"Stay out of my way or you'll get the same!"
"Mom, do something! He's going to kill her! Do something!"
"Listen to your father, Buffy."
It had been three days since Warren and Andrew had found the cave, and the slow exodus from the beach had begun. Hope of rescue had dimmed as each night went by, and those carrying their meager belongings to the cave wore expressions of defeat. Each of them looked beaten on their own, but together the group looked as if they were on some sort of forced death march.
"I don't want to!"
"Dawn, please. We need to be near the water, and we need some shelter."
"Then I'll stay here by myself."
Buffy squeezed her eyes shut against the hot tears she felt welling up, but wasn't quick enough to keep one from running down her cheek. "Dawnie..." she whispered. "I need to keep you safe. Please let me keep you safe."
The teenage bravado vanished from her features as Dawn took her sister in her arms. "Of course - I'm sorry, Buffy."
"Not your fault..." Buffy whispered against Dawn's shoulder, her eyes still shut. "Overreacting. Sorry."
"You're just doing what you've always done, Buffy - watching over me. I'll get my bag, okay?"
Dawn did so, and Buffy smiled silent thanks at her. They linked hands and began the trek through the jungle. Tara led the group with Willow at her side, followed closely by Xander. Behind Buffy and Dawn, Cordelia and Glory rounded out the group. The rest remained on the beach, either because they didn't intend to leave or because they hadn't finished gathering their things.
Buffy cast a thought to Angel, who remained on the beach arguing with Connor. He'd assured her they'd be along soon, but Buffy doubted it. A part of her heart ached at having to leave the one person she'd gotten to know since the crash, but for Dawn's sake they needed to move to the caves. She sighed, and kept walking.
"For the last time, Andrew - if you want to go, go. I'm not making you stay."
"But I don't want to go by myself - these people are scary."
"Then stay here."
Warren reached over and savagely clubbed him in the side of the head. "Andrew - stay, go, I don't care, but shut up! I'm trying to think."
Andrew stared in shock at his best friend for a long moment. Then, without a word, he rose and grabbed his clothes. Stuffing them into a bag, he ran to join the group headed to the cave. Warren didn't spare him a glance - just sat in the same spot, staring out at the ocean. He didn't see the hatch on the beached sailboat open, and he didn't see the dark shadow the sun cast on its side as something descended the ladder.
"So, Charlie boy, we goin' to the cave?"
"Dunno. Thought maybe we'd look around a bit first. Easier to explore without trippin' over people."
Spike grinned. "I like the way you think. Pick us a direction."
Gunn waved a hand to the southwest. "Well, cave is due south. Let's go southwest for a bit - if we don't find much, we can get to the cave easy from there."
The two had hiked for nearly three hours when they stumbled across something neither of them had expected.
"I think so. But why would there be a teddy bear on a deserted island?"
"Maybe it came from the plane. Should we bring it to the cave, see if anybody recognizes it?"
Spike reached down for the bear just as Gunn's instincts cried out that something was terribly wrong. "Wait!" he cried, but he was a moment too late. Spike was pulled up into a heavy net that swung with enough momentum to smash him into the tree it was attached to. He was unconscious before he even knew what had happened. Gunn turned to run and grab one of the others, but he felt a sharp pain in his neck and suddenly the world started to grow fuzzy around the edges. He collapsed to the ground, his eyes slowly closing. The last things he was conscious of were a pair of boots and a woman's voice muttering "five by five."
"Fred? Please, just call me Anya."
"Um...are you going to the cave?"
"I'm not sure, dear. As the scientist among us, what would you suggest?"
"Well...I'd like to think that they'll be using satellite imaging to find us, but if we're as far of course as they say...they might be looking in the wrong place. But if a boat goes by and we miss it because everyone was in the cave... I don't know."
"Well, why don't we give it another day or two? We may have to hike for the water, but it's good for us. And we've got the doctor with us, it looks like."
"Okay," Fred said. She turned to go.
"Want to stay with me?" Anya queried. At Fred's stunned look, she laughed. "Fred, I'm just a person. This isn't Hollywood, and I'm no big star here. I'm just Anya. And I'd love it if you moved your stuff down the beach so I'm not sitting here all by myself." Fred looked at her hesitantly. "You said you liked One Heart, right? I've got lots of good stories - behind the scenes stuff. And I can tell you all about the ending they were going to use originally!"
