Shortly after arriving at the Oasis nightclub I came to the conclusion that a club was a club no matter what continent you were on. Sure the furniture was in a different spot, and the D.J's looked goofy in different-though not necessary worse ways-but when all was considered a club was a club no matter where you were, and just like back home the bartender spotted as a minors a mile away, so we were left cradling our cokes as we waited for a song to come on that would allow us to get our groove on.
When a song with the right beat finally came on, no communication was needed. We all knew it was time to dance. As we made our way out onto the floor I could feel the vibrations start to move their way through me. When we found a spot big enough for the three of us, we just started moving, the rhythm of the music, letting it dictate our motions. As we continued to move I started to migrate over towards Willow. It wasn't a conscious motion, something that I was even aware I was doing, she just called to me, and I answered. This was why I loved Bronzing, why I loved dancing. For a moment, whether it be a second or an hour, I could let go. I could forget I was the Slayer, forget that I had a world to save, because all that mattered was the music pulsing through my veins, taking me over, consuming me. There was no thought involved, only instinct, only feeling.
By the time we finally got off the dance floor we were all sweaty, but we were energized. As we headed over to the spot we had occupied before I felt a familiar presence.
"You looked good out there. What was that, the jitter bug?" Lia asked sliding up beside me with that lopsided grin on her face.
"Yeah, you want to see The Twist next?" I asked her making a strangling motion with my hands. She raised her hands up before responding.
"I think I'll pass," she said glancing behind us to the bar.
"Lyndon here?" I asked. He was probably hidden in a swarm of girls.
"Yeah, he's getting the goods," she responded happily.
"Are we talking carbonated goods, or goods with a capital 'G' and a lemon spritzer?" Xander asked squeezing his way in between Lia and I.
"Capital 'G' baby, all the way," she said grinning at him. "According to the state of Wisconsin he's twenty-one years old, and so am I. Of course we've never been to Wisconsin…actually, I'm not even sure if it is a state," she continued.
* * * * * *
"Do you think he has a chance with her? I mean, he does have a chance I guess, but do you think the odds are in the millions?" Willow asked turning her attention to the dance floor. Lia and Xander were out there dancing up a storm.
"I think he may," I said smiling
"What about the soothsayer?" she asked. She was referring to Lyndon who was somewhere in the club trying to separate a fool from his money.
"He's her brother. Skies are clear on that front," I responded as Xander and Lia made their way over to the table.
"Come on Wills, it's your turn to take a ride on the roller-coaster ride that is I," Xander said taking her hand and pulling her up. She looked back at me for a moment with trepidation before they disappeared into the crowd.
"The man's a machine," Lia commented sitting down. "What are you feeding him?"
"The usual grubs and berries," I responded.
"Where's asswipe?" she asked looking around. I guess that really was her nickname for him.
"Over by the bar trying to predict the future. Of course inflation has caused him to have to introduce a little non-refundable fee," I responded.
"One of these days his dumbass ideas are gonna get his dumb ass thrown in jail," she said finally spotting him.
"Where's your watcher?" I asked once she had turned back around. I hadn't seen her with one which was odd to the say the least.
"Sweden. Stock holders meeting," she responded.
"Sweden?" I asked.
"You'd be surprised by the number of financial holdings the council has," she responded. "Tim's always been a book man," she added. I assumed that Tim was the watcher in question. "Here, let me do your palm," she continued a moment later.
"Wha…what?" I asked.
"Let me read your palm," she explained smiling.
"What is it? A family pass-time?" I asked giving her my hand nonetheless.
"We come from a long line of thieving seducers. We start with palm readings, then a little wink wink here, and a little nudge nudge there, and next thing you know we're inheriting estates," she said moving her finger along my palm before looking up at me and winking.
"Are you hitting on me?" I asked only semi-jokingly. "No," she answered smiling. "I come from a long line of terrific flirters, it's encoded in my DNA."
"I thought you came from a long time of thieving seducers?" I asked noticing she was still playing with my hand.
"The two go hand and hand, like Sigfreud and Roy," she responded. "Don't worry I would never make a pass at you with your S.O dancing mere meters away. It would be impolite," she continued looking out onto the dance floor.
"Xander isn't my significant other," I said.
"I know," she said smirking again. "I was talking about Velma." She continued to trace the lines of my palm as I stared at her blankly for a moment. Finally regaining some of my motor skills I pulled my hand back and looked at her.
"How'd you know? I mean is it that obvious?" I asked.
"No," she responded. "Only to a disciple of the human condition like myself."
"The…" I started making a swishy hand movement. "What was it?" I asked. I was curious to know. It wasn't that I was ashamed of being with Willow, or that I didn't want anyone to know, that was never and would never be a problem. I was just concerned about the fact that the depth of my feeling were displayed out there for everyone-good or bad-to see, especially those who would use it against us. In my profession I didn't exactly deal with the most upstanding of individuals, and I didn't want my feeling for Willow to place her in anymore danger than they already did. Being the friend of a Slayer was enough to put her in danger, but to be the lover of one, that just added to it.
