Saturday night, mid-November, 2000
Giles parked his car in front of the still brightly lit Magic Box. The shop was open for another hour, though he doubted that there would be any customers, but Anya had insisted that they try to stay open until at least eight several evenings for late night shoppers. He had no doubt about some of his nocturnal customers, but as long as they behaved, didn´t ask for anything too strange, and exotic, and paid cash he tended to look the other way as long as Buffy, or Spike wasn´t in the store. Yes, his ethics had slid slightly since he had first come to Sunnydale, but he, like his slayer, had been finding that things were necessarily as black and white as the Council had drilled into him. Now there were Council free, and could do as they pleased within limits, of course. Like being friendly with vampires. That was certainty something that he had not been prepared for by his training. Nor had he ever thought he would be able to observe them at so close of a range without serious injury. Even though the two specimens he was familiar with were non-typical of their species.
He heard the back door open, and close, and knew Spike had gotten out. The vampire had been brooding in the backseat ever since he had gotten in the car after they left the hospital. Elizabeth had also been very silent too, and had just stared out the window at the passing scenery. Spike did come around, and open the girl´s door to let her out. But she sat there unmoving, looking like she didn´t want to get out.
"Lizzy, we´re here. Are you goin´ get out or not?" Spike asked her leaning down, his duster clad arm draped on the top of the door, looking at her not sure what to make of her wooden expression.
She felt his eyes burning into her, and she sighed heavily, and unbuckled her seat belt with a loud snap, and abruptly got out, and walked right past him into the shop without a word.
"What the bloody hell was that all about?" Spike asked him as Giles came around.
"I have no idea, Spike. She´s been rather distant to both of us. You know her better than I do. But I suspect it has to do with the diaries the Council is faxing us. I really should have used more tact at the hospital," Giles apologized.
"Well, the damage is done. Let´s go see what the bloody things say. As I swear I have no bloody memories of being married to Buffy either then, or now. That´s not something I would be likely to forget. This is all got to be a bloody practical joke on someone´s part, and if it is I will kill the wankers who did it," Spike said striding determinedly into the shop with Giles following close behind.
"Hi guys, there´s pizza!" Willow said with a big grin looking up from a big stack of fax papers.
Xander was sitting to one side looking rather poleaxed as if he had read, or heard something he really hadn´t wanted to. Anya was trying to get his attention, but nothing seemed to be working.
Tara was reading, and looked up smiling like a Cheshire cat as did Dawn.
"You all are bright and cheery—should I be worried? And what´s with the whelp? Someone put a Mojo on him?" Spike asked sitting down carefully, trying to decipher why they were all grinning at him.
"Ohh, Xander, he´s just freaked by all the stuff the Watchers sent us. He was reading the part about you as William, and Buffy getting married, and just kind went comatose," Anya explained, clearly not understanding what was wrong with her boyfriend, or why the papers from the Council would bother him.
Spike looked at her wide eyed, and then got angry. "Let me make this perfectly clear—people--I never met Buffy, married her, or did anything else that these wankers say I supposedly did. I mean I do still remember my soddin´ life before I was turned by Dru. None of whatever it is they are telling you happened ever!" he stated emphatically.
"Well if didn´t it´s the best piece of fiction I´ve ever read," Willow giggled. "I think what this is is some sort of paradox, or maybe an alternate reality that somehow is overlapping with our own. The archivist that discovered these diaries, and records was quite surprised too as he knew that Buffy was the current present day slayer, so finding mention of such an usual name in the records confused him too. When he read the head of the then Council´s reports, and started reading through the other reports, and diaries of that time period he knew the Buffy mentioned in them was our Buffy somehow. But he swears he never saw any of this until just recently. It was just like it appeared out of nowhere. He even sent us some photographs that had been taken too," she said passing them over to Spike.
He took the sheets, and looked down in total disbelief. "Bloody hell!" he gasped, seeing himself in wedding finery as William, and with a girl that looked both like Buffy, and Lizzy. It was the expression in her eyes that had the same fire as Buffy´s always did as well as her proud, happy stance beside her new husband that a girl of that time wouldn´t have had. Girls just weren´t that uninhibited then no matter how happy they were. There was a single portrait of her too with her hair fixed in a similar way to how she wore it up occasionally here, rather than in the style normal for the period. Again, it was her eyes, and the set of her mouth that let him know it was looking at Buffy rather than Elizabeth. There was another one later on seeming several years later with him standing proudly behind her as she held a beautiful wide eyed toddler, possibly a girl that had long, light colored curls wearing a white lace christening gown on her lap. The last one of the batch was taken around the turn of the century . It showed a tall young woman with glasses, two close in age brown haired teenage sons that did look like him, standing behind older gray haired versions of him, and Buffy, with a fair haired daughter about seven or eight, and a large black, and white long haired dog sitting at their feet.
