The Great Race


Professor Millicent "Buffy" Fate-Walthrop and William "Max" Walthrop


The Great Angel and Hezekiah


Madeleine DuBois


The Hannibal Super Twin 8


The Angel Special

Note: For Jack Lemmon...And my beloved Lynne Thigpen...Who've made a great Madeleine...

Yet More (Semi)Parallel Lives... "Great Race 1906"...Part I

In (semi)Parallel Lives, Buffy had a slight accident while making the neural
recording that restored Buffy Rebecca, her robotic sister...And found herself in an
alternate existence...

But, just as BR herself came out of the infinite potential universe of Buffies...So
Buffy's mind that night wandered through a number of alternate existences...Here's
another...

(The usual disclaimers as to character ownership)

"Great Race 1906"...Part I

It had to be done under the strictest secrecy...

Buffy though still weak, was determined to restore Buffy Rebecca as quickly as
possible...And she wanted it to be a surprise for her "brother-in-law"...who was
conscientiously performing Slayer patrol in her place, following her recent brush
with death and vampirism...

Who had no idea that she with Willow's help had retained Buffy Rebecca's
memories throughout the modified Wolfram-Hart resurrection ceremony that had
restored her...Ready to go into a new neural recording and pull Buffy Rebecca's
soul back into her robot body...

So it had to be done at night...

With help from Spike's partner in cybernetics, Warren the robotmaker, creator of
April and the unique artificial human brain that made Buffy Rebecca a true
soul...The one potential Buffy in the universe who could provide Spike with
salvation...

And Tara...Who had assisted Warren in reviving Buffy Rebecca's body with the
old
April brain so that the Greatest Slayer of All Time could help in the fight against
Darla and Wolfram-Hart...And be ready for BR's return...

They were sure it would work...BR's soul waited merely for the call of her
memories to return...

They just needed to separate the neural patterns of the two twins...human from
robot...
***
Buffy reached the lab where a deactivated Buffy-April waited with the new brain
ready...

She was glad to have missed poor BA's deactivation...Not that it hurt...Or
amounted
to more than shutting down a computer...Still...to see an exact copy of one's own
body...No, she was glad to have missed it...

Willow who had just come, was also glad...And let Warren know she preferred not
to see any more robots...

He agreed...One daughter a year younger than himself would be quite enough...
***
They got Buffy prepped and ready...She wasn't worried...She'd done this twice
already...Once involuntarily, once voluntarily...

Besides...she was a little anxious to distance herself from BR's own memories...Of
Spike, of their brief life together, of Buffy's deep unhappiness and rage at her
creation...And the pain after her battle with the Goddess of Glory and Victory...

Not that they weren't some beautiful memories...But they were a little
confusing...And she was a little...vulnerable...right now...

Spike had been so...during those days...

And so amazingly content with the little he gotten...She could never have
believed...

And they'd had so much...In so short a time...In a crypt, no less...

But of course that was Buffy Rebecca...Not her...She was waiting and hoping for
Riley's return...

It would not do to fall in love with William Walthrop before her sister was
restored...
***
Warren ran her through the procedure...Pretty dull actually...It was basically just a
set of headphones...That scan your brain from front to back...

Fortunately she could read or watch TV during it...But as it was so important to do
it properly and as she wanted so much to keep it a secret from Spike...They would
do it here and not at home...

Dawn had desperately wanted to come...But she had just recovered herself from
Darla's little party and Buffy had refused point blank...But Dawn would be the first
to be told when BR was revived...And they would reintroduce Spike and BR at the
Summers'...

Mom would have liked that...

***
She grins at Warren...He loves this, I just know it...After all the trouble I gave him
over BR...And here I am moving heaven and earth to get her back...for Spike...

And for me...And Dawn...

We need her too...
***
It happened just after half an hour...Willow had gone to get something for Buffy to
drink...

Tara and Warren were studying the data stream from the recorder...

They were so involved they didn't notice that a thunderstorm had begun outside...

Buffy was deep in her history book...She had a ton of work to catch up on...And a
brief spell of death was not likely to work as an excuse...

***
Lightening struck the lab...And knocked out the power...And caused a slight
outage
in the neural recorder...

Buffy passed out...
***
Theme from "The Great Race..." "The Sweetheart Tree"...
Music by Henry Mancini, Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
They say there's a tree in the forest,
A tree that will give you a sign;
Come along with me, to the Sweetheart Tree,
Come and carve your name next to mine.
They say if you kiss the right sweetheart,
The one you've been waiting for,
Big blossoms of white will burst into sight
And your love will be true evermore.
Play theme song (the Sweetheart Tree)

"I can't agree with you Millicent..." Angel LeGrand was telling Millicent
Fate...First female Physics doctoral student at Princeton as she suddenly passed out...
"Millicent?...Millie..."

