is it about summer that drives people to do daft things?
to Jo for her insight of all things British, and her expert eye for the written
The sound of
laughter brought his head around. Kevin stared at the two women, blondes, at
the far table. He could see the face of one of the women, but the other sat
with her back to him. He couldn’t take his eyes off the pretty face pointed his
way. He hadn’t seen her about, although that wasn’t surprising. Kevin was
visiting his grandmother and hadn’t been in the village for quite some time. He
wondered whether she was new to the town or visiting like he was.
offered shade from the midday sun, and under one of those he sat careful of his
fair complexion. The girl and her friend sat out under the sky absorbing the
warmth of the summer’s day. He could practically see the girl glow with a
golden brilliance as her skin tanned before his very eyes. She is lovely, he
thought, as he watched her laugh and toss her head. Of a sudden her eyes caught
his, and his breath stopped. A hint of a frown creased her forehead for a
moment, before her gaze moved away, releasing his. Kevin ducked his head and
looked down at his open book. He didn’t see the words; all he could see was the
face of the girl sitting a few tables away.
friends stood and went on their way; the leavings of their lunch lay behind
them on white china, like flotsam floating on wooden seas. Kevin heaved a sigh
and picked at his lunch, the sandwich and date scone suddenly unappealing.
goodbye to Lisa and watched her friend drive away. Buffy had refused the offer
of a lift right to the door, the day was a fine one and she intended to make
the most of it. A breeze chattered through the trees, and pink and purple
mallow nodded their agreement as she passed by. The sun felt good on her face,
her arms and legs. It was almost like home this time of year. Buffy was warm,
carefree, and was that a touch of sunburn she could feel? She swung the bag she
carried carefully, not wanting to bruise the flower heads that peeked above the
rim. Blue, purple and cream showered her with a sweet heady scent. She had come
across a bucket containing the home-grown flowers, an honesty box for payment,
sitting against a garden gate, and she couldn’t resist. Angel will love these, she thought, as she
inhaled the perfume of the stocks. He had a fine sense of smell and the flowers
were a way of sharing the sunshine with him. Her steps quickened at the thought
of his delight.
sitting with pad and pencil when she opened the door to their small flat. Giles
was out, Martha also, and Buffy had rescued a vase from the kitchen cupboards
and filled it with the heavenly blooms. Angel’s smile made her heart go pitter
pat as he rose from his seat to take the water-heavy vase from her hands.
“Did you have
a nice time?” he asked as he placed the flowers on the small dresser. Buffy
noticed that her vampire had his nose buried in the blooms before he
straightened to give her a kiss. Her heart squeezed at such a simple pleasure.
“We did, thank
you. I love this time of year, it reminds me of home.”
His hands ran
along both her bare arms. “You’re warm, and there is a touch of a tan.”
wrinkled at a new thought.
“What is it?”
“There was a
rose. “Young man?”
and slapped his arm. The very arm that now snaked around her waist and pulled
her onto his lap as he sank back into his chair.
my age, satisfied? For you, everyone is young.” She giggled before sobering.
“No, he was staring at me and he looked kinda pale.”
Buffy twisted her
neck and looked at her lover in amusement. “We were outside, silly. Mind you,
he was sitting under an umbrella.”
She tried to
ignore the lips that began to nibble their way down her neck. “I wonder if he
was watching me.”
ceased their ministrations. “Why wouldn’t he be watching you? You are a
beautiful woman and, should I be jealous?”
stretched her neck in a very cat-like pose, before adding, “if you don’t
continue with the neck worship, you may have some reason.”
The two lovers
did not venture out for the rest of the day.
Giles poring through the titles of his considerable library the following
morning. An open box stood waiting on the floor to be filled and several books
lay in an untidy pile on the Englishman’s desk.
“What are you
ex-librarian looked up from his search and graced her with a smile.
Buffy, good to see you.” He gestured to a chair and resumed his perusal of the
shelves, his back to her.
church is having a jumble sale and, as Martha is busy making jams and pickles,
I thought to donate a few books.” He spied a suitable candidate, read the cover
and thought, no, he might have a need for the book on Remedies, Ointments and
Salves. In their line of work, one never knew. He put it back and moved on.
Giles breath escaped in a little sigh. He could never part with anything
ever have a fundraising where families donated bric-a-brac?”
fundraising. Bric-a-brac is just another word for junk.”
“It is not
junk!” Giles turned in indignation, the book bound in red, The Slayer Dreams,
in his hand.
snickered and pointed to the book. “Well, I don’t think you should be throwing
that one out. People will begin to wonder.”
at the book, frowned at Buffy, and returned it to its rightful place.
“What can I
jumble sale. I don’t have anything to give.”
at her over the rim his glasses. “Old clothes, shoes, anything will do.”
She pouted. “I
don’t have old clothes and old shoes. And if I did, I don’t think I want to
give them away. Shoes and clothing are precious to a girl.”
said it all. “Surely you have something you can bear to part with; it doesn’t
have to be old.” At Buffy’s blank stare, Giles gave in. “It’s really not
“No, I do want
to help. I think I have the very thing.”
swear that her eyes twinkled with mischief as she hopped out of her chair and
disappeared out the door. He turned
back to his shelves and pulled out a drawer that sat near to the floor. Inside
was a collection of dog-eared and battle-scarred paperbacks. The Watcher,
educated in all things mystical, demonic and magical, had a secret vice. He
loved to read novels. He chuckled to himself as he placed a Tom Clancy, Dan
Brown, and a Robert Ludlum into the waiting box. The books on his desk would go
back on the shelves.
through to the kitchen. Martha was absent, home no doubt busy with the jam making.
Buffy helped herself to a peanut butter and jam sandwich, a can of Coke, and
when the mug of blood was warmed in the microwave, headed off to the flat above
morning,” she sang as she manoeuvred her haul of food through the door.
The vampire in
the bed blinked awake. “Morning?”
Angel sat up
and Buffy tried to ignore the delicious expanse of pale flesh.
She held out
the mug until Angel took it from her. One hand free, Buffy liberated the can of
Coke from under her arm and set it on the dresser. The sandwich, minus a large
bite, went beside it as Buffy rummaged through the top drawer.
“What are you
continued searching and moved on to the second drawer.
“I know I have
it here somewhere.”
“What do you
have, and why have you woken me? Is there an emergency?” Angel gulped down his
food and put a foot on the floor.
emergency is a jumble sale, and why do they call it that? I mean, is nothing in
this country straightforward?”
slid back under the sheets. He tried not to laugh at her complaints.
it!” Buffy produced a brightly coloured skirt. To Angel the ruffles gave it a
peasant look. He liked it.
to give that away?” Angel couldn’t hide the astonishment he felt.
with it?” he continued.
“It makes me
look fat, that’s what!” She delved into the drawer once more and retrieved
“And that?” he
had to ask. He thought the green brought out her eyes.
There was no
way he was going to comment on that. Not if he wanted his skin intact. He
wisely kept his mouth closed as another garment was added to the two on the
The next day,
Buffy found herself back in the village of Westbury. She had a letter to mail
to Dawn, and she wanted to check out the art shop just south of the village on
smiled kindly at the American girl as she browsed through the magazine shelves.
Such a pretty young thing, she thought, and her with such a pretty young man.
She hoped that he could be persuaded to give another talk at the Ladies Circle.
He certainly made an impression. She sighed and wished she were thirty years
these please.” Buffy placed her magazines on the counter with an odd assortment
of notes and coins.
Brewster sorted through the money, she noted that as usual, Buffy bought
magazines like Variety and In Style, the glossy pages filled with all things
American. She supposed the girl was homesick and didn’t blame her for wanting
to be in touch with familiar things.
She smiled as
she scooped up the correct money and counted it into the till, leaving Buffy
the change. “How are you, dear?”
thank you, Mrs Brewster. I have a letter to post; can I leave it with you?”
postmistress nodded. “That’ll be fine.”
the magazines with her letter. The magazines went into her flax basket and
Buffy waved goodbye as she stepped out the door.
So polite, Mrs
Brewster thought, not at all like the young people the Americans were reputed
her Mini outside the craft centre. She would have liked to have walked; it
helped burn off her restless energy. However, the craft centre was a little way
out of town and she didn’t feel like lugging her purchases all the way home on
foot, so drive she did. She blushed, locking the car, thinking of the other
ways that Angel helped her release pent up energies. He was perfect for her, in
every way. She smiled, already wanting to be back at Summerdown and with him.
found the little art shop nestled in a courtyard arrangement. She was reminded
of Lisa’s stables; farmyard-like. To add to that illusion there was an outlet
that sold produce, most probably from the local farms. Another retailer offered
food and drink, likely in cahoots with its neighbour. One window showed off
local pottery, the objects graceful of form and lovely of hue. To add to the
brightness of the glazes, the wool shop and haberdashery was splendid in
colour. A weaver’s shuttle stood with woven glory. The jeweller’s window caught
her eye and she forced herself to pass by the glittering, beautiful things
there. Buffy came to the artists’ den and wondered at the name above the door. The Slayer peered through the window and
couldn’t see a soul. Maybe it was
closed. She pushed at the glass-panelled door, a bell tinkled over her head.
She blinked when a dark head popped up from behind the counter, the pale face
somewhat familiar. It was the young man from the garden café.
shy smile encouraged her to advance further.
smiled back and tried not to stare. Instead she allowed her gaze to roam over
the overfilled shelves. This was an artist’s paradise; Angel would be in heaven
here. She couldn’t help herself, her fingers wandered along the rows of paper,
fine and coarse, enjoying the texture of them all. Above the wall of waist-high
shelving sat pencils, charcoal and pastels, all in inviting colours and begging
to be bought and used.
if Angel had spotted this place. He must have, he patrolled the village all the
time. The village wouldn’t hold many secrets from the vampire. Besides, Angel
could get a supply of paper in Bath, and he hadn’t. He was using one of Giles’
large note pads earlier, she had noticed, and it had given her an idea. Perhaps
he hadn’t thought to, she mused. Angel did not spend a lot of time drawing, but
there were times, she knew, that he became almost obsessed with it.
“Can I help
you with something?”
her fingers resting on brightly coloured paper.
don’t know what to buy.”
“Is this for
yourself, a foray into the world of art?” The young man ducked his head shyly
when she stared.
“No, it’s for
a…” Buffy didn’t want to say boyfriend, not because she was ashamed of Angel,
it was for his sake she said, “Friend.” People could find out for themselves if
they wanted to. Finding all those bodies in Corbett’s field had given Angel a
reputation as a dowser. People were already talking.
“What does she
“She’s a he,
“Does he paint
“Oh. Draw. He
sketches. Pencils, but I know he uses…” she paused when the man picked up a
stick of charcoal, “those.” She smiled.
The young man
smiled back and dared to look her in the eye. Buffy thought he was cute, not
that she was looking.
Does your friend use pastels?” At her look, he added, “Colour.”
“Not that I
have seen.” She frowned. Did Angel ever draw in colour, or did he use the
shadings of the night to convey the colourless world he lived in?
“I need some
paper,” she added, realising that the assistant was still waiting.
selected a few pads of various types and prices and laid them out along the top
of the shelving. It was quite a feat, juggling the paper along its slim edge.
“This is the
Strathmore brand, Windpower. As you see, Windpower Drawing can be used for
pencil, charcoal, pastel and crayon. The other is more for pen and ink. Of
course there are the Cartridge papers. This one is suitable for the student.
The sketch pads are quite reasonable. I also have some Australian paper that is
of good quality.”
reeling from all the info. How hard could it be to buy Angel pen and paper, or
for that matter, charcoal and paper?
