kick out of that, she noted, grinning to herself inwardly...While keeping a close and glaring eye on her...Future?...Boyfriend...as they moved along in the near-dark...

***
A short distance behind Buffy and Angelis...Willow, Jonathan, and their somewhat reluctant guide, Morey...Who’d agreed to lead them back to the hotel where Darla and Dru were almost certainly headed...

And, Willow was sure, with Spike..And Buffy...In pursuit...

***
3pm...Darla and Dru had reached the point of the sewer tunnel connecting to their hotel’s basement...

“Angelis...?” Dru looked at Grandmother...Who shrugged...

A tragic loss, my heart bleeds...

Just hope he kept the crowd entertained...

Dru started and looked back at the tunnel entrance...

Someone...Coming...Someone she didn’t...But did...Know...

“What is it, Dru?...Is Angelis...?” Darla looked at her...

No...Dru shook her head...Not Daddy...

She rubbed her tummy...Stroking it...

What...Some human strolling in the sewers?...Darla wondered...

An inspector, maybe?...

“A little one, Dru?...” Darla asked her...

Yes...And no...Dru giggled...

Darla glared...Crazed little...Moron...

Dru looked away, smiling...Her...Secret...

And then looked back at Darla, rather frightened...

A Secret even she didn’t know...Couldn’t comprehend...

And a danger...

“He’s coming, Grandmother...He’s coming for your Dru...” Dru whimpered, shivering now...

Lets hope so, Darla thought...

Losing both of them would make this my best day in quite a while...

Dru?...Darla looked at Dru...Now staring blankly at her...

“Who’s coming, dearest?...Is it Morey?...”

“No...Don’t know...Him...” Dru shook with rising fear...
“Why is he coming for me?!!...” she cried desperately...

Hmmn...Darla stared at her...

A somewhat sane remark coming from her at last...

And given that, perhaps it was best to take her hint and find someplace to hide...

To await “his”?...coming...

***
Angelis, to his credit, played the part of perfect Victorian gentleman to a fault...Warning the Slayer behind him to mind the slick bricks of the tunnel, miss...Politely pausing to let her relight her torch when it blew out...Making a little pleasant conversation to ease the tension and pass the time...

“You know, Slayer...I have the strangest sensation that I know you from somewhere...Have we ever met?...”

“Have you ever met a Slayer before?...” Buffy replied grimly...

Only from a respectful distance...he noted...

But always with the greatest admiration of a gallant foe...

She eyed the remote...Still on track...But Spike was still moving fast...

Don’t stop, keep moving...she told him...

Or your “gallant foe” will be paying you her last respects...

***

By now, poor Dru had reached a level of panicky hysteria new even for her...

“Grandmother!!!...Want to go!!!...” she screamed...Trying to tear out of Darla’s grasp...

He’s almost here!...He wants your Dru dead!!!...

Darla held her firmly...If whatever was coming was nearly as dangerous as Dru’s panic suggested...She’d want...Bait...

“Ladies...” Spike addressed them pleasantly as he emerged from the tunnel entrance...

With the strength of desperate fear, Dru tore loose from Darla and raced back into the hotel...
Him?...Darla thought...Looking at Spike...

Hmmn...Perhaps I should reconsider this William’s fitness as a potential mate for Eternity...Especially as Angelis appears not to have survived...she thought...

Sad when a mother can’t face her own child, Spike noted, smiling at Darla while looking after the vanished Dru...Sins of the past and all that...
***

The Time Machine...Part XVII...

In the tunnel of the 1880 London sewer system, wonder of the nineteenth century industrialized world, Angelis continued his attempts at pleasant conversation with the mysterious new Slayer who was using him to hunt the equally mysterious “Spike”...

“You’re an American, aren’t you, miss?...” he asked politely...

Fascinating country, America...He’d always wanted to go, he told her...Amazing people with their remarkable energy and cleverness...All those amazing inventions...That Mr. Edison...

Remarkable...

It was thanks to them that this century would go down as an age of Discovery...he noted...

And all that wide open prairie...Paintings of it reminded him of the west of his own dear Ireland...

Was she from the prairie country by any chance?...

Chicago, now California she told him tersely...Keep moving...

Ah...The Mid and Far West...He’d known it, he told her...Unleashing his most angelic smile...

He’d read a little Whitman...Had she ever read Whitman?...

Really captured the feel of the place, you know...

Buffy urged him along...Holding her torch carefully...And Mr. Pointy firmly...

Hmmn...Least she could do was tell him her name...he thought...

Americans...No sense of the proprieties...Savages, all...

Wait...Darla had mentioned...Buffy?...”Buffy”?!...he suppressed a chuckle...

Buffy the Vampire Slayer?...
Well, time the mighty Angelis made use of his greatest talent...And dealt with...

“Buffy” the Vampire Slayer...

Lord...He’d have to come up with some better name for her after he killed her...

For the sake of the mighty Angelis’ reputation...

***

In 2002 Sunnydale, Anya and Dawn had reached the entrance of Spike’s crypt...

Anya caught the faint sound of Xander’s voice...Couldn’t make out the words...

Buffy?...Dawn thought sure she’d heard Buffy say...Something...

And another voice...Hmmn...

Anya looked at Dawn who shook her head...But the other voice was clearly a bit raised...

Something about...”fooling around...” Dawn told her friend...

“No more fooling around?...” Anya whispered...

Yeah...

Some sound from inside, a quick rush of footsteps...

They looked at each other...Time to be...

“Hi guys...” Buffy came to the entrance...Smiling...

***
Spike smiled pleasantly at Darla who, now standing up from where she’d hid herself, eyed him cautiously...

“Where’s Angelis?...”

He’s not here?...Spike looked innocently at her...

He left me by way of a side tunnel sometime ago...he explained...

Just like him...Darla cursed inwardly...And I told that moron all the other side tunnels led past the surface manholes...

He’s probably charcoal by now...

Something wrong with your little friend, just now?...Spike asked her pleasantly...

She seemed in quite a hurry...

***
“Slayer?...” Angelis called quietly back to Buffy as they continued down the tunnel....

Who was silent...

“Slayer...I know you have no sympathy for me...That I am simply a monster to you...” he paused...

But...

Oh, God...Buffy frowned sourly...Is he trying to pull the angelic act with me?...Pity the poor condemned one?...

Do I look like poor sweet Dru?...

Spike never played that game, thank goodness...Even on his worst days...

And now...His actions speak for themselves...

As did Angel’s...she thought...Grimly...

“If you could find it...In your heart...” Angelis paused...

To pray for me after...I’m gone...

Buffy rolled her eyes...Angelis, not able to see her well behind him in the dim light, took her silence for sympathy...

He fell to his knees, imploring...A striking Victorian tableau...The Slayer and the condemned but remorseful vampire...

He’d have to have a painting of the scene commissioned for posterity...Maybe Darla could stand in for this “Buffy”...

Surely the young Slayer’s tender heart must melt at the sight of...

“Get up...And get moving...” Buffy paused a few feet from him, glaring...

Up...she prodded him a bit with the tip of Mr. Pointy...
He got up sheepishly...Damn...

What’s in that heart of hers, lead?...

These Americans have no heart, no soul...No sensibility at all...

Definitely not a good day for the mighty Angelis...

However...

A faint call from behind them...

“Buffy...?!”

Willow...Buffy realized...

“Better warn your friends to be careful...Buffy...” Angelis told her...They could easily get lost in these tunnels...

For just a moment she forgot, turning...

He’d gotten just the right tone of sincere concern...His trademark...

In fairness to poor human Dru, it had taken an equally sincere plea for her prayers, plus releasing her mother, unharmed, to win her reluctant grant of access to her convent chapel...

He saw his opportunity...And donning face, grabbed at Mr. Pointy, tossing it aside...
***

Everything was fine, guys...Buffy informed Anya and Dawn as they stood outside Spike’s crypt in 2002 Sunnydale...

Had a little trouble with old Warren...But he’s under lock and key...

Anya couldn’t contain her curiosity...

“How’d the time travel thing work out, Buffy?...” she asked...

Did Spike get his heart...Or soul...Or whatever he went back for?...

Dawn stared at Buffy...Hmmn...She seems in an awfully good mood all things considered...

Whoa?!...Time travel?...Spike’s soul?!...

“He’s still there...Willow too...There was a leetle problem...” Buffy noted...
But we’re working on it...Come on inside...

They followed her...A loud howl outside...

Hmmn...Buffy frowned...Looking at Dawn...

Must protect my little sister...

Something’s up...From the grave...she told her friends...

“Just a minute while I take care of this one...” she smiled, patted Dawn, and hurried off...

Anya...Dawn hissed...

Anya?...

Anya looked as they waited just inside...

“What?...”

Dawn put a finger to her lips...

“She didn’t blink...Didn’t you notice?...Not once...”

Well...Buffy always had an intense stare...Anya thought...

“It’s not Buffy...” Dawn hissed...

I know that touch...It’s the bot...

A summer of trying to pretend it was Buffy had made her an expert...

“But I thought the bot got wrecked...” Anya looked at her...

Dawn signed for quiet...God knows how good her hearing is...

It’s the bot...She insisted...And I’ll bet that Warren is running her...

A loud howl was cut off in mid-scream...

***

Knowing his way through the tunnel quite well, Morey the half-demon underworld fight promoter and British double agent had managed to help Willow and Jonathan overtake Buffy and her vampire “guide”...
Just in time to find Buffy in serious trouble...

Angelis had gotten the drop on her when she’d turned back to look for her friends coming up the tunnel...And, for Angelis, was moving rather quickly for once to deal with her...

Willow had just reinforced her scent-covering spell to protect her and Jonathan from detection from the vamps and demons still lurking in parts of the tunnel...She tried but was too weak to help...

Morey leapt to the Slayer’s defense...Angelis smashed him back with a full blow...

But he’d deal with that traitor later...

Ladies first...He lifted the stunned Buffy...

Jonathan ran up with his handy all purpose, 12-in-1 flashlight, multi-tool kit, calculator...Stun gun...

No true nerd is without one...

A bolt of blue light flashed at Angelis...He fell back in howling pain...
***

“Who...Who are you?...” Angelis looked at Jonathan as he struggled to his feet...

A wizard commanding the power of lightening?!...Able to subdue even his own mighty self?!!...

He backed off as Jonathan threatened him with his fiendish device...

Willow helped Buffy to her feet, then turned to help Morey...Buffy glared at the cowering vampire...

Damn...Where’s Mr. Pointy?...There’s a vampire with my name on him...

If I find so much as a pencil, the future Buffy of this timeline is gonna be one lucky Slayer...she thought...

Rats, no stake...

“I am...” Jonathan thought for a suitably menacing name...Looking at Willow, who shrugged...

Hmmn...1880....

“Thomas Alva Edison...”

The American Wizard of Menlo Park!...Angelis recoiled in horror...

Prometheus of the modern age with his wonderous night-piercing light bulb...The human genius who can take sound out of the air and save it forever on wax cylinders...Even Darla had looked a bit nervous after he’d read to her of Edison’s achievements a while back...

Now having parted the darkness with his electrical magic, turning his genius in union with the Slayer against the vampiral menace...Jonathan announced...

At the secret request of Her Majesty’s Government...

Nice initiative, Jonathan...Willow grinned at him...

I knew it, Angelis thought, shaken...

I told Darla he’d be coming after our kind one day...When I saw those new light bulb things at the Great Exhibition a few months ago...

But no, she said...This is the same as the time you got nervous when that Franklin fellow showed up with his kites and lightening rods, she said...No little human scientist is ever going to threaten our kind...oh, no...

Damn...

Hmmn...

Didn’t think Mr. Edison was quite that young...But...They do call him the “Boy Genius”...
***


The Time Machine...Part XVIII...


At the sewer tunnel entrance to her hotel basement, Darla eyed the mysterious
"William the Bloody"...

Not especially menacing just now...But clearly on his best behavior...And on
guard...

