September, 28, 1879. Across town---same day with William.
"Mother, I´m sorry if I didn´t give you adequate warning, but I must do this," William insisted, holding firm against her flood of tears as he sat stiffly on the couch facing her, his hands in his lap trying not to ball them into fists to control his anger, and frustration with the conversation.
"No, you mustn´t! This is like some terrible knife to my heart, William. How could you do this to me, to your sisters? To just spring this on us out of no where, and tell us you are moving today without any warning beforehand? Then giving up your teaching career you´ve worked so hard to get too? I think you have gone insane to just give up everything to go to work for these people that no one has even heard of before? Now you´re tellin me that all of a sudden you are going to work at a girl´s academy? I just don´t understand any of this," his mother told him between sobbing into her handkerchief as she sat in her oversized rocking chair.
He sighed wearily, and shook his head. "I am sorry that I cannot explain more. But it is the opportunity of a lifetime, and Elizabeth will be there as well. They do have provisions for married couples unlike either of our current schools. Mr. MacAlastair the head of the school is looking forward to having both of us teaching there. We both will be getting extremely generous salaries, so that you can be taken care of. We will both be able to visit too, so it´s not like I am abandoning you entirely," William patiently explained again. This made the fourth time since last night when he had come home with his news.
Her sharp blue eyes looked up to regard him coldly, not buying any of his story. "You didn´t have to live on campus teaching at St. John´s, why at this Bloomsbury Academy For Young Ladies? It is most odd that the headmaster who found Elizabeth would offer both of you jobs there on just meeting you," she said looking at him and trying to figure out what he wasn´t telling her. She could tell there was much more to his story than what he was saying.
William ran a hand through his already tousled curls, and tried to figure out how to answer her. "I was surprised too, but Elizabeth had spoke in such glowing terms about my work that he did check on me at St. Johns. When he found that we were engaged he thought it to be wonderful because he feels that married couples make better teachers than single men, and women along with being better examples for the girls attending," he told her what MacAlastair had suggested as a cover story to his family. He felt bad about lying, but given the nature of the real work he would be doing there really wasn´t a choice.
"But you, and Elizabeth won´t be married until the Spring, unless you have decided to change that as well? What will you do until then?" she asked pointedly, wondering about the possible impropriety of the situation of her unmarried son and his fiancée under the same roof.
"Until then we will be living in separate quarters with the other single teachers as they have both male, and female teachers at the school. It will all be proper ,and above board I assure you. As to our marriage we are still looking at the Spring as planned though if we do decide to change the date we will let everyone know," he reassured her. This too was close to the truth. The only thing he was not explaining was that Elizabeth was no longer Elizabeth, but now another girl called Buffy from the future. Since they had only met Buffy, and not the real Elizabeth there wouldn´t be that additional complication. The real difficulty would be in convincing Buffy to eventually marry him.
She sighed, "I was looking so forward to you, and her living here with us until you could get your home. So she has agreed with all this, and her parents have too?" his sharp eyed mother questioned wanting to know what her parents thought of all this.
"Yes. Mr. And Mrs. Wellington are quite pleased with this. Even as we speak Lizzy is moving her own belonging to the school, so that we can both start immediately," William lied, hating himself for it. In actuality Mr. and Mrs. Wellington had known for years that her daughter had been a possible candidate as a slayer, but had chosen not to tell her or let her undergo training at the school because it did not seemly likely she would be called. They were now aware of what had happened to their real daughter, and were understandably upset. However, they had accepted the situation, and gotten a large monetary compensation from the Council for their loss.
"I see," his mother said, shaking her head. "William, you have always been a good boy, and have never lied to me. To find you doing so is most distressing to me. I am beginning to think that maybe it was you that was hit in the head. But you are a grown man, and entitled to make your own decisions. Whatever it is you are´ up I do hope that is worth all this deceit to those who have loved, and cared for you all these years. I had hoped that you would not abandon me like your brother, but I see I am wrong. Just go, I will not hold you here when you are so determined to go, and most likely destroy your life with that girl," she said crying again.
He sighed again hoping it was only anger at the suddenness of this situation which was causing her to lash out at him, but her harsh words were hurting his very sensitive feelings. "Mother, it´s not like that. II am not going to be destroying my life. You say that everytime I wish try something new, and different," he said, his heart breaking. "But you are correct, I am a man, and I must do what I feel I must for my own future," he said getting up, and kissing her on the top of her gray streaked head.
"William, don´t goplease," she begged, looking up at him, her eyes red rimmed.
"Mother, I must. The carriage is waiting. I will write you, I promise," he told her, his own bottom lip beginning to quiver as he tried not to let her get to him.
