The Watcher’s Library, Crankie Manor, 2012.
Resting his cup and saucer on the mantelpiece above the fire, Giles opened the glass front of the clock and moved its hands to show the correct time. For about the thousandth time he promised himself that he’d get the timepiece repaired, he just never seemed to find the time to take it to the shop.
Satisfied that the clock was now showing the correct time he picked up his cup and sipped his tea. His peace was disturbed by a loud rushing sound and a wind that had seemingly sprung up from nowhere it blew a snowstorm of loose paperwork about the library. He turned at the sound of shoes on the polished wooden floor.
“Willow,” he gave her a thin lipped smile as he eyed the pieces of paper float to the floor, “so nice to see you.”
“Golly!” Willow staggered a little, “That was a rough crossing.”
“Are Kennedy and the children coming?” Giles put down his cup and surrendered himself to a fierce hug from Willow.
“Yeah,” replied Willow breathlessly, “but they’ll be coming over on a plane.”
“Jolly good,” Giles indicated that Willow should sit down, “tea?”
“Please,” Willow sat in a chair by Dawn’s desk, “what’s the sitch, Giles?”
“Quite simple really,” Giles busied himself with the tea things, “we opened that box,” Giles nodded to the black tin box that still stood on Dawn’s desk, “there was a flash and a bang and Dawn was gone.”
“I gotta say, Giles,” Willow eyed the box warily as she accepted a cup of tea from Giles, “you don’t look or sound too worried.”
“I’m not…” began Giles but was quickly cut off by Willow.
“You’re not!?,” she squealed, “But you’ve got to be! Poor Dawnie is probably suffering all sorts of torture in some hell dimension, we’ve gotta get her back, Giles and soon.”
“Willow,” Giles calmly poured himself another cup of tea, “there is no evidence that Dawn is in a hell dimension.”
“But…” Giles held up a finger to silence Willow.
“The universe has a way of sorting itself out,” Giles lifted his cup to his lips, “and I’ve every confidence in Dawn’s abilities to look after herself.”
“But Giles,” pleaded Willow, “this is little Dawnie, she’s in danger we’ve got to help her!”
“No!” Giles sipped at his tea before continuing, “We’re talking about Dawn who is a capable twenty-eight year old woman with a child of her own. May I also remind you that she is an experienced witch; maybe not as powerful as you but quite capable of tearing holes in the fabric of space and time when she wants to. To be frank I’m more concerned about the effect his mother’s disappearance is having on young William.”
Taking a couple of calming breaths, Willow looked at Giles through narrowed eyes.
“You know something,” Willow said quietly, “Rupert Giles you know something and you’re not telling! Come on Giles, this is serious, spill!”
“You always were the quickest on the up-take,” Giles gave a dry chuckle. “As it happens I do know something; Dawn is, more or less, safe…”
“More or less?” Willow asked suspiciously, “Define safe.”
“Oh-oh, you know,” Giles walked over to his desk and sat down, “safe.”
“Giles!” there was a definite note of warning in Willow’s voice when she spoke.
“Look, I’ll explain,” Giles leant back in his chair and laced his fingers together over his stomach.
“I wish you would,” Willow almost growled, “start at the beginning and leave nothing out.”
“You see it was when I examined the contents of the box that I found the letter,” Giles pulled the letter from his jacket’s inside pocket, “it states quite plainly that Dawn is, as I say, ‘safe’ and we are on no account to try and pull her back to the future. She’ll come back when she’s finished what she has to do there.”
“She’s in the past?” Willow pondered this new information, “Heavy,” she breathed, “how do we know its for real? I mean someone could have made her write it and…”
“Well first it’s in Dawn’s hand writing,” Giles cut Willow off before she could get started on a fully fledged ‘Willow-babble’, “also there were none of the telltales we’d agreed in case something like this happened and she might be held under duress.”
“Yes,” Giles took another sip of tea, “things like referring to William as ‘Billy’,” Giles pulled a face at the name, “something no one ever does.”
“I see,” Willow ran her fingers through her hair as she processed this new information, “so, where and more importantly when is she and what’s she doing there?”
“Well,” Giles smiled, “the where is easy, she’s in London. The when? She says the year is 1898 and the why is a little more…um odd?”
Willow frowned at Giles’ prevarication.