And if Dru's fears were semi-lunatic ranting...There was clearly something real
behind them...

But then, Darla liked a little "menace" in her relationships...

***
Back up the main sewer tunnel...

Angelis did what he usually did when a new foe proved rather powerful...Turning
and fleeing down the tunnel...

Buffy sheepishly grinned at Jonathan...Nice job there, "Mr. Edison"...

And smiled at Willow...Who returned the smile...

Angelis...Fleeing in panic from the mighty...Jonathan?...

If only they'd brought a camera...

Morey came over...Cocking his head at "Edison"...

Was that story...? he asked...

"Ummn...Well...not exactly..." Jonathan began...

Jonathan is Mr. Edison's top assistant...Buffy cut in, smiling at him...

Naturally Mr. Edison couldn't be allowed to take the risk...she explained...

Ah, Morey nodded...Well, good to have Science on our side...he smiled...

Remarkable contraption, that...he looked at Jonathan's 12-in-1...

"Pity Angelis got away from us though..." he sighed...

Yeah...Buffy frowned grimly...Pity...

"They'll probably all be up ahead with your William...At the hotel..." the
half-demon noted...

No other place for them to go really until sunset...The tunnel beyond runs into
the Thames...They'll be trapped if they go there...

"At the hotel, they'd have some place to hide and some protection..." Morey
added...

"Protection?..." Willow asked...

Demon guards, contacts like me...It's the safe house for the west London
underworld...he reminded her...

Hmmn...Buffy looked at the others...

"Maybe we shouldn't try the direct route..." she suggested...

"Angelis will be waiting for us, maybe Darla and Dru, too..."

Unless, of course William destroys them first...she noted...

"He could do that?..." Morey eyed her...

"If he gets any chance..." Buffy nodded...Just a hint of pride in her voice...

Great...Now she's singing his praises?...Willow thought...

Geesh...Our Buffy's got it bad...

"Useful fellow, ‘this vampire with a soul’..." Morey looked at Buffy...

If she's telling the truth and isn't in his thrall...he thought...

Still her associates are definitely human...And unscarred...

Buffy knew that Angelis, didn't she?...Jonathan whispered to Willow as Buffy discussed the situation with Morey...

Seemed like something personal between them...At least for her...he noted...

Long story...Very long story...Willow replied...
***

In 2002 Sunnydale, "Buffy"...Or whoever she was...Had hurriedly returned from a
quick Slaying of a hideous newborn demon to Spike's crypt where Anya and Dawn
had debated their course of action...

Too quickly for them to implement Anya's carefully thought out "run for the
car" plan...

"Got it..." she noted happily to them...

Dawn...My sister...is safe...she thought...Or whatever equivalent of thinking she did...

As is Anya...My friend Xander's former demon now human fiancee given to inappropriate but well-intended remarks who requires encouragement and support
to ease her re-entry into human society...she "thought"...

"Ummn...What was it?..." Dawn asked brightly, playing for time...

"Big, hairy, very stupid...Now former...demon..." "Buffy" grinned...

Lets go in...she suggested...

"How hairy was it?..." Anya asked, rather desperately...

"Buffy" stared at her...How hairy?...Hmmn...

"See...Ummn...That's...A distinctive characteristic...To identify the specific
demon race..."

After all...Some hunt in pairs...Even groups...Anya noted...

So it's important to know...

Oh..."Buffy" nodded...Important...And more could be around...

She hesitated...More around...A threat...

Dawn...Her sister...Her top priority in Willow's old programming...

And Warren hadn't made it imperative that she bring those she found lurking outside in to him immediately...

"I'm not sure how hairy he was...Let me go check..." the bot beamed at them...

Wait here, guys...It could be dangerous...she waved and was off...

"Well..." Dawn looked at Anya...

She's come a long way since last summer...

"What'll we do?..." Anya looked at her...

It'll be back in a second...

You go to the car...Get to the shop and call Giles...Dawn told her...

"I'll stay...I think she likes me...I'll tell her you went inside to see
Xander...That'll give you some time..."

Anya hesitated...

"I don't know what and where things are in the shop...You do..." Dawn noted...

Go on, now...she hissed...

Anya nodded and hurried off as quietly as she could...

***
Abandoning Darla and Dru to whatever grim fate the electrical wizard Edison and his minions had in store, Angelis continued on down the sewer tunnel past the hotel basement exit, hoping to find a safe hiding place in a side branch...

He'd no doubt that little William...The source of all this trouble, undamn him...Would have gone on to the hotel...Where Edison and the Slayer Buffy, would doubtless deal with him and the females...

Alas, poor Darla...His heart bled...

Still one should display a little appropriate sentiment at one's mate's demise...he noted...

If only to keep in practice for the next encounter with a susceptible human...

He paused at a side tunnel...

"Darla...my poor Darla..." he sighed...Tragically...

"Is that the way you'll mourn me?..." Darla called to him...

He jumped, whanging his head on the tunnel roof...Fortunately no wood used in the bracing...

My mate...For all Eternity...Darla groaned to herself...

"Get hold of yourself, Angelis..." she sighed...

***

The Time Machine...Part XIX...


March 13th, 1880, 4:30 pm...London...

Their “ally” William had kindly offered to make another attempt on the Slayer at the hotel basement entrance, Darla explained to Angelis as he nursed his bruised head...

Asking only that she let him know where dear Dru had got herself off to... Dru?...Angelis asked...Befitting the responsible parent that he was...

This fellow’s interested in our Dru?...

“Apparently...” Darla noted...A little grimly...

Lucky for our little Dru I was rather more concerned with survival just then...she thought...

Else...I might have “helped” William find her mangled corpse...Or ashes...

Still, the fellow is a bit small for me...
***

In the hotel, Spike was cautiously feeling his way...Darla had told him their room was on the fourth floor, number ten...Despite her assurances that all the hallway areas were windowless, he felt it best to take it slow...

Even if she weren’t lying, one never knew when some happy human might come innocently out for a stroll, leaving his or her sun-filled room door wide open...

It was now just after 4:30 pm...He had at least two hours until sunset...And a little over three hours before he could make his first interception attempt on his human counterpart ...Unless things worked out well here in his call on dear vamp “Mum”...

As for Darla...Even if he could have gotten the drop on her, it was best to leave her alive...By her own admission she‘d be trapped in the dead-ended upper tunnel until sunset where Dru would no doubt seek her out if she survived his visit...Offering him an additional chance...

And her presence in the tunnel might keep the current Slayer and her minions whoever they were, busy long enough for him to slip away...
***

In 2002 Sunnydale, the bot had made a rather thorough inspection of its dead demon victim...Providing Anya with a reasonable amount of getaway time...

She returned to find Dawn waiting at the crypt entrance...

“Dawn...?” the bot looked round...

“Where’s Anya?...I checked the demon and he’s extremely hairy...About 10,000 hairs to the square inch...”

That is hairy...Dawn agreed brightly...

“Anya’s gone in to see Xander...” she told the bot...Who frowned a bit...

Oh...

“She hasn’t come back, then?...” Buffy-bot II asked her...With Xander?...

Nope...Seems pretty quiet in there, actually...Dawn noted...

“Well...” the bot smiled... “Why don’t we go in and join everybody?...”

God I wish you had an off-switch, Dawn thought...

Actually...That’ll be preety neat in the real Buffy...

Oh, well...She stared at the bot who looked expectantly at her...

Poor thing doesn’t mean any harm I guess...Just that jerk Warren making her lie to us...

Hope Buffy and the others don’t have to rip her apart again...

She went in, the bot following...
***

Angelis explained the new situation to his mate...Who rolled her eyes at his panic-stricken descriptions of the mighty wizard he encountered...

Tom Edison and his electro-shocking machine...That Franklin all over again she thought...

Still...This little human sounded like he was in command of a respectable power...Even she hesitated at the thought of a counterstrike...Perhaps best to hole up here for as long as possible until sunset...

Well, with luck that “Spike” would at least keep Edison and his Slayer occupied for a bit...

For once Angelis was in complete agreement with his dear mate...

After all...He’d never been one to risk confronting Slayers and would not be until forced to deal with Buffy more than a century from now...And even then would be taking his sweet time about it...
***

It was not a good day for poor Dru...Trembling in a room on the fifth floor...Its murdered occupants scattered around her...

Abandoned by her “family” was the poor little one, she noted, whimpering to herself...And hunted by...Who...?

Why was he coming for her?...For one of the few times in her existence, she struggled to concentrate...

A little one...Her little one?...No...Unless...Had she been naughty?...And forgetful?...

Maybe her Bad One, the little human soul, had been naughtier than anyone had guessed...

That would be jolly, she giggled, speaking to the dead victims in the room...The Bad One’s own coming for her, for her to make her own...

How she could tease the trapped Bad One for that...Her so proud and haughty...And no better than poor little demon Dru...Just a little nun-girl, praying away in her limbo prison...

Never coming out to play with her “sister”...Hiding all the time...No fun at all...

Bad One..Very Bad One...Dru pouted...

But no, this one wasn’t hers either...
***

“Welcome...” Warren grinned at Dawn as the bot followed her into the main room of the crypt...

She looked over at Xander, Tara, and Andrew...All well-secured by the bot with ropes...

“Your bot’s much improved, Warren...” Dawn noted...

He frowned at her...

“Dawn?...” Buffy-bot II looked at her...

I’m sorry Warren...she looked at her owner, rather downcast...

Dawn couldn’t help it...The poor thing seemed so disappointed...

“You did fine, Buffy...” she told her... “We were really fooled for a while...”

The bot beamed...

“Thank you, Dawny..” she smiled at her sister...

WE?!!...Warren looked at the bot...

“Oh, yes...” Buffy-bot II smiled at him... “Anya was there...She...”

“Go get her!...Now!!!” Warren hollered...

“Isn’t she here?...Dawn said...” Oops...Buffy-bot turned to her “sister”...

She looked at Dawn and frowned... “Dawny...You know better than to lie to me...”

You are grounded tonight...And we’ll see about tomorrow...A very Buffy glare...

Hafta to hand it to Mears, Xander thought, watching...Excellent upgrade...

“Buffy?!!!...” Warren hollered, glaring at the “sisters”...

Get moving!!!...

Ummn...Well...Buffy-bot II hesitated, looking at Dawn...

“You seem very angry, Warren..” the bot looked at him...
***

Ummn...Seventy?...In a forty mile per hour zone?...Anya repeated brightly to the cop who’d pulled her over...

Of all times for the Sunnydale PD to be on its toes...

“What’s the rush, lady?...” the cop sighed through her window...

You sure ain’t pregnant...You trying to get away from some bogeyman?...

Actually, and secretly, a valid excuse with the Sunnydale PD...If the bogeyman fit certain general characteristics on description...

Just not something they liked to have generally known...In view of the effect on the already dismal property values and all...

Hmmn...On the one hand, Anya had relearned enough about human behavior to guess what the effect of the truth on the police officer would be...

On the other hand, her beloved fiancee, heroic to the last, was in terrible danger...

On the other hand...She’d once had four for a while, but it’d been rather cumbersome...The record of the Sunnydale PD in dealing with underworld menaces...

She bit the hideous bullet...

“I’m sorry, officer...I didn’t realize I was speeding...Guess you’d better...” she gulped...

Ticket me...

***
Morey led Willow, Buffy, and “Thomas Edison’s top assistant” into the front entrance of the hotel...Above ground...

They’d managed to avoid too many onlookers in emerging from the nearest manhole...

Morey got them through the lobby and they started up the stairs...He nodded to a burly “friend” posted at the second floor stairwell...Who looked them over...And sniffed at them...

Hmmn...A little...Strange...

De...mon... Buffy hissed...

Oops...Willow thought...My spell’s fading for sure...

Still, humans do use this place, Morey said...she noted to herself...

No need for large boy to give us the sniff-over...

Relatives of yours?.. the demon guard asked him...They don’t smell like fresh meat or our own...

Cousins...Morey noted politely...