He looked anxiously around...If he was found alone with her...In their present state
of undress...Expulsion from the University was a distinct possibility...Especially
with his laissez-faire academic record...

"Angel?..." Buffy woke with a start... "What's happened...Where's
Warren...Tara..."

The lab?...And what the hell are you doing here?...I thought you were in
Tibet...she wondered...

And why am I only half-dressed?...Not to mention...What the heck am I
wearing?...

He helped her to her feet...Please Millie...Up and dressed...Before anyone finds
us...Come on you...Stupid cow...he thought...

The things I do for a better grade in Mathematics he thought...

Who the devil is "Warren"...or "Tara"?...he wondered...Good God...She didn't tell
anyone she was coming?...He looked around nervously...Phew, no one in sight...

She must be crazed...

Well...He'd heard some women...In the throes of passion...And she'd probably
never...Before...

At least not with an Angel LeGrand...He smiled at his reflection in a gleaming
marble pillar near them...His teeth sparkled...

She was getting up...Thank heaven...And seemed a hair less hysterical...

***

Buffy stood up...She felt strange...And God did Angel look strange...In those
ridiculous clothes...

Like something out of one of those old Doris Day movies on TV... "Moonlight
Bay" or something like that...Was that a straw hat he was wearing?...And that coat
beside him...

Well...Her stuff wasn't much better...Though she felt it was best to put it on...Like
something out of Edith Wharton...And her hair was partially bunned up...Where it
hadn't come loose...

While they were...Nah, couldn't be...While they were...She felt...Yep, it
was...They'd been having sex...

He was looking around all over the place...Was he expecting someone?...Nope,
seemed more like he was hiding from someone...

It did look like a somewhat public place they were in...Though obviously after
hours...

She took a defensive position as she dressed...Until she was sure, no need to take
chances with a possible Angelis return...Even though he seemed fairly unAngelis...

Not so very concerned with her, she couldn't help noticing...Considering she'd
apparently just passed out and all...

Say?...She was up...Ouch...Was that?...My God it is...A corset...I'm wearing a
corset...

"Angel?...Angel!?..." she called to him...Snap out of it, please and listen, would
you?...she thought.... "Could you please tell me what the hell is up here?"

What the what?...Millie?...Pretty damned strong language there...

"Up where?..." he asked...

She shook her head impatiently...God, he is bloody stupid sometimes...

Say...Why is he down here with me?...I should be looking up at him...Nope, he's
not sitting down...Or kneeling...My God...I'm as tall as he is...

I'm tall...Geesh...She looked at one of the gleaming pillars where she could make
out her reflection and got closer...

I'm tall...Heck...Tall as old Angel...I...whoa...Oh no...I'm buck...Bucktoothed...Oh
my God...Look at my chin...

I look like Eleanor Roosevelt...Not that I don't admire her...But...

Well...I have nice eyes...Are they?...Blue?...Hair's pretty good...Figure seems
okaay...

Hard to tell in this corset...But I'm thin enough...

But I'm bucktoothed...she moaned inwardly...And my chin...

"Ummn...Millicent?..." Angel turned back to her... "If you're feeling better, I think
I'd better escort you back to your room..."

Millicent?...What the?...

Still, back to my room sounds better than waiting here to see if he becomes
Angelis...Or I figure out where Warren and the others went...And what the hell has
happened to me...

I wonder if I could find a good orthodontist at this hour...

***

Yet More (Semi)Parallel Lives... "Great Race 1906"...Part II

Buffy...Millicent...was following Angel...A very strange Angel...Back to...Her
room?...Following her fainting spell...

She couldn't understand any of it...But was beginning to think maybe...Something
had gone wrong with the neural transfer Warren and Tara had been carrying out...

This could be...Probably was...A hallucination...

Or...Maybe...Well, Warren had his crazy theory about infinite universes and
infinite potential Buffies...Of which the soul of her robotic sister, Buffy Rebecca,
was one...

As of course was she...

Could it be that she had "traded places"?...Nah, hallucination was far more
likely...After all, this clearly was a world well behind her own in time...

Unless this was a museum or something...And she and Angel
were...Actors?...Historical re-enactments, maybe...

Hey, maybe these teeth are a prop...Costume...Nope...Rats...

Angel was looking at her as he walked alongside...