"Narrow your inquiry, please?" Lia responded.
"What gave it away?" I asked, this time coherently.
"It's nothing obvious, nothing that I think you can even help," she responded thoughtfully. "Someone would really have to be looking. Like I said that night on the beach, you're kind of like our Captain Kirk, you know. The Slayer of Slayers, so I've kind of been watching you trying to perhaps pick up some skills," she continued. "I just ended up picking up on something else too. It's…well I believe it would be best articulated in the words of the great philosopher Bonnie Raitt." I raised my eyebrows at that one, but didn't say anything. "You laugh just a little too loud, you stand just a little too close, you stare just a little too long," she singsonged. "Does that help?"
"I see," I responded. I couldn't really help any of those things.
"I wouldn't worry about it. Demons aren't notoriously perceptive, and neither are most people," she responded. "You're completely forgetting the most important question."
"Do you think I'm sexy? Cause I usually get cute, people like to call me cute. Do you think I'm cute?" she asked so seriously you knew she couldn't actually be serious.
"Not at the moment I don't," I responded trying to hide a smile.
"I'll take that as a yes then," she responded pleased. "I'll be back, I'm going to try and stop that Neanderthal man from pummeling my brother into the stone age," she continued noticing the walking wall closing in on Lyndon.
* * * * * *
"All I'm saying is that being an oracle can be very, very stressful. It's only fair that those of us with the gift are compensated for our time and effort. I mean if I read one of the cards wrong, or misinterpret one symbol I could ruin someone's whole life. Very few people understand what it's like to be responsible for a burden like that," Lyndon said as we walked down the street. It was probably the longest I had ever heard him speak for at one time. Usually he spoke in clipped, non-committal sentences.
"Despite the loads of crap that are flowing out of his mouth, the truly frightening thing about his diatribe is that his 'predictions' are usually semi-correct," Lia said when her brother had stopped talking.
"The words of a higher wisdom are not, I repeat not flowing crap, you blasphemer," Lyndon shot back.
"Was it that higher power that told you to introduce a service charge, too? What's next shipping and handling fees for the supreme amount of effort it'll take you to pull your head out of your ass?" Lia asked mockingly. I was almost certain that she was actually going to stick her tongue out. Lyndon for his part just looked over at her for a moment before then trying to punch her on the arm. She caught his hand however, then jumped up and gave him a noogie. Willow and I exchanged amused looks at this latest development. They had been fighting over one thing or another since we left the club. I was beginning to think that they spent so much time around each other not because they were terribly fond of each other, but because they enjoyed fighting with each other so very much.
As we turned onto the street where the stop for the bus we had to take get back to the colony was, a young woman jumped out from one of the alley ways and grabbed Willow by shoulders shaking her.
"What's my name?" she demanded over and over again until I stepped in between them and freed Willow bringing her into a loose embrace while giving the woman a look that clearly said 'back off'. Even in her somewhat frenzied state she realized that it would be best for her to find a new person to question so she turned to Lia who was the next person closest to her. "What's my name? What's my name? What's my name?" she asked getting increasingly frustrated each time she spoke.
"Do I know you?" Lia asked not moving from the spot she had stopped in a moment ago even though the woman started to approach her.
"Do I know you? Do I know you? Do I know you?" she replied closing her eyes for a moment before looking at Lia again. "Do I know you?" this time it sounded like an actual question.
"Okay," Lia said holding up her hand. "First of all, stop walking, you're already within a sufficient distance to carry on a civil conversation. Secondly, you have to stop repeating everything we say. Not only is it irritating, it's also a sign of below average intelligence. Thirdly, who are you?" she continued.
"Who…" the woman started then stopped. She had stopped walking like Lia had told her to and was apparently working on number two. "I don't know who," she said finally.
"You don't know who you are?" Willow asked stepping out of the loose circle of my arms. "Not even your name?"
"No," the woman said shaking her head and looking down at the ground.
"Riddle me this Batman," Lia started a moment later while looking at the woman. "What steals a persons memories leaving them disoriented, and alone?"
"What?" Willow asked turning to look at her.
"I don't know, but whatever it is we've got a case of it on our hands," Lia responded stepping towards the woman.
"Who am I?" the woman asked again as Lia approached her.
"We don't know, but we'll find out," Lia said placing a hand on her back to motion her down the street. "Don't worry."
"Jane?" I whispered to Lia once we were on the move again. It looked like it was time to play the name once again.
"No," she responded thoughtfully. "Elizabeth. Yeah, Elizabeth I think," she said finally.
"Why, Elizabeth?" I asked not understanding the correlation.
"I've always liked the name Elizabeth. It's very aristocratic, I think she would like it," Lia responded shrugging. Whatever.
* * * * * *
We took Elizabeth to the police station and once there we informed them of her condition when we found her, and told them what little information we had been able to gather about how long she had been out there for. After that we then headed back to colony to consult with Giles, and if he was around, Wesley. We decided it would be best to try and keep things quiet for now since we weren't certain that anything was actually going on.
