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Part 47


Usual disclaimers in part 1. Previous parts can be found at In The Heart Of Darkness--

Still with William 1879

Part 47

        The meeting with Mr. MacAlastair had gone well, William thought, as he met with the Mr. Thompson, the Archivist later that day. MacAlastair had granted his request for more access to materials, and now he was following the ancient looking man in charge of that department as they walked down the narrow ancient steps that led to the subterranean rooms that housed the journal collections. Along the walls at close intervals were torches, but they gave off only bright light, but no heat, or smoke, the younger man noticed in fascination. It was cool, and the air dry the deeper they went, without the musty dampness associated with the earth. The tunnels underneath the mansion were unlike any cave, or underground system he had heard of. The sheer quiet of the place was almost unnerving, like being in a tomb, or some strange place where all the sounds when they did come seemed hushed, muted. The brown robed man who walked before him fit well into the gray, colorless walls as if he was a part of the very earth that surrounded them. He reminded William of a elf, or a gnome with his small statue, and thin gnarly limbs, and features. His long hair, and beard were silky white, his skin an odd brown tone, but his large dark eyes were quick, and keen to match his mind.

        Early in their journey William had given up asking him questions because the man would not answer, he would only motion him onward, and shake his head. He did know how long they had traveled, time seemed suspended here too. He noted that oddly his pocket watch had stopped running along the way. Finally they came into a vast chamber that seemed hewed out of the rock rather than natural. Endless rows of stone shelves with books, boxes, various size cases, and scrolls were evenly spaced around the room that seemed to stretch forever in all directions. In amongst the stacks were large tables, and chairs made of the same stone as the walls and shelves. These were scattered around in various locations for the researchers to be able to sit down and study their materials. William saw with relief that he was not the only researcher. He counted at least ten people that looked to be watchers, and five people that looked similar in appearance to Mr. Thompson, but younger than the man who seemed to be assisting the watchers locate materials.

        When they had met William had explained to the man what kind of information he was looking for, and had given him a list of referenced journals, rough dates for searching for what he needed to find. The man had simply looked at him, and the list, then nodded, and had the young man follow him. Now that they were there he had William sit at one of the tables, and handed the list to one of the brown robed assistants before disappearing from view himself into the stacks. The silent assistant came back shortly with a large pile of books and set them before William before he too disappeared to go help someone else. William was perplexed about their strange silent behavior, but soon he was lost in research, and paid none of his companions any mind.

        Besides what he had requested they had also brought him materials that hadn´t been on his list. He was delighted. Many were about the Master, and the Clan of Aurelius. He took copious notes, and when it looked like he was running out of paper, or writing materials more were provided for his use. Texts that were originally in another language seemed always to be translatable, even if he was normally unaware of the language. A few times he found himself asleep, and waking up, though never did he feel hungry, or to have to use the facilities if there were any. It was all quite odd. Finally, he had exhausted all of his materials, and felt he could really put together a concise report. Done, he gathered his very large stack of notes, and looked around to find one of the little men to let them know he was through. As soon as he had thought it, one of them appeared at his side, and motioned for him to follow him.
        Instead of the endless stairs he had come down, he was led to what appeared to be a large pulley driven dumbwaiter. He motioning William to get in. He looked at the little man in puzzlement, but did as he was asked. The door slid shut, and he was taken upwards. When the car stopped the door slid open, and he found himself in the Grand Hall a little down from the main doorway. He got out, and the door slid shut behind him, and there was nothing, but blank wall where the door had been. He stood, and stared in disbelief, until one of the older Watchers came over, and told him that it happened all the time.

        Still somewhat shaken by his experience William did manage to get his pocket watch out to check the time. He was relieved to see that the watch was working again. Despite what had seemed like days he had been gone, only an hour had passed since he had last checked. He hoped that to be truly the case, and not days as he feared. Shaking himself out of his stupor he went upstairs to his room to drop off his papers, and freshen up before he met with Buffy for dinner.

        He cleaned up, and was downstairs waiting for her when she came down from the third floor worrying if she was late herself. She had had to change clothes from her riding lesson, which had now expanded to using weapons on horseback as part of her training. One of the pumpkins used for target practice had gotten spattered all over her by her sword ,so she had had to take a shower to get the sticky stuff off which reminded her too much of demon guts.

