Buffy stared at her reflection in the mirror. There were only candles in her room so she could not see herself as well as she might have liked. Whoever Lisa was and despite her being barely a teenager she had made Buffy beautiful. She was reminded of her stint as an eighteenth century society girl five years ago on Halloween. That had not turned out very well. Hopefully, this night would turn out a little better than that one had.
Her hair was piled high atop her head with some small pearls strung through it. Her gown was a deep blue silk with black accents throughout. The sleeves were off the shoulder, which Buffy did not mind she was used to wearing tank tops and things. The neckline was really low and Buffy wondered if it was inappropriate but Lisa had balked at her question about it. She wore a string of pearls with a tear drop shaped onyx pendant around her neck and a matching pair of earrings. Her dream had outfitted her for this party well, sparing nothing.
She turned to regard her reflection from the side not liking the bustle, but she loved the feel of the silk against her body. Of course she had a chemise and a torture device known as a corset on underneath the dress, but she was able to feel the material against her arms and a little on her legs where they were bare between her garter and the tops of her stockings.
She tilted her chin up wondering if she could pull this off, doubting her abilities even if it was merely a dream. Lisa seemed under the impression that Buffy was a lady of means. At least Buffy gathered that was the reason the girl continued to address her as Milady in a mouselike voice that indicated she was frightened of what Buffy would do if she misaddressed her. She had no idea how to act like an heiress or a woman of means. She had no rings on so she assumed she was an unmarried woman in this place her dream had brought her to. Wherever she was, Buffy recalled enough from history class to know by her dress and the lack of electric lights that unmarried women were blooming flowers to be displayed in the hopes of snatching a suitable husband.
Lisa had said more than once that Buffy was an American not an Englishwoman, so perhaps people at the party would not be quick to judge her. She hoped so and hoped whoever the Taylor's were she would be accepted there. Buffy did not need to feel out of place in her own dream.
Moving in the layers with the corset laced as tightly as it could be proved difficult. "Why on earth did women wear these things," she queried with a mutter as she walked to the door she had seen Lisa use to come and go from Buffy's suite. She took as deep a breath as the corset allowed and opened the door, prepared for pretty much anything.
She was not expecting, however, for her to be in a beautiful and apparently large house. "How in the hell am I affording this," she whispered. "I'm liking this dream, though," she added, not wanting the powers that be or whoever was giving her this dream to think she was dissatisfied. It would be fun to pretend for a while to be a rich debutante-like girl. Buffy could pull it off without being annoying like Cordelia had been.
A man stepped seemingly out of nowhere and gave her a sincere but hesitant smile. "Milady, I can escort you to your coach if you are ready to depart."
She whimpered softly, this man obviously knew who she was but like with Lisa she had no idea who this man was. She would ask Lisa later. The girl seemed to understand that Buffy did not remember her name for whatever reason. She took the nicely kempt man's offered arm. "Thank you," she said, giving him a smile of her own.
"You're welcome, Milady. It is a shame you are attending unescorted this evening."
"You think so? I kind of like it," Buffy said, surprised she felt that way. She expected, if as Lisa said this was a party to announce an engagement, there to be lots of couples at this party. Normally, she felt out of place at things where everyone but her was coupled off, but tonight she was not feeling any of that.
"Well, you look so nice who would not wish to have the honor of you walking in on their arm."
"Thank you," she said and felt the heat of a blush on her face, neck and upper chest.
"It is my pleasure, Milady," he said as he led her down the steps. She took in the house as they walked. Whoever she was in this dream she apparently needed a lot of servants, because there were a few keeping themselves busy dusting and doing other household chores. "You'll need a wrap," he said once they had gotten to the foot of the steps, pausing at the front door.
Buffy waited for him to return with a wrap, draping it over her shoulders. "Thank you," she said, offering him another smile. It felt so weird to have people doing these things for her. She had been really weirded out by Lisa helping her dress but was slowly getting accustomed to it. She realized she should enjoy it, only in her dreams would she have this much done for her.
"Miss Summers," a second man seated atop the coach offered her with a slight nod of his head. She noticed he had not addressed her as Milady and inclined her head slightly to look at him. He was already readying the coach for its departure so his attention was no longer on Buffy.
The house servant handed her into the coach, the driver atop the coach at the ready. Another servant, she thought to herself. She imagined a driver was necessary, but she could not help but think it was entirely too much for just one person. And why he had addressed her as he had, as if he knew her? "Enjoy your evening," the house servant said as he put up the step and closed the coach's door.
Buffy sat back, making herself comfortable curious when she spotted a smaller version of her weapons chest underneath the seat across from her. Did these people know she was a Slayer? Was there a problem with vampires here at this time? Had something happened to the Slayer of this time but she had not died that Buffy had to be brought here? Was that why she was brought here?
