Sands of Burning Time - (9)
Author's Note: Some dialogue in the flashback was taken from the Angel Season 5 episode "Why We Fight".
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.
(On a ship most of the way to England from Cairo)
Buffy growled and paced around their cabin. "Explain to me again why we couldn't have flown?" She turned to face Spike. "We could have already been there."
"Do you have any idea how unstable planes are during this time, pet or even how many were shot down during the war?" Spike huffed. "Well I do, and there was no way in Hell that I was getting on one of those flying tin cans."
"But Spike," Buffy tried to interrupt.
"No buts, Slayer. We're all the Niblet has. I'm not getting offed on the way to England," Spike stated emphatically. This was one time that he hadn't back down or bowed out to Buffy's wishes. Their current argument seemed to be an ongoing one ever since Buffy first found out about their alternate means of transportation to England.
"Fine, but I still don't like it."
"That's obvious." Spike rolled his eyes at the Slayer. He was tired from the mixed up night and day schedule that he'd been on since using the Gem of Amara. He'd also spent many late nights going over the scrolls, texts, and copies of research pages that they had from Cairo. He and Rupert seemed to be bonding over their inherent quest for knowledge, but it was starting to cost him his sanity where Buffy was concerned.
Buffy's eyes narrowed, and she practically growled. "I'm going to go get something to eat. If you know what's good for you, you won't follow me."
Spike watched the door to their cabin be shut forcefully with another eye roll.
"Losing a grip on your leash there, Slayer?" A replica of the Spike Buffy just left in their cabin stared her. "Not a very good puppy today, is he?" He laughed.
"Watch it Spike. I'm in a bad enough mood as it is. I might just decide to wipe you out of existence today." Buffy stalked down the hall in the direction of the galley.
Spike snagged Buffy's forearm on her way by him to keep her from going any farther. "No you won't." With his other hand he traced the tip of his finger down Buffy's jawline to her lips where he bussed them with the pad of his finger. Spike from the past had already learned a few things about Buffy. One thing was that no matter how mad she was at her own Spike, she always went back to the cabin when she'd cooled off. It seemed that he was in her blood as much as it seemed she was already in his.
"You're evil, Spike." Buffy huffed. She really wanted to lick her lips, but she refrained. What was so innate about either Spike that they seemed to be able to read her and look straight through her barriers? She knew the vampire before her only knew her on the surface layers, but he still knew her better than a lot of people.
"Of course I am, pet." Spike laughed. He'd watched the Slayer interact with the infatuated version of himself for most of the trip. He refused to acknowledge the look of love in his counterpart's eyes. Even though he hadn't followed Dru to Paris, he couldn't fathom totally giving her up for the blonde spitfire in front of him. Though, if he was honest with himself, he'd realize that he was already well on his way to doing so.
"Always the Big Bad," Buffy said with a chuckle. Her Spike was probably lucky that his past self was on the boat with them. It seemed like the pair were tag teaming her to calm down her worries in their own ways. When one wasn't able to succeed, the banter with the other one did.
"Never a doubt. So what did he do to brass you off this time?" Spike walked alongside Buffy on her way to the dining room for the guests.
"Same thing as before. I just don't understand why we couldn't fly."
"Bloody well unsafe. That's why." Spike supported his alter-ego wholeheartedly. He wouldn't have followed the Slayer on her little jaunt to "Merry Ol England" if they'd taken an airplane. His feet were staying firmly planted on the ground, or water as the current situation was. If he was meant to fly, he would have been born a bird.
"Both of you are being ridiculous. Though I shouldn't have expected you to disagree with yourself on it."
"I'm a right smart bloke. You should listen to me."
Buffy punched Spike's upper arm hard enough to make it sting. "Jerk," she said with less venom than expected with such a statement.
"Oy, that hurt."
"It was supposed to."
"Look, I'm sure that whatever you're running all over for is going to be all right. You'll get there in one piece this way, and that's better than not arriving at all, right?"
"I suppose. At least she's not alone," Buffy said more to herself than to Spike. She hadn't revealed the reasons why they were in Cairo or heading to England. Some things were better left unsaid.
"Are you sure this is the right way?" Dawn practically whined. She was trying not to be scared, but she was starting to get an even worse feeling about their current predicament. It seemed a good idea to sneak into the air duct. Now she wasn't so sure.
