Sands of Burning Time - (2)
Disclaimer and Distribution notes are listed on the Index page of this story.'Single' quote marks surround thoughts in this story. "Regular" quotes are around spoken words.
EGYPT, LOST PALACE OF NEFERTIRI
OCTOBER 31, 1941
“If you put it on your finger it can be taken off,” Buffy pointed out. She couldn’t hold back the grin at the fish-out-of-water expression her comment elicited from the blond vampire.
Spike opened and closed his mouth a few more times before he was able to produce actual words and even then he was less than his articulate best. “But…wha’…huh? I’m evil?” he seemed to be asking for conformation while his mind reeled over the possibilities. He found it hard to an accept that the Slayer actually appeared to be giving him permission to use the ring that would make him invincible.
“Buffy,” Giles gently called for her attention. “While I agree that the ring would be of great benefit to us, we can not just take it. It belongs to the O’Connells.”
Rick eyed them thoughtfully. “What do you mean, ‘a benefit’?”
Turning to the questioning man, Giles replied, “The ring is mystical. Among other things, it will allow our, er, companion to survive in sunlight.”
Turning to his wife in silent communication, the Sunnydale trio was delighted when Evy smiled. “Will it still work if you swallow it?”
“I can’t see why it wouldn’t,” Giles replied, giving Spike the go ahead.
Spike turned to Buffy. He was not doing anything without her approval, regardless of how much he wanted it. His eyes begged her to trust him.
The Slayer considered his expression carefully then turned from him not allowing him to see the grin she had hidden. Across the room a teenager stood watching them. She pointed to the bottle attached to his belt. “If that’s water, can I borrow it?”
The young man detached the bottle and sent it airborne with the accuracy of a marksman. Buffy caught it easily then turned to face a very confused vampire. “What?” she asked innocently. “You might need something to rinse it down.”
Spike reverently lifted the ring from its place on the table, not taking his eyes off Buffy for a second. A part of him believed that she would come to her senses and change her mind any second. Just as the ring passed his lips she whispered a plea.
“Don’t let me down, Spike.”
Swallowing deeply, forcing the oversized object down his throat, Spike suffered the pain that its passing caused. His eyes never left hers. Taking the water canteen from her outstretched hand he drank deeply, internally elated at the level of trust she was showing him. He silently vowed to never do anything that would make her question her faith. He slowly lifted a hand to gently caress her cheek, moved when she nuzzled into his hand. “Never, luv. Never,” he fervently assured her.
He was unprepared when Giles grabbed his hand and sliced a dagger across his palm.
Giles had moved swiftly, using his body to shield what he was doing from the others in the chamber. He didn’t know these people, and the strange man that was also from their time, Logan, made him suspicious. How was it possible that he had known that Spike was not human before they had mentioned the fact? For the moment all these people knew was that the ring kept the vampire safe in the sunlight. They didn’t need to know more.
The three watched as the magic of the ring healed the cut immediately. Spike and Buffy instinctively following the watcher’s lead. Giles lifted his gaze from the blonde’s palm to focus on his curiosity filled blue eyes. “Any after effects?” he asked with an intensity that demanded seriousness.
Spike shook his head in answer. He was still stunned that the normally untrusting watcher was, like his Slayer, giving him this chance. His own suspicions had him wondering how long the other Brit would continue to act in this manner and sadly concluded that it probably wouldn’t be long.
Giles seemed to know what the confused vampire was thinking. “I’m trusting you out of necessity, Spike. It’s up to you to prove that my trust is not misplaced and that you are worthy of it.”
Their eyes locked momentarily, the message in Giles’ was clear. ‘You get one chance.’
Nodding in acceptance, the vampire turned back to the waiting group. With a flick of his wrist, he sent the water bottle back to the youth that had originally held it. “Thanks mate.”
The unknown youth easily grabbed the bottle and returned it to his belt before turning to the O’Connells. He finally asked the question that had been burning within him since they’d first arrived in the treasure chamber. “Dad? Who are they?”
Rick chuckled at his son’s unfazed question. He was proud of Alex’s ability to take everything in his stride, but he definitely had his mother’s curiosity. However, before he had a chance to answer his son’s query, an older man rushed into the chamber.
“It’s not my fault!” The new arrival hastened to assure the O’Connells.
Rick rolled his eyes as his shoulders slumped in resigned acceptance. “What happened now, Jonathan?”
Buffy, Spike and Logan spun towards the quite whisper of rocks sliding, enhanced hearing notifying them to the sound before any of the others noticed anything at all. Before they could move, a mummy reached out of the now exposed opening in the wall and grabbed Alex, dragging the struggling boy back through the hole in the wall.
“ALEX!” Rick and Evy shouted in unison.
Spike’s superior speed got him to the wall first, Buffy a close second. “It’s like the one that took Nibblet,” he shouted as he charged through the opening, mere seconds after the mummy and the boy disappeared.
The two blond warriors determinedly chased the clearly supernatural mummy. It held the still struggling youth as it flowed down the passage with the speed of a raging river, pulling ahead of the vampire with surprising ease.
As the passageway opened into a deep cavern, the creature increased his lead.
Spike charged into the cavern determined to catch the bastard that seemed to be the only link they had to finding Dawn. In front of him a wide stone path led directly to a stone circle. A group stood within the circle, clearly waiting for the mummy and his captive. Among the group, held by two more of the mummy things he was chasing, Spike saw Dawn.