He was almost about to change his mind under the onslaught of her almost theatrical display as he got up from the couch avoid her clutching hands as she tried to grab his coat tail, and hold him back from leaving. Then he saw Buffy in his mind, and remembered the thrill of their kiss and knew that leaving his home and his life was the right thing. No, he wasn´t going to let Buffy go, he had decided. Even though he was feeling guilty because of the real Elizabeth, and the love they had shared not meaning as much as should have to him. His feelings were still very confused by being so taken by this complete stranger who wore his fiancee´s body. He knew on some levels that this was wrong because he had been in love with Elizabeth for two years, yet he was wanting to know this girl that was tugging at his heart as well. He felt like a cad for even thinking of Buffy when he should be worrying about his Lizzy lost too in time to him. It was all a dreadful mess, he feared.
Straightening himself with firm resolve to do this, and ignoring his mother´s pleas for him to stay, he left the sitting room without a backward glance determined to leave. He went to the hall coat rack to go put on his heavy outer coat, and hat. Looking in the mirror he wasn´t even recognizing the man he was becoming. He had changed that much between the time he had gotten word of Lizzy´s disappearance, word of her being found alive, and his meeting with Buffy last night. He was changing, evolving hopefully into a better man than he had been. One that was in control of his life instead of passively living it according to the wishes of others, especially his mother´s. He wanted to be someone they could all be proud of, like his father had been. Someone who lived life, adventure, did important things, not the weak willed, and weak bodied man he was that everyone ignored, or felt sorry for behind his back. Now he had been handed the opportunity of a lifetime where he could become the man that made a difference in peoples lives. In the mirror he saw the fire in his eyes, and smiled knowing he had indeed made the right choice.
Smoothing out his heavy wool coat he bent down, and picked up his briefcase sitting on the floor by the hall stand. He looked around the hallway sadly one last time before leaving, then he was out the door, down the walk, and climbing into the carriage the Council had sent for his personal use in moving.
"Everything all right, govenor´?" the bundled up coachman with his heavy Cockney accent asked, turning around to regard his passenger through the opened window in the cab.
"Yes, it will be," the young man answered back settling back in his seat in the covered cab. Grateful that they had sent it instead of an open one because the day was quite cold to where one could see one´s breath. He wrapped his legs in a blanket, and began to warm up a little. "Did you get all my things?" he asked, not wanting to have to go retrieve anything from the house for awhile.
"Yes, everything is all loaded, sir," the man affirmed awaiting further orders.
"Very good. We have two stops to make. The first is St. John´s School and the second is Ebbetts and Crowes on James Street. We should have time to do them both," William told the dark haired man.
"Aye, we should," he agreed, then shut the small window, and told the two dappled gray horses to move, and they were soon on their way through the streets of South Mimms a suburb fourteen miles out of London proper where there was both a parish and an old church bearing the Giles´ family name.
The meeting with the head master at St. John´s had not been as painful as he thought it was going to be. He told him a similar story to what he had told his family. At least the older man had heard of the Bloomsbury Academy For Young Ladies which made this easier. William did go to his former classroom to get what books and belongings he had there, and to say goodbye to his students. They were all upset that he was going as he was very well liked by everyone. Finally he was finished, and he put the box of his belongings from the classroom on the seat next to him after he had gotten back into the waiting carriage.
As per William´s earlier instructions they next went to the jewelers. The small shop was still open, but the craftsman that he had sold the stones to told him that three days ago someone had come in, and bought the left over stones, paying cash, and not giving their name. The man gave him a description of the purchaser, but it was no one that William knew. Disappointed he climbed back into the carriage, and told the driver to take him to headquarters.
The loss of the crystal bothered William as he wanted to make Buffy happy with it, Though he been afraid that it would indeed trigger the two women changing places again. He was surprised at his feelings that he was not wanting that to happen when he should be trying every means to restore Elizabeth to her rightful body, and place. His growing attachment to Buffy confused him also. He could tell that she was having a similar problem because she was in love with his future no longer human self, yet she felt the same attraction to him as he was now. Then their kisseshow did he even been to describe the feelings those had invoked within him? It was like he had discovered something he had been missing all his life, and never knew there was anything to miss until that moment.
True Buffy wore his Lizzy´s body, but the spirit animating it was very different, and exciting to him. Their kisses should have been the same, but they weren´t in any way similar. When he had looked into her dancing eyes he had seen the same confusion too. He was drawn like a moth to her flame which burned so brightly in her eyes, and her very being. Having now understood the situation could he let Buffy go, and be satisfied with Lizzy again if she was returned? He was sadly afraid that his answer would be no. Though if it did happen he would still love, and cherish Lizzy as he always had, but he was afraid that he had lost his heart already to this girl from another time, and an important part of him would go with her if she did return.
