The Vampire as Metaphor...Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of William Soames Walthrop...

PG-13

Summary: A lost work of one William Soames Walthrop (...aka Spike) as it was delivered at one of Cicely Addams' house parties, shortly before Will's demise. See the reference to it in "Drusilla"... >

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Josh Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Contributions to the recovery of the lost works of England's third worst poet are always welcomed...

***

London, March 1880, a rainy evening...We find ourselves at the social center of London, the downstairs rooms of the well-appointed Addams family townhouse...

A rather mixed group in attendance...Young gentlemen of the finest families, in their finest, several with their elegant ladies...Mingling with various young, and some few older, artists, writers, thinkers...Some well-known, many not...Along with a few prominent politicians and businessmen, some with their ladies, some not...Even, suggestive of the Bohemian nature of the gathering, a few unattached ladies, not all of the high social standing one might expect at the home of the famous and prominent politician/entrepreneur, Sir Richard Addams...

And at the center of the swirling mix, just having resumed her perch on her favorite settee after again making the rounds to check on the less comfortable of her many guests, surrounded by a newly regrouped cloud of anxious, even in several cases, rather desperate young gentlemen...The current Queen of London society, Miss Cicely Anne Addams...

But while several talkative, some even genuinely charming, eminently eligible young men chatter at her side...Her eyes are fixed on one moving object...A rather shy, brown-haired moving object...In a borrowed suit...Her own cousin's borrowed suit...And when that figure halts, staring about, a bit lost in the crowd...Stared at with cool eyes by several of the elite...

"William!..." she calls out, beaming to him...Much to the general discomfiture of the cloud around her...And specifically to two in that cloud of men and one standing off to the side...

The two in the group of worshipful bachelors holding diametrically opposed views of that William, William Soames Walthrop in full name, whom she'd just called to...Though both views resulting in the same conclusion...

One, an old friend of Cicely's, the good-hearted, loyal, and rising young barrister, Jonathan Levinson...Viewing Walthrop as an admirable fellow, stout of heart and spirit, who'd fought his way through great obstacles to claim a place based on his merit and courage...A story, considering Levinson's own encounters with various ridiculous obstacles placed in his own way by Society throughout his life to date, he rather understandably sympathized with...

The other, the well-known sportsman and champion of holding the line of society...John "Good man Jack" Henderson...Whose views on the young upstart-gutter-trash-pulled-out-of-the-sewer-for-God-knows-what-insane-soft-headed-reason-by-a-well- meaning-but-foolish-Cicely-and-her-weak- kneed -cousin-Henry-Foxcroft, William when not unprintable were generally negative...Having culminated the previous week in his bequeathing of a title on the (rival?...God, no...) little upstart...That of...

"Bloody Awful Poet..."

Yet both share the same final conclusion, however differing their views on William...

Cicely was fond of that fellow...And dangerously close to being to lost to them...Forever...

As for the third, standing apart from the crowd...Sir Richard, Cicely's paternally proud but rather distant and quite domineering father, would most likely have not found her choice of any in the group satisfactory...But to see that the warnings passed to him by his obsequious and ever-present step-footmen, Smike and Squears, were quite justified regarding this nobody from nowhere...And knowing he could not, for the moment, in the middle of his own crowded house, take his usual course of decisive action with the little...Discomfiture was hardly the word...

But none of that feeling, discomfiture or worse...Which she was all too well aware of...Fond as she was of Mr. Levinson and respectful as she was of dear Papa...Matters to her...As she eagerly waves the slight young man over...Rising to greet him...

"William..." she takes his nervous hands in hers... "I am so glad you were able to come..."

"Yes...Thank you, Cicely...Miss Addams..." he pauses...Looking round...

Henry here?...

"Henry is delayed...But he'll be by..." she smiles at him...Several suitors attempting to pass through or round him, ignoring his existence...Stopped by a brief, but devastating glare from the object of their desire...

Even "Good Man Jack" himself is confounded by the hard stare she gives him quickly as he moves up to eject the little poet from the favored spot...Suddenly finding the conversation going on just next to him as he moves by to be by far the most fascinating thing he's heard in ages...

"I have a confession to make, Mr. Walthrop..." she continues...Ignoring the dozen or so suitors hovering around her...Excepting Jonathan, to whom she flashes a hasty smile...Mr. Levinson is here, she interrupts herself to note to Walthrop, who nods at him...A bit uncertain as to Jonathan's status with her, but absolutely certain that he, Walthrop, is nothing more than a minor curiosity and pet project to her...

"Confession...Cic...Miss Addams?..." he eyes her...The shyness fading as he stares deep into her...With a sudden, kindly smile...

"You could never have anything to confess, I'm sure..." he told her with a certainty that made her feel somehow, immediately, heartily sick and tired of the nonsense in her life...Of trying to be the vain silly fool so many of those around her seemed to need and want her to be...

No nonsense with this earnest young man...He had no time for it...Oh, he could laugh...And even play when he wished to...She'd seen it...

And...She'd never met anyone with a more truly romantic soul...But...No nonsense...No polite evasions or putting off of unpleasant feelings...

Odd that this shy little man made her feel as if she'd been judged...And perhaps, found wanting...

So much so that she often found herself furious with him...Arguing with him over issues of politics, philosophy, social justice, and moral right, picking away at his views while always hoping he'd say something, anything to exclude her from those of her social class who insisted on fitting his view of them so perfectly...Arguing with his spirit when he was away, telling him, in her mind, everything about herself, in desperate hopes of improving her standing...

"Well..." she sighs...Several suitors at her side quickly rummaging through their minds for appropriately brilliant words of comfort and denial...

"I'm afraid I do..." she eyes him...

"I've gone and done a terrible thing...Without your permission..."

He blinks at her...

"Henry assisted me..." she continues, nervously... "Though the blame is mine..."

She leads him over to a small table...On which sat a portfolio...Hmmn...Walthrop looks at it...As the cloud of suitors following tries desperately to find positions about her...

The stuff I gave Henry the other day...he realizes...

She hands the portfolio to him...Oh...

"You've read my work...?" he eyes her...

Ummn...Yes...But...Worse...she looks away...

Then pulls out a small printed volume...Handing it to him...

"I had this one printed up...The ones I most enjoyed...I hope you don't mind..." she hastily adds...

"They're good, Will..." she beams at him...He staring...

A collection of a few of his short stories...With two of his better poems...

"Miss Addams..." He holds the book in hand...Looking a bit...

She opens it gently for him...Thumbing through...

The suitors eye each other...

Does not look good...

Christ...Henderson sighs to himself...Defeat looming for "Good man Jack..."...By all right and any common sense the legitimate victor in the match...

She stops at a page...One that fascinated her...And perhaps, frightened her as well...

A kind of foreboding in that he should choose such a theme...And title...

Coincidence?...Perhaps...But considering her secret career...And her budding hopes for him...and her...

A bit too...she pauses on it, meaning to move on...Choose something less...

Henderson however sees a chance to pull something out of the wreckage...Inflict some kind of minor humiliation...

Clearly dear Cicely was letting her ridiculous sympathy for the lower orders affect her judgment and taste...All that was needed was to let the fool expose himself...Yet again...For the buffoon and ass he was...

He comes over and hastily pulls the book away...Cicely looking up in a rage that nearly paralyzed him for a second...But she calms...This is neither the place nor the time to demonstrate her abilities...

Still...No need to reach for something wooden...Her tongue was quite sharp enough for this jackass...

But to her pleasure, William had already taken the field...

"Sir...I would like that back...Now, please..." he glares at Henderson...Moving up to him...Cicely following...

Now, now...William...Henderson, recovering from Cicely's killer glare, can't quite manage his usual patronizing sneer but manages to convey a degree of contempt...

"Lets see...Ah..." he smiles...

Hmmn..."The Vampire...As Metaphor..."...

"Mr. Henderson, please return that..." Cicely fixes him with a slightly less murderous glare...

"Sir...I would prefer no trouble...But...If you would care to go outside..." William eyes him...

Henderson looks back...Then at the furious Cicely...And gives a shit-eating grin...

"No harm intended my friend...Only wanted to see what you had here...A rather fascinating title, eh..." he hands the book to Cicely...Who grabbed it...

"Come, read it for us...I'm sure it's even superior to your work of the previous evening..." Henderson smiles...

Cicely gives him a narrow stare...

"Go ahead, Will...Read it, please..." she turns to Walthrop who now is a bit nervous...

Ummn...

"Smike!..." she calls... "Bring my bookstand..." she points over to a corner of the large room...Smike, on duty...More or less...in a corner, slouches over...

A space round her and Walthrop is cleared...He looks for the door with a view to escape but Cicely is firm and committed by his side...

The suitors and other guests cluster round a bit...Henderson in among them, somewhat hopeful...As are most of the other suitors...Levinson, in their midst, is however a bit concerned for the poor fellow...

Looks like a lamb headed for slaughter...he thinks, but gives Will an encouraging smile...

Cicely squeezes his hand...Go on, William...And guides him gently to the stand...

He clears his throat...Ahem...

"The Vampire As Metaphor..."

Part I...

London...A lecture hall, spring 1880...

The scholar eyed his audience...Young gentlemen and ladies, most attentive, a number looking somewhat bored, clearly dragged in by their partners to this, the first in a series of public lectures...

Well...At least the choice of topic had fired some interest...he smiled out over his podium at them...

Bit more intriguing than the standard literary lecture...

"Gentlemen...And Ladies..." he gave a slight nod to the crowd...

"The Vampire As Metaphor...Images of the vampire and occult in popular and serious literature..."



"Consider...My friends...The mythical Vampire...Foul half-human creature of the night, with the instinctual nature of a predatory animal...Granted a hideous kind of Immortality, yet forced forever from the company of mankind and the light of the blessed sun...Often in folklore, cursed to its horrible condition by some fault or weakness in its former human soul..."

Yet such a creature...So ready at hand as a object to be despised and at best, perhaps, pitied...Is all too frequently an object of fascination...

"Consider, if you will...The ongoing popularity of the tale of "Varney...The Vampyre..." a penny dreadful of the 1840's centering on one Sir Francis Varney, undead vampire who returns to his ancient family estate to drink the blood of a beautiful female descendant, seeking to make her his own...Performed to this day as a very successful stage play..."

Hmmn...A large, tall seated man, attempting with some success to keep from easy recognition, snapped to out of his near-comatose state next to his keenly attentive, sweetly attractive wife...The words "very successful stage play"...Immediately registering with London's most popular playwright...

"Willie?..." his wife eyed him, nudging... "Be still..."

Hmmn...Vampires...Ancient family estates...Beautiful female descendants...Must note that for my next meeting with Sullivan...He was looking for something new, after all...

[In the Addams parlor, seated next to Cicely as William continued, Henry gave a quick grin at the author...Hmmn...Have to get Will to give me a copy and see if old Gilbert would take a gander...He'd be sure to appreciate that little accolade...]

A titter through the crowd...Though the man went rather happily unrecognized by most...

The scholar went on through the ancient and medieval history of the folklore and myth...The vampire in history and its relationship to the ancient pagan gods...The relating of the vampire to Satan and personification of evil in the Christian era...And its more modern role in our Scientific, Rational Age...

Especially...Regards women...

An attractive, blonde young woman, of bold aspect, rises with a somewhat disturbingly eager question...

"So that you would hold, sir, that the image of the vampire represents that which...In a woman..."

The crowd now held fast by the hint of a forbidden topic...Listens in full attention...The hall practically silent...

"The procreative drive, yes..."

Sir!...A gentleman, in late thirties by his appearance, rises to his feet in shocked protest...

"This is hardly a matter for public discussion...!"

A seated lady faints...Not so much from the natural feeling of shock and horror as might be expected as from the simple excitement of being at a discussion where that forbidden word... "procreative"... is mentioned...

"Hardly, you say sir..." the lecturer nods...And yet...Clearly one which attracts us even as it repels...

"Yes...The vampire has the unique ability to stand in for those secret drives, particularly repressed in the polite young woman of our time, which cannot be expressed in the open light of day..."

And public discussion...he smiles...

"And so it has offered a unique platform, as yet not fully utilized by our best artists, for allowing the darkest drives of Humanity to be realized and, perhaps, dealt with...In a far more open and useful manner than our policy of polite and rigid repression..."



Titters, gasps...

"But..." Notes the scholar... "There are cases in which the metaphor and the reality may become intertwined..."

"Reality, sir...?" A young man rose...

"Surely you can't be saying that there is some basis in reality to the fabulous tales of the vampire...?"

Ah...The scholar smiled gently...

"Whether the vampire truly may exist...I must leave to your decision and to the work of Science...However, there are strange cases...Cases in which as Hamlet once said to Horatio... "There are more things in Heaven and Earth...Than are dreamt of...In your philosophy..."

And in studying those cases, we may also be able to shed light upon the metaphoric use of the vampire image as well...

"Let us consider one strange incident I am rather well acquainted with..."

***

1869...New York City, United States of America...A nation just recovering from the horrors of bloody civil war...

The New York docks...A young, anxious looking short blonde woman, dressed in quiet brown with just a trace of somewhat more bold green in ribbons and shawl in the fashion of a respectable lower middle class young lady scans the area, clearly seeking one or more of the passengers just disembarking from any of several newly arrived vessels, carefully...Occasionally consulting a scrap of paper, slowly disintegrating in her moist clutch...

A mixed group pours past her...Stately-looking gentlemen and their rather nervous ladies from the first-class staterooms of the great trans-Atlantic ships, clutching at any valuables or personal items, clearly having been prewarned to beware pickpurses and the like, desperate to clear the foul-smelling and worse-looking docks and reach the safety of their carriages...Similarly those from the second class cabins...If anything looking somewhat more fearful...

Swarthy immigrants from the steerage sections, some bold and cocky, shoving all and sundry aside, arrogantly staring at the new sights and strangers, others humble, downcast, even terrified as they made their careful way...Frequently hooted at by onlookers, including hooligan boys...And a few girls...Hanging about the docks, watching...Some with business clearly on their minds...Of both honest and dishonest nature...

A young, bespectacled, light-brown haired, somewhat short young man emerges from the bowels of one large ship, not of the high caliber of the great passenger vessels, but one reserved for those travelers of somewhat more modest, yet respectable means...

Looking through a sheaf of papers as he walked, large, rather battered trunk in hand, to the ramp leading down to the dock where he would at last set foot upon this new land of promise and opportunity...

A more anxious, eager, or perhaps simply impatient fellow shoves rudely past him, knocking him aside against the ship's rail...His sheaf of papers falling to the dock below as the young woman passed...

"Hey there!...Easy!..." the young man called out...Clutching desperately at his luggage and his remaining papers...

"Hey!..." the young lady called up at the ship, spying the young man as he leaned out over the rail...

Hmmn...She stared up at the young man...He looks the part...

She thumbed hastily through her letters and notes...

"Excuse me! Miss!..." he called down...Pointed at the papers fallen around her...



"Could you grab those please?!...They're quite important!...Please!...I'll be down in just a bit!..."

She looked down at her feet...Oh...And back up...

"Sure!..."

Hmmn...She pulled up several...Nothing official...No seals or anything...

Just some letters...Hmmn...Addressed from London, England...And some...What's it...Poetry...?

Hmmn...

But then the one she was hoping to make contact with here would hardly be carrying official documents identifying him as a scholar of the occult dedicated to the destruction of demonic creatures of Evil...

[Blonde?...Cicely thought, looking a tad downcast...Perhaps even, Levinson noted as he caught sight of her slightly stricken face as she stared at William...

Jealous?...]

****

Part II...

The young man...Englishman?...The blonde young woman pondered, eyeing his dropped letters and papers as she scooped them up about her...Had managed to press his way down the ship's ramp to the dock where she now knelt...

"Miss?..." he hurried over... "Many thanks..." he bent to take his papers...

Definite Brit...she thought...Even given my limited experience...

"Elizabeth...Anne...Springs..." she nodded...Standing and handing him what she had in hand...

"A pleasure...And again..." he began...And paused in pulling his material together, staring at her...

Hmmn...She stared back...Maybe...

"Elizabeth...Springs?..." he eyed her...

Hmmn-hmm...She nodded...Looking him over...

Short, bespectacled, thin in the kinda runty way...Polite enough...Books...And poetry...on him...

Bout what I'd expect...Uh-oh...A vague presentiment washed over her and she whirled round with simply incredible speed...Before he could register that she'd turned from him to...

"Miss Springs...This is the oddest luck...I have..." he started thumbing through his letters...

"Down!!..." she yelped...Pulling him violently to the ground as a huge crate flew just where his head would have been and smashed into the stretch of dock beyond them...Hey!...he cried...

"You ok, sir?..." she looked down at him...Now beneath her...

"My God!..." he gasped, eyeing the broken crate...Now being vigorously looted of its contents by some of the urchins...And a few of the more disreputable adults hanging round the dock...

"Where the devil did that come from?!..."



She shrugged...Again looking him over...

"Excuse me, sir!..." he called to a heavy-set brutally official-looking fellow now strolling over, brandishing a short, stout club at the looters...

"Ght yer asses outta here!..." the man hollered... "Sir..." he turned to the young man, changing his manner with surprising agility... "What can I do for ya...?" He eyed the couple, the young woman still perched on top of her new acquaintance...

"That crate nearly killed us..." the brown-haired man replied...Er, pardon, Miss?...he looked up politely...Oh, yeah...Sorry...she got off him...

"Are you a policeman?..." he looked at the large man...

"Dick..." the man shook his head...

"I beg your pardon?..."

"Detective...For the Docks of the City of New York..." the detective replied proudly...A slight twang in his voice...

"Alex Harris..." he offered a large paw...Which the young man with slight trepidation took...

Justified trepidation as the genial detective crushed his hand in a hearty shake...

"What seems to be the trouble, sir...miss...?"

"I think Mr..." the blonde woman paused...

"Potter...Peter Potter..." the young man replied...Smiling a bit at her...

"Mr. Patter'ed like to know why the crate there..." she pointed... "Nearly took his head off..."

"Potter...Miss..." he politely corrected... "Yeah, Patter...I got it..."she twanged back, glaring slightly...

Detective Harris gave a thoughtful look at the crate, then Mr. Potter...Then the ship from which the young man had just disembarked...The only one nearby...He pondered a moment...

"Don't know...I'd kinda like to know that myself...That one wasn't unlading' freight..."

I said git the hell away!!!...he suddenly turned and threw a stone at a couple of the returned looters as they tried to snatch a bit more from the crate...

"If I didn't know better..." he scratched his head, eyeing the crate and its remaining spilled contents... "I'd say it was off the Marie Louise...Which it can't be, the Marie being on the docks down there..." he pointed off in the distance... "And I'd say...It was picked up and tossed this way...Like it warn't nothin'..."

"Not very likely..." the young woman smiled...No, he shook his head in agreement...

But it don't look right...he sighed deeply...Clearly, Potter noted to himself, a man who objected to things not looking right in his corner of the universe...

But Detective Harris was not a man to be weighed down by the illogic inherent in the universe...He switched manner yet again, now all business...

"Names and addresses, folks...Please..." he whipped out a small book...Fer the record...he explained...Yer may be needed as witnesses if action's taken on the damages...

