Author’s Notes: It’s a time travel fic! Yes, there are many time travel fics, yes there are many William fics, and yes there are some that are so damn good that I want to smack someone on the ass and whistle. However, I’ve got this incredibly sick fascination with the following things:
B. Time Travel
C. William (Canon or otherwise. This one is canon, or at least my interpretation of how he’d be.)
D. Period pieces, such as the Victorian Era or the French Revolution.
E. Incredibly painful romances.
That being said, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t written a time travel fic before since I crave them like a crack head craves chap stick. (You thought I was going to say crack, but instead I totally threw you for a loop and you were all like, “Huh?” and I was like, “Shut up, I’m smoking crack.”) This has elements that you’ve probably read before and then serious differences that may or may not set it apart from other time travel fics and I’ll let you be the judge. (JESUS, I TALK A LOT.)
ANYWHOOZLES…I wrote this little ditty and I owe huge, gigantor thanks to Dusty273 and Tanit for being awesome betas and giving me their help on this story.
I hope you enjoy this. Don’t expect a whole lot of angst (I KNOW) but be assured, there is going to be some pain, and it will be a big one. Just not throughout the story. Because ultimately, I want everyone to be in love and happy and full of orgasms. So there.
It had been one year since the Hellmouth collapsed. One year since everything in Buffy’s life had changed. The comfort of patrolling a quiet cemetery was a long forgotten memory, replaced with a military style command of slayers, finely tuned into a well oiled machine, electronic tracking devices, crazy advanced technology, a coven of witches at their beck and call, and a lot of noise. The Slayerettes, as Xander referred to them, had gone high-tech, expanded into a corporation of vigilantes and completely dominated the globe. There were stations in Italy, China, Brazil, Canada, England, Australia and Egypt, and three more in the U.S. alone. Wherever there was a Hellmouth, a band of Slayers was sure to be found. Xander was in heaven with all the technology and even formed a bond with Andrew whose position with the Watcher’s Council gave him the opportunity to teach slayers about various demons they might encounter. Perhaps it was their mutual love of comic books that brought them together, but both of them were just happy to have a male friend. Giles had taken over the W.C., much to everyone’s delight. He tried to hide his smug grin when he walked into their new London headquarters but Buffy knew what the old man was thinking. He couldn’t wait to stick it to the bastards who’d cheated him out of a job and tried to swindle his slayer into working for them. Even though Buffy was still healing from Giles’ betrayal from the previous year, she was proud of his success and knew he’d do well.
Buffy should have been happy. She had the world in her hands, her whole life ahead of her and the ability to do virtually whatever she wanted. But there was always something, always an apocalypse, always a big bad to fight. Even with hundreds of slayers at the ready, Buffy was still the woman in charge, still the girl with the final say, still the Chosen One. And she felt incredibly, painfully alone. She missed going to the Magic Box and researching for hours. Yes, she actually missed that. Missed eating jelly filled donuts and hearing Anya say inappropriate things with a twinkling smile, going to Willy’s and roughing him up for information, drinking girly beverages at the Bronze and dancing the night away, watching a movie with Dawn on the couch until the wee hours, hell, she even missed the luxury of dusting vamps. She could count on one hand how many vamps she’d staked in the past year. Now, she had to fight demons; really big, awful, scary demons, demons that required lots of ammo and back up.
It was almost funny when she thought about her life in Sunnydale. It was simpler then and her destiny seemed to have meaning. Fighting the good fight with only a handful of friends gave her a thrill that had long been gone. They were the underdogs, barely wet behind the ears and yet together they’d saved the world countless times.
She missed her friends.
Willow was constantly traveling around the globe, gathering strength from mother earth, honing her skills and getting stronger every day. She was scary good now, too. Not the black haired, veiny, dark-eyed kind of scary, but scary in the sense that she was one of the most, if not the most powerful witch in the coven. Buffy rarely saw her anymore and even when she did, it wasn’t the same. Willow was no longer the shy computer nerd that she once was so long ago. She was no longer her best friend, or someone Buffy would turn to for advice, even if she could. That ship had sailed long before the Hellmouth collapsed if she was honest with herself. Willow had her own demons to face, her own pain to contend with. She needed to be alone, needed to deal with her guilt in her own way. Their friendship now was based on an unspoken understanding between two women who’d been granted the kind of power that few would ever know or have to deal with in their lives.
Dawn was studying abroad in Rome, living the life of an ordinary teenager in college. Buffy would have been jealous if she didn’t love her so much. And while she was only a phone call away if she needed her, Buffy couldn’t bring herself to call. Dawn was happy and Buffy didn’t want to burden her with her problems. She knew that her sister would drop everything and be on the next plane to London, coming to the rescue, and she didn’t want that for Dawn. She deserved to live the life that Buffy could never have.
Xander was still mostly Xander and he provided her with the only sense of normality Buffy had amid this new life of hers but she was aware he wasn’t someone she could confide in. She couldn’t talk to him about what pained her most, couldn’t sit on a couch with a box of pizza and spill her guts out to her one-eyed friend. He wouldn’t understand. Maybe he could relate in some way, having lost Anya, but Buffy knew that Xander still harbored ill feelings towards the one person Buffy missed the most.
She thought about him every day, and every day it was harder to go on. Spike was the only person who stood by her when everyone else betrayed her, even her sister. Spike was her personal cheerleader, her strength, her friend. And she loved him so much, so much more now than she ever had. He’d sacrificed himself to save the world without a second thought. And he’d done it for her. He’d loved her with everything he had; got himself a soul he loved her so much. All that time she’d wasted denying her feelings, convincing herself that he couldn’t love because he was a vampire, because he didn’t have a soul as if he hadn’t proven himself over and over again, ignoring the way he looked at her and passing it off as infatuation, punched him and beat him when he got too close, ended their relationship when she finally realized he truly did love her, and let him die without ever knowing how much he’d meant to her.