"They swear these are genuine?" he asked when he could speak fighting back the happy tears he was feeling. He looked to Willow who was watching him worriedly.
"They do. Mr. Travers is quite upset too. As it seems this ‘Buffy´ is the only slayer on record to ever retire, though her, and her husband stayed active as trainers, and researchers for the Council until they died of natural causes in the late nineteen twenties. Right now he is trying to track down the four children in the photograph, and will let us know what he finds," Willow explained.
"No, this can´t be bloody right!" Spike said, getting up, and pacing to clear his head. "How can it be when I am here, and I´m still a bloody vampire and Buffy, the real Buffy is still missing, and Lizzy is here instead. This all terribly wrong," he said, spinning around going quickly outside in a swirl of black leather before anyone could stop him to smoke and think about the implications of all of this.
Willow started to call out him, but then thought better of it after Giles gave her a warning look. "He´s right you know. There´s no way that these two timelines could be happening, especially the one in the past. If it is true then that means that Buffy stayed trapped in the past while Elizabeth is stuck here with us. I refuse to believe that," Giles told her looking down at the photographic evidence, but like Spike refusing to believe what he was seeing.
"I second that," Xander said coming out of his stupor, and shaking his head to hopefully clear it. It wasn´t helping much. His head was still throbbing. "This is wiggin´ all of us out. I can imagine what all this is doing to Spike´s head for a change. I´d be rather shocked to find out that there was this whole life I never remembered living where I got the girl, and everything else. But it´s with a girl from the future, and not the girl he was with. Then this other girl finds out she didn´t get to be with him either in any life. It´s really got to suck for her. And where is this Elizabeth that´s got Buffy´s body by the way? I see you guys, but where´s she?" Xander asked, noticing that there wasn´t a Buffy looking girl among them.
Giles looked around alarmed remembering her. "She came in. Didn´t anyone notice where she went?" he asked looking down at them, and they shook their heads guiltily.
Dawn looked up, "I think she went back in the training room. She went by kind of fast, and I was reading," the young teenager answered grabbing another piece of pepperoni pizza, and stuffing it in her mouth as she read.
Giles just shook his head at the group of young people, and went in search of the girl. She was in the dark training room standing by the windows looking up at the sliver of moon that just showing above the roof of the neighboring building. She had her arms wrapped around herself, and was crying. Her body was trembling with the force of her emotions.
"Elizabeth, is there anything I can do?" Giles asked concerned, approaching her.
She shook her head violently. "No, not unless you can figure out how to undo this spell, or whatever is happening. I thought things couldn´t get any worse. But to hear that your Buffy, and my William get to live the life I will never have—ever, is just too hard to bear, sir. It seems I am doomed never to know any kind of happiness either in that life, or even in this one as the William here, or Spike rather, has told me in no uncertain terms that his heart belongs to your Buffy too, and what we had can never be again. God must really hate me," she said lapsing once again into tears.
"Surely, that is not the case, Elizabeth. There has to be an explaination for all of this, and a way to put things right," he told her unsure whether to hold her, or what to do to comfort her. Because she wasn´t Buffy, Giles felt uncomfortable doing so. All he could do was stand, and watch helplessly as her sorrow ate her up.
She looked at him, anger flashing in her icy eyes, and laughed bitterly at his words. "Even if you do manage to put this right. I still will not have my William, is that not so? If history goes back to when it was disrupted then I will vanish from his life, and he will become what he is now. I will die drained, and broken on a dirty London street unloved, and alone. While your Buffy will return to his loving arms, and have you, her family, her friends to all look forward to. Either way she will know love, while I never will. I can not see that as fair, and just," Elizabeth cried.
"No, I admit that it isn´t. And the more this goes on the less I am sure what should be done. I only know that I hate to see you in so much pain. But I don´t know how to ease it either," Giles told her truthfully.
"I know, and appreciate your kindness, Mr. Giles. You have been most kind through this ordeal, but for the moment I just wish to be alone. I promise not to go anywhere. I just really need to think, and figure out how to face this," Elizabeth told him, wiping her tears away with the back of her hand until Giles found a clean towel for her to use instead. "Thank you," she said. "I don´t think I will be able to read what your Council has sent. It would be too intensely painful for me. But maybe somewhere in it is hope of some kind. You read it for me," she added, then went back to staring up at the sky effectively closing him out.
