Buffy sat alone at her table in the dining room eating her dinner of some unknown birdgrouse she was told, rice, and mixed vegetables with a thick custard like pudding for desert. It wasn´t as grand as last night´s dinner, but it was still good. She was still dubious about the unpasterized milk, and was sticking to tea to ease her caffeine needs. Her back was to the room as she watched the sunset through the big windows, enjoying the play of colors in the cloudy darkening sky. It was still surreal to her she was sitting in England watching a sunset that had happened years before she had been born, yet it was very much like those she was used to back home.
Beside her on the table were a stack of books she had been given by Foxworth after she had come in from her first riding lesson from a side door on the other end of the building. She hadn´t had time to go drop them off upstairs yet so she was going through them as she ate. Most of them were on English history, current social affairs, etiquette, and geography of the region. There was finally a copy of the infamous´ Slayers guidebook. At last she was actually going to be able to read it, she grinned, diving into it as she ate.
So absorbed in her reading she didn´t realize that anyone was next to her until she heard William´s voice ask her, "is that chair taken?" and she looked up to see him with his hands full with his own tray looking nervous and hopeful.
Buffy smiled back at him, glad to see had had made it back. "Nope. I see you made it? All settled in?´ she asked as he sat down.
"I think I am getting there. I haven´t been to my room yet. I´m not even sure where that is yet," he grinned. "Mr. MacAlastair, and I have been discussing my training since I arrived several hours ago. We saw you sitting here alone, and he suggested I join you while he had food sent to his room so he could work on a project, he told me. I am amazed at how much there will be that I have to learn. It´s more than I thought. It will be quite challenging," he told her. "And you? How has you day been?" he asked as he drove into his food.
Buffy sighed, closing her book to look at him. "Okay, I guess. I got homeworklots, and lots of homework. This is as bad as going to college. They feel I need to get up to speed on whats what now, geography, people, acting like a proper ladyGeezus. Willow and Xander would be laughing their heads off at some of these books," she told him.
"Willow, Xander, these are friends of yours back where you come from?" he asked still eating. He was curious to learn more about her and her world, and friends seemed like a safe subject.
"We´ve been best friends since I was sixteen, and came to Sunnydale from Los Angeles, after I became a slayer. My Watcher, Mr. Giles, had gotten a job as the school librarian, and I met Will, and Xander in my classes. They found out about vampires after one of their friends got captured by them. Unfortunately Jesse got bit, and Xander had to dust him. After that we all stayed, and slayed together all through High School, now college, just doing everything together. Now Giles has a occult bookstore, and we use it to meet in so we can figure out what to do about the next baddy that shows up. Besides them there´s been Oz, Willow´s boyfriend, who was also a werewolf. He´s gone, and now she´s hanging out with Tara, who´s a witch too. There´s Anya who used to be a vengeance demon, but is human, and is dating Xander. His ex Cordy is in LA with Angel who used to be Angelus the vampire I have to kill. Cordy was normal, except now she gets to channel messages from the Powers That Beand my friends do sound really strange, don´t they?" Buffy said, realizing what all she had been saying and looking embarrassed.
"Actually, I found them to be very fascinating," William said, trying to either not laugh, or be frightened by her revelations. He really wasn´t too sure at this point which way to react. Werewolves, witches, ex-demons, psychics, vampires all as friendsit made his head swim, and she acted like it was nothing extraordinary. Did being a slayer make one this jaded towards the unusual? He hoped not because how could one then accept anything normal in their lives? He hoped that there was still room for ordinary things in her life.
"William, my friends, and me 'are' strange, but you don´t want to admit it. I know that look," she said and, he flushed.
"Whatever do you mean? You hardly know me," he said gathering his dignity and looking offended.
"It´s called your thinking look. Spike used to throw me that look when I´d tell him something, and he was debating on how honest to be with me, or say something to really piss me off. The see how much I can make the slayer mad´ usually won out because then I´d storm off, or hit him," she smiled remembering, but then she saw that he wasn´t taking her remarks in the same way.