"I don't expect to be in the city very long..." Potter hastily noted...



"Me neither..." Miss Springs eyed Potter...Leaving soon, eh...For?...she wondered ...

Could be...she thought...

Fer...The record...Harris sternly replied...Taking them both in his steely gaze...

"Peter Potter...Well, formerly...London, now..." Potter hesitated... "A bit uncertain as to final destination..."

Harris stared...Tapping pencil...

"Probably San Francisco...Somewhere in California, in any case...It's just a bit up in the air right now..."

Good enow...Harris waved a hand...And turned to the lady...

"Elizabeth Springs...Los Angeles..." Harris blinked...Lost Angels?.... "California..." she smiled...

Okee-dokey...Harris clapped his book closed and put it away in a cavernous right pocket...Suddenly whistling with both forefingers in his mouth...Several men and boys emerged from the crowd...

"Secure the goods, boys..." he waved at the broken crate... "Dismissal for anything found on yer or yer family's persons..."

He offered a hasty nod to the couple...Potter staring at him...

"So..." Miss Springs began...It taking a moment to register that Potter was not finding her the sole object of his attention... "You're bound for Cal..."

"Just a mo..." Potter called to Detective Harris...Who gave him a full faced stare...Well?...

"That's all...?...Aren't you going to try and find who let that crate fall?..."

A slight frown on Miss Springs' part...Hey, there limey-boy...A young and not unattractive lady here givin' you the time of day...

"Couldn't've fallen from that boat..." Harris shrugged, noting Potter's ship again... "And no other way for it to get over here..."

"It might not be probable that it fell from a boat..." Potter nodded... "But one might argue there may be no other explanation....And if the impossible has been excluded, however unlikely it may be...Only the improbable remains..."

Sounds like something my fellow should say...Elizabeth...Beth to friends and family...Bess to intimate living acquaintances...Miss to strangers...and holy hell to the Undead...Thought...

And he wouldn't risk being exposed here...



***



Well...?

The tall figure in dark cloak was silent...Stiffly removing said cloak to reveal a rather well-sealed suit of armor underneath...Covering every conceivable area of skin...Dark glass even in the narrow visor...

Well...? the impatient smaller figure...A rather Napoleonic little fellow, complete with strut...Eyed his agent...Returned from a rather vital pre-emptive mission...

"Urrghh..." the tall figure fumbled at its sealed helmet...An awful nuisance and hot as the old stomping grounds of Hell...But allowing the wearer within an unusual freedom of movement by day...

The helmet came loose with a rush...Revealing a rather hideously twisted, grey-faced creature's bald head...With huge, black doll's-eyes, now blinking as they adjusted to the light of its master's lair...

"Love dead...Hate living..." the foul Undead creature groaned...

"Yes, yes...As we all do, Gregor..." its master nodded, tapping fingertips as he stood by the creature...

"But did you do what is likely to bring us one step closer to eliminating those hateful Living?..."

Is the Slayer's new Watcher finally dead?...Once and for all?...And did our people get his information...? "Napoleon" stared into his minion's hideous face...

"Better yet...Is the Slayer herself dead?..."

"Me see Slayer..." Gregor nodded... "Man with Slayer...Me throw big box...Boom..." he paused, rather eloquently...His master hanging on the rather efficient narrative...

One never wastes words in conversation with a fully demonic vampire...As opposed to his wordy human-vampiral hybrid offspring...

"Love Dead...Hate Living..." Gregor tried to sound enthusiastic...

Hmmn...When Gregor tries to avoid an unpleasant subject...his master thought...

"You failed, Gregor?...Did you at least get the Watcher's documents?..."

One look at poor embarrassed Gregor's face told all...

Lovely...Just lovely...Three agents dispatched to kill that damned Watcher...With what should have been plenty of time available during an Atlantic sea crossing...Three failures...

Though, of course...Dear Olive has not reported in yet...Still if the Slayer has made contact in New York, she must have failed ...

My demon lord...Heinrich Nast, Grand Master of Vampires...Well, would-be Grand Master...Pending success in this endeavor...Sighed to himself...Brushing back the black hair on his head, his handsome face...Which but for a slight physical disfigurement elsewhere, related to his former, human, profession as the Pope's favorite singer, famed throughout mid-18th century Europe, would have won the hearts of many young women like Miss Springs... twisted by disappointment...

Still...He eyed Gregor's sheepish face...Was a rather complex assignment for the poor fellow...Which he'd attempted on very short notice, after word that the Slayer still seemed to be planning on making contact in New York had been passed on...

And a pure-bred demonic vampire was such a valuable asset...Irreplaceable, really...

"Well...There, there...A good try..." Nast shook his head...Gregor hanging his... "We'll deal with the Slayer and her Watcher later..."

But we really must get the location of that potential Hellmouth Gate...Hmmn...Perhaps we should try another approach...

Miss Springs being merely a human female in the final analysis after all...Well...

"We'll think of another way, Gregor...And you will have a fine role in the Slayer's destruction..." Nast beamed...

"You will give it your best effort, won't you Gregor?..."

"Love Dead..." Gregor insisted firmly... "Hate Living..."

That's the spirit...Nast nodded...

***

The Vampire as Metaphor...Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of William Soames Walthrop...



PG-13

Summary: A lost work of one William Soames Walthrop (...aka Spike) as it was delivered at one of Cicely (see my Cicelyverse notes at the included link) Addams' house parties, shortly before Will's demise. See the reference to it in "Drusilla" ) www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html )

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, In Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of William Walthrop...(direct link will be...www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/ csww3.html )

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Contributions to the recovery of the lost works of England's third worst poet are always welcomed...



***

Part III...

Two hours later...The New York docks...

A somewhat nettled Detective Harris having agreed after young Mr. Potter's careful phrased lack of satisfaction with his investigative efforts to make inquiries as whether anyone might have seen the person responsible for the unfortunate crate incident, he, Potter, and charmingly concerned Miss Springs...Wonder if it's customary among American women to stay unrelentingly by a man they've saved from death, Potter wondered, eyeing her...Had made an exhaustive circuit of the dock area...

No one apparently had seen 'nuting' as Detective Harris put it...Though to Potter's surprise that seemed to disturb the dockyard detective more...

"That crate couldn't've come out of nowheres...There weren't no ship abouts...And nobody coulda tossed it far...Somebody's musta seen sumtin'...And somebody's lying..."

Not good in his business...Harris noted to his companions...Which relied on the trustworthy support and complicity of the local dockers both honest and less so...Without that...Chaos...And rapid escalation of the main problem of the docks from petty theft and delay to large-scale robbery and paralysis...

Yes, well...Potter was now tiring a bit of the law officer's investigative enthusiasm...He'd merely wanted a slight show of effort and concern...Not to spend the fast-vanishing afternoon wandering around endlessly... "Thank you for your efforts, Mr. Harris..."

"I think I'd best be off to my hotel...Miss Springs..." he politely touched his hat to the girl who frowned at him as he took up his bags... "Hey...Wait..." she followed him...

"You said you had something for me!?..." she was beside him in a second...Hmmn...Fast girl, he noted...

Perhaps possibly in more ways than one...The thought occurred to him...But he halted...Yes, of course...

"I have a letter and a box for you...From a gentleman I met on the boat crossing over...A Mr. Merritt...?"

"Yeah?..." she eyed him... "Somebody you met, huh?...On board?..."



"You don't know him?..." Potter paused... "Perhaps I should..."

"No, no...I know Merritt...You can give it to me..." she smiled sweetly... He frowned, but put his bags down and opened one...Here...he handed her an envelope and a small, rectangular box...She took them and putting a leg on one of his bags to prop the box level in the crook of her elbow and arm, opened the envelope, smoothing the letter within on the box...

"Thanks...So...Where is Mr. Merritt?...Did he leave the boat ahead of you?..." she looked at him...

"I haven't seen him since he gave these to me the third day out..." he paused, considering whether or not to politely ask her to please move her...Rather interesting leg...From his bag or wait her out...

Waiting out after all being the more gentlemanly route...Not to mention perhaps the more pleasurable one...

She frowned at the letter and gave young Potter a hard glance...Damn, clearly she'd been mistaken...Well, no harm done...The Brit seeming utterly clueless...Merritt must've sensed trouble and figured he could always retrieve the stuff from him if things went well... But if he didn't make it she'd see this Potter as the likeliest candidate for contact...And if the little fellow became a target himself in the meantime...Well...No great loss...

"Anything wrong...?"

"Nah..." she shook her head...A quick smile...Hmmn...Wonder what the heck his game really is?...she looked the young Englishman over carefully and throughly...Eh, just another clown hoping to make a pile in the California gold fields or something like that...

[Hmmn...Cicely eyed Will carefully...As he blinked, the catching of her intense stare throwing him off a rather good stride for an instant...Land of Opportunity?...California gold fields?...Poor college graduate with a brother and sister to support and no money...He wasn't by any chance, considering?...Ok, then, maybe time to push things along relationshipwise after this enchanting evening...

Wonder if Henry was planning to use that cottage of his up in the Lake District this weekend?...

Hmmn...Henderson thought, giving as concealed a glare as possible at the precious little 'poet'...So perhaps our diminutive pest is planning a move westwards?...What a pity...]

Still he was headed her way...Hmmn...In fact...Perhaps Merritt's scheme was worth continuing...At least until she'd learned what had happened shipboard...If Nast and co thought she'd linked up with her new Watcher without incident...They might show their hand faster...

But first things first...She moved the box up for opening...He eyeing it as well, somewhat interested after carrying the thing for days...She gave him a...Yes?...stare and he backed off slightly...Sorry...

"Not at all..." she shook her head... "Just that some of the contents might be...Personal...You do understand?..." Certainly, he nodded...And tried to look elsewhere...Ummn... "Perhaps if you'd let me have my bag and be on my way...?" he suggested...

"Sure, sure...Just a minute..." she waved him off hastily and opened the box...Mmmn...

He slipped back in a bit, seeing the large, well-bound book inside...With a rather sinister raised illustration on the cover...Well?...he looked at her...Quite a piece of workmanship...he noted...

Yeah...she recovered the box... "Pity I can't read it..." Hmmn...A thought struck her... "Say..." "Potter, Peter Potter..." Potter reminded her... Yeah... "You don't by any chance read Latin and Greek, Mr. Patter?..."

Does a fish know how to swim and a bird to fly?...he did not say...Though rather wished he had a second after nodding yes...I believe so...

"Great...You can read this thing to me tonight...At our hotel..."

Our hotel...? he stared at her...

"We're both starting for California tomorrow, right?..." she noted... "So odds are we're staying at the same hotel...Or..." she beamed at him... "We could be...Especially as I've not booked a room as yet for tonight..."

Oh...?

[Interesting...Jonathan thought, watching William...So, assuming Walthrop knows something about his subject...What they say...At least in those circles not frequented by ladies...About American girls is really...?]

"And it wouldn't be safe for me to wander these streets alone...My...Uncle...Mr. Merrick..." "Merritt..." "Merritt, right...Not having showed as yet..."

"Well...But then...Shouldn't you call Mr. Harris back and...?" "Yeah..." she cut him off... "I'll leave a note with him to have Uncle reach me at the...?" she gave him a...Well?...stare...

"Well...I'm supposed to be staying at the Germania...A friend recommended it..."

"Here..." she handed him the box... "Just let me get my things, I left them in the baggage office when I came out here...I'll leave a note there, too..." she hurried off, leaving him a bit speechless...

But not necessarily displeased...

So...This is how it's done in the New World...

***

Encountering Detective Harris once again in the baggage office, Miss Springs politely thanked him for his efforts and recovered her things...Glancing out the window several times to confirm that young Mr. Potter was keeping what she chose to consider a promise...To wait for her...

After she left Detective Harris stood near the large window and watched her meet with Potter outside and head off...He turned to an assistant... "I wanta know where they go...What they're doing...When one of 'em heads for the latrine...I know it...Got it?..." he eyed him...

Aye...the assistant nodded and left...

***

A few minutes later...

The New York sewer tunnel #1, triumph of modern (1860's modern) engineering...Though perhaps now a bit...Dank...

Temporary lair of Heinrich Nast, would-be Napoleon of the Underworld...Who'd called his available minions in for a quick consultation...

[Nast?...Cicely blinked a moment...Where have I heard that name?...]

"Gentlemen..." he nodded politely to New York's finest...Of the Undead variety...

And including several representatives of fairly prominent local families...None of course comparable with the lineage of Nast or his handful of European colleagues who'd made the dangerous journey to the Land of Opportunity...Gregor standing somewhat downcast off to one side...

"I fear I have bad news...Our attempts to derail the Slayer's meeting with her new Watcher have failed..." he sighed... "Though not for want of effort on our dear Gregor's part..." he smiled at the shamefaced Gregor...



[Slayer?...Watcher?...Cicely stirred in her chair a bit nervously...Still the "Vampire Slayer" thing has been used by other authors...I'm reasonably sure...No reason to assume...she told herself...]

"This should not be considered a true disaster however..." he noted... "As she now must have the location of the Hellmouth portal in her possession...And we can track a Slayer much more easily than a mere puny human Watcher..."

[Come to think of now...Didn't my Watcher mention a 'hellmouth' once?...Ummn...Maybe I mentioned it to William as a interesting legend...Or to Henry...Yes...That has to be it...]

"So..." A newly-arrived fellow, fully covered in heavy overcoat, scarf, and hat to guard against the remaining afternoon sunlight... "Your Olive must have failed with the Watcher at sea..."

"Yes..." Nast sighed sadly... "A great pity...I fear we may have lost poor Olive outright..." Or will when she shows her miserable face round here...he did not say...

"Now that would be tragic..." the fellow in overcoat nodded...Switching to a feminine pitch... "Especially after she managed to kill that Watcher for you, Heinrich..." the coat and scarf dropping away to reveal a rather beautiful brown-haired, grey-eyed, tall...One might assume but would be slight off the mark...Woman...

"Olive?..." Nast stared... "So you say you succeeded in destroying the Watcher...?"

Floating somewheres in the north Atlantic, my love...she beamed... "A very charming man, actually...Quite brave...Refused to tell me anything and jumped before I could transform him, more's the pity..."

"But...?" Nast looked at the even-more shamefaced Gregor... "Gregor saw the Slayer make contact with the Watcher?...At the docks...He even tried to kill him..."

"Not the Watcher sent from England, my love..." Olive smiled... "Whoever this new fellow is, he's not the one I tracked..."

"I suppose they might have sent two...A rather sensible precaution on the Watchers' part..." the Leader pondered...

"Wait..." Olive looked over at Gregor... "Gregor, the man you tried to kill...Was he short, brown-haired?...A bit...Well, not the most prosperous-looking of men?"

Gregor pondered in turn...As much as his limited pondering capacity would allow for... "brown hair?..."

"There's your explanation, Heinrich..." Olive beamed... "Our Watcher handed his materials over to this fellow...Probably never knew what he had..."

Indeed....Nast placed fingers together...Plausible, yes... "But the fact remains that the Slayer now knows where the Great Hellmouth Portal is and we do not..."

So?...Olive shrugged... "We follow her to California, we kill and you transform her, she hands you, her sire, the Hellmouth in gratitude for her new lease on Unlife...We...er...You obtain access to unlimited power via said Hellmouth...I reign as your new Queen Consort after killing the said vampiral Slayer..."

Loathing competition as I do...she noted...

***

The Vampire as Metaphor...Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of William Soames Walthrop...

PG-13

Summary: A lost work of one William Soames Walthrop (...aka Spike) as it was delivered at one of Cicely (see my Cicelyverse notes at the included link) Addams' house parties, shortly before Will's demise. See the reference to it in "Drusilla" ( www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html )

Archived (soon) at the Buffy Rebecca verse, In Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of William Walthrop...(direct link will be...www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/ csww3.html )

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Contributions to the recovery of the lost works of England's third worst poet are always welcomed...



Part IV...



The lobby of the Germania Hotel, New York City...Late afternoon...

Nice place...It'll do...Miss Springs nodded to Potter, looking round...Yes?...He looked at her, a slight frown...

Impetuous little blonde thing...And Mother had warned him about those impetuous American girls...

"Thanks for helpin' me out...Peter..." she suddenly stopped peering about and beamed at him... "I'd've been so at odds with Uncle disappeared and all...And I have to head out to Los Angeles tomorrow..."

Ummn...Certainly...he nodded...

Well...Perhaps impetuousness wasn't all that bad a thing at that...If it brought one smiles like that...he thought, smiling back at her...

"Hope I haven't been too...Forward...I get that way sometimes..." she grinned, a little sheepishly now...

"I suppose I must seem like everything your Ma warned you about in American girls..." she continued...

Not at all...he waved a hand...Lugging her bags and his over to the lobby desk...

Yes?...The desk attendant, a young, respectable-looking lady eyed them...A large ledger set in front of her...

"Potter, Peter Potter...Of Brusset, England...A friend of mine here in New York placed a reservation some time ago for today..."

Yes...The clerk consulted her ledger...Then coolly eyed Miss Springs...

"For one...Mr...Peter Patter..." "Potter..." Peter corrected, sighing slightly...

Right, the clerk nodded...Like I said...Peter Patter...

"For one..." she eyed Miss Springs again...Who gave a demure smile...

"Yes...Well...My friend Miss Springs here...Is, like me, heading out to California tomorrow...And also requires a room...For herself..."

Alone...he returned the clerk's now icy stare...

"Nope..." she stared at him... "Nothing available..."

Oh...Elizabeth sighed... "You sure about that?...Be happy to share with somebody..."

Potter gave an involuntary start...Ummn...

The clerk's icy stare deepened...She gave a quick glance to a husky fellow cruising the lobby...Who paused to eye the couple...

"There must be some girl looking to split a room...Or a bed..." Miss Springs smilingly explained...

Right...Peter gave a relieved nod...Some other respectable young lady seeking to share expenses...

"Nope..." the clerk shook her head...But gave what was clearly a 'calling-off' sign to what was obviously the lobby detective....Who resumed his cruising... "Sorry, Miss...Perhaps you oughta try the Biltmore uptown..."

Hmmn...Miss Springs eyed Potter, now rather torn between relief and regret...

Whoever'd tossed that crate at him clearly'd thought he was her Watcher...The expert on the Hellmouth...And if he could be persuaded to stick near her...They'd continue to gun for him rather than her...Or at least, waste part of their effort on him...Whereas...Alone, the sole focus of whoever's efforts...

"Uptown?...So far?..." she sighed... "I really was hoping to be near the station...I've got some business before I leave tomorrow...And I have to look into what happened to my uncle..." she noted to Potter...With an innocently pleading stare...Another beaming smile...

Ummn...

"Perhaps...Would it be possible...For Miss Springs here to take my room...And perhaps I could bed with someone else...Or down here, in the lobby?...Just for the night?..."

Hmmn...Elizabeth considered...A respectable young Englishman...What would almost certainly tie him to a young lady?...Quickly...

"Could you make inquiries?..." Peter continued...The clerk considering...Always nice to squeeze in an extra customer or two...And so long as the gent was safely with someone or under watch here in the lobby...

"I'll ask..." she gave her first stilted smile... "Just have a seat, folks..." she waved them to a sofa by the front...