Presently we were all gathered in the lounge of the central compound. There was a table in front of us and two couches, and two chairs surrounding it. Willow, Xander and I were on the couch to the south, while Lia and Lyndon occupied the couch to the north, and Giles and Wesley were seated in the chairs to the east and west respectively.
"How long had her memory been gone for when you found her?" Giles asked after we finished our recount of happened when we left the club.
"A week, maybe a week and a half. She wasn't exactly keeping detailed notes," I responded.
"Well, where did it happen? Does she remember where she woke up?" Wesley asked as he adjusted his glasses.
"She said she woke up in the woods," Willow responded. "In a cave."
"Did she give you any other information? Was there anything else of interest?" Giles asked looking at each of us individually.
"Numbers," Lia said quietly. "She said that at the end of a winding trail ahead of the cave mouth she saw a bronze plaque with numbers on it."
"What were the numbers?" Wesley asked leaning forward slightly.
"She didn't say. She just said that they were real G.I Joe-ish, you know looked like a military code or something," Lia responded.
"Hey," Willow said suddenly. "Wasn't there something about that in the brochure?"
"Will, you and my Uncle Morty are the only two people in the world who actually read the brochures," Xander said in response. Willow gave him a look then continued with whatever it was she was going to say.
"It's called Spanish Rock. The plaque is just a copy of some inscription that was found carved into stonewall," she said.
"Spanish Rock. That's near where we found Johnny," I said remembering the map. We were right around that area.
"Hmmm," Giles commented as he removed his glasses and proceed to clean the lenses. I knew what that meant.
"Let me guess," I started. "Tomorrow we're taking a field trip Spittle Pond?"
Giles confirmed that that would be indeed be what we were going to do. First thing in the morning Wesley would talk to those in charge and try to get the five of out of whatever activities we were scheduled into so that we could investigate.
* * * * * *
I was lying on the bed facing the ceiling with my arm draped over my eyes when I felt the bed shake.
"Lyndon thinks you're after his job," she commented moving until she was lying next to me. Fortune-telling was his arena, and I had foretold what we would be doing tomorrow pretty accurately.
"I wouldn't mind swapping. The pay is much better on his side of fence," I responded taking my arm from over my face and sighing.
"Do you think it's a demon that's stealing these peoples memories?" she asked.
"It's always a demon," I responded wearily.
"Yeah," she agreed softly.
"This was suppose to be a vacation," I said. "There was suppose to be sand, and limbo contests, and tequila shooter competitions."
"Don't forget volley-ball, there was suppose to be volley-ball," Willow added.
"And volley-ball," I added. "I could've stayed at home for this," I continued a second later.
"If you did then whatever's doing this would just keep on doing it," Willow pointed out.
"The island's full of demon fighting people," I responded. There was a Slayer's convention in town, if they were missing one little me it wouldn't have mattered.
"But you're the one," she said raising onto her elbows so that she was looking down at me.
"Lia could have done it. Lia or that Austrian girl, Greta. Greta looks pretty tough, I bet she could do it. It would have given them something to put on their résumés," I responded avoiding her gaze. I was acting babyish and I knew it, I just didn't want to see it reflected back at me.
"You are the one," Willow repeated this time stressing each and every word.
"I know," I said a closing my eyes momentarily before finally opening them to meet her gaze. "Sometimes…sometimes being the one is lonely," I said finally.
"You're not alone," she responded before leaning down and kissing my lightly.
"No, I'm not, am I?" I asked reaching up and bringing her lips back down to mine. She was mine, and I was hers. As long as we were one, we would never be alone.
* * * * * *
We were in the park for about fifteen minutes before we located the bronze plaque Elizabeth had mentioned. Inscribed on it was: TF 1543. Giles and Wesley poured over the demonic almanacs they had brought with them while the rest of us looked around to see if we could find anything else that could be of use. Xander found the original carving, but it was exactly the same thing as what was on the plaque.
"I believe I've found something," Wesley called out about half an hour after we arrived at Spanish Rock. He had two books spread out in front of him, one was a book about the history of Bermuda, and the other was one of the almanacs. "It says here," he continued pointing to the history book, once we had all gathered around, "that many believe the inscription was carved by an early Portuguese 'discoverer'. I believe the discoverer they are referring to is Renaldo Falcon," he said now pointing to the almanac. "In here it says that while Falcon was on a trip to La Bermudas his crew started disappearing and suffering from memory loss while they were out gathering supplies. Falcon then goes on to recount an encounter he had with a terrible beast, saying that he barely escaped with his life. It goes on to say that he carved a warning into stone near the beasts lair to warn others of the danger, and spare them the horror that befell his crew," Wesley concluded looking up. "Sounds much like our culprit to me."
"He doesn't give any suggestions about how to kill this beast does he?" I asked from my spot in the grass. All the good sitting rocks were taken. Wesley merely shook his head. "Didn't think so," I muttered. Everybody had seen a demon and wrote about how scary they were, but nobody seemed to have any ideas about how to kill them.