She deserved the pain she was in. She deserved to live the rest of her life without him. She deserved it, because she was wrong. God, she’d been so wrong. Her agony and guilt were all consuming, constantly punishing her for not seeing it sooner, for never admitting how much she loved him, how much she always had. If she could just go back, if she could just have a moment in time with him to explain how wrong she was, if she could only hold him one more time…just one more time…maybe this ugly black knot in her heart would loosen, maybe she could live her life again, maybe she wouldn’t feel so empty.
Spike was her champion. He’d redeemed himself, was absolved of his crimes in a single moment as his spirit, his beautiful, burning soul destroyed the Hellmouth. She was so proud of him, so full of love, so in awe of the man he’d become. She finally saw Spike in that instant, really saw him. And he didn’t believe her when she finally confessed how she felt and who could blame him? He saved the world believing he’d never been loved, not like he wanted, not in the way that came so easily for him. If he only knew…if he knew that to Buffy, he was the only man she’d ever love again…
These were the sort of thoughts that kept her up at night, the punishment she served herself instead of a meal and the visions that placed a shadow over her once sparkling eyes. Buffy was slowly slipping away and the Slayer was taking over. This was her destiny, her calling. She knew from the get-go that it was a lonely career and if she’d only focus on her job, if she could get past the things that made her feel human, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. And yet, she clung to the hope that one day she’d see him again. It was foolish and would probably destroy her one day, but she couldn’t let it go of it, couldn’t stop hoping.
* * *
“I don’t see how recognizing the placement of a salad fork is going to help me fight evil,” Buffy grumbled as she sat at a long dining table which was dressed to the nines as if she were at a formal dinner. Giles stood behind her, pointing out the different utensils and glasses and what they were used for.
“Yes, well, proper etiquette isn’t something to frown upon. Every young lady should learn table manners.” Buffy didn’t see him smiling behind her.
She sighed and grabbed the fork on the far left. “Ok, this one has to be the entrée fork.”
“Wrong again, Buffy. That is the fish fork.”
“But what if they aren’t serving fish?” Rupert pursed his lips. She set the fork down and rolled her eyes and picked up the fork in the middle. “This one’s the entrée fork?”
“Correct. And the spoon and fork above the plates are?”
“Very good! You see, it isn’t so difficult once you get the hang of it.”
“Yeah, well, the fish knife should be placed next to the fish fork and wow, that’s a tongue twister.”
“Now, where does the serviette go?”
“Your napkin, Buffy.”
“Oh. I knew that. Um…in my lap?”
“And why is it not in your lap?”
She glared at him. “Because I’m not eating.”
Buffy yawned and rested her chin on her propped up elbow. Giles swatted her on the arm. “Hey!”
“Elbows off the table!”
“Jeez,” she scowled rubbing her arm, “Pygmalion much?”
“Well, Eliza Doolittle,” he chuckled, “if you didn’t eat like you were raised in a barn we wouldn’t be having this little lesson, now would we?”
“Why are we having this ‘little lesson’ again? Shouldn’t I be in the control room scoping for demons or watching surveillance tapes of the property or something?”
Rupert sighed and sat next to her, removing his glasses for a good polishing. “Would you believe me if I told you that I’m preparing you for our next mission?”
Buffy cocked an eyebrow. “Let me guess, there’s an apocalypse at Martha Stewart’s house?”
Giles smiled as he inspected his glasses, holding them towards the ceiling light for a good look before putting them back on. “Not quite, though you’re closer than you think. It’s a very delicate situation, one that we must be completely prepared for. You’ll probably find it to be terribly boring but it’s imperative that we cover everything you’ll need to know before we make the journey in the next three weeks.”
“Just spill it, Giles. What are we preparing for?”
Giles shifted uncomfortably in his seat before he continued. “We’re going back in time to retrieve a very important artifact, one that was destroyed over a hundred years ago.”
Buffy’s mouth dropped open in surprise though she was suspicious about this revelation. “Huh? We can just…do that? Go back in time?” If the ability to time travel had been readily available all this time, Buffy wanted to know more about it. Maybe she could go back to Spike…maybe she could see him again.
“Yes,” he smiled. “It isn’t something we should do often as we could possibly alter history, but for circumstances like these, it’s allowed. Under strict guidelines, of course.”
Buffy swallowed. “So, how does this work? Do you juice up a DeLorean with a flux capacitor, Doc Brown?”
Missing her pop culture reference, Giles continued explaining the details of their delicate situation. “Not exactly. Willow will open up a portal and we simply walk through it.”
“Just like that?”
“Well, with some incantations and a coven of witches to keep her grounded, yes. Just like that. However, the portal will only be opened for a short amount of time and once we’ve walked through, we’ll be trapped there until our mission is completed. Then the portal will reopen and we’ll be able to jump back to present day.”
“I see,” she nodded slowly, staring at the floor. This was insane! “And the forks and serviettes?”
“Well, we’ll be going back to 1878, the Victorian age. You’ll stick out like a sore thumb unless we train you properly.”
Buffy’s heart started pounding. Spike…no, William was alive then. She could find him…she could see him again. This could be the answer to her prayers. She’d search the world for him. Screw the mission! She was going to find him. “Where in 1878, Giles?”
Well, that certainly made things easier.