"How should I know?" Alex huffed. "I've never been here before. Have you?"
"Not that I know of," Dawn said with a little tremble in her voice. "Then again, I'm not quite sure of all the places I've been over the millennia, at least nothing before arriving in Sunnydale."
Rogue wiped her face with one of her gloved hands. It was getting hotter the further they traveled in the ductwork. "Shouldn't it be getting cooler if we are heading in the right direction?"
"I don't know. Let's ask Miss Smarty Pants up there who got us up here in the first place. She's the experienced victim. You and I are only on our second go at it." Alex wasn't usually so surly, but he was starting to get tired, hungry, and more irritated over the situation by the minute.
"That's not fair, Alex," Rogue cut in before Dawn could. "I think we all need to stop for a minute and take a breather. None of us are happy about this, but we're all each other has for the moment. If we don't stick together, we'll never make it."
Dawn sighed, "Sorry Rogue. I'm sorry Alex." She laid down where she was at, pressing her cheek against the warm metal as she hoped to stave off the headache that was quickly building. Something seemed vaguely familiar to her, and that made her even more afraid.
(1943, New York USA)
Angel sat depressively in a chair staring at a few newspapers on the floor that had a headline of "Allies Strike Back". He was surprised by a group of men that burst into the room and knocked him out of his chair with a few punches. When he was able to stand up again, he was faced with two strong looking men with stakes in their hands. His eyes narrowed at the other men that followed in from the hallway.
A military looking man was the first to speak. "All right, calm down! Calm down!" He turned to Angel. "Now, when I say calm down, Iím talking to you. These other guys I want wound good and tight just in case you don't feel like listening. Sit down, son. We need to talk."
Angel sat down. He knew his strength wasn't what it should be. After all, he hadn't had a good "meal" in decades. He never expected it to be humans that would corner him in his weakened state.
"You ever consider joining the war effort?"
"No." Angel shrugged. The man was obviously from the military. He wore a black leather jacket and a khaki-colored button-up shirt with star-shaped pins on the collar.
"Well that's a shame. Times like these, we can use all the able-bodied men we can get." The military man knew just what was sitting in front of him. Vampire or not, he could be of use to the Allies.
"I'm not a man," Angel looked behind him at the stake carrying men before he continued, "but I guess you already knew that."
"Everybody should be doing their part. That's all I'm saying. Doenitz has been kicking the holy hell out of us in the Atlantic. The Allies are losing up to 100 ships a month to his U-boats. Their damn submarines are faster, stronger, and more powerful than anything we've got in the water. Say what you will about the Krauts, them sons-of-bitches know how to build a boat. Up until now, we haven't had much luck figuring out what makes 'em tick, but 2 days ago our boys managed to capture what appears to be a T-class German-prototype submarine."
"That's great news Ö for you."
"Yes, it is. Unfortunately, when they were bringing it back here, something went wrong. Late last night, we received fragments of a distress call. Something was on that ship. Have you ever heard dying men screaming for their lives, Angel? "
"Course he has." A man dressed all in black, who stood behind the officer, smirked at Angel.
Angel visibly cringed. He was haunted by the screams of the men, women and children that he'd hunted and killed over years.
"That sub's stuck in hostile territory, but we need it if we're going to win this war. It's down too deep to send divers. Pressure would probably kill a man."
"But, those aren't problems for you. Are they?" The man in black taunted the vampire. He seemed to get great pleasure out of it. "You've been on our radar for some time now, Angelus."
"The name is Angel."
"Oh," The man in black laughed through the word. "Right. You have a soul now." He rolled his eyes. "I represent a relatively new agency called the Demon Research Initiative, and we think you might be the solution to our little problem."
"Well I'm not interested in your problems." A solid punch to Angel's stomach knocked him back down into the chair along with the "helpful" shove. Angel coughed, even though the loss of breath didn't hurt him.
"We don't particularly care what you want. We figure that if we strap enough weight to you, you will sink, regardless of your interests. So, it is in your best interest to have us on your side to get you back out."
"We need that sub, and we need you to deal with what's on it." The military man wasn't above using force, but he also assumed that guilting Angel into doing what they wanted was a better route. If this demon was cursed with a soul, he would want to seek redemption. This would be a way for him to do that.
"We had our intelligence investigate the submarine's cargo manifest." The man in black continued on almost as if the officer hadn't said anything in-between.