“SPIKE!” Dawn screamed in desperation, and she doubled her efforts to be free as soon as she spied her protector racing towards her.
Blue light filled the circle as soon as Alex passed the boundary. As Spike reached the circle the light dissipated, leaving the area empty of all but the devastated vampire. He had failed. Again.
Dropping to his knees tears steaming down his face, his misery was palpable.
This time Buffy offered him her strength. Resting a hand on his shaking shoulder and breathing heavily with the exertion of her run, Buffy tried to sooth him. “We will get her back, Spike. Then you can rip them to pieces.” She waited a moment as he pulled himself together. The others were arriving. “Little bitty pieces. Then, maybe we can take their remains home, get Willow to bring them back and then rip them apart again.”
“What happened? Where’s Alex?” Rick snarled. His fear for his son overrode all else.
“They took him with my girl and theirs,” Logan replied harshly, indicating Buffy and Spike as he spoke. Anger suffused his frame. He’d heard what the small blond had said to the vampire, he had every intention on helping them carry out their plans whether they wanted his help or not. “So who’s the brain of this operation? How do we get them back?” he asked, confidently expecting someone to take charge. The old guy from his time looked like a bit of a brain.
Giles stepped forward, breathing heavily. One look at the devastated O’Connells told him that they needed a little while to table their fear for their son before they would be of use to him. Entering the circle the watcher investigated the area. Waist high stone altars surrounded the outer edge of the area. A complicated pattern of hieroglyphs covered the floor. Each altar held twelve crystals of various type and color. Each crystal had its own pictograph beneath it.
“Spike?” Giles called to the disheartened blond. “Can you read these?”
Taking an unneeded breath, Spike joined the watcher within the circle and studied the ancient markings on the floor.
As the vampire studied the markings, Rick held his wife. The image of his brother-in-law flashed through his mind along with the memory of his earlier words. Focusing on the heavily breathing man, the American adventurer repeated his earlier question, but this time his voice was laced with accusation. “What did you do?”
Jonathan jerked to attention. His confusion at what was happening was forgotten with the unspoken insinuation from Rick. He wasn’t responsible for the news he had originally been bringing to them, he certainly hadn’t been the cause of this catastrophe. At least, not this time.
“I just wanted to let you know he had arrived,” Jonathan said pointing to the previously un-noticed Bedouin. “I had nothing to do with any of this!” he quickly assured them.
Rick felt the dread infuse his body as Ardeth Bey stepped forward. “Oh God! Not again.”
“I am afraid so, my friend. The beast has awoken.” Ardeth sadly delivered his news.
“WHAT!?” Buffy yelled in fury. “No, no no no, no more skanky hell gods. Ben’s not even born yet. Crap, I don’t even have my hammer - this is so not of the good.”
“Pet?” Spike called to her. As always he was tuned into her emotions.
“She’s dead. Tell them she’s dead, Giles.” Buffy petulantly stamped her foot.
“She?” Ardeth questioned. “The beast that we speak of is male.”
Buffy sighed in relief. “Sheesh, don’t wig a girl like that!”
“What language does the small one speak?” The Bedouin asked in confusion.
“Hey!” Buffy replied indignantly. “I speak English just as well as you do, buster. Better even. I bet it’s not even your first language, and who are you calling small?”
“Yes, luv, but maybe they don't speak Valley Girl.” Spike snarked at the infuriated blond powerhouse.
“Watch it, bleach boy. I can still kick your ass.”
“Bring it on, baby. I got my ring, and this time it won’t be quite so easy to take it.” Spike grinned and wiggled his eyebrows.
“One word, Fangface – vivisection!”
“Oi, the Slayer used a three-dollar word! You're rubbing off on her, Rupes.”
“Oh do be quiet, both of you.” Giles rolled his eyes at their antics. Despite how annoying their little fights were, he did find them amusing as well.
“The Slayer?” Ardeth spluttered. “This is not the Slayer! The Slayer is Cairo. There can't be two Slayers at once.”
“Um, about that....” Buffy stopped her explanation, a little at loss. How do you explain the whole dying and coming back – twice, coupled with the whole time travel thing-y? Maybe she should footnote the situation instead. “Long story.”
“Who are these very strange people, Rick?” Jonathan felt compelled to ask while firmly focused on the bantering blonds.
“Why don’t we wait for explanations, and introductions, until after Spike has informed us as to what he has discovered?” Giles suggested. His mind was firmly focused on the problem at hand.
“Yes, of course,” Evy spoke up. Her concern for her son encouraged her to work with just about anyone to solve the problem.
All eyes turned to the vampire.
“Oh, right then,” Spike started, moving back to the circle. “The message on the floor says that this a travel center so to speak. The crystals are what programs the vortex to open to the destination you want. You press the crystals with the correct address, and the portal opens. Unfortunately you need some sort of key to know what crystals you hafta press. Something called ‘The Crilderian’.”
“The Crilderian?” Evy asked excitedly. “I’ve seen it. It’s at the Cairo Museum.”
“But how do we know what destination to go to?” Rick asked in frustration.
“Atlantis,” Ardeth stoically offered. “The beast searches for Atlantis.”