        "Hi, am I late?" Buffy asked breathlessly with a smile for him as she came running up, her skirts flying, and her hair falling out of the quick messy bun she had put it in, to where he was standing by the door of the dining room.

        William smiled in return, glad to see her, charmed at how pretty she looked with her flushed face, and hair curling down around her face. "Not at all. I was worrying whether I was. I had a very extraordinary experience today when I went down to the Archives," he told her as they went into together keeping a careful distance between them.

        "Archives? I hadn´t heard of them before. I thought everything was in the Grand Hall," she commented, interested.

        "Not everything. The original Watchers, and Slayers journals, reference books, and the more valuable older texts are kept far below us in this vast room. It was quite fascinating. But the entire time I was there time seemed to stop. I thought I was gone for days, but when I got back my watch said I had only been gone for an hour at most. It is still perplexing to me," he explained slightly amused by the experience as they got their food.

        "Freaky," she agreed, though not overly surprised at such a thing being possible. "I would have been definitely wiggin´ out. So why were you down there? Watcher stuff?" she asked, interested in what he was learning while she debated on what to eat from the selections in front of her. She was really missing pizza, and what was on tonight´s menu she didn´t recognize. She was frowning at the pastry covered dishes lined up on the serving table.

        "Yes, but connected to your problem with Angelus," he told her, and saw she was having trouble deciding on what to eat. "Try the meat pie. It´s like a stew with pastry on top," he suggested, taking one himself, and putting it on his tray.

        "So that´s what that is—a pot pie. That I can handle," Buffy said relieved, and took one. She had been following his lead on what to eat, and not eat since a lot of English cooking was not easily identifiable to her. She had finally gotten brave enough to try the strange milk, and got a glass of it along with her usual tea.

        With trays full they found a seat near the window where they could watch the evening sunset, and sat down.

        "So you´re researching Angelus?" she asked interested as they ate.

        "Actually my assignment is to research the entire clan of Aurelius, and look for odd patterns of behavior in its members as well as related clans. Though the main focus is on Angelus, Darla, and Drusilla for obvious reasons. In all it has been very interesting," William told her, not willing to go into too many details until he had verified some of the things he had found, and then he wasn´t sure how much MacAlastair wanted him to divulge to her.

        "Probably give you nightmares too. My Giles, unfortunately, didn´t have that much information on the clan, or on Angel, so a lot of what happened blind sided us. Angel wasn´t too talkative either. Had to almost pry information out of him when he knew things all along. He used to get me so mad when I found out he had been holding out stuff from us. Spike too. But Spike was a lot freer with info when we needed it," she explained between bites of her gamy tasting meat pie that she was halfway through. "By the way what am I eating as it´s not beef?" she asked, looking at the chunks on meat, and vegetables in broth, the odd taste and smell of it finally getting past her hunger to register on her senses.

        "It´s venison, deer, I believe," he told her puzzled, enjoying every bit of it because he didn´t get venison that often and it was always a special treat.

        "I´m eating Bambi? Ewww," she said horrified pushing it away, and looking at it disgust

        "Is there a problem?" he asked, really not understanding her reactions.

        "It´s Bambi. It feels wrong to eat it. Bambi was this cute little cartoon deer I saw when I was little, that the hunter shot his mother, then he was all alone, and it made me sad. But he managed to grow up, and be the ruler of the forest. Anyway, we don´t eat wild animals because there´s not so many anymore," Buffy explained.

        "I would think there would be because America is so big. Here we eat a lot of game, especially deer and rabbit, like the other night." He added finishing his pie up and taking over hers since she didn´t want it.

        Buffy was horrified. "That was rabbit? I thought it was just strange chicken. Warn me, please?" she begged him, shaking her head, and eating her bread pudding instead. "So all this research is to help find any clan weaknesses, and ways to out think this bunch?" Buffy asked, going back to their discussion.

        He nodded, pleased she understood what he hoped to find. "Hopefully. You can´t fight an enemy effectively unless you know them, my father told me that, and I still believe it. What I am finding out about the vampires here is not pretty, I´m afraid. Neither Angelus, or Darla were very good people before they were turned from what I have uncovered. Whereas Drusilla was an innocent before. Her turning was quite a tragic affair. If the Council had moved more quickly on her case she would still be human and protected," William told her.