Giles backed away, and did go back to where the group was still sitting, and reading. For now he would leave the girl alone, but he would come back later to check on her. He didn´t like leaving her, but she had made her wishes very clear.
For once at the research table there was no fighting. It was actually quiet as they all went through the materials on the table. None of them seemed to have moved much except to make most of the pizza out of the three open boxes disappear, and add more soft drink cans to the growing number on the table.
Spike had rejoined them, and was reading as well, Leaning back in his chair his feet propped up on a small table, he chewed unconsciously on the end of a pencil, his face furrowed in concentration on the stack of loose papers he held. "God, I had forgotten what an idiot I was then," he exclaimed as he looked up, meeting six pairs of interested eyes waiting for him to go on.
"Ohh, do tell?" Xander baited him.
"None of your business, Harris," he growled, regretting having said a word.
"Yeah, right. But since Buffy is involved it is my business. It keeps mentioning you as William Giles. What´s that about? Are you, and Giles related, or something?" Xander asked looking at the two men who were passing glances back and forth.
"Something like that," Spike muttered, hoping the kid would let it pass, and not push it.
"Huh? What cousins?"
"He´s my bloody great grand nephew, satisfied now?" Spike asked going back to his reading.
"Shit! and I was only joking about the cousins part," Xander said sitting back in his chair shocked. "Does our Buffy know this?" he asked.
"Told her first. Then the Watcher, and the witches found out when Elizabeth told them who I was, or had been when she calmed down from finding herself here. It´s not something that either of us wanted bandied about. Even the pouf doesn´t know because he thinks I offed my family when I bloody well didn´t. I loved my family and didn´t want them getting hurt. Even if I was just turned I couldn´t do it," Spike told him.
"That´s like Wow!" Dawn exclaimed, looking at both of them, and seeing a mild family resemblance between the two of them. Though it was more pronounced in the old photographs with Spike, correction William, wearing glasses and a suit.
Spike just shook his head, and ignored the young girl as he started in on ‘his´ early journal that he had begun just after being accepted for Watcher training. He was grateful that ‘he´ had backtracked slightly and told how all this had come into being starting with the day that Buffy had popped into his world, and Elizabeth had somehow been thrown into a future time with an vampire self according to what Buffy and the Council head, a Mr. MacAlastair had told him.
His other self´s recollections of that day were similar to his own. Lizzy stumbling suddenly as they were just about to cross the street to his house after he had given her the ring he had had made. Her saying she felt strange, then calling him by another name, and acting very confused as to who he was, where they were, and what the date was. She had seemingly recovered and though she was still acting a bit odd they went on to the house. She seemed surprised by her appearance in the hall mirror, his other self recalled, like she had never seen herself before. The appearance of the maid to collect their outer wear had startled her. Then ‘he´ had taken her into sitting room, and introduced her to his family. He had noted odd hesitations in her speech, and just the trace of an odd accent, that seemed almost American sounding, and strange word choices when speaking which had puzzled him. Also when she had been questioned about her teaching she had been rather quiet on the subject which was not like her. Normally, Lizzy would go, and on about the children she was working with, and how much she enjoyed it. Most of the afternoon his Lizzy had seemed lost, more content with watching him and his family interact, which was so opposite of what she was like. He was pleased that his mother had taken an immediate liking to her, and he was amazed that the girl he thought he knew had such strong feminist views. He hadn´t thought her to be so equal rights with a man before as that was not the way she normally acted. Usually she deterred to him in all ways.
At dinner she still seemed uncomfortable, and hesitated on what piece of silverware she was to use like this kind of dining was unfamiliar. But gradually she warmed up, especially asking his sisters to tell her about him. She found their stories amusing even though he had told her similar things before. It was like she was hearing them for the first time. And her laughter was even different as well. It was almost like she was a different girl who was more self confident, surer about herself in some ways, but held back when she was uncertain. Even her gestures were different, bolder, and she was talking more with her hands. True, he hadn´t seen her for almost two weeks due to their schedules, but he couldn´t believe she could have changed that radically in that time. Now in view of what he knew now everything made sense finally.
