9. Interlude.The Thames, 1898.
The river bank slowly drifted by as Herbert rowed them towards London. Dawn knew that had the Martians not stopped to pick up their fallen comrade they would all be dead by now. If the Martians had pushed on towards London they would have probably been there by now; they had seen little evidence of any preparations to stop the invaders.
Sitting in the stern of the boat Dawn watched as Herbert rowed, he looked tired and sweaty; he was just starting to turn red from the effects of sunburn. Amy had offered to help row but Herbert had refused, no doubt thinking that it was a man's job.
“Let me row, Mr ‘erbert,” Amy tried again.
“No…no,” Herbert was breathing heavily as he bent to his oars, “I’m fine, honestly.”
Amy looked at Dawn helplessly.
“For god’s sake, Herbert!” Dawn was getting fed up with Herbert’s macho posturing and her hand hurt, “Let Amy row before you drop dead!”
“Miss Summers,” Herbert paused in his rowing, “I perfectly capable of…”
“HERBERT!” Dawn was angry now, she was tired, frightened and wished her sister was here, “If you don’t let Amy row I will turn you into a worm and let the fish eat you…and another thing if the pair of you don’t start calling me Dawn soon, I’ll do something you’ll both regret!”
“Well if you put it like that…” Herbert rested his oars; there was a general shifting of bodies and Amy took over rowing duties, she gave Dawn a conspiratorial wink as she picked up the oars.
“Let me look at your hand,” Herbert hesitated before adding, “Dawn.”
“Here,” gingerly she presented her left hand to Herbert’s examination.
They’d wrapped the cut up in strips torn from Dawn’s shirt, Herbert gently started to remove the bloody cloth and examine the wound closely. Dawn looked away towards the river bank so she wouldn’t have to see how bad it was; instead she saw a body floating down stream as they overtook it, Dawn turned back to watch Amy.
“Hmm,” began Herbert, “does it hurt?”
“Throbs more than hurts,” Dawn explained.
“You might have picked up an infection from the river,” Herbert started to rewrap the wound, “but you should be fine in a day or two.”
“All my shots are up to date, so I should be okay.”
“Shots?” Herbert frowned.
“Never mind,” Dawn smiled and rested her back against the stern of the boat.0=0=0=0
Dawn watched the world go by as Amy rowed them, at quite a pace, towards London. Looking into the fields and hamlets next to the river you’d be mistaken for believing that Martians weren’t rampaging across the countryside sowing death and destruction in their wake. That is, if you ignored the occasional corpse that bobbed in the current as they passed by; which Dawn did as often as she could. It seemed that the closer they got to London the more normal everything was.
“At this rate we’ll soon reach Teddington lock,” observed Herbert, “we’ll have to leave the boat there. Maybe find another one or if we’re lucky we might be able to catch a train.”
“Whatever,” yawned Dawn.
“Here,” Herbert rolled up a still damp jacket and put it behind Dawn’s back, “you try and get some sleep.”
“Thanks I will,” the events of the last few days were catching up on her, she felt exhausted.
Yawning once more Dawn closed her eyes, listening to the rhythmical sound of the oars dipping into the water. Slowly she started to drift off to sleep; and as she slept she dreamed of home and smiled.0=0=0=0Crankie Manor, 2012.
Sitting on the garden bench Buffy and Kennedy watched as the three children played a particularly energetic game of tag. Anna and William screamed with delight as they chased after Tara, running between the flower beds and bushes as they tried to catch the older girl.
“I never thanked you for the money you donated,” Buffy spoke never taking her eyes off the children once.
“No you didn’t,” agreed Kennedy; she’d donated most of the money that her father had left to her when he’d died of cancer some years before.
The money came mainly from her father’s Mafia ‘businesses’ and it had totalled several tens of millions of dollars. There had also some properties in a number of major cities in the United States. It had been a major boast to the Council’s flagging finances. Of course there had been a struggle for control between her father’s ‘associates’ and the council. It had ended swiftly and with the minimum of bloodshed; the Mafia had backed off and apologised when they’d realised who they were facing.
“Thank-you,” Buffy glanced over at Kennedy, the two women would never be friends but they’d at least grown to respected each other.
“You’re welcome,” replied Kennedy, she paused for a moment as a slight smile came to her lips. “You also never repaid me for paying everyone’s hotel and medical bills after Sunnydale.”
“Didn’t I?” Buffy turned sharply to look at Kennedy, “I thought I’d…”
Kennedy laughed softly.