        Buffy looked at him shocked. She knew about Angelus making her insane before turning her, but that the Council had been interested in her was news. "The Council knew about her before she was turned?" Buffy questioned surprised.

        "Yes, because of her gifts, her visions. They had planned to bring her in, and train her as a seer. Her family decided to put her in a convent instead, and that is where Angelus seized her, then murdered all the nuns then brought her home to slaughter her family before he did unspeakable things to her before she was turned," he explained, sounding very much like her Giles as he talked.

        "The driving her mad part Angel told me about, but he left out the gory details. I do know from Spike that when Angel got his soul Darla kicked him out of the group. But to Spike and Dru he just vanished for almost a hundred years, and Spike got to play baby-sitter for her. That´s all he was to her, her boy toy, because she always wanted her Daddy, not him. He was heartbroken when she broke up with him when Angelus came back. When Angel went to Hell, Spike took her to Brazil, and she dumped him for Chaos demon, and he came back to town to have Willow do a love spell for him," Buffy told him and he listened fascinated, hoping he could add this to his notes.

        "Did it work?" he asked intrigued with the idea of using a love spell, especially a vampire that would be desperate enough to use one.

        Except this wasn´t just an abstract vampire, it was himself. Could he ever be so desperate to win someone´s love back that he too would resort to a cheat to win the object of his affection back? The thoughts made him uneasy. As a vampire could he love someone that deeply that he would do anything for them? Was he as a human capable of such love, and devotion? It had seemed so when he thought Lizzy possibily dead and forever gone from his life when she had been missing. He had grieved, and been heartbroken, spiraling down into dark depression, but before it had become a pit which he wouldn´t be able to climb out of Buffy had appeared in her place. With the knowing of the bright girl before him the dark had given over to day. She was replacing Lizzy in his heart, though he still felt guilty for doing so, he couldn´t help, but want Buffy. He was falling impossibly, hopelessly, and completely in love with her. The idea of losing her was now intolerable. So the answer to his own question was yes, he could love someone deeply enough that he would use any means to get them back and win their love.

        He realized she was replying his question, and made himself listen to her answer, focusing on her words, and not the feelings rushing through him. Did she even have a clue what her nearness did to him? Probably not. Such sweet torture she was, so alive, and beautiful beyond words that even his meager attempts at poetry would not do justice to her essence. William leaned back in his chair, his arm resting on the table, his hand posed thoughtfully under his chin. His eyes were fastened on her mouth, wanting, wishing he could again touch it with his own. The memory of their kiss upon the balcony still seared through his mind. He knew now that he would not be satisfied with less than having her to himself, Somehow, the mere human man he was going to win her heart, and hand—if he could ever get her over her obsession with his future self..

        Not noticing his distracted expression Buffy went to explain, "Spike gave up on the idea, and went back to force her to go back to him. That didn´t work either, so he came back looking for this ring of Amara which made him invincible, and he could walk in the sun. We fought, he lost, I got the ring, he got singed, and he got himself out of town. Then he went after Angel in LA because I sent the ring to him. Spike didn´t get the ring, and vanished for awhile. But when he did show back up the Initative grabbed him, and put the chip in his head. When he escaped he came running to me, and the gang. We felt sorry for him took him in because he knew about the Initative, and we didn´t. But his break up with Dru hit him hard, and it still gets to him because he really loved her, spent a hundred years with her, but she didn´t love hum," Buffy explained, still feeling odd to be talking about Spike with William. He tried to hide it, but when Spike´s name came up he would flinch and look away. It was almost like he was jealous of Spike, and she hoped he wasn´t falling for her.

        "And you´re convinced he loved her, and you, even without a soul? So far my researches haven´t turned up any similar cases. Vampires are shown to have close familiar ties within a grouping, and will stay together for long lengths of time for common interests, but true love, and affection does not seem to be possible for them." William told her, trying to be reasonable, and analytical about the situation..