Strange, strange young woman...But then...Bluestockings...An odd breed...

Not that it had stopped her from accepting his advances...But then, after all...

He was...Angel LeGrand...

She decided to try to get a little more info as they walked...He seemed sane
enough so far...

"Angel...This may seem a strange question...Well, a couple of strange questions..."

"Please..." he smiled at her...Anything to calm the hysteric down...

"Well, first things first...Are you?...Is your name?...Angel?" she looked at him, a
little worried...

"Of course...Millie, are you feeling alright?...Perhaps I should fetch a doctor?..."

It's all that reading...Like my father used to say...Affects their little minds...he
thought...

Their dear little minds, he corrected gallantly...

Fetch a doctor?...They make house calls?...This must be another world...she
thought...

Still...Not a terrible idea...Once they got back...To her room...Wherever that
was...So long as the docs here don't bloodlet or things like that...

"Ummn...Maybe that's a good idea...But also..."she stared at him... "What year is
this?...And where are we?..."

***
William Maximillan Walthrop...Max to friends, Engineering student, amateur
poet, English-born, Princeton class of 1897, strolled along towards the object of
his desire...

The off-limits quarters of the handful of Princeton women...Well...Women from
Evelyn College allowed to study at Princeton classes...Specifically...Of one
Millicent Fate, Physics major...

The girl he worships from afar...

A true romantic can look past a few buckteeth...Look at his young friend Franklin
Roosevelt, Teddy's distant cousin from New York...That sweet cousin Eleanor of
his he was so interested in...A younger image of dear Millie...

***
There...Walthrop saw...Coming round the building...The woman of his
dreams...The most brilliant woman...Or man, to be honest about it...he'd ever
met...Not to mention the sweetest, of course...

Whom he'd been head over heels about since a conversation in the Princeton
dining halls two months ago...

Well...sweetest... if you met her at the proper moment...After all...She was locked
in a most courageous struggle against centuries of prejudice...And naturally, she was
sometimes perhaps a little brusque...

Of necessity...

Who was that with her?...Oh, God...Not that fool LeGrand...That twit...That
conceited moron...With his "brooding" dark air to get the ladies...
Interested...And then that stupid flashing smile to reel them in...

She couldn't...Have fallen for that jackass?...Walthrop thought...

He must look in his mirror a hundred times a day...Flashing those damned white
teeth at every woman he meets...

Oh, Millie...You couldn't be so foolish...

He was pleased to note to himself that it was...Almost...An unselfish thought...He
really didn't want to see her hurt...Or made a fool of...

At least not by that fool...

***
Buffy...Millicent...Had reached her dorm building...In Princeton's Evelyn College's
rather limited Quarters...

Angel paused at the entrance to the building...

Do I need to invite him in?...she wondered...

"Angel...Are you coming in?..." she asked...In front of several women students and
an older woman whose shocked faces quickly revealed to her that she'd made a
major faux pas...

He was startled, momentarily...Coming in?...To the Womens' Quarters?...With
people around, listening?...Though he was also, of course, pleased...

It was only natural that the poor girl would forget herself...

Angel LeGrand, after all...

"Ummn...Millie...I'm sure the ladies here can take care of you...Unless you need
me to carry you up to your room, of course..."

He looked at the others...

"Miss Fate has had a slight accident...She collapsed on the walk path...I thought I
should escort her home...And, if I may I'd like to fetch a doctor for her..."

The older lady, a matron, stepped forward...Mr. LeGrand was such a gentleman,
she thought...

The rumors about him couldn't be true...

A perfect gentleman...And such dazzlingly white teeth...

***
"Millie?..." A young dark-haired woman looked at Buffy... "Are you alright?..."

Cordy?...Cordelia?...Buffy thought...Here?...

In an 1897 university...One of...maybe twenty women...In the only womens'
"college"...To use the term loosely...at Princeton...

"Cordy?..." she asked her...

"Are you alright?...You don't look well, Millie...What happened?..." Cordy...If it
was Cordy?...clucked at her...

"I'm fine...Ummn...Angel...Mr. LeGrand helped me...Cordy?..." Buffy looked at
her...

What is she doing here?...Oh, this is definitely not my universe...

"Yes, Mil?...What?...Do you want something?...You should sit down, you
know..."

Cordy...Well at least she uses the same name...told her...

"Ms. Chase is a born nurse..." the matron smiled at her...

Ah...Nursing...Whoa...Cordy?...A nurse?...Tending to the sick?...Cordelia
Chase?...

She decided to take the future nurse's advice and sat down in the nearest chair...