The officer removed a file marked top-secret from his briefcase. He stood up and tossed the file into Angel's lap. "We think we know what attacked our boys, and we think you are the best one to deal with it."
Angel sighed, opened the file, and read it.
(Sometime in 1996)
Sam Lawson looked over the letter he'd just received. Most vampires didn't keep a stable enough address to get mail. Most didn't care about getting any either. Sam was a different kind of vampire. He had been ever since originally being turned by a souled up Angelus during World War II. His early survival was helped along solely by another vampire passenger on the submarine and not his Sire. He supposed that Spike became his Sire and mentor in all ways that mattered.
Now, it looked like it was time to help repay debts owed for his fledgling years. He knew Spike would never force him in to anything, but Sam still felt that he owed his unlife to the vampire. They'd kept in touch over the years, and the missive in his hands said that Spike would need help in Sunnydale, California soon.
"Strange name for a town," Sam thought. With a shrug of his shoulders in indifference, he headed to the bedroom of his modest apartment in Cleveland, Ohio to pack for the trip to sunny California.
(1941, On a train in England, Freight Car)
Spike grumbled, "Bloody freight car." He wasn't happy about his current accommodations. Normally he would ride in one of the passenger cars and pick out a couple people to snack on along the way after taking one of their tickets. It was easy enough to slip by on the boat ride unnoticed, but that wasn't possible this time. Trains kept a better track of ticketed passengers.
Not only was another version of himself gallivanting around but so was the Slayer. She was the main reason why he was still tagging along. Something about her drew him in like a moth to the flame. Plus he was curious about whatever happened in his unlife to make him be the other vamp. He'd seen enough of their interaction on the boat ride to surmise that their feelings for each other were mutual, even if they did vehemently disagree at times.
Why was he hiding and sneaking about? Other than the fact that he wasn't carrying enough money for the fares, he wasn't sure. The crazy blonde Slayer told him where they were going and when. She knew he was on the boat ride with them. He was fairly sure she expected him to continue following them.
Once they'd left the boat, under a thankfully cloudy sky, Spike followed their group to the train station. He tried to be inconspicuous, but the older version of himself seemed to look in his direction an awful lot followed by some whispering with the Slayer. It was nearly impossible to hide from yourself. It seemed that whatever had happened to him along the way hadn't changed some of his tendencies and patterns.
So now he sat in the middle of a freight car waiting for the tracks to be cleared of some debris from the storm that was raging outside. It was cold and dreary inside the car. Even though temperatures didn't affect vampires as much, Spike had grown accustom to the more moderate temperatures around the world.
(1941, Passenger Car)
Spike chuckled to himself. Buffy's pacing was starting to wear on his patience. So he'd tried to pull up any other changing, or dual version, memories from his mind. If the theory he and Rupert talked about held any merit, they needed to prepare his past self for the future. They couldn't reveal everything, but there were some events they both really wanted to change. Though Buffy's first "death" needed to happen in some way, her second death was at the top of the list of things they wished to avoid.
"What's so funny, Spike?" Buffy was fuming over the delays. Every minute wasted on the track was a minute longer that Dawn was in danger. If the boat ride was tense before, the train ride was a nightmare of delays from storms and raids.
"It would seem that I'm not at all happy about my current lodgings." Spike laughed.
"Huh?" It took Buffy a moment to switch gears from what Spike was saying to which Spike he was referring to. "Oh, I get it."
"I'd say you should go keep me company, but I'm not sure how secure the freight car is."
"It would be better than staring out at an unmoving landscape. How long does it take to move a tree? I'd go offer my strength if I didn't know they'd probably laugh at me."
"That would not be a good idea, Buffy," Giles spoke up from in front of the pair. The O'Connell's had managed to secure First Class accommodations on the train. If the current ranting was anything to go by, it was a good thing there weren't others in their passenger car. "It would not be conducive to remaining as inconspicuous as possible. Which, I might add, you are not being with your voice raised in such a manner."
Buffy plopped down in to a seat near a window and huffed. She felt duly chastised by both of the men in her life that mattered to her.
"Don't feel bad, Buffy. They wouldn't let me help either," Rick O'Connell added to the conversation.
The train jerked, and Buffy was thankful she was seated. "YES!" She shouted. "Finally!"