I looked down the path that lead to the opening to the cave, then I looked over at Giles.
"Is it in there?" I asked, even though I was fairly certain what the answer would be.
"Most likely," Giles answered. I could tell he already knew where I was going with this. I nodded, then got up and swung my pack over my shoulder.
"You coming?" I asked turning to Lia.
"Where?" she asked. She had been playing with a twig. "Oh, the cave," she said catching up. "Yeah," she answered jumping up and swinging her bag over her shoulder. "We gonna kick some ass?" she asked walking over to me. "That's why we're going in there," I responded.
"No," Wesley said standing up. "Absolutely not. I do not give you leave to go in there. I forbid it."
"You forbid it?" I asked looking at him. "I'm a Slayer. I slay things, bad things. That's my job, and if I do it well I sometimes get cookies. The thing in there is bad, and I'm gonna kill it. What's the problem?" I continued.
"She," he said pointing to Lia, "is not an active Slayer. If she is injured…"
"What are you afraid of? A lawsuit?" Lia asked interrupting. "Somebody has to go in there with her, I mean you're not suggesting she go up against this thing alone are you?" she asked looking at him. "I'm the closest thing to another Slayer that you've got, and I'm going in."
"You forbid it. I heard you, I just don't care," Lia responded. "Is he always this anal?" she asked turning to face me. I nodded and she made a face.
"We have to formulate a course of action," Wesley responded not ready to admit defeat.
"We have a course of action," I responded. "We go in there and we kill it."
"I would suggest you put a little more thought into it than that," Wesley continued.
"It's a very simple concept. The thing is bad, we kill it. It doesn't exactly require a Ph.D." I responded. "Do you know how to kill it?" I asked him.
"That's what I thought. If we sit around on our asses for a few more hours will you know how to kill it then?" I asked building up momentum.
"That's what I thought. So we can go in there and try to kill it now, or we can go in there and try to kill it tomorrow. Since we're here already, I say we go ahead and just kill it already," I finished.
"I'll second that," Lia piped up. Wesley's posture got even more rigid than it had been before and he looked over at Giles in an attempt for support.
"Be careful," Giles said turning to face us. "Don't try anything overly heroic, if you run into trouble, leave. For once we've got plenty of trained back up. There's no need to take any unnecessary risks."
"Will do," I responded, then I looked over at Lia and we headed for the cave.
When we entered the cave it became obvious that it was a limestone one. Bermuda had one of the highest concentrations of limestone caves in the world, the cave-making activity having began in the Pleistocene Ice Age, and we were walking in one of them now. In history class we had read of an account where adventurer Capt. John Smith had complained that he had encountered a very strange, dark, and cumbersome cave. The cave he had encountered was a limestone one, although he couldn't have known that at the time, and as we made our way deeper inside I could definitely see what he was talking about. There were endless caverns of great stalactites and stalagmites of Gothic grandeur in the cave. The formations themselves had a delicate beauty about them and under different circumstances I might have enjoyed exploring the caves.
"Did you hear that?" I asked breaking the deathly silence of the cave. It was the first time either of us had spoken since we entered.
"Yeah," Lia answered. "What the hell was that?"
"A dying Giraffe?" I offered. "Whatever it was, it came from over there," I said pointing to one of the tunnels.
"We should have brought our rain ponchos," Lia commented as started into the tunnel. We were constantly getting hit by falling water droplets.
"Are you kidding? They would totally clash with our shoes," I responded with a smirk as I took the lead.
We continued to follow the tunnel until it lead to a literal fork in the road. There was a tunnel to our left, to our right, and straight ahead. As we were trying to decided which route to take I heard the noise again. It was close this time, very close, it sounded like it was right on top of us, and then it happened. It was a blur of movement from the right side, just a hulking mass going straight for Lia. Before she even had a chance to raise her hand in defense it knocked her to the side, up against the cave wall, then enveloped her. That was the first time I got an actual look at it. I don't know how quite to describe it other than to say it was like a tar-man. It consisted of this shinny black ooze, but had a humanoid form-legs, arms, and head. Coming up behind it I drew back my arm and punched it in the back. My arm got sucked into it and I had to actually yank it out. When I struck it, it dropped Lia and turned towards me. When it let go of Lia she collapsed into a heap on the floor, and I noticed that she was bleeding. She was completely defenseless and I definitely didn't want that thing going back after her, so I decided that a change of location was needed. Turning I headed into the first tunnel I saw, and when I saw it start after me I started running, and running.
Skidding to a stop I made a sharp turn right and headed down the corridor. I had made so many turns and course adjustments since leaving the fork I wasn't even sure I could find my way back to Lia, but at the moment that was the least of my worries.
"Uh oh," I muttered barely managing to stop before I ran straight into a wall. It was a dead end, and looking around I realized dead sides too. I was trapped, and it was right behind me. As I watched it approach me I entered my battle stance. When it came within striking distance, I tried to punch it again but same thing happened as before and my arm was sucked into it. This time before I had a chance to pull it out the thing kept on walking until my entire arm was covered, and then my entire body.