"I take it my other self, and you had a rather tempestuous relationship?" he asked looking down at his plate then back at her over the top of his glasses.
"If you mean stormyyeah, you could say that. We were always fighting, sparing verbally, and physically, least until the chip kind of kept him from being able to fight back. He was a master of sarcasm, innuendo, and what buttons on me to push," she said with a sigh.
"He sounds like he was rather difficult person to be around," William ventured interested.
most of the time. He drove everyone up the wall.
But recently he started changing, and got less obnoxious,
and started really helping, and not asking for money,
or anything in return. When he told me about Riley,
the guy I had going with for a year, letting female
vampires suck on him for money, I thought it was
one of Spike´s sick games to get me mad. Unfortunately,
it was all too true," Buffy told him, shaking her
head, flashing back to the night that changed everything
between her and Spike.
"With this fellow Riley? What happened?"
"It was a real messy scene. He saw Spike, and I together in the cemetery, and jumped him. Riley tried to beat him up, and Spike couldn´t fight back, so I jumped into it, and knocked Riley down. That´s when I saw all the bite marks on him in different places. He knew that Spike had found out, and told me. He tried to attack Spike again for telling on him, and I really lost it. I would have almost beat him to death if Xander hadn´t pulled me off. I told Riley it was over, and to get out of my life, and he finally left. Then later Spike, and I found out that Riley had run into Spike´s ex Drusilla, and she turned him all the way into a vampire. But they both skipped town before we could catch them. Riley was messing with the vamps because he thought if he was like Angel, and Spike that I´d like him better. If he became a vampire everything would be okay between him and me. Truth was he, and I just weren´t working out. He was a nice guy, but he didn´t understand my being a slayer. He wanted to protect me, and didn´t handle it when I had to protect him instead," Buffy sighed looking out the window into the darkness of the night.
"If I might be bold to interject something. Most men do feel that they do have to protect the woman that they love. To not do so is almost criminal," he said gently. He somehow knew that there was more to this story, but he accepted it for now.
"But not when you´re the slayer, and stronger than everyone. Riley just didn´t get that," Buffy said with a sigh, then looked at him looking at her through his glasses thoughtfully waiting for her to do or say the next thing. She smiled slightly at how cute he looked, "William, I don´t know why I am telling you all this, but I think you needed to know it. I´m also afraid that you might try to be another Riley if you get too attached to me. I don´t do too good with human guys, or guys period. Most of them end up walking out my life. I may look like your Elizabeth, but I´m not her. You confuse me no end because you remind me so much of Spike, but you´re not him, and far more breakable," she told him truthfully.
William nodded, knowing what she said was true. "I understand completely. I have been wrestling with similar thoughts since we talked. You confuse me as well. I am understanding that when you look at me, you see the other me instead. Though I am seeing only you because your own spirit burns so brightly that Elizabeth cannot be seen at all. It is quite a perplexity to disentangle when feelings are involved," he stated, and she frowned trying to decipher what he had just said and finally got it.
"If you mean this is really a confusing mess that we can´t figure out, yeah, I´ll go along with that," Buffy replied, shaking her head at his use of dictionary words.
William just shook his head. "You did say you were going to college? American schools of the future must be quite lax," he said.
"Giles, and Spike both say the same thing. I guess I´m just not a brain. I was more worried about other things like making sure people stayed alive than studying. Knowing that you have a short shelf life, you kind of lose real enthusiasm for hitting the books hard, or going after a career," Buffy defended.
"I´m sorry if I offended you, Buffy. You do have a strange manner of speaking that I am trying to interpret. I see you as being very intelligent, and smart. Do not think otherwise," he told her hoping she would accept his apology if he had said anything wrong.
"Thanks, I think. So not to get into more trips down my memory lane, you got things sorted out with MacAlastair?"
"I believe so. He has set up a training schedule for me and course of study. Most of my work will be in physical training and weapons. I take it there´s a lot of call for that?"