Buffy smiled brightly...As did Willow...Jonathan nodded...

Well...No offense intended, ladies...the guard smiled, doffing his bowler...

“It’s just we have a large clientele and have to be careful...”

Have to know who’s who...You understand...he paused as a human couple came up...

And nodded pleasantly to them...

Fresh meat?...thought Willow...

***

Two floors above them, Spike had reached room ten...Definitely a scent there...The whole family, including Dru...

And Dru’s was strong and fresh...He tried the door, locked...And cautiously snapped the lock and opened the door...

Someone on the bed...Dru’s scent...But...

“Dru?...” he whispered...Ah, damn...
An unmistakable scent of death...

Dru being clever, he realized...

Rubbed her scent on this corpse, draped one of her blouses round it...

A young girl, her maid’s cap beside her...

Poor thing...Barely Dawn and Amelia’s age...he thought...

My God...I actually am sorry for her...he noted...Pity Dawny isn’t here, she’d be so proud of me...

Dawn and Amelia...Good lord, I never thought of it...They’re the same age...

They even looked a lot alike, I can almost see Amelia now...My poor sister...God, what happened to her?...And Phil?...

Dawn...A touch of my own sweet sister...

A little gift from the Powers That Be...And I had to travel all the way home to realize it...

Thank God I never caught Dawn alone before the chip...

Good-bye, sweet thing...he looked at the girl...

There are worse things than dying so young, you know dearest...

Poor Dru...he thought...Well, perhaps this is as much to help her as me...At least this timeline’s Dru may finally find peace...

He left the room and began trying to pick up her scent...

***

The Time Machine...Part XX...

1880, London 4:48pm...

Dru had recovered just enough equilibrium to realize she could not stay in the fifth floor hotel room any longer...Whoever the hunter coming for her was, he knew her scent and was close...

She politely excused herself from the young family she’d killed...And cautiously slipped out of the room...

As she edged quietly down the hall, a handsome, slight and slender, very oddly dressed brown-haired...Man?...She was too agitated to be certain...Appeared at the stairway at the far end of the hall, staring at her...

Him...she knew...And trembled...A deer caught in the headlights...

“Dru..” Spike quietly called to her...

A rather foppish, heavy-set young man emerged from his room, his young wife in tow...And looked at Dru...Who under the circumstances was able to give an excellent performance as a shy young woman in fear of her life...

“Sir?!...” she turned to the young husband who regarded her curiously...

“Please call a constable...That man...” she pointed at Spike... “Has been following me...”

Well, Spike noted to himself as he stared down the hallway...She wasn’t lying...

Dru’s amazing clairvoyance...Transcending even the timeline barrier...

Not to mention the beneficial effect of terror on her mental condition...

The young couple regarded the strange-looking young man...Up and down from brown wig to glasses to the somewhat worse for wear Randy suit...

“Here now, you...What are you bothering this young lady about?...” the husband asked him coldly, rising to the full length of his slight height advantage...About two inches...

Poor Dru sought comfort in the arms of the sympathetic wife...A very sweet lady, she thought...

“I don’t know why he is following me...” she told her sincerely, sobbing... “I think he wants to hurt me...”

“This is a family matter, mate...” Spike glared at the husband...

You’d be wise to go and let us be...

“I don’t know him!!...” Dru cried out from the wife’s arms, confused, again with utter honesty...

“Help me!!...” she pleaded... “My father and grandmother are away...”

Burying her head in the young wife’s arm...

Very nice smell, this nice lady has she thought...Very tasty smell...

But, survival first...And she was genuinely grateful for the protection...

Her cry was bringing other guests to their doors...
Not working out well for me, this rendezvous...Spike sighed...Keeping near the hallway stairs...

Several gentlemen, including some burly and capable-looking lads, beginning to cluster near the delicate young lady...Inquiring of the heavy-set gentleman and glancing at the odd young fellow by the stairs...

Definitely not working out...Spike noted...As three fellows stepped forward to discuss the matter in detail with him...

***
In 2002 Sunnydale...In the main room of Spike’s crypt...

Warren Mears was not amused...His bot was again acting up...

“Buffy!...” he glared at her...As she looked at Dawn and nervously?...Xander watched in wonder, excellent workmanship he had to say, as one craftsman to another...At her owner...

“I told you to go and get this “Anya”...Right now!!!” Warren hollered...Fuming...

“I...Uh...Dawn is my sister, Warren...” the bot began...Clearly conflicted...

You seem so angry...she noted...

Damn, damn, damn...When I get my hands on whoever reprogrammed her...Warren glared at the bot...

Of course he chose to avoid remembering he’d been too lazy to do his own reprogramming from scratch and so had failed to catch all of the old buried directives...

“All right...See...I’m calm...I’m fine...Your sister...” he glared at Dawn who stared back at him...

Will be fine with me...

“Now will you go?...”

Ummn...Dawny is my sister, Warren...she told him hesitantly...

“I can’t leave her in danger...” she paused...And brightened...

“I could take her with me...” she noted, smiling...Problem solved...

Hmmn...She likes me, Dawn thought...Maybe I can...

Einstein never had days like this, Warren thought...

On the other hand he was more of the Frankenstein persuasion...And old Frank had indeed had days like this...
***

Giles politely suggested over the phone that Anya remember she was human now and needed to breathe occasionally...One good, deep breath and she ought to be able to tell her story coherently...

He heard the sound of a long wheeze...And Anya resumed, a bit more calm...

Buffy chasing Spike through time?...To prevent what?...No, not chasing to kill him or stop him from some hideous act...

Trying to save him...

Hmmn...Well, the lad had done well this past summer...Even meriting a review by him of the literature on vampire redemption...But...

Wait...Giles gripped his phone with a tension Anya could hear across the Atlantic line...

“Anya, did you say that Buffy was...”

In love with him?...Oh yeah...Xander caught them having sex the other day when Buffy was invisible...she told him hurriedly...

“And see...The invisibility thing is what led them to learn about what this War...” she continued...

Giles cut her off...

“Have you people gone completely out of your minds?!!...” Giles asked her, steel in his voice...

You’ve let Buffy become involved with William the Bloody?!!...

Physically involved?!!!...

Well...Giles...Anya paused...

She was very lonely after you left...And William has tried so hard this past year...

“In fact...He’s gone back to for her sake...To get something for her...His heart or soul or something...” Anya told him...

The Watcher got hold of himself...Focus, Rupert...He told himself...

You’re no good to her unless you focus...

He sighed...
“So...Spike is trying to prevent his transformation?...” he asked her calmly...

But that would change everything...The whole history of...

“No, see...that good nerd, Andrew?...He told Xander on the phone that what Will does won’t effect our existence...Just creates a possible alternate one...” Anya explained...Rather pleased with herself to have gotten the concept so quickly...

I think...she paused...Actually Xander hadn’t really placed too much faith in Andrew...

“And Buffy is trying to prevent that?...” the astonishment in Giles’ voice carried well, Anya noted...

“She doesn’t want to lose him, Giles...” Anya told the Watcher...

I’ve failed her again...Giles thought...God forgive me, I thought I was doing the right thing in leaving...But again I fail her...he sighed...

Still, there is something real in Spike’s feeling for her...I saw the look on his face when she died...And no pure demon cries for a dead human...

God help my poor girl...And that poor lost boy...

Of course, this being a trans-Atlantic call...And two very practical-minded people on the phone, they jointly cut to the chase

“Warren has the others...Dawn, Tara, Xander...In Spike’s crypt...With a new Buffy-bot...” Anya told Giles...

“I think he’s trying to get his time machine back...And he may try to hurt them all...”

What can I do, Giles?...she pleaded...

***

My sister...A sad case...Spike noted to the gentlemen approaching him...

“Your sister?...” one large fellow glared at him...

Mental patient, he attempted to explain...You see she just escaped the asylum...Very dangerous...

“I’ve seen her with her family walking in these halls three times this week...” another fellow
cut in...Looking coldly at Spike...

That was enough for the gallant lads...They closed in on the fiend...

Dru, safe in the lady’s comforting embrace, whimpered a bit...But peeked out at Spike, a sly smile faint on her lips...
***

A couple of hotel guards passed Buffy, Willow, Jonathan, and the half-demon, Morey on the stairs heading up to the fourth floor...

“Something amiss, lads?” Morey asked pleasantly...

Human, Buffy noted...

Some bloke on the fifth floor, one paused to tell him...Trifled with a young lady...

Terrible thing, Morey sighed to the guard...In a fine establishment like this...

The guard nodded and hurried on...

Jonathan?...Buffy looked at him...Having restored the tracking remote to him...

Up...he told her pointing...But which floor I can’t say...

“Lets try Angelis’ room floor first...” she suggested...See if the remote says we go up or down, then split up to block both stairwells...Willow and Jonathan nodded...

Morey watched her carefully, following...

No interest in hunting the evil Angelis or his mate...Her only concern finding and protecting that “vampire with a soul”...

A strange Slayer indeed...

But first things first...Find this “William” with her and her comrades and then check out her story...A relatively simple spell would establish the truth regarding this “soul” business...

And if she was the victim of a new and menacing threat...Release her...
***

Back in the upper end of the main tunnel, Angelis was pleading with Darla...

They were trapped here between the hotel and the Thames...Their only hope was to slip back down the tunnel, past the hotel while Edison and the Slayer Buffy were occupied searching there...Hide in the side branches until sunset...

The wizard even has a device to hunt us...I saw the Slayer using it...Angelis moaned...

We’ve got to flee while we still can...he insisted...With the Slayer helping him, his power is too much even for us...

Darla sighed, rolling her eyes...

God, what an embarrassment to have a mate like this...However menacing he may seem when confronting a helpless victim...

But hardly a surprise...Remembering how he had fallen to his knees in panic when one of Dru’s feeble uncles had managed to briefly catch him in a crossbow site...Begging for the old fool’s mercy and pleading with a fatally compassionate human Dru to believe his claims of seeking only the sweet redemptive mercy of her prayers...

Well, clearly this “Edison” would have to be dealt with...

If only for the sake of the mighty Angelis’ reputation...One carefully nurtured by his devoted mate...
***

The Time Machine...Part XXI

London, 1880...5:15pm...

Standing down the hall from Drusilla, Spike considered his options as the three louts closed in...

Even if he could crash through the chip long enough to rush the cluster of humans between him and Dru, he’d never reach her now...And if these fellows got hold of him, he’d lose any chance for intercepting her later...The whole thing all for nought.

He raced back to the stairs and hurried down...With the three gents in pursuit...Backed up by several more...

***
“I think he’s straight ahead...Down the hall...Nope, he just passed the floor...” Jonathan looked from the remote to Buffy as they reached the fourth floor where Angelis and Darla and dear Dru’s room was...

“Whoa...He’s...” Buffy swooped past Jonathan, down the hall in a heartbeat...He stared after her... “.. really moving..”

He looked at Willow who shrugged..
.
Woman in love...Gangway...

Morey hustled after her...Rather faster than one might have expected from his appearance...

Lucky guy that Spike...Jonathan noted to Willow who nodded...As they watched Buffy grab at the stairwell door down the hall...And hurried down after her...

Yeah...Willow thought as they ran, looking at Jonathan as they reached the smashed stairway door to see Buffy tangled up in a small crowd of Spike’s pursuers and additional hotel guests and guards brought out by the racket...Morey, halted, observing them off to one side...

That’s one lucky vampire...Even factoring in that unjust damnation of an innocent thing...

She stared at Buffy struggling to shove through the swelling group on the stairs...

“Just hope letting her go on with this is the right thing to do...” she whispered to Jonathan...

“Mind that, miss!...” “Ey, lady?!...” A couple of bowler-hatted types thrown back hollered at an increasingly desperate Buffy...

Let me though, please let me though...

Pushy lil thing, that...one tossed-back woman told her companion...

“Like to get herself killed...There’s a bloody maniac down there...” her companion replied...

“Miss?!..No place for you here...” a human guard called to her...

