FIC: Proud Trophies Won in Foreign Fight (Chapter Two)

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Proud Trophies Won in Foreign Figh
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Chapter Two

Mrs. Barrowman?  Anne?

Buffy scrunched up her nose, trying to remember… something.  The name was familiar.

“Oh Anne, it is you,” the tall, British woman cried out in relief, rushing forward to embrace her. “That blast separated us and then I couldn’t find you.  I searched and searched, but…”

Without taking a single breath, the distraught woman rattled on in her ear, Willow-like, and Buffy tuned out when she realized she wasn’t going to learn much more about herself from this particular ramble.  Instead she focused inward, trying to place that name, trying figure out exactly who she was supposed to be.

At least I’m supposed to be here.  I have a place in this world.

Growing up, Buffy’s life had been filled with Annes.   They peppered her father’s side of the family tree.  You couldn’t go a single generation without finding an Anne or two.  Anne… is my middle name.  Or there’s my aunt Anne in Florida.  And Grandma was an Anne – Anne Richards.  Great-Grandma’s sister was Anne if I remember right…  And their mother was…

Anne Barrowman.

Holy shit, I might be my own great-great-grandmother!  There’s something you don’t hear every day.  Unless you watch Jerry Springer on a daily basis…

Buffy snapped out of her musings when she heard, “…and so I had to drive the ambulance back all by myself through the shelling…”  And with that little nugget of information, the rest of her borrowed identity fell into place.

Anne Barrowman was somewhat infamous in her dad’s family, her tale often told at family gatherings.  It was the only reason Buffy knew her name, never having been the type of girl who was much interested in ancestors long dead.  This particular Anne had abandoned her children (hey, it runs in the family!) and her life in America, going off to help the war effort in France, where she’d been killed while… driving an ambulance.

I’m an ambulance driver?  Me?  Buffy didn’t drive under the best of circumstances.  Never mind century-old vehicles in the middle of a war.

All of a sudden it was too much.  Buffy felt she’d been dealing pretty damn well with the craziness of it all, thank you very much, but now she was just a cold, tired and hungry girl who’d been hurt and was suffering a huge shock.  She pulled away from the other woman.  “I think… I think I must have hit my head, because everything’s all wonky right now.”

“Wonky?”

Oh.  Time to ditch the Buffy-speak and pull out the Giles-isms.  “Muddled.  I… I’m afraid I don’t remembering much of anything…”

“Do you know who you are?”  Her companion took her by the arm and led her to the truck.

Buffy shrugged.  “Anne.  But only because you said so.  And see, I don’t really know who you are either.  Can I lie down somewhere?”

“Here, in the truck.  It’ll be quieter than in the hospital tent.  I’m sure you’ll remember soon, dear, but in the meantime I’m Edith.  I’ll send out Doc Reynolds as soon as I find him.”  Edith helped her up into the truck and onto a blanket-covered pallet.  “I’ll bring out some tea too.”

“Thanks,” Buffy replied weakly, sinking down onto the pile of blankets and drawing one over herself.  “I think I just need to sleep for right now.  I’m sure I’ll feel better after.”

Edith nodded, the sandy curls that had escaped her bun bouncing about her worried face.  “Don’t worry, honey.  You’re safe now.”

 

 

Safe was a relative term, as Buffy well knew.  She woke from her dream with a scream, thrashing wildly, nauseous and sweaty in the gloom of the truck’s musty interior.  All around, outside, she could hear the sounds of people bustling, and in the distance, the sounds of war.

The dream faded away as she relaxed into her new reality, but Buffy remembered it with perfect clarity.  She’d dreamt of what had come before.  The fight with Glory.  The tower.  Dawn bleeding and terrified, but so brave.  Spike broken on the ground.  And her own swan dive into the portal, the dive that was supposed to end it all, but had sent her here instead.

Buffy couldn’t figure out if she was dead or not.  What would happen if she died here, as Anne Barrowman was slated to do?  Would she move on to some other time or dimension?  Or would she finally be at rest?  She briefly considered trying to contact the Watcher’s Council, but decided that the Watchers of a century ago were hardly any more likely to be helpful than the ones she’d known.  She would just have to figure things out as she went along.