"Well..." Cordelia smiled at her... "You've set your cap at Mr. LeGrand, I see..."

"Ambitious, aren't we?...So much for the All-for-My-Studies Miss Fate..."

Fate...My last name is Fate?...Hmmn...

"He just brought me home, Cordy..."

"Certainly..." Cordy smiled at her... "And met you at the library...And spent most
of the evening with you..."

And had sex with me...Buffy did not add...

Somehow, though...I would have thought I'd be more happy about Angel being
able to have normal sex with me...And about him being human...she thought...

But somehow...His heart just didn't seem to be in it...Far as I could tell from when
I came in...

"Maybe I should get up to my room and lie down..." she told them...

Now...All I have to do is find out from them where my room is...
***
Walthrop, pacing stealthily outside, considered his options...

He could inquire politely as to Miss Fate's condition...He'd
heard...Somehow...About her accident and...

And how had he learned of that?...Ummn...

Following her by night did not sound like an explanation that would do well...

Well...He was just passing by...And wanted to see if Miss Fate was well and leave
his compliments...

Yes...That would work...Perhaps though he should wait just a bit...Come in just as
the doctor LeGrand was supposed to be summoning came in...

Leaving plenty of scope for conversation...Especially for an amateur poet...

Perfect...He took up his position in the bushes...

Funny...Somehow...Prowling around after Miss Fate in the night seemed very
natural to him...
***
As Mr. LeGrand was getting a doctor for her, the others persuaded
Millicent...Buffy...to wait downstairs in the parlor...

Odd...Buffy thought...She was beginning...To remember...Things...About this life
as well as her own back in modern Sunnydale...

Her room, for example, was number three, second floor...

And she...Had a living...Brother?...No...Mother...Yeah, that was it...She...er...this
Millie person...Had a living mother...Mom?...Mommy alive?...

She struggled to remember...No luck...Only Joyce's face came to mind...In modern
dress...

Still, maybe...

But this raised a disturbing thought...

Who was dreaming?...Hallucinating...Buffy Summers?...Or Millicent Fate?...
***
Angel returned half an hour later with an elderly doctor from town who treated
Princeton faculty...Supposedly skilled in the care of young...Hysterical or
neurotic...Women...

Who let them know he did not approve of women in university...Under any
circumstances...

Bad for them, he muttered...Gave them foolish notions...No wonder the young
lady was neurotic...

Book-learning addles women's brains, he told them as he examined Buffy...

Surprisingly he was quite unconcerned about delicacy in the exam...Rather blunt
about it, actually...Ordering her around like cattle...And utterly dismissing Cordy's
attempts to offer assistance...

"I think I just need to lie down for a bit..." Buffy told him...

The doc gave her a stern look...He would be the judge of that, young lady...

Well, at least no blood-letting, she thought..As he poked and prodded...

Angel had politely taken his leave...But would they please keep him
informed...His card...

"Angel LeGrand..." Gold monogram...ALG on the upper corners...And an
address...

Well, a bit much but might be useful to hang on to...

As the doctor continued his ministrations, the matron announced that Miss Fate
had another visitor...

A Mr. Walthrop...

"Spike!...Let him in...Spike!...Is that really you?..." she cried, spying a very
nervous Walthrop...

Spike?...Cordy and the matron wondered...Spike?...

Spike?...Walthrop wondered...Hmmn...Poor girl is at sixes-and-sevens, isn't she?...

Funny, though...It sounds almost familiar...Rather nice, actually...

"Ummn...Miss Fate...Hope you'll pardon my intrusion..."

"Oh...Spike...er William?...It's so good to see you again..." she told him, happily...

OW!...The doc poked at her...Miss Fate should know enough to keep still...

In his day...Young ladies were demure...Retiring...

Oddly, even Cordelia and the matron found the elderly doc a bit...

Perhaps...If the gossips and the foolish boy would leave them for a bit...He could
finish his examination of Miss Fate...If they'd like to stay...Perhaps they could find
another doctor...

The others sheepishly left them...

"Ms. Summers?..." The doctor looked at her... "It is you, isn't it?..."

Ummn...

"I think...You've met one of my other selves...I'm Benedictus, Glory's brother...At
least...His manifestation in this universe..."

He smiled at her...

Ben?...This grumpy old doc...Is Ben?...

***
He was indeed Benedictus...God of Mercy and Healing...Who'd taken an older
form in past manifestations in this existence...At the request of his followers...Who
wanted the Wisdom, Experience thing in their doctor-god...And then, when he and
Glory had fought in 382 over her desire to destroy this and several other billion
Earths in various universes...Well...He was stuck...