That was enough to make up Fred's mind for her, and she ran down the beach to grab her things.
"Stop, Daddy! Please!"
Buffy huddled deeper under her covers as Dawn's screams echoed in her ears. She cursed her mother for refusing to help, she cursed her father for the bastard he was, and she cursed herself most of all for being weak. She'd always tried to shield Dawn from the worst of him, but he was getting worse and the beating he'd laid on her the last time she'd tried to help had left her bedridden for three weeks.
"One day soon," she whispered. "One day soon I'll be strong, and I'll make you stop."
"Who are you?" the voice slowly sank in through the fog as Spike began to wake. "Who are you?"
Spike tried to rub his eyes - only to discover he was firmly attached to what looked like an operating table. He couldn't move his hands or feet, and the voice whose source he couldn't see kept asking the same question.
"Who are you?" The voice tried in a couple of other languages before switching to English again. "Who are you?"
"I'll tell you who I am - right pissed off, is who I am! Let me off this sodding table!" He screamed as an electric current passed through his restraints.
"Who are you?"
"Frosty the bloody snowman!" He screamed again as the voltage was increased.
"Who are you?"
"Hugh fucking Grant!" The pain was unbearable when the next shock hit him, and he knew he couldn't take much more without either passing out or having a heart attack.
"Who are you?"
"I'm..." he cleared his throat. "Survivor...plane crash."
There was a long silence.
"Of us? I don't know...twenty, maybe?"
Another long silence.
"What year is it?"
"Year! What year?"
"You're lying!" she screamed, and shocked him again.
"I'm NOT lying!"
"2006? It can't be...I've been here for five years?"
She stepped into the light then, and Spike took in the sight of her. A brunette, shorter than himself, dressed in ragged black slacks and a well-worn top. She stared curiously at him. "A plane crash, you said?"
"Yes," Spike insisted. "A plane crash."
"Then - there will be rescue planes, or a ship, sent to pick you all up, right?"
Spike sighed. "No, pet. The plane was a thousand miles off course. No one's going to find us."
The woman pulled a picture from her pocket. "Who's this?"
"What - give me that bloody picture!"
"Who is she? I'll shock you again if I have to."
"Why is it so important?"
"Because I need to make sure you're who you say you are. If you can't answer the question, I'll know you're making it all up."
"Her name is Drusilla Adams. She was my...my wife."
"Yes. She left me for a mathematics professor - chaos theory, I believe, was his specialty. Happy now?"
The woman didn't answer right away, but rather stared into space, apparently lost in thought. "Drusilla..." she whispered. "What did she do for a living?"
"She was an archaeologist."
"I knew her," the woman said matter-of-factly. "She landed on this island with me."
"What? Don't be daft - that's impossible."
"She led the research team I was a part of." The woman made her way over to Spike and released him from his restraints, though not without keeping a tranquilizer gun trained on him. He sat up and gently rubbed his wrists.
"How did you get here?" he asked.
"Boat...we were on our way to a dig site on an island in the pacific when our instruments went crazy. We were caught in a storm, and our navigator just pointed the boat toward the only land he could see - this island. The boat...went to pieces on the rocks, and we swam ashore with all the equipment we could salvage. That was five years ago. Five years."
"Where is she? Can I see her?"
"I'm the only one left. The farthest man from home." She ran a hand through her disheveled black hair.
"The...what do you mean, the only one left?"
"The others are dead - or gone."
He bit back the urge to snap at her, knowing it would probably earn him a tranquilizer dart and an unwanted nap. "I don't understand. Gone? Gone where?"
"Them. If you listen, in the woods when you're alone, you can hear them."
"Sorry, luv, I'm...are you saying there are other people on this island?"
"Why do you call me those names?"
"Pet...love...I'm not yours."
"I'm sorry...I just needed something to call you."
"You can call me Faith."
"That's your name?"
"It is now."
"Okay...Faith, are you saying there're other people on this island?
She looked around her, wild-eyed. "Yes. They watch, they whisper..."
"But Drusilla - was she taken?"
"She was the first."
Spike, stunned, stared at her silently.
"I'm a hundred percent serious, Fred."
"That's how they wanted to end One Heart? With her taking a stray bullet in the back? That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard!"