        Buffy shrugged, having heard this same argument from Giles, and Wesley, even Angel too. "Maybe that´s what the books say, but having known Spike for years now it´s kind of hard not to believe he does really love, and feel just like anyone human would. I think the Council is wrong about a lot of stuff, even Giles thinks so too. Most of the journals are written by guys that just watch vamps. How many have actually had an up close, and personal relationship with them? Actually talked to them, got to know them for years—probably none. Master vampires are different from the run of the mill ones. They´re smart, intelligent, curious, with huge egos, and know about things probably not even the Council knows about. So far I have only met two vampires that weren´t into the ‘I´m going to take over the world´, Spike, and Dracula, but I figure there are others out there that just live, and keep to themselves. Everyone else seems determined to try, and come up with big, stupid plans to destroy the world. I would also bet that I´m not the only slayer to have pet vampires. I can´t think that Spike is the only one to change sides in all this time that there´s been slayers and vampires," she said looking at him for his opinions on what she had just told him.

        William was decidedly uncomfortable now because he did know she wasn´t the only one, but his oath as a Watcher prevented him from telling her the truth. One of the rules was ‘never tell a slayer the truth about themselves, or the beasts they hunt least the slayer shall go to the beast´s side against her own.´ ‘If they remember what they experienced, and learned in the Blood Ceremony then that slayer must be forfeit, and another called for then they shall be beyond control.´ The Blood Ceremony was to awaken their latent powers, and since it was such a horrifying experience for most of the girls that did survive it, the memories of what they learned on their journey were suppressed due to the traumas they had endured on all levels. The few that did remember had turned on their Watchers, and had gone feral, refusing to be controlled. William wondered if Buffy remembered her ceremony, and if she did would she too have to be destroyed? He really didn´t want to think about such a thing, her job was dangerous enough without fearing the Council too.

        Knowing she was waiting for an answer he did the only thing he could, he lied, and felt terrible for doing do to her. "So far I have not found any references to similar situations of yours, and Spike´s. So far it seems to be unique in Watcher history," he told her, hoping she couldn´t tell he was misleading her.

        Buffy sighed, believing him. "Well, it was worth a shot. Then the only thing I can figure out is that somehow he was able to suppress his demon even before the chip, or else Dru screwed up when she sired him—something happened to make him different. Angel when he became Angelus again hated me, tried to kill me, and was actually more vicious than he had been pre-soul, Spike told me," Buffy informed him looking down at her plate.

        "I fear that it will take more research to solve this mystery," he said hoping to end this uncomfortable for him topic. Looking at her he felt it was time to let her know his other news, and gauge her reactions. "If I may, I´d like to change our gloomy subject?" he ventured, and saw her look up expectantly at him. He cleared his throat nervously, "I did talk to Mr. MacAlastair about the possibility of us going out for a social evening."

        "You did? What did he say?" Buffy asked eagerly, her eyes lighting up, and facing him.

        "He was very amiable to the idea. The Countess has arranged for tickets for Mozart´s ‘The Magic Flute," which is being performed by the Royal Theater. There are four tickets, so I am free to join you. It will be on Friday night with dinner beforehand," he elaborated, pleased at her response as he told her.

        "Ohh, The Magic Flute! I loved that part when I saw ‘Amadeus´. That was so cool," she beamed, happy to at least have an idea of what she was going to be seeing. Thursday was when her new clothes were supposed to arrive, two days from now. The Countess must have planned this all, Buffy smiled. And William wanted to go with her. It wasn´t a date where they would be alone for the evening, but it was close enough.

        She had thrown him another future reference again, and now he was trying decipher what she had said, his forehead wrinkled in thought. "Amadeus?" he questioned, knowing that the name was part of the middle name of the composer, and by ‘seeing it´ she had to mean that it must refer to a movie, or something visual. "Is that a ‘movie´" he asked, hopefully.

        "Yeah, I rented it for movie night at my house. It was all about the life of Mozart. It was great! He and his wife were so close, and really loved one another. Then there was this rival musician, I can´t remember his name, that was always trying to sabotage Mozart, and was mad because Mozart was always more popular than he was. I loved the music, and the costumes," Buffy told him excitedly, her eyes dancing in remembrance.

        William smiled to see her so happy, and to see he had guessed right. "I hope that you will enjoy seeing it performed live then. It has gotten great reviews," he added, shifting a bit in his chair, using a corner of his suit coat to cover up his reactions to her nearness which was driving him to distraction.