"Thanks again...It's really fine of you...Peter...er Mr. Potter..." Elizabeth nodded to Potter as they sat... Not at all...Glad to...

So...He eyed her... "Do you have family in California, Miss Springs?...Are you rejoining..."

Nah...She shook her head... "My folks are gone...Just a married sister in Kansas...A couple of cousins...Aunts...And uncles..." she hastily added... "I'm taking a job out there..."

Ah...Potter nodded... "In what field, if I may ask..."

"The entertainment industry..."

Oh...?

"I sing..." she explained... "A place out there was looking for singers...So, I figured unk and me'd give it a try out in the West...Maybe he'll try selling things to the miners and such while I do my bit..."

Really...He glanced at her...Then at the box from her 'uncle' she'd kept close since he'd given it to her...

Yeah...she stared at him...Kind of an uppity Brit look on his face, to her mind...And a kinda snooty tone in that voice, in her opinion...

"So what's your game out there?..." she eyed him... "You lookin' for gold or what...?"

Hmmn?...Oh no...he shook his head...

Unless you count the gold one finds in teeth...he smiled...She blinked...

"I'm a dentist, by profession, Miss..."

Really?...Her turn to give a somewhat...Look...

A...Toothpuller?...And headin' out to California?...

"I thought you was a poet or somethin'...Maybe a schoolmaster...Going out to make a pile in the gold fields first...Long way to go to pull teeth..."

"I was offered a place in San Francisco by an associate of mine...Since I'm new in the profession...And even young dentists are needed out there...It seemed like a good place to make a start..." he explained... "And you were right, I do try my hand at poetry and writing...But since I don't expect to make my fortune there and my family needs me to make a good start...I've got a young sister and brother to care for since my mother passed away..."

Oh...

"Yes...Would you care to see...?" he indicated his battered trunk... Sure...she nodded...

He set the trunk down flat and opened it carefully...A case inside, she noted...Which he patted fondly...My instruments...he explained...And reached for a small folded frame deeper inside...

Three pictures...A handsome woman, himself behind her, a bit younger than now, and two young children, pretty boy and lovely dark-haired girl in one...Separate pictures of the boy and girl in the other sections...

"They look very nice, Peter...That your ma...?" she pointed to the handsome woman...He nodded...

Dead of consumption just a year...he sighed...But she did live to see me graduate...

"Wished I'd had a better picture of my ma..." Elizabeth shook her head... "But we only had the one tintype done that time...At least I got that anyway..." she looked away a moment...

"I'm sorry you lost your uncle...Miss Springs..." Potter nodded sympathetically... "I will try to help you find him tomorrow..."

"I think he's dead Peter...Probably one of the fellas he owed money to caught up with him on your boat..." she sighed...

What...he blinked... "You mean you think...?"

Yeah...Happens when you play the cards a little too much...she noted...

"Lucky he met up with you and passed his stuff on for me...I'd've hated to lose it..."

Yes...Ummn...he stared at her... "Shouldn't we...The police..."

"If he's dead...He's floatin' out on the Atlantic...I don't think the police are gonna find him now...And I hafta get to Los Angeles and take that job...My sis and her husband ain't doing all that well with their farm...They need whatever I can send em..."

"I'm..." "Don't be sorry, Peter..." she grinned... "I love my singin'...Even if I'm not what you'd call concert hall material...And I like travel...A lil' adventure's good for the soul, right?...You're the same way, right?...Comin' out there yourself and all..."

"I suppose so...Hope to make good, anyway..."

"I'm sure you will..." she smiled...

"But..." he returned to a subject that had been scratching at him...And eyed the box... "What about that book of your uncle's...What is that?...It's wonderfully worked...Must be quite old..."

And you did want me to read it and your uncle's papers over for you...he noted...

Yeah...she nodded...Well, maybe later...If we both can stay here...

"And speakin' of that...Let me go and see how that lady with the bug up her..." Ummn...she paused as he gave a noncommital look... "That lady..." she corrected... "Is doing..."

She rose... "Backside..." he smiled at her... "I'd definitely say it was up her backside..." She chuckled and went off...

Hmmn...He eyed the box she'd set down...

She had asked him to look at the book...

"Ten bucks to tell him it's no go on the extra bed...And your policy's no sleepin' in the lobby..." Elizabeth hissed to the clerk...Who'd been about to tell her that all was set for Mr. Potter to spend the night...

Oh...?

"Look, honey...This is a respectable place...And we don't allow..." "Twenty bucks...He's my feller but a little shy, you know...I'll slip him up the back stairs and no one'll be the wiser..." she gave a hard stare...Then a wry grin... "Come on...We'll be quiet...And he'll leave before anyone catches on to him...Including your dick back there..." she glanced back to the detective on patrol...

"You got the twenty?..." Right here...she pulled out twenty dollars from her purse...A heavy drain, but worth it if it put her enemies off...And the Council was payin' after all...

"A lotta money to throw away for one night with your boy...He worth it?..." the clerk eyed her...

"Oh yeah...My Petey's a poet...You know...The romantic type..." she gave a soulful look... "And a dentist to boot...Good with...Instruments..." she grinned...

Hmmn...The clerk looked over to where Potter was carefully examining Miss Springs' unusual book...Poet with a profession, eh...And not bad-looking...

"Covers all the bases..." Elizabeth smiled... "And...Taken, honey...So close your jaw and forget about it...Just tell him there's nothing you can do about the bed when he comes over...But that, as the kind-hearted type that ya are...You could see your way to..." Right...the clerk nodded...

"Peter?..." she called to him...Oh, yes...he looked up, rising...And hastily putting the book back in its box...

Hmmn...What the devil would a singer and her miner/shopkeeper 'uncle' want with a book of ancient legends about demons and vampires?...he pondered...

"We've a little problem..." she noted as he came over... "But Miss..." "Ana..." the clerk nodded... "Miss Ana...Is willing to help us out...If you think you could deal..."

[Whoa...Jonathan, Cicely, and a number of others in the room stared...William looking a tad red for an instant...But a dutiful author must stand by his work...Fortunately Cicely's father had long since retired to the peace of his study...

Well...This might be a rather interesting lakeside weekend at that, if I can pull it off...Cicely thought...]

***



The Vampire as Metaphor...Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of William Soames Walthrop...



PG-13



Summary: A lost work of one William Soames Walthrop (...aka Spike) as it was delivered at one of Cicely (see my Cicelyverse notes at the included link) Addams' house parties, shortly before Will's demise. See the reference to it in "Drusilla" ( www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html )



Archived (soon) at the Buffy Rebecca verse, In Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of William Walthrop...(direct link will be...www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/ csww3.html )

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Contributions to the recovery of the lost works of England's third worst poet are always welcomed...

Part V...

Young Mr. Potter was a trifle taken aback by the forthright Miss Springs' proposal...Sleep in the same room with her?...Miss Ana, the hotel clerk eyeing them both, while keeping a lookout for any of the staff who might raise objections...

"You must've had to sleep with other folks before, Peter..." Elizabeth frowned at him...Geesh, pal...Any of those guys out there in the lobby would be thankin' the Lord on bended knee for a chance like this... "There's no big deal 'bout it...You take the bed, I take the sofa...It being your room and all...You guys do this all the time, right?..." she turned to Ana...Who blinked a moment, the honor of her beloved hostelry impugned...

On the other hand, twenty bucks...She nodded slightly... "Long as it's kept decent...And you two are betrothed, right...?" she turned to delicately blow into a large embroidered handkerchief...

Absolutely...Elizabeth beamed...Grabbing at Potter's hand...A swift kick to his knee as her startled new life companion began a protest...

"Then it should be no problem at all...Ummn..." Ana eyed the lobby detective, now moving their way... "Just make sure he comes up the back way by the fire escape...Our dick knows you're not married..." she whispered...

Ok...Miss Springs nodded... But...Potter tried again, blinking...

"Shut up..." she hissed harshly... "Peter..." she added, changing to a sweetly earnest tone... "You have to have a place for tonight, right?...Let me do this for you..." she patted his arm... "It'll be just fine...Don't worry..."

Oh, I hear those wedding bells a-chimin'...she glanced over at the lobby dick...Who was again giving them a once-over...

***

Nast's lair in NYC Sewer tunnel #1...Evening...

Following their host's rather enthusiastic tour of the great tunnel he currently inhabited...And his guests having expressed praise and wonderment for this monument to engineering expertise...These humans...One noted, shaking his head...We must try to keep a few alive as pets...The distinguished visitors and host, along with his own minions, including Olive and the still somewhat embarrassed Gregor took seats to continue the planning mode of their operations...

"Gentlemen...And ladies..." Nast smiled at Olive and the handful of mates about the conference table...

"Our objective..." he waved a hand and light from a projection device, a more advanced form of magic lantern, shone on the wall beyond him...An image came into focus...A rather ornately carved large disk or plaque...

"The Great Seal of the California Hellmouth...Closed for at least ten thousand years..."

The source of limitless occult power...he continued...(well, for 1869 fairly limitless...)

"And the gateway to allow more of our dear Gregor's kind to rise up and join us..." Gregor giving a slightly stiff but appropriately dignified nod...

And...He gave a frown...Waving for the next slide...



"The obstacle standing in our way...One Miss Elizabeth Anne Springs, Vampire-Slayer..."

[Why couldn't he be using 'vampire-destroyer', 'demon-hunter'?...Cicely sighed to herself, looking nervously at the reading William...Slayer?...This is just too...

On the other hand, is nice to see him looking so relaxed now...Really hitting his stride...She gave a kindly beam to him...

Maybe I let the term slip in conversation and it stuck in his mind?...Yes...she reassured herself...That's got to be it...

Hmmn...she frowned...Blonde...American...

Damn...

Well, we'll see how things go this weekend...]

A picture of Miss Springs, somewhat younger by two or three years, and bearing a rather formidable aspect...Stake clenched in hand...

Several sighs rose about the room...Though one fellow spoke up...A young nobleman from Transylvania...Several casting him deferential looks of respect...

"Not to mention the other 'obstacle', my dear Nast...You do not even know the precise location of the Seal and Hellmouth..."

"My dear Count..." Nast eyed the young-looking but poised fellow, Vladimir Dracula, grandnephew and treacherous betrayer of his great rival, Vlad the Impaler, vampiral Prince of the Dracule...

"The Slayer holds the secret of the Hellmouth's location...Thus all obstacles are centered in her...Take her in the appropriate way...Or let her uncover the Mouth's location before we destroy her...And the minor problem of locating the Seal is settled..."

"Take her then..." one older fellow...the famed Hans of Strasbourg...Who, with his brother, now beside him...The equally famed Franz of Heidelberg...Glared at Nast...

"If you truly are destined to seize the power of the Hellmouth and rule over all..." he sneered... "A mere Slayer should present no difficulties..."

Olive turned in her chair, eyeing Hans, then to Nast with a questioning look...

"My friend..." Nast gave a charming smile... "I have explained that the Slayer is isolated now...We having disposed of her previous and new Watchers...And that she bears the secret of the Seal's location...I wish to proceed cautiously, lest she, in a moment of panic, destroy herself and her information before we can obtain it..."

"Or perhaps..." Hans eyed him coldly... "You find the Slayer to be a bit too difficult to deal..." he suddenly dusted...Franz staring in horror...Others about the conference table staring with variations in expression from mild horror to amusement...and pleasure...

How?...Franz looked about where his dearly departed brother had sat...No one, nothing...Olive now smiling at him from her seat...Straightening the hair under her rather stylish hat...

"In the same way as we will deal with Miss Springs when the time comes if I lose the pleasure of getting to know her personally..." Nast gave another beaming smile...Mirrored by Olive and a surprising number of others about the room...Vladimir and Franz now looking a tad uncomfortable...

"I have heard...From my own agents..." Vladimir quickly regaining his composure...Nast was capable, no doubt, but one must consider one's proper place in the hierarchy and act accordingly... "That Miss Springs has a new companion with her...British..."

"Not a Watcher..." Nast smiled... "Our dear Olive has assured us of that..."

"Indeed?..." Vladimir eyed the smiling Olive...Who nodded...

"Just a little fellow who met her Watcher en route from England..." she explained...

"Who eluded Gregor's efforts to kill him?..."



Gregor gave an audible sigh...Looking downcast...

Hmmn...Nast now frowned at young Dracula...No need to hurt the poor fellow...

"Effort..." he corrected coolly... "And it was Miss Springs who accomplished the eluding...No, this gentleman is no threat to us...Simply a means by which the Watcher, Mr. Merritt supplied the Slayer with his information..."

"Perhaps...And perhaps the Council has been more clever than you suspect...He is staying with her at her hotel tonight..."

Olive eyed Nast...Hmmn...?

Apart from the shocking lack of propriety...

"He could be a second Watcher...The more knowledgeable of the two sent...Masquerading as a nobody to produce just the effect he has achieved..."

Hmmn...Nast eyed Olive...Gregor sighed again...Brown-hair, no dead...Bad...he murmured...Catching the gist of the conversation and summarizing it in a rather efficient nutshell...

"Doubtful..." Nast shook his head... "But even if it were true...And we should have proof when and if they separate...Tomorrow..."

Tomorrow?...Several of the European guests shook their heads...

These wild Americans...

"....A Watcher is only human, and we can deal with humans rather easily..." he concluded...

"And if he is the real agent, sent to destroy or permanently seal the Hellmouth?...You set us chasing Miss Springs and he separates from her to go about his task unhindered..." Vladimir gave a hard stare...Befitting a Prince of the Blood...

Is he on our side or what?...Olive frowned...Considering another reach for her hat and the wooden bullet-firing dart gun concealed in it...

Several around the table gave nods, hear-hears, or growls of support to Dracula...

"The Count makes a valid point..." Nast conceded... "But you are all here because I wanted your advice and support..." An expansive smile... "And so, I will take his advice and call upon him to maintain a watch over this fellow, should he and the Slayer separate...But not to take him...Yet..." he eyed Vladimir sternly...

"A task which perhaps may turn out to be essential...And one, I trust...For the good of us all...He will accept..."

Damn...Rather would've preferred being on Miss Springs' surveillance team...Vladimir sighed inwardly as Nast and the others looked at him...Wonder if Nast and his bitch...He smiled gently at Olive who relaxed a bit, pausing from straightening her hair, and returned the smile...Guessed I'd hope to take Slayer and Mouth myself...

But then nearly everyone round this table is hoping to permanently cut Nast and co out of the action at the end...he noted to himself...

Still, it was my bright idea to have this moronic human placed under surveillance...I'm foxed...

And if he does turn out to be the key to the Seal...

"I shall be glad to do what I can...For Evil's common good..." Vladimir nodded dutifully...

***



The lobby of the Germania Hotel, NYC...Evening...

Mr. Potter having gone to drop bags in the room and secure a dinner table for them in the hotel dining room at Miss Springs' innocently eager suggestion...Starved she'd assured him...Miss Springs had taken the opportunity to send out a note via one of the messenger boys kept in the lobby for just such purposes...

Clerk Ana eyeing her as she did so...Noting her maneuvering of Mr. Potter...

Don't tell me she's got another feller waiting as well...

Peter returned after fifteen minutes to announce that dinner would be ready shortly and found his new acquaintance in rather deep conversation with a short, shifty-eyed little man in respectable if slightly shabby clothes...

My cousin, Willie Smackles...I got in touch sos he wouldn't get worried about me...she explained by way of introduction...Willie offering a clammy hand...

"Mr. Patter...(Potter, Peter Potter...Peter corrected patiently)...Who's been helpin' me out today..."

Hmmn...She has family here and still needs...

"Willie doesn't have any room for me at his lodgings...And they're too far from the station for my train tomorrow..." she noted hastily...Willie eyeing the young man...

Sure looked like the Watcher type...

[Watcher again?...Cicely fretted...Well, must've been talking too much...Must watch myself better in future...]

"Mr. Patter's (Potter sighed faintly, giving up) going with me to California tomorrow..." she eyed cousin Willie...Oh?...

"San Francisco...A bit to the north of where Miss Springs is headed..." Potter explained...

Thats what you think...she thought, smiling...

"Peter...er Mr. Patter...Willie needs to see the book unk gave you for me...Could ya get it for him?...If it's not too much..." Not at all...Potter smiled and headed for the stairs...

Well?...she eyed her contact, 'cousin' Willie...A half-demon in Council employ...Who'd given her the earlier info to go to the NYC docks to find her new Watcher...

"I can tell you if it's The Book...But that's all...I can't read it..."

She frowned...Then brightened... "Then lucky I hooked up with somebody who can..."

"But, Miss..." Willie fidgeted... "The fella's not a Watcher...And the Council won't like you getting him involved..."

They want me to do this one, they leave me to it...she waved a hand, frowning... "You just hang round like I tole ya till I need you tonight...Gotta have my 'cousin' close by to seal the deal..."

"But?...You really gonna..." he stared at her...

"They saw him...He fits the bill...Brit and all...He'll keep some of em off my back...And since he can read The Book, he's a perfect choice..."

Matrimonywise and all...she grinned...

"Less you're suggestin' we go out West together...Without a ring..." she eyed the little half-demon...

God, no...If the Council ever found that one out...Canned for sure...Still, he had to try again...

"But he ain't Council..."



"All the better..." she nodded in Peter's direction...Just tell London...

And if...When...He bites it...

No great loss...

***

The offices of the Port of the City of New York...Evening...

Detective Harris eyed his agent...Who'd kept close watch on the couple he'd been assigned to follow since the incident of that afternoon...An incident still an unresolved mystery...

In the official report, at least...

"They're at the Germania...Near the station..."

Right enough, the California train...Harris nodded...

"...Seem to be staying..." the agent paused, delicately...

"Together?..." the detective eyed him...Hmmn...

Sounds interestin'...

***

The Vampire as Metaphor...Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of William Soames Walthrop...



PG-13



Summary: A lost work of one William Soames Walthrop (...aka Spike) as it was delivered at one of Cicely (see my Cicelyverse notes at the included link) Addams' house parties, shortly before Will's demise. See the reference to it in "Drusilla" ( www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html )

Archived (soon) at the Buffy Rebecca verse, In Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of William Walthrop...(direct link will be...www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/ csww3.html )

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Contributions to the recovery of the lost works of England's third worst poet are always welcomed...

Part VI...



Lobby of the Germania Hotel, NYC...Evening...

Peter had brought the Book down to the waiting Miss Springs and her 'cousin' Smackles...Willie eyed it rather reverently...Carefully taking it from the young dentist/poet...

"Well?..." Elizabeth watched with Peter looking on as well behind her...She reaching back and pulling him to her side...No need to hide back there, Petey...A winning little smile...



"It's the Book..."

"Been in the family for generations..." she hastily noted to Mr. Potter... "So lucky uncle Merritt got it to you, a real sad day if it'd been lost..." Indeed...Peter politely noted...Elizabeth taking, grabbing rather, the opportunity to take and squeeze his hand gently...

Ummn...He stared down at the hand being squeezed... "Really, thanks..." she beamed with all the innocence she could muster...

Yes...Well...he turned to Willie, who was carefully looking through the pages... "If I may ask, Mr. Smackles?...Why is your family so interested in occult legends?..."