“Um, what do
“Oh yeah. He’s very good.”
“Okay. I would
consider this paper, it comes in sheets of 24 and you’ll want the charcoal.
Does he use graphite?”
and shook her head. “Enough of the questions, already. I think I’ll stick to
the charcoal, you choose the paper.”
“Sorry. Do you
want it gift wrapped?”
away from the young man and journeyed further into the cramped store. The
colours of handmade paper caught her eye, and when she touched the vibrant
sheets, she felt the lovely embossing stamped there. Canvases of all
descriptions stood, and easels, some of which displayed a painting or two.
“I’m Kevin by
the way,” the young man called from his place at the door. She heard the rustle
“Did you paint
these?” Buffy stood looking at the landscape on the easel.
grandmother is the artist in the family.” Kevin came to stand beside her. “She
had a fall and I’m here to help out for a while.”
She moved onto
the painting that portrayed a field and a horse or two. A watercolour, bright
with summer blooms caught her eye and she stepped up to it for a closer look.
American, aren’t you?” He blushed when she glanced his way. “I suppose you get
tired of hearing that.”
“I haven’t got
an accent,” Buffy teased with a wicked grin, and held out her hand. “I’m
confusion was evident when he shook her hand. “That’s not a name we hear a lot
“Nor back home.”
Buffy walked through the clutter of stretched canvas and brushes. “Do you open
late at all?”
Grandmother’s love is painting. She forgets to open some days, and she has had
the odd person knocking on her door. Now she has Julie to mind the shop for
four hours during the middle of the day. That way she can paint and not worry
about the place being closed. Julie loves to paint too and can display some of
her pieces here. The watercolour is hers. My being here has not really helped
her in that regard, although I do like to help out. She insists that she can
manage, she has friends here, but I needed the break and she needed help, so
here I am.” Kevin didn’t know why he was so chatty. He was usually shy -
talking to a pretty girl left him a stammering wreck - and yet, here he was
holding a conversation with the girl as if she were an old friend.
important,” she said, and her approval made his heart leap.
“Can I help
you with anything else?”
“No thank you,
not at this stage.” Buffy looked back over the shop as she stepped towards the
door. “This place is amazing.”
before the cash register and stared at the hand sitting there. It was beautiful
in a creepy sort of way. The fingers were jointed, and when she touched them, she
found it was made of wood and the fingers moved. When she looked up at Kevin,
she noticed there were several more behind him on display. One hand held a
pencil. It was very unusual.
hand-carved. Clever isn’t it?”
“A bit creepy,
wouldn’t you say?”
The young man
laughed. “You’re not frightened of them, are you?”
The Slayer of
vampires and demons thought that was very funny. She chuckled.
likes them. That’s why the name of the shop…”
handed over twenty pounds and waited.
Hand. Do you see?” He handed over the brown paper bag containing the goods and
“I do. It is
clever, the hand and the name. Thank you for your help.”
leave, she had the door open when he asked, “Would you be interested in a
coffee sometime? I mean,” she heard him swallow and Buffy turned back, “I’m not
from around here, at least not for a while, and you’re new…”
something wrong with her hearing? Did this nice man just ask her for a date?
asking me for a date?”
His pale skin
flushed red. “No…it’s just coffee and I thought to make a friend.”
She stood and
stared. She knew that she was unavailable, but he seemed so nice. Shy, but nice
and she could use another friend. No.
Think of Angel. She couldn’t entertain the thought.
thoroughly embarrassed Kevin apologised. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked.”
for him now, she said, “Can I get back to you on that?”
His smile made
her glad that she hadn’t outright refused.
little guilty, she left and tried not to hurry away. Flustered, she bumped into
a pair of blue jeans, and when she looked up she saw the jeans contained her
friend and Watcher.
“Buffy, what a
pleasant surprise. I was driving by and saw your car parked out front, and
thought perhaps you’d like to join me in a cup of coffee?”
back at the Clever Hand.
nice. Let’s go.”
at his Slayer. She seemed edgy. Perhaps a cup of coffee would lead to her
divulging the reason for her mood. On second thoughts, perhaps a cup of
chamomile was in order.
her to the small shop that sold healthy snacks, tea and refreshments.
through the glass in the door, and watched as Buffy and her friend retraced their
steps and headed for the tearoom. He wondered if that was the friend who liked
through the study door with her gifts in hand to find Angel talking on the
phone. Well, he wasn’t talking exactly, but he was chuckling at something the
caller had said. His eyes alive with laughter, he waved to Buffy and mouthed a
back, who is it?
formed one word. Faith.
know if the lurch in her heart was one of gladness or jealousy. She and Faith
were good now, but the way Angel’s eyes danced and his lips quirked, she
couldn’t help but feel the sting of envy.
just walked in. Do you want to say hi?”
the phone to her with a smile.
“Hi, B. How’s tricks?”
There’s nothing much happening this side of the ocean, well, not right
now. How’s Cleveland?”
“The same. The hellmouth has had its moments,
but it’s quiet for now. There’s the odd vamp to dust, the stupid ones anyway.
The ones that haven’t heard there’s a Slayer in town.”
you’re not staying in some dump of a motel are you?”
Faith laugh. It felt good to hear and she relaxed a little.
“Doesn’t Giles tell you anything, B? I have a
sweet setup. Giles has set up an account for me, which pays the rent and buys
my food. I’ve met someone who could possibly turn out to be a decent Watcher.
How does one become a Watcher these days? Please don’t tell me that Andrew has
any say in the matter. Never mind that, you and Angel should come and visit.”
that’s not possible, Faith. I wish we could.”
“I don’t suppose you could send the big guy
over, could you? I could show him the town.”
The sting of
envy became a stab. Buffy replied, “He’s a free man, Faith. Why don’t you ask
the phone back and quickly left the room, her gifts forgotten on Giles’ desk.
“I’m sorry, Angel. I made a joke and it
didn’t go down well. My bad. Tell her I’m sorry and I didn’t mean it.”
hearing had not let him down. He sighed.
Faith. Please don’t worry about it. You take care of yourself.”
“I’ll get on to that business for you as soon
as I can.”
“Do not put
yourself in danger, Faith, safety first.”
at her end. “Yeah, and you always put safety
to plead; instead he forced his voice to sound stern. “I mean it, Faith.
Please, I don’t want learn that you died on my account.” Okay, stern and
If Faith could
sound chastised, she did now. Angel didn’t believe it for a minute.
“Okay, boss. I’ll be safe as a house.
Promise. Now you better go and sweet talk that sister Slayer of mine. Be seeing
He placed the
receiver gently on its cradle and noticed the paper bag on the desk. Buffy had
brought it in with her. Curiosity bade him look inside.
Buffy warming up in prelude to a training session. She had stripped down to
simple black leggings and a bra top. He wanted to stop and stare, but there
were more important matters to discuss.
She felt him,
the moment he entered the room, and suddenly she felt quite foolish for running
out of the study. Buffy lifted her face from her knee, and felt even sillier
when she saw the paper bag in his hand and gratitude warm in his eyes. Her
smile was one of contrition as she straightened and walked to where he stood.
“I’m such a
goose,” she said.
murmured and bent his head to give her a kiss. Her arms circled his neck and
she clung to him, deepening the kiss. Bare feet left the ground and her strong
legs wound round his waist.
When she could
no longer breathe, Buffy tore her lips away from his. Damn needing oxygen.
She knew Angel
meant the paper and charcoal, but she pretended otherwise.
“Kissing is an
art,” she told him.
him again, hard and long, and squeezed her legs tight. A normal man’s ribs
would have cracked under the pressure. Angel chuckled, dropped the gifts onto
Buffy’s towel and pushed her body up against the wall. She laughed, released
her legs, kicked both heels against the wall and spun them both across the
“What do you
think?” she said.
Angel had a
tight hold on his Slayer, twisted about and fell backwards to the floor. Buffy
grinned as her vampire kicked off his shoes, holding her to his chest. She
broke his hold and rolled away to come up on her feet. She gave him time to
pull off his socks before attacking him. He blocked her fist aimed at his head,
and as he got to his feet, the other one meant for his ribs. His hook she
avoided and the dance began. They lost themselves in the rhythm of blows,
blocks and jabs. This had been the only thing allowed once upon a time, as
close to sex as they dared. Now, this was just the forerunner. Angel’s cotton
shirt came off and Buffy grinned. Oh yeah! This was warming up.
in from the garden. He had decided to give Buffy a chance to give Angel his
gift in private and besides, he enjoyed the walk about, especially since John
and his odd helper had put in the new gardens about the house. The grounds had
seemed rather stark, bare, and austere before. Now, they were alive with
various shades of foliage and the pretty colours of new flowers that were
blooming. Even the new rose bushes offered a new bud here and there, soon to be
sharing their glory with the summer sun.
he peered into the kitchen to find it bare. The study was empty too. Giles
found the two cats sitting outside the door of the training room. Their ears
were twitching and their eyes wide. Giles didn’t have to put his ear to the
door to hear the thump of feet on wooden floors or the smack of fist against
muscle. Buffy’s laughter rang out and Giles hurried away with a smile. Whatever
mood Buffy had been in earlier, Angel had managed to dispel. He turned to see
that the cats hadn’t budged.
“Come on you
two. Nothing to worry about.”
Aristotle gave him a stare, perhaps considered that the door was remaining
closed, and followed the path Giles had taken down the hall, their tails high.
the belt, Buffy and Angel retired with Giles to his study. Both men were
sipping whiskey, Buffy was drinking tea.
“What did you
find at Woodhenge?” Angel was the first to ask. Giles had left that morning on
hearing reports of something untoward there.
pure and simple!” Giles’ vehemence showed how much he detested the wanton
destruction of such an ancient and precious site. “Fortunately the ring markers
are made of concrete. Imagine what damage could be done to the original wood if
they still stood. As it is, a couple of the markers have to be reset and others
cleaned of graffiti.”
“A waste of
energy for all concerned. I don’t understand the need to deface public property,
let alone target a mysterious wonder of ancient Britain.” Giles took a long
swallow from his glass. His annoyance had abated in the drive back from
Woodhenge, but now it resurfaced in the telling.
that the younger generation would put their energies into something
constructive, wouldn’t you?”
Two pair of
eyes focused on her. “What? I’m right, aren’t I?”
Angelus-like smirk played across Angel’s lips. The vampire didn’t say a word.
Giles, however, wasn’t so wise.
“Do you count
yourself in that number?”
narrowed dangerously. “Young? I hope you didn’t mean the other, Giles?”
mistake, Giles stammered, “I – I’m sorry. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that
you were a vandal.”
“So, I’m no
longer counted as young?” Buffy pouted.
It was a no
win situation for Giles and he shook his head in resignation. Buffy giggled and
Angel’s smirk widened.
have warned me, Angel,” the Watcher complained.
shrugged and said, “I’m with her.”
sighed. Buffy and Angel were a team, no doubt about it.
“It appears as
if we have another quiet day ahead of us tomorrow.”
her drink and stood up. “Don’t sound so upset, Giles. We’ve had about as much
excitement as we can stand. The summer is here, no apocalypse looming, we
licked the last one,” she eyed Angel when she said that, “let’s just enjoy the
Angel said, “I
found something of interest today.”
Giles’ face light up. She groaned and threw her lover a look of despair.
interesting? Where?” Giles asked eagerly.
He forgot how
literal the vampire could be sometimes. “I mean whereabouts and what is of
Buffy saw the
twitch of Angel’s lips. He had deliberately baited Giles. She looked away
trying to hide her smile. Giles didn’t stand a chance between the two of them.
looked back, puzzled.