“Jonathan!?...” she called back through the throng...

He scanned the remote...My gosh...

“I think he’s left the building, Buffy!!...” he yelled to her...

What?...Willow blinked...But ..

Still, Spike had a well-honed talent both for slipping out of tight situations and emergency daylight travel...And it must be starting to get on towards sunset out there...

Buffy couldn’t make out Jonathan’s words, Willow saw...

Outside...Willow mouthed to her......

The crowd was beginning to mill a little...Clearly those down the stairs in front had lost sight of their quarry...

Buffy gestured that Jonathan should toss the remote...Backing up from the group moving on down the stairs...

Jonathan heard a couple of bells ringing...Like an alarm...

Morey moved forward...From the box near the stairway door where he’d pressed the floor alarm bell...A new-fangled electric contraption based on the telegraph which he’d had his doubts about...But now was proving quite useful as summoned guards began emerging from the lower floor stairway doors...

Lotta guards for a hotel, Jonathan noted...As he moved to toss Buffy the remote...

The little half-demon’s own men, Willow guessed...Her Majesty’s government must’ve had quite an anti-vamp operation in mind for this place...she thought...Wonder how Angelis and his “family” slipped through their fingers in our timeline...

Something’s up...Willow realized...

As Morey hopped out at Jonathan, clearly seeking the remote...

“Bill...” he called to a large guard near Buffy on the stairs as Jonathan tossed the remote...

That thing...I want it...

Bill neatly caught the remote and began climbing the stairs...Buffy in pursuit...

He tossed the remote to another guard just as Buffy grabbed him...Carefully, sensing human...

The other guard brought the remote up to Morey...

He called to others to block Buffy’s climb to them...And several coming down to him to take Willow and Jonathan...Two at the fourth floor stairway door blocking them from fleeing down that hall...

Willow was still weak from reinforcing her last spell...And was leery of harming humans in any case...At least until she knew what was up...

From just below Buffy saw her friends seized...Damn...She pushed on...

Five guards with more coming up from the throng below...Nearly all human...And armed...

Morey signing for them to pursue the blonde woman moving up towards him...

At the half-demon’s request the guards between him and Buffy pulled guns and faced the Slayer...

She looked up at Morey...In fury...

Definitely more involved here than helping a friendly, soulful vampire...the half-demon noted to himself watching the Slayer’s angry face...

“Just a minor incident, ladies and gentlemen...” Morey called down to the hotel guests standing confused in the stairway at the turn of events...

A police matter...Please go back to your rooms...

Willow glared at Morey...You...

“I’m sorry, miss...But you should know that even a half-demon’s hearing is excellent...” Morey looked at her and Jonathan...

And now that young William appears to have escaped...I need to know just what this is really all about...

And why you’re “not sure if this is the right thing to do”...

***

A half-dozen guests, plus three hotel guards had escorted Drusilla back to the stairs to her floor...
On the opposite side of the hotel hallway...Away from where the pursuers had set out after the fiend...

The hotel guard, human, who’d passed Morey and Buffy earlier, promised the young lady she’d not be disturbed again...The maniac would be seized...And for now a guard would be posted at her room door...

Did she wish them to find her relatives for her?...

No, thank you...Dru smiled wanly...

Father and Grandmother would be back soon, she was sure...

She turned to the lady who’d been comforting her in her embrace..
.
“Thank you so much...You’re a very sweet lady...” Dru smiled...

Something in that gentle smile made the young wife suddenly shudder...

I hope I see you again...Dru told her, smiling and looking her up and down gently...Then turning slowly and descending the stairs to the fourth floor...Three guards accompanying her to her room...

***
A quick and desperate run into the second floor hall, followed by a smash into the first room opened by a guest, and a leap through the room window, protected by a hastily grabbed blanket, had been Spike’s means of eluding the growing mob...

Fortunately it was getting on in the day...And between that and the London fog his burning was minimal...Although he put it to good advantage as he passed the first floor main entrance...

Yelling...”Fire!!”...And offering clear evidence that he was not some prankster...

The doorman and onlookers took up the cry on seeing his smouldering form racing past...

Well...That at least should keep the mob occupied...In case they were considering carrying the hunt outside...

He dashed into a chemist’s by the corner...Managing to explain his singed condition rather easily...

This having been the third fire in that section of town in as many days...

The sympathetic chemist was kind enough to provide him with some ointment and a roll of bandage...Obvious that the poor fellow had escaped his burning hotel with only the rather odd clothes on his back...His wife kindly dressed the burns...And insisted on his taking a cup of tea.

All of which provided quite enough time for the sun in the late afternoon sky to begin setting...

He thanked his benefactors...No, he was quite all right...And indeed had a place to go...

A party, actually, he smilingly informed them...At the home of cousins of his dearest friend in London...

Yes...He nodded at the wife’s question...His friend Henry no doubt would be amazed to see him...Like this...Still...

He was quite sure all his difficulties would be settled once he reached that place...

After all, his...Brother...Would be there as well...

The couple wished him well and he left, pausing just outside to get his bearings...

Dru had escaped him...But it wasn’t over by a long shot...

He knew where to be...And had a fairly good idea of when...
***
It was not that he did not believe them, Morey carefully explained to Willow, Jonathan, and a guard-surrounded Buffy...Having had them escorted into an empty fourth floor room..

But as an agent of British State Security...And the Council of Watchers...Now that this “Spike” of theirs had escaped...He could not allow them to proceed without knowing more...

For starters...He looked at Buffy...
“Where and when did you get those bite scars?...And who gave them to you?...”

***
Just before Spike’s leap to freedom, Darla had reluctantly consented to Angelis trying to push back down the tunnel past their hotel basement...

Not out of any serious concern for her mate...Just...

If the Slayer and Edison got their hands on her boy again, he’d surely lead them right back to her, loyal boy that he was...Trapped in the upper tunnel as she would be for at least another half-hour or more until the sun was down enough to risk emergence outside...

Still, if their pursuers were still occupied in the hotel with the mysterious William, or even better, had succumbed to him...

Anything was better than waiting with no word...

Angelis reached the basement branch-off just as part of the mob searching in vain for the hotel fiend had begun poking around there...

One man glared at him suspiciously...But another corrected his mistake...

Not the one, mate...Ours is a little fellow, brown-haired...

“Any sign of the man, sir?...” the genial would-be lyncher turned to Angelis...

Who quickly caught on that William was the quarry of the group...Long experience with human mobs paying off...

“No sign of him in the tunnels here...” Angelis informed him, quite truthfully...

I’d thought it best to scout them in case he tried it...

“Here, sir...You’re a relative of the poor lady, aren’t you?...” the gentleman who’d recognized Dru as a fellow guest came up to him...

Hmmn...Dru dead?...Wonder if it was William or the Slayer?...

Not that he’d lose any sleep over it...Just important to get the facts right for future accounts of the mighty Angelis’ exploits...

Make sure it was recorded that the mighty Angelis had taken vengeance on the killer of his beloved offspring...

“Well...Poor thing’s safe now...” Another gentleman noted...

Terrible thing, sir...For your young lady to be harassed by that fellow...the first gentleman told Angelis...

More of the mob now entering...

“Yes...Dreadful...Her...Mother was quite upset...”

Or would be when Darla learned he’d called her Dru’s... “Mother”...

But what interest would William have in little Dru?...

Must have been the Slayer pursuing her...William getting mixed up in the affair...

Still, if these fine lads wished to rid him of his new rival...Why look a gift horse in the mouth?...

Rather a nice change, all-in-all...Leading the mob instead of being in panicky flight from it...

“Lads...” he addressed the men now at least a dozen strong in the basement...No sign of the Slayer...Or Edison...he thankfully noted...

“I and the poor girl’s dear mother wish to thank you all for your help...”

“Lets search throughly and find this fiend...”

***
Buffy carefully explained to Morey that her scars were an old wound...

In fact, inflicted by Angelis himself...In a previous...Encounter...

Jonathan stared at Willow...Who shrugged him silent...

“Strange...He didn’t seem to recognize you at first...” Morey looked at her...

Though admittedly he had identified her as a Slayer to the crowd before his flight...

Altered my appearance a little...Hair color...she noted...

He’d been sure I was dead...You know what Angelis is like...He’d never believe any foe could escape him...

“And why is your friend here so concerned about your search for this William?...”

She paused, looking at Willow...Who looked sheepishly at her...

Sorry, Buf...Didn’t know the old fellow had sound cannon 2000s for ears...she thought...

I care for him...Buffy told the half-demon frankly...

My friends are afraid...Even with his having a soul and all...That that may cloud my judgment a little...

“Please...We’ve got to find him before he tries to take on Drusilla and the others alone...”

And just why is the fellow so anxious to do such a daft thing as that?...Morey regarded the Slayer...

“He wants to prove himself worthy of me...” Buffy looked at him steadily...

He loves me...
***

A nervous William Soames Walthrop, human, gathered his letters together, rushing to get them to the front desk of the Forster Arms for posting...

Almost time to prepare for tonight’s affair...And for Miss Addams...

He pondered as he hurried down to the first floor...

Was “effulgent” the correct word?...Old Henry had seemed a bit...Uncertain...When he’d read part of his latest to him the week before...

But no, surely there was no more radiant word to describe his feeling...

And, in any case, he had no intention of presenting his work to the world just yet...

He paused after delivering the letters...5:15 pm by the large clock in the lobby...Hmmn...

The new elevator rested on the floor in its cage...Why not try it out?...

He signaled to the operator, who waved him in...Glad to demonstrate it, sir...the man told him...

So few of the clientele used to it yet...Makes them nervous...

Hmmn...A unique experience of the new industrial age...A subject worthy of a poem the young scholar thought...

A hymn to Man’s progress...With perhaps a cautionary note...He happily jotted down some bits with a pencil as the elevator lifted him to his floor...

He smiled faintly in a gleaming metal panel on the cage...And saw, to his astonishment, the woman of his dreams smiling back...

No...Not quite...A blonde Ms. Addams?...With just a slight difference as to face...

And yet unmistakably like his Cicely...

A poet’s dreaming...he noted...Perhaps a gift from his Muse...

Gone now...

He mentioned it to the operator...Oddest thing...

Who nodded kindly...He often saw the faces of people he knew appearing in the reflection of the gleaming plates...

A trick of the eye and mind, he assumed...A rather pleasant one, actually...

Your floor, sir...

***
The Time Machine...Part XXII...

In 2002 Sunnydale, Warren Mears faced a frustrating situation...

His Buffy-bot II, a real improvement over his earlier attempts, was proving a little too successful in imitating Buffy’s personality profile...

Refusing to leave her little sister, the obnoxious little brat, in his tender care while heading out to deal with Buffy’s friend Anya who’d evaded his clutches...

Not that it might not be safer to have Botty around to protect him..What with the freeze ray out of commission, a lair full of prisoners, his former partners Andrew and Jonathan turned against him, and the possibility of facing Buffy and her friends on their return from 1880...

At least so far she’d refused to take any action against him...Even at her “dear little sis”’ request...Though she had preferred not to tie Dawny up, please...And she was keeping an eye on Whiny the Slayer’s Sister, ready to warn him if she started pulling anything...

If the little brat didn’t outwit her...Not exactly a task requiring genius, he sighed...

Though BBII was a great improvement.

No, the real worry was...What was this “Anya” capable of?...And up to?...

Sadly Botty’s biographical information on the girl, part from Spike, part from Willow in her reprogramming, was limited...But disturbing enough...

A former demon, now part owner of a Magic Shop.
Doesn’t sound good...

A crimp in his plans for recovering his time machine, that’s for sure...He couldn’t risk allowing Buffy, Willow, Jonathan, and possibly Spike to return from 1880 until he held all the cards...

Something would have to be done about this “Anya”.

Fortunately...Botty had also provided him with one very relevant piece of info about her, he noted...