Occult?...Willie looked at Elizabeth...He does know his languages...Careful...His look saying...

"Just an old booka wives' tales, Peter...You know, like those Grim Fairy Tales and all..."

"This seems a little more explicit than the Grimm brothers...And offers rather detailed accounts of different creatures and how to..." he paused...She and Willie eyeing him coolly as he went on...And suddenly caught himself as they looked at him...

"Been readin' it a bit, have we?..." Willie frowned slightly...

"Just a bit...Sorry, didn't mean to intrude..."

"Not at all..." Elizabeth cut in...Another beaming smile... "It's just a book of stories...Willie's just anxious it not get damaged...Bein' our most precious family heirloom and all..."

Yeah...Smackles frowned again...

"I was very careful with it...Just looked at a couple of pages...But I do apologize..."

"It's ok...Right, coz?..." she looked at Willie who stiffly nodded...Sure...

"In fact, maybe you could translate some of it for us?...Or just me, maybe?...Later?...On the train?...I'd like to know what's in there...And it's a long trip..."

"I'd be happy to..."

"Well, we oughta head into dinner..." she cut off the possibility of further questions on the Book...Taking Peter's arm with another smile... "Willie, Peter here is a dentist and a writer..." Yeah?...Willie looked at him dryly...

And a walking dead man too, eh?...he did not say...

***

An alleyway near the Germania...Same time...

Olive frowned as the more-or-less and relative to herself, young Dracula came up to her...Immaculately groomed with beaming, gracious smile...Late for their appointed meeting to begin surveillance on the Slayer and her companion...And, naturally...Olive sourly noted...With a beautiful, wan-looking...Yep, thralled human...Lord, I hate seeing women in thrall, they look like such whipped puppies...the annoyed vampiress sighed...Men, on the other hand...Under my gentle influence...Young woman on his arm...

"You're late, Vladimir...And I see you've brought a dinner guest?..."

"My apologies...I got a bit lost in these streets..." he began with his trademark charming smile...Lost, I'll bet...Olive glared, saying nothing...Then relaxed, contentedly contemplating the dart gun still concealed in her hat and Nast's instructions to dispose of the fool when the right time came...

"As for my dear Marie here...She is my new assistant, whom I 'hired' at the shop where she was wasting her beauty and elegant manner away waiting on fools...And she will be very useful to us in our watch tonight..." he hastily noted...

The Slayer will find no non-human in her hotel trying to spy on her...Only dear Marie here, come to stay the night before leaving for California, whose rather lost appearance is explained by the recent sudden death of her father...

"Sir...I'm not...From..." Marie murmured gently, intending to help... "You are now, dear..." Vladimir eyed her... "Yes, Vladimir..." she nodded... "We can simply watch over the doorways and keep a safe distance on the train tomorrow..." he smiled at Olive...Who frowned and looked the girl over...A pretty thing, definitely...And no obvious-looking scarf or raised collar to advertise a bite scar...Hmmn, no sign of a bite at all...

"Not bad...If she can get a room and keep an eye out..." she nodded reluctantly...

"Marie, dearest..." he turned to her... "You are bowed down by grief over the sudden death of your beloved, deceased father who'd returned to this great city of New York to look after business interests...But you carry on and are returning to your home in..." he paused and looked at Olive, who shrugged...We're not sure where in California the Slayer's going...

"Well, in California...But it is the same town the young woman I told you of...Miss Springs... Is going to...If and when you meet her and engage her in conversation...Just find out where she's going first...Or speak to the young man with her...But be cautious, don't press them for information...And do not under any circumstances allow her to sense my hold on you, understand dear?..."

"Yes, Vladimir..."

Well, at least it isn't 'Master'...Pity, though, in a way...Heinrich would be so pissed at the usurpation of his title, he'd probably allow immediate termination...Olive sighed...

"And don't try to contact us out here...One of us will send another human agent to you in the hotel before dawn...Try to make contact...Say treat them to dinner?...And learn her destination tonight...But if that fails, follow her and her companion to the train station tomorrow and be on her train when she leaves...Get to know them on the train, shower them with favors as a lonely ...But discreet and innocent, he waged a finger...Wealthy, shy, inexperienced young woman seeking friendly traveling companions... "

Yes...Ummn...she paused...

"I think I'll need some money...You have everything from the store till..." she noted quietly...

"Alas, I used it to cover my recent gambling debts...Olive, if you would?..." he turned to her...She blinking at him...Then glaring...

"Surely Nast provides his agents with sufficient funding for his assignments...?" he smiled... "And I have spent a great deal in coming to join forces with him..."

A sufficient amount for Marie to travel as a well-to-do lady?...And generously treat the Slayer and her friend whenever the situation allows...?

Grumbling, she handed Marie several hundred dollars in the fairly new greenback currency...And about fifty in gold...

"That ought to allow you to show them a good time..." she frowned...

And I'll get it all back...Outta your hide...His...She smiled at Dracula as Marie headed off... "Not a bad scheme at all, Vladimir...Heinrich will be tickled at our having a spy in the Slayer's midst..."

And the Slayer's...she coldly noted within...

"Say...Where did you bite her?...I couldn't see any signs of it..."

"A gentleman never tells, my dear Olive..."

***

The Vampire as Metaphor...Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of William Soames Walthrop...



PG-13

Summary: A lost work of one William Soames Walthrop (...aka Spike) as it was delivered at one of Cicely (see my Cicelyverse notes at the included link) Addams' house parties, shortly before Will's demise. See the reference to it in "Drusilla" (www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html )

Archived (soon) at the Buffy Rebecca verse, In Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of William Walthrop...(direct link will be...www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/ csww3.html )

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Contributions to the recovery of the lost works of England's third worst poet are always welcomed...



Part VII...

The somewhat crowded, though pleasant enough dining room of the Germania Hotel, about 8:30 pm...

"So...Mr. Smackles..." Peter eyes his dinner companion across the small table...Elizabeth, contentedly sitting next to him on her own insistence, scanning the bill of fare...They gotta be kiddin', forty-five cents for a chicken dinner?...

"What is your profession, I presume here in New York, sir...?"

Willie eyeing the rather annoyingly inquisitive Brit...Thought these types maintained a crusty self-reserve...And kept outta of one's business...

"Me?...I'm a kinda facilitator...I get things done..." Smackles frowns slightly, eyeing Elizabeth...

"Cousin Willie's a middleman...He smooths things for businessmen and such to get what they need done quick..."

Oh...? Peter nodding wisely... "Then you are a political operator?..." "I got my connections downtown..." Willie nods back...

Boss Tweed and all that...Peter notes...

"I know Tweed and his boys...You don't get things done here if you don't..." a shrug...

"While combining a love of old artifacts with your more practical daily grind..." Peter smiles... "I saw the way you handled Miss Springs' book..."

"Mana wide interests, that's me..." Smackles eyes the younger man coolly...

"So we have something in common...Given the practical nature of my own profession..."

Yeah...Willie nods dryly...

"But cousin Willie got started on his luva books late in life..." Elizabeth cut in... "Hows 'bout you, Peter...You been a poet a long time?..."

"All my life, I'd say..." "You must gotta a big pilea work to show off...Regular Walt Whitman, eh...?" she beams...

"Nowhere near that..." he shakes his head...Then smiles...Whitman fan, eh?...a grin at her...

She gives a genuine smile... "Read 'Leaves of Grass' straight through..."

"As did I...A remarkable work...Wish I had hopes of ever coming close..."



Smackles frowns a bit...No time to be connectin' with the guy you're gonna feed to our enemies, girl...Fortunately, the moment fades almost immediately...

"Well, you gotta read some of yours to us...Or me, anyway...I'll take the beef steak...If it's real beef..." she turns to the server who'd just arrived...The girl frowning...

"This is the Germania, miss...It's real beef..."

This week...she did not say...

"At these prices, it better be..." Adding requests for bread, a bottle of beer, and coffee she turns from the waitress who moves on to Willie's order...

And sees that something...Someone...Has distracted her adjacent companion's attention...

A rather delicate, if lovely-looking and well-dressed brunette someone...Who, standing in the busy dining room, looking round, seems a bit lost...

An annoyingly lovely...And tall someone...Elizabeth frowns...Slightly nudging Peter... "Sorry, I need the sugar?..." Yes, here...He passes it without looking at her...

And without taking eyes from the new arrival...

Who...Unfortunately...Appears to be very much human...

[Ah...Brunette and overwhelming him...Cicely noted with satisfaction...]

"Pardon me..." the young woman moves to their table...

"Are you the people leaving for California tomorrow on the morning train?..." she asks gently...

"Yes...Well, the two of us are..." Peter smiles at her, rising...

"How'd you know we were bound for California...?" Elizabeth gives her a narrow look...Willie looking attentively at her as well...

"The young lady at the desk told me when I registered a few moments ago...I was hoping to find someone heading that way as I'm traveling there alone myself..."

Oh...? A cold tone...

"We are heading to California tomorrow, Miss...?" Peter tries a tad more warmth...Noting immediately the mourning outfit...

"Marie...Marie DeRussel..." Marie offers a hand which he gently takes a moment... "Peter Potter..."

"Elizabeth Springs..." The Slayer grabs their unsolicited guest's other hand...And vigorously pumps it a few times...

"...And my cousin, Willie Smackles..." Willie gives a curt nod...Nope, human fer sure...Elizabeth's quick look to him saying...

"I'm so sorry to intrude on you..." "Not at all...We've just begun ordering..." Peter waves... "Please sit with us..."

Well...A grateful, lovely smile... "If you don't mind...?"

Yeah...Elizabeth frowns... "Hava seat..."

"Thank you..."

"I see...You're in mourning?..." Peter hesitates...

"My father passed away in New York a few days ago...While here on business..."



I'm so sorry...

"Yeah...A real shame..." Elizabeth eyes their guest with a carefully appraising glance... "I gotta start wearin' mourning for my uncle Merrick (Merritt?...Peter corrects...Yeah...she frowns...) tomorrow myself...What your pa die of?..."

Consumption, I'd guess from lookin' at you...she did not say...

***

To Miss Springs' growing impatience, young Dr. Potter devoted himself to their shy, grieving guest during dinner...

Hey, I just lost my unk...Far as you know, Petey...she frowned silently at him as he made another of several mildly humorous remarks on the city and their adventures that day to Miss De Russel, bringing a gentle smile to her beautiful face...Laced with a bit of concern to hear that such a kind gentleman had nearly met a dreadful fate even on emerging from his vessel...

"Yeah..." Miss Springs took the opening... "I saved his life...Right, Peter?..." she looked at him...

And hows bout a little gratitude, boy?...

Indeed...he nodded... "And then we tried to find the culprit but whoever had dropped the crate...Or thrown it...Was long gone..."

"Thrown?..." Marie stared... "At you?...Surely not?..."

"I would think it an accident myself...As no one knows me here...But the dockside detective seemed to think the crate could only have been thrown, though from where...Impossible to determine..."

"Crazy place the docks...Ya get all kinds there...But it probably was just an accident..." Elizabeth noted...

"Well...It's wonderful that you were spared serious injury, Dr. Potter..." Miss De Russel beamed gently at him...

"Nothing at all..." Peter smiled...

Willie watching the scene carefully as Elizabeth gave a narrow glance at Peter...She now a bit nervous for the success of her plans for the night...Awaiting the almost inevitable offer that would spell ruin...

If only the bitch had been a vampiress...Such a simple...Wooden...Solution at hand...

"So we can all leave together tomorrow...That should be very pleasant..." Potter noted...

Lovely...Elizabeth thought...Except there's only one way you and me are leaving tomorrow, Brit boy...

With rings on our fingers...

"That's very kind of you, Dr. Potter..." Marie gave a gently grateful look...

And you, Miss Springs...she nodded...

Yeah...

Maybe she's using magics to cover her demonity...It is kinda convenient for her to show tonight... Or maybe she's a human agent...

Yeah, some treacherous traitor to our kind whom I could kill without a second thought...

"Actually..." Peter had decided to make a brilliant suggestion... "You could actually do us a great favor, Miss De Russel..."

Oh, no...Elizabeth eyed Willie...Who rolled eyes...



"If you could let Miss Springs stay with you in your room tonight...See the hotel was a bit overbooked when we came today and she not having a reservation..."

"No, no..." Miss Springs waved a hand...Rather frantically... "No need to put ya out, Miss..."

"Oh, I'd be very glad to..."

"That's excellent..." Potter beamed...

There somethin' wrong with you, fellah?...Elizabeth stared at him....I mean bein' a gent's all very well and all...But you gonna pass up a crack at a pretty damned neat gal who's been chasin' ya all day?...

Damn...she tried to repress a slight glower as Marie noted how pleasant it would be for them to spend the night together...Like her and her sisters back in the shop...er her father's old factory shop...Before he made his fortune...

"Yeah...Great..." Miss Springs noted curtly...Willie giving her a sympathetic look...

***

"What about her...?" Vladimir indicated a youngish woman in somewhat disreputable dress, staggering a bit down the street near the Germania where he and Olive maintained their mutual respective watches over the two foci of their interest...

"A street whore?...Vladimir..." Olive glared... "I can't send a trollop in to meet with our fine lady in a decent hotel...Not to mention I have no desire to spend a week or two getting over every disease she's carrying...Even if it would only be a week or two for our kind..."

Though if she's to your taste...she smiled warmly...

"And you don't mind a week to a month of sores and scratching yourself half to death..."

"It was merely a suggestion, my dear...Though frankly, I think you'd have little difficulty in making her as fine a lady as you require...A little cleaning and an air of grace, along with the right clothes...I assure you I could show you many a duchess who could pass for such as she on the right evening..."

I bet you could...she frowned...Aristocrats...Degenerates, all...And someday...When the revolution I once lived and was ready to kill, as a human, for, comes...If it comes before Nast starts his own takeover...

You'll be the first to the wall, I promise you...

Which would be an easier fate than what my Heinrich has in mind for you, if time permits...

"My dear Olive..." young Dracula interrupted her reverie... "I understand you were quite the revolutionary in your human day..."

"I fought for what I considered social justice, Count...Without restraint or remorse...I still do, though strictly for our own kind now..." she eyed him...

"Have you ever considered...?" he smiled... "A revolt within the family circle?..." His face turned serious...Surprising her in spite of herself...

"Nast is a fool, Olive...And he will lead us all to destruction...Apocalyptic destruction...After all...There will be another Slayer after Miss Springs is destroyed..."

"That will hardly matter if Heinrich gains the Mouth's power..." she gave him a hard stare... "And the Master is my sire..." she noted...

"But as I threw off my very granduncle and sire's hold over me..." young Dracula noted quietly... "So a dedicated revolutionary like yourself could her sire's...If the cause merited it..."

As it does...Being namely our people's and the world's survival...

She stared at his sincere face...

***

The Vampire as Metaphor...Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of William Soames Walthrop...



PG-13

Summary: A lost work of one William Soames Walthrop (...aka Spike) as it was delivered at one of Cicely (see my Cicelyverse notes at the included link) Addams' house parties, shortly before Will's demise. See the reference to it in "Drusilla" (www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html )

Archived (soon) at the Buffy Rebecca verse, In Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of William Walthrop...(direct link will be...www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/ csww3.html )

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Contributions to the recovery of the lost works of England's third worst poet are always welcomed...



Part VIII...



A deeply reluctant Elizabeth had accepted...With many a frown at the good doctor Potter over their dinner table...Miss DeRussel's offer of shared accommodations...

The only bright spot being that access to the wan young mourner's room might allow her to come up with something, anything that would allow for a Slayer's quick solution to the situation...

"Too bad 'bout your dad..." she noted as she sat watching her hostess wash up a bit in the room's basin...Looking for some place to set her hat and small bag...Having entrusted her trunk, with the Book, to Peter...

Bet she takes a bath every day, too...Frenchies, she rolled her eyes surreptiously...

"His heart trouble was more serious than he ever let me know..." Marie sighed as she gently patted her face with a towel, employing an elegant grace that made her guest squirm a bit...

I'd guess so, if it croaked him...Elizabeth thought...

"It is so kind of you and Dr. Potter to agree to let me travel with you..." Marie smiled wanly at her... "My...Ummn...father will...Would...Be so grateful..."

I suppose I still think of him as alive...she noted sadly, if hastily...

"Yeah?...Me too...I mean regards poor ole unk...I did mention my unk kicked it, didn't I?..."

"Yes, I remember...I am so sorry..."

"Yeah...Unk and I was close...He really watched over me, ya know?...Good ole Uncle...Ummn, Merritt...Yeah..."

"I understand...Well, it's good that we were both so fortunate as to meet a gentleman like Dr. Potter...The idea of traveling West without a male guardian terrified me..."

"Yeah?...Oh, me too...Had the willies till I met up with Petey..." Elizabeth leaned back in her seat, a sidelong glance as Marie resumed gently dabbing at her face with a wetted cloth...She do that all night?... "Ummn...Ya know Petey and I...We kinda have a sorta...Arrangement, ya know?..."

Marie paused in the middle of opening a large jar of cream...Rather elegant...French, Elizabeth guessed...Lettering on the side...



"Really?...I was under the impression you two had just met today?..."

"Eh, well..." Elizabeth stretched casually, a languid hand wave... "Only takes a moment to know when it's for real sometimes, ya know?..."

"Indeed?..." Marie smiled at her a moment... "Well, I must tender my congratulations to you both properly when we meet Dr. Potter in the morning...Will you marry as soon as you get to California?..."

"Sooner..." Elizabeth smiled back...

God willin'...

Marie blinked... "But...The train leaves tomorrow morning..."

"Plenty a time..." another casual wave... "We're gonna keep it a small thing for now, do the works right later..."

Say...She sat up a bit...A beaming grin... "You can do me a favor, Marie...er Miss Russell..."

"DeRussel...But Marie is fine...What can I do?..."

"I...We...Are gonna need a coupla witnesses...You can sorta be my maida honor and witness all in one, ok?..."

I mean, us not having time for the big thing and there being only my cousin Willie around what with poor unk dead and all...

"Did I mention he was gonna give me away?..."

"I am so sorry...Well, I certainly would be happy to assist you, Elizabeth...But are you sure there'll be time?...The train leaves at nine am..."

"There'll be time..." Elizabeth smiled... "Cousin Willie's seeing to the minister and bringing the license..."

Just got one minor detail to tend to...Soon as I can slip outta here...

"A pity we're both in..." Marie eyed Elizabeth's rather unmourning outfit..."Mourning...Though I suppose it does make it easier in terms of a wedding dress..."

"Yeah...I guess I outta see if I can get a hold of a black dress..." Elizabeth looked down at her traveling clothes... "Didn't know I'd be needin' one of course..."

Hmmn...I had to bring up the mournin' thing for poor ole Merrick...er Merritt...Now it's black for me for the next coupla weeks, soon as we get somewheres damn...

Thank God no time to shop tomorrow...Though if she can carry black off so well...she eyed Miss De Russel's elegantly stylish yet respectfully sober dress...

And the Council owes me the best I can get...

"Still..." Marie moved to her trunk and turned back to Elizabeth, smiling gently... "I can't help thinking your uncle wouldn't mind if you wore something a little more appropriate to the occasion...Though still more or less suitable for your condition..." she lifted out a rather stylish black number with white sash...