“Oh well, you’d find out eventually so I might as well tell you,” Giles sighed heavily. “It seems that she’s helping defeat a Martian invasion of Earth.”0=0=0=0
“A WHAT!?” Giles made calming motions with his hands as Willow jumped out of her seat, “A Martian invasion?” she asked incredulously, “You mean little green men with big heads?”
“No actually,” Giles replied calmly, “from Dawn’s description they sound more like bear sized land octopuses.”
“Hmm, yes,” Giles nodded.
“Hold on, Giles,” Willow frowned, “a Martian invasion? In England? In 1898?”
“Correct on all counts,” agreed Giles.
“Um, Giles,” Willow’s frown deepened, “wouldn’t something like that be in the history books?”
“I would have thought so,” agreed Giles once more.
“I certainly have no recollection of answering questions on the Martian Invasion of 1898 during my history exams,” Giles pointed out.
“I’m sure it would have been mentioned, even at Sunnydale High,” Willow nodded her head in agreement.
“This leaves some rather interesting questions.”
“Unlike the ones we didn’t have at school,” agreed Willow.
“Chief amongst them being,” Giles took a deep breath, “what the hell’s going on?”0=0=0=0
“Was there anything else in the box?” Willow ran her hands over said container as she spoke; she could feel no residual magic. Whatever had caused Dawn to be flung back in time was gone now.
“Well,” Giles got up to look out of the window, “there was a rather curious jar with a piece of tentacle in it.”
“Could be,” Giles turned to face Willow, “anyway it wasn’t like anything I’ve seen before so I sent it to the labs for analysis.”
“Not yet, they’re still working on it, sequencing genes takes time,” Giles walked over to his desk and pulled open a drawer and placed several notebooks on the desktop. “These,” he explained, “appear to be diaries detailing the Martian invasion.”
“Written by Dawnie?” Willow walked quickly across the room, picked up one of the books and started to thumb through the pages.
“As you can see, not.” Giles noted the disappointed look on Willow’s face, “They were written by one Herbert George Wells, a watcher or so it seems.”
“A watcher?” Willow looked up from the book.
“Yes it appears that Dawn fell in with the then watcher and his slayer, a girl called Amy.”
“Ever heard of them?” Willow out down the book and picked up another.
“No can’t say I have,” admitted Giles, “they’re not in the surviving Council records, although that doesn’t necessarily prove anything. Our records are fragmentary to say the least. I had one of the girls do a ‘web search’ I think its called…”
Willow nodded her head.
“Well, it appears that this Wells fellow was an obscure writer of what the Victorian’s called ‘Scientific Romances’,” Giles smiled at the look Willow gave him, “yes that’s what I thought. He was more famous in his own time as a commentator of social conditions. He was heavily involved in the ‘Votes for Women’ movement. There is one odd thing, he married a woman, many years his junior called Amy.”
“Amy the slayer?”
“Could be,” agreed Giles, “but there’s no indication that she was a slayer. In fact they had several children, Wells died in 1940 and Amy Wells died in 1957. As far as we can discover they both died from natural causes.”
“I see,” said Willow studying the notebook, “are there any more of these books?”
“Just the three,” Giles pointed out, “that’s the last one. They appear to give quite a detailed account of this invasion, and if you turn to the last page you’ll see it stops about six months after the Martians all die.”
“Yes,” Giles held up the second book in the series, “they all catch cold or something and die.”
“Golly,” breathed Willow in wonder, she put down the book, “so, what do we do?”
“Well,” Giles sighed, “Dawn is most insistent that we don’t do anything rash like go and rescue her.”
“But surely, we could help…” Willow caught herself, “Ah, yes I see,” she smiled to herself and nodded her head knowingly, “that would upset the timeline and…”
“Exactly.” agreed Giles, “Although she’s annoyingly vague about what she does, Dawn has a plan, which obviously worked, which means that this invasion never happened.”
“Which explains why we can’t remember it ever happening,” Willow nodded her head slowly. “So, any interference from us might put her plans off…I wonder what she did? I mean it musta been some wicked powerful mojo.”
“You did teach her rather well, Willow,” observed Giles.
“Much against your wishes as I remember.”
“Yes, well, I may have been a little hasty in my objections,” for all Dawn’s faults she hadn’t done anything that had seriously ‘buggered’ things up. “And as I’ve mentioned she’s quite capable of moving through time and space…”
“You think she did a pre-emptive strike on the bug eyed monsters?” Willow looked about sixteen when she spoke.