"Oh, it gets dumber," Anya assured her. "Then her lover..." her hand started to shake, and she dropped the bottle of water she was holding. Fred looked intently at her, noticing it wasn't only her hand that was shaking.
"Oh god! Are you okay? Do you want me to get the doctor?"
"No," Anya assured her. "I'm fine, Fred. It'll pass. I'll tell you the rest of the story later - do you mind if I lay down for a bit?"
"Of course! I'll go-"
"No, stay. Please. I want to hear what a NASA rocket scientist was going to Sydney for."
Fred smiled. "I'm really not supposed to talk about this..."
"Come on," Anya implored. "I told you what you wanted to know..."
Fred's smile widened. "Okay - as long as you promise to keep this a secret."
"Come on, Buffy, please?"
"Dawnie, we really should get set up."
"We've got lots of time to get set up! We've got our spot staked out, and I want to walk while there's still some light! Please?"
Buffy gave a long-suffering sigh. "Fine. Let's go."
Dawn squealed and grabbed her hand, dragging her outside. "Come on, come on," she implored.
"You know, I remember having to fight to get you out of the house," Buffy smiled. "Now, you're Danielle Boone?"
"Well, I don't mind letting people see me here," Dawn said, and her smile slipped a little. They walked through the trees in silence for a while until Dawn turned to Buffy again. "Buffy...I've been wanting to say this ever since we got on the plane - thank you."
"You know what. I never would have...he would have...you saved me."
"Right. By putting us both on a plane that crashed on a deserted island." Buffy's eyes filled with tears. "I've really done a great job. Now we'll starve to death, or get eaten by something. I'm doing g-great..." her voice broke into harsh sobs. "Dawnie, I'm so sorry. This is all my f-fault."
Dawn stopped walking and wrapped her sister in a hug. "Whatever happens here, Buffy, it's better than what would have happened," she whispered. "You saved me. You're my hero - you always will be."
Buffy started to reply - and was interrupted by the polar bear that burst through the trees in front of them.
"Huh?" Dawn asked, not even realizing she was speaking out loud. "That's impossible!"
The bear roared, and Buffy pushed Dawn behind her, turning to stare down the bear. "Dawn, run!" she screamed. Dawn stood frozen. "RUN!" she screamed again. Without looking back to see whether she had, Buffy stepped toward the bear. "Come on!" she yelled at it. "Come on, you bastard! Come for me, but you're not touching my sister!"
Their mother had been gone for a week, visiting her family, and their father had been worse than ever in her absence. Finally, on the fourth night, the unthinkable began to happen.
"Buffy, get back downstairs! Now, you little bitch!" he yelled as he ripped Dawn's covers from her bed, leaving the terrified girl uncovered.
"Daddy...please..." Dawn begged. "Shut up! You're a woman now, and I'm going to teach you what that means!" He pulled Dawn's pajama bottoms off her kicking legs, one hand on her chest keeping her pinned to the bed. Once he had discarded her pajamas, he used his free hand to unzip his jeans. Buffy, standing in the doorway, screamed his name.
"I told you to get downstairs! Do it, or you can join in!"
She jumped on his back then, batting him about the head with her fists. He released his grip on Dawn and grabbed Buffy's hand, throwing her over his shoulder and onto the bed. "I'll kill you for that," he said coldly. He raised a fist, but before he could lower it she scooted off the bed and between his legs, running out the bedroom door and toward the stairs. Bellowing, he turned and chased after her, all thoughts of Dawn temporarily forgotten.
As she ran down the hall, Buffy looked back and saw the murderous glint in her father's eyes - she knew she couldn't be caught, or this time her might do what he'd threatened so often and kill her. And she couldn't leave Dawn alone. So as she rounded the banister she grabbed hold of the post and swung around it rather than actually descending the stairs. Her father, not anticipating the move, tried to turn around as he cleared the first step - and his foot caught. He stumbled and fell, hitting every stair on the way down. Buffy swung herself back onto the stairs and cautiously made her way down to check on him - but it was quickly obvious from his vacant stare and the strange angle of his neck that he'd never hurt them again.
She returned to their shared bedroom and gathered her naked, trembling little sister in her arms, whispering comforting words in her ear. When she'd finally calmed her, Buffy went to their bedroom and pulled out two suitcases. "Dawn," she said, "we need to leave. Right now."