"It's really a ball gown but I should think that with a little effort...And it is black..." she beamed...

Whoa...Elizabeth stared...

Sold...Marie's natural sales instinct couldn't resist kicking in a bit as she eyed Elizabeth's smitten face...

"Come over and lets see what has to be done..." she beckoned...

***

The alley outside the Germania...



"Now sweetie..." Olive eyed the young girl of eleven or so she'd just put in thrall...A perfect choice being a general cleaner at the hotel on her way to her rather grueling night duties...

"You sure you know what to do when you get inside?..."

"Yes, miss...I gos and finds the pretty black-haired lady, miss...Like you made me see in me head, miss...And I tells her...You and him..." she pointed at Vladimir who smiled benignly... "Wants to know what's up...Then I comes back here to you...If nobody's followin'..."

A delightful girl, an intelligent girl...Dickens' fan Olive thought...

"Only if she's alone, dearie...If someone's there..."

"I waits near...Then goes to her..."

"Fine...And if the blonde lady, Miss Springs, catches you and wants you to tell her who sent you...?"

"I gives her what for with this...Then me..." the girl held up a rather sharp-looking, though wooden, knife...

"I wouldn't bother with trying to fight the Slayer, honey...Just get her to let you loose a second and then put it right in your sweet lil' heart..."

"Yes, miss..."

Vladimir standing by, a bit perturbed...Not at all by the suggestion of having an eleven-year-old immolate herself but by Olive's reaction to his suggestion that she pool forces with him against her lord and sire, the self-styled "Master" of vampires, Heinrich Nast...

She having displayed rather cool indifference in the few moments before their young recruit had fortuitously walked into their clutches...

"Now give us a kiss and be off...And for Hell's sake, sweetie...Don't let the Slayer or her friends get too close to you before you meet up with Miss DeRussel...She at least will spot your thrall ten feet off..."

Not my enthrallee...Vladimir thought contentedly...

"Yes, miss..." the girl demurely kissed Olive's cheek and headed off...

"Always did wonder what kind of a mother I'd make..." Olive beamed as they watched the girl enter the hotel via the back entrance in their alley...

"Yes...Charming..." Vladimir frowned...Tapping thumbs impatiently...

"Now as to your proposal, dear heart..." she smiled at him...

***

A gallant Dr. Potter had naturally, on Elizabeth's hesitant plea...My only relation left west of the Mississippi, me leaving for Lord knows how long...Invited Smackles to spend the night in his room in order to see his "cousin" properly off the next morning..."

Smackles himself a bit perturbed by her request...How's I supposed ta find a preacher, get the license, etc...While stuck here...

However, if the Slayer wants you to spend the night with her chosen one...And given Elizabeth's plans for the evening had been thrown a bit by Patter's...er Potter's dimwitted request to their a- bit-too-conveniently-arrived-on-scene-for-Willie's-comfort new friend Miss DeRussel, he could see the possible need for extra support in tonight's little action, whatever the girl had up her sleeves...

A clever one, as London had told him in their instructions, coming up with this one on short notice...And the mark...He eyed Potter, now engaged in checking his valuable instruments before settling down for the evening...Offering a friendly smile...Nice stuff ya got there...A perfect choice for clay pigeon...Er temporary spouse...Hell, textbook Watcher, if minus the brains...

Not that she'd be the first Slayer to hook with some chump for cover...



Though, before the end, he thought, with a genuine smile at Potter...Dearest, beloved Angela had really come to care for him...

***

The Vampire as Metaphor...Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of William Soames Walthrop...



PG-13



Summary: A lost work of one William Soames Walthrop (...aka Spike) as it was delivered at one of Cicely Addams' house parties, shortly before Will's demise. See the reference to it in "Drusilla"...

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Contributions to the recovery of the lost works of England's third worst poet are always welcomed...



***



Part IX...



Having requested a moment to wish her dear cousin a good night's rest, Elizabeth left Miss De Russel and found young Dr. Potter alone in his room as she had expected…

Though, eyeing what she could of his rather surprisingly lithe and sinewy form sans coat, waistcoat, and collar before he hastily and sheepishly grabbed a robe...

Perhaps a bit of the unexpected...

Geesh...This little chore might be more entertaining than she'd imagined...

"Hey, Petey…Sorry to interrupt the absolutions..." she glanced about from the doorway… "Willie step out?..."

"He had a little business, he said…He'll be back soon…"

You bet he does...She thought, contentedly...

"Great…" she stepped in… "Then ya won't mind me waitin'…"

Ummn, but…He blinked at her…Not quite used to the American way just yet…

"Anything wrong?..."

Uh… "Well, Miss Springs…We are unchap…"

"Ya didn't say how ya liked my dress…" she twirled a bit, the skirt of the black dress, with bridal lace and white satin bow attached, rising…

Ummn…

"Marie lent me…For the mournin'…Gotta do it in proper style for poor ole unk, right?..."

"Yes…Ah...Very…Nice…Is it the usual custom to wear white lace and trimming?..."



"Only for special occasions…Peter…" she smiled at him… "Anyways, it's a dinner dress, she's fixin' it up…"

"Ah…"

"Handy with the needle, that girl…I wouldna thunk it…" Elizabeth noted… "You ok?..."

"Fine…Yes…" he nervously nodded…Avoid a direct look...

Gettin' through at last, eh?…she thought, pleased…

Took 'im long enough…She eyed the nearest chair and moved for it…Beginnin' ta think there I was gonna need to get a few belts of whiskey in 'im...

Well, maybe the contrast with Frenchie girl clinched it...Nice ta see pale, consumptive brunettes don't spin his wheels...She gave him a warm smile...That's me boy...

And not too bad a boy at that...She allowed another quick appreciative glance...

Not that I'm gettin' soft or anything...He's vamp fodder...After all gotta be ready take a few losses to win Richmond as the General would say...

"Perhaps, Miss Springs…We being alone…" he'd begun…Turning to see her comfortably seated, removing shoes…

"The dogs is pooped…" she indicated her feet, wriggling toes… "What?...Ain't we been alone all day?...Petey…" she grinned at him…

"Yes, but…Miss Springs…"

"Yeah, Petey…?"

"Your corset…"

"What corset, Petey?..."

"That's my point, Miss Springs…"

"Oh, don't need it now…Why, what's the matter?..." she eyed him…Then glanced down…

"Did ya think I stuffed or somethin'?..."

"Uh, no…"

"Right ya are…All Bethie…100 per..." she gave a grin… "Geesh, Peter…Not like I'm nekkid or anything..." Wider grin at his blush... "You must have seen ya sis and other girls without a corset before…"

"Well, yes…But not a stranger…And not in a room, alone…"

"Are we…Strangers, Petey?..." she asked, demure pout…

"I'm only thinking of…"

"Your rep's safe with me…" she grinned again… "Are the Brit girls as prissy as all that?..." wider grin…

"Some…Not all…" he returned the grin, relaxing a little…

"Now that's better…I knows you're a straight (God, lets hope...) fellar…Saw it right off…" she gave a slight frown…

"And you do know I don't go paradin' around for every guy I run across?..." stern look…



"Uh, certainly not…I'm sure…"

"Danged straight, boy...But we're friends now...And I know you're a right gent..."

He gave a slight bow, with following grin...Bringing forth another grin from her...

"You got a sense of humor, Petey...I like a guy who don't take himself too seriously..."

"Thanks...Are you sure you wouldn't prefer waiting with Miss De Russel?...She must be a bit lonely...:"

She involuntarily gave him a cool look...Huh?...

You want me to go?...Geesh...

Still, an opening...If played quick...

"I'm lonely too, Peter..." she gave him a long stare...

He blinked at her...

"Miss Springs, I really think..."

"I'm bein' too fast?..." she sighed...Pathetically... "I don't mean to upset ya..."

"No, not at all...It's just..."

"I thought maybe you liked me, Petey...I like you..."

"Miss Springs...We've just met..."

"I'm not the type to pussy-foot round when I like a guy, Petey...Peter..." she rose...Moving his way...

"Ummn..." he looked about...

For the door...Or help?...she wondered...Inwardly sighing...

Geesh, this is gonna take a little effort...Still, don't wanna scare him off...

"Sorry..." she backed off... "My intents were strictly honorable, Pete..."

"I'm sure..." he gasped a little... "But Miss Springs, it could...If someone else came in..."

"So ya don't mind it, so long as nobody catches ya?..." she eyed him shrewdly...

"No...I mean...Well, yes...I mean, no...I...I'm concerned for you...Your reputation...I know...I mean I understand you don't mean...But certain people , Miss Springs..."

"I'll manage, Petey..." she smiled... "And I don't like them people anyway...Just tell me you like me too, a little..." she edged closer now...

"Certainly...Yes...Just...Further away, please..."

"I won't bite...Less you want me to..."

"Miss Springs..."

"Elizabeth...Beth or Bethie if ya like...Do ya like, Peter?..."



"Uh..."

She frowned at his recoiling...

"Maybe ya prefer brunettes?...Pale ones?..."

[Please God, yes...Cicely thought...Staring at the now very animated...William as he read...]

"Miss Springs..." he frowned back... "You've no cause to..."

"Sorry..." she cast eyes down... "I just don' like missin' out on a good thing when I sees it..."

"Miss Springs, I really think..."

"You wants I should go...?" pathetic look...Tears welling...

Ummn...He stared at the sad, reddening face...

C'mon, c'mon...She urged herself...Les' get them waterworks agoin'...

'Sides he could be a lil' nicer...Geesh...Don't he like me?...I ain't that hard on the eye, I know that fer sure...She tried to raise eyes just enough to check her image out in the room's one long mirror just above the washbasin cabinet...

A tear ran down...She kept eyes down but managed to catch a glimpse of his suddenly stricken face...

Ah...That's a lil' more like it...

"Miss Springs...?"

She rose...Slowly...Turning face away towards door...Slowly...

"Sorry...I shouldna come..."

C'mon, c'mon...You a Brit gent or no?...You gonna let me go like this?...

"Now, Miss Springs..." he stepped over...

Raise hand to takin' positon...One step more toward door...Couple more tears runnin'...Good...

He took the hand, her left... "Miss Springs...Really..."

"I'm sor'..." she sighed, sniffling now, a few more tears trickling...

"You should be..." he said quietly, lifting her face to his with hand on her chin, firmly...A smile on his, she now saw...

Huh?...

"Elizabeth...If I may call you Elizabeth?...I'm sorry but I have to say you could use some acting lessons..."

She stared at his wry smile...

***

Hmmn...Miss Ana, back on duty in the Germania lobby was frowning at the guest book as Willie Smackles entered at the front door, a large-framed man, clearly of the cloth by his garb, in tow...



"Chet..." she waved over a young fellow clerk, his dark hair plastered down with the latest fashionable greasy creme, frowning at his leer...

"When did this get changed?...The Sheldon reservation?..."

"A coupla hours ago..." the clerk shrugged, eyeing the register...Where "Mrs. Emmaline Sheldon and party" had been scratched out in favor of "Miss Marie De Russel... "Messenger came by and said Mrs. Sheldon wasn't well and her friend Miss De..." he scanned the writing... "...Roosell.. .Would take her reservation..."

"Mrs. Sheldon's never canceled in the nine I've been here...Every year for her fittings in town like clockwork..."

"She did this time..." the lad shrugged again...Another leer... "'Sides, the friend's just as loaded and more my style..."

"De Russel...Never heard of her..."

"From out West...California...And headed back tomorrow..."

"Confided in ya, did she?..."

"You bet...I got my ways with the ladies..." Chet gave a confidential smile... "Which I'd be real happy to let you in on, after your time..."

"That'd be great...Only I don't think my Alex'd like it..." she smiled back... "And I'd hate to hafta clean up your guts from the walls when he got through with ya..."

"Ah..." he glowered... "What ya see in that dick anyways?..."

Willie led the man of God to the hotel staircase...Pulling him back from the entrance to the hotel bar...

"Later Sweeney..." he hissed... "I needa sober preacher for this one, not a drunk's chorus of Irish love songs..."

"Mr. Smackles...You might be remembering I'm a man of the cloth..." the addressed and much to his mind put upon Sweeney returned...

"Only so long as the Council don't let Rome find out about them two dames..." Willie eyed him... "And that missin' thousand from your parish funds..."

"Smackles...That's an accusation I will not tolerate...By my love of sweet Jesus, twas an accountin' error..." Sweeney's voice rose a bit, then as quickly fell as he realized others might hear the unsubstantiated, yet damaging falsehoods...

Hmmn...Had it really been a full thousand?...Saints preserve us, what the hell did I spend it on?...

"Just remember what you owe the Council, Father..." Smackles pulled him along... "And if you wanna keep that collar, look sharp..."

"A guy who can wipe up the floor with the likes of you..." Ana smiled again at Chet... "Another one, eh...Where in California?...There's no home address..."

"Guess she didn't write it down...Hey, she paid up front..."

"Never register without the address, ya moron..." she glared... "When she comes down I want it..."

"She's off tomorrow morning with the others...Ask him..." Chet pointed to Smackles, now leading Father Sweeney up the stairs... "They were all at dinner tog...Hey..."

She'd headed to the stairs, calling to Willie who paused, Sweeney turning back to look at the source of sound, a bit apprehensively...

Phew...Not her...For just a moment, thought perhaps ole Willie here'd brought the damned baggage along to emphasize his point...

"Sir?...Could I speak with you a moment?..."

Smackles, now a bit apprehensive himself...



"Yeah?..." Cautiously...

"Do you know a Miss..De...Russel?..."

"Hold it there, Father..." Willie held Sweeney firmly by the hand... "Wouldn't want ya to fall and break your neck..." The large Sweeney wincing in the smaller and slighter man's vise grip...

"Ya mean the black-haired number from dinner?...I don't know her...Just an acquaintance of my...Uh...cousin...Can't help ya..."

"I see...Sorry to bother you...And you, sir..." she nodded to Sweeney...Who gave a solemn smile and return nod...

"Bless you, my child..." And the Lord kill that devil's passion in me hart for ye...Ye wild rose of...

"If you do happen to see her...?"

"She run out on her bill?..." Willie asked...

"No, certainly not...We just need her California address...For the record..."

And the record is the record...As my Alex would say...

"Gotta cha...If I'm seein' her, I'll tell her...Come on, Father Sweeney, we ought to get upstairs..."

"Excuse me...Father?...Are you staying with us?..." Ana turned her attention to the large man...

"Nah...My ole friend the Father's just here for my cousin...A little consoling for the loss of her unk today...Les' go, padre...Poor kid's in need of some serious religion..."

"Of course, of course...Do excuse us, child..." Sweeney smiled benignly at Ana who nodded, pasting a discreetly sympathetic look on her features...

Ah...Sounds to me like that Springs girl's made a landin'...Not exactly seemin' the type to shed buckets for a dead uncle...She returned to the main desk...

"Chet...Tell the night dick to keep an eye on the Springs girl and that Potter guy...And to see the priest there leaves before midnight... I don't like the smell of things...Includin' you, get off...!" she pushed the clerk back from where he come up behind her, placing an arm on hers...

Not noticing the late arrival of one of the evening shift's younger cleaning girls...

***

The Vampire as Metaphor...Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of

William Soames Walthrop...



PG-13





Summary: A lost work of one William Soames Walthrop (...aka Spike) as it was delivered at one of Cicely Addams' house parties, shortly before Will's demise. See the reference to it in "Drusilla"...



Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...



Contributions to the recovery of the lost works of England's third worst poet are always welcomed...

***

Part X...





"Extra towels?..." Elizabeth eyed Miss De Russell standing before their room's looking glass, engaged in brushing what to Miss Spring's slight disquiet proved to be rather long and luxuriant black hair...

Hoped it might be cut or at least a little less nice once outta the pins...Maybe some gray...But no such luck...

"What?..." Marie looked a bit blankly at her roomie...

"The girl...I figured she was bringin' some extra towels since you like to clean up..." Miss Springs nodded to the hallway...The said girl already exited by the door to the stairs at the far end of the corridor...

"Girl?...Oh, yes..." Marie nodded, a bit wanly, turning from the mirror...... "No, I just asked her to remind the desk clerk to call us early..."

"Good idea..."

"How was Dr. Potter?...Is he settled in all right?..."

"Snug as a bug in a rug...He'll manage..." slight frown at naming of said Dr. Potter...

Laughin' up his sleeve at me back there...

Still, kinda nice ta know he ain't no stoop...Not that I can't handle his like...

"That's good...And how go the wedding plans?..." Marie smiled... "Did he like the dress?..."

"Yeah, he liked the dress..." slight sigh...

"Anything wrong?..."

Nah, I don't feel a little hurt, she told herself...Jest pissed he caught on...

She looked at Marie's sympathetic face...Hmmn...

Well, gotta do somethin' to retrieve things...And always best to use the tools the Lord give ya...

"I think..." she carefully modulated a gulp...Overplayed it with Patter just now, don't wanna screw it twice in one night...

Need actin' lessons...Har, har...Funny, Brit boy...

"...I think he's gettin' cold feet..." she sighed...

"Oh, no..." Marie shook her lovely head... "He mustn't do that to you..."

An' he won't...If there's a God in Heaven...Elizabeth noted to herself firmly...

"Did he give any reason?...I know you two only have known each other a short time but he seemed a man to keep his word...Why do men make such promises so fleetingly?..."

"Yeah..." Miss Springs nodded...Moving to and sitting in chair close by the standing Marie... "I really thought he was a keeper...Which is why I..."

Shooting for the marbles here, may as well go all the way...

Incoherent sobbing...Head on cushioned armrest...

Lord for a fancy place this thing smells...She thought...

"Miss Springs?...Elizabeth...?" Marie moved to her... "Is there anything I can do?..." she put a hand on Miss Springs' shoulder, pulling chair close and sitting...

"I don't know what I'm gonna do now..." Elisabeth lifted her head... "I mean, what if..."

"If...?" Marie asked...

"My auntie out in California will kick me out fer sure..."

"Oh, my..." Marie put hand to cheek... "Miss Springs?...You didn't..."

"He was so lovely sweet..." Elisabeth sighed... "I was burnin' for 'im...Ya know how it gets sometimes..."

"Oh, yes..." Marie nodded...

She does?...Miss Springs blinked a bit...

Figured I'd have to spell it out for a lady like this...Well, helps things along at that...

"But when was there time...?" Marie asked, gently...

"Love finds a way...Ya know?..."

"Oh, yes..." nod...

Lady's not as prude as all that, I reckon...Elisabeth stared as Miss De Russell, frowning, rose, turning for the door... "We must summon your cousin at once...He must speak to Dr. Potter regarding the matter, man-to-..."

"Oh, no..." Elisabeth rose...Sincerely urgent... "You can't tell him...Nobody, see?...I'd be much too much shamed..."

"But my poor girl...The gentleman must do right by you..."

Oh...He will...Now...Elisabeth thought...

"Maybe he...He jest needs some pushin'...Discretelike, ya know?...I don't think he's really the bad sort...Maybe I jest was too much for him..."

"Always the way..." a trace of bitterness in Miss De Russell's tone that caught Elisabeth by surprise... "They do the damage and we pay for the goods..."