At least she still had her Slayer capabilities, and more importantly, Slayer healing, despite possessing her ancestor’s body.  Stretching out, Buffy was more than grateful for that, both for how much better she felt after a few hours of sleep and for the sense of security it gave her, knowing that Spike was out there.  She wondered if she was now the Slayer of the time, or if there were two Slayers. Either which way, she’d come to the conclusion that her arrival in this time and place wasn’t a coincidence, and she was just as sure that she would have to face Spike at some point.

Buffy wondered what she was supposed to do when the time came.  Fight him?  Kill him?  Let him kill her, ending Anne Barrowman’s life?  Convince him to repent of his evil ways?

Find out if an unchipped Spike really could fall in love with her?

Until the seemingly inevitable confrontation, there were more pressing matters to worry about, like food and a bathroom.  Do they have bathrooms out here? How do I find out?  At least she had the amnesia excuse working for her.

 

 

By the end of the day, as the sun began to sink in the summer sky, Buffy was ready to scream. The past?  Sucked.  Especially this past.

“Why couldn’t the DeLorean have spit me out somewhere decent?  Instead of this stupid, stinking war,” she muttered to herself as she made her way back from the latrines.

She was hot and sweaty, she was filthy, she was hungry.  And those were the best things about her day.  Buffy had somehow managed to end up living a life as alien to her as if she were… um, an alien.

Points so not in her favor:  No bathrooms.  No baths.  No toilets.  No running water.  No phones, no TVs, no pop music, no VCRs.  No glossy magazines, no malls, no hair salons.  No chocolate ice cream, no pizza, no hamburgers and fries, no donuts.  No air conditioning.  No women’s rights, no makeup.  No cute clothes or cuteness allowed period.

Okay, there were cute boys aplenty – if you didn’t mind the wounded, the maimed, the shell-shocked.

And, hello, shoehorning her into her great-great-grandmother’s body and life?  A really bad idea. Anne, it seemed, was a very different person than the Buffster.  Not least of which was her actually volunteering for this hellhole.  Buffy was all for gross and icky and dangerous if it involved demons and vampire slayage.  Not if involved front lines and hospitals.

Obviously, Anne Barrowman had been insane.

Even worse, Buffy felt like she’d been walking on eggshells all day.  The amnesia excuse could only take her so far.  Not only did she know nothing about Anne’s life or duties, she also knew nothing about this time period.  Buffy had no knowledge of the history, the ways of speaking, the mannerisms, the customs.  Everything she did seemed to be a source of surprise and amusement for the people around her.  In short, she was a fish so far out of water, she may as well have landed on the sun.

And she was getting really pissed off about it too.  She contemplated taking her chances and escaping.  Running away to California, or… maybe back to the family Anne had abandoned?

Yeah right, that will work out.  At least here I have people who want me around and seem willing to help me.

Edith had indeed been very kind and helpful.  When Buffy had left her makeshift bed earlier that day, she’d said to the other woman, “You know, it looks like my memories are still on walkabout. Maybe we can pretend I’m a brand new person who knows nothing.”  She’d reached out her hand and said, “Hi, I’m Bu- uh, Anne.  Pleased to meet you.  Want to give me a tour of this place?”

“Likewise,” Edith had nodded, shaking her hand and giving her a brilliant smile in return.  “I’m Edith Gladstone.  Allow me to show you around our humble camp.”  The tall, willowy woman had done her best to help Buffy feel comfortable, but it wasn’t long before she’d been called away to her duties, leaving Buffy to poke around on her own, not really sure of what to do with herself.

Hence the suckage of the rest of the day.

Buffy made her way into the hospital tent, resigned to helping out if only for something to do, trying to discreetly breathe through her mouth.  Another thing to add to the list of all that sucked – the smells.  Everything smelled, and not in a good way.