“I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself,” she smiled at Buffy, “it doesn’t matter, it’s a long time ago now.”
“No,” Buffy nodded her head firmly, “if I said I’d pay you back, I will.”
“Don’t bother,” Kennedy went back to watching the children play, “it’s not as if Willow and I need the cash.”
Since her father’s death, Kennedy and Willow were both very rich young women, not all the money had gone to the council.
“Did you see that?” Buffy asked as she went back to watching the children play.
It’d been as if someone had jogged the DVD player of life and caused it to miss a few frames. Willow’s daughter, Tara, had found herself trapped between some flower beds. As her little sister had charged at her she’d sort of jerked out of the way. One moment she was standing in the path of Kennedy’s dark haired little girl, the next she was a couple of feet away. Anna skidded to a halt, pivoted easily on one foot and launched herself at her sister again without hesitation. William on the other hand stood confused for a moment before continuing the chase.
“Tara!” called Kennedy, a hint of warning in her voice, “Stop that, its cheating.” Kennedy turned to speak to Buffy, “I don’t know whether she does it deliberately or not, but I’ve been noticing her do stuff like that since she was three or so.”
“What does Willow say?”
“Oh nothing,” Kennedy sat back and smiled, “she pretends its not happening…deep down I think it scares her.”
“It doesn’t scare you?” Buffy asked looking closely at the younger woman.
“No,” Kennedy replied simply, “in fact it makes me proud, Tara may not be ‘my’ daughter but she’s my daughter, if you see what I mean. When she shows a talent for something it makes me happy.”
Buffy did, its how she’d come to feel about William; thinking of William made her think of Dawn.
“Do you think Willow and Giles will ever get Dawn home again?” Buffy had lost the smile from her face.
“I’m sure they will,” Kennedy was in charge of the ‘Keep Buffy distracted and off Willow and Giles’ backs’ team. “Willow was saying to me only last night that they were making some real progress.”
“But why won’t they let me help?” Buffy asked miserably.
“Oh come on!” Kennedy brushed her wind blown hair from her eyes, “What do you know about magic? I’ve lived with Willow for nine years and I can’t even do a simple glamour spell to cover a zit.”
“Yeah,” sighed Buffy sadly, “I suppose you’re right.”
“Come on,” Kennedy stood up before Buffy could ask another question, “let’s get these three in and cleaned up ready for tea.”
Calling the children over, Kennedy bent to receive her girls’ headlong charge. Even so the two girls nearly knocked her back down onto the seat. Buffy scooped up William and threw him into the air making him shriek with laughter. The adults and children headed for the manor, as they walked Kennedy thought through what she needed to say to Willow.0=0=0=0Later that night.
Climbing into bed Kennedy pulled the covers up around her shoulders, she leant over and kissed Willow on the end of her nose.
“Stop that!” giggled Willow as she wiped Kennedy spit from her nose.
“Oh that’s gonna be the least of your worries,” Willow could hear the smile in Kennedy’s voice as her lover’s hand slid across her belly and up towards her breasts; turning into Kennedy’s embrace Willow sighed contentedly.
“This is the life,” she smiled.
“Yeah,” agreed Kennedy, she paused for a moment before saying, “I think we need to tell Buffy what’s really going on.”
“What!” Willow sprang away from her partner as if she’d turned red hot, “We can’t,” she gasped, “not now…it’s been three weeks and…”
“Yeah that’s my point,” Kennedy watched Willow in the darkness. “it’s been three weeks and I think she’s beginning to wonder why you’ve made no progress. I think she deserves the truth, I mean I would.” Kennedy thought about this for a second and decided that, yes she would.
“I mean,” Kennedy rolled onto her back and watched the ceiling, “I might hate that little whore of a half-sister of mine, but I’d still want to help find her if she went missing…it’s a sister thing, y’know?”
“Oh I suppose you’re right,” agreed Willow with a heavy sigh, “lying never comes out for the good anyway…you want to tell her?”
“I will if I have to,” nodded Kennedy.
“Right then,” Willow snuggled up to Kennedy and lay her head on her shoulder, “but don’t say anything until I’ve had a chance to speak to Giles.”
“Look,” Kennedy shifted about until she could get her arms around Willow’s body, “I’ll take her shopping tomorrow with the kids, go to the beach or something. I’ll tell her in front of the kids in a public place so she won’t try and kill me!”
