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Part 36




 Usual disclaimers in part 1. In case your'e completely lost on this: Buffy's back in time (1879) to before William got turned in the body of his first love Elizabeth who will be called as a slayer, and disappear out of his life. Buffy has informed Elizabeth's shocked Watcher, John Hyde, who she is, and that she wants returned to her time and life as soon as possible. After Buffy completes the Blood Ceremony, which was supposed to give her full access to her powers so she could fight Glory, Hyde takes her to Council Headquarters. But Buffy is finding that the Council isn't that willing to help her, and she is being shown an altered future where there is no Angel or Spike. Meanwhile, Elizabeth is in Buffy's body roughly pre-"Shadow" and the gang is trying to figure out how to switch the girls from their end.

Part 36

        Buffy returned eventually red eyed, but relatively composed to the Council chamber with Maryanne, and Morgana following her. She immediately noted that Hyde was gone. "Where´s Mr. Hyde?" she asked as he came to the conference table.

        MacAlastair had been talking to one of the men when she came in. He turned at the sound of her voice. "Ah, Miss Summers. I see that you are back now, and hopefully feeling better though I can only imagine how upsetting this whole affair is for you. We will all try to make your adjustment to this strange new world of ours as pleasant as we can," he told her, and Buffy nodded gratefully, not that she really had any choice in the matter, but to trust him. "As to Mr. Hyde, I sent him home until we determine what is the best course of action to be taken in your case, Miss Summers. In the meantime, we would like you to stay here for a couple of days for evaluations of your abilities," he told her truthfully.

        Buffy frowned worriedly. "Evaluations?" she squeaked, panic evident in her voice as she looked around the table at the serious faces regarding her. She felt very much alone, and scared now as she sat down in a chair that had been pulled out for her. She eyed the group suspiciously not sure whether they were going to be friendly, or hostile to her since she couldn´t tell by their expressions.

        "Yes, to see how your reflexes are, observe your weapons use, and question you more thoroughly about your battles, and methods. Normally, we get such data from our Watchers, but yours are not here so we are going to be asking you directly. And since the future seems to be shifting even as we speak, what we have observed from the Eye will differ from your own testimony. I was sincere in that we do wish to know more about how your friends work in conjunction with your duties. Your team work approach seems very effective in countering the menaces you have had to deal with," he told her.

        She relaxed a little, calming herself before she spoke. "Okay, I think that would be a good thing as slaying alone with no back up is not fun no matter how good you may be as a slayer, especially if the odds are way against you, and you´re backed into a corner. Then having two slayers instead of just one has been good too. One thing I have always wondered about is why there is only one of us at a time? I mean like I am basically in one place, but isn´t there stuff going on in other parts of the world that need dealing with too? I can see in the beginning when the population was smaller you might not need multiple slayers, but even in these times isn´t kind of hard to keep the nasties down?" Buffy asked, hoping that maybe he could give her an answer because Giles never could.

        "Yes, you have hit upon a problem we have seen coming for sometime. The problem of there only being one at a time unless there is an accident like that happened to you, so that another was called as well. This has happened before as I have explained, but generally after the crisis is over the line reverts back to its original only one at a time. Generally to deal with trouble spots we have had to send Watchers, or those in training to be Watchers to deal with the problems as best they can. But no Watcher is ever as effective as a slayer in any circumstances," he confessed grimly. "I see you do question things, which is good. Not all slayers do," he added, a small smile of amusement playing on his craggy features, that put Buffy in mind of an older Sean Connory.

        "Giles used to get frustrated with all my questions, and spend a lot of time cleaning his glasses. He said that when he met me he gave up on my reading the Slayer´s handbook because it would be a useless exercise," she said with a slight smile in remembrance, all ready missing her mentor.

        "So you never followed the rules set out in the book?" he asked surprised, that such an important thing in her education had been overlooked. There were frowns, and looks of shock all around the table from the other members.

        "I have never even seen a copy. Faith and Kendra both had, but I never got one. Most of what we did was by instinct, or discussing all the possibilities of a situation when we were researching it. And we spent a lot of time in research going through Giles´ books, looking on the Internet for information, and then Angel, and Spike would also contribute what they might know about stuff," Buffy told him.

        "I see. I still find it hard to reconcile your Angel with the beast we know Angelus to be. Though Mr. Hyde said this was because Angelus was cursed with a ‘soul´?" he inquired cautiously encouraging her to fill him in with more details about this curse.