It was quite clear last night that he might have a rival for her affectionsFoxworth. He had seen the looks the man had been giving her, and for the first time William had felt true jealousy. Foxworth also knew the truth about Buffy, but since he had never met either woman before all he could see was Buffy herself while he, himself, was struggling to reconcile the two. He hoped he had gotten the message across to the other man that regardless of who she was, she was still to all intents his fiancée until it was decided she wasn´t. Which meant she was not courtable by another.
That thought lead to other thoughts: Would the Council uphold his prior claims as they had told him they would? Would Buffy agree to them? Was he going to have to court her like he had Lizzy? Did he want to court her? Gads, the situation was complicated,´ he thought to himself. Though it did hearten him to note that Buffy did not appear to be interested in the other man. Unfortunately, Foxworth did not seemed deterred by that. He would have to watch the situation more closely, he feared, which was going to be difficult since Foxworth, by being MacAlastair´s assistant, was going to have more opportunities to see her than he was probably going to.
He now had to think about all this business of himself being a Watcher, and having to fight a life long battle against the forces of darkness that incredibly really did exist out in the world. The things of nightmares, myths, fairy tales, and fevered dreams were actually real. He had seen the live, horrible examples for himself in cages in the caverns underneath the mansion. MacAlastair had explained everything to him. He still found it to be incredible that this secret group had been sending out mere girls to go battle with these things ever since man had stumbled out of Eden? For untold centuries this had been going on unnoticed by the world. It was still a fantastic tale that couldn´t possibly be true, but was. To his amazement he had touched with his own hand one of the nightmares, and looked in the black pits of its demon alien soul, and saw that evil did exist beyond the abstract concept of it, that it could take true form, and walk around in this world.
In one short day his entire safe universe had been destroyed. His sense of peace, and faith in the reality of this world he had known had been shattered by what he had seen, and heard in those hidden rooms. Then to find out that Buffy as a slayer had been fighting these things, and worse for years had stunned him. A day later it was still hard to accept that she could face such creatures and retain her humanity as well as her life, and be so normal´ appearing. Could he develop the courage, and emotional strength to stand by, and let her do her job, and not jump in, and get them both killed? That would be the hard part because it would be going against every one of his own instincts, and codes of behavior to protect women, and especially any woman he cared about. Being a Watcher with her involved was not going to be an east task on any level.
It was almost dusk when they did arrive at the mansion. The young man looked at the huge estate and its picturesque wooded grounds in happy anticipation. They pulled up in front at the main entrance, and the driver got out. and knocked then went in through the massive metal doors as William got out of the coach. The man returned shortly with two burly looking men in dark servants uniforms.
"You go inside, young sir. The boys, and me will unload your things, and put them in your room. Mr. Foxworth will be with you shortly to take you to see Mr. MacAlastair," he told him, William nodded, told him thanks, and went in.
Inside was the butler waiting to take his coat, and hat which he gave over to the man. As soon as he was done Foxworth appeared, his expression unreadable bit William thought he wasn´t too pleased to see him return so quickly. Regardless of what he might be really thinking Foxworth greeted him civilly, "Ah, Mr. Giles, I see that you got your affairs concluded quickly. I sent word on ahead of your arrival, and Mr. MacAlastair will be waiting for us in his office," the man told him.
"Very good, William answered, sensing that man was not into much conversation, he following him quietly down the maze of hallways admiring the unusual artwork they passed until they came to a large, ornately carved door on the second floor, and went in.
It was clear that MacAlastair´s office was part of his spacious living quarters, though separate from it as they went into a room off the larger sitting room one. The older man looked up from what he was writing at his large, paper piled desk that faced them when Foxworth knocked on the door frame.
"You wished to see Mr. Giles when he arrived?" the red head asked
"Yes, I did. Have a seat Mr. Giles," he told William. He did, taking the indicated chair next to the desk. Looking at his assistant, the older man told him, "Foxworth, you can go. If I need you I´ll ring. Go get yourself dinner. I will be here for a while," he said dismissing Foxworth who left leaving the two men alone. The older man saw how nervous William was and gave him a reassuring smile. "You can relax, now Mr. Giles. This is just to get addition information about you for our files, and to outline what will be happening to you over the next several weeks, and so on. Yesterday, was your interview, and you passed with flying colors. That is why you are sitting here now," he told him, trying allay any of William´s fears..
William sat up straighter, and faced him, "I had gathered that much, sir. It still feels very unreal to me. Everything happening so fast," he added.
MacAlastair smiled. "Yes, sometimes that happens in this business when we find an excellent candidate by accident, so to speak for our work here we do not hesitate in bringing them in."
He digested that. "I see. Though my case is not entirely based on my merits alone since it does involve Miss Summers," William threw out to see if he was correct.
"Very good. You do understand the scope of things as they are. How was your talk with her last night?" the man asked, curious as to how the meeting between them had gone, since Buffy had not discussed it with anyone.