“Yeah,” giggled Willow, “you’re so sneaky,” she kissed Kennedy’s lips long and slow before adding, “I knew there was some reason I loved you so much.”0=0=0=0Victoria, London, 1898.
It’d been as Herbert had feared, they’d had to abandon the boat at Teddington. However their luck changed for the better when they found that the trains were still running. Walking through the small town near the lock the three bedraggled refugees received curious looks from people as the strolled about the town. Dawn and Amy received especially curious glances, two people so obviously women walking around in men’s clothes…whatever was the world coming to?
The train puffed its way along the track towards London Waterloo. Out of the windows the world seemed to be going on much as it always had. People walked in the sunshine, children played, lovers kissed. This peaceful scene was only occasionally disturbed as trains loaded with guns and troops thundered past heading towards the south west.
Arriving at Waterloo they found the station in an uproar; police where clearing people from the platforms. Passengers arriving found themselves hustled out of the station as troops marched in. In the sidings they could see artillerymen manhandling their field guns onto flatbed wagons. Once they saw a large detachment of sailors heaving on ropes as they loaded long naval guns on land-carriages onto trains.
Obviously the authorities had woken up to the full danger poised by the Martians and were now hurriedly making plans to defeat the invaders. At the W. H. Smiths’ at Waterloo, Herbert managed to get hold of a copy of an ‘extra’ printed by the London Evening Standard. It gave a fragmentary account of the battle at Weybridge. Saying how the Martians had been repulsed after one of their great machines had been destroyed by artillery and another damaged.
Dawn rolled her eye at that piece of news as Herbert read it out, her sister was right; they were cursed never to be given credit for anything they did; except Faith that one time. Herbert hadn’t even asked her what she’d done, but she’d caught him watching her once or twice. She’d have to explain later.
The paper said that preparations where being made to block the invader’s path towards London with artillery batteries being brought down from northern England and Scotland. Even Royal Navy destroyers had been moved up the Thames as far as they could go to use their quick-firers on the invaders if they broke through the defences and threatened London. In general the tone of the paper was fairly upbeat, the Martians, while being formidable, where not indestructible. They could and would be stopped, or so the paper claimed.0=0=0=0
It took them half an hour to find a cab to take them back to Victoria. By the time they reached Herbert’s house it was well into the evening. They found the house locked up and deserted, the housekeeper having gone to stay with her sister in Wapping. They stood in the hallway a bedraggled exhausted little knot of hopelessness. Eventually Herbert sighed and spoke.
“This is achieving nothing,” he said after a minute or so, “might I suggest that we all get washed and changed? Then, if you don’t mind Amy, could you find us something hot to eat. Dawn, once you’ve bathed and changed I’ll have a proper look at you hand and put a regular dressing on it…I’m sure we’ll all feel better after a wash and brush up.”0=0=0=0
An hour later Dawn sat in the drawing room, clean and ‘properly’ dressed having her injured hand wrapped in a clean bandage.
“There we are,” Herbert tied off the bandage with a safety pin and patted Dawn’s hand gently, “not exactly good as new but it’ll be fine by the time the week’s out.” He paused for a moment before speaking again, “Now would you like to explain what it was you did?”
“Okay,” Dawn moved her hand and cradled it in her lap, in the distance she could her Amy clattering around in the kitchen. “Like I said, I’m good at opening portals so I did and brought a weapon from my own time back to destroy that Martian.”
“Oh,” Herbert pondered what he’d just been told, “can you do it again?”
“Honestly?” Dawn raised an eyebrow in Herbert’s direction, “I don’t know, it was a sort of desperation thing, like a wish wrapped up in a spell. That sort of thing can go really badly wrong, I was lucky…but it does prove a couple of things.”
“I can open a portal to my own time,” Dawn smiled, “which means I can go home. And, the Martians must have been defeated coz that was a human weapon…I’ve seen things like it on the news, that’s how I knew what to wish for.”
“A human weapon you say?” Herbert whistled quietly and shook his head.
“Yep!” replied Dawn proudly; then her face went serious again, “But I still can’t understand why I can’t remember any of this…it’s like it never happened.
“One thing at a time, Dawn,” Herbert reached over and patted Dawn’s knee seemingly unaware of the familiarity he was showing, “first we must defeat the Martians then we must get you home. Once there you may be able to find out why there’s no record of all this in your own time.”
Just then the door burst open with a great crash, looking up in surprise Dawn and Herbert saw Amy standing in the doorway, an apron over her dress and a great metal tray piled high with food in her hands.
“Grub’s up!” she smiled happily.