        Buffy hadn´t noticed, and was going unaware of his problem. "It sounds like fun, and dinner too. Except this time I am bringing stakes with me. I hated not having weapons on me, but since we were going out so early in the day I didn´t think we´d be out so long, or run into vampires either. Since Angelus´ M.O. seems to be hanging out in fancy places, I´m not going to take chances, especially if you are along," she told him, getting serious again, and looking worried.

        William was offended that she thought he needed protection, he was doing quite well in his self defense classes, but rather than get into an argument with her, he wisely chose not to say anything. "Let us hope that nothing will mar our evening," he said.

        "I´ll go for that. So what are you doing this evening?´ she asked, studying him.

        He sighed, knowing what he´d like to do, versus what was allowable as options for them. "I fear my evening will be putting my research in order. I had to copy everything I needed from the books as none of them are allowed out of the Archive. I was very much wishing for one of those devices you talked about, a scanner, I believe you called it?"

        "I´m missing having one too, along with computers. At least I´m getting better at taking notes. I´m glad most of my classes are more doing ones than thinking, mostly," Buffy grinned. "So it sounds like hanging out for awhile isn´t an option if you have work to do," she sighed, not really ready to go tackle her own homework, and reading. As usual they were the last ones left besides staff in the room.

        "I think they want us to leave," he said looking around. "I wish there was some place where we could hang out as you say. I do enjoy your company, Buffy. I learn so much talking to you," he told her sincerely gathering up their trays.

        She smiled at his comment. He was the first guy who said he learned things from her. That threw her a bit as she didn´t think she was that interesting intellectually. She wasn´t quite ready to call it quits for the night so she suggested, "I wonder how much trouble we´d get into if we went next door to the other dining room, and sat out on the balcony? That´s been the only place I´ve seen to get away from people just to talk. Everything else seems to someone´s office, or classroom, or something. The last times we tried sitting on the steps in the hallway we got looked at funny by Mrs. Bennett, and one of the butler guys," Buffy reminded him following him as he gave their trays to Samuel who worked in the kitchen.

        The thoughts from her suggestions were thrilling to him. The two of them alone, shared kisses in the moonlight….Unfortunately, his sense of morality, and proper behavior won out, so with a heavy heart he told her, "that was rather embarrassing, I do admit. But I don´t wish to do anything improper either, seeing that we´re booth unmarried, and wouldn´t have an escort," he told her, trying to be a gentleman despite the wanting not to be as they left the dinning room, and stood in the hallway.

        Buffy grimaced at his words, but conceded he was right. "I´m getting that. Hanging out is not easy with all these rules you guys have. It´s a wonder anyone ever gets to together with anyone," she shaking her head at how correct, and proper everyone had to act. "How did you and Lizzy manage to do anything? Did you do anything together?" she asked, surprising him as she rarely asked about the girl whose body she had.

        William was taken by surprise by her questions, and had to think back about what he, and Liz had done together, and the thoughts made him feel guilty all over because he wanted to do such things with Buffy now, and wasn´t thinking about Lizzy at all anymore. With some hesitation he answered, "lots of things, picnics, ice skating, trips to museums, studied together because I was tutoring her, so she could pass her exams. Though a lot of times we had her sisters along for escorts, or her cousins. It was all very proper. It wasn´t until we were engaged that I kissed her. It was the first for both of us," he explained, embarrassed by his own shyness with women.

        "Ohh," Buffy said, and understood his blush. She had forgotten that he was not as worldly as she was. "Things aren´t so formal in the future. Guys, and girls mingle more. We go to school together, go to dances, the mall, movies, go to places like the Bronze which is a nightclub for kids, so there´s lots of ways to meet people. I met Angel at ‘work´, and Riley was teacher´s assistant in one of my college classes, then I found out he was in the Initative, and he was a way into it. He pursued me, and I finally gave in after he found out my secret, and I found his out. But we´d go to the Bronze, dinner places, patrol together, hang out at Giles´ place, the shop, my house, the dorm, his place, Xander´s basement, and once we went to the beach. It was all no big deal," Buffy explained, trying to tell if he was okay with what she was saying, or not. The more she got to know the handsome man the less she could read him, the less Spike like he really was.

        "Sounds like you spent a lot of time with Riley. Did you love him?" William asked, needing to know, fighting the feelings of jealousy rising in him.