Even their drive back to her home had been strained. She had seemed nervous, and shy when they were alone together. She also didn´t appear to recognize her own house until he told her. Normally, she was the one that instigated their holding hands, or any touching, but it was he this time that was the aggressor surprising himself with his boldness, and frustration with her lack of affection. Then she had been calling him "William" all day, and not Willy as she usually did. Then when they had kissed at her door, he knew somehow this was not Elizabeth. It was like a live wire had been ignited between them. His kisses with Elizabeth had always been pleasant, and had stirred him, but the girl he held that night had made him feel things he didn´t know where possible with a kiss, and his trousers had become very uncomfortable, and he had broke it off before his passions led to giving into what he felt with her.
Spike raised his eyebrow at that. So far his recollections were similar including the goodnight kiss at Elizabeth´s parent´s house. So this had all started just before they had met his family. Though the diary he had read several days ago of Elizabeth´s had said that when he had dropped her off that was the last she ever saw of him because waiting inside was her new Watcher. The reason she had stumbled was because she had just had a power surge from receiving her new slayer powers. And she had written him a letter breaking off their engagement before she John Hyde had left together. Spike remembered receiving it, and reading it, and how devastated he had been for weeks afterwards. It was Elizabeth´s disappearance and the heartbreaking letter that led to his meeting Cecily, her rejection of him and running into Drusilla. But this other self had never gotten a letter, and Elizabeth´s disappearance was unexplained for almost a week.
The real changing of time seemed to occur the minute that Buffy had stepped through the door, and met with John Hyde, and explained her situation to the incredulous Watcher. He found out from his other self Buffy had done her Blood Ceremony though it had taken four days for her to complete it, and then she had spend a whole day asleep recovering before she was well enough to go to Council headquarters. Before she had even arrived the Council had checked out Buffy´s story with something called the Eye of Oracles which had shown she spoke the truth. However, subsequent viewings had showed that the future was already altering. When they looked again neither Angelus, now Angel, or himself as Spike existed. Instead she was with someone called Riley who worked for a group called the Initative. Because of this it was determined that the future could be altered successfully from the way it had been seen initially.
Once she had arrived she had been told she was staying, and that she was stuck in time with no means back. Also her presence indicated she was there for a higher purpose since she had been switched with Elizabeth. It meant that she was there to end the threat of Angelus, and his group and to prevent William turning into Spike since they were seeing a different future for her as well as for him. Hyde was sent to collect him, and bring him back to headquarters. He had been told that his missing Elizabeth had been found, but she had been assaulted at her home by ruffians, and now was suffering from strange delusions, and believed herself to be someone from the future. He was so relieved to find out that she had been found, and was well he had gone with the man willingly. Once there he had met with Mr. MacAlastair, and they had talked about Elizabeth, her delusions, and what he could do to ‘help´ her get over them. He had been offered to be trained as a Watcher because no matter what Elizabeth was the current Chosen One, and had a duty to the world to perform. His being a watcher would insure that not only could they continue to see one another, but give her a reason to give up her fantasies. ‘He´ knew he was there mainly to give Buffy incentive for staying in the past, to prevent him from becoming a vampire, and existing in the future with her in a intimate relationship which was an abomination to the whole Council as had Buffy´s affair with Angel been.
"Those son-of-a-bitches, dirty wankers," Spike growled angrily startling everyone. "It´s the soddin´ Council—I bloody knew they had to be behind this mess!" he exploded.
The Scoobies, and Giles looked at him stunned afraid to ask for further explanations from the fuming vampire until Giles was brave enough to ask, "you´re sure?"
"They´re in this deep I´d bet on it. They convinced Buffy that there was no way for her to return because they wanted her to get rid of Angelus, Darla, and Dru before Dru could turn me so there would be no future me, or Angel. They saw the true future, and decided to deliberately change it, and used me as bait."
"You? Bait?" Xander laughed, pointing. "Yeah right! You just wish!" he laughed louder almost falling off his chair.
"Yeah, me. What, you think as a human I wouldn´t interest a Buffy that already knew about me, and would be curious about the quote ‘real me´? Get real, boy." Spike told him, daring him to challenge that.
Xander started to say something, but then couldn´t find anything to stay.
"So you´re saying the Council deliberately told Buffy she was stuck in the past, and used your human self as a means to keep her there, and further alter history so neither you, or Angel would exist to fight in our present?" Giles asked incredulous taking off his glasses, and blinking several times as the ramifications of the situation hit him. "I can´t believe they would do something this gross, and incompetent when they knew the truth. All they had to do to verify Buffy´s story was to use the Eye..," Giles said.
"Of Oracles," Spike finished. "They did. Then they also saw that by altering the future they would eliminate the problems of the vampires in their time, and in this one since they were not keen on seeing a slayer fraternizing with the enemy a bit… too closely," Spike told him, letting the meaning hang there, not willing to be more specific with the others, especially Dawn, present, and listening.