Smirking over at the others, including a tied-up Xander.
***
In 1880 London, the basement of the hotel where Angelis and pride had lodged...And where time travelers Buffy, Willow, and Jonathan remained upstairs under British agent and half-demon Morey’s careful guard ...

The dozen or so remaining members of the lynch mob pursuing what would be forevermore known as the “Quayside Hotel fiend” sheepishly reported back to the “father “ of the poor innocent lamb exposed to the “fiend’s” foul ravages...

They’d come up empty...And a guest on the second floor had reported a young fellow, answering some of the details of the “fiend’s” description had run into his room, threatening immediate death to all, then been tossed out the window by the heroic occupant...

A bystander outside having confirmed that a young man had indeed fallen from the second floor, catching fire as he rolled down the hotel awning in some kind of blanket...

Spontaneous combustion?...Or the Lord’s just wrath?...In any case, no further sign of him...

Angelis, though clearly somewhat disappointed, thanked the lads graciously for their efforts and pondered his next move...

He assumed Darla would eventually come down the tunnel and see that all was well...

Perhaps...If he got bored later he’d go down and mention it to her...

After all...He’d bravely taken the great risk of returning to the hotel...Where even now the Slayer and the genius wizard Edison might be prowling, waiting in the shadows near his room for his return...Using Dru, whom the lads had informed him had been escorted safely back to the room,
as a kind of bait...

I mean doesn’t every Slayer seek to crown her stake with a notch for the mighty Angelis?...

Hmmn...Perhaps, as the loving and devoted mate that he was...In need of a little back-up...He ought to consider checking on his dear Darla and escorting her back...

Something to throw at Edison and his Slayer if they should still be around...
***

Although playing the poor little human girl was getting a bit dull, Dru felt she should wait until sunset before leaving her room...

The strange creature who’d come for her had left that much of an impression on the poor little...Who still for the existence of her could not understand why he tormented her so...

Wasn’t like he was some little human, seeking vengeance for a murdered wife or baby daughter...He was a vampire, she sensed that much...

Still...An unusual one, she’d also sensed...

So much feeling...So...Not wishing to insult but simply admitting what she sensed...Human...

She shivered...Even without clairvoyance it was easy to see he’d be back for her...Waiting somewhere, out there in great London...For poor Dru...Who’d done nothing...

Unless...Could he be the father of that young family she killed a few weeks ago?...Darla had been interested in him...Such lovely anger and rage...Maybe Grandmother had?...

No...He was taller...Oh...

Very confused was poor Dru...And much put upon...

A messenger boy stopped by to pass a note to the guards at the young lady’s door...

One of the two remaining guards knocked politely...

“Alright there, miss?...They tell us the man has gone from the building...We’ll be off now if you’re quite well?...”

Yes, thank you, sir...she called pleasantly...

Yes...she sighed to herself...Best to wait a bit yet...

A rather fortunate pair of human guards...

And a fortunate Dru...Not able to see the three new rather odd-looking “men” who the messenger boy now waved into position by her door...

***

In the fourth floor room, down from Dru’s, where the half-demon, British intelligence agent, Morey held them under heavy guard, Buffy was reaching her limits...
However...Six heavily armed humans inside around her...Willow and Jonathan, seated under two more guards...And probably more in the hallway outside...

Jonathan again requested his remote...Warning Morey that indelicate handling would break the thing, man...

Or whatever percentage of man you are...he thought...

Willow was puzzled...And said so...

“With all the people you have and Her Majesty’s government behind you...Why don’t you just destroy the vamps here? Especially the Angelis pride...”

This place is a vital source of information on underworld activities around the world...Morey explained...

We have contacts here that have taken years to build up...That are vital to the Empire and Humanity in general if we are to have any knowledge of those creatures whose interests lie beyond mere survival.

Besides...I have fifty men here and on call at most...How long would fifty, most of them human, last against the vampires and demons here and in the tunnels?...

Our role here is observation...Persuading the underworld denizens to feel safe and secure in this building...And carrying out the occasional targeted assassination of one getting too grandiose for comfort.

As for Angelis...Hardly a threat to Humanity in general, you know...A survivalist moving from meal to meal, town to town, with no interest in power or close association with other prides that we’ve seen as yet...Out for his neck and that’s about all...Same for his mate, Darla...

Far more useful for intelligence purposes...The bellicose fool’s reputation attracts vampires from the world over...Including those seeking real power in the world...Or in the pay of foreign powers...

However, Miss Drusilla...Now she might be one we’d like to deal with...Especially now that her “family” has left her...he noted...

“In any case...” Morey frowned at the three time travelers... “Your activities, worthwhile or not, are likely to compromise our operations here...”

“What if we were to take out Drusilla for you?...” Buffy interjected...

“In exchange for allowing us to continue searching for William...”

The half-demon eyed her... “Take out?” he thought...And smiled faintly, shaking his head...
Americans...

Rather a ring to it though..

“Some of my..”men”..have her under guard down the hall..” he replied...

Quite capable fellows...Demons...But British demons though and though...

So...Willow thought...The British crown colonizes the underworld...

They weren’t kidding when they said “the sun never sets on the British Empire”...

Soon as the floor clears a bit for supper, Morey nodded...They’ll deal with her...Thanks in part to your William who’s provided us with a convenient explanation for her demise to our other clients...

“I think your “people” will find Dru a bit of a challenge...” Buffy noted drily...

***

Odd...Spike thought as he strolled carefully along towards his first interception point...A poorly lit stretch of street, isolated from the shops and pubs further down...But on the direct route to the Herricks’ home...

I, an Immortal, finally once again concerned with Time...

A prisoner again of the clock and calendar...Rushing for fear my brief moment will pass...Like any run of the mill human...

He looked as he strode along at the scurrying men, women, and the occasional demon, even what with the darkness coming on, vamp...The humans rushing to squeeze one more precious moment out of the dross of their workday lives and convert it to the gold of their home life and leisure...

Poor fellows...Such bother and desperation...And all leading to the same end...

But after all...I’m rushing and desperate for my little bit of gold too...Almost one of them again...

Well, maybe...Those golden moments are worth it...

Yes...I’ll gladly trade my Immortality even for a moment with Buffy smiling on me...Worth
it?...Absolutely...

Besides, we’re all Immortal in what counts...My whole purpose in being here hinges on that...

***
In 2002 Sunnydale, at Spike’s crypt...The deposed Fearless Leader of the Masters of the Sunnydale Universe had reached a strategic decision...Formulated a plan of action...

Come up with a neat idea...

All right...Warren told Buffy-bot II...Smiling pleasantly at her...Calm, cool, collected...

A worthy Crime Lord of Sunnydale...

“Your sister can go...”

He smiled at Dawn who glared back...

In fact, I want her to carry a note for me...

***

Dru had been attempting to listen and sense for her “relatives” when she realized newcomers had replaced the two little ones at her door...

Not little ones, these...Demons...Powerful ones...

And little Dru’s safety not exactly their primary concern...

No, not a good day for the little Dru...

Who had done nothing...she fitfully noted...

She probed outward desperately...Nothing out there in the vicinity except the three new ones...

Not even some foolish little one...Who would be quite welcome just right now...With a silly surface-fixated nature easily persuaded to see even the friendliest demon as a threatening monster...While never realizing the true monster standing beside them, in the guise of a waifish young girl...

She probed again, harder...

Surely Grandmother and Daddy Angelis were planning to return, eventually...

Hmmn...More demons, some little humans...Further away down the hall, but not too far...

And why were they all there...So close...Unless...

No...

This was not fair to the poor little Dru...she whimpered...

All of them...Coming for her...?

Angelis, responsible parent that he was, had not yet informed his “offspring” of the important fact that even for vampires...

Life is not fair...

***

The Time Machine...Part XXIII

London, 1880...5:50 pm...The Quayside Hotel...Room 410...

Little Dru...Lost waif vampiress...Alone in a world gone suddenly very cold...And harsh...

Hunted by a mysterious maniac vampire...In a very bad wig...Not to mention the Randy suit...And the glasses...

Trapped in her room by powerful enemies clearly determined to do her serious harm...

Poor Dru...Who’d done nothing...

Well, nothing to a fellow vampire at least...Or the large demons outside her door...

Unless that vampire was a friend of one of Angelis’ former fight opponents?...Or perhaps still retained some measure of family affection for one of her human victims?...

Likewise for the demons...But she sensed less personal interest on their part...

Rather, a chilling professionalism...

Hmmn...5:55 pm by the clock...Just late enough to travel outside if she was careful...

But the little one could hardly be expected to jump from her fourth floor window...Such a great height...

Might hurt...Besides...

Her pretty dress...Miss Edith...

She shook her head...And pouted at the door...

Such cruel ones to frighten the poor little Dru like this...

What to do?...She turned to Dolly for advice...

Miss Edith was silent...

“Sister?...” Dru reluctantly reached out...To her Bad One...

No answer...The little human nun-soul remained silent as ever...Hiding...

So cruel she was...Would probably enjoy seeing the little Dru get hurt...

Waiting to see her die, the cruel nun-soul...Mean sister, she thought...

Everyone abandons the poor Dru...

Well...The little one would just have to look after herself...she sighed...
***

Spike’s crypt, 2002 Sunnydale...

“It’s just a note, Buffy...” Warren rolled his eyes at his bot as she carefully examined the sheet of paper he wished her to hand to Dawn...

Must protect my little sister...And Warren has been so angry at her...

But it seemed ok...She took it over to Dawn...Who tried yet again...

“Buffy...I’m your sister...” she whispered... “You have to help me...Please...Warren is going to hurt me...You know that...”

“Oh, no, Dawny...Warren is letting you go...” the bot noted happily...

He wants you to take this to Anya...She handed her the note...

“Anya...

Warren Mears here...Very clever the way you slipped away from the bot, congrats.

As a pledge of good faith, I’m letting little Dawn bring this to you. Now I understand you have access to some interesting stuff in that shop of yours, which is very cute. You should be aware though that I have my own magics protections and I will be able to detect anything you try, so read this carefully.

If you don’t get over here...With little Dawn...And in the next hour...Carrying no weapons or any little charms, your fiancee has had it. I mean that in the worst possible way.

Looking forward to meeting you.

Yours,
Warren Mears...”

Dawn showed the note to Xander and Tara...

“Go...” Xander hissed... “Don’t worry about us...Just go...”

And don’t give Anya the note...Just help her with whatever...

“What if he’s not lying, Xander?...Willow and Buffy both said the nerds...” she paused apologetically, looking at Andrew...Who shook his head, no problem... “know a lot of magic...”

Is he lying?...she whispered to Andrew...

Well...We did have a lot of protective stuff, he noted...

When one is planning to become Master of the Universe in a place like Sunnydale, magics defense is a no-brainer...

“Just go, Dawny...” Tara told her...

Warren having been surprisingly tolerant of the extended conversation among his prisoners, now chose to terminate their discussion...

“Miss Summers?...Either you leave now and bring that to your friend...Or I get started on Mr. Harris...”

She turned to Buffy-bot II...Who nervously smiled at her...

“Please don’t frighten my sister, Warren...” she pleaded...

He won’t hurt Xander, Dawny...I wouldn’t let Xander be hurt...

“Right, see?...” Warren glared at Dawn...

All your little friends’ll be fine...Just do like I say and bring that to Anya...

She glared back...A promising Buffy glare, Xander noted...

And reluctantly agreed...

Buffy-bot II requesting permission to escort her to the cemetery gates...Which was generously granted by her owner...

Won’t let me hurt “her Big Brother Xander” eh...Warren frowned...Or the others...

Excepting good old Andy of course...
Well...We’ll see about that...

A reprogramming session definitely called for...But, later...

Fortunately...His additional back-up should be on call by now...If the young lady’s currently ongoing basic programming and memory installation were complete...A rushed finish to the job but one he’d felt might be worth having on standby...

Besides...How difficult could it be to duplicate a teenager’s emotional state?...Just program her to whine constantly...

And this one would not be troubled by any buried safety directives...