Even though he, and Buffy had decided to go along with what the Council had originally told him, he decided to be honest with the man who was going to be his employer. "Interesting. Although you did try to convince me that she was my missing Elizabeth, I will be honest with you sir, she is not. I can tell the difference. She is who she says to be in my fiancée´s body. I did find mine, and Miss Summers´ future connection fascinating. She had no problem telling me about what I will be in her future. It was disturbing to find I will be one of those loathsome creatures you showed me, and that she has no problem with having feelings for such a creature. I agree she must be kept from this possible fate," William told him sincerely.
MacAlastair was very pleased by this turn of events. Things were going better than he had hoped. Especially if there did seem to be mutual attraction between them, so much for the better. "So you have feelings for her?"
William tried to hide his blushing cheeks. "That is the confusing part to both of us. There is something there. Whether it is because of our future connections, or just something springing up between us, neither of us were sure. Though we both also feel guilt for having such feelings being strangers so to speak yet not because of who we were involved with. Me for my Lizzy, and for her, this Spike vampire. It is almost like we are cheating on themdoes that make sense?" William asked looking up embarrassed.
"Oddly, it does, Mr. Giles. So how have you determined to handle this matter?" MacAlastair asked, sitting back in his chair studying the man. "I understand you told Foxworth that your engagement is still on, is that true?"
"I´m not really sure, sir. I told him that because he appeared to be interested in Miss Summers, and I did get rather upset about that. I admit that. I did not want him to think that she was courtable until she, and I have had a chance to figure out what to do first. To the outside world she is still my fiancee. I would not be unwilling to marry her if she is also willing to do so. If Lizzy were ever restored to me it would be a difficult situation to explain. Though you have said that the chances of that happening are next to none. I fear that my own attempts to right this have also met with failure as the crystal we were all hopeful of using has been purchased, and the jeweler does not know with whom, or where it might be now. I fear that Miss Summers will not be happy with this news," he told him, knowing he had not been able to help her as he had wanted. Still William was not that upset either by this turn of events because it did mean that Buffy would be staying for a while.
MacAlastair managed to hide his relief that William had not been able to find the crystal. Though he was wondering himself where it might be. Sympathizing with the young man he told him, "no, she won´t, but I do think she is getting more resigned to staying, and doing her duty. We had a good discussion about the vampire Angelus, and his current reign of terror among the elite, and their families. Evidently there were some facts about his killings that she was not aware of, and I could tell that she was making herself harden her heart in the face of his hideous deeds. However, she is not yet ready to go up against him. As much as I would like to get rid of his vile presence in this town as quickly as possible, she needs to get acclimated to her surroundings for her own safety. For the next several weeks she will be in classes, and training for when she does go out to face him. During this period you will be undergoing your own training, sometimes with her, but most of time you two will have very different courses of studies, and schedules," the Council head explained.
William nodded, understanding the necessity for this.
"This will be your initial schedule, young man," MacAlastair said handing him a stack of papers. "The one on top is your schedule for this week. It is heavy on the physical aspects of your training because you will be called upon as a watcher not only to watch, but sometimes intervene when necessary. This will be for self defense purposes too. A slayer should not have to worry about having to not only watch her own back, but that of any companions with her. You will also receive weapons training in both offensive, and defensive modes. By the time you are through all of these things will become automatic responses with you as they do our slayers," the man explained with a smile seeing William´s dubious look to his statement.
"I hope so, sir. Those creatures I saw appeared to be most formidable. It is a pity we do not come with built in weaponry as they do," he said.
"Yes, I wish that myself. But when in the field you will get to wear protective armor under your clothes. It´s a pity we can´t wear chain mail like in the old days, but our scientists have been working on modern substitutes that have proven quite effective,"´ he assured him.
"You should know I´m not much of a fighter, sir. I have spend most of my life as a scholar, and gentleman, and have been unused to such strenuous activities."
"I understand. Many of our recruits have been similar to you, men of learning, not of muscle. But faced with things they never dreamed existed, and having to defend helpless people from such monsters they have been known to turn into virtual tigers on the battlefield."
"And did they win?" William asked skeptical that he could actually be such a warrior.
"Yes, even if they died defending someone, they won because they tried to fight against overwhelming odds. You, my boy, have such courage within you. You have heart, mind, and determination which will be your greatest strengths more than any physical ones you may have. By accepting this challenge of joining our secret ranks you have taken the first step in being a warrior of the light. I have no doubt that you will do us all proud," MacAlastair told him, trying to allay his fears.
"I will try to live up to the faith you have in me, sir," William answered wanting to make this man as well as Buffy proud of him too.
"Good, I know you will. Have you had dinner yet?"
"No, after my errands I came straight here, and missed lunch too," William explained.
"Come, we´ll go down, and get something to eat. I will go over more of what you will be learning during dinner," MacAlastair told him rising from his chair.
He, and William went downstairs continuing their discussion along the way.
End Part 44
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