* * * * * *
Cold, I was terribly cold. That was the first thing I became aware of. The next thing I became conscious of was the pain in my head. Pain was actually to delicate a word for it. What I was feeling, it was all consuming, paralyzing in it's intensity. There was a constant ringing in my ears, and I felt as though my head would explode at any second. I curled up into a fetal position, holding my head, trying to get rid of the pain, or to get my head to just explode already. Finally, after what seemed like hours it stopped. Turning over onto my back, I opened my eyes tentatively. Whatever I was lying on was cold and wet, and above me was a dripping ceiling. I soon came to the conclusion that I was in a cave.
Once I was upright and balanced I looked around trying to figure out what was going on. But I realized that I didn't have any answers, only questions. What was I doing in a cave in the first place? Where was the cave located? How do I get out of the cave? Where do I go once I get out? Every question lead to another. The only thing I knew for sure was that I was in a corridor that ended in a dead end. Having no option but forward, that's what direction I went in.
I let out the breath I had been holding as I spotted the opening to cave in front of me. I had been wandering around inside for what quite possibly could have been hours. Every tunnel, every fork, lead to another one. I had no idea if I was even going in the right direction, and even if I was going the right way I still had no idea what I was going to do once I got out of the cave. Still, despite all the uncertainties something inside of me would not allow me to quit, to give up. I had to go forward, I had to keep walking, so I did.
I squinted as the sunlight attacked my eyes as I exited the mouth of the cave. It was sunny out, sunny and warm. Wherever I was it was a tropical climate. Despite my disorientation I sensed someone approaching me quickly from behind and entered what could only be characterized as a battle stance. Surprisingly, despite my state of readiness I did not attack when the person came within range. Instead I simply turned around and looked at them, looked at her. She was beautiful, she had red hair, and an angelic smile on her face. Before I even realized what was happening she had enveloped me in a hug, and though I was surprised I felt myself returning it. I found her touch to be comforting and I wondered if we knew each other.
"Buffy," she said happily, that smile returning to her face. "I was so worried, when we found Lia she was bleeding from the head…and then we were looking and calling out, but we couldn't find you," she continued. "I'm so glad Buffy."
"Buffy?" I said half asking and half repeating. "That's me right?" I continued. She just stared at me for a moment first confused, then concerned.
"Buffy?" she asked again. I looked behind me just to be on the safe side, then when I saw no one there I decided that she had to be addressing me.
"Yeah," I responded. "I guess," I added a second later. She looked very worried now. I wanted to take back what I had just said, or perhaps say something else to sooth her, but I didn't know what to say. I didn't even know what her name was. All I knew was that she was sad and I didn't like that. She reached out her hand like she was going to touch me then at the last moment dropped it again.
"Do..do you know who I am?" she asked. I looked into her eyes and I knew that she already knew what my answer would be.
"I don't know. I can't remember," I told her truthfully. She closed her eyes for a moment after I answered, then released a shuddering breath and re-opened them. "You know me," I said when she was looking at me again. "We're friends," I stated.
"Yeah," she responded with a sad smile. "Come with me, the others are waiting around the bend."
"Others?" I asked.
"Friends," she responded taking my hand.
"Oh," I said. "Okay," I added then I let her lead me away.
She didn't say much as we walked, and when she did speak it was mostly just to ask me how I was feeling, if I was okay. She was deep in thought for the short walk, so I used the time to observe her. She was scared, that much was obvious. I realized that she was probably scared for me. When we entered the small clearing there were five people gathered around a picnic bench. Around the bench were two older men, two teenage boys, and one teenage girl who had her head against the top of the bench and was holding an ice pack to it. They all looked up when we entered the clearing and they seemed happy to see us. Then they must have seen the worried look of Red's face because the smiles faded.
"It's alright," Red said letting go of my hand and turning to face me. She still hadn't told me her name. It probably wasn't one the most pressing things on her mind, but it was important to me. "I just have to go talk to them for a minute. You just stay here," she continued. I looked at her for a moment uncertainly then nodded.
When she reached the rest of them they all kind of huddled around Red as she spoke. I assumed she was telling them about how she found me. When she was finished talking the more rigid of the older men tried to speak, but he was shushed by the other one.
"Willow," the less rigid, lighter haired older man said, turning to face Red. Willow, that had to be her name. Willow, I liked it, it suited her. "It is most imperative that Buffy regain her memory," he continued. Buffy, that was me. They were talking about me again. "I know that this is difficult for you, but I'd like for you to stay with her. Of all of us here, she's most likely to respond to you," he finished gently.
"Respond," Willow repeated. "Right, okay. Response is good, we want her to respond," she continued. She looked so sad, I wanted to go over to her. Right now she was all I had, and I didn't want her to be sad. I hadn't even realized I had started to move towards her until I felt an arm restrain me.
"Where are you going, darling?" the voice attached to the arm asked.
"Willo…" I started to say, but she interrupted me.
