Sands of Burning Time - (4)
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
"General Scooby consensus says..." Buffy did a small drum roll. "It's because Dawn is the Key."
“The Key?!” Ardeth gasped in horror. The pieces of the puzzle were slipping to place.
“Okay, now that reaction … wiggy!” Buffy snarked good naturedly. “Kinda suggests you might have something to share with the rest of the class.”
“What’s this ‘Key’?” Evy asked curiously, desperately trying to stay focused. Her boy was out there, and this group of strangers seemed to at least have some sort of idea about what had happened.
“I think Carl here has a story to tell.” Spike lifted his challenging gaze to the Med-jai warrior.
“Carl?” Buffy lifted an eyebrow as she asked her question. This was one nickname that had her stumped.
“Carl was the name of the leading character in Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man, a character whose body was covered with tattoos, Buffy,” Giles offered in sardonic amusement. He didn’t know why he was not more surprised that the master vampire had apparently read the classic. Coupled with Spike’s knowledge of ancient hieroglyphics, it seemed more than plausible that the blond had been holding out on them. The watcher mildly wondered what other surprises the vampire had for them.
“Must have missed that one in American Lit class,” Buffy mumbled, embarrassed. Stupid smart-y vamp!
Ardeth watched the by-play with confusion. This group of strangers spoke of things outside of his understanding. Shaking himself he focused on the matters at hand. “I do not understand how you would know this. The Key is energy. It is not human. How can the Key be your sister?”
“It was this whole thing. Some stupid monks sent me the Key in a sister shaped package, and I had to protect her from the skanky-ho hell god, blah, blah, blah. Oh, and there were some medieval knights too.”
Giles and Spike shared a chuckle at the look of shocked confusion that stared at the Slayer from all sides; They both realized that Buffy’s unique speech patterns were going to be a source of great amusement on their journey.
“Perhaps I should clarify,” Giles offered sagely. “In our time, the monks that protected the Key were discovered by the Hell God, Glorificus. Her intention was to use the power of the Key to break down all dimensional walls enabling her to return to her own dimension. Had this come to pass, the barriers between all dimensions would have been removed allowing all manner of beasts to enter this realm. Knowing that they were no longer able to protect the Key, or the dimensions, they transformed the Key into human form, altered all of our memories and placed the Key – Dawn Summers – under my Slayer’s protection. Glorificus will enter this dimension housed in the body of a male child. In our time, the death of her human host ended her threat. At the same time we were also under threat from the Knights of Byzantium who believed that the destruction of the Key was the only solution. Buffy eventually disabused them of the need for that extreme.”
“I know of these holy men and warrior protectors.” The Med-jai warrior nodded in understanding. “We must be sure not to mention the Key when we leave here. The protectors watch the holy men, but if knowledge of your sister’s origin became known to them, they would hasten to remove the threat of the Key.”
“Then they would hasten themselves right into a whole lot of pain! Nobody touches Dawn.” The Slayer stood with her hands on her hips, her eyes flashing with fire. Her vampire stood beside her, his eyes flashing gold. Their combined power thrummed in palpable unity.
Not one person there was under any illusions about what the two warriors were planning on doing to the creatures that had stolen the three teens.
Logan watched them through hooded eyes, ‘Oh yeah! He could get to like these two!’
Rick and Evy shared a relieved glance. For once they felt the odds shifting into their favour.
Jonathan watched the group, hesitating to speak up, but unable to contain his fear. “Does this actually help us with a plan? Because if you’re leaving? I don’t mind watching the treasure.”
Rick rolled his eyes in mock disgust. “Oh, please. I wouldn’t leave you to watch my grass grow.”
“You’re coming with us, Jonathan.” Evy’s tone brooked no argument. “Now behave, or I’ll let the vampire eat you!”
“Please,” Spike held his hand up in derision. “I don’t eat pastries.”
“You eat donuts,” Buffy grinned cheekily.
“And chocolate cake,” Giles added with amusement.
“Oh! I say!” Jonathan blustered in attempted bravery as he positioned himself behind his brother-in-law, not totally convinced that they were joking.
Buffy snorted and looked directly at her watcher. “Why does he remind me of Wesley?”
CAIRO, EGYPT, THE O’CONNELL EGYPTIAN RESIDENCE, DAWN, NOVEMBER 1, 1941
Buffy stepped soundlessly onto the balcony, curiously watching the vampire as he stared off into the distance. He was so lost in his musings that for once he didn’t seem to notice her approach. She wondered what he was thinking.
When Spike gasped in surprised delight, Buffy was jerked back to awareness.
“God, pet, it’s almost as beautiful as you.”
Buffy softly smiled as she realised Spike was watching his first dawn in over a century. When he reached his hand back to her, she didn’t think of her actions. She joined him at the balustrade, and they watched the dawn together.
Once the dawn had broken, Spike turned and smiled at the beautiful blonde. His smile was the smile of a happy child at Christmas who had received the gift he had only dreamed of. “Thank you,” his said with soft earnestness.
Buffy returned his smile and shrugged, as if to say ‘it was nothing’. “Ready to find out what’s the what?”