“Octopuses,” corrected Giles, “and Dawn doesn’t mention if they have bug eyes or not; and yes I think that’s precisely what she did.”
“So, like I say, what do we do?” once again Willow was the sensible mother and witch that she’d become over the years.
“Well, most importantly,” Giles shook his head sadly, “we’ve got to stop Buffy from going back in time with an army of slayers armed with modern weapons and spoiling everything.”
“You think she’d do that?” Willow asked, her head tilted to one side, she saw the look on Giles’ face, “Yeah, silly me, of course she’d do that.”
“To Buffy, Dawn is still her helpless little sister who can’t look out for herself.”
“Like me?” Willow gave Giles a lopsided smile.
“I wasn’t going to say anything,” smirked Giles, “but if the cap fits…”
“Yeah, right, so we’ve gotta distract Buffy,” Willow thought for a moment, she looked up at Giles and gave him a cunning smile. “How about I set up in here, I can have lots of bubbling beakers of coloured water and dry-ice, I can even throw in some low level magical pyrotechnics.”
Giles nodded his head, he could see where Willow was going with this.
“We can tell Buffy,” continued Willow caught up in her own plan, “that we’re trying to get Dawn back but its going to take a long time as its really difficult.” Willow nodded her head in agreement with herself, “Trouble is we don’t know how long we’re going to have to keep it up.”
“Yes,” Giles agreed, “Dawn could be home tomorrow or in six years time convinced that only a few months have passed…which of course they have, for her.”
“We’ll manage,” smiled Willow confidently.
“You’ve no problem about lying to Buffy?” Giles asked hesitantly.
“No,” Willow laughed, “I can tell tall tales with the best of them now…anyway I won’t be lying. I’ll-I’ll be exaggerating,” Willow gave Giles an impish grin, “no problemo.”
“Good,” Giles breathed a sigh of relief, “what about your responsibilities in Seattle.”
“Don’t worry about that,” Willow started to bustle around the library gesturing at furniture and causing it to move out of the way, “we’re closing up shop in Seattle soon. Kennedy and I are going to move over here.”
“When was all this decided?” demanded Giles as he dodged a desk as it moved towards the corner of the room.
“Oh, over the last year or so,” Willow stood back and looked at the area she’d cleared, “President Templeton is making things so difficult in the States, anyone would think he’s in league with the forces of darkness…you know they don’t teach proper science in Junior High any more?”
“No I didn’t but…” it seemed there were several things Giles didn’t know.
“Buffy and I talked about it about six months ago,” Willow crossed her arms over her chest, “the entire organisation is going deep underground and we’re closing all but a few isolated Slayer Houses. If anything big blows up we can get reinforcements in over the Canadian or Mexican borders.”
“Bloody hell,” breathed Giles.
“Yeah, ‘bloody hell’ indeed,” agreed Willow, “its getting really bad over there, Religious and Moral Police, we even had some dork threaten to take Tara and Anna away coz Kennedy and I are lesbians and would be a ‘bad influence’ on the girls.”
“Good grief!” Giles’ eyebrows searched out his hair line.
“Yeah,” Willow smiled smugly, “he’s one bastard who found out what hell-fire was really like…”
“Only a little,” Willow said, a hard edge to her voice, no one threatened her or Kennedy’s children, “only when he’s asleep.”
“I see,” Giles wonder if it wasn’t time to have a long talk with Buffy, she seemed to have been making important decisions without asking for any input from him!
“Anyway,” the clouds that had darkened Willow’s face appeared to have vanished now, “it’ll give Kennedy time to find us somewhere to live. Get our money out of the States and sell up over there. The girls will love having some time with their Auntie Buffy and it’ll help keep her mind off Dawn and whatever we’re not doing…so lets begin.”
“Yes, right then,” Giles hesitated and watched the forceful woman that stood in his library, it seemed she wasn’t the only one who thought of people as they had been and not as they were. “I’ll have some slayers bring in some tables and some equipment…in the mean time…”
“Hey Giles,” Willow walked over to the fireplace and looked at the clock on the mantelpiece, “your clock's wrong.”
“Bloody thing,” sighed Giles as he went over and put it right, again.