"Willow's alright for now. You've got to stay over here…and let them talk about you in peace," she said. It was the teenage girl from the bench, the one with the ice pack. Now that she was closer I could see that she a rather nasty bruise on the side of her head. I wanted to argue with her about the staying thing, but I knew that she was right.
"Why aren't you over there helping them strategize?" I asked a moment later.
"Firstly, I don't feel I know you well enough to partake in the discussion. But that alone wouldn't stop me which brings me to my secondly, which is that my brain just got jiggled and right now serious thought leads to pain," she answered bringing the ice-pack back up to her head. "My name, by the way, is Lia."
"You're the one that was bleeding from the head," I said remembering what Willow had said.
"Do you remember that?" she asked.
"No. Red…Willow, she said that they found you bleeding from the head," I responded. "I'm Buffy…apparently," I said as an introduction. She laughed at that for a moment before turning her attention back to the group who were dispersing. "So," I continued, "what is this? A field trip?"
"If only it were that simple," was her only reply.
* * * * * *
The ride to the, cottage colony I think they called it, was a quiet one. Everyone was deep in thought, and I knew that it centered around me. Willow returned to my side after the group had split up and had been there since we left the clearing.
"Where are all my clothes?" I asked taking a look around the room, my room apparently. "I do have clothes right?"
"Oh you have clothes alright," Willow answered smiling. "They're still in your bags. You've never been a big fan of unpacking. You always said it makes no sense to unpack…"
"Since you just have to pack all back up again?" I asked finishing up the sentence. That did make sense.
"Yeah," she said taking a seat on the edge of the bed.
"Where's your room?" I asked sitting down next to her. I hoped it was close.
"Right there," she responded pointing through the adjoining doors.
"Oh, fun," I responded.
"Yeah," she responded looking down at her feet.
"You don't have to do this you know," I said looking over at her. I wanted her to be around, that was true, but not if it was going to make her sad. "I know that guy told you to stay by me, but you don't have to if I upset you."
"No," she responded quickly. "I want to be here, I want to help you. It's just that…" she kind of trailed off after that.
"It's tough looking at me and seeing a stranger?" I asked.
"Uh huh," she answered.
"We were close, huh?" I asked. She looked over at me when I asked that, and stared at me for a second before answering.
"Best friends," she said simply.
"I can see that," I responded. "It's a nice thought."
"It was a nice reality," she responded. "Are you hungry?"
"Yeah, I think so, yeah," I responded.
"Dinners in an hour," she said standing up. "I have to go to a meeting, but I'll be back to get you, okay?"
"Okay," I answered. She looked at me for a moment longer before giving one last smile and heading out the door. I watched her until the door closed then flopped down on the bed and sighed. After a moment or two more of that I got up and moved over the bags which had been tossed haphazardly near the door to the room.
"Alright," I said opening the first one. "Buffy Summers, who are you?" I asked pulling out the first article of clothing. There had to be something in these bags that would at least tell me a little something about who I was, and I was all for that.
* * * * * *
Willow had come back to the room about forty-five minutes after she had left only to find clothes scattered all around the room. If she had been surprised by the condition of the room it didn't show. In fact she looked amused when she walked in and saw what I had been up to. I guess it had reminded her something I used to do when I was her Buffy. She helped me pack up all the stuff I had taken out of the bags then we headed down to patio area for dinner.
"What are we doing here?" I asked Willow looking around the patio at all the people spread around. Lia and her brother were seated at another table, and Xander, Giles and Wesley were all still in the line.
"Eating, it's dinner time," Willow answered not meeting my gaze.
"Yeah, okay, I got that part," I told her trying to get her to look at me again. "But we're American, and this is Bermuda. And there are tons of teenagers around, and a few chaperons here and there, so what are we doing here? Is it a school trip? What?" I asked when she finally turned back to me.
"Can you open this?" she asked handing me a ketchup bottle. She was stalling. Taking it from her I wondered why she would ask me to open it. I was kind of scrawny so if she couldn't open it I didn't know why she thought I could. Mentally shrugging I reached for the top of the bottle and turned it with all my might.
"Ah," I said drawing my hand away from the bottle. Somehow when I had turned it, I had cracked the top of glass bottle off and ketchup was everywhere. I looked up at her apologetically, then decided that the bottle must have been made with recycled glass or something. "Sorry, I guess I don't know my own strength."
"Ain't that the truth," she responded taking the remnants of the bottle away before I could hurt myself with it.
"Are you going to answer my question?" I asked reaching for a napkin. She thought I had forgotten, but I hadn't.
"It's…like a convention thing," she responded vaguely.
"A convention thing?" I asked.
"Uh huh," she answered. I was about to ask her something else but Giles, Xander and Wesley returned to table effectively putting an end to our conversation.
"Pour vous," Xander said making a sweeping gesture as he handed me a bowl full of JELLO.
"For me? You shouldn't have. Really," I responded taking the bowl.
"Hey now," Xander responded. "You're gonna feel bad for saying that once you try some. You love that stuff!" he continued.