Hmmn...Marie paused, pondering...I almost get the feeling I've been in this situation before...Perhaps my wealthy father had some of his girls in trouble?...She struggled to think...Her spark of will quickly fading...

Yes...That must be it...My poor dead wealthy father's factory girls...She brushed it off and tried to focus on the matter at hand...

Miss Springs eyed her annoyed if somewhat wanly roomie...

Girl has been around for such a ladylike type...

"If he got the message...Not in so many words but just kinda pointed out to him?...The way a gent should handle it?...I think he'd come round and do the right thing by me..."

"Leave it to me, dear..." Marie patted her shoulder... "I'll speak to the shop manager..." she blinked... "I mean...I'll speak to the doctor..." Yes, there's a good one in...No, wait...I think I mean...

"I mean Dr. Potter..." she said, suddenly... "Yes, I'll speak to him..."

Ummn...Ok...Elizabeth stared...

"I oughta come too..."

"It wouldn't humiliate you?..." Marie asked...

"Nah..." brightly...Ummn... "I mean...Not if you don't bring it up in so many words..."

***



In the alley near the Germania, the Prince of the Dracule attempted to collect himself, brushing the refuse of the garbage bin into which Olive had unceremoniously dumped him after slamming him down following his little proposal of a revolutionary alliance against Nast...

Thank God and the Lord of Hell no one had borne witness to this humiliation...Though of course he'd been taken by surprise...

Oh, God...If ole Granduncle Vlad ever found out, even in his stasis prison...

Still...The key thing was his continued existence...Her message, obviously, that while she wasn't ready to accept his proposal just yet...

Things change...And everything is negotiable...

Yes, all-in-all not a bad outcome...Given that no one else human or demonic had seen...And the natural desire of the lady to make it clear she was not one to be trifled with...

He was grateful to find himself in relative good shape at the sound of footsteps...

"Mister...?" a vague call to him...



Can't place the voice...Oh, yes...

"Hello, my dear...It's 'Master', though..." he explained to the little hotel cleaner who'd managed to slip out to see him...

"Sor' Master...I saw the lady...I tole her...What the other lady said to say..."

"Ah, yes...Well, your Mistress is occupied..." Tore her dress lifting my unconscious form into that damned bin...he did not say... "What did she say?..."

"She's goin' with the people you wants her to...She et with 'em..."

"Fine, dear...You'd better go back and tend to your duties...Just make sure you pass by the lady's room from time to time in case she needs to contact you...And if you do speak with her, alone...Tell her Vladmir appreciates her good efforts...But only if she's alone...Do you understand, dear?..."

"Yep..." she gave a soldierly salute like the ones she'd seen the soldier boys give during the war when she was little and they'd drilled near her home...

"Master..." she added...

He patted her head and returned the salute with an indulgent smile...

Charming thing, really...He noted to himself as she headed off...

Might be interesting to keep her alive until young womanhood and see what could be done with her...

Pygmalion with his own American Galatea...he mused...Well, certainly a better fate than she's likely to know as a miserably poor human urchin...



Or at dear Olive's hands...

***

I cannot believe that girl...Potter frowned at the mirror in his room...

Acting like that to further whatever little scheme she and that "cousin" of hers have in mind...Probably regarding that book which it's now clear belongs to neither of them...

Lord, did the other one steal it?...Some rare and priceless tome they hope to sell?...

Though, why in California?...Surely New York or Boston would be the places in this benighted land to sell an antique to some wealthy collector...Or at that why not back in London...?

"Maybe it's what's in the book..." he mused aloud... "Something they needed me to translate for them...Yes...Keep me close, get me to blindly translate it, then what?...A quick knifing and dump one Potter in the local cesspool?..."

Of course, on the other hand...She seemed such a sweet girl at times...



Perhaps she just...



No...Enough of this...Regardless of the young lady's true motives, Peter Soames Potter has other things to do than be the fool dupe and mark for a couple of Yank sharps...And if that "uncle", whoever Merritt was and whatever he was really to her, was murdered en route to New York...All the better to avoid the wily (if unskilled as actress) Miss Springs like...



"Dr. Potter...? My apologies, your door was open..."

"Miss De Russell..." Peter stared at Marie in dressing gown, coat loosely thrown over her shoulders...

"Hey, Pete..." Elizabeth smiled from the doorway...Still in black and lace gown... "Sorry to be interruptin' you again..."

"Miss Springs?..." coolly... "May I ask..."

"Brought along an old friend I met just outside..." the voice of Willie Smackles...Followed by him in the flesh, with a large, silver- haired, red-faced man in black...Clerical?...Peter stared...Garb...

"Sure and blessin's on this happy gathering..." Sweeney beamed...Peering into the room...

One left for me I see...He noted contentedly as he nodded kindly to Miss De Russell and Miss Springs...



Praise be to the dear Father of us all...

***

The Vampire as Metaphor...Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of

William Soames Walthrop...



PG-13



Summary: A lost work of one William Soames Walthrop (...aka Spike) as it was delivered at one of Cicely Addams' house parties, shortly before Will's demise. See the reference to it in "Drusilla"...

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...



Contributions to the recovery of the lost works of England's third worst poet are always welcomed...

***



Part XI...

Dr. Potter's room...Where, if in the politest terms possible, the gentle Miss De Russell had made the situation somewhat clear to the startled Peter...

Miss Springs standing by, a look of utter innocence and trusting faith...Surely the good Dr. would play the part of a true gentleman...And get on with it...Willie Smackles at her side like a good and supportive cousin...Shocked by the intelligence being communicated...However discretely...

"Are you accusing me...?" Potter said, tone swiftly moving from astonishment to rage... "Miss De Russell, I assure you that I am not the sort of man..."

"I certainly hope not, Dr. Potter..." Marie said, solemnly...

Hmmn...This deal needs clinching...Miss Springs thought...



"It's all right..." she said suddenly, tears starting... "I don't want to force anyone to do anything they don' wanna...I'll be all right...Somehow..." she made for the door...

What the damned bloody hell?...Potter stared...

"You been messin' with my cousin, Potter?..." Smackles, loudly...

"Now Mr. Smackles..." Marie put up a hand... "I'm sure the doctor will do the right thing..."

"What the bloody hell are you people talking about...?!" Potter cried..."Miss Springs, goddamn it!!...What have you been...?"

"That's enough, Potter!..." Smackles growled... "Here in the States, we know how to deal with types who mistreat our womenfolks..."

"My boy..." Sweeney rumbled portentiously... "As a gentleman, you ought to know your duty to a young lady..."

What?!... "Now you little..." Peter began...As Smackles removed his coat...

"Oh, don't hurt him!..." Elizabeth cried...Smackles raising fists...

Much...She thought contentedly...

"Gentlemen!...I will call for the manager!!..." Marie cried...

Hmmn...Miss Springs thought...Probably the best thing...

Wouldn't really want to see that pretty face banged up...And Willie is a master of the boxing art...

He at least oughta look good at the funeral...

"This is ridiculous!..." Potter backed away from Smackles, who'd taken up position, fists ready..."I've done nothing to Miss Springs except spending the afternoon with her and finding her a room..." He reluctantly raised his hands in defense... "Smackles, you and your cousin are a couple of lying..."

"That's all I need to hear, brother..." Smackles began closing in for the kill...

"Manager!!..." Marie cried...

"We oughta go and get him..." Elisabeth suggested...

"What the devil's up here?!..." a familiar voice...

Potter looked over to see Detective Harris from the New York City docks staring in the doorway, the hotel clerk Miss Ana beside him, hands on hips, annoyed...

"What are you people up...?"

All lights went out...As Smackles found his opportunity...

***





Lair of the (would-be) Napoleon of vampires...(Would-be)throne room...

"Vladmir is watching the hotel?..." Nast questioned...

"As I said, yes..." Olive frowned as she stood on the level below that of his elevated throne..One must not be seen on rising to be a foot shorter than one's average subject... Eyeing the new dress she'd had to steal from a nearby shop before coming...

Well, minor price to pay to witness that expression on young Dracula's face when I slammed him into that wall...To indicate my annoyance at being asked to betray my very own dear sire...

Still...A girl must keep her options open...This "Apocalypse" thing could be true...

Heinrich always did lack the patience to think things through...Consider the consequences of rash actions...

Anyway, no doubt our dear Count got my message...If I deal when the time comes, it's as an equal partner...

"And your new agent is traveling with them...Human in thrall?...Are you sure Vladmir has done the job right?..."

"At female enthrallment even I will concede he's among the best...She's under firm control..."

"But if the Slayer detects her?..."

"We lose a mere human agent...Heinrich, she must be aware we're on her tail and if she spots her, we and our other agents will be able to take up the slack...Besides, I have to further admit Vladmir did an excellent job of concealing her bite scar and her thrall state...I think she'll be an asset..."

Hmmph...Nash glared...

Putting trust in human operatives, even if well-thralled...What the Christ are we coming to in Evil...?

Still...It is little enough to lose...And could even divert the Slayer from our real people...

"Unless you have a remarkably better plan...?" Olive, pasting an attentive look... "Perhaps Gregor could give it another try...?"

"One day, Olive...You will go too far..."

"My dearest lord..." she bowed... "I only seek to serve you and all things Evil..."

Uh-huh...He frowned...Tapping thumbs together...

"Well, keep me informed...Constantly... And do not trust Dracula too far..."

"Never, dearest..."

"I mean before we eliminate him at the end of his usefulness..."

"Of course..." Olive nodded... "So, do we travel together to California?..."

"Mmmn...I think it's best you and Vladmir stay close...To the Slayer..." he added, a trifle blandly...

"I will be there for the finale when you and she arrive, rest ssured..."

"I'm sorry..." she said, a bit miffed... "I'd thought you'd be there to see me defeat her en route...And take her then...Why wait until California?..."

"Until we know she has the location of the Hellmouth for certain, we may need her contacts with the Council...That requires she remain human for the moment...Olive?..." he stared at her frowning face...

"Fine...It would have been a nice trip together..." she shrugged...

"Another time, once I've become the world's Master...We'll see the great West together then...In any case we'll be in California together..."

"Sure...And I suppose you'll want her undamaged when you take her in California..."

"You will have your chance to defeat her in battle, Olive...I promise...And however useful she is to me in revealing the Hellmouth, her demon will never compare in my regard to you..."

"Great..." dryly...

"You look tired, my girl...Make sure you sample some of my vintage stock before you leave...And Olive...?...Nothing says you can't enjoy the pleasure of matching wits with her and taking anyone she cares about...There are great joys in tormenting before killing, you know..."

Damn him...She thought, sighing as she was directed to the "vintage stock"...Agonized screams of the human dying rebounding through the dank tunnel hall...

When he gets like that, a girl gets confused about her heart even against her own best interests...

"Gregor?..." Nast, back in his throne room, turned to the pure-bred vampire...Currently but only recently out of protective armor suit...

"You're sure of what you saw?..."

"Dracula...Ennnnh..." Gregor shook head... "Bad speak..."

"And Olive attacked him but spared him?..."

Decorous pause...Embarassed look...

"Gregor?...We all love dear Olive...But for Evil's greater good?..."

"Olive let go...Hear bad speak..." Gregor shook his gray death's-head head sadly...

"My heart's broken, too, Gregor..." Nast sighed, patting him...

***



The eminent Dr. Potter awoke to find himself stretched on a sofa in his room...An anxious Marie chaffing his hands...A worried Miss Ana...

Lord, just what the hotel needs...

...And a frowning Detective Harris...Standing round him...

"Dr. Potter?...Thank goodness..." Marie sighed... "For a moment we thought Mr. Smackles' blow might have been more serious..."

He stared at her...

{The brunette...Cicely noted with satisfaction...Thralled but sweet and the giver as well as object of devotion...Whereas the scheming little blonde...

...Though it is disturbing that she should be the Slayer...]

"Where's...?"

"With her cousin..." Marie explained... "She was quite concerned for you..."

Sweeney entered, a bit out of breath with a box...

"No, Father..." Marie turned to him... "Last rites will not be required after all..."



There's the first good news of the day...Miss Ana sighed...

***



"I said take my part and push him into it, not beat the life outta of the little guy..." Miss Springs glared at Willie as they stood in the hallway outside the room...She occasionally glaring off the passing curious guest...What's it to ya, pal?...

"I didn't mean to land one...He moved when Sweeney came in... 'Sides, it's only a question of time anyway..."

"I need him alive till we get the Book set...And to draw Nast's fire...That means he gotta be kept close..." she frowned... "And how do I get him to make me Mrs P. tonight now you probably broke his jaw?..."

"We could magics him..." Willie suggested... "I could try and find somebody..."

"Too many witnesses tonight to have him start going all lovey...Besides, magics is double-edged...Nast'd pick up on it and might get a hold on him before we get the Hellmouth nailed..."

"You were gonna embarrass him into it...He gotta be embarrassed big time now..." Willie shrugged... "Why not just go on and try...?"

"He ain't the type..." she said quickly...Not thinking...

"What's that supposed to mean?..."

"I just mean he won't let fists push him to it...He ain't a coward, whatever he is..."

Willie stared at her...

"What?..." she frowned...

"We are gonna get this dude killed, you know..." he noted... "If you want him outta this, now's the time..."

"I know what we're about..." she snapped back... "Doesn't mean I can't show the little feller a little respect before I get him killed...He's a hero, in a sorta way, you know..."



Long stare...



"Just leave the doc to me and keep your fists in your pockets while I tries to straighten this mess out...I..."

"Miss Springs?..." Marie had come to the room door...

At last...I was getting ready to use my fists meself if she found one more excuse to keep me from his side...

"Dr. Potter would like to speak to you... And Mr. Smackles..."

She nodded politely...Putting up a hand to block Willie as Miss De Russell returned to her charge...

Let me handle...Hiss...

"Miss Springs..." Potter eyed her from his prone position...



"Hey..." she waved... "Willie's real sorry his temp got outta hand..."

"Yeah..." Willie responded to her sudden poke in the ribs... "Real sorry..."

"I understand...And I meant no disrespect to your cousin..." Peter nodded carefully, groaning as he sat up...

"In fact...Since it seems I've thoughtlessly placed her in a compromising position..." he blandly eyed Elizabeth who stared back...

"...I ask her and your forgiveness...And if the good Father is willing...I would be very pleased...Proud..." he struggled to rise...Hmmn, not a chance...

"Forgive me for not getting down...Miss Springs?...If you could find it in your dear heart to forgive me, would you still do me the honor of becoming my wedded wife...?"

She blinked...Willie blinked...

Marie beamed...

Knew the doctor was the right sort of man...You can always tell by the clothes a man chooses...Even if poor, the right sort always goes for the best quality...

Hmmn...Well, anyway...

"That'll do it..." Miss Ana nodded, mollified...

Detective Harris frowning even more than before...

This all bears watchin'...

***

The Vampire as Metaphor...Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of William Soames Walthrop...

 

PG‑13

 

Summary: A lost work of one William Soames Walthrop (...aka Spike) as it was delivered at one of Cicely Addams' house parties, shortly before Will's demise. See the reference to it in "Drusilla"...

 

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

 

Contributions to the recovery of the lost works of England's third worst poet are always welcomed...

 

***

 

Part XII...

 

Germania Hotel, NYC...Room of Peter Potter...

 

8:30 pm...

 

Where the future Mrs. Potter had asked those assembled to temporarily vacate to allow her to discuss wedding plans with her affianced...He in turn having politely requested Mr. Smackles likewise vacate...In which to Smackles’ annoyance, the future Mrs. had concurred...

 

Suggesting that he leave matters to her, the good doctor/poet being in no condition to be a threat to her even were she not the current Chosen One...

 

“Well?...” she eyed her betrothed where he sat a bit uncomfortably on the sofa...Rubbing the jaw said Smackles had recently struck, supposedly in defense of his cousin’s honor...

 

“Well, Elizabeth?...It is all right to call you by your first name, isn’t it...We being about to enter matrimony...”

 

“What the hell’s up, Peter?...

 

“Darling?...I thought this was what you wanted...Naturally I want what you...”

 

Funny Brit boy…she gave a grim stare…Narrowing eyes…

 

Hmmn…He matched her stare with an innocently bland smile…

 

Though inwardly he had to admit…She could be quite intimidating…Though damned fine, really…Whatever her game is…

 

Damn…She thought…This is the glare that’s brought the Underworld’s best to heel…

 

Gee…

 

This little adventure in transcontinental matrimony could be…Interesting…

 

But temporary…Get hold of yerself, Bethy…Smug look on his face, there…

 

“Close it and tell me what’s what...?”

 

“You tell me, Miss Springs...I’ve laid mine out pretty clearly...You want to marry me and I’ve said fine...What’s left to say but ‘I do’?...

 

 


“Fine...Just like that?...

 

“Just like that, Mrs. P....If that’s what you want?...

 

“C’mon...” she fumed... “Before I let you have one...Why are you suddenly going along?...

 

“Have I a choice, given the lynch mob you and ‘dear cousin Willie’ brought along?...Complete with priest to do the honors...I congratulate you, Miss Springs...You win...I’m yours...” thin smile...

 

“Look...” she tried...Giving him a demure look... “I liked you and I need a feller...So I was a lil’ forward and I got a lil’ panicky when you weren’t on board...I really like you Peter Patter...”

 

“Potter, Mrs. Potter...P-o-t-t-e-r...”

 

“I can spell, jackass...And round here, yer the one with the funny accent...We’re jest too politelike to mention...”

 

Mmmn...He groaned...

 

“Ouch...” she eyed his purpling jaw... “Willie’s a pretty good right hand man...Ya better let me get some ice for that or it’s gonna swell...” she rose and went to the door, opening... “Hey, you!...

 

Miss Ana, waiting with Detective Harris in the hallway, stared...

 

“Yeah, you, lady...Get some ice up here, pronto!...” Elizabeth paused and frowned at the detective... “What are you doing here, anyway?...

 

“My girl...” he indicated the frowning, but reluctantly departing Ana...

 

“His girl...” Ana called back...Opening the door to the stairway... “Hey, Chet, get off your ass and get me some ice!...” cry from closing door...

 

“...And the City Docks are interested still in you two...Being such an objecta curiosity at the docks for someone who likes tossing big cranes around like they was nuthin’...That crate that broke was off the Marie Louise, by the way...Which is pretty much unlikely, considerin’...But true.....” Harris noted…

 

“Well, you oughta take yer girl out and go check the docks while yer at it...We got nothin’ else to tell...”

 

“Maybe...Maybe not...Anyways, free country and my Ana don’t get off till eleven...”

 

“Great...God bless...See ya...” she slammed the door... “Tell ‘er ta knock when she brings the ice, I’m damned tired of people coming in as they please!...” she cried through the closed door...


 

“I don’t like that guy hangin’ round...” she noted... “You ok?...” she sat down by Potter...

 

“He’s doing his job...By the by, that trunk was aimed at you, not me, wasn’t it?...

 

“Sure seemed headed your way...” she shrugged, then glared a bit... “When I saved you from it...”

 

“Yes...” Peter coldly nodded... “I suppose whoever was after you and your friends figured I was your what...? Contact?...