“That’s what I
He spelled it,
and she rolled her eyes. Angel got out of his seat and retrieved the newspaper
he had put aside. He put the paper page up on Giles’ desk. The article was a
small one and offered little information. Giles and his Slayer leaned over to
‘It seems as
if ancient rites of witchcraft are once again about to descend on Trewa. The
Witches’ Rock has said to be returned. Mr and Mrs Braithwaite, while on holiday
in Zennor, came upon the mystery during their walk yesterday. The town now
waits for the coming of the witches.’
Buffy said, “Not
much to go on.”
that know the legend, they need nothing else.”
Angel made an
observation. “Do you think it is linked to the Woodhenge incident?”
think so. “You think vandals put back
however. “Midsummer rituals…it could be.”
bit late for that.” Buffy’s eyebrows rose.
used to gather at Trewa at Midsummer, and Woodhenge is aligned to the Midsummer
one needs to go and check it out.”
“I’ll head off
down there tomorrow, Buffy. It’s not as if I’m needed here at the moment.”
Without further preamble Angel was out of the room. Buffy looked out the
window, there was still a little of the day left so her lover couldn’t make his
escape just yet.
Giles? Why is Angel in a hurry to go Tru…Trewa?”
The look in
Giles’ eyes was one of understanding, and a little sadness. “It was once said
that anyone who touched the Witches’ Rock at midnight was protected against
evil and bad luck. Some say the rock has to be touched nine times to bring
about this protection. And, is it only on Midsummer’s Eve, or does the charm
work with any midnight?”
is…” Buffy’s throat closed up.
protect us from…”
is not a possibility anymore.”
the happiness clause, no. Think about it Buffy. Angel’s past has presented him
and us with problems and will continue to do so. There is also the remote
possibility of Angelus being cast loose with majicks. Angel knows this and
maybe fears it.”
scared of anything, Giles.”
true. He fears harming you, us, and the innocents he has sworn to protect. He
may not be afraid for himself, but he is afraid of what could happen to
letting Giles’ words sink in. “I think I better go and see this rock for
“It’s a fair way to Trewa. It’s north of Land’s End, the Atlantic side. The
traffic is notorious this time of year. I don’t think Angel can get there in
time, even driving fast.”
the door, Buffy snorted. “Have you ever seen Angel drive slowly?”
No, he hadn’t.
“I’ll book a Bed and Breakfast for you. Take the phone and give me a ring when
you get there.”
all that surprised that Buffy wanted to tag along on the trip to Trewa. She was
enjoying the quiet of the warm summer days, and protested at anything that
threatened to spoil them, but he knew her, knew that her very being lived for
the fight, was finely tuned to the hunt, and that it made her blood sing. He was no different. He was a vampire and
vampires were creatures that lived to kill. They drank down the life force of
others to maintain their lives and the violence was in his blood. He revelled
in it, the thrill of the hunt, the brutality of it all, and he knew that he
should be ashamed by it, and sickened to the core. Part of him was disgusted
with himself, the other part, the major portion and maybe it was the demon he
was, yearned for the letting of blood, the savagery, the passion of the hunt
and its conclusion. He listened to Buffy chatter beside him, happy to have her
distract him from his morose thoughts.
about her day, told him about the art shop and its wondrous contents, her
coffee with Giles, and the lovely letter she had received from Dawn, to which
she had replied immediately.
eventually settled into silence, giving Angel the opportunity to ponder some
more, and to navigate the insane road system the United Kingdom had laid down
over the centuries. Buffy still felt uneasy in the passenger seat. In the
United States she would have been driving if sitting where she sat.
think that it was possible to fall asleep while her vampire was speeding
through the dark countryside, but she had. The Carrera is a sleek and compact
car and it hugs the road exceptionally well. However, it is a sports car, and
performance, not comfort, is its prime requisite. The jarring had been an
annoyance, but Buffy kept her mouth and her eyes closed. Angel was quieter than
usual, if that was at all possible. She dozed.
had taken longer than he had anticipated. The lateness of the hour hadn’t
impacted at all on the summer traffic. It had been horrendous. Give him a demon
to kill rather than to fight the short-tempered and tired holidaymaker behind
the wheel of his car. The vampire didn’t have to look at his watch to know it
was well past midnight and nearer to the new day.
He pulled up
on the side of the road. It was time to ring Giles and when he picked up the phone
he saw that bar thing that indicated a signal. That in itself was a small
miracle. Angel didn’t trust cell phones; they refused to work at the most
inconvenient times. Buffy stirred at the sound of his voice.
we?” she asked, her voice husky from sleep.
into the phone, “Buffy’s awake.”
He turned to
her. “We’re near Trewa, or what used to be Trewa. Giles has had a job finding
us accommodation. This is the high season, as he calls it, and St Ives is
packed solid. The town is pretty and very popular so he gave up and tried
stretched as far as the car would allow. “I hope he found somewhere,” she
grumbled, worrying about the soon to be sun factor.
“You talk to
him.” Angel handed her the phone.
stifled a yawn.
“Buffy. As I was telling Angel, I’ve managed
to find you accommodation in Zennor itself.”
at the window into the night. “Where are we spending the day?”
“I tried to procure you a room at the
Tinners Arms, the Zennor local pub. It has a wonderful guest house.”
him. “And? I thought Angel said it was impossible to get bookings at such short
There was a
chuckle from her Watcher. It sounded positively evil. “Angel’s right. It is. The landlord believes that you are there to
authenticate the Witches’ Rock.”
“Well, we are,
aren’t we?” Buffy blinked at Angel, who sat listening to both sides of the
“Somehow they have the notion that you
are affiliated with an organisation that publishes its findings. If you do find
the Rock genuine they stand to gain a lot in tourism.”
afraid it could work out the other way?”
“The village folk believe in witches
and majick. Whatever you find they are willing to stand by it. The landlord has
a sister who sometimes takes in guests. He rang back to confirm that she is
“Do we know
where to find her?”
“Go to the pub. Her brother will direct
you to her home. The name is Berryman.”
“Okay, as long
as they don’t get too antsy about taking in guests at some ungodly hour. Well,
I guess it’s time to go authenticate. Bye, Giles.”
“Good luck, Buffy.”
restarted the Carrera and drove the last few miles to Trewa.
Angel got out
of the car and handed Buffy a torch. He turned his torch on, for her sake she
“There was an
old tin mine here, once,” he said as he led the way on to open grassland. It
was eons ago, but he didn’t say that.
occurred to her. “Oh. Tinners Arms.”
only see to the limit of her light and her eyesight was better than most. She
was grateful for the brightness of his glow ahead. What she did see were rocks
strewn about, some of which were large indeed.
“Why all the
boulders?” she asked as they manoeuvred around them.
“The rocks are
granite. St Ives up the coast was built from the granite that was quarried
“I get it,
Angel’s dark form, his night-vision being excellent and he seemed to know the way.
Buffy was surprised but not frightened of the large shape that loomed out at
picked it out. “Cromlech.”
Cromlech? What’s that, a giant stone?” It looked like one of those Easter
Island giant heads to Buffy.
megalithic rock formation. It could be a tomb; there are a lot of them around
her light about and found that as far as she could see, there were odd shapes
standing sentinel in the night.
“I can smell
the sea,” she said.
were clipped. She could almost say breathless but that was always true. “We’re not far from the coast. The wind and
rain has buffeted the stones for centuries, hence the shapes.”
Buffy shut up.
The land undulated in hills and troughs and through these, Angel navigated
unerringly. Her short legs kept up with
his longer ones and before long his feet came to a stop. The light of his torch
played across the jumble of stones that were flung about in all directions. She
could see the beam centre on the pile of stone that sat before them, and race
away only to return again and again. Her beam joined his when it finally
settled on the pile that first drew his attention.
“Is that it?
That pile of rubble?”
answer. His silence told her that something was wrong. She didn’t want to shine
the light into his eyes, but his stance informed her that this was not what he
had hoped for. She laced her fingers through his.
the Witches’ Rock, is it?”
A soft sigh,
before, “No, it’s not.”
rock nine times isn’t going to solve our problems,” she stated.
She felt him
turn his head. “Giles told you?”
cares, you know.” She looked up into eyes that glowed with reflected
His voice was
a whisper. “It was a foolish wish.”
matter, either way.”
It was a short
drive to Zennor. It could hardly be called a village, more a hamlet if
anything. Angel found the Tinners Arms with no trouble. The church of St Senara
stood nearby, its tower unmistakable. He pulled into the small yard that served
for parking, and it was close enough to morning for the landlord to be up and
about preparing breakfast for his guests. The light in the windows beckoned and
they entered, seeking sanctuary from the dawn.
was pleased to see them and invited them for the morning’s meal. Angel stood
silent waiting for Buffy’s reply. If she was hungry they would stay. Buffy
wasn’t, and with an eye on the window, asked to be shown to their prearranged
Berryman, thick-set and middle-aged, hustled them out the door and up the
street, all the while chatting about the Rock, and trying albeit
unsuccessfully, to find out what they expected up at Trewa. Angel, already
holding their overnight bags, thanked the man for putting them up.
trouble, I assure you. Mary is happy to have guests that have an interest in
the history of the place. Ah, here we are.”
them up the lane - Buffy was hoping their temporary bed was in the whitewashed
house that stood out, in the grey, glum-looking village - and around the
corner. It wasn’t. The home they stood before looked like most houses out in
rural Cornwall, two-storied and made of stone. Granite, Buffy mused.
while Thomas – Tom, he insisted - knocked, and after the introductions were
over, he bid them goodbye and promised them a fine meal at the Arms when they
Mary was a
stout woman and had an easy way with her. She invited them in with a smile and
showed them to a small but lovely room. It had its own bathroom, which to Buffy
Tom,” she said, “he goes on a bit, but means well.”
you putting us up at such an hour,” Angel said putting the bags down.
“You must be
tired after your journey; I’ll let you get to your bed. Sleep as long as you
like and if I’m not about when you wake, help yourself to the kitchen, and I’ll
leave a spare key on the hook by the door.”
Mary gazed at
the two of them, stared in particular at Angel and left them to it.
noticed the glance. “I think you have another admirer,” she giggled as she
headed for the bathroom.
It was well
after midday when Buffy woke. She climbed out of bed, showered and changed, and
closed the door on the sleeping vampire. Mary was in the front room, a parlour,
Buffy remembered, working at an embroidery hoop. A black and grey tabby lay
stretched out asleep on the window sill. The woman looked up and slipped her
needle into the linen.
Would you like something to eat? I have some Cornish pasties warming in the
“That would be
lovely, thank you, Mrs Berryman.”
Mary put down
her sewing and led Buffy into the kitchen. There was an old-fashioned hearth
filled with a more modern stove against the outer wall, the chimney flu above
it redundant. Small pots filled with herbs looked out the window from their
place on the sill. A string of onions hung from a hook and bulbs of garlic
huddled together atop a bowl of fresh vegetables. The woman loved to cook.
Buffy sat at
the kitchen table and watched as Mary set a place.
the Cornishwoman said.
name is Quick. Berryman is my maiden name, and please call me Mary.”
saw the second plate go on the table and added, “Angel’s not feeling well. He’s
sympathetic tut, Mary removed the plate. “I thought he looked a little pale
this morning. Was it something he ate?”
Buffy hid her
smile. “You could say that.” Changing the subject she asked, “Is your husband
at work?” Though what there was to do out here in the middle of nowhere was
beyond her, she thought.
sliced and homemade, landed on the table along with a slab of butter and a
bottle of sauce.