“Mrs. Barrowman!”  Dr. Reynolds threaded his way through the cots towards her.  “And the ribs, madam?” the stout, thirty-something man asked as he peered at a nearby patient, lifting the sheet that covered the soldier and clucking to himself.  Buffy gagged at the stench.  “Gangrene.  T’will be the death of every young man here, I wager.  This one needs surgery yesterday.”  He made a notation on his clipboard, then turned to look at Buffy more closely.  “The ribs?” he repeated.

Putting on her best perky smile, Buffy said, “Almost as good as new.  The wrappings help.”

“Mmm-hmm.  And the gray matter?  Any recovery there?”

“I’m sure I’ll be back to normal in no time,” she lied.  Buffy figured Anne Barrowman would only recover her memories if and when Buffy vacated the premises, but the Slayer didn’t want to draw attention to herself any more than necessary.  “Is there something simple I can help with – something I don’t need to remember how to do?  I’m feeling pretty useless right now.”

“Mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm,” Dr. Reynolds agreed.  “Best to get you back into a routine, try to live as normally as possible, although I dare say t’would be most fruitful if you rested those ribs up for a day or two.  I’ve arranged for you and Miss Gladstone to spend the next few days on leave.  I believe you’ve both earned it.”  He bustled around the beds as he spoke, making notes on his clipboard and running a hand through his coppery hair.  Glancing at her, he said, “Why don’t you just sit with the more lucid of the boys, eh?  Grant them a little feminine company.  Does wonders for their recovery to see a pretty, smiling face.”

“Um, okay, sure,” Buffy said, nonplussed.  Talk to them.  About what?

It turned out to be an easy enough task.  As the good doctor had intimated, the young men were desperate for pleasant company and a smiling face, and were more than willing to carry the conversations themselves.  They spoke of their homes, their families, the girls they had waiting for them.  Most of them flirted with her; some asked her out.  Buffy declined with a smile.  Before she knew it, Edith was tapping on her shoulder.

“Hey Anne, ready to head to Madame Beaulieu’s?”  Buffy gave her a blank stare.  “The boarding house.  It’s where we normally stay, in Albert.  Our home away from home away from the camp. Where we get to wash up and sleep in a real bed,” she added.

“Oh hey, let’s get going then!” Buffy said.  “How do we get there?”

“We’ll be taking the ambulance, transporting soldiers to the hospital.  This is just the field hospital,” Edith said to Buffy’s confused look.  “We move the patients who need long-term or more intensive care to Albert.  In fact, we don’t spend much time here, in Fricourt.  Too much for our feminine sensibilities according to the brass hats,” she added, rolling her eyes.  “The only reason we’re even allowed this close to the front lines is due to the shortage of men available for the job.  More our luck that the Butcher keeps getting them blown up.”

Wrinkling her brow in confusion, Buffy asked, “The Butcher?”

“Ah, General Haig.  The man in charge of the hell that is the Somme.  He figures we throw enough Tommys at the Huns, we’ll eventually win by sheer numbers.  Men, eh?  Come, then, Mrs. Barrowman, your chariot awaits.”  She swept her hand out, indicating the ambulance filled with groaning men.  “You up for driving or shall I?”

Buffy shook her head.  “Nope, I don’t think I’m ready for that just yet.  You go ahead and drive.”

Edith grinned.  “Well, and how I’ve been waiting for you to say those words.  You always did insist you were the better driver.  You’ll see now it’s my turn.”

“I’m thinking it’s going to be your turn for a good long while,” Buffy muttered, settling into the front seat and looking around.  “No seatbelts?”

“Seatbelts?  What’re those?”

Edith ground the gears as she pulled out, the ambulance bouncing and swerving along the rutted road, and Buffy began to wonder if maybe Anne Barrowman had insisted on being the driver for a reason.  Buffy and cars were not mixy, and she had figured on being even less mixy with this antique monstrosity, but as Edith narrowly missed a tree on the side of the road the Slayer began to reconsider her position.  Maybe she would end up driving after all.

Once she figured out how to work the shifter thingy.

 

Originally posted at https://seasonal-spuffy.dreamwidth.org/815029.html

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