“You lead, and I’ll follow, Goldilocks.” Spike lifted his hand to indicate she should go first.
Logan looked out the window, but he saw nothing. His whole body felt poised for action. He hated everything about his situation. He hated the desert. He hated the heat of the day and the coldness of the night. He had enough trouble coming to terms with the knowledge of mutants. Adding vampires, demons, and Slayers into the mix was just confusing the hell out of him. He hated having to be a part of a team. He’d barely stomached Cyclops, and now he had to deal with more fucking do-gooders. He damn well knew that vampire was going to end up pissing him off.
When in the Hell were people going to realise he was a loner? The only reasons he’d helped the professor in the first place was for information and for Rogue, and he still had no idea why he’d cared enough about the girl to get involved in the first place. Why couldn’t he stop thinking about her? Yet, here he was again, going after Rogue. He shook his head in disbelief. He wasn’t a superhero. He was a man without a past and more questions than answers. When he got his hands on those fucked up mummies he was definitely introducing them to his ‘sharper’ side – right before he bitched at the girl for getting herself kidnapped again!
Rick watched his wife as she fitfully slept. ‘Alex! Oh God, please don’t let my boy be hurt.’ He couldn’t imagine his life without his wife and son. He cursed the bastard that had once again invaded his life. Last time, once his family had been safely home, he had taken the time to think about the monster that had once been a man in love. He’d even felt a little sorry for him. Everything he’d gone through was for the woman he thought of as his soulmate, and she’d abandoned him at the first threat to herself. Evy had risked everything to come for him, and Imhotep’s crazy witch had run away. Oh, sure, he’d told Evy to run, not wanting to risk her again, but not his Evy!
The stubbornly fierce little hell cat had ignored his pleas and saved him. It wasn’t what you’d really expect from an academic, but he was so proud of her. Now, after all this time; all these years, that soul sucking bastard was back, and he had Alex. With fierce determination he vowed that this time he’d make sure the ancient priest got a one way ticket to hell – even if he had to take him there himself.
As Giles waited, in the huge dining room of the O’Connell’s palatial home in Cairo for the other’s to join him, he reached back into his memories. Something was niggling at his subconscious, something about 1941 and Egypt. With practiced ease he cleared his mind and focused on the significance of the place, dragging up every memory that even mentioned of the ancient city. An image of his grandmother came unbidden to his mind. Edna Giles? Egypt? 1941? Oh! Bloody Hell!
Before he had a chance to work out how his memories could help their current situation, the rest of the group started arriving. As he waited for everybody to take their seats, Giles felt a sliver of an idea begin to form.
“Okay, Giles, what’s the plan?” Buffy asked with ingenuous innocence. She was so full of faith in the man she thought of as her father figure.
Turning to Evy, Giles asked a question of his own, “Mrs. O’Connell, is it possible for you to retrieve The Crilderian and bring it here?”
“Yes, I’m sure that won’t be a problem. I often need to borrow texts.”
Acknowledging her agreement with a nod, Giles then turned to Rick. “Mr. O’Connell, do you think you would be able to find some blood for Spike?”
“It’s Rick, and I’m pretty sure Jonathan and I will be able to come up with something,” the hardened explorer conceded.
“Er, yes, of course, Rick.” Giles stumbled over the informality as he quickly removed his glasses and cleaned them. Taking a moment to gather his thoughts, the watcher turned to Ardeth Bey. “You mentioned Atlantis. I don’t suppose you have any resource materials we may look at?”
Ardeth considered the question before answering. “There are scrolls I have access to.”
“Excellent. While you are doing that, may I use your telephone? There is someone here in Cairo that, if I can find her, can help.” Giles ordered and asked.
“Who do you know here? Are you like ringing yourself, or something?” Buffy asked curiously.
Rolling his eyes in disgust, Giles answered his charge. “Contrary to popular belief, I am not actually as old as dirt. I will not be born for a number of years yet, Buffy. So, no, I am not calling myself.”
Buffy giggled unrepentant before repeating her query as to whom her watcher might know in 1941.
“The Watcher for Najla Fathi, the Slayer of this time, is my grandmother Edna Giles.”
CAIRO, EGYPT, EVENING, NOVEMBER 1, 1941
Spike moved closer as the sound of a battle reached his hearing. As he finally came to a position where he could observe unnoticed, other sounds filtered through the night. Somewhere off to the right he could hear talking. The thing that stunned him was the fact that the voice he could hear sounded suspiciously like his. Silently, he altered his position until the quietly talking pair could be seen.
“Bloody hell, luv. You were better than this bint when you were sixteen, and what is she? Twenty?”
“Seventeen, almost eighteen. Giles said she never made it past the ritual.”
The hidden Spike stepped back in shock. Bloody hell! That was him. It was his scent, but who was the bleedin’ blonde pocket rocket with him? Before he could move back into the relative safety of the night, the bleached blond version of himself spotted him. Both seemed frozen in time. The little blonde woman also spotted him, and as she stepped hesitantly forward, Spike turned tail and ran.