1880 - London, England
"It's time to get up, Milady," she heard accompanied by the feel of an on again off again breeze at her face and neck.
"I said it's time to get up," the child said with a smile. Though she was not really a child Buffy realized as she took in her appearance. She was only a little younger than Dawn. Probably one of Dawn's friends, but why is she waking me up? Oh, right I fell asleep in front of the TV. And what was with the fan in her hand?
"You have pretty hair," Buffy said offering the girl a nervous smile. She did not want Dawn's friends thinking she was lazy and could not even make it up to her bed to sleep each night. "What's your name?"
"Lisa, Milady," she said with a frown, the fan she had been waving over Buffy stilling finally.
"Why are you calling me that," Buffy asked.
"Mum," Lisa said, her brows arching up in question.
"What's with the royal speak?"
The girl frowned. "I, um, Milady?" Buffy was as confused as the girl appeared to be.
"Okay, let's start over. You're Lisa. Why are you here?"
"To get you ready for the dinner party, Milady."
"A party," she frowned. Had Xander convinced her to go to a party that she had forgotten about? It sounded like something Xander might do. He and Dawn had been on her case more than usual the past couple of weeks about her self-inflicted life of seclusion. But who was this girl and why was she dressed so strangely? Not even her mother wore such formal clothes.
"Stop calling me that," Buffy said softly. She closed her eyes willing herself to recall something, anything that would tell her who this girl was and what party she was talking about. "If this is Xander's idea of a joke I'm so not amused."
"I don't know any Xander, Milady. Of course, I have only been here since this morning, but I did not realize you had been here long enough to make any acquaintances."
Buffy noticed the look of confusion on Lisa's face, but the girl did not say anything. "How do you know about the party then," Buffy asked with a frown. She noticed for the first time the girl had an accent similar to Spike's. It would figure that Dawn would befriend someone that sounded like him particularly after his sudden departure.
"You told me about it before you took your respite, Milady."
"My name is Buffy," Buffy said, sitting up. It took her a moment to realize that she was not in her living room, that she was in bed. As she looked around the room she realized she was not in her room. In fact, she was not in her house at all. She blinked and shook her head slightly to wake herself up, but the unfamiliar room was still in front of her. She closed her eyes and kept them closed counting to ten in her head. She opened her eyes only to see the same room. It was beautiful to be sure and as big as the entire second floor of her house. "Where am I?"
Buffy stood, her hands running over the soft white cotton chemise she was wearing. She frowned looking at her clothes, glancing at her reflection in the mirror. Her hair was pinned back in a style she had never worn in her life. Dressed in a chemise with her hair styled as it was she felt a little like she was playing dressup but had to admit she looked the part of a girl from years ago. "Who are you? Where am I? And why am I wearing this?"
"You got undressed unattended after your dinner, Milady."
"Why do you keep calling me that?"
"I know not what else to call you, Mum."
"I just told you my name is Buffy."
"Yes, mum, I know. But," she appeared distressed.
"Forget it," Buffy mumbled. "Have I slept all day then that you're waking me now to get ready for this party? And who are you?"
"Well, you need your bath, Milady, and I have already told you who I am. I'm Lisa." She frowned looking more distressed. "I was hired to attend you during your stay here in London."
"What did someone drug me to get me here?"
"I don't understand, mum?"
"That makes two of us. So I'm going to a party. Who is the party for?" If she could find out where she was maybe she could find out who had taken her. Maybe, just maybe she could get to a telephone and call Giles. If as Lisa said she was in London she had to assume whoever had abducted her was not aware that her Watcher was local.
Lisa smiled and seemed relieved. She was probably thinking that Buffy was going to let the subject drop of where she was and who her captor was. "It's at the Taylor's, Milady. I believe, at least you were telling me earlier, that they will announce their daughter's betrothal tonight."
"I told you that?"
"Please," Buffy held up her hand. "Please call me Buffy."
"I was told you were rather lax when I took this job, Mum, but surely you can't mean to be that informal."
"I can and I will. Who hired you?"
"You did, Mum. Well, your solicitor at any rate."
"My who? My what?"
"I believe in the Americas you call them lawyers."
"Okay," Buffy said hesitantly. This had to be a dream. It had to be. And while Buffy was admittedly confused by this dream, she preferred it to the ones she had been having recently of dying girls whispering to her. "Where do I go for my bath then?"
Lisa looked at her hands, which were clutched in front of her. She was dressed neatly, but her dress was very plain. Buffy had to wonder why she would put someone in such an outfit. She was apparently not going to answer Buffy's question, so she looked around the large room and spotted a large tub.
Buffy walked towards it and ran her fingers along its ledge able to feel the warmth from the water from where she stood. She picked up one of the bottles on the tray and pulled the stopper. She inhaled deeply, taking in the scent of vanilla and something else Buffy could not name. "Wow," she said in amazement. The towels laid out for her were plush and smelled nice. Towels like these would cost a fortune Buffy knew. She had shopped at Penney's once this summer to buy some towels and ones like these were way out of her price range.
"Did you want help with your hair then, Milady?"
"I," Buffy said, taking in the tub and realizing there was no shower or showerhead. "Is that part of your job," she asked as she picked up a small bar of soap and took in its scent.
"Of course it is. I didn't realize our ways were so different than yours."
"Oh, I, well, I don't know. I just feel sort of strange today," Buffy said. That was an understatement. She continued her perusal of the room. There was no hairdryer, no curling iron, no radio, no television. Where was she? And why was someone going to such an effort to keep her secluded. Though they obviously weren't if Buffy was going to a party. None of this made sense. Buffy sat at the edge of the tub and cradled her head in her hands sighing in frustration.
She felt a gentle hand at her head and looked up to see Lisa watching her intently, nervously. "If I am not pleasing, Milady, you can let the service know and they will send a replacement. I don't know that they would be able to get one for you this evening yet."
Buffy looked away from Lisa, embarrassed for some reason that she was making this girl feel as though she was doing something wrong. Buffy's eyes fell to her chest at the foot of her bed causing her to be even more confused. Someone abducted her, stripped her of simple amenities like a stereo yet made sure she had access to all of her weapons. That made no sense.
Okay, it was time to stop trying to figure out everything at one time and let her dream take her wherever it was the dream wanted her to be. She had had dreams before that she felt as though she was truly a part of, but this went beyond even that. She could swear she was really awake and here experiencing this first hand.
"Let's get ready for the party. Am I going alone?"
"Yes, Milady," Lisa said cautiously, though she did seem relieved to hear that Buffy was finally willing to get ready.
At least she had bettered her place in life in her dream rather than made herself worse off. Buffy sort of looked forward to climbing into the tub and letting someone else take care of her. It had been years since her mother had given her a bath and washed her hair. Buffy could still remember the way her mother washed her hair, the way her fingers would massage her scalp and work their way through her hair. Buffy had loved getting baths from her mom.
"How old are you?"
"Really? And you're working already," Buffy asked, feeling the need to make conversation for some reason. Whatever point this dream was trying to make it was taking its time in making it.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com