        "Yeah, but that won´t happen for a bunch of years from now when he, and the others go to Romania. He will kill the daughter of one of the gypsies there, and that´s how he gets cursed. Except the flaw with the curse is if he ‘knows´ one moment of happiness then the curse will be broken, and he will revert back to Angelus. And I have had personal experience with Angelus. He killed Giles´ girlfriend, Miss Callender, who was trying to find the original curse, so we could re-soul him. Willow managed to do it while I was fighting Angelus who had used the statue of Arcadia to open the gates of Hell, so instead of sending Angelus into Hell, I had to run a sword through Angel to close the gates. That was the hardest thing I have ever had to do," she said, trying to keep her voice level when she talked about it, and was failing as a lone tear escaped from her eye.

        "Because you had feelings for this vampire?" he asked carefully. He already knew the answers, but he wanted confirmation of what they had seen.

        Buffy´s head snapped up, panicked now, afraid to say more.

        "Miss Summers we have already seen that this was the case. As well as your relationship with the other one, Spike. You are not the first to be attracted to vampires. There have been others, but in every case it has ended badly as they could not fully curb their true natures, as when the relationship was discovered, needless to say it was quickly dealt with. Though I will say that your vampires do seem to be rather unique, and have helped rather than hindered your path. Still they are vampires, and forever doomed. Now you have a chance to rectify your errors. Start fresh," he said carefully watching her.

        "You want me to alter history even more by killing Angelus, and his crew? You want me to kill my history, accept that I´m stuck here forever, is that it?" Buffy asked angrily. "I´m sorry. I just can´t in good conscious do that. I know Angelus, Darla, and Drusilla are monsters. I know all of them very well indeed, but to strip Angel from his destiny as well as keep Spike from his seems terribly wrong," she said, her voice cold, and bitter.

        "But is it right to condemn the still very much human Mr. Giles to a life of violence, and bloodshed when you have it in your power now to right this terrible future he will have to face if you do nothing?" he questioned seriously, his dark eyes boring into hers as he leaned in close to her.

        "I—I don´t know," she stuttered truthfully, her eyes down and unable to look the man in the face. "It´s been tearing me up ever since I met William, because he is a nice guy, but then there´s Spike who has learned to overcome his nature, and I lo… he´s wonderful too, and I do have feelings for him as do my friends, and family. He´s one of us now, and I miss him terribly, worry about what he´s going through having to deal with Elizabeth in my place. Spike has had lifetimes of experiences that William will never have, and then there´s this whole ‘End of Days" thing," she replied holding her emotions in check as best she could.

        "But as we have explained, Miss Summers, there is no going back for you, or for Miss Wellington. You are both evidently where you need to be, and the future is all ready being so altered that even if you do find a way back neither the Angel, or Spike you knew will exist in your future lifetime," he told her.

        "You´re sure about this?´ she asked frightened, as well as shaken to her core. There was no going back? She was really, really stuck here, and they weren´t going to help her get back? She saw the group´s grim faces, that held sympathy, but no hope for her. That they really weren´t going to help her get back she was getting certain of.

        "Yes, we are," he said with a note of finality in his voice.

        "Okay," she said in a small weak voice, as all hope vanished. So what about William? There´s still the chance that my vanishing might still trigger him running into Drusilla in the future."

        MacAlastair smiled. "We are already seeking the young man out because of that possibility occurring."

        Buffy looked at him stunned. "Huh?" she asked.

        "Yes, when Mr. Hyde told us about the young man, and how intertwined your life was with his, we began investigating him."

        "But my letter? What if he reads it?" she asked alarmed.

        "It was never sent Mr. Hyde informed me."

        "That rat bastard!" Buffy said angry now. She knew she shouldn´t have trusted the man.

        "Please, Miss Summers, your language! I am aware of your colorful usage of it in your time, but here it is very disturbing. Please, do not think badly of Mr. Hyde, he was doing what he thought best until he, and I had a chance to consult over this matter."

        "So you are going to drag William into this mess one way, or the other aren´t you?" Buffy said through clenched teeth already seeing what they were up to with not only her life, but William´s too. "I would love to see how you are going to explain Elizabeth, and I switching places to him, because you are going to have to. If you drag him into this he is entitled to the truth, the whole truth. Mr. MacAlastair," Buffy told him determinedly, staring him down, very angry now about how they were already beginning to manipulate her life.