"No, don't be ridiculous," she said through clenched teeth. "You have not been brought anywhere. This is a dream. True, it seems way real, but it is just a dream." She closed her eyes and put her head back. "Let this be a dream."
Buffy stood feeling very much like a piece of meat on display. She realized as the night had progressed that the reason Lisa did not think twice about the cut of her dress was because Buffy was an unmarried women. Apparently, unmarried women in this time were required to flaunt every asset they had, including their cleavage, in order to gain a man's affections. At least the man who was speaking with her now seemed to be more interested in her being from America than in her becoming his wife.
"So tell me, Miss Summers, how did you get invited to this evening's festivities when you have only been in London for a matter of days?"
"I honestly am not sure," Buffy said. "Perhaps my attorney arranged it for me. He arranged everything for me, you know."
"Ah yes, that's right. I remember when I found out the house you are staying in had been rented. I had heard an attractive American woman was coming to stay here in London for a while, but I had no idea she would be as charming as you are."
"Thank you," Buffy said, blushing appropriately at the man's kind words. "It is interesting being here."
"I imagine it is different."
"You have no idea," Buffy said softly with a slight roll of her eyes. She was bored. Socializing among the higher stationed people was no fun. Buffy was having no fun.
A bored Buffy made for a curious Buffy and she decided to walk around some. Her ears perked up when she heard a bunch of men talking and laughing and she glanced in their direction. She could not make out what they were saying, but she was curious as to what had them acting so noisily. "Excuse me for a moment."
"By all means, Miss Summers, I don't mean to take up all of your time."
"Of course you don't," Buffy said, but he seemed to not get her sarcasm as he lifted her hand to his lips and kissed her wrist politely. She took her hand back without being rude, it was not easy to do as her instinct was to jerk her hand away, and walked in the direction of the voices.
"He's a fool is what he is," she overheard.
"Well, what do you expect from someone who dreams and writes poetry instead of making any attempt at working for a living?"
"He has his head in the clouds is what he has," said someone else. "He's not even concerned about the disappearances occurring on our very streets. You'd think if nothing else he would be afraid for her," the same voice continued, a stress on her that implied everyone would know who he was speaking of.
So there was something going on that might require a Slayer's attention, but Buffy could not for the life of her figure out what she could do to help. This was only a dream after all, she was useless, not even really here.
"Look at him," one of the men said. Apparently, none of them had noticed Buffy being close because they kept talking about whoever they were talking about. She had no doubt that the men would have instantly stopped if they knew a lady was present.
She slipped into a room next to the one the men were in and made as if she was looking at the paintings on the walls as she worked her way to the doorway on the other side of the room. She was dying to see who they were talking about. No one at the dinner had struck her as being loser-like.
There she was privy to another conversation. A man not just being gently let down but shot down in a heartless way. As the conversation escalated, four hauntingly familiar words fell on Buffy's ears. "You are beneath me." Buffy clenched her fists and closed her eyes. "No," she said to herself. "This cannot be possible."
She leaned against the wall, her head back with a hand at her stomach trying to breathe with the corset digging into her. "Spike," she whispered. She had seen what he looked like at her house before falling asleep, but she was admittedly curious to know what the woman looked like. Was she like Buffy? Or was she more like Dru? She sensed that William had left the room and made her way into it, a library, and came to a halt feigning surprise. "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize anyone was in here," she said, offering the other woman a smile. She definitely was not like Buffy.
"No, it's quite all right I was about to go anyway. You're Miss Summers, right? From the Americas?"
"Yes, I am. And please, call me Buffy," she said.
"I'm Cecily Addams," she said. There was an uncomfortable silence. Buffy had satisfied her curiosity as to what the woman looked like and now found herself with nothing else to say to her. Buffy had not treated Spike very well but she could not imagine embarrassing him like Cecily had in front of a houseful of people. "I should return to the others."
"Of course, I didn't mean to keep you I just came in here for a bit of quiet, actually," Buffy said. Something about this rang familiar in her mind. Cecily left the room and Buffy closed her eyes again. "Think, Buffy, think," she said.
She made her way through the library and out the French doors to a garden. Hopefully, she would not get in any sort of trouble for going out there. But she had to clear her head. Why was this night so familiar? Was Angel here somewhere? She shook her head realizing that was not right. She had scanned the faces of all of the guests carefully to see if she recognized any. So how had she missed seeing Spike?
She had missed him because he made himself unnoticeable, she realized. He did not want to be noticed because when he was noticed he was ridiculed. Just as the men she had overheard were doing. Oh God she had said the very same words Cecily had said to him. What had she done to him?
Then it occurred to her. Spike had told her about this night, Angel had nothing to do with it. Well, he did but not in the way she was originally thinking. This was the night William was turned. Was she here to stop it? Would Cecily even notice that William was gone? Would she even care that her words led to his death? Buffy doubted it, and she could just hear the words of scorn said about him even when he was dead.
