He's the first to wake. A quick look around confirms his suspicions - the people who'd volunteered for sentry duty last night to keep an eye out for the...whatever it was it in the woods had all fallen asleep. To be expected, he supposed, as none of them were exactly trained soldiers to his knowledge. He looked around the sleeping bodies for the blonde - Buffy - that he'd been speaking with yesterday. Finally seeing her on the other side of the nearly burnt-out fire, he carefully made his sway over, trying to avoid stepping on anyone.
Meaning to reach out and wake her, to offer her breakfast from the food he'd salvaged from the plane, he stopped short when she rolled over in her sleep. Her black t-shirt had rode up as she'd tossed and turned in the night, exposing the filmy red bra she wore. His expression went slack, and he swallowed hard as he extended a hand toward her breasts. From the other side of the fire, Willow watched carefully through a half-open eye.
"I'm just saying, Liam, that getting out of the country for a while might be the smartest thing to do."
Angel hurled a glass across the room, where it shattered against the wall. "If I run, it's just going to make me look guilty."
"You ARE guilty, Liam. If this ever goes to trial, they are going to crucify you. You need to disappear."
Sitting heavily on the couch, Angel stared at nothing. "How did this happen?"
"Would you like me to explain it to you?"
"Oh, shut up. Fine. Where do I go?"
"I bought you a ticket to Sydney. Go there, and meet a guy named John at the address on the back of the ticket envelope. He'll tell you your path from there. Listen to him very carefully - he's done this a few times now."
Standing, Angel strode across his kitchen and took the offered ticket, a bitter expression on his face.
Just before his hand could make contact, Buffy woke with a start. He pulled his hand back as if he'd burned it, Buffy failing to notice as she rubbed her eyes with the back of her hands. When she'd cleared the sleep out of them, she looked around.
"Mmm...morning, doctor. I guess we haven't been rescued yet, huh?" When he didn't respond, she looked down at herself and pulled her shirt down as a flush bloomed in her cheeks. "Sorry. So, as I was saying..."
Angel pulled himself out his reverie. "Huh? Oh, no, no sign of rescue yet. After breakfast we should get these fires burning again. There should be someone here before long."
"Breakfast, did you say?"
Smiling, Angel helped her up. "Meals hadn't been served on the plane before it broke up. I found pretty much the whole galley on the beach yesterday. Want to wake your sister, I'll get Connor and we can get something to eat?"
"Best idea I've heard all day. What about the others?"
"There'll be lots left for them. Like I said, it's pretty much the whole galley."
All four of them had been enjoying their breakfast and making small talk for nearly a half-hour when a fist collided with Angel's head and he was knocked backward out of his chair. He lay there in the sand, stunned, as Spike stood over him.
"I see how it is, then. You and your little tart here take the food while the rest of us are sleeping, right? Bastard." He wound up for another shot, but Angel took both his legs out from under him in a quick motion and they fell into the sand together, fists flying. Connor rushed to pull Spike from his father, but earned only a swift elbow to the nose for his trouble. He fell heavily onto the beach, blood streaming from his nostrils. The fight went on until both combatants felt a sharp pull on their ear, the sharp pain startling them.
Tara pulled them both to their feet, holding them apart. Spike took a swing and Tara released Angel to hit him in the stomach, doubling him over. She turned and raised an arm, and Angel backed off.
"Well," she asked, "now that we've got the testosterone-fest out of the way for this morning, want to maybe explain what that was all about?"
"Wanker..." gasped Spike, "took all the food for himself..."
"That true, doc?"
"No! The rest is over there. There's plenty for everyone, if he'd just asked instead of clocking me."
She turned to each of them in turn, staring them in the eyes. "Wait right here. One move out of either of you would not be a good idea." She headed to the pile of pre-packaged meals Angel had indicated, grabbed one and handed it to Spike. "What was your name again?"
"Right. Well, Spike, take that and get gone."
"What? Sod off."
"I'm telling you. Nobody needs this pissing contest between you two, so take your breakfast and go for a walk. Let us know if you see anything interesting while you're out there."
"The hell I-" the look in her eyes was enough to keep him from finishing the sentence. He turned and stalked off toward the treeline, disappearing into the jungle.
Tara waited for him to disappear from sight before turning back to Angel. "Okay, let's get everyone up. Breakfast all around, and then we need to start doing some more salvaging. We need everything off the plane that's still salvageable."
"What about the fires?"
She shot him a withering look. "It's daylight, doctor. Not going to do a lot of good."
"It's taken them longer than I would have thought to find us," Buffy interjected.
For the first time in the conversation, Tara looked something other than bored. "I agree. That's why we need to get the supplies. Now wake everyone and get them breakfast."
"Where will you be?"
"In the fuselage. I don't want more than one person in there right now, because I don't know if it's stable or if there's even anything worth getting out of there." She made her way back across the fire, nearly tripping over Willow's prone form. Following an impulse she couldn't explain, she knelt next to the redhead and gently kissed her cheek before standing and moving on to the fuselage. Willow, who'd only been feigning sleep, opened her eyes and stared into the dying fire with a shocked expression.
"That was bullshit the way she treated you, man."
"I'm sorry - who the hell are you, and what business is it of yours?"
"Gunn. Charles Gunn. And it ain't my business, I just wanted to tell you."