“No, dear. He
died a few years back. It’s only me now.”
Mary put the
warm pasties in front of her. They smelled delicious. Buffy’s belly rumbled and
she gave in to its demands and bit into the piquant pastry parcel. It was
delicious: the minced meat, onions and vegetables melted in her mouth. Mary
filled the kettle and when it boiled made a pot of tea. Milk, sugar and two
cups were added to the table’s larder and Mary sat down to keep Buffy company.
a strange name.”
“It’s an old one. Around these parts we’re all related. The Quicks are reputed
to be descended from a sailor that was shipwrecked here. If you visit the
church, you will see a sundial on the tower wall. It was made by Paul Quick.
And speaking of strange names…”
her food in mid chew. “I know, Buffy.”
After her late
lunch Buffy left the house to explore the village. She thought to call in at
the church - it dominated the village - and besides, it was only down the road.
church, Buffy found it full of people. They were tourists come to view one of
the ancient churches of Cornwall. Avoiding knapsacks, children and the moving
mass of humanity, Buffy squeezed by and peered about in awe. The church was smaller
than she had thought, smaller than most churches north of Cornwall and the
original stonework leapt out at her from the 12th Century. It was
beautiful with its stone arches and the roof was a wonder. The wooden beams
curved upwards, reminding Buffy of the ribs of an old sailing boat. And yet
when she ventured further the church seemed to gain rooms, and like arms of a
sea creature, extend in all directions. It didn’t, though Buffy felt as if it
did. The south-east portion of the chancel dated back to Norman times, this she
learned from listening to a woman reading from a brochure. The colonial that
she was – Buffy chuckled at Giles’ description of her countrymen - barely knew
anything about the Normans. All she could conjure up was Robin Hood and the Sheriff
of Nottingham. Or was that Saxon?
the stained-glass window depicting saints she did not know. It was pretty and
let in some light. The other slender windows were not so fond of the day at
all. The main attraction appeared to be an old wooden bench on the right side
of the small chapel. People were clustered about the ends of the seat. When
Buffy got a chance she saw a carved image there. It was the Mermaid of Zennor.
The mermaid was holding a mirror and comb. She was reputed to have lured a
handsome young man, a Matthew Trewhella, into the sea. The mermaid had been
captivated by his beautiful voice as he sang in church. He was never seen
again, although it was said that his voice could be heard for many years down
in Pendour Cove. Buffy silently thanked the stranger who insisted on sharing
his knowledge. Who needed a tour guide when the tourists supplied most of the
On the south
side of the tower a small bronze dial was set. It, too, bore the figure of a
mermaid. There was an inscription: the Glory of the world Paseth. Paul Quick
fecit, 1737. Oh, Mary Berryman’s ancestor. Buffy was impressed. A pair of
crossed bones showed that the passage of time ends in death. She gasped. Above
the dial an angel’s head with wings was rising above mortality. Buffy left the
church in a daze. There was so much history here, in the churches, the land and
the people. She needed a walk to clear her head.
Celtic crosses in the church graveyard, she strode to the crest of the hill. Turning
around at the top, she gazed out over the village to catch sight of the ocean.
It was stunning, the view. The land was parcelled off with stone walls, and
yellow gorse accentuated the blue of the sea. She would walk down to the
cliffs, the call of the gulls a lure. Buffy retraced her steps - her walking
shoes comfortable and speedier than the ones she passed on others’ feet -
hurrying along the road that accommodated the tour bus that sat outside the
Tinners Arms. Her arms swinging, her jacket over her shoulder, American or no,
Buffy had a local’s knowledge of the British weather. It could turn, and often
did, within a matter of minutes.
outside her guest’s bedroom door. The young woman, Buffy, had set off to
sightsee and hadn’t returned. It had been hours and Mary had yet to catch a
glimpse of her young man. The daylight would be gone and the two investigators
hadn’t made a move to investigate. She startled when the door opened.
reading when he became aware of the heartbeat outside his door. It could only
be his host and she seemed to be in a quandary. Before she could knock he
opened the door.
Mary peered up
at her guest. The room was in gloom, the curtains drawn, and Angel was cast in
sinister shadow. His smile, however, immediately dispelled that fear.
“Can I help
you?” he asked.
“I hate to be a bother. Buffy said you were unwell…and I thought you might like
a cup of tea.”
To Mary, Angel
seemed to hesitate before saying, “Thank you, I would like that.”
something baking in the oven; do you feel well enough to come down to the
the layout of the house, the windows, and thought that he could manage it.
down, thank you, Mary.”
She smiled and
hurried down the hall to the stairs. Such a polite young man, she thought.
Angel sighed and closed the door. He had tried ringing Giles earlier only to
find there wasn’t a scrap of signal in the village. Oh well, if there was an
emergency, Giles knew where to find them. It was not as if they could do
anything from here anyway. Angel worried about it though; his shortcomings were
an inconvenience if not a hindrance.
Angel waited a
moment before following Mary down the stairs. Thankfully, the old houses had
small windows and even facing the western sun, there was ample shade for the
vampire to traipse from room to room. Entering the kitchen, he saw the sun
shining bright over the sink and table. There was, however, a chair at the head
of the table that was safe for him to use. He sat and felt something rub
against his leg. It was a cat, well fed by the looks. He dangled his hand and
felt the cat lick his fingers. He tickled it under the chin.
the teapot, noticed.
The name was
unexpected and it felt like a blow. He continued to pet the cat as he tried to
gather his equilibrium.
He managed at
long last to ask, “Wesley?”
Mary set the
cups down. “John Wesley preached here in 1748.”
Of course he
had. The stone he had used as his pulpit stood by the road leading into the
village. Angel had been a real boy back then.
the tea and passed the cup to Angel. He declined the milk and sugar. The woman
opened the door to the oven to check on something. She closed the door, took a seat
and helped herself to a cup of tea.
“Sorry. I help
with the meals at the Arms, pasties, apple pies, figgie hobbin and the like.
Goodness, where are my manners? Would you like something to eat?”
his head. “Am I keeping you?”
“No, not at
all.” Mary lapsed into silence, looked down at her hands that fiddled with her
Angel did not
fidget. He sat and watched his host sitting in her chair, the sunlight falling
across her head and shoulders. Was it instinct that sat her there, or something
else? The sound of her heart resonated in his ears. It was racing a little; she
was nervous. He waited and took a sip of black tea.
you,” she repeated bringing her eyes up to his.
Mary’s heart settled; she had come to a decision.
He heard the
intake of breath. “There’s something about the two of you.”
He sat very
special and so are you.”
“Buffy is special. I’m not.”
Mary shook her
head. “You are different. I can feel it. There is something…”
already been out to Trewa and seen the Rock.” She looked to him for
confirmation. He nodded not wanting to lie.
“What are you going to do?”
at the window. “Zennor is busy today; there are a bus load of tourists out
there.” He looked back at her, his gaze deep and penetrating. “We’re not going
to do anything. Do you want us to?”
her shoulders. “I couldn’t stop you if you were going to, but I am glad.”
He leaned back
and the cat jumped up into his lap. It settled against his waist with a purr.
don’t you?” he asked, stroking the cat.
“The Rock? I
had nothing to do with it, nor the village folk. It’ll come out, it always
“Not by us.”
Mary frowned. “You can sense these things?”
one of Giles’ cards and put it on the table. “Project Paranormal. Keep it. You
may need to contact us one day. And we, you,” he added.
Mary picked up
the card. “Me?”
smiled at the witch. “You’re special too.”
The Slayer had
returned from her walk all windblown and rosy cheeked. She had had a lovely
day. She had found the Wayside Museum in a cottage that displayed old domestic
and mining tools, and had browsed for souvenirs. A typical Californian girl,
Buffy had even managed to shop. Buffy helped Mrs Berryman carry the Cornish
apple pies and biscuits down to the Arms, and had stayed on for dinner. Angel
joined her when the sun finally sank beneath the waves and had a drink with
brother and sister before heading for Westbury. They were given an invitation
to return at any time.
Buffy was full
of fun facts about her day and relayed them all to an attentive Angel. He had a
few facts of his own to share, like the cottages a mile over the hill that D H
Lawrence, his wife Frieda, John Middleton Murray and Katherine Mansfield had
lived in during the First World War. Buffy surprised Angel in that she knew who
D H Lawrence was.
“He wrote Lady
Chatterley’s Lover, right?”
Of course, he
mused, everyone had heard of it.
Still a little
disappointed, Angel drove through the night, grateful that Buffy had fallen
asleep leaving him alone with his thoughts.
He withheld the sigh forming. Oh, he was over his let-down, really. He
just couldn’t help but brood over it.
In all his
long life, he should know better than to expect to have things his way. The
universe didn’t hand out breaks to demons and mass murderers, or both. He
remembered Charles Gunn saying something similar when they were running from
the power of Jasmine. Oh, he had been asking for a damned break back then, and
yes, the Powers That Be had given them one, but at what cost?
eyes briefly, Angel tried to shake his glum thoughts. He did have something
miraculous in his life. Buffy, her love, and he did have somewhat of a life. He
was part of something again, doing what was right, albeit a little at a time.
escaped all the same when his thoughts turned to the ridiculous pile of rubble
sitting in place of the Witches’ Rock. The persons who had done such a thing
knew that the rock or rocks had been square of shape, and so the muddle of rock
had been placed into a square. It wasn’t even close. The stones of the original
Witches’ Rock had been huge and cubed. No ordinary man could have moved them.
It was said that the huge rocks of Burns Down – named for the many fires lit by
the witches on Midsummer’s Eve - and all over this part of Cornwall were called
forth by giants. As Angelus, he had seen the Witches’ Rock. He had never
ventured there among the gathering of witches, too dangerous by far for the
likes of him. No, he had stopped by, curious one night, to see what drew the
Penwith hags, and curious to know if luck could be had from the touching of the
stone. Angelus wasn’t the superstitious sort; the demon had found it amusing
that he, The Scourge of Europe, sought Good Luck from the evil doings of
Witches. Whether or not it had worked, one couldn’t tell or care. Perhaps in
his heart, Angel’s hope of wanting good things was all that it was: a hope for
the future, a desire for some peace at last.
One good thing
had come out of all this; they had made a friend or two. Mary Berryman had a
little power of her own. She had obviously inherited her talent, it was faint
but it was there. Mary was the distant offspring of one of the old Penwith
The car sped
on, a dark shape ferrying darker thoughts - and dreamless ones - homewards in a
race against the morning light.
Buffy woke in
her bed later that morning with a vague memory of having gotten there courtesy
of vampire arms. She turned her head to see her lover beside her, out to the
world. She raised herself on her elbows, kissed the wrinkle of a frown that
marred his beautiful forehead and quietly withdrew from the cool sheets. As she
headed for the outdoors, having had a quick shower, she spied one of Angel’s
drawings sitting with a note attached.
For the church sale.
It was a
skilfully drawn picture of the old village of Westbury. The church of St
Cyprian’s was prominent. In fact, when Buffy looked closely she realised that
it was a drawing of the old village,
as in, back in the day. She glanced over to the bed to the sleeping Angel and
back down to the picture. This was beautiful, and an historical record to boot.
Once again she looked at her vampire. He must have drawn this before he came to
bed that morning. She wondered if the last few nights’ adventure had prompted
this foray into the past.
“I say,” Giles
said when Buffy showed him the sketch. Once upon a time, Giles would have
shuddered to view a drawing of Angel’s. The picture of Jenny the demon had
drawn would haunt him for life. Not now, and besides, this was Angel, not
Angelus, and both had the hand of a fine artist. Now there was a conundrum. The
hand was the same, the guiding light behind the hand, different, and yet both
were superb talents. Giles shook his head and the riddle away.