"JELLO?" I asked doubtfully poking at it with my spoon and watching it jiggle. I liked when it jiggled.
"Yep, not only is fat-free, but you like to watch it jiggle," Willow said smiling.
"Oh," I said pulling my spoon back.
The rest of dinner was spent with the three of them regaling me with tales of our former adventures, or misadventures as it were. I got the impression that most of the stories were being censored, but it was still nice to hear about the stuff that we had done together, and the other people we knew. I was particularly curious about Oz, Cordelia and someone named Angel. They were particularly sketchy when it came to him, his name kind of just popped up then disappeared. I was going to have to ask about that later. I wanted to meet Oz though cause he sounded like a cool guy-had to have been to have dated Willow--, and I wanted to meet Cordelia because I didn't see how it was possible for someone to be as horrible as they said she was.
* * * * * *
"What's wrong?" Willow asked coming up behind me. She had been in her room for the last few minutes and I hadn't heard her enter. I had been staring out the window for while and I guess I got caught up in it.
"Nothing's wrong," I responded turning to face her. "What makes you think something's wrong. This is not a face that has something wrong," I continued.
"What's wrong?" Willow repeated. That was the one thing (well one of the things) that sucked about having amnesia. Everyone knew you, but you didn't know them. She could probably tell I was lying by some little thing I did, but I didn't know anything of those things about her.
"Can we go swimming?" I asked.
"Swimming?" she repeated.
"Yeah, you know, like in water. With the holding of breath and everything," I responded. "I can swim right? I mean I'm not going to drown or anything am I?" I asked suddenly.
"You're one of the best swimmers I know, you swim like a fish…well not really like a fish since you don't have gills and stuff, but you swim really well. I mean there was that time that you kinda…wait that's not important…you can swim," she said kind of babbling. I noticed that she did that a lot, kind of ran off at the mouth like that. I thought it was the cutest thing.
"So we can swim?" I asked again.
"Yeah," she confirmed heading back to her door. "I'll meet you back here in a few minutes," she continued before she entered her room and I lost sight of her.
It didn't take me long to find my bathing suit, and I quickly changed. I sat on the bed for a few minutes when I finished changing waiting for Willow, then got bored and decided to go get her. The doors between our rooms were still open so I just slipped in. Not even a second after I walked through the doors, I came to dead stop and my jaw fell. She was naked from the waist up, with her back facing me, and although I knew I should turn around and go back into my room, or at the very least announce my presence, I couldn't. I just stood there, and stared at her. Stared at the elegant lines of her back and she pulled the straps up onto her shoulder, and a hand through her hair.
"Buffy," she said surprised turning around.
"Uh, hi," I said lamely kind of waving at her. She looked at me for a moment quizzically before responding.
"Come on," she said waving me the rest of the way through the door.
When we got poolside, I nearly stopped walking, my breath catching in my throat. There was a full moon out and it was reflecting off of the water creating a beautiful shimmering effect. I couldn't remember seeing anything so beautiful, but then again I couldn't really remember anything. I watched as Willow dropped the towels on two of the nearby chairs, then followed her over to the edge of the pool.
"You're sure I can swim, right?" I asked looked down.
"I won't let anything happen to you," she said looking over at me. I looked into her eyes and say the truth of the statement.
"Okay," I said bending my legs getting ready to jump. "Cannonball!" I yelled then jumped in before she had a chance to back away. Surfacing as fast as I could I looked around to see if I had gotten her. If I had it would have been sweet, it would've been real sweet. I saw her standing in the same spot completely drenched and smiled. "Yes!" I called out jumping up and pumping my fist. After all I wanted to be mature about it.
"You are so dead," she said looking at me.
"You talk big, but can you deliver?" I taunted. She just looked at me for a moment before a smile worked it's way across her face. This wasn't like the other smiles I had seen, this smile had a more sinister look to it, and I got the distinct feeling that I had bitten off more than I could chew.
"Let's find out," she called diving in. I looked around for her but I couldn't see her under the water, it was too dark. Then I felt something brush against my legs and next thing I knew I was being dragged under.
We wrestled like that for a while until finally she got me up against one of the walls of the pool. I was about to beg for the mercy of the court or something like that anyway, when something very strange happened. I was looking at her, and then all of a sudden these images started flooding my through my head, like I watching a clips show.
We were in a library, at least I think it was a library, and she was smiling at me. Then she reached over for a book at the same time I did and we got all tangled up and lost our balance toppling over. I was on top of her, and then I was leaning down and we were kissing.
Then the scene changed and we were outside. It was raining and we were soaking wet and running around. We ended up ducking into an alleyway and hiding from the rain in the doorway of a stores back entrance. We were laughing and shivering, and I brought her closer to my body rubbing her arms and back trying to warm her up. She laid her head on my shoulder and we stayed like that, wrapped together, trying to keep each other warm.
Then I was back to the present, staring at her worried face.
"Buffy," she said putting her hand on my shoulder. "Are you okay?" she continued. I looked at her for a moment, trying to sort out what the images I saw meant, if they meant anything at all.