No so bad, really...He liked working with Humanity...And the elderly thing gave
him that air of authority his younger types lacked...

And he was aware of Buffy Rebecca's triumph over his sisters' united selves in the
Key's universe...So alls well that ends well...

Except of course...Buffy's current situation...

"How did you know it was me?...I don't look like this..."

"My existence stretches across multidimensions, Buffy..." Ben told her... "I tune
into souls, not the external...And I sensed your presense here..."

"And can you get me back?..." she asked him, hopefully...

Ummn, well...He was, unfortunately...Powerless...More over...His coming was in
part a little...Apology...

From the Powers That Be...Who'd made a request of him that he explain a few
things to poor Buffy...

She was...Well...Stuck here...

Stuck?...Here?...Forever?...In this backward universe?...

Well...Only in a sense...Buffy Summers in the home universe was fine...Just
stunned...

But...Well...Her mind had been...Sort of...Copied into a number of her
dimensional counterparts...

And he, Benedictus...Who had extensions in every dimension...Had been asked to
speak to those counterparts most likely to be adversely affected...

"I'm trapped here...And what about...My...Counterpart?..."

Not exactly trapped...Remember...Buffy back home is fine...Or will be soon...It's
just...Millicent now has...A lot of Buffy in her...

"But...What do I do?...Am I Millicent Fate or Buffy Summers?..."

You're both, he told her...

"But I...Am I the Slayer?...I don't feel my strength the way I used to..."

Ummn...Well, see...

The good news is...There are no vampires or demons active in this dimension...

The bad news...

***
"You see Buffy...er Millie...Millicent is you in this existence...And so when your
consciousness drifted here...Your memories, etc...Wound up in her...er you..."

This multidimension existence is no piece of cake to explain, Ben thought...

"But...Look at me...I'm not Buffy Summers...But I remember my life only as
Buffy... I don't remember...This..."

Well...Not exactly true, she thought...She had started to remember...Millie's life
here...

"You have been starting to remember a bit, haven't you?..." he asked her...

She nodded...Maybe a few bits and pieces, she told him...

"But...How do I deal with this?...I can't live in the nineteenth century..." Buffy was
getting frantic...Stuck here...No rights, no Slayer powers...No movies...No TV...No
music videos...

And Angel seems...Well...A bit of a jerk...

Of course...Spike seems pretty nice...And if there's no Buffy Rebecca here...

"Well, it's almost the twentieth...And you were living in it...As Millicent..."

"But...She's not me...I'm not her..."

"You'll remember your...her life in time...It's just that you'll..." he smiled... "Have an extra dimension to it..."

Funny doctor...Great...

And to think I nearly dated this guy...
***


Yet More (Semi)Parallel Lives... "Great Race 1906"...Part III

Trapped...In 1897...

No way home...

And yet...If this elderly version of Ben is right...This is home...And I am Millicent
Fate...Buffy thought...

Millie to her friends...

I just happen to have the memories of a woman from over 100 years in the
future...Well, her universe's future...In me...

On the one hand...I apparently have a living Mom...And I am the first woman
admitted to the Princeton graduate Physics department...Ever...

Not too shabby...

And at least some of my...er Buffy's...friends are here...If rather different...

On the other hand...I'm in the nineteenth century...Women can't vote, are treated
like idiot children, wear corsets...

And I look like Eleanor Roosevelt...

Again, it's not that I don't admire Mrs. Roosevelt...It's just...Why do I have to look
like her?...

Say...She...If she is in this universe...Ought to be just a bit younger than I
am...Hmmn...We could get to be chums...Yeah...

The weak-chinned, buck-toothed tall girls sorority...Well...

Looks aren't everything...And I'm not that bad-looking...Hey, Eleanor gets
Franklin...

And Angel...Well, this Angel...Human, to boot...Had sex with me
anyway...Though that was strange...

He doesn't seem all that interested in me...Took off before the doc...Ben...looked
me over...

Oh...Gee...Wait a minute...Spike...Or whoever he is...Is waiting out there in the
other room with Cordy...

How do I know him?...Is he my boyfriend?...lover?.. Hmmn, if so...Millie has
some explaining to do...

Or is he my devoted cousin or something?...

Concentrate...Ben said it would all come back...In time...

Thank goodness for dear old Ben...Though I wish he had a little power...To send
me home...

Still...Well...Maybe...I am home...

"Millicent?...Are you decent yet?..." the matron called...

"Ummn...Yes, I'm fine...You can come back in..." Buffy told her...