"I see," Giles, said chewing on the ear piece of his glasses thoughtfully.
"According to this diary I already suspected that something was going on the day that I escorted whom I thought was Elizabeth to my home, because she was acting so different from the girl I knew. It wasn´t until "I" got to the WC, and Buffy´s situation was run down to me that things began to fall into place. Though initially they claimed that Elizabeth was attacked, and it was because of this ‘trauma´ she was suffering from severe delusions that made her think she was a girl called Buffy from the future. The head of the Council decided to have me become a Watcher since crazy, or not, they still need a slayer, and having me work with her would keep us both near one another, so the chances of my becoming a vampire would be near impossible. Since she had met me as William she was already protective of me, and was conflicted over allowing me to be turned by Dru. In other words they had both of us good, and proper in their noose, and Buffy knew it, but couldn´t do a thing to stop it," Spike explained.
Giles scratched his ear. "It seems so. So they had her at headquarters, and then brought you in? I can´t imagine she was happy at all," he said.
"You think she would be? She was bloody furious. But where else could she go? The only ones besides myself, and my family that she knew would have been Angelus. I can just see her trying to explain any of this to him, and him actually listening to her. He wasn´t too keen on that sort of thing, not with Darla urging him on. If Dru saw she was telling the truth she would also see Angel getting a soul, and vanishing on her, so that wouldn´t be good either."
"Truly, this is a no win situation for her, poor girl," Giles said feeling for his slayer lost to them.
"So now we know what is happening. Has anything been found to bring her back? I still can´t figure how that is all going on, and you are still sitting here? Just doesn´t make any sense. How can you still be a vampire, and your human self supposedly ends up Buffy, and you guys die from old age together—no computay´" Xander interjected, looking more confused than normal.
"I don´t have a bloody clue, mate. But somewhere in all this is the answer," Spike told him.
"Guys, can I go home?" Dawn asked, interupting the discussion, waving her hand up for attention, tired and sleepy.
Giles looked at her, and sighed. "Yes, maybe you should. Then I imagine that Elizabeth would like to rest as well. Dawn, how do feel about going home with her?" he asked the girl.
She shrugged, "okay, I guess. I mean, I don´t know her and all. Got to get used to her though since she´s in Buffy´s body, and Mom´s going be coming home tomorrow too. Is she cool with this?" Dawn asked.
"Your mother seems to be surprisingly. She, and Elizabeth got along remarkably well when they met. And you, Spike? What are your plans? Joyce told me you had moved in to help out. Though that was before all this?" Giles questioned, and the blonde vampire looked up from his reading to stare blankly at him.
"Well all my stuff is in the basement, and Joyce still wants me, and Elizabeth isn´t up to slaying yet, so what do you think? I guess I go home with little sis and Lizzy," Spike said sitting up. "But I´m taking this to read since it´s about my soddin´ life. The rest of you lot can read the other stuff," he added gathering up the various parts that had gotten scattered across the table.
"That will be fine. Anyone else want to read on their own?" Giles asked, looking around at the tired young adults.
"I´ve got Buffy´s diary, or at least parts of it," Willow said, holding back her yawns as she, and Tara picked up papers, and notes.
"I´ve got some one called Foxworth," Xander said, looking up from his reading. "Seems you had a rival after all, Spike. This guy had the hots for Buffy too. But he was MacAlastair´s assistant so there may be something in them that can help," he added, noticing Spike´s raised eyebrow and frown.
"I guess I have the head of the Council, and the supplementary reports," Giles told them looking at what was remaining which were the biggest stack still on the table. "Let me go collect Elizabeth, and I´ll take you home," he let Dawn and Spike know.
He found the girl on the couch in the training room sleeping. She jumped, then calmed down when she saw that it was only Giles trying to wake her. "Ohh, it´s you, Mr. Giles. I´m still here aren´t I?" she asked sadly, pushing herself up to a sitting position, the plastic leather squeaking with her moments.
"If you mean in the shop, and still in the future, yes, I´m afraid. I came to get you, so you could go home with Dawn, and Spike. If that´s all right with you?"
"That would be acceptable. At least I won´t be alone with him. It has been rather awkward on many levels," she added, getting up, and straightening her skirt.
"I can well imagine. But until you know how to protect yourself he is a necessary evil for protection of Buffy´s family as well as yourself. Glory is not the only danger which we have to worry about, but we will talk about this later. Are you ready to go?" he asked, and she nodded following him back to the main room of the store.
End part 42
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