"Yeah," I said finally. "Just got a little dizzy. I'm alright," I said smiling.
"Are you sure? There's a doctor if…"
"I'm sure Willow," I told her cutting her off. I really didn't want to dwell on this.
"Alright," she said back peddling so that I could move away from the wall.
"We should get Xander out here," I said swimming away from the wall. "He was on the swim team, right?" I continued circling her.
"Yeah, but he's not really, I mean he was part…" she said then she paused for moment. "He was on steroids then," she said finally. I looked back at her questioningly. "It's true, he got them in the mail," she said in response to the look.
"Why don't we get him anyway," I said. "We'll just stay in the shallow end."
"Okay," she said heading for the edge of the pool. "He's watching some of the girls play volleyball on the north end of the beach. Cutting through the forest trail would be the fastest way to get there," she continued pulling herself up.
"You think he's gonna want to leave if he's watching them play volley ball?" I asked while getting out of the pool. She looked me up and down then smiled.
"Trust me, he'll leave," she said walking over and getting the towels. I just shrugged and took it out of her hands.
The forest trail was nicely landscaped, and even in the dark there was a very tranquil feel to it. The maids, and cooks, and other personnel had cottages out on the trail, and if you asked me they got the best deal because it was really nice out there.
"Hey, did you hear that?" I asked stopping on the trail.
"No," Willow responded. "But you've always had better hearing than us mere mortals."
"It sounded like yelling," I said. "Come on, it's coming from over there," I said moving off of the trail and into the bushes.
"Are you sure?" she asked even though she had already started to follow me.
"Someone could be in trouble. We can't just walk away," I said moving to the left in between two trees.
It only took a few more moments before we broke through the foliage and were able to see what all the commotion was about. There was a man and woman fighting on the front lawn of one of the personnel cottages. The man had her by the arms and was shaking her violently while she was yelling for him to stop. I didn't even think about what I was doing, I just headed over to them.
"If you're not going to play nicely, you shouldn't play at all," I said coming to a stop behind the man.
"What the hell," he said turning around. I didn't recognize him, but then again that didn't mean much.
"That," I said pointing to the woman's trapped arms, "Is no way to treat a lady."
"Get the hell outta here bitch," he growled.
"It's Buffy actually," I said not moving. He let go of the woman's hands when I said that and shifted so that he was completely facing me. I saw a dangerous glint in his blue eyes and started to wonder if perhaps Willow was right. I was working on instinct alone up until this point and was beginning to think that possibly instinct had taken me as far as it was going to go.
"You want to take her place?" he asked stepping towards me.
"I was actually aiming for a solution where nobody got beat up. Possibly even a round of kumbiyah afterward," I said backing away.
"I'm not really the hands across America type," he said in a mockingly apologetic tone.
"Hey, now," I said still moving back. "Can't we all just…get along?"
"You know what… I don't think we can," he said then he reached out his arm to grab me. My arm flung out blocking his, and then I spun around so that I was behind him. I would have wondered where that came from, but he had turned around again and had progressed to punch mode. I reached up with my left hand and blocked the punch, then grabbed a hold of his arm and twisted around so that it was at his back. Then I kicked out the back of his knee and he fell to the ground.
He was struggling trying to the break the hold, so I tightened my grip on his arm and pushed in against his back harder. That was when I heard the snap, and he started to howl in pain. Letting go of his arm I stepped back and watched as he curled up holding his arm.
Willow who had been slowly making her way towards us came up to stand beside me.
"You broke his arm," she said looking at him.
"Sure looks that way," I responded still watching him. He was a big guy, at least 6'3, and well over two hundred pounds. I was a foot shorter than him, and more than a hundred pounds lighter, but somehow I had managed to overpower him. It didn't compute. "I just don't know how I did it," I said looking over at her. When I did I noticed that she didn't look particularly surprised that I had been able to bring him down, almost as if she was used to it.
"I guess it's like riding a bike," she responded looking over at me. "You never forget."
"So what, I'm like some Kung Fu master or something?" I asked.
"Or something," she responded. "We have to go see Giles," she continued suddenly.
"I thought we were going to get Xander?" I said starting to make my way over to the woman who had been watching the whole scene from the same spot in her yard.
"No, now we're going to get Giles," she said following me.
"Why?" I asked.
"Because," she answered. I waited for more but no more came.
"Are you alright?" I asked the woman.
"Uh huh," she responded nodding.
"You might want to call a doctor for him, or possibly the police ," I said looking at the guy. He had made it to his feet now and was eyeing me wearily.
"Uh huh," she answered. She was eyeing wearily too. There's gratitude for ya.
"Alright then," I responded. "Have a nice night," I continued before heading back towards the path.
"Tell me again why we're going to see Giles," I asked once we had made our way back through the bush.
"Because," Willow answered again.
"You're not going to tell me are you?" I asked her.
"No," she answered smiling slightly.
"Oh brother," I muttered heading back down the path towards the cottages.
* * * * * *