        "He will be informed," he stated flatly not fazed a bit by her anger.

        "If he isn´t, I´ll be sure to, make no mistake about that. I think he knew that I wasn´t Elizabeth, but he wasn´t sure. Though he kept asking me if I was okay, or feeling well. and staring at me funny. Luckily, I knew enough about both Elizabeth, and his family that I was able to fake it though, but it was hard lying to him. Especially, when I had to say goodnight to him. I was so close to telling him to watch out for dark haired girls in alleys, but I didn´t," she sighed, looking down at her hands, then she began to realize that something was missing –the ring she had been wearing. The one that William had given her. The one whose center stone looked real similar to the crystal she had been holding. And Buffy began to wonder if there was a connection between the two. "Mr. MacAlastair, who you see if Mr. Hyde can locate the ring I was wearing when I came to his house. I took it off before the ceremony, and left it on the dressing table. It was an engagement ring that William said he had had made for Elizabeth. It would be rather bad if I didn´t have it if I do run into him. I think you can kind of understand that, I hope?" she asked, hoping it wasn´t somehow lost, and how to explain that to William if she ran into him.

        "Yes, I can. I will send word for Mr. Hyde to look for it, and have it sent here when it is found," he reassured her. "It is getting late, my dear. And I would like to get any early start on things in the morning. James, here will take you to your room," he said, indicating the older man who stepped forward at the mention of his name to wait expectantly by her chair. "You will be in the wing with our slayer trainees, but will have your own room. Mrs. Bennett, who is in charge of the girls will see to your personal needs while you are here, including getting you changes of clothing," MacAlastair told her standing up when she did.

        "Yeah, I am a little tired," Buffy admitted. "Well, I guess, I will see you in the morning, sir," she said.

        "Good night, Miss Summers," he said biding her good night as she followed James out of the chamber. Then MacAlastair sat back down in his chair heavily, and motioned to another servant nearby. "George, would you please bring me a brandy. I feel in dire need of one after dealing with that young lady. In fact from the looks of it we all could do with a glass, even the ladies this time," he said with a grim smile meeting the relieved, and grateful smiles of the five ladies at the table.
 

        Buffy followed the silent man through the seemingly endless maze of corridors, and stairs until they reached what she thought was the third floor. Since she saw a number of young girls dressed in plain long skirted navy dresses ranging in age from barely six to her age, and a few older, she was pretty sure that this was where the slayers in training lived. She was grateful that she hadn´t been torn from her family, and friends as probably most of these girls had been. They all stared at her curiously as she walked down the wide hallway to be met by a short, plump, dark haired woman with a happy smile in a black and white uniform, whom she was going to guess was Mrs. Bennett.

        "You must be, Miss Summers, the new chosen one. James explained your special circumstances. My you have come a long way to be with us," she smiled cheerily at Buffy.

        Buffy smiled back embarrassed, "yeah, you could say that. It has been a real strange trip for me. So these are the girls who might be called if something happens to me?" she asked, noticing that all the girls were hanging around, and listening in on hers, and Mrs. Bennett´s conversation.

        "Yes, they are. Were you also found, and trained here in your time?" she asked.

        "No, I didn´t know a thing about slaying, or any of this until Mr. Meredith, my first watcher showed up, and ran it all down for me, and even then I wasn´t believing him, and wanted nothing to do with any of this."

        "Why? This is a great honor," asked one of the older girls a brunette, a little younger than she was that was very confused at Buffy´s attitude.

        "It wasn´t from my point of view. I had family, friends, I was going to high school. I had a real life I was very happy with. This made me a weirdo, and I lost all my friends, got expelled from my old school for burning down the gym because that was the only way to stop the vamps that decided to crash the school dance. Then my parents broke up over me and my mom and I had to move to another town and start over. When I got there my second Watcher, Mr. Giles was waiting for me to remind me of my ‘duty´. Luckily, I did make friends, and was able to stay in school. I actually did graduate and I´m…was going to college. But I have fought several master vampires, stopped the world from ending four going on five times now, fought demons, gods, and I´m not sure what else in the five years I have been slaying," Buffy explained to her incredulous crowd that had gathered.

        James meantime took this opportunity to slip away, and report back to Mr. MacAlastair.

        "Five years? But that´s impossible you were just recently chosen?" the another older girl with white blonde hair, and a heavy accent asked. She narrowed her eyes dangerously at Buffy. .