He grinned to himself...He’d known it’ll be worthwhile to keep surveillance on both Summers girls...Amazing what you can do with some surreptious video and vocal shoots, a few spare parts, and a leetle time on your hands...

Of course having Buffy-bot II’s memory bank on hand hadn’t hurt...

After all...He could hardly have replaced one sister without the other...

He tapped out some commands on his remote, the signal using a frequency different from his jamming signal...New botty up and functional...

Excellent...

Not only did he have the location of Anya’s “Magic Shop” from Buffy-bot II but he’d placed a small tracker on Dawn unseen when she took the letter from him...

Just in case she’d agreed to meeting Anya elsewhere...

He was fairly safe with his protective charms now in the crypt he felt, but...

No point in having his other bot wandering around Sunnydale all night looking for her prey...
***

He smirked at his captives...Idiots...Probably think they’ve got me...

“Dawny will get to Anya and they’ll topple the evil Warren Mears and save us”...

Well, he grinned at Andrew the would be Jedi...Guys, the Emperor Palpatine’s got a leetle surprise in store...

They all glared back at him, with the exception of the returned Buffy-bot who smiled pleasantly...

Pleased to see her owner in a better mood...
And her sister safely out of his grip...
***

A crashing outside the room where Morey held Buffy and her friends abruptly ended the negotiations Buffy had been attempting with the half-demon...

Crashing, followed by almost, but not quite, human screams in the hallway...

Buffy looked at Morey...Not much doubt as to the source of the activity outside...

He had his men hastily bring her and the others out into the hallway, joining them to find the one surviving demon gasping on the floor...His throat ripped open...

Little Dru safely on her way...Right out the front door, pausing to respond graciously to the human desk clerk’s anxious inquiries as to her condition, like the demure young lady and paying guest that she was...

Perhaps a bit dissatisfied with the service...In regards to security at least...

But kindly willing to refrain from mentioning the “fiend” to any reporters she might encounter on her stroll outside...Much to the clerk’s relief...

Bird flown the coop, Morey’s men and unmen reported back...

“William will be after her...So my offer regarding Dru is still open...” Buffy drily noted on their return to the room...Staring at the half-demon...Who sighed...

And handed her Jonathan’s remote...

All right...

“We will be in support...” he told her...

And ready to act if I find anything not to my liking...

Regarding your William...Or you...

***

Darla had had little doubt Angelis’ return to inform her of the situation had more to do with his own preservation...

Typical...He wasn’t about to go prowling the hotel on his own...

Still...Sunset was in progress...And a large hotel offered a better battleground if need be than the dead end of a sewer tunnel...

And with easy access to a quick exit now becoming available, she was looking forward to renewing her acquaintance with Morey, Edison, and the new Slayer...

Though sadly Angelis seemed more inclined to simply find a safe route outside...And a quick and defenseless meal...

But he’d been through a lot today...
***
The Time Machine...Part XXIV

Xander had watched Mears while he tapped away at his remote, giggling to himself...

Clearly engaged in a long transmission...To somebody or something...

“Nerdenstein’s up to something...” he hissed to Tara and Andrew...

And...Giggling again...

“That’s bad, man...” noted Andrew...

He’s always got something up his sleeve when he giggles...

“You think we shouldn’t have let Dawny go?...” Tara whispered back...

Only option we had...Xander noted...

Gotta believe she’s safer away from Mears than here...

A nervous-looking Buffy-bot II came over...

“Xander?...You think Dawn isn’t safe?...”she asked hesitantly...

Incredible job, I must say...he thought, looking at her...

But Mears should give Willow some credit...Though the hearing enhancement is all his...

“No, botty...” he replied, looking at her carefully... “Long as dear old Warren is around and about, Dawny isn’t safe...None of us are...”

“Honey...” Tara looked at her... “If you want to protect Dawn, you’ve got to restrain Warren...”

You don’t have to hurt him...You’d actually be helping him...

“Keeping him from hurting Dawny and the rest of us will keep him out of jail...and maybe out of Hell later on...” she whispered firmly to the bot...Who sighed...
Buffy-bot II looked at her, biting her lip in a very Buffy gesture and looked back at Warren, now frowning at them...

“Buffy?...Back over here, please...” he called...

“I’m sorry Tara...” Buffy-bot II looked at her sadly...

“What you’re asking me to consider is beyond the scope of my programming...”

But I will watch out for Dawny and you guys...she finished, smiling...

Tara sighed and nodded...Smiling back at the bot wanly...

Poor thing’s doing her best...she sheepishly noted to Xander...
***

Approaching downtown Sunnydale Dawn pondered her options...

If she went to Anya and showed her the letter...Anya would either freak and run in firing off whatever she and Giles had come up with...Or if they were still trying to find something, freak and run in ready to surrender herself...

The key words in either case, freak...and run in...

Besides...Nerdster Mears had been too eager to let her go...Maybe he’d cursed her or something?...

Don’t feel cursed...Dawn looked at herself in a store window lit by a streetlight...

But then, she noted...I never felt like the Key...

***
March 13th, 1880...6:30 pm, London...

Buffy and the others emerged from the Quayside Hotel into the London evening...Fog and mist moving up from the Thames...Gas streetlights flickering along the sidewalks...A strolling bobby, swinging his club frowned at the cheaply dressed time-travelers...

However as they seemed to be going about their business...Perhaps it wasn’t the business he instinctively suspected on seeing the two young women so near a popular hotel...

Morey and several of his men and “people” emerged from the hotel, a man further down the street signaling them as to the direction Buffy and co had taken...

They moved quickly to where they could just keep the Slayer and her assistants in sight, Morey’s group fanning out a bit...And continuing to follow the time travelers...Who paused at intervals, Jonathan checking his remote...

Buffy was pensive...Though hurrying them along as much as possible...

“We’re losing him...” she muttered softly...

He’s slipping away from me...She rubbed her forehead...

Willow looked at her...Jonathan preoccupied trying to keep a fix on Spike called a brief halt...

“Buffy?...” she called to her quietly...

Buffy stared into a storefront...Willow watching her...

Could’ve sworn she said... “He’s slipping away from me...Again...” Willow thought...

“Buffy?...” she called louder...Patting her...

The Slayer looked at her blankly for a second... ‘Buffy?’...Who is...?

“Ok...” Jonathan pointed down the street...

Got him...That way...

They resumed their pace...

“You ok?...” Willow looked at Buffy...

Who nodded, shaking herself...Just...

“I thought...For a second...” Buffy paused a mo...

And waved a hand...Nothing...Just...

“Lets get moving...” she picked up her pace after Jonathan, now a little ahead...

Must be the time travel getting to me...Buffy thought...Seeing myself like that...Feeling like I was someone else...

Well...Hafta lodge a complaint with Dr. Warrenstein when we get back...On top of the others I have waiting for him...

Hope the others aren’t gonna come down with this...

Odd though...Like deja-vu...I felt as if...Some of this had happened before...

But not quite the same way...

It was dark now, getting darker by the minute...

A kind of panic was beginning to grip her...Already past 6:30...

I won’t fail...I can’t fail him...she thought...Hurrying along...

And oddly the same thought as before...

Not this time...

***
“Dawn?!...”

Dawn halted on the sidewalk and paused to look at the girl calling her...

She hesitated a mo...Looking at the one approaching carefully...

“Janice?...It’s very late for you isn’t it?...”

“Sneaked out...” Janice giggled...And frowned...

Besides, how about you...Buffy out again?...

“Yeah...But I have an errand to run...” Dawn started off...

Dawny?...Janice blinked...

My best friend?...Geesh...she thought...

Leaving me here in the middle of the night alone?...

“Hey?!...Dawny?!...” she raced after her...

Dawn halted again and looked at her...

“I have an errand to run, Janice...I’ll catch you later...”

She brushed her hair back and hurried on...

God, Dawn can really move, thought Janice, watching her...

She’s as fast as that crazy sis of hers...

“Dawny?!!...” she continued following as best she could...
***
Angelis, back out on the London streets, was a reasonably content vampire...

Darla having allowed a brief stop for refreshment as they passed a young flower-girl...

Their cautious venture into the hotel had come to a quick end on the main floor when the anxious lobby clerk informed them their “daughter”...Had left the hotel...

Cousin...Darla had firmly corrected...Smiling frostily at the nervous young man...

Do I look old enough to be her mother?...she had frowned to herself...

A member of Angelis’ former lynch mob standing in the lobby had likewise been kind enough to tell Angelis he had indeed seen a young blonde woman leave the hotel as well...With her red-haired friend and a small dark-haired young man...

However, glad as he was to be out of the hotel...Angelis felt one encounter with the wizard and Slayer was quite enough...

Best to keep a low profile and find new lodgings...In fact, why not leave London altogether?...

Dru’d catch up to them sooner...Or later...

A proud father’s instinctive faith in his darling daughter’s abilities...

“I prefer to find them before they find us...” Darla told him, a firm grimace on her face...

You said that Edison had a device to find us...Remember?...she noted...

And it will hardly do for word to get out that the mighty Angelis retreated in panic from the new Slayer and her minions...

***
Willow watched Buffy carefully as they moved along, following Jonathan...

The Slayer was clearly getting antsy as time moved along...But somehow, it seemed like more than just concern for her dear Spikey’s survival...

She suddenly paused at a corner...Jonathan pulling ahead...

“This way...” she turned and hurried...Away from their partner and his remote tracker...

“Buffy?!...” Willow called to her...

What the hell are you doing?!...

She raced after her...

Morey’s men...And “unmen”...following her and the Slayer as instructed at a slight distance...

***

William Soames Walthrop, human, emerged from the Forster Arms...Feeling a trifle sheepish in his kind friend Henry’s loaned suit...Refusing the doorman’s offer to call a cabbie and manuscript carefully tucked under one arm, he made his way through the darkening London streets...

Passing a corner where a dark-haired, wan-looking young woman suddenly blanched with fear
and cried out...Seeing her nemesis pass...

And yet not the one...A little human, Dru realized...Even dressed differently...

Several bystanders came over to the poor girl, so frightened...

Walthrop halted, looking back...Anything wrong?...

“Little lady over there took a fright...” a fellow standing on the edge on the group around Dru noted...

I’m quite all right, thank you...Dru told the kindly bystanders who’d come to her aid...Just...

Something gave me a start...

William, noting the situation seemed well in hand, and the poor girl or whoever was well provided for by the large group around her, hastened along...Bit of a stroll yet ahead of him if he was to make the Herricks’ on time...

Perhaps he should take the route by Ames Lane?...Use the rear entrance...The servants knew him well by now and would gladly let him in...

After all, he wanted to be in and settled before Miss Addams made her appearance...

Drusilla, in the midst yet of her little crowd of well-wishers, watched the young human hurrying along...

Strange...She could have sworn it was the same one...But he’d definitely been a vampire, that one...

Very confused was the poor little one...

Hmmn...Perhaps she should meet this little human sometime...See what he could tell her...Pity he’d moved away from her so quickly...
Well, once she was sure she was safe from the other...

Maybe...Maybe the little one was a relative?...A brother?...

But why would the other be harassing her so?...Unless...He too had a gift of foresight...
And had sensed Dru’s interest in his twin?...

Rather an elegant little fellow...So dashing...she noted...

And she’d sensed a genuine romantic nature in him...As she had in the other, even under his menace...

A nature not unlike her own...Both as to romantic sensibility...

And menace...
***
The Time Machine...Part XXV...

Downtown Sunnydale, 2002...

Janice had been trying to catch up to her friend for the better part of fifteen minutes...Fortunately Dawn’s progress had been pretty much in a straight line, broken only by an occasional halt, when oddly, Dawny seemed to simply stand for a second as if lost in thought...Leading, her friend quickly realized, to that weird magic store where she and her sis were always hanging out...

***
Back at Spike’s crypt, Warren Mears was quite pleased with himself...He’d calculated for every conceivable eventuality he thought happily, grinning at his hapless prisoners, Tara the witch, his former partner Andrew, and most important of all, for now at least, Xander Harris, fiancee of the one potential threat remaining free...The mysterious former demon, Anya...