"For you not so much, but there´s some. For me there´s a whole bunch. He´s having me work out two hours a day to keep my form up. Then I get to do horseback riding since we don´t use horses that much. Ohh, I get to go on field trips around town, so I won´t get lost, I guess," she told him, trying to keep her enthusiasm down. She was a little more happy once the Countess Rothchild had told her that some of those trips would be for clothing, and accessories for her at some of the shops she knew at the Council´s expense.
"I can see where that might be a necessity with you being from America as well as from the future. He said you had decided to fight this Angelus?" William asked taking a sip of his cooling tea.
She nodded looking out the window into the night. "I´m still not real happy about it, but when I found out that whole families were being murdered even babies I just can´t let him keep doing it. Knowing all of that when I didn´t before. The future is seriously screwed already with just us sitting here talking so why not just go all the way. I had to face the hard truth that my ex-boyfriend was and is a monster of the worst sort, and I may be the only one to stop him," she said fighting back her tears.
"Ex-boyfriend? You were involved with this Angelus´ future self, just like you were involved with mine?" William gulped started by her revelation. MacAlastair had left that part out of the information he had told him. This bit of news was very unsettling to him.
Buffy couldn´t look at him, but she nodded and replied in a quiet brittle voice, "yes, to both questions. Angel, the vampire with a soul was my first love. It was my seventeenth birthday. When we made love it broke his curse, he lost his soul, and he became Angelus again. He terrorized my family, my friends, killed Giles´ girlfriend, and tried to destroy the world. Spike, who didn´t have a chip yet, but wasn´t too happy about Angel´s plans, along with taking Dru away from himcame to me and we made a truce to stop Angelus. In the end Willow restored Angel´s soul, but it was too late because Angelus had already opened the gates of hell, and the only way to stop it was with his blood. Angel didn´t remember being Angelus, but I had to close the gate, so I kissed him, told him to close his eyes, and ran an enchanted sword through him which sucked him into hell, and closed the gates saving my world. Spike and Dru left town, and I ran away for three months. Angel did come back from Hell with his soul six months later, but that´s another story. It boils down to my not being a sweet wide eyed innocent any more, William. I haven´t been for three years. And two of my loves have been vampires. I just thought you should know up front," Buffy finished waiting for his response.
William was sitting rather shell shocked by her revelations. He was unsure what to think. She had already told him that she, and his future self were intimate. Tonight she had admitted to two other affairs. One with the same vampire that she would be hunting, and the other with a human who had been turned by the same Drusilla that his vampire self had been sired by. But the girl before him did not seem to be a woman of loose morals even if all of her experiences were more excessive than his own. Sadly, all her love affairs seemed to be tragic ones, even the one with his future self seemed doomed too.
"Buffy," he began, trying to find the right words. "I appreciate your candor. It must have taken great courage to tell such personal secrets to me, seeing that I am still a stranger to you. You have lived a life that I can barely guess at, and have endured much. I still would like to be your friend if that is all right?" he asked, afraid of saying more than that, and possibily offending her while he sort to figure his own feelings about her.
But because of her confessions he was going to do a lot of thinking about how personally involved he was willing to be with her. He could forgive possibly her affair with himself, but the trysts with the two other men were bothering him. That she had been so intimate without benefit of marriage to any of them, and she felt no remorse did bother him. There were some things his moral upbringing couldn´t overlook even if the acts hadn´t been committed in Elizabeth´s body, the mind that controlled it had done these things.
"Thank you, William, I appreciate it. I just hope you don´t hate me. I just wanted to be up front with you. Having secrets are not a good thing. I found that out the hard way. I just wanted you to understand the real reason why I was having a problem with having to kill Angelus. Except to the one here, none of this has happened. I´m just going to be another slayer to him. It won´t be personal for him, only me," she added.
"Are you still close to the other one? This Angel?" he asked carefully.