        "Not if you time traveled back to the past, and switched with the girl who should be standing here instead of me. I´m from the year 2000, not 1879. And I´m not Elizabeth Wellington, I´m Buffy Summers from Sunnydale, California, USA.," Buffy told her trying to keep her anger down.

"There´s no such thing as time travel. It´s impossible!" A tall, red haired girl said with conviction, and looked to her friends around her to back her up.

        Buffy shrugged. "I used to think so too, but after all the stuff I´ve seen, and done, anything is possible. Besides Mr. MacAlastair, and the Council believe me as they saw my life in the future just like I told Mr. Hyde when I met him."

        "So what was it, a spell?" asked a little blond girl in pigtails about ten years old.

        "No one knows yet. We´re all trying to figure out how this happened. And if there´s any way to send me back, and switch with Elizabeth who is in my body in my time. The only thing we have in common is her boyfriend who is human right now, but will be vampire when I meet him in the future," she explained, leaning wearily against the wall looking over the group of fifteen girls.

        "A vampire, how dreadful. Do you kill him?" one of the younger girls asked eagerly at the thought of blood shed.

        Buffy shook her head. "Nope, I´ve known him for about four years now. He can´t hurt humans anymore so he helps me, and my friends with the slaying in exchange for blood, and money. I know that sounds strange, but he can only hurt other demons. If he tries to bite, or hit a human he gets these really nasty headaches that almost knock him out."

        "But he´s still a vampire. I don´t understand how you could allow such a creature to be around you," The red head asked curling her thin upper lip in distaste.

        "Look, you´d kind of have to be there to understand Spike. He´s different—real different from your average vamp. He´s saved my life a couple of times as well as helped me stop the world ending twice."

        "But vampires are evil. They can´t be any other way because of their demons." The girl stated.

        "I used to believe that too, and for the most part the majority of vamps are nothing, but trouble. But I have met several demons over the years that have been exceptions to all that I was taught, and they actually do work for the Powers that Be on the good side. Sometimes you have to look beyond the demon part to see what motivates them to do what they do." Buffy told the group.

The red hair shook her head. "my watcher would strongly disagree with you. He says you don´t question their actions, you just kill them, and be done with it before they can kill you. I´m Becky, by the way. That´s Freda," she said indicating the white blonde, "Then there´s Hellena, Josephine, Faye, Millicent, Hortace, Jubilee, Penelope, Ellie, Kassie, Molly, Aurelia, and Maxine," she introduced pointing each girl out who gave a wave back in recognition of their name.

        "So I thought you already had a watcher? Why are you stuck here?" Freda asked.

        "Mr. MacAlastair wants to watch me work out, and answer questions. I might even be assigned a different watcher according to the results he gets, or that´s the impression I got. It´s all pretty complicated, so I have no idea how long I´ll be here," Buffy told them.

        "Well, we all try to get along, and help each other with our studies to be the best we can. Occasionally us older girls get to go out with the Watcher´s in training on field assignments so we do have some real world experience before we are called. It sounds like you didn´t?" Becky asked.

        "Nope, none at all. All I knew about vampires, and monsters was from books and other things, and they were all supposed to be make believe," Buffy told her.

        "You sound like you were one up on most of us. Kassie, Freda, and Maxine had heard of some things from folk tales where they lived, but the rest of us were in shock when we saw our first vampire. But they treat us nice here, and we get to do all sorts of things most girls couldn´t begin to do like with the weapons and physical stuff."

        "I know," Buffy smiled at the girl´s enthusiasm. It probably was a big deal for these girls since females were not supposed to do physical things, and had to act in certain, proper, well mannered ways. Unless one had money, education beyond a certain level was almost impossible for most women as were careers in medicine, law, and other fields. Women also had few rights, and were considered either property of their fathers, their husbands, or their nearest male relative.

        "That´s enough questions for now, girls. Miss Summers looks like she is almost ready to faint away. I think she needs to get some rest, the same with the lot of you too. It´s close to lights out, and most of you have early morning training to go to," Mrs. Bennett told them all giving them a stern look to send them on their way which they did disappearing into different rooms up, and down the hallway with goodnights to Buffy as they went which she returned. "Well, now. Let´s be getting you settled in. This is your room," she told Buffy, opening a door at the end of the hallway in to a fairly large room with a big bed, dresser, desk, and wardrobe. "I thought you´d might appreciate a room with a view," she said indicating a large bay window with a window seat under it.