 

“That is no family heirloom...” he frowned at the Book lying on the bedside table... “That book is hand-illustrated, a museum piece...And priceless, I’d say...”

 

“Would you?...” she eyed him coolly... “Guess I shoulda had it appraised...”

 

“Your late ‘uncle’ was bringing it to you and your friends here?...

 

“Nice...You’re a regular Charlie Dickens, Dr. Patter...”

 

“Potter, for the last time, Mrs. P...And it’s no fantasy, however I may be getting the details wrong...You and your ‘family’ needed some help getting that book in safely and I fit the bill quite nicely...” he paused...

 

“They were looking for an Englishman, weren’t they?...Of course, your lamented ‘uncle’...Was he the thief?...”

 

“Careful, Doc...” she eyed him... “You oughta know you don’t insult an American’s family...You already got Willie’s up...You might get me riled...And you wouldn’t like me...Riled...”

 

“He stole it in Europe and you and Smackles were to, what?...Fence it, is that the word?...”

 

Betta and betta, Pete...And why didn’t we?...New York’d be the place, right?...”

 

“The ones following you...The ones who tried to kill you...Or me...Or both of us...Are they the owner’s agents?...

 

“They’d like to have it...But I’m the owner, Peter...”

 

“Possession being nine-tenths of the law, is that it?...

 

She folded her arms... “Not as stupid as you look...”

 

“Thank you...” he nodded... “So why the nonsense about matrimony?...What do you want me for...Target practice for your ‘friends’?...”

 

 


“You can translate it...” she said, simply...Eyeing him... “We need it translated and don’t have time to get someone...”

 

“Thanks for the faith in my abilities...Why would you need to read it?...Surely a book of bizarre stories and legends isn’t of that much interest to you?...”

 

“Dumb asses like me, you mean?...As opposed to poetical gents like you?...”

 

“I don’t mean it that way and you know I don’t...”

 

Knock at the door... “Here’s your ice!...I’m leaving it...”

 

“Thanks!!...” Elizabeth called, moving to the door, opening it, and quickly hurrying to pick up a bowl which on her turning, shutting the door with a deft kick, and moving back to him, showed full of ice...

 

“That’s more like it...” she nodded at the ice... “Now, something to wrap it...Mind if I use that cloth?....

 

“No...Now what is so important about translating that book?...

 

“I dunno...” she shrugged... “Hold still...” she dabbed the cloth wrapped about a large chunk of ice to his jaw...

 

“I don’t...” she repeated to his frowning look... “And it might not be...Just, it could be important...For everybody...”

 

“Everybody being you, Willie, and those of your gang not yet deceased?...

 

“Everybody meaning everybody...I don’t lie about this sorta thing, Petey...”

 

“Just the small stuff...Like accusing me in front of people of having my way with you?...

 

She grinned suddenly... “I never said it weren’t mutual...” Sigh at his frown...

 

“Suppose I tole you it was for everybody’s good...You know, the greater good...”

 

“Really?...” he nodded... “Well, that is a relief...Excepting that, given your recent record...I wouldn’t put the slightest faith in anything you say...Ow...” he winced as she pressed the cloth again...

 

“Hold still, I keep tellin’ ya...” she pulled the ice block in cloth back and glanced at his face...

 

Sos, if ya don’ trust me, why are you willin’ to marry me?...You expectin’ a share in the Book if we sell?...”


 

“That would only be fair...” he eyed her calmly...Studying her face carefully as she quickly repressed a slightly downcast look...

 

Oh...So, that’s it...Slight bitterness…

 

And he seemed such a…

 

“Ow!...” he frowned, pulling away…

 

Tole ya to hold still…”

 

***

“Help!...Police!!...”

 

Vladmir looked up from the young woman he’d stopped to chat with and feed upon as she made her way to her laundress duties...

 

“The look on your face...Priceless...” Olive grinned, stepping into view...

 

“Madame, if I may be so bold...Damn you...” he frowned... “You do know someone might hear you...”

 

“Worse yet, someone might have seen you...And did...” she stared back...

 

Touche...” he reluctantly gave in... “Would you care for...” he offered the girl’s neck...

 

“Ate on the way over...” Olive shook her head... “But don’t let my bad manners spoil your meal...”

 

He shrugged and returned to his feeding...

 

“Heinrich urges us to take care not to lose the Slayer...Or her companions...And though we must spare her for now, we are sanctioned to kill any of her group we please...” she noted...

 

“Nice of him...Will he be accompanying us to California?...

 

“Lord, I’d hope he’d have enough brains to avoid that...And he does...He’ll meet us in California...Careful with your dinner...” she politely noted...

 

“I’m not spilling anything on your dress, am I?...” he asked politely, pulling the girl back a moment...

 

“No, thanks...But if you don’t plan to turn the young lady...” Olive noted the fast-fading girl... “I sense her life force is just about...Done...” she smiled...As the girl’s head lolled... “I’d find somewhere convenient to stash her rotting corpse…”

 

“Yes…” Vladmir sighed… “Sorry, poor dear…” he addressed the corpse… “No time for the proper amenities…May you find your eternal happiness in Heaven…” He dragged the body to a manhole and opening it, dropped the girl’s corpse down…

 

Splash… “Farewell, my sweet…” he touched fingers to his lips… “My manifold thanks…”

 

“Touching…” Olive said dryly…

 

“A little kindness and respect towards the short-lived never does one harm…” Vladmir said quietly… “Have you considered my…?”

 

“Stop, please…” Olive raised a hand… “I’ve given you my answer for the moment…Don’t force to me to make a final decision too soon…”

 

“That you even consider my proposal is enough…” he bowed slightly…

 

“Suppose we focus on the job at hand…Has there been any news?...

 

“Your little friend dropped by…Said our Marie had succeeded in establishing a relationship and is indeed bound for California with our friends…”

 

“Excellent…” Olive nodded… “Then we should prepare our own travel arrangements…Perhaps my little minion could be of use there…”

 

“The usual deceased relations in coffin?...Or do we go as freight in a box…?” Vladmir sighed a bit…

 

Lord, I hope she intends two…I do not like sharing, even with someone I care for, let alone Nast’s wavering chief concubine…

 

“Unless you’d like to hide out in the train this night, hoping they don’t suddenly switch trains in the morning…” Olive regarded him…

 

“No, it’s probably the best way…But shouldn’t we use an adult?...

 

“You didn’t have the girl for an appetizer?...” Olive frowned…

 

“Certainly not…” the Count frowned at the suggestion of boorish behavior… “I never take another’s…she’s yours…And we needed a notebearer…I’m just saying the girl seemed a bit young…”

 

“All the better to keep the Slayer’s suspicions low…She’ll naturally wonder about any good-sized boxes, let alone coffins, in storage...”

 

“Well, at least summon the child and get her some decent clothes…She can’t go on the train in her present rags…”

 

“Don’t fret, Vladmir…”

 

“And perhaps a bath…”

 

 

Miss Springs having requested a moment alone with her “cousin” Smackles before the joyous union…The impromptu wedding party, including future groom, waited in the hall outside Potter’s room…

 

“So, he’s on to something being played but is on board with this?” Smackles stared…Frowning… “This ain’t so good…”

 

“He ain’t quite so dumb as he looked…” she shrugged… “But he doesn’t know what’s really up…Thinks it’s just about loot…” involuntary sigh, at which Willie stared…

 

Jesus, don’t you start going soft on me, Slayer…he frowned inwardly…

 

“So he wants a cut from sellin’ the Book?...

 

“About the size of it…” she nodded…Unable to keep a shadow from crossing her face…

 

Just another greedy little so-and-so…Who seemed just like some sweet…Ummn…

 

“Yeah…” she came back to the practical…Job to do, no time for nonsense… “Which makes it all the better, really…He’ll stick close until we get a handle on Nast and his guys…Then…”

 

“I mean it’s easier now, right?...” she said, almost to herself…Smackles watching, saying nothing…

 

“Of course…” she hesitated, looking at Willie… “Guy does have a family…Came out to do good for ‘em…Can’t blame him for tryin’ to seize a chance, right?...

 

“Sure…” Willie nodded… “But we might wanna keep a close eye and closed mouth with him…We don’t have much on him yet…And ya never know, you know?...

 

“Him?...” she frowned… “Nah…Even if Nast were smart enough to use free humans…”

 

“Bears watchin’, Slayer…” Willie shook his head…

 

“Couldn’t having him closer than hitched with me…” she noted…

 

“I dunno…” Smackles, perturbed… “I don’t like to say…But…”

 

“But, what?...” she rose… “If you got somethin’ to say, spill…”

 

“I think you’re a little soft on him…” he said quietly… “And you might not be keepin’ as close a watch as you ought…”

 

“I been ready to hand him to Nast and company all day…Whatdya mean, ‘soft’?...”

 

“I mean… ‘Soft’…I think you’re gettin’ to like him…”

 

“I felt a lil’ bad about gettin’ the little guy killed, before he turned out to be on the make…But ‘soft’?...C’mon…” wave of hand… “Now, lets go get my beau and have a weddin’…”

 

“Right…” Smackles sighed… “But keep a watch…And I’m gonna keep checkin’ his story…”

 

“That’s fine…Don’t worry, Willie…” she patted him… “Guy’ll be dead long before he can get to be trouble…Say, how’d you like my dress?...” she smoothed the gown…Offering an arm…

 

“Great…” he sighed, taking the proffered arm…

 

All ready too late as to trouble anyway…

 

***

 

The Vampire as Metaphor...Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of William Soames Walthrop...

PG 13

Summary: A lost work of one William Soames Walthrop (...aka Spike) as it was delivered at one of Cicely Addams' house parties, shortly before Will's demise. See the reference to it in "Drusilla"...

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Contributions to the recovery of the lost works of England's third worst poet are always welcomed...

Part XIII...

License signed…You do have pull here, Potter noted to Smackles who shrugged…Witnesses ready…A beaming Marie De Russell, a rather relieved…Startin' to think this might end badly for me…Hotel clerk Miss Ana and her ever-suspicious beau, Detective Harris…Bride up front and center in her makeshift yet rather lovely one had to admit, Potter thought, gown…Father Sweeney proceeded with the ceremony…

Smackles having dutifully kept him from the bottle…Both the wine on the hotel room table and the small flask of whiskey concealed on the good Father's person…He managed said ceremony with reasonable coherence and accuracy…

Of course, while not a problem, Potter had noted to his bride as they'd awaited Father Sweeney's opening…He finding he'd pawned…Er, misplaced…His Good Book…And requiring a replacement fletched by Miss Ana…He and his people were not Catholics…

"Me neither…" Elizabeth had shrugged… "But a preacher's a preacher's, right?..."

The history of the struggle for religious tolerance leading in part to this new world empire, in nutshell format, Peter thought…

She eyeing him cautiously throughout the ceremony…

More to this little fellow than he lets on…Though…

Not sure if I wanna plumb those depths to find he's like all the rest…A touch sadly…

Father Sweeney a bit gaspy now as he bulled along…Dry, so dry…Yet…Eye on the wine bottle on table…The goal in sight…

A grim look on the former Miss Springs' face as she stared straight ahead, avoiding now her plighted one's look…

Won't hafta to worry long about that…And the worse he is…The better…

Hard lass to figure…Potter thought, now eyeing the red-faced padre…She actually seems a tad disappointed in me…What the damned devil…She and her little band of schemers…Likely including our stalwart detective who so conveniently shows up as boyfriend to the clerk girl who so conveniently arranged for us to stay together…

At least Miss De Russell seems what she says she is, poor girl…

Well, I'll to the bottom of this one way or another…Starting with a good look at that book…Book…Whatever it really is and whoever it really belongs to…

"Hey!..." he yelped as Elizabeth prodded him in the side…

"Say ya, damnit…" she hissed…

Hmmn?...

"Laddie?...Do you take this woman?..." the Father eyed him… "…To have and…"

"Etc, etc…Yeah, Father…He does…" Elizabeth insisted… "Right?..." she eyed Potter…A killing look…

"Certainly, yes…" he frowned…Damn you, girl I already said I'd go along…No need to look at me like you'll pull a gun from under that dress fold…Or that sharpen stick you keep jangling about in your pockets…

Hmmn…Miss De Russell eyed the pair…

Well…Love does take stranger forms…And they certainly don't look any more unhappy than my…She pondered over "parents"…Hmmn…So confusing my memories there…Somehow, not quite…Well…I must have been poor then…Yes, before Father…Poor Papa…So recently dead…Became wealthy…Yes, that's it…She shook her head a little to clear it…

"And you, Elizabeth…Do you…?"

"Yeah, yeah…Kiss me, Petey…" she turned to Potter, lifting the improvised veil Miss De Russell had provided…

"I think we should hear the details…" Potter noted dryly…Holding off from her as she blinked…

Hey…Better than you have kissed these ruby beauties, limey-boy…she frowned…Turning to the Father… "Right, finish up…"

"It is customary…" the Father noted…But glanced at the bottle…Then at Smackles who made a quick, urging gesture…Get on with it…Accompanied by a slight lifting of concealed confiscated whiskey bottle in pocket… Ah, the Promised Land is at hand, dearly beloved…

"Yes…Do you Elizabeth, take Peter to be your lawful, wedded husband?…To love, honor, and obey him?…So long as you both shall live?..."

Kinda hopin' to avoid that…she thought…Still, so long as he ain't a magics type…Quick glance to Willie who'd dutifully done the required magics sweep using a concealed talisman before a Slayer made such a risky vow…

And it ain't like we're gonna live forever…Or even long…

One of us, anyway…

"Sure…I do…" she nodded…

Hmmn…No desire to kneel at his feet…Good…The one thing good ole Willie was a lil' worried about…Concealed occult ability…But a Slayer's gotta take a risk sometimes…

"May I?..." Potter asked, bringing her out of her reverie…

Oh, right…Hitched…

"Yeah, sure…" she felt a touch of lips…Willie eyeing them nervously…As the kiss exceeded the polite minimum of a Slayer merely using a mark…Elizabeth involuntarily putting an arm round Potter for a brief instant before releasing and stepping back, a little unexpectedly dazed…As the assembled group clapped…The happy couple staring at each other…Potter apparently not a little dazed himself…Willie fidgeting a bit in his spot as the good Father eyed him hopefully, his duty faithfully executed…

Magics of the occult kind not really being Smackles' concern here…

Vladimir eyed the product of Olive's several hours' effort…

The cleaning waif now in rather respectable dress…Not overly elegant…Washed, brushed, and holding herself with surprisingly good carriage…A respectable daughter of respectable parents, both sadly now deceased…According to the story Olive had ceaselessly drummed into the girl…And being shipped for burial back home…

He walked round the girl who repeated Olive's instructions with a diction which now nearly matched Olive's own…Not bad, one must concede…And the crash course in bourgeois etiquette seemed to be sufficient…For an American, at least…

All a matter of a little force-fed education, Olive noted…The key to social advancement, along with the bourgeois outer show of a few clothes…

Hmmn…Yes…Whether one accepted the revolutionary nonsense or no…Clothes indeed do make the man or woman, he conceded…

And yet…He frowned…

"This notion of traveling with the Slayer, in coffins on the same train?...At her mercy?...Olive, dear…Surely Miss Springs is not so foolish as to avoid checking anything so obvious…"

"Which, dear boy…" Olive smiled… "Is precisely why we will not be traveling in the coffins…They are merely bait…"

Hmmn…

"Then?..."

"We travel like any other good passengers, with tickets and a sleeping car…I naturally have booked separate berths…" she noted, demure smile to which he returned a polite bow…

Thank God…

"With packing crates to use by day…And the coffins to alert us to any intrusion…"

"How's that…?"

"The Slayer or hopefully her assistant or assistants will naturally check them first…And when they're opened, a battery will heat a wire to our crates, alerting us soundlessly…A trick Heinrich employs to protect his own and those of his key minions' lair and coffins…" she noted… "I had my own and an extra prepared days ago…"

Really?...He eyed her…

So…A bit of intelligence vital to any action against Nash…An offering of trust?...A hint my suggestion is not looked on completely unfavorably…?

"Excellent…" he nodded, with genuine admiration which, in spite of herself, she was rather pleased to acknowledge…

Foolish…But I get so little approbation at home…she sighed…

"But…Is it wise to let the Slayer or her assistant find the coffins empty?..."

"They won't be empty…" Olive smiled… "It's a big city…We just need to find a suitable couple before six am when they allow loading…"

"Sweetheart…" she turned to the girl… "Show us how much you miss your poor mama and papa…"

The girl began weeping on cue, with sincerity…Nicely done, not too over the top…Heartrending, really…Vladimir thought…If I had a heart in the emotional sense to rend…

"Very good…" he nodded, slight frown…

"What now?..." Olive eyed him…

"I'm rather attached to my own coffin…" he sighed, shrugging… "It's been in the family for generations and I've never slept out of it…"

Like a little slice of home in a fine mahogany box…The interior lined with the very carpeting from my boyhood room on the estate…The silver dragon crest on top, from above the old castle fireplace…Ah…

"You brought it from Transylvania?..." she stared… She shook her head…

"You do realize the Watchers' Council would be looking for just such a shipment…And given your granduncle's reputation…It would lead them right to us…"

"It's well concealed…I don't think there's any danger…But it's probably wise to follow your plan…I'll simply have my people ship it on later…" he noted…Graciously conceding…Though inwardly frowning…

Damn, what about my reputation?...I have made my own way in the Underworld since trapping Granduncle Vlad in stasis with his own mother's crucifix…Lady, I am in no small way the reason men fear the night…Especially in terms of their significant others of the female persuasion…

Lord, Olive sighed…Aristocrats and their ridiculous obsessions…Almost a pity if Heinrich succeeds in his plans, given his conservative mold he's sure to be limiting as to the full extent of violent social reform we'll be allowed to carry out…

Though I'm reasonably sure I'd have a crack at putting this smirking fop against a wall…

Sadly, time failing to allow a lengthy honeymoon…Or even a suitable wedding reception…Heck, even a fully suitable ceremony…The newlyweds had been left alone to enjoy their few hours of nuptial bliss before the train left the next…Well, this…Morning…

Elizabeth a bit startled to find Potter quite contentedly settling down on the room's sofa…She'd expected at least a try for the bed…

"Anything wrong?..." he looked up at her puzzled face as she stood over him…

Geesh…Leastways lemma throw ya out of our conjugal bed…

Or not…Strictly to keep up appearances, ya know…Could look odd if anyone pokes round…Say someone bent on killin' the Slayer…

Finds Petey on the couch and next thing ya know, the killin's off while it asks twenty questions…"Say, Slayer, how come yer feller's sleepin' here?...You got some Slayer clap thing?…Or don't Slayers' like it with human guys?..."