"Not any more. After I graduated from High school he moved to LA, and started a detective agency. Cordy works for him, along with an ex watcher, Wesley, and another guy, Gunn. There´s Faith, another slayer. She just joined him with her watcher. Right now they´re all hunting Darla, and Dru, and probably Riley too. Basically, Angel has his life, and I have mine and the twain don´t meet. We still care about one another, but we can´t ever be together because of his curse. Now there´s Spikethere was Spike. Damn, this is such a mess," she said wearily, not caring if her outburst shocked him or not.
"I didn´t mean to upset you more, Buffy," he apologized because he had asked her.
"It´s not you, William. It´s just this mess my life is. And I think I´m tired. Not used to get up so early all the time," she said, trying to defuse the situation.
"Here, let me take our trays to the staff. It looks like we are the last to go," he said noticing that they were the only ones left in the room except the people cleaning up.
She looked around too surprised that they were basically alone in the big room. "I guess so."
He got up, and did take their trays to the kitchen staff while she gathered up her books. He got his matching pile of papers, and books too. They stood there feeling rather awkward until Buffy spoke up. "William, thanks for listening to me, and not freaking out over everything."
He smiled at her choice of words. "You will find that I have quite a good ear. I had to, I had sisters," he told her which made her smile back as they walked to the door. "But we are both finding ourselves in very strange circumstances that fate has thrown us together in. The path you walked has been erased, and a new one has sprung up in its stead. You have been shaped by your past path, but you are now the author of what this new one will be. On its clean white pages you can write whatever you wish," he told her looking down at her noticing that she was looking less and less like Lizzy as time went on because of the force of her personality taking over the other girl´s body. What he was seeing was taking his breath away because of her beauty.
"Wow, that´s deep," Buffy told him, looking up at him amazed. "But I get it. Since all of this is changing I can make the changes work for me, and not repeat the past. I can make the future as I want. I just have to let go of the other past," she said understanding, but she knew it wasn´t going to be easy.
"Precisely, but I know it will be difficult. It will be for me," he admitted, looking over at her from under the bangs of his unruly sandy colored hair feeling suddenly shy again.
Buffy felt nervous too all too aware of his closeness, and physical presence. She clutched her books tighter, and decided maybe they ought to call it quits for the night. "Well, I´d better get upstairs. Still have a bunch of reading to do, and no videos, or MTV to distract me as an excuse. Can you find your way back to wherever it is you´re supposed to be staying?" she asked since he had told her he didn´t know where his room was.
"I thought Mr. Foxworth was going to show me. All I know is my room is somewhere on the second floor," William told her leaning against the wall outside the dining room, not seeing anyone coming to retrieve him.
"You can follow me. I´m on the third. Once you get up there maybe someone will help you. This place is so huge. I still don´t know where a lot of things are yet," she told him as they went up the back steps she used to get back and forth.
"Yes, it seems even bigger than what it appears from the outside," he agreed, finding himself definitely enjoying the view of her shapely rear despite the layers of skirts as he followed her up the stairs.
"Here´s your floor," Buffy told him, stopping then standing on the landing waiting for him to catch up to her. She stood nervously one hand on the railing while she clutched her books to her chest with the other. She always hated doing goodbyes as they were always so awkward.
He stood next to her looking at the door reluctant to leave her. "It looks like it. Well, I guess it´s goodnight then," he said really hating to say goodnight to her, but knowing that they both needed to part for the night.
"Yeah, I guess it is. I did enjoy seeing you. Since they´re going to be keeping us both busy I don´t know when the next time we´ll see each other is," Buffy told him.
William nodded. "I know. Maybe dinner again, I hope. I enjoyed seeing you too," he added, wishing he had the nerve to kiss her, but not sure about doing so under the circumstances.
"Dinner sounds good," Buffy agreed, torn between not wanting this to end, and knowing she better.
"Good," he replied, feeling more, and more awkward by the moment, and definitely losing his nerve to kiss her.
"Night then," Buffy said wanting to break the standoff they seemed to be having. She did by turning then going went quickly up the stairs in a swirl of petticoats.
"Goodnight, Buffy," he called softly after her, sadly watching her go, and already missing her. He turned the handle on the door, and went inside in search of someone to help him find his new room.
End Part 45
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