“Is this how
Westbury looked a hundred years ago?” Buffy asked, beaming at the hint of
praise in Giles’ two words.
“More like two
hundred. This is amazing, and he wants to give it away?” Giles went to his
shelves and pried out a book that contained the history of the local area and
some old photographs.
through the pages, he said, “This won’t show pictures that old, photography
wasn’t really in use before 1840 and then it was a cumbersome process. Mind
you, the old, and one of the first types of photography was the daguerreotype
developed by a Frenchman Louis Daguerre.”
“You mean one
of those old box-like cameras that stand on tripods and the photographer has to
pull the cap off and ignite a flash? I’ve seen those in Westerns.”
“No, that came
later. The daguerreotype was virtually an image projected onto chemically
treated paper and stayed there. The early attempts had images that faded after
a short time…ah, here it is.”
to the picture on the open page. It was a photo of a painting and that painting
looked similar. Giles and Buffy placed the book above Angel’s drawing. The
painting in the book contained a few more houses and of course the church. The
artist’s view was from a slightly different angle, and they could see that
Angel’s artwork predated the painting by just a few years.
There was a
“Do you know
what this means?” Giles’ tone was almost one of awe.
“He was here
in Westbury before we were?”
chuckled. “Yes, Buffy, but think of it. Angel was here, and he has produced an accurate record of the times. This
drawing is a priceless rendition from an artist born of the 18th century
who just happens to be using modern paper and charcoal. It never really sinks
in, Angel’s great age, until something like this reminds us.”
“Do we donate
this to the jumble sale?” Buffy wanted to know.
“No one will
believe this isn’t a copy of an early piece. I think it is safe to do so
although I am loath to part with it.”
draw you another, Giles. He won’t mind.”
closed the book and put it back in place on the shelf. “Better not.” He didn’t
sound too sure to Buffy.
give it to Martha and she can put it with our lot. The sale is for tomorrow,
morning, yes.” Giles sat down behind his desk and looked Buffy in the eye. “Now
tell me what happened. I want details.”
perfume floated past Buffy as two girls, fifteen years or so, hurried by, one
clutching a book, the other carrying a cake on a plastic plate. The cake stall
must be doing a roaring trade she thought, her stomach growling.
up. It was Kevin from the art shop.
the fact her hands were empty. “I guess you haven’t found anything of
Buffy looked about. “The cake stall is next. I’m famished.”
“You can buy a
cup of tea and cake from the table down the far end. I’m a bit hungry myself.
Buffy went tip
toe trying to spy out Giles. She thought she saw him at the book table – where
else? – and decided that yes, cake would be good.
“As in tea.”
Buffy snickered at her own wit. Kevin was turning out to be okay.
“Oh, I see.
Make fun of the English,” he served back to her.
friend material she thought, as they headed for the tea table. Buffy’s steps
slowed when she came abreast with the clothing stall. Oh, had her clothes been
bought already? Her hand reached out to the periwinkle blue sleeve that peeked
through the mishmash of donated garments.
something that takes your fancy?”
her hand abruptly. It didn’t take much for her to get side-tracked, especially
when it came to clothes.
She glanced at
her companion. “No. The colour drew me. Let’s eat,” and with that she marched
resolutely away to tea.
There was a
crowd at the table waiting to be served and the two new friends took their place
in the queue. A young mother and her son stood in line in front of Buffy. The
child held a balloon and the boy’s face had been painted in the likeness of a
zebra. The little boy was chatting excitedly to his mother and with one of his
frenetic arm movements his balloon escaped. The boy jumped to catch his
air-born plaything. Buffy grabbed hold of it, but not before the boy entangled
himself causing Buffy to fall into Kevin’s arms.
and Kevin murmured. They blushed as they straightened up and drew away from the
The mother of
the boy also apologised. “Oh, I’m so sorry. Peter gets a little excited. Thank
you for saving the balloon.”
the balloon back to Peter. “I like your zebra, Peter. Have you seen a real one?”
The boy stuck
his tongue out at her, and his mother apologised again before dragging him
Kevin chuckled, and they both had to cover their mouths with their hands.
“At least we
move up in the line,” Kevin managed with a huge grin. Buffy’s smile matched his
and they finally reached the table that sold the refreshments.
munching on a muffin, Kevin on scones, when Giles appeared, and with him was
“I should have
known you’d be here, Buffy.” Giles eyed the young man beside her. “I don’t
believe we’ve met.” He held out a hand. “I’m Rupert Giles and this is Lisa.”
wiped his hand on his pants, “I’m Kevin. Kevin Langford,” and took Giles’ hand.
“Hello, Lisa,” he nodded to her when she didn’t offer her hand.
Well, this is
awkward, Buffy thought, not really sure why.
What did you buy?” she asked, eyeing the basket that Lisa carried.
shifted from Buffy’s companion to Buffy. “A couple of jars of Martha’s jam and
a chutney. Oh, and a pair of brightly coloured socks. A novelty, sure, but
they’ll do for around the house.” Lisa brought them out of the basket and
Buffy’s cheeks burned. Lisa noticed.
not yours are they?” she asked in dismay.
“They were. I
hadn’t anything to wear with them and I needed to find something to give, and…”
she was babbling, she knew.
lovely, Buffy.” Lisa soothed and thought quickly. “I too have nothing that
matches, but I love the colours and I couldn’t resist.”
“We’ll be getting on.”
to Buffy’s consternation, “You’re welcome to stop for tea.”
“No, we’ll let
you young people alone.” Giles turned to go. He didn’t see the look that Lisa
“Did you do
the drawing of the village, sir?”
back. “Excuse me?”
“The sketch of
Westbury. Buffy bought some materials from our shop and I wondered if you were
the artist. It’s very well done, if I’m any judge.”
Kevin, but I do not have the talent. Another friend of ours is the artist.”
was about to ask which friend, Lisa butted in. “Has the drawing been sold?” She
had mentioned the sketch to Giles and he had informed her that Angel was the
artist. Buffy’s beau continued to surprise her, and more of a surprise was that
Buffy was here with some one other than Angel.
at her. “I think it is going to auction. They do that with some of the more
valuable items, and I would say that the sketch is something to treasure.”
her agreement. “It’s wonderful, isn’t it? I saw the picture early on and
thought that it would be snapped up in no time. The church roof will benefit
greatly from today’s efforts.”
Giles had a
look in his eye that Buffy knew well. “The art shop you say? The Clever Hand is
yours? I thought Mrs Buttsworth was the proprietor?”
grandmother. I’m here to help out for the summer while she recuperates.”
heard of the old lady’s infirmity and didn’t want to intrude. “Ah! Good for
you. Well, we must be off. We’ll see you at home, Buffy, when you’re ready.
Kevin.” Giles gently touched Lisa’s elbow, an indication for her to go with
She took the
hint. “Have a good time, Buffy, I’ll see you later. Bye, Kevin.”
appetite had disappeared about the time Giles and Lisa had arrived. Her nervous
fingers pulled apart the rest of her cake. What were Giles and Lisa thinking?
She recognised the source of her unease. It was Kevin, or rather the fact that
she was having tea with him, in plain sight of a dozen or so people. And that
was a sin, because? She wasn’t doing anything underhanded. She wasn’t cheating
on Angel. She was having tea with a friend. And yet, the niggle at the back of
her brain told her that if the shoe was on the other foot, she would be miffed.
More than miffed, she would be pretty ticked off. Look at how she had reacted
with Faith, and with Angel’s obvious pleasure in talking to her. Buffy’s head
wanted to connect with the table, but better not. No, she was mature Buffy, one
who could have male friends and not be flustered or feel guilty, and a mature
Buffy who could learn to accept that Angel had a friend of his own, female or
notice Buffy’s fingers demolish her muffin, he was thinking about her friends.
They sat in silence. Kevin finished his morning tea, Buffy fidgeted. The
“They seem a
Luckily her mouth was not full of hot tea. “They’re not…a couple, I mean. Just
He looked at
her, envious. “You have a lot of friends.”
Buffy was about
to deny it when she thought, that yes, maybe she did have a few more friends
than she realised. She missed her
friends, her sister and Sunnydale - the place that was now a crater in good old
California - and now she had old and new friends here in Westbury.
Kevin a brilliant smile. “I guess I do. Can you be my friend too?”
His smile was
just as dazzling. “I hope so.”
She drew in a
breath, about to tell him that she was spoken for, when a frog leapt onto the
Kevin peered at the intruder. “What’s a frog doing in here?”
didn’t hop; it walked on to her plate, walked off again, and leapt off the
“It’s a toad,”
Buffy said, standing, because several people were edging away from tables, and
there was quite a commotion starting in the hall.
Kevin got to
his feet, bewildered. “Toad? How do you know?”
“I think there
is more than one.” Buffy said as she began to move away. Eyes on her feet for
any amphibian underfoot, she began to search the hall. Kevin was close behind
ugly looking; they have dry warty skin and bulbous things behind the eyes.”
“You seem to
know a lot about toads.”
“I’ve seen a
few,” she admitted and knelt down to scoop up a specimen. “See.” She held it up
for him to examine.
He peered at
the toad, not at all squeamish and asked why she wasn’t.
She put the
creature down and straightened. “They’re just animals. I’ve seen worse.” Buffy
was worried. Was this a regular occurrence here in Westbury? Did toads just
The chatter of
excited people raised a notch and she glanced about. Everyone was looking at
the floor and at the tables. She herself looked down to see that, of the toad,
there was no sign. There wasn’t a toad anywhere.
they go?” her companion asked.
“I must go.
I’m sorry, Kevin.” Buffy edged away, smiling apologetically. “It was nice, the
tea and all. I’ll see you later, okay?” She turned and hurried away, her eyes
searching for anything else out of the ordinary.
and watched her go. Strange girl.
Buffy was a
little breathless when she arrived home, having run most of the way. Giles had
been her lift into Westbury, not out. She found Angel with Giles in his study.
“What are you
doing up?” she asked forgetting her agitation for the moment.
to you too,” Angel replied, and received a kiss in reply. She moved away and
didn’t notice the slight flaring of his nostrils as she found a seat.
toads?” she asked, focusing once more on the strange phenomenon of the morning.
didn’t see them on the road. They arrived at the church hall and were gone in a
few minutes. It wasn’t just me, everyone else saw them too.”
“As in poof.”
at her use of Buffy-speak. “Did you see them *poof*?”
minute they were everywhere, and when I looked again they were gone.”
appear elsewhere in the village, Buffy?”
ask…and perhaps I should have,” she admitted sheepishly.
“I’ll go back
and enquire about town.” Giles stood, ready to depart.
“I knew I
jinxed it,” Buffy grumbled.
apocalypse. Toads are a sign, aren’t they? And here I was congratulating myself
that we had none looming. Didn’t the last one fill our quota?” Her shoulders
slumped, and she looked sad enough that Angel came to her and kissed the top of
“It may be
nothing,” Angel murmured, hoping that it wasn’t a lie.
“Just like at
Woodhenge and Trewa? I don’t think so.” She wasn’t buying it. She had a
Giles had the
same feeling. He hesitated by the door. “It could be another co-incidence.”
don’t occur in our world, Giles.” Buffy was worried.
“Those were pranks, this is something different.”
them then, and the last thing he heard was Angel asking what she meant by that.