***
Walthrop entered with Cordelia...A bit...Nervous...Didn't wish to intrude...Just
wanted to see how Miss Fate was getting on...

"Oh...Sp...William...It's really so kind of you to come..."

And stay...Thinking of the absent Mr. LeGrand...

Hmmn...Except for the hair...And the glasses...He's my Spike alright,
lookswise...And human to boot...

"Miss Fate...It's so kind of you to remember me at all..." Walthrop told her...

Princeton dining hall...Yes, she remembered...He was at the dining hall...They
were debating some issue...And she was...With Cordy...Eating dinner...And he
said...God, what did he say?...

It was about Physics...He said something about the wave nature of
electromagnetism...That it was?...Elegant...Yes...He said it was an elegant way to
describe the universe...Poetic...And they were hooting him down...And he saw me
and asked me my opinion...Yes...

He asked for my opinion...And they all looked at me...Bunch of jerks...Wanted to
see me fall flat on my face...And I gave my opinion...Which matched his as to the
elegance part...But I said...Ummn...No, I can't remember...

But Ben is right...It is coming back to me...I can be Millicent...And maybe...Buffy
too...

She looked at Walthrop...Who was clearly rather interested...

He asked for my opinion...Not that I completely agreed with him...He doesn't
really understand the full theory on particle and wave mechanics...But...He asked...And
he really wanted it...

She blinked a moment... And grinned to herself...

I know the theory of particle and wave mechanics...Well, I think I do...Me...Buffy
Summers who barely passed high school Physics...Well...The late nineteenth
century opinion, anyway...

She looked at the beaming Spike...er William...Max to his friends...

Nope...He is not my devoted cousin...

This might not be all bad, this existence...

Still...What about Angel?...Mr. LeGrand...

Of course he might have at least called to see if she...

Oh, right...No real phone service for a few years yet...
***
Cordy provided the necessary chaperone...

"How goes your doctoral thesis, Miss Fate?..." William asked politely...

"Quite well, Mr. Walthrop..." Buffy told him...

Yeah...If I could just remember what it's about...

She wanted to tell him to call her...Buffy...Or at least Millie...But
somehow...Millie was restraining her...Not quite the thing on so short an acquaintance...

But that sure hadn't stopped dear Millie from having sex with Angel...she noted...

***
Mr. Walthrop ended the visit a few minutes later...Not wishing to tire Miss Fate
unduly...

And with Cordy's strong encouragement...

Buffy requested that he come again...To check on her progress...If he wouldn't
mind...

He nearly fell through the floor in happiness...

He likes me... Buffy-Millie thought happily...
***

Hah! She remembered... "Applications of Physics to the Study of Aerodynamic
Flight"...Yeah!...Her thesis...On the possibility of powered flight...Aircraft...

And a damned good thesis too...If only she could remember the details...

She had made it to her room with Cordelia's help...It was ominously loaded with
books...Calculus...Physics...Hmmn...How was she ever going to catch up to
Millie?...Well...She was Millie, after all...

And, she had, as Millicent, after all, mastered them once...Hmmn...Poetry...A few
novels, including a heavily marked copy of "Middlemarch" by George Eliot...And
some history...And "David Copperfield" ...Her...Buffy's...And Buffy
Rebecca's...Favorite...

So...She and Millie did have a connection...

Some photos...Miniatures...Mom...Whoa...It was Mom...Joyce in nineteenth
century costume...Maybe a few pounds heavier, but Joyce all the same...And she's
alive...Name...Name...What the heck is my mother's name?...Nope...Have to just
let it come...

Willow!...Yea!...There she is...Is she here at Princeton, too?...No...Nope,
she's...Married...Married?...To...Whoa...Alexander Sebastian Harris, newspaper
publisher...And owner of the New York Sentinel...

Willow is married to Xander...Well not my Willow and not my Xander,
exactly...But still...

Only a train ride away...

Well, this existence is looking better all the time...

Hmmn...I don't suppose...That Giles could be my dad...No such luck...Still...I don't
remember my...Millie's...dad yet...God, that would be so great...

'Course the idea of Mom and Giles...

Oh, come on...It would be great...Well...We'll see...

Now...If I could find a good orthodontist...And invent a few things...TV, rock
music, blow-dryers...

Hey...I remember History...I could change History...

Save that what's his name...That Archduke who got killed...No World War I...Bop
that other Austrian nut on the head before he hurts anyone...Tell Lenin Stalin is
not just a rough kind of guy...

'Course...

If I change one thing...God knows what might happen...And this isn't my
universe...I bop Hitler and here he's the guy who cures cancer...Nah...Not that
jerk...Still...