        Buffy was impressed. It was comfortable, and cheery looking with a little blue and yellow patterned wallpaper, not all dark like most Victorian rooms she had seen so far. "This is nice. Am I still in London? I have no clue where I have been since I arrived here. Most of my traveling has been at night so I haven´t gotten to see too much of anything," Buffy said sitting down on the huge four poster bed the was covered in a wildly colored crazy quilt.

        "Believe it or not we are almost in the very center of the city, but you´d never know it because of the grounds, and all the protections about this place. As far as the outside world knows we are just a private boarding school for girls. It´s been that way since the beginning when it was decided in late Roman times to locate the Council headquarters here, before that it was in Rome, and before that in Egypt, and I lose track of where else. But we do have smaller branch offices scattered all over the world. But it does sound like if you are to be roaming our city streets that you need to start familiarizing yourself with the town seeing that you are from the states," the older woman commented, getting her out a simple nightgown, and robe to use from the large dresser.

        "Sounds like I´m going to be needing to. This is all happening so fast."

        "I can only begin to imagine what it must be like for you, child. You´ve never been alone like this before, have you?" the woman asked.

        "No, not really. The closest was going way for three weeks to summer camp when I was thirteen. Then I couldn´t wait to get back home to my folks. The not ever going back is beginning to sink in. I´ll never see anyone ever again, or do any of the things I was used to doing. The only people I do know are Elizabeth´s boyfriend, William, his family, the vampires I´m supposed to kill, and what people I´ve met so far, " Buffy sighed heavily.

         "Well, just give yourself time. I´ll all sort out. Would you like me to bring you something, a cup of tea, some cocoa, something to eat?" the woman asked looking down at the petite young woman that seemed so pale, and drawn from her ordeals .

        "Cocoa sounds good. I loved it at home, so did Spike. My mom would make it for him, and he had to have lots of marshmellows in it too. And she´d invite him when I wasn´t around, and they´d talk about all kinds of stuff. They used to get along real good because she treated him like just a normal guy. Just before all this happened she invited him to move in so he could help keep my sister, and her safe because we had this Hell Goddess coming after us. Mom just had an operation, and would have gotten out a couple of days ago in my time. I really need to be there to help her. I feel so…lost, useless, here," Buffy told her, remembering what had been planned after the ceremony.

        "Hopefully it will get better for you, my dear. You just go on, and get ready for bed, and I´ll fetch you some cocoa. The bathroom is down at the other end of the hall in case you were wondering where it is. We rise around six, and then have breakfast downstairs about seven. The only exceptions are for those who have gone out on night patrol training, and got in at dawn. Those we let sleep in a while. Anyway, I´ll be back in a little bit," she reassured Buffy as she left, closing the door behind her.

        Buffy got up from where she had been sitting, and undressed. She was starting to get the hang of the clothes she was forced to wear. This time she could get the annoying corset off herself after Mrs. Edwards had showed her the trick of doing it. She was just putting on her robe when Mrs. Bennett came back in with a tray with both cocoa in a covered pot, and a plate of various delicious looking cookies, and set them down on the desk near the window. Buffy looked at them appreciatively.

        Mrs. Bennett smiled at her reaction. "Thought you might appreciate some cookies to go with the cocoa. In the wardrobe there you will find a good selection of dresses, blouses, and skirts. There might even be some of those new Turkish style pantaloons in there which is as close as we could find to decent trousers for young ladies. James told me that you were near my height though on the thin side. As to shoes, and boots, we´ll see what we can find from inventory in the morning. You´ll find underwear in the drawers. Towels for taking a bath are in the bathroom. If you have any requests for special soaps, or such let me know, and I´ll see if I can find it. There are papers, and writing tools in the desk, and also a blank journal if you want to use it. I think that covers almost everything," she finished, almost embarrassed at Buffy´s smile at how she was going on and on about things.

        "Sounds like it. Thank you, Mrs. Bennett for everything. You´re a lot like my mom. I´m going to try and unwind then go to bed. I guess I´ll see you in the morning," Buffy said.

        "Good night, Miss Summers. If you need anything just ring the bell, and I´ll be here in a flash," she added, indicating a long bell cord by the bed which Buffy hadn´t noticed. Then she left and Buffy was left alone.

        Going over to the desk, Buffy poured herself a cup from the covered pot, and picked up a couple of oatmeal cookies to munch on while she sat down on the window seat to think, and absorb what had happened to her life.

End 36

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