He hurried to
the car, worrying about the two of them, knowing he was being silly about his
reaction to Buffy having tea with another young man. He knew how much in love
his Slayer and her vampire were. No question. He was witness and sensitive to
every nuance of emotion those two had for each other. Sure, Angel was hard to
read most times, but his love for Buffy was now evident, the vampire allowing
his love to shine through after many years of burying his emotions. In the back
of his head, a worm burrowed carrying with it the niggling thought that all was
not well with Buffy. His Slayer hadn’t mentioned this Kevin Langford and, why
hadn’t she? Buffy had male friends before, Xander Harris for one. Was this one
any different? And how would the vampire react to finding out? Angel could be
unpredictable, not to mention dangerous. He shook the thoughts away. He needed
to concentrate on the matter in hand. He had no doubt that Buffy knew that the
amphibians had been toads. After all she had had plenty of opportunity to come
in contact in her Slayer duties.
along Doggetts Lane and parked outside the Punters Wine Bar. He popped his head
in the door. A few people were sipping wine – it was near to noon – and he
couldn’t help but notice Travis, the proprietor, duck away when he caught sight
of him. It didn’t matter; he approached the couple sitting just inside the
sorry to intrude. Did you notice anything unusual here this morning?”
The portly man
with a florid complexion looked up in confusion.
hesitated. What could he say?
woman seated across the table from him leaned forward, a gleam in her eye. “Are
you referring to the sudden appearance of frogs earlier? It was very strange.”
Her peach lipstick curved upwards in a smile. “It did make for some excitement
relieved at the woman’s straight forwardness. “It was strange, wasn’t it? The
creatures appeared at the church, and I was curious if they had been seen
anywhere else.” He looked at her partner. He wasn’t at all interested, his
drink and the cheeseboard occupying his attention.
It was time he
made his escape. “Thank you for your time.” He nodded to the woman. “And you
too, sir.” The man didn’t even glance his way. Giles left feeling sorry for the
woman, who waved as if to excuse her man.
His next stop
was the little supermarket that catered to the village folk. The newer and
brighter supermarket at the other end of town served growing families and
busier people; here the pace was more sedate and quiet.
“Good day, Mr
Watson, how are you?”
A thin stick
of a man, Tony Watson had a good heart. His smile reached his eyes and they
crinkled beneath a shock of brown hair peppered with grey.
What can I do for you today?”
interesting thing happened at the church earlier. I was wondering…”
the cigarette carton he was restocking the shelf with onto the counter. His
hands gripped the glass and he leaned forward.
talking about the plague of toads we had earlier? It was the oddest thing. Here
one minute, gone the next. I thought I would have to call the pest people. I can’t
be too careful. The Health Authorities could shut me down.”
hear footsteps walking slowly down one of the small aisles. Whoever it was, was dallying and listening.
He lowered his
voice. “How many were there?”
his too, co-conspirator. “I didn’t count, but I could see maybe half a dozen,
there could have been more in and under the shelves.”
disappeared, you say?”
blinked. “I know it sounds weird, but I could swear…”
and whispered, “You aren’t the only one that swears.”
straightened, a relieved smile in place. He raised his voice. “Are you alright,
Mrs Larkin? Did you find what you’re looking for?”
A fairly young
voice answered, “I’m fine, thank you.”
“Thank you, Mr
Watson. You have been a great help.” Giles departed, leaving Watson to deal
with his customer.
several more stops, the last being the outskirts of the new village. He entered
Booths the Chemist and received some strange looks at his questions. Toads had
not been seen.
his watch he saw that it was past lunch. He turned for home and as he made his
way through the village something spattered on his windshield. At first he
thought it was rain, and then another spatter, more, and he realised the
smudges on his windows were insects. He stopped by the side of the road and
peered at the mess. Crickets – no, locusts. His frown deepened when he thought
on Buffy’s earlier prediction. Giles
put the car into gear, reversed and drove about trying to determine how far the
manifestation went. He hadn’t driven a mile before the insects vanished,
leaving only the smears to show that they had even existed and, he noticed,
decimated flower beds in their once pretty front gardens. He resumed his
journey home, keeping note of the gardens and the damage. He pulled up the
drive at Summerdown House only to see that his precious new plants had suffered
the same fate.
cried when he stepped from the Discovery.
through his grounds shaking his head at the mess. Fortunately more than half
the new foliage and flowers were unharmed. He guessed that the locusts had just
made it this far before disappearing back to wherever they had come from.
A third of the
asters and half of the dahlias greeted him as did the lobelia and the roses.
The catmint survived, at least the cats would be grateful. The chrysanthemums
were very chewed and droopy. The hebe, which had been showing such glorious
colour, was gone as were parts of the shrubbery. Muttering obscenities under
his breath he approached the front door. Buffy stood there waiting for him.
Angel, he could see, stood back in the shadow of the hallway. The look on the
Slayer’s face said it all.
“I see the
locusts made an appearance,” he grumbled as he brushed by.
of “I told you so” vanished. “I’m sorry about the garden.”
through to the kitchen and put the kettle on. Angel and Buffy followed him, not
saying another word.
the teapot, received a nod from both of them and started spooning the tea
“At least I
have some garden left. Those gardens were their pride and joy for some of the
villagers, and now they have been completely destroyed.”
dared say it. “Apocalypse?”
Angel pulled out chairs at the kitchen table and watched as Giles set out the
cups, milk and sugar.
giving in. “I think you are right, Buffy. This has all the signs.”
apocalypse we had, had no signs at all.”
Both human and
Slayer stared at the vampire.
his gaze elsewhere in memory, “There was that one time…there were birds and
fire, just what we need,” Buffy grumbled.
boiled, Giles poured the steaming water into the pot and sat.
trembled,” Angel said.
hit the table. “Just this once, can’t we have a quiet summer?” The table
muffled her words a little, her forehead glued to the wood.
reigned as each contemplated the day’s events. Giles poured the steeped tea,
popped in Buffy’s sugar requirements and topped it up with milk. The vampire
drank his black and Giles finished pouring his own.
“I find it
strange – Woodhenge and The Witches’ Stone were not of a mystical nature.”
lifting her head. “But the timing, Giles. Maybe there was something…”
“I think it’s
time to hit the books.”
hit the table once more. Angel touched her hand ever so lightly and sat back to
enjoy his tea. It was well that his lover did not see the corner of his mouth
lift in his peculiar half-smile.
returned to the library to research when Martha and John rushed into the house,
Martha all flushed and bothered.
quiet, stood as his wife blurted out, “Mr Giles. Your poor garden. Most of the
village has been ravaged, our vegetable garden too. What are we to do?”
touched. “It’s all right, Martha, John. The garden can be fixed. You go and
tend to your own, we’ll manage here.”
“I can tidy up
a few of the plants and shrubs before I go,” John offered but Giles was
John. Please, it will wait; you go now and look to your own affairs. Please.”
to be put off so easily. “Have you had lunch? It’s way past noon. I will stop
and fix lunch for you and Miss Buffy.”
Giles got up
and steered the couple out the door. “Ham sandwiches will be fine, Martha, we
can fend for ourselves.”
“You’ll be wanting to sort this business out. We’ll leave you to it.” John led
his wife away down the hall, her voice floating back to them, “I knew there was
something about those toads.”
drifted by unnoticed by the three in the study. Empty plates and cups stood
precariously balanced on the corner of Giles’ desk, nudged there by copious
volumes of research material. Buffy sighed, and not for the first time. Chin resting in her hand, the elbow propped
up by the chair’s arm, and the other hand turned the pages of the book resting
on her lap. Another sigh prompted Angel to lift his eyes from the ancient
scroll he was translating. He waited for the flick of the page, and yes, was
rewarded with the prerequisite exhalation of breath.
exciting is it,” he stated, his dark eyes twinkling.
watching a…a…” Buffy tried desperately to think, “a…”
bobbed. “Paint dry. You got it, Giles. I know we’ve seen a few apocalypses and
every one is different, but this part is sooooo boring.”
slumped lower. “Give me something to hit and I’ll be happy,” she muttered and
turned a page.
much to go on, I agree. The prophecies are not forthcoming about any momentous
event looming. We may need to broaden our search.”
“The Codex is
useless, The Black Chronicles have nothing and every book I have flipped
through gives hints but nothing concrete. How can we broaden our research?”
at Buffy’s little rant. He knew that she was frustrated, they all were.
He cleared his
throat. “There’s the internet and a few people I could telephone.”
agreement with all that Buffy had said, Angel interjected. “Why don’t we just
wait for another sign? I’m sure something is going to happen that will give us
more of a clue.”
brightened, threw her lover a brilliant smile in appreciation, straightened her
shoulders and said, “That’s the best idea I’ve heard all day. It’s been quiet
on the manifestation front all afternoon.”
The frown that
rearranged her Watcher’s face said it all. The same frown was turned on Angel
as if to put blame on the older man who should know better.
pray tell, will that be? The end of the world?”
shrugged his shoulders. “We don’t have enough to go on. According to everything
we’ve read; there isn’t an apocalypse scheduled.”
mean there isn’t one looming.”
doesn’t, but we need more than what we’ve seen,” Buffy interceded. She knuckled
her eyes. “Besides, I don’t think I can read another word, the letters are all
across, his long fingers purloining her book. Glancing at the pages, he said,
“No wonder; this is Greek.”
were entertaining,” she said in her own defence.
have pictures,” he smirked back.
Giles gave up.
He threw his hands up in despair. “Okay, I concede. You go and do whatever it
is that is more important than saving the world. Don’t mind me, I’ll soldier
on, nose to the grindstone.”
out of her seat, snatched up the dirty lunch dishes, jerked her head towards
the door in a signal for a quick retreat, not feeling the least bit guilty for
all of Giles’ speech.
“We are still
going to the concert tonight, aren’t we?” She asked him as she neared the door.
Angel plucked up the cups that were teetering on the plates and waited for
concert?” His eyes flicked down at the pile of books and scrolls, and back up
to Buffy’s hazel gaze. “I think that the world can wait while we enjoy an
evening of culture.”
Angel following and both heard his added, “I’ll keep working until then, shall
The sun was
setting, but not soon enough for Angel; it still held the vampire prisoner
until it coloured the sky red with its final goodbye. Buffy had left earlier
with Giles, a hamper packed full by the ever-thoughtful Martha. He walked to
the village. After being cooped up all day it was a welcome exercise. He caught
the strains of violin, cello and viola playing sweetly on the night air. Haydn,
he mused, transported back two centuries. The thatched roof tops he passed, the
early Georgian cottages, all lent to that illusion. The music changed and it
became something modern, the mood was broken. The string quartet was playing a
medley of music that Angel vaguely knew. The village green was lit with
lamplight, paraffin by the smell, and on many a blanket, folding chair and
plastic stool, sat the villagers, enthralled with the delights of the talented
local quartet. He spotted Giles and Buffy on the edge of the crowd, quite
comfortable on their woollen seat. Nearby he saw the Fletchers sipping a cup of
something as they enjoyed the music. The surprise was Collins the policeman. He
sat with Lisa, a picnic spread out between them. He saw Buffy turn her head -
she had sensed his presence, and it was something he thought extra special
about his girl. Angel saw her whisper to Giles and get up and join him.
nice?” Buffy gestured to the stars before taking his arm and wrapping her own
around it. “Even the weather has held out. Perhaps we are wrong about an apocalypse.”
isn’t to your liking?” he asked, gazing not at the stars but at her.
The grin he
got was pure mischief. “You know it isn’t. The modern bit,” - “medley” he
interjected - “medley,” she repeated, “is okay, but the other stuff,” - “music”
- “is sort of…”
fashioned,” he finished for her.