Embarassin'…And not good for the disguise…Eh…Just a last chore to keep things hummin' smoothly…Kind of a kindly gift to Dogmeat the Poet, here…she thought…

Wonder how good he is?...Brit, but he's got that thing some of them have…Reserve?...Yeah, reserve…Lil' more than meets the eye…Yeah…

Yeah…she frowned…A lil' greedy bastard reserved in there…

Well…Can't blame a dead man walkin' for lookin' out for number one and his family…

He did say he had a brother and sister waitin' on him…I guess I can unders…

"Miss Springs?...Elizabeth?..." he tried…

Huh?... "Oh, yeah…Sorry, distracted…Kinda…" she hesitated… "You don't wanna come to bed?...I mean…"

Lord, is she blushing?...I wouldn't have thought it possible…

"…I wouldn't want ya to be uncomfortable…"

"I'm fine…Ummn…I just thought it would be better…More comfortable for you…"

"Nice of yer…" she turned abruptly…Pausing by the bed as he sat up, looking over to her, blanket round his shoulders…

Rather nice nightie that…

"Yeah, we best keep it businesslike, I guess…Just thought ya'd be more comfortable…"

"Well…" he began… "If it wouldn't make you uncomfortable…"

"What's that supposed ta mean?...!" she snapped back, face a bit reddening…

Is she?...Is that…?

She wiped hastily… "I'm not 'comfy' with guys in my bed, if that's what yer sayin'…Good night, ya limey jackass…!" she hopped into bed, blowing out the lamp on bed table as she did…

Hmmn…

"Elizabeth…I didn't mean it that way…"

"Elizabeth?..."

Lord…

American girls…

"I am sorry, Elizabeth…And I didn't mean to hurt you…"

You scheming little…

"Right…Fine…Gunfight…" sound of her turning over in bed, blankets pulled up…

Ah, well…No worse off, I suppose…

"Peter?..."

"Still here, love…"

"Ya wanna come over?..."

The Vampire as Metaphor...Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of William Soames Walthrop...

PG 13

Summary: A lost work of one William Soames Walthrop (...aka Spike) as it was delivered at one of Cicely Addams' house parties, shortly before Will's demise. See the reference to it in "Drusilla"...

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Contributions to the recovery of the lost works of England's third worst poet are always welcomed...

Part XIV...

Omaha, Nebraska…Eastern terminus of the new transcontinental railroad…Separated from the ever-sprawling Eastern rail network by the great Missouri River, not yet spanned by rail bridge…Freight inspection station for the Union Pacific Railroad…

"That's one fine piece, doc…" the railroad conductor noted…Eyeing the fine suit of armor in crate now opened for inspection…

"Yes, a family heirloom…I hope to donate it to the new San Francisco Museum of Art and Natural History once we get it to California…" a somewhat wan and well-wrapped against the few remaining stray beams of sunlight but ever polite Heinrich Nast… "Dr. Nast" for purposes of this little jaunt…Smilingly noted…

"That's fine of ya…I imagine the boys out there could use some bullet-proofin'…" wink and grin… "Just kiddin' doc…It's a fine town…Little wild but that's the West…"

"Indeed, a fine and growing city…I'm always amazed to see the growth each time I come out…" Nast nodded… "And the high-spirits appeal to me…"

Indeed, nothing warms the blood more…And nothing like a new and growing metropolis as capital for my new global monarchy…Like New Rome, San Francisco shall benefit from the attention of the One who shall unite the world…Assuming nothing can be done with that little town nearer the Mouth…

Though one may question the benefits to the human inhabitants…

"Well, all looks fine here…" the conductor tapped the suit… "Shall we crate 'er back up?..."

"That'll be fine…" Nast nodded… "Thanks for attending to this…" he offered a gloved hand… "Forgive my not removing the gloves…Skin remains sensitive since my accident in the laboratory…"

"That's a shame…" the conductor gingerly shook the proffered hand… "Hope it's improvin'…"

"Better every trip out…" Nast smiled… "But still must watch that sun…"

"I'll fetch the boys to seal it up…When do you head out, doc?..."

"A few days…Just a little business here to settle, awaiting my partners…And a few more crates enroute I must see to…Medical equipment, very delicate…"

"Well, the line's been pretty clear…No troubles recently…You should have a pretty smooth trip…"

"Excellent, as always …Thank you again…" Nast, pleasantly…Watching as the conductor headed out of the inspection room…

"Gregor?..." he hissed to the suit of armor…

"Unnnh…" slight groan…

"You did very well, my boy…Just remain quiet until I contact you again…It won't be long…"

"Unnh…"

"I expect the others within a few days…Then we'll all be off to California and the Hellmouth together and I'll be able to let you roam a bit by night…It's really quite an experience, this new railroad line…Across the Great American Desert, seeing the wild men of the plains, and the famous buffalo herds…I'm sure it will be enjoyable and memorable…"

"Unnnh…"

"That's the spirit…Remember, no killing unless absolutely necessary until I give the all-clear…"

Enjoyable for some of us, that is…Memorable for all…

Including perhaps some less than utterly faithful minions…

Early breakfast at the Germania…Potter having left the table and his blushing…Actually quite red under Smackles' hard stare…Bride to fetch bags and check on their traveling companion, Miss De Russell…

"What you lookin' at, Willie?..." she glared…

"You did, didn't you?..." he sighed…

"Shut yer trap…I know what I'm doin'…Leave limey-boy to me…"

"I thought we'd be leaving him in an early hole in the ground…" he noted…

"And now ya think otherwise?..."

"No…I think you're thinkin' otherwise…"

"When the Slayer wants yer opinion, she'll ask…She ain't askin'…" Elizabeth, grimly…Smoothing her traveling skirt and taking a sip of coffee…

"Anyways…He's nobody…I gave him his chance last night…Nothing…" she noted, overly casual…Shrugging…

Well, not 'nothing' in every sense of the word…In fact, kinda impressive…Lil' poet/dentist had more spunk than I thought…

"Yep…" Smackles replied, coolly… "Gave him his chance all night…Right…"

"You want this cup down yer throat, smartass?..." she eyed him…Setting her cup down with slam…

"If he's with…Them…This is exactly what he'd be doin'…" Smackles noted… "Wormin' his way…"

"I've handled the worst They throw…I can handle Petey Patter…" fierce stare… "You just keep your end up, Watcher…"

"You're lettin' him read the Book…You're lettin' him get to ya…" Smackles, accusing tone…

"Keep it down…" she hissed… "I tole ya ta keep yer end up, Watcher…Or maybe I'll be throwing two idiots to the other side as bait…Time you remembered who's in charge of this operation, Smackles…"

"Right…" Smackles flushed, turning away to look at his newspaper…

Long silence…

"Sides…No better way to check him out then to let him get close…A little…" she tried… "As for the Book, we need to know…"

"Sure…" Willie replied, not looking at her…

"Well, it wouldn't look right…" she insisted… "Get those suspicions goin'…"

"You got otherworlders comin' through your hotel bedroom every night to check?..." he looked at her briefly…

"Fine…" he put up a hand at her raging glare… "You got him where you want him…Sure…" he returned to the paper…

She sputtered a moment but eyeing the hotel patrons now starting to come in in greater numbers thought better of it…

"He's not gettin' to me…" she whispered… "And when the time comes I'll throw him to them without a second thought…"

"Then I'm sorry for you, Slayer…" Willie said, quietly…Returning to his paper…

Temporary warehouse lair near the Germania…

"What now?..." Olive stared at Vladimir who seemed a trifle uncertain…Staring at the crates they were to occupy until safely aboard the train for Chicago…Two vampiral minions of Nast's assigned to Olive standing by to seal them…

"You say the crates are connected to the coffins by electrified wire…?" he asked… "Isn't that a bit dangerous?..."

Visions of a demonstration of arc lighting he'd once seen in Bucharest…Only he and a few of his fast-moving Roma attendants having survived the resultant fire…

"Not now…Once we're aboard, our little friend will give us a rap and connect the wires…"

He eyed the patiently waiting former cleaning girl…Now a demurely pretty little middle class girl looking wanly sad over the death of her beloved parents…

Her?...

Granted her diction and bearing have improved under Olive's intensive training but…Somehow I don't see her as an electrical wizard…

"Vladimir, either get in or find a way to board the train on your own…Or stay here and see if you can dodge Heinrich's wrath, not to mention the jeers when I put it round you were quaking over facing the Slayer…" Olive noted, bright smile…

He frowned…Still, the Hellmouth and its power…And the likely doom of the Earth…Awaiting

And prospects for survival in NYC given Nast's well-established position here under his bane not being exactly good…

He reluctantly got in as Olive entered hers…Pulling the wooden cover over…

"Oh…" Olive paused, holding the cover open, addressing the tall, lithe male standing ready to seal her in… "Philip?...You did find a suitable couple for the coffins?..."

"Fortyish, middle-class, from out of town…" he nodded… "Nice folks, actually, passed a pleasant evening showing them the sights of New York…"

She eyed him a bit sternly…

"But traffic accident, just as you requested…In fact it more or less really was…These streets are deadly by night…" he noted, shaking his head…

"Make sure 'Olivia' gets a good look at them before you seal the coffins…" she noted… "Be a good girl, Olivia and do as Philip and Marcus tell you…"

"Yes, ma'am…" the newly rechristened 'Olivia' nodded…Philip assisting Olive with the crate cover and starting to nail it down…

Lord…Vladimir sighed, carefully adjusting the coverlet in his crate over him…I'm sure she gave me the one with some light leaking through the wood slats…

I do hope my idiots don't screw up the shipment of my own grand old coffin…I mean I enjoy a little travel but I've never had that taste for the new Granduncle Vlad had… "Lets all move to England, the new center of world power…" "I'm going to try redemption for your grandaunt's sake…"

Please… Well thank the demon gods someone in the family Dracule has a little respect for tradition and the joy and comfort of home and familiar settings…

It may well be the only thing standing in the way of Nast and his mad plans…

Germania chief clerk Miss Ana was in a sourer mood than usual…Given her fiancee's announced intention of following the Potters to California…

"Somethin' not right about them…" he noted…

"Something's not right about you going after them...Since when does the Port send its chief dick across the West to track down a crate bustin'?..." she frowned…Narrow-eyed stare…

"Alex…You're not telling Ana everything…" she insisted…

"Don't worry…Everything's set with the Port…The boys want this one settled…"

Well, at least…The Big Boys do…And they'll see the Port authorities go along…

"They're gonna know something's up when they see you on the train…"

"I can handle their kind…" he noted firmly… "'Sides I'm not planning to hide…If it makes 'em sloppy to see me tagging after, all the better…"

"Sloppy as in hittin' a certain detective over the head one night in some hick town…" she glared…

"All part of the job, An…But they won't get the better of me…"

God…If I'd just told that girl no dice on that twenty to slip Potter in…Still, Alex's got that bloodhound look…He'd be after her and the limey in any case…

Right, better she's hitched…

And speakin' of hitchin'…

"Alex…You know it might look a little better if you was on yer own honeymoon…" she suggested…

He eyed her…To CA for a honeymoon?...He'd been thinking more a trip to Coney Island, maybe to Jersey or up the Hudson to some nice hotel…

On the other hand…While he doubted it would fool anyone, would be a love jaunt on the Government's nickel…

Assuming Ulys signed off…But though the General was as a rule a stickler on expenses, in the case of love matters…Particularly the love matters of the young sergeant who'd saved him at Chattanooga…

But what would Ma say?...The folks already considered Ana a rather bold piece…

"We got the license…Just find some preacher in some place along the way…" she noted…

"Thought you wanted a proper weddin'…" he stared…

"Better a fast one on the fly then you runnin' off to CA alone…" she returned… "And the money could go towards a house…A nice boarding place, say…Unless you got more on your mind than your work on this one…"

"An…" he frowned…

The Vampire as Metaphor...Book III of the (Semi) Complete Works of William Soames Walthrop...

 

PG‑13

 

Summary: A lost work of one William Soames Walthrop (...aka Spike) as it was delivered at one of Cicely Addams' house parties, shortly before Will's demise. See the reference to it in "Drusilla"...

 

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

 

Contributions to the recovery of the lost works of England's third worst poet are always welcomed...

 

***

 

Part XV...

 

“You’re sure about this, Harris?...” the small but lithe man in rather fine mixed light and dark blue suit eyed him from his chair…Hat perched on the desk he was borrowing from a very reluctantly consenting Port Authority supervisor as an “official inspector” from Washington, D.C…

 

“I am…” Detective Harris nodded… “The girl has to be the Slayer…The feller…Well, he has the look of a Watcher but if he is he’s a top-notch actor as to wet-behind-the-ears…But in any case it’s her and the Other Side is gunnin’ for her…”

 

“So you think it’s Secret Service business?...And you want to follow her across country?...” the man drummed fingers…

 

“It’s gotta be the Hellmouth…We know Nast and his people have been here and are lookin’…” Harris paused… “Are we interested or no?...

 

“We are…As in President Grant is…And therefore we are…” the man nodded… “And given what the Brits tried to do to the country during the War, we don’t want them gaining sole control of something important here…After all the Hellmouth appears to be on US soil…”

 

“That’s what I’m sayin’, Mr. West, sir…”

 

“Right…All right then, Harris…For now, it’s your baby…Follow the girl and her companions and keep us informed…I’ll be in the neighborhood bye-and-bye after my partner and I deal with a little…As in Dr. Loveless-sized…Problem…” West smiled…Eyeing Harris…

 

“So…You really believe in this occult stuff, Harris?...The whole Slayer/vampire, etc shebang?...”

 

“I’ve seen enough to convince me, sir…Though everything has an explanation in Science, I guess…What matters is knowin how to deal with the Enemy…Occult boys…Or Rebs…Or Brits…”

 

(Several in the Brit-to-a-man group eyeing Walthrop…Hmmn… Cicely putting out a warning counterfrown…Literary license, people…)

 

West nodded thoughtfully… “Good…’Cause I’ve seen quite a few things myself, whatever my partner may think of the supernatural…Keep a good cross and stake handy, Harris…And try to keep operations to daylight as much as possible…Nast’s folks are most vulnerable then and the Slayer is less likely to cross you up since she and her Council prefer to keep their hand hidden…”

 

“She is an American…” Harris noted… “I could try her if things get hairy…”

 

“You could…But Slayers and their Council tend to see things in the same light…And the Council being Brit-dominated, that light tends to be the sun that never sets on their Empire…” West noted shrewdly… “But it’s up to you, you’re the man on the spot till Artie and I show…”

 

“Right, sir…Sir?...

 

“Alex?...

 

“I was thinking of taking a friend along…For cover…My fiancée, as a matter of fact…”

 

“Your fiancée?...West, carefully… “She have an active death wish?…Or is it something you want out of?...”

 

“I’ll look after her…She’s makin’ a stink about my goin’ and it would be good cover if she came, since the Slayer and her friend do know me…They’d wonder if I was alone…”

 

West sighed, then shrugged… “You know what you’re doing, that’s why you’re here…But remember, Harris…” he stared intently… “I’ve had to put the person I love most in the world at risk for the mission and I expect you to do the same…”

 

Don’t ask, don’t tell…Harris thought… Even if everyone in the Service knows about him and Gordon…

 

“I wouldn’t bring An along if I weren’t ready to put everything on line for the mission…I know what’s at stake here, sir…”

 

“Good…Because if she’s in the way when we reach the scene I won’t look out for her…And the risk here is more than just a bullet through the guts…” wan smile… “Alex…Once she’s done you the benefit of cover put her on a train or in a nice safe hotel room…”

 

“If I can, sir…”

 

“Right…” West had risen from his chair…Briefly eyeing a black-haired mouse which darted now across the floor of the office…Harris looking as well…

 

“Oh, and Harris?...

 

“Sir?...” Harris noted the mouse had halted in the center of the room and seemed to be chattering agitatedly…

 

“Run…!” West pointed to the door…Harris not needing another word, raced with him for the door…Both men running back from the building as men and women working about the Port Office area stared…

 

“Clear out!...” West called, waving them back…As an explosion from the vacant office rocked the area…

 

“The good doctor having his early morning fun…” he noted, rising and brushing off his suit as Harris did likewise…

 

***

 

6:15 am…Freight car of the New York Hudson River Railroad…

 

Hmmn…Vladimir frowned at the thin coverlet between himself and the wood slats of the cover of his freight crate… If anyone had told me this was the way the current Lord of the Dracule would be traveling cross-continent…He sighed…Well, at least I brought some note paper and quills and ink…Plenty of time to begin the long-put-off task of writing my memoirs…

 

If only there were a bit more light in this damned thing…Now my own dear coffin has that wonderful sealed oil lamp…Burning without visible smoke through the ventilation hole…And the small wine cask, suitable for wine or blood…And my portable writing desk…All those amenities essential for long and boring travel…

 

All I can say is, I’d better be able to get this damned thing open at night…Or some poor wretches on this train are going to have their night’s sleep profoundedly and disturbingly disrupted…

 

Hope our little friend doesn’t get distracted by all the excitement of travel and forgets us…Now, if I can just get this quill out…Ah…

 

Yes, “Memoirs of the House of Dracule…1125-1869…” Hmmn?...Ought I to go back further?...The marauding barbarian chieftain years?...Damn…Dropped the quill…

 

I’d wager…Well, one must be sensible in these hard economic times…The five American greenbacks I took off that corpse the other night, yes…Olive’s crate is bigger…

 

***

 

8:45 am…New York Hudson River Railroad station…Branch line to Buffalo for transfer to the Buffalo-Chicago train…

“You got the tickets, Petey?...” Elizabeth addressed her new husband…

 

“Right here…” he patted his coat just above his waistcoat pocket…

 

“Don’t let the porter have the sachel…” Willie insisted…Eyeing the sachel bag containing the Book, held firmly in Potter’s grip… “I can take it if you like…”

 

“That won’t be necessary…” Peter said, firmly… “Besides I was planning to make a start this morning once we’re settled…”

 

“It’s ok, Willie…” Elizabeth eyed Smackles… “Pete’s got it well in hand…”

 

Yeah…Too well…And too many things vital to Humanity’s survival in those unknown and uncertain Brit hands…Willie thought…

 

Miss DeRussell came to them… “Are we ready?...” she asked…

 

“Sure…” Elizabeth nodded…

 

“Are your bags secure, Miss DeRussell?…” Potter turned to her…

 

“Oh, yes…Alls ready…So, Mr. Smackles?...You are coming as far as Chicago?...” she smiled at Willie…

 

“That’s right…I got business there…” he nodded…

 

Not so bad, after a night’s sleep…He thought, looking her over…She catching his gaze and clearly preening a bit…

 

And not all that innocent, lady-like as she is…

 

Still, seems ok…

 

Elizabeth a bit peeved at the sudden focus of attention on only one lady of the party…By both husband and “beloved cousin”…

 

Lets make tracks…The car seats are first come, served…And I wanna check our berths…” she noted…Putting arm round Potter’s…

 

“Hoist me up, there, honey…” she indicated the train car stair…

 

“Of course…” Potter climbed up…Was about to set down the sachel but was halted by a loud cough from Smackles…Held the sachel and extended an arm…

 

“Miss De Russell?...Here we go…”

 

Elizabeth’s look taking on a Slayer intensity…

“Ah, thank you, Dr. Potter…” Marie beamed at Potter, standing by him in the train corridor…

 

“Dear?...” he offered an arm to Elizabeth…Who eyed him narrowly as she gained the last step and entered the corridor…

 

What was that?...Her expression transparent…

 

Smackles frowning as he climbed aboard…

 

Yeah, got ‘im right where you want ‘im

 

***

 

 

 


More's to come...

***


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