I'd better see Ben again and talk with him...Maybe this is why the Powers That Be
sent him to me...

But my Mommy's alive...Yes!...I should write her...And Willow and
Xander...Right now...But...

Maybe hold off on mentioning the Buffy thing...

***
She was dealing...Buffy-Millie thought happily the next morning...Dealing just
fine...

Just a few minutes peace and it would all start coming back to her...

Rather pleasant here if you just lay back and think about it...

"Miss Fate...Are you feeling better?..." the matron knocked at her door...

"Oh...Much...Ms....er Miss...Mrs...Hen...Hen...Henricks..." Yeah...Henricks
...The old battleaxe...

"You know that normally I would not consider holding your breakfast...But
considering last night I have saved something for you down in the parlor...If you'd
ever care to descend..."

I'm late?...Heck it's only eight-thirty by the clock...

Oops...Don't I have classes?...Am I supposed to be somewhere?...

Schedule...There must be a schedule...Somewhere...Ah...Nope,
letters...Whoa...Letters from Mom...Mother...And Father...

Daddy...Here too?...And still with Mom...Wait...Bearded guy...Dapper...Learned
scholar...Sorry Father to have so much trouble with this...My dad a scholar?...Holy
cow!...I remember Father...He's Emperor Constantine...Well...He looks like
him...The Emperor Constantine XXX Drages, Commander of the Knights of
Byzantium in my...Buffy's...world...

My dad is an emperor...

Well, maybe not here...But he is a professor... Of Roman history...And a very
sweet father...

And Mom is an art historian...Kristine by name...Well...

Not a bad little existence at that...

Ben was right...The blanks are starting to fill...But I still remember Buffy and her
life...

What did he say...I'd have an extra dimension to my life?...

"Miss Fate!!!" Mrs. Henricks hollered...

"Coming..." Just find the schedule, grab my books...Whoops...Corset, corset...

No demure young lady is without one...

How the hell do you put this thing on?...
***
Cordy...Studying at the dorm today...Brought her up to speed...Though
wondering...

Was poor Mil quite all there, yet?...

She had a schedule in her large notebook...Always kept it there...

Advanced Physics class at 9:30...Lab at 12:30...TA for Seminar at 5:00...

And this was her easy day...

TA...I have to TA a Physics seminar?...At 5 pm?...Whoa...Ah, phew...

The professor only lets me grade papers and clean the boards...That sort of thing...

Thank God for sexism...Well, to be fair...The professors don't allow the males
much leeway either...

Also she had to turn in her preliminary thesis today...By 1 pm...Sharp...

Where...Hmmn...Think...Ah, the printer's...Natch...No word processor's, etc...You
have to send it into the printer's in advance...Phew...

Quick stop on the way to class...Wherever class was...And...
***

Walthrop decided to take the great risk of calling on Miss Fate that morning...

True it might seem a little forward, a little unseemly...But she had had an
accident...And most of all...

She'd asked him to call...

She was very pleased to see him...Despite Matron Henricks' disapproval of
forward young men...Especially as he seemed to know where the Physics Department
buildings were...As well as the university printer's office...

And was happy to escort her...
***
"I've told you, Miss for the fifth time...Mr. LeGrand picked it up for you...
" the printer's assistant told her...For the fifth time...

Walthrop was feeling a mite discouraged beside her...Back to LeGrand again...

Well, he'd have to speak to her about him...Let her know his reservations even if it
angered her...

Once again, he was rather pleased to find himself having a more or less unselfish
thought on the matter...

Angel "picked up" my preliminary doctoral thesis?...Did I ask him to?...
I think...I mentioned it was at the printer's...

He was looking for help in Math, wasn't he?...Yeah...I remember...He wanted help
on his BA thesis...He's been a year late in getting it in...And what with starting at
Princeton so late...He's been getting embarrassed...His father expects him to
graduate...Finally...This year...

In fact though, from what he told me...His "thesis" was a piece of ...

She turned to Walthrop...

"William...Do you happen to know Mr. LeGrand?...From last night?..."

The assistant chuckled at that...Who doesn't know "the great Angel" at
Princeton?...Especially...The ladies...

Walthrop glumly nodded...What...Does she want directions to his rooms now?...

"I need to speak with him...As soon as possible..." she told him...Rather grimly...

Hmmn...Very frightening when she sets her face like that...I wonder...Could it
be?...LeGrand?...

A cad of a thief?...he thought happily...Still one must not denounce a fellow
Princetonian without evidence...