He let her
guide them away from the crowd and they crossed back the way he had arrived,
back to the small streets of the village.
“Hey! I like
old fashioned.” She gave him a look. “I like you.”
ignoring that, he asked, “What are we doing?”
She kicked a small ball that was lying in the road. It ran, bounced against the
kerb and finished up against the stone wall that fenced one of the cottages. “I
feel we should do this as our effort towards the cause.”
guilty?” he teased, and then became aware of another’s presence. There was a
figure walking up the street towards them. The figure materialised into a young
man. Angel felt that there was something familiar…
sound of Beethoven caught his ear as they continued to walk, the young man
nearly upon them.
“Is that you,
was horrified to see him, and her standing there beside Angel, an Angel who
seemed to have turned to stone like one of those angels that stand guard over a
tomb. And Buffy was that tomb. She berated herself. In a village this small it
was bound to happen that they would run into Kevin. She should have mentioned
the young man to her lover, should have told him about her new friend and then
this awkwardness wouldn’t be happening.
his eyes wide in the gloom, a puzzled crease upon his brow.
leaving the concert?” Kevin glanced up at Angel, who stared back, his face
expressionless. Kevin was almost the same height, not quite.
“Only for a
little while.” She bit her lip fully aware of granite boy next to her.
is Angel. Angel, Kevin here is helping his grandmother for the summer. She owns
the art shop.” She held her breath.
staring at Buffy and her companion. The hollow feeling in his stomach
intensified. The dangerous-looking man next to her made him uneasy. Who was he?
He lowered his eyes and saw Buffy’s hand around the man’s arm. He felt sick.
Was this her boyfriend? She had never said she was seeing someone, but then she
hadn’t said she wasn’t. Buffy was a beautiful woman, how could she not be
A deep voice,
soft as an unheard threat broke him from his spell. “Kevin.”
He looked and
with amazement saw a large pale hand stretched out for a handshake. Dazed, he
clasped it with his own.
Buffy was in
shock too. Angel hadn’t batted an eyelid. In fact he was being the perfect
gentleman. Her eyes narrowed. What was he up to? Where was the jealous rage?
“Angel is my
boyfriend,” she blurted out.
over, Kevin was glad to get his hand back. “Is he the artist?”
reassumed his role as a piece of stone. They were talking about him. What else
“He is. Kevin,
I’m sor…umph!” Something big and hard slammed into the both of them knocking
them over. Kevin fell, too, in the tumble.
Angel got to
his feet pulling Buffy along with him. His eyes tracked the large shape that
ran away down the road. He had been so intent on Buffy and Kevin, he hadn’t
stayed alert. He felt stupid.
that?” Kevin asked as he climbed to his feet.
hurt?” Buffy asked, watching the same shape disappear around the corner.
“No. Who was
“Go on to the
concert, I’ll explain later. We’ll go and check this out.”
stood looking down Meadow Lane, watching as Buffy and her boyfriend ran off
after the unknown assailant. He wasn’t physically hurt though his heart was
sore. He knew he was being silly. He barely knew the girl. He shook his head.
Obviously not, ‘cause look at the bombshell she just dropped. Americans are a
breed unto themselves, he thought as the two veered to the left and vanished.
Why would you run after a thug? He turned and headed towards the sound of
music. And what sort of name was Angel?
asked, running beside Angel.
answered, his long legs not at all an advantage, for the Slayer was keeping up.
She waited for
his questions, he had a right after all, but they did not come.
pointed, and she could see the demon’s head showing above the fence of the
property ahead. The owner would not be pleased, the demon had smashed itself
through the fence; the picket fence would need repairs. It was fine by her, and
she barrelled through the gap. Angel flew over the top of the fence and landed
gracefully on the lawn.
risk a staking doing that,” she said as they both tackled the snarling beast.
asked as if that reminded him. He lashed out a fist, and felt it connect, but
in doing so he received a blow in return.
Mr Pointy from somewhere in her clothing. “Of course. Never leave home without
it.” She darted in and attempted to stab the demon in the chest. The blow
glanced off and a jab to her stomach left her winded.
her away and lashed out with his leg in a powerful swing. The demon stumbled
back, its red eyes gleaming. Sharp teeth glistened and it growled.
the Slayer puffed as she tried to regain her breath.
growls?” The vampire was trading blows with the creature, feeling its strength,
and it was strong. It kept up the onslaught, a match for any vampire. Angel
wasn’t just any vampire, he was determined, and besides his girlfriend was
girlfriend flew at the demon, both feet cracking its ribs when they connected.
The beast flew back and rolled away. Before Buffy could get to her feet, Angel
was upon it from behind, his hands and arms circled about its thick neck. The
creature’s clawed hands marked his face in two bloody furrows as it tried to
break free. Angel vamped.
“There is a
resemblance,” Buffy quipped as she slammed both fists into its gut.
There was a
sickening crack and the demon went limp. Angel dropped the carcass and it
sprawled in an ugly heap at his feet.
“The skin is
the wrong colour,” he said pointing out the greyish green skin. The vampire
narrowed his eyes. The demon looked singed around the edges.
up at him. Patrolling with Angel was never boring. He had a sense of humour not
often shared, and she never had to worry about him getting hurt. Well, not
“Are you all
right?” She reached for his face and touched the wounds there.
his human appearance. Two bloody trails marred his otherwise perfect features.
that the scratches must sting, but didn’t say anything more. She could see the
cuts healing before her eyes.
She kicked at
the dead thing on the ground. “What are we going to do…?”
vanished and Buffy didn’t finish her sentence. They both stared at the crushed
that problem. Where did it come from?” Another thought popped into her head.
“Is it another manifestation? Is this the beginning of the apocalypse?”
came up. He looked back towards the road. She swore she heard him inhale.
said, “and screaming.”
“You can hear
that from here?” They took off back the way they had come, Angel a dark figure
in black and Buffy bright in a mauve top and cream pants. “Remind me to never
whisper while you’re around.”
short. Angel did too. “About that…I want to explain…”
He graced her
with his amazing smile. “For what? Making a friend? Okay, a male friend…and can
we do this later.” Angel motioned with his head. “Fire,” he reminded her.
nodded, relieved. “Come on, what are you waiting for?”
The two faster
than human runners were soon back to where they had been knocked down. They
followed the clues of a broken gate and a ruined back hedge into the yard of a
two storied stone cottage. The screams were coming from one of the upper
windows. Smoke was pouring from the downstairs windows, fire licked at the
curtains and they could see a raging inferno through the non-existent backdoor.
Angel mutter, “There’s always fire.”
His keen eyes
perceived the remains of wood and glass scattered on the back steps.
By now several
people were arriving, the sound of a siren rang faint in the air. The people in
the window saw help arriving and screamed louder.
see they were both young girls. He pointed to the roof. Buffy knew Angel was
right. There was no way through the fire downstairs for a rescue. Help would
have to come via the roof.
yelled for the garden hose and water soon started in a spray. It wouldn’t do
much good but it was the effort that counted. Buffy and Angel circled around
the house. The front door was shut. It was blackening and they knew the flames
were devouring it from within. They looked about, saw that people were rushing
to the backyard and waited till they were alone. Angel watched as Buffy
launched herself up to the higher window. She put her hand to the glass.
she said looking back down at him.
he said. When she had scrambled the rest of the way to the roof the vampire
leapt, seeming to fly. He landed cat-like on the rag-stoned roof. Sure-footed
he ran along the apex and crawled down to where Buffy was leaning over the
“We’re here to
help,” Buffy called down.
looked up, tear streaked and sooty. The girls were no more than fifteen, and
“Can you get
to the attic windows?” the vampire asked.
heads shook negatively. “T-th-the f-fire.”
spoke in a quiet whisper to the Slayer. “It’s no use breaking through the
ceiling even if the fire hasn’t reached there. The girls have to come up.”
to climb up to the roof,” she called looking back down.
wailed and shook their heads again. Angel saw that they were clutching at one
another, too petrified to let go.
down and help you. Is that alright?” he called.
quieted into shuddering sobs, one of them begged, “Hurry please.”
The crowd was
growing and the village’s two fire engines had yet to turn up. The fire alarm
was sounding. Where the heck were they? Buffy looked to the other roofs. The
house to her right was thatched; one spark and it would go up in flames. They
couldn’t wait, it was time to move.
I’ll go down.”
and have a longer reach. I’ll pass the girls up and you pull.”
don’t do fires, remember?” Okay, she did worry about him. He may be immortal
but he wasn’t indestructible, at least not quite.
won’t believe that you can pull them up. You do not look that strong.”
punched his arm in response. He was right. Reluctantly, she gave up the fight.
Angel inched forward on his stomach until he was hanging precariously off the
edge. His hands took a hold of the guttering. Without being told, Buffy
repositioned herself to sit on his legs. She was his anchor. The early Georgian
cottage and its steep roof allowed the vampire to dangle his torso until he was
mere inches above the girls’ heads. He heard a shout and imagined that he and
Buffy had been spotted. A light shone up blinding him. He blinked away the pain
of the bright light, his night vision not coping at all well.
When his eyes
adjusted, albeit painfully, he reached out to the scared girls.
“One at a
time, please,” he coaxed but the girls huddled closer, both shaking their
time,” he insisted.
marvelling at their courage and loyalty to each other. It could get them killed,
but still, admiration was there.
smiled, hoping it was a reassuring one, and brought his other hand down.
“Give me your
arm, one each,” he said.
He felt Buffy
shift, and knew she had repositioned her feet bracing them on either side of
his waist. He hoped her shoes found enough purchase.
hands and long fingers wrapped around the right forearm of one girl and the
left of the other. He lifted both and heard another shout from the crowd. It
couldn’t be helped. He had a job to do. The girls had stopped crying, their
eyes were huge, their breath held in as he slowly brought his elbows up drawing
the girls closer to his body and the roof. Two hands clutched at his coat.
in their ears. “I can’t wriggle back. You have to reach out to Buffy. She’ll
help you up.”
trusting him and his partner, one of the girls put up her hand. He felt Buffy
lean forward, and Slayer strength allowed her to bring the girl across. The
next one followed and soon they were all together, not quite out of the woods
Buffy said. “What are your names?”
wiped her eyes. “Rosemary and this is my friend, Pauline.”
“We have to
get down from the roof. Can you crawl up and over the other side?”
nodded. Buffy stood up and led the way, the brave teens crawling behind her.
Angel took up the rear ready to catch a body if they slipped. Once on the other
side, away from the lights, Buffy stopped and prepared the girls.
“We don’t have
time to wait for the fire brigade. Do you trust us?”
gets Angel and no fighting over whom.” Buffy rolled her eyes at him. He showed
his teeth in return.
Pauline looked at each other in silent communication. Pauline was the lucky girl
to have the vampire’s arms around her. He lifted her up as if holding a baby,
which to one of his advanced age, she was. Again, Buffy rolled her eyes when
she noticed how comfortable Pauline snuggled in. She slung Rosemary over her
shoulder in a fireman’s lift and ordered, “Close your eyes,” before they both
yipped in fright and then it was all over. They were safe and sound on solid
ground. Angel gently placed Pauline on the grass. He could hear the sound of
were interrupted, he asked, “What happened?”
sidled up to her friend. Buffy was reminded of Willow. The two girls held
hands, their faces now guilty as hell beneath the tears and grime.
something to do with the demon,” he said.
started flowing again.
sniffled and wiped at her nose. “We didn’t mean to. We threw the candles at it
to make it go away.”