"Fine. You've told me."
"Can I join you? I'm hoping we find some more of the passengers."
"I'm pretty sure they're gone, Charlie-boy."
"People could have survived in the other sections."
"Not bloody likely. Only 23 of us made it, and we were in the largest piece of the plane. Stands to reason the others are no more."
"Well, I'm not going to give up yet."
"Suit yourself. Now shut your gob and let me finish my breakfast."
They walked in silence, deeper into the woods, until they reached a clearing. What waited for them was a sight neither had expected. Spike dropped his food, and barely noticed as he tentatively stepped into the clearing.
"Uh...correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that the cockpit?"
"You're not wrong, Charlie-boy."
"Should we go back and get the others?"
"Hell, no. Send me off into the jungle, will they? Fine. I'll get us rescued."
Spike sized up the two trees in which the cockpit was balanced precariously and began to climb.
"I was thinking," Angel yelled to Tara.
"Should we have a service for the dead?"
"I guess...if you want to put it together, sure."
"Because you suggested it. It's going to be hard to find words, though - we don't know who they were, what kind of people they were."
"I know who you are."
"I'm sure that's not true," Angel insisted, looking nervously around the airport.
"Oh, but I do. You're him. The doctor, the one that-"
"Okay, okay. Let's not make an announcement about it, alright?"
"Somehow I doubt the justice system knows about this little trip you're taking. My client might find out, though."
"Who's your client?"
"If that's true, why are we standing here having this conversation?"
"Because I'm thinking you might be able to compensate me a little better than they can."
Smiling, Angel pulled out his checkbook.
"You see anything?"
"I'm only halfway through, you git. And no, not yet. Just some bodies."
Spike made his way, with some difficulty, into the cockpit. One of the pilots was obviously dead, the other...actually looked pretty good. Then he turned his head, and Spike nearly slid right back out of the plane. He grabbed a seat and pulled himself back up.
"Did we crash?" the pilot whispered.
"In a big way."
"Twentyish, it looks like."
The pilot closed his eyes. "They'll never find us. Not as far off course as we were."
"Excuse me? We were off course? How bloody far?"
"Long way. We were having...engine trouble...lost radio contact...diverted to make an emergency landing...if they're looking for us, they're looking in the wrong place."
"Well, bollocks! Can't you try the radio again?"
"Plane's radio is...broken. Transceiver...hand-held radio behind my seat." With those words, the pilot breathed his last. Spike bowed his head for a moment and silently thanked him for what he'd revealed. He reached behind the seat and grabbed the transceiver, turned it on...and the face of the device came apart. It had been smashed in the impact. Cursing, Spike hurled it back down the way he'd come, narrowly missing Gunn.
"What the hell was that?"
"Our last chance at getting off this mound of rock."
While the group busied themselves loading the bodies of the dead into the fuselage, which would then be set on fire, Dawn and Connor sat in the shadows together.
"I'm scared, Connor," Dawn whispered. "I'm scared we're not going to be rescued."
Without a word, Connor took Dawn in his arms and held her tightly. They leaned back against a tree and stared out at the ocean without another word spoken.
"So what do we tell the others?" was Tara's first question after Spike's revelation, made to a limited audience of her and Angel.
"Tell them," Angel insisted. "If this is true, we need to start thinking long-term: exploration, finding a place for a settlement - let's face it, the beach isn't going to cut it for long - and rationing food."
"You're taking this pretty well, doc."
"Hey, it's not like I'm giving up. I just think it'd be a good idea to make sure we're not going to be running out of food and water if we're here for a week before they find us."
"I agree," Tara replied, "but with one caveat."
"Wait until tomorrow. No sense upsetting everyone before the service - because you know as well as I do that this news is going to make a lot of people afraid."
The rain broke then, out of a clear blue sky. Hard, driving rain that pelted the survivors and stuck their clothes to their skin. The only one who didn't seem bothered was the drunk, who was still asleep in the same place on the beach he'd been the night before. Efforts had been made to wake him, of course, but with no success.
And as suddenly as it started, the rain stopped. The sun shone bright and warm, and everyone regarded each other warily. "Where the hell did that come from?" Spike muttered to himself.
"I knew it - we're all going to die."
"Andrew, I told you yesterday to knock that crap off."
"But Warren - we're still here! And the weather's going all Twilight Zone, and now they're burning bodies...we're going to die!"
"I told you man, they'll find us. That's what the black box and satellite photos are for. Alright?"
They gathered just as the sun set, in front of the fuselage filled with bodies and wood. Tara lit a torch from the signal fire and handed it to Angel, who bowed his head as he set everything ablaze. He took a place in the crowd and watched it burn, as a single voice sang out from somewhere to his right.
"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound..." The song was slowly taken up by everyone, save Angel as his mind wandered back into his memories.
The letter arrived at his home two days after the allegations went public. He always figured it had to have been dropped off by her father, but he never found out for sure. He opened it, despite his better judgment.
Dr (well, not even, but I'll call you that nonetheless):
I know what you did. And if the courts don't take care of it, I will. You will not hide from this. I guarantee it.
You Know Who
Angel looked through the blaze, a smile slowly spreading across his features.
Coming Soon, on Misplaced:
Angel staring up with a terrified expression.
Fade to Black.