Soon to be dealt with...Though he hoped not permanently...He was rather curious to meet her...

And after she was secured...It would be time to allow the travelers now in 1880 to return...And force them to surrender his time machine...

Buffy-bot II was likewise pleased...Her friends remained unharmed yet restrained...Dawn, her sister, was safe and away...And Warren, her owner, seemed quite calm and happy now...

All was well with her world...

Tara for her part was considering her options...Mears had brought a few protective charms into the crypt from his car after learning of her spell casting ability...

Not that that ability had proven of much use in any case...Given her avoidance of harmful or restrictive spells...Still that option was probably blocked now, even if she could think of something...

Thank God at least for Willow’s buried safety directives in the bot’s old programming...The only thing holding Warren back for now...

But not likely to be something that they could count on for much longer...Besides Warren had found a way to circumvent them to an extent by threatening Andrew who was not protected from the bot by Willow’s instructions...

All she could do for now was reassure a nervous Xander regarding his beloved Anya’s safety and try to keep chipping away at the bot’s programming...Find someway to get her to help them...And stand by in case anything magicswise she could remember might help them...

Xander however was getting more concerned by the minute...Nerd boy Mears was too happy, considering Anya was free and potentially able to do him harm...And he’d been too willing to let Dawny go...Even if it made sense that he’d have her carry an ultimatum to Anya...

The little geek had something up his sleeve...

Andrew attempted to embrace the patience that a would-be Jedi should have...The light side of the force must win out eventually he noted...

Of course that might be years from now, long after Mearsy had killed them all and established his own Warren-friendly alternate universe...

***
March 13th, 1880...London...6:45 pm...

Spike waited in the shadow of a large brownstone, on the direct route to the front entrance of the Herricks’ London home...Scene of the upcoming party at which his once beloved Cicely Addams had uttered the fatal words that had driven him to despair...And death...

Cicely...Odd...In all of this I’ve had no great desire to see her again...he noted as he paced slightly...And yet...

I almost feel...Somehow...As if I were finally settling things between us...

If tonight works out...And I can catch old Will...And keep him safe for this night...

Somehow...I know...If I can keep him alive tonight...The future of this Will Walthrop will be a human one...

To be graced with the story of an amazing woman...The true love of his...And perhaps all the Will Walthrops of this infinite universe’s...Existences...

***
Hurrying down the street in pursuit of the tracking signal from Spike’s chip, Jonathan had been unaware that Buffy and Willow had taken a different turn...Along with the men and demons her Majesty’s agent Morey had assigned to keep a watch on the strange new American Slayer and her friends...

He paused to get a fix on Spike’s signal and realized his friends had become separated from him...In fact, except for a few passers-by, he was alone...

But he was not unobserved...

***
“Buffy?!!...” Willow desperately called to her strangely driven friend...Still hurrying on down the avenue she’d taken for whatever bizarre reason had seized her...

Buffy suddenly halted, unsure...And looked back at her friend...

Willow?...What....?

Willow raced up to her...

“Buffy?!...Why did you turn back there?...Jonathan went the other way...”

It...I think it’s faster this way...Buffy confusedly noted...

“What are you talking about?...Do you sense Spike around here?”

Buffy looked at her...Spike?...No...I...

“William is that way...” she pointed...

“At my cousins’....” Buffy paused again in confusion...

And blinked...

Willow?...

“Where’s Jonathan...?”

Willow considered...

Time travel psychosis or something, maybe?...

“Buffy, you said ‘William is this way’...” Willow told her patiently...

At your cousins...

“My what...?” Buffy looked at her...

And looked back up the street...Seeing several of Morey’s “people” carefully following...

Halting in the shadows...

“Which way did Jonathan go?...” she asked Willow...Who pointed back up the road...

She hesitated, thinking...What was happening to her?...Who or what was leading her on in this direction?...

“Will...Can you?...Check me out?...” she looked at the Wiccan...

I seem to be picking up...Something...Some kind of visions or something...From someone...

Willow rubbed her head...

“Reinforcing that last spell pretty much drained me for now, Buf...But...I’ll see...”

One of the agents came forward quietly...

“Miss...?” he asked carefully... “Is there anything we can do?...”

There was a sudden commotion from up the street...

They hurried back up...

“Angelis!!...” came a cry from several of the men posted up the street...
***

Darla grabbed at the 12-in-1 just as Jonathan turned to face her...

Tossing it aside and knocking him unconscious...

A lone bystander ran off as she showed him her demon face...

From far down the street she heard a faint cry...”Angelis”...

Alas...Poor sweet mate of mine seems to have made a fatal mistake in choosing to cover my rear...Ah, well...

Just as long as his hunt and destruction gives me a little time...

She lifted Jonathan and carried him into a nearby building...

She and Mr. Edison needed a little time to get acquainted...
***

Damn...Angelis thought...Looking at the horde closing in on him...

Including a few demons as well as crossbow-armed human agents...

Darla knew this would happen...She deliberately encouraged me to stay back...

He struck out at a couple and tried to flee...

***

On the rooftop of the building she’d dragged “Edison” into, Darla watched the street below...

No sign of pursuit as yet...

Well...Darla looked at Jonathan...I don’t know...

Does look a little like Edison...Hard to say for sure...Those newspaper drawings are such poor likenesses...

Anyway, hardly matters...We’ll know in a moment if we’ve got a genius joining our “family”...

Or a silly fool...

She bent over him...
***

Damn...Spike thought...Will should be here by now...

I know I came this way that night...

Where is he...er...Am I....?

He concentrated in frustration...Clearly the damned Powers That Be were determined to have their fun jerking him around a bit longer...

He couldn’t stay here much longer without attracting suspicion...

He walked over towards the Herricks’ front door...Where carriages were pulling up and disgorging London’s elite...Greeted by several elegant and quite capable looking footmen and butlers...

Wait...He vaguely felt...In the distance...

Hell...He must gone round to the back entrance...He’s already inside...
But why did he alter the route?...

Well, nothing to be done about it now...And no way to get inside without an invite...

One golden chance lost...

Still...At least he’d caught on to something...Some link between them, allowing him to sense his counterpart’s presence...And with luck, he could keep in range when young Will left...

Or rather, fled...

In about one hour...
***
Buffy reached Angelis just as he hurled back two more of Morey’s men...

Several others already dead or dying around them...

“No games this time Angel...er Angelis...” Buffy grabbed him...Waving the surviving others back...

Willow, breathing hard, came running up...

“Take me to my friend...Now...” Buffy shook the vampire in her grip...

“Your friend...Buffy?...I...”

Give me something wooden, a stake if you have it...she told the agent who’d spoken to her and Willow...

He quietly fetched her a stake from one of his men...

Angelis looked at her, pleading...He glanced around...

Surrounded by crossbows...

No sign of his beloved females in support...

“My friend...Now...” Buffy raised the stake and pointed it towards his heart...

“I don’t know, Slayer...How could I know?...” he pleaded...

Darla...Willow looked at him...

“Where’s Darla?...”

He gave a visible sigh of relief...
Hell, Darla was that way...he pointed...

Attractive little redhead...he thought...Smiling faintly at Willow...Who ignored him...

“Find Darla and we’ll find him...She must have been following him, I’m sure of it...” she noted to Buffy...

Be happy to guide you...Angelis helpfully offered...Her scent’s easy for me to track...

Nothing like a vampire mate’s devotion...Willow noted grimly...

However, to be fair...She couldn’t see Spike doing this to Dru...At least before Buffy had come on the scene...

“Move...” Buffy nudged him...

“If anything has happened to my friend...I will kill you...” she told Angelis...
***
The little human had been too fast for poor Dru...And was safely inside the large house...

Pity...But...Sooner or later...He’d be coming out...

She strolled round the back of the house...And halted...

He was here...The other...

Spike had felt her almost as quickly...

That old black magic...

He hurried round...Following her as she fled down the street...

“Dru!...” he called to her...

Sadly she was in no mood for a family reunion...

***
There...Angelis pointed at the building where Darla had taken Jonathan...

“She must be in there...”

Take him...Buffy called to the agents who followed her and Willow...

She released the vampire and Angelis fled...Abandoning Darla to her fate...Pursued by most of the surviving agents...

Love’s labor lost...Darla sighed, looking down at her fleeing mate...

“Jon...er Mr. Edison!!...” Willow cried...Looking up...

She raced into the building...Buffy pausing, looking back up the street...Shaking herself...

She had to help the other poor boy first...Then William...She hurried inside...

On the roof, Darla released Jonathan and he staggered...Collapsing on the ledge...

My little boy...she thought, maternally...

In just a minute or two...

But...A true Jedi knows that death is meaningless...The only true death is to surrender to the dark side...Jonathan raised himself on all fours...And crawled to the edge of the ledge, Darla staring at him...

Don’t be a fool, little one...she called to him...Eternal life is almost yours...

Willow was climbing as fast as she could...Buffy now coming up fast...

He could feel his demon surging up...

“Come back here, you little fool!...” Darla cried...

Buffy passed Willow and raced toward the ledge...Darla saw her charging, threw a large piece of roof slate at her, and ran to the back stairs at the rear of the roof...Heading for the open street back down on the surface as quickly as she could...

“Jonathan!!...” Buffy cried...Stumbling from the force of the slate’s impact...Grabbing at him desperately...

Jonathan grinned at her, tossed the remote, and dying, rolled off the ledge...His demon cursing him as it took possession...All too briefly...

Buffy screamed as she watched him fall until she couldn’t see him in the darkness...Willow came up, panting...

Darla?...she paused...

Buffy stared at her...Wiping her bloody face with her hand and holding it at her mouth...

And dazed, stared back where Jonathan had fallen...

I’ve killed him...My poor Jonathan...
Killed him...Just like...she stared blankly into the empty space off the ledge’s edge...

Just as we killed poor William...So long ago...So thoughtless...

Willow looked at her...

“Buffy?...Jonathan?...”

She pointed dazedly at the edge...

“He’s gone...”

I killed him...she murmured...Oh, God forgive me...Killed him...

Poor boy...she sobbed...Falling to her knees...

Willow looked at her in horror and ran to the edge, peering...

She turned back to look at her friend...

“Buffy...? He went over?!...” she cried...

I killed him...Buffy repeated...She put the remote in her pocket...Covered her face with her hands...

“Jonathan!!!” Willow screamed over the ledge...

Poor, poor boy...Poor William...How could I have been so cruel?...He loved me so...Buffy muttered, head in hands, rocking gently...And suddenly looked round her wildly...

No...No, not William....This was not the place...Not yet the time...

She couldn’t help this Jonathan, poor sweet soul...But...For William...This William...There was still time...

Still a chance...To set things right...

She hurried to the stairs Darla had taken and began descending...

Willow stared after her...And followed, best as she could...

“Buffy!?...” she cried...

“I must find William!...” Buffy called back, continuing...

But I know where to go...Cousin Henry’s...
It’s not too late...

“Wait for me, Buffy!!!...” Willow cried...Trying to follow as best she could...

William?...Does she mean the human one?...Or our Spike?...

Oh, Jonathan...she paused and looked back up the street to where a body now lay...

And watched it crumble into ashes, blown by the wind...

Forgive us...Forgive me...
***
8:10pm...

Buffy had finally stopped...Giving Willow a chance to catch up...

They stood outside a large brownstone...Quite a party going on inside, Willow noted...

“He’s here, he’s here...” Buffy was agitated...

“Spike’s here?...” Willow looked at her...

William is here...I have to stop him...Buffy insisted...

Willow looked at her... You mean, human Will?...

But...Shouldn’t we be looking for...?

Buffy?...

***

“Miss?, Miss!...” The footman at the door cried out as Buffy raced through the door...Clearly not an invited guest in her outfit...

Willow quietly slipped in while the servants were distracted...Grabbing a cloak from the racks which she draped round herself...