Buffy made a
connection. “I saw you at the jumble sale this morning.”
worried what her parents would do to her when they found out that she had
caused the fire. “We were there.”
had time to say anything more the crowd was upon them. Buffy looked up to see
that Angel was edging away. The mothers of both girls were crying and hugging
their daughters. The fathers shook Buffy’s hand and tried to grab a hold of
Angel. The noise was building. The engines had arrived, and the firemen were
trying to contain the fire. The babble of people’s voices added to the din.
there, as was Lisa and Ian Collins, and lurking like another pale person she
knew was Kevin. Men slapped Angel on his shoulders as he backed away, Buffy
sidled past well-wishers to join him and they made their escape to the other
side of the street. Giles, Lisa and Ian followed and, as if attached by an
invisible thread, went Kevin.
“It had to be
you two,” DCI Collins said as they turned to watch the spectacle. Collins
suspected – and not for the first time - that he was in the presence of two
extraordinary people. Being a policeman, he was not supposed to believe in
things that spoke of the supernatural. His roots were well fertilised in the
myths and legends of the Celts, Druids, and the like. How could he not believe?
the concert.” Buffy leaned into Angel’s side and he wrapped an arm around her.
She was very aware of Kevin’s stare and his hanging on every word.
“It was well
done,” Giles said. “There will be another concert.”
“Maybe Angel will be able to attend the next one. He could keep Buffy interested
in the music.”
the gentle jibe. “Angel was right, there was fire.”
went up a notch.
“We have a
hunch.” Buffy was careful with her words. “We need to speak to Pauline and
“I’ll find out
where they will be staying. No doubt the parents will be pleased to see you as
well,” Giles agreed.
Angel had seen
many a fire and he knew that the house was doomed. The firemen were doing their
best to save the houses on either side by trying to control the blaze. The
family would lose most of their possessions but not their lives. That was the
“How did you
do that?” It was Kevin, and he was very aware that all eyes were now on him.
let them die.” Buffy realised she was channelling Angel and she had a sudden
insight into his cryptic ways.
at Buffy. His eyes shifted to take in the dark shape that was her boyfriend.
The man looked menacing even in shadow. He’d never really got to see Angel’s
face in the street. Kevin’s Adam’s apple bobbed in a swallow. He was curious
about him, about a man that was a fine artist, a man with a girlie name who
could handle himself, rescue damsels in distress and end up with the princess.
For Buffy was a princess, and unattainable to one such as he.
astonishment, Buffy disengaged herself from Angel, heard her murmur something
to him before coming over to stand along side. Angel seemed to vanish into the
night before his very eyes. Wide-eyed he stared at Buffy. She took his hand and
pulled him away from the others, dragging him gently away from all the
Beneath a lamp
in a quiet part of the street, Buffy stopped them both.
“I’m sorry I
didn’t tell you about Angel. I wanted to…”
“No.” He shook
his head. “You don’t have to explain.”
It was her
turn to shake her head. “But I do. I know that you are interested…” She raised
a brow. He swallowed anxiously and nodded. “A girl can tell, you know.” Buffy
brushed at her hair. “Okay, nervous here. I really like you, Kevin. I do. I
didn’t mean to deceive you. Angel and I are complicated.”
“You are?” He
about it. “We were complicated. Not
so much now, but still, there are certain things. What I’m trying to say is, I
like you and I want you to be my friend. I like spending time with you; you’re
fun to be with. I didn’t want to ruin any chance of a friendship by pushing you
away. Can you be my friend? And Angel’s too?”
Fun to be
with? He hadn’t really thought he was funny at all. His heart, heavy with
disappointment, lifted a little at the idea of being Buffy’s friend.
Interesting things happened when she was around. Perhaps the friendship thing
would not be so bad.
He smiled his
acceptance at her. “Deal. Are you sure that Angel won’t hurt me?” he couldn’t
rewarded with her laugh; it was the first thing he had noticed about her.
wanted to hurt you, you would be in a world of hurt already.” She laughed
again. “He’s a pussycat.”
“Sure he is.”
morning Giles, accompanied by his Slayer, went around to Pauline’s home. The
Smiths lived three streets away from Meadow Lane. The girls were life-long
friends as were their parents. Rosemary and her folks were now billeted with
the Smiths, their own house a smoking ruin. When Giles and Buffy called in, the
Smiths and their guests, the Fitzpatricks, were back at the burned-out cottage
hoping to find anything that might be salvageable. Rupert Giles was happy the
girls were alone. It would make their task easier.
already told Giles about her theory.
Giles had the girls start at the beginning. “Buffy says she saw you at the
jumble sale yesterday. What were you doing there?”
“We bought old
Mrs Fisher’s book of spells. People think it is make-believe but we know that
it isn’t.” Pauline turned her head to look at her friend. Rosemary nodded. “She
was our primary school teacher. She was a nice lady and she was fun. People
thought she was a little strange. Even her son thought she was loopy.”
in, “She died last year. Mr Fisher doesn’t believe in majicks and he was
throwing out her books and bits and bobs.”
“She was kind to animals. She was always fixing them up when they were sick or
injured. She helped some of us kids at school too.”
“So you found the book and tried a few spells.”
“The book was
hard to read. Some of it was Latin. We knew a few words, and the internet had a
translation thingy. We used that.”
help himself, he felt his eyes rattling in the back of his head. “The toads?”
“We were going
“I see.” Giles
bit back his retort. Instead he asked, “The locusts?”
humble voices spoke in unison. “Sorry.”
rather sorry for them. “Were the spells difficult to do?”
her head. “We went for the easy spells and we couldn’t see the harm in it.”
wouldn’t, would you, in a book of majick,” Giles grumbled under his breath.
him and gave him a look.
Giles put on
his most stern face. “The demon wasn’t an easy spell.”
The guilt just
kept on piling up. The girls looked ashen. Rosemary picked at her fingers.
went wrong. We must have said something we shouldn’t have.”
“What were you
trying to do?”
looked at one another. “We wanted to be lucky.”
“For boys you
mean?” Buffy asked.
The reply was
a timid one. “Among other things.”
thinned. “You wished for luck. Mmm. I don’t suppose you used the word
The girls fidgeted.
They were glad their parents were out, but Mr Giles was just as scary. They
don’t remember exactly.”
opposite of good luck.”
interrupted. The parents could be back any minute. “Can we move along? The
demon appeared and you threw the candles?”
going to tell Mum and Dad are you?” Rosemary asked, worried about her hide.
“No we won’t.
What happened next?”
expect a monster…the demon. We had candles and herbs and incense, and when it
appeared in the circle we screamed and tried to get away. We threw the candles
at it, and bolted up the stairs.”
“I think it
started to burn, because it was growling and running about. It looked mean!”
move for awhile because we thought it might come back and hurt us. When we
tried to open the bedroom door the house was on fire.” Rosemary started to cry.
Pauline gave her a hug and wiped at her own nose.
“Mum and Dad
will kill me,” Rosemary sniffled.
happy that you are alive. Did you tell them you were playing with candles?”
eyes the girls nodded.
were playing with candles. I don’t think we need to mention anything else.”
Giles sat back in his seat. “Let this be a lesson to the both of you. Majicks
are not to be played with. It is something only a trained person should do.
Promise me you won’t try anything like this again.”
Two meek and
chastened teens answered, “Yes, Mr Giles.”
added, “The book was burned anyway.”
eyebrows rose. The girl reminded her so much of Willow. She had her fire. Buffy
stifled a giggle.
twitched and she saw him try hard to stay forbidding.
demon come back?”
gone. For good…we hope,” Giles added just to scare some sense into the girls.
It worked. The
girls looked up at the window and back.
It was time to
go. As they said their goodbyes, the girls asked, “Is Angel your boyfriend?”
her eyes and said he was.
sprawled on a tartan picnic blanket, her head on her vampire’s lap. She was
replete. The blackberry pie Martha had baked and which now filled her stomach
had been delicious. Angel sipped at his red wine, his gaze out into the night.
The fingers of his left hand played with her hair, his mind elsewhere.
down into her green eyes. She is beautiful, he thought, and said so.
up at him. “You too.” Her heart squeezed. She had been a fool.
“I’ve been a
His lips quirked
into his half smile.
“You could argue with me.”
The half smile
grew. “I know better than that.”
continued, “I should have told you about Kevin. It was stupid, I was stupid.”
She sat up and
stared. “Where’s the jealous rage?” She reached out and touched his cheek.
“Where is the Angel I know who would beat the living daylights out of a
He caught her
fingers and brought them to his lips. “He hasn’t lived here for a long time.
smile was her reward. “I can smell you,” he reminded her. “I caught his scent
all over you when you got back from the jumble sale.”
dropped open. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
raining toads and, you didn’t say
most deftly, Buffy had to agree. Still, her treacherous mouth wouldn’t stop.
“Again I say,
where is the jealous rage?”
“I can smell you.”
worked for a moment before managing a small, “Oh.”
As if sensing
Buffy needed rescuing, Giles chose that moment to appear bearing gifts. He
carried a tray on which sat a pot of coffee and cups.
Buffy chirped getting to her feet to help Giles with the tray.
a word, Giles coughed, “Yes, quite.” His eyes searched out Angel’s and he
believed he saw amusement there, in the evening gloom.
creaking, although he would never admit to it, Giles sat on the blanket and
played Mother. He handed Buffy her coffee and gestured to the milk and sugar.
Angel raised his glass, shaking his head no.
leaned back against the pile of cushions placed there by a certain blonde. He
was thinking about Buffy and Kevin. Angel had no right to be jealous, things
had happened between him and Sabrina, and it was he that had wronged his lover.
He could forgive her anything. Buffy settled next to him cup in hand.
lovely.” Giles was commenting on the warm summer evening. Cricket song filled
the night air, an owl call sounded eerily from afar, their small part of the
world was at peace.
apocalypse averted, eh Giles?”
He turned to
look at his Slayer and her vampire. “Apparently so.” He smiled at the two of
them. They looked comfortable and his fears were unfounded. Angel as usual was quiet.
“We can put it
down to summer mischief.”
A huge thank
you to Jo, who, among other things, helped me understand the time it takes to
drive from one part of the United Kingdom to another. This story is
6000 words longer than it would be, and all the better for it.
For those of
you who wish to read more about the legends and actual places used in this
story, I have included the sites below.
History of the
camera can be found here.
toads of the U.K.
home of witches.
I hope that I
have the area described correctly; my details come from the legend which can be
found here. There is no actual village, but it is a place in Cornwall.
The tin mine Angel was referring to at Trewa was an
ancient Bronze Age mine. There
are other more recent mines in Cornwall, and some of the ruins are still
The site below
gives you a fair idea of the history of Zennor, and the look of the town and
the surrounding area. You can find the family tree of the Berrymans here. It
also mentions John Wesley and his sermon. Oh, and there is no cell phone signal
An added note
about the name Berryman. There are villagers named Berryman and Quick in
Zennor, I mean no disrespect, and the people in my story are entirely
The Mermaid of
Zennor is mentioned briefly above, for a more in-depth look, click on this site
Here is an
excellent picture of the church of St Senara and the Tinners Arms is in the
Arms is a real pub in Zennor. I have no idea who the owner is and I have used
the common name of Berryman, common to Zennor, as the fictional publican. To
have a look at the pub go here.
Museum in Zennor can be found here.
Figgie Hobbin: A
plain pastry sweetened with raisins. In Cornwall raisins and currants were
often referred to as figs, hence the name 'Figgie Hobbin'.
D H Lawrence
got a very brief mention but if you are interested here some fascinating facts.
very poor translation of the Latin that was used in this tale.
infelicitas. The girls wanted Felicitous : beatitas.