She could not go back through the house. She would have to go through endless formalities of saying good night to her host and hostess and their newly betrothed daughter. She had to get out now. If what her memory was telling her was right she had to prevent Drusilla from finding him. She found a gate in the fence and made her exit that way. Where would Spike go? No, she had to remind herself, this was not Spike it was William.
She walked to her coach apparently startling her driver. "Miss Summers, are you done already?"
She nodded her head simply and he seemed to recognize the glimmer of determination in her eyes. "I need my things." The driver said nothing merely held the coach's door open for her. She opened the smaller version of her weapons chest and pulled out some stakes. The driver cleared his throat lightly and turned his back to her as she placed the stakes under her dress. "So much for the silk stockings remaining unharmed," Buffy muttered to herself. Why did she expect that she could keep such a beautiful gown in one piece? She should have known something was going to happen, it never failed when she was dressed nice something always went wrong.
"You have a change of clothes in the trunk, Miss Summers," he said quietly.
"I do," she queried, looking in the trunk and sure enough there was a laundry bag with clothes in it. "I do," she said thrilled. She heard a soft chuckle from the driver. "What is your name," she asked as she reached to close the coach door so she could change. At least with the breeches in the bag she could wear her weapons where they were easily reachable. She would need them all if she was going to face Angelus, Drusilla and Darla.
"Yes. I mean, you know about me."
"Of course I do, Buffy Summers. Who I am is not important, however, as this journey is yours not mine," he said through the closed door.
"You can turn around now," she said as she closed the chest. "So what is the meaning of this?"
"That's for you to decipher, Miss Summers."
"Am I supposed to save William?"
"If that's what you think you must do."
"Shouldn't I? If I stop them from turning him, there's no Spike."
"If you think you must."
"Stop with the cryptic talk. What am I doing here?"
"Again I say I cannot answer you. This is your night, Buffy, your time to shine."
"Shine. So you want me to kill three vampires, one of whom I loved more than anyone I've ever loved before."
"That's assuming he's there for you to love in the future."
"What do you mean?"
"Nothing," he said and Buffy could see that he had misspoken. Had he intentionally done so? "I am not to advise you." She pulled the hat she had found on only giving up on the hat after struggling with it for a moment. She did not have the time to pull all of the pins and faux pearls out of her hair so she could wear it. Anyone seeing her would just have to settle for seeing a woman dressed in breeches and deal with it.
"Are you related to Giles?"
Recognition flashed in the man's eyes but he said nothing, merely stared at her his lips narrowed tightly.
"Fine," she said softly. "I'll shine for you. Then I get to go home, right."
"I hope so," the man said softly.
Buffy stared at him briefly. "What aren't you telling me?"
"Fine," she said again. "At least tell me which way to go."
"I can't, Buffy, I'm sorry. I already told you too much. I can't."
"Whatever," she said, slamming the coach door shut as she stomped down the steps. "I guess I'm on my own."
Had Spike told her anything about where he had been when Drusilla turned him? He obviously had left the party disheartened, downtrodden. Drusilla probably could have detected that with her insightfulness and preyed on it. She could not recall if he had told her anything specific about this night. She played the conversation over in her head that she had with Spike about the two slayers he had killed. Spike had said a lot of things that night, things she did not want to hear, things about Slayer's having death wishes. He had tried to kiss her that night. She had found him rude and disgusting, put off that their conversation had somehow aroused him. In response, she had said the same words to him Cecily had said to him on this night.
"Stop reveling in the past, Buffy, get on with your search." Alleyways seemed the place to start looking. Did she want to find Drusilla or William? Which would be the best way to prevent her from getting to him? If she did this, there would be no Spike. True, Spike had been a thorn in her side since coming to Sunnydale, but over the past few years he had become her friend, confidante and in an odd sort of way her champion. He had also become her lover and had taken whatever she had been willing to give him no matter how horrible the treatment was. He had disappeared on her as men did, but he came back. She sensed his not seeking her out had more to do with him than her. Life would be so much simpler without him, right? Buffy was not so sure anymore. She had been without him for the past few months and she missed him. She missed Spike the friend, the confidante and the co-worker. She missed his smart assed comments and the way he looked at her as if she was his everything.
He had betrayed her and her friends to Adam, had tried to turn them against one another. Buffy believed that in the end he had purposely let it slip that he had driven a wedge between them. Since then, he had been helpful, even showing her the painful truth about Riley. And she knew now looking back that she had to be told about it. She was better off without Riley and he was better off without her.
What is it that the driver had said about Angel? If he was there in the future for her to love? Would stopping tonight's events spiral into making many things not happen? Spike had told her they had left London because Angelus had been mad at Spike's carelessness. Where would she be without both Angel and Spike? Her thoughts were pulled to a stop when someone noticed her.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com