“A bit chilly I think...” she noted politely to a waiter passing by who offered to take her wrap... “I’ll keep it, thanks...”

Buffy was pushing desperately through the crowd of party guests...A waiter, several footmen, and others in pursuit...

Willow following as closely as she could...Unnoticed as yet...

She caught a distant glimpse of a young man on a settee who looked...My God, that’s him...

“Spike!..er Mr. Walthrop!”...sitting beside a dark-haired...Holy cow!?...Buffy?...No, not quite, but...

Buffy had likewise seen them...But a large distance and crowd still separated them...Her pursuers closing in...

Several gentlemen, having seen the strange, rather cheaply dressed young woman running from the servants turned to grab at her...Some sneak thief, no doubt...A couple of the servants reached her and tried to take hold of her arms...

“You’re beneath me...” Cicely turned away from the stricken Walthrop...Who fled the room, clearly on the verge of tears...

“No!!!!!” Buffy screamed...Falling to her knees...Her hands to her face in horror...And anger...

“What have you done?!!!” she screamed across the room at the startled Miss Addams who stared at the strangely familiar blonde woman...Her own age...Almost her own...Face...

Buffy?...Willow looked at her in shock...

The Slayer rose, tossing back the men trying to restrain her...And dashed in the direction young Walthrop had left...

Willow now drew some attention herself and several began looking at her...She smiled politely at a shy-looking young man who was only too happy to be engaged in conversation...The others returned to scratching their heads over the bizarre incident...The severely shocked Miss Addams receiving the devoted attention of several of her worshipers...

Willow’s shy escort was only too happy to be allowed to lead her back through the halls to the front entrance...Where she took a pleasant and kindly good leave of him...

Uncle’s carriage coming for her in just a mo...But thanks so much for seeing her out...

She slipped around the gate and into the street as quickly as possible...

To find a sobbing Buffy about a block down...

“All for nothing...Nothing...I’ve lost him...Again...” she looked at Willow not recognizing her for a full minute...

Buffy?!...Willow grabbed her...Buffy?!...

Where did he go, Buffy?...Willow looked at her...And paused...

“Willow...?” Buffy looked at her friend...

“I...Don’t know where he went...”

What about Spike, Buffy?...He must be here somewhere...

She felt in her pocket...She still had Jonathan’s remote...Tuned to track the chip’s signal...

She held it out to Willow...Who looked it over carefully...

“He’s at least a mile away...Probably near wherever Drusilla met up with Walthrop...”

They looked around...A stable down the street with cabstand out front...

And looked at each other...Hurrying down the street...

***
The Time Machine...Part XXVI

“Sorry ladies...” John Carrier, London cabman, shook his head at the two pleading young women...

My Ole Bess is laid up in the stable there...Bad off she is...

Shame, you know...He went on, genially if sadly...She was once a great racer, my lass was...

“P’haps you’d like to try down on Browning Street...Ask for Jaime Morse...” he suggested...Pointing the way and then retiring to his quarters within the stable building...

They looked at the stable door...A large broom propped against it...

Buffy looked at the broom...Thoughtfully...

“You know Will...Like you said...In 1880, your no-magics pledge doesn’t exist...” she looked at Willow...

“Buffy, come on...” Willow snorted...

Everyone knows witches don’t fly on broomsticks...

They’re aerodynamically unstable...

Well...Buffy sighed...Guess that leaves us with one option...

She went to the back of the stable and came back lugging...A saddle...

Open the horse’s door...Quietly...she told her friend...Willow looked at her but complied...

Horse?...Willow looked at Ole Bess...Who seemed to give an audible sigh as she caught sight of Buffy coming round her with the saddle...

That horse?...

“Stopping looking and start helping me figure out how to get this thing on...” Buffy called to her as she struggled to get the saddle on Ole Bess...

Who was not particularly pleased at the idea of coming out of her genteel semi-retirement...

***
Mr. Carrier had returned outside...And heard the sounds of a rather vexed horse within...

“Bessie, old girl?...” Carrier called....

Is anything amiss, my poor sweetheart?...

Asthe front door of the stable burst open and Bess emerged with a mighty leap, Buffy on saddle with Willow hanging on behind her...

[Suggested theme...Buffy and Ole Bess to the Rescue (Raiders of the Lost Ark)]

Rather pleased with herself...Just a lil’ spell to give Ole Bess back a bit of what she’d had in her salad days...

***
2002 Sunnydale...The Magic Shop...

Dawn entered carefully...A couple of lights still on...

“Anya?...” she called...

The shop had been locked she noted...But Anya might simply have locked the place for safety...

She paused, looking around carefully...And a gasping Janice came running up...Slamming the door open...

“Dawny?!!...Why did you leave me back there?...”

“I have an errand to run Janice...Please go away...I’ll catch you later...” Dawn told her...

“Some friend you are...” Janice gasped...

I ran all the way after you...Why didn’t you wait?...When you stopped I thought you were waiting...

“Janice, I’m busy...Can’t you see I’ve got a lot on my mind...Geesh...There’s my stupid sister and...Everything...And Anya isn’t even here...” Dawn whined...

Go away...she told her friend...

I’ve got an errand to run and I’m busy...

“Where’s your sister?...And that weird lady who owns this place?...” Janice looked at her carefully...

Dawn...The door lock was broken...she noted...

“Did you break in here?...”

I have to find Anya...Dawn told her...

She paused, lost in thought, apparently...

“Dawn?...”Janice looked at her...

Dawny?...

Dawn looked back at her...

“I have to go...”

Go?...Where the hell?...It’s nearly one o’clock...Unless you’re going home?...

“I have to find Anya and...” she paused...

“I have an errand to run...Go away, Janice...I’ll catch you later...” she began heading out...

And stopped...

“Someone’s here...” she noted...But...Puzzled...

“I should have sensed them...Before...”

A figure emerged from the back office door...

“Hello, Dawn...” Giles said quietly...Hurling a ball of intense light at her...

“Duck!...” he called to Janice pleasantly...Who went down...

The light struck Dawn-bot and she sparked in a dozen places...

And collapsed on the floor...Smoking at the same points now...

Janice looked at the smoking, inert Dawn on the floor and babbled senselessly...Looking at Giles...Trembling...

“Anya!...” Giles called...

***
At Spike’s crypt Buffy-bot II waited patiently, smiling pleasantly at the others...The rope-secured members of the gang waited restlessly, hopeful and nervous by turns...

Warren, true to his nature, fidgeted and fretted...

Where was Dawn-bot anyway?...She hadn’t even called him or communicated back by internal transmission...

Course she might be occupied trying to fool Anya the demon girl into thinking she was the real Dawn...It had after all only been fifteen minutes since her last full contact...

His remote flashed...A signal...

But a rather scrambled...Ah, clearing now...Hmmn...Mission accomplished...In return mode...

Excellent...

Subject alive?...He tapped out...

He was anxious to meet Anya after all this build-up...

A brief pause...Yes...

He rubbed his hands...And grinned over at Xander...

You’re a lucky man, pal...he thought, giggling...

“Is Mears?...Gay or something?...” Xander hissed to Andrew...

Little creep keeps giggling at me...

Warren signaled the new bot to make a quick return...

Hmmn...He looked at the pleasantly smiling...And now rather obsolete...Buffy-bot II...

Perhaps, when Dawn II arrived...It would be time to take steps towards a make-over...

Though only the programming of course would have to be changed...Nothing wrong with her look...

A true work of art if he said so himself...

And he’d need the older sister around...After all...

Perverse to have the young kid bot hanging round him without Buffy...Hell, she was only what, 14?...

People might get the idea he was weird or something...

***

A teleportation spell...An extremely dangerous teleportation spell...Performed in concert and with the somewhat reluctant approval of a hastily assembled quorum of the Council...Had brought Giles back to Sunnydale in the shortest possible time after Anya’s pleading call...

Armed with a few extras...Again thoughtfully provided by his colleagues...

At the urging of Chairman Travers...Old Quentin having appreciated the gravity of the situation...And having not been above realizing it could only be to their benefit to provide all-out assistance, for once, to the newly resurrected Slayer...

Hopefully, “their” newly resurrected and grateful Slayer if they played their cards right...

Suppressing his urge to slit a few of the bellies of his calculating colleagues, Giles had graciously accepted their assistance...

Equally important, of course, had been human Dawn’s burst of practical good sense...

She’d called to say she was coming, though a leetle concerned about why Mears had released her...And remembered to mention where she was...

So that, naturally, when Anya spotted “Dawn” coming down the street from the shop window, barely two minutes after she’d called from all the way across Sunnydale...They’d known something was up...And Giles had been preparing for a bot fight...

New botty a little too eager to carry out her owner’s orders...And dodge her meddlesome friend...Who was rather lucky to be alive given Dawn-bot’s lack of safety restrictions...

Warren had, of course, told his new bot to take a little time in coming over...Assuming Dawn might try to call...And to occasionally scan for the signal from the tracker he’d stuck on Dawn’s jacket in case she’d set up a different meeting place...But he’d never specified how long “take your time” was supposed to be...
***

Well, Giles sighed to himself, looking at the shattered Dawn body on the floor...And pointing out the stricken, terrified Janice to Anya, now rushing in from the back office where his spell had concealed their presence from Dawn-bot’s sensors...He had promised Buffy he’d be there for her if the situation ever reached the breaking point...

And if this wasn’t quite an end of the world scenario...It was close enough for him...

Buffy with Willow racing through time to save her beloved...Spike?...

The remaining gang in the grip of a maniacal, if nerdy, and well-armed human genius

A desperate Anya and Dawn alone to face the enemy...

Yes, definitely time to break the glass and push the alarm bell...

Thank God Travers had been anxiously looking for ways to “assist” poor Buffy in her “transition” back to life...With an eye to regaining her services...And so was quite receptive...

***
Ole Bess pounded the paved streets of London, bearing Buffy in saddle and Willow still desperately hanging on...

Gotta stop pushing Willow on the magics, Buffy thought, embarrassed...Very hypocritical of me to take advantage of her romantic sympathy like this...

“Sorry!!...” she called out to the man fleeing for his life to the sidewalk as Bess nearly ran him down...

Say...I’m doing pretty well...First time on a horse and all...

She looked at the remote...

“Ok, left turn...ummn...Old girl...” she told the horse...Pointing down the street to the left...

Will?...Willow?!...she called back...

“How’d you get this thing to turn?!...”

“Turn?!!...Don’t know, Buf!...” Willow hollered back...

Thought you knew...

Damn...Buffy thought...Where’s that nineteenth century whoever who’s been possessing me when I need her?...

She might at least help me get this thing to William...
“The reins, the reins...You goddamn fool!!!...” a helpful, if furious gentleman called from the sidewalk as Bess nearly trampled him...

Right, the reins...Like in the movies and on TV...Yeah...

She grabbed at the reins and pulled left down another street...

She could handle this...No problem...

Bess leaped over a small flower cart in the street...

“Willow?!!...” Buffy called to her fallen friend...

Can’t stop!!!...she called behind her...

Willow dazedly picked herself up and ran after the horse and Slayer as best she could...

Ok, no Willow...But so long as she was ok...She was too pooped now to be of help for a while anyway...Buffy noted...

The remote suggested another left and straight on down...

Bess made the turn neatly, hooves clanging away...

Hmmn...I should try this when we get back home, Buffy thought...Maybe take Dawny sometime...

If I can ever get over my usual fear of large, fierce-looking animals...

God, I must be in love...

Ow!!...Damn saddle thing...

But who is the other?...The one who’s been helping...Pushing me...Since we got here...

Maybe it’s human Dru?...Trying to make amends?...

Well...Look into that later...

“Really sorry!!!”...she cried to the young couple racing in panic from their carriage as their horse reared in fright at Bess’ maniacal charge and toppled them...

Oh...Gosh...

Poor Jonathan...she bowed her head...

Bess clanged along...She seemed to be beginning to actually enjoy this...Having a bit of her old self back...
***
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