        Buffy looked down at her feet uncomfortably under his penetrating stare as she leaned against the wall. "We were together for over a year. I think I did love him once, but it just sort of faded away. He was comfortable, convenient, reliable, and predictable, and that was okay, but not enough I guess. He loved me, and wanted more from me than I could give him. Then he was always jealous of Angel, and Spike. But I was over Angel pretty much, and there was nothing going on with Spike except mutual dislike, or so I thought. Riley was a nice, normal guy, but he couldn´t handle me being the slayer. He wanted a nice normal girl he could protect, marry, and have kids with. Except the slayer is what I am, and I´ve finally accepted it. That´s the one thing that bothers me about getting too close to you, William, is that you´re a nice guy too. You haven´t seen me being a slayer yet. You don´t know what I can do. I may look normal, but I´m not. I don´t know even if I am stuck here, how long I´ll survive. I´m afraid to try for normal with anyone. It´s not fair to them," she told him, needing to get that off her chest, and to let him know she was not looking for a relationship, to kill any ideas that he may be having about her. She really didn´t want another Riley.

        "I see," he said, fighting back his disappointment, but admiring her candor, and courage to tell him. "I hope you´re not saying we can´t be friends?" he asked in a tight voice, worried that she was rejecting him completely. He shifted nervously on his feet standing before her in the deserted hallway unsure what to do, or say next. Though it appeared to him that her confession made her as miserable as he now was.

        Buffy shook her head, meeting his pain filled eyes, and realized he looked like a kicked puppydog, just like when she had told Spike that he was beneath her. She was screwing up again. This time with someone that was way more vulnerable, and easily hurt. "No. I was afraid I was saying this all wrong. I want us to be friends. And I think we are friends, I hope? I just didn´t want you to think I was wanting more, when I can´t be more to anyone. I just wanted to be sure you understood it when I suggested hanging out together alone didn´t mean more than just being friends—I wasn´t suggesting anything romantic, or improper. I still see it being okay for a guy, and girl to just be buddies without anything else," Buffy said chewing on her bottom lip nervously waiting to se how he was going to take it.

        "I think I understand. Like you were my sister, or a cousin?" he asked, hiding his sorrow, and his true feelings as best he could under her scrutiny.

        "I guess. I haven´t made you mad, have I? I mean, I don´t want to hurt your feelings, but I just didn´t want you to think there was more going on, like us still being engaged when I can´t marry you, or anyone else. I just can´t be more than friends," Buffy told him, trying to read what he was thinking behind those glasses, and she couldn´t.

        Her words were hurting, but still there was hope if he didn´t push her, and let his impatience get the best of him. "Does this have something to do with Foxworth?" William asked, suspecting that there was more going on.

        "A little. I told him the same thing about being friends only, and also that I didn´t want to hang out with him outside of classes, or whatever. I like Julian to a point, but he gets on my nerves. I put up with him because I have to," Buffy explained, making William feel very relieved that she didn´t like the other man. "So you´re not mad about anything?" she asked looking up at him.

        No, he wasn´t mad, but he wasn´t as blindly hopeful as he had been. He did at least know where he stood with her which was better than just assuming she felt the same about him as he did about her. "No, I appreciate your honestly, Buffy. As you say I am ‘cool´ with this," he smiled in what he hoped was reassurance. "Perhaps we should call it a night. I won´t be able to see you until tomorrow evening, though. I have to go in early tomorrow to make up for missing my session with Philip," he told her.

        "I get him in the afternoons along with Haygen for my riding lessons. Today I got to kill pumpkins on poles, which was why I was late because they exploded all over my clothes. I still have a report on the monarchy I have to do for Mr. Bollin, so I guess we better say goodnight," she said as they walked down the hall, and went up the stairs together.

        "I guess so too," he said looking over at her as they paused at the door to the second floor. "Good night, Buffy. Sweet dreams," he wished her, his hand on the door handle, but wishing it was around her waist instead.

        She smiled enchanted with his words, "you too, William," she replied, resisting the urge to brush back the long curled bangs that always threatened to fall into his stormy blue eyes. "See you later," she said quickly before she could give into that impulse, and hurried up the stairs to her own floor.

        With a heavy sigh he let himself in, and headed for his lonely rooms.

End 47
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