"Miss Fate, you don't think...LeGrand took your thesis?...With ill intent?..."

"Don't know, Spike...er Will..." He didn't seem to use "Spike" though I get the
feeling he likes it...

"Call me Max, if you'd care to, Miss Fate...All my friends do..."

"Max, eh..." she grinned at him for a moment...

A ray of sun on the benighted...Then she turned to the grimmer issue...Mr.
LeGrand...
***

The cad...The worthless scoundrel...The...Well, not to mince words...the &#$*...If
a
gentleman may use such words...In his mind at least...

Not a gentleman...Walthrop noted solemnly...Beyond the pale...

"That $%&*ing piece of #$%* crappy little #$%&!!!!" Buffy-Millie hollered...

Walthrop looked at her...Shocking perhaps but certainly...Well put...

As they read the notice that Mr. Angel LeGrand, class of '97 would be presenting
his thesis on Principles of Aerodynamic Flight...On Thursday next...

He stole it...He stole my doctoral thesis...Angel...Stole my doctoral thesis.. she
thought in shock... "Screwed me...Literally...And stole my doctoral thesis..." she
muttered, still in shock, to Walthrop...

Well...He wasn't her Angel, after all...

Spike...William...Max?...looked on sympathetically...But wondered about this
"screwing" thing...

Wait half a mo...She didn't mean?...The way the lower sort of man discussed...

Relations...

No...Millicent?...Ridiculous...Just some odd bit of slang, that's all...

"We'll complain to the board of trustees...He won't get away with this, Millie..."

She looked at him...So sweet yet strong, so cute yet sexy...so Spike...So...

Short...

Well, I must be...Big...About this...She down at the little fellow...My God, he's
Dreg to my Glory...Sizewise...

Can't help it...I've got to get some pleasure out of this and being tall is the only
halfway decent thing to come my way so far in this freaking crazy universe...

But it's sweet of him to want to help...So like my...er, Buffy Rebecca's...William...

Post-redemption, anyway...

Well...I guess in this world...Or hallucination...It's ok to call him my William...I
have BR's memories after all...

"William, thank you...For wanting to help..." she smiled at him, lighting up her
slightly blotched and tear-swollen face...

She's really so beautiful when she smiles, he thought...Even the teeth look great...

Hmmn...Those BR memories were sure nice memories...I wonder...she thought...Is
he as nice as the human side of the William I know?...

I couldn't bear it if he's a creep too...

***
Stolen her thesis?...He, Angel LeGrand?...Really, Miss Fate...

She, with Walthrop beside her, had confronted him outside his building...

Well, somebody had taken it from the printer's...And that somebody...Was Angel
LeGrand...

Well, of course...He had picked up her little packet...As a favor, knowing she'd be
indisposed...And concerned about it...

But to accuse a gentleman of such disreputable conduct...

His thesis was his own work...He'd been pleased that she had borrowed some of
his ideas and expanded on them...

Quite flattering, really, he noted...And he had no objections to make to the trustees
board...

Unless of course...She intended to pursue these ridiculous accusations...

Walthrop made a gallant gentleman's try...Calling LeGrand out...

LeGrand...And a few of his devoted chums...Noted that he did not engage in
fighting midgets...

As for the lady...Here was her little packet...He regretted having ever shown her a
little...Kindness and sympathy...

Buffy-Millie looked at him for about ten seconds, then...

Walthrop looked on for a half-second at the astonishing sight of Millie Fate
advancing on Angel LeGrand, clearly with murder in her heart...And joined in...

Unfortunately...Some of LeGrand's fellows were quite the street toughs...A
gentleman of his position sometimes requires...Protection...And Buffy-Millie was
not up to her former strength...

Was pleasant to see little Walthrop fighting beside her, she noticed as she climbed
out of the muck LeGrand's thugs had left them in...And they were arrested for
creating a public disturbance...
***

The board of trustees listened with amusement to the protests of student Millicent
Fate regarding the actions of the well-known, wealthy, and well-connected Mr.
LeGrand...

A gentleman, like Mr. LeGrand?...Steal a woman's doctoral
thesis?...Preposterous...

Clearly the poor girl had found the work too difficult...Rather cheap of her to
insult a favorite son of Princeton like this, though...

Ridiculous idea letting women into the Mathematics and Physics curriculum
anyway...

Work of a few hair-brained academics...

A threat to the fabric of Society, really...And look at the effect on the poor
woman's character...Lying like this...Her poor overtaxed brain seemed to actually
believe its own lies as well...

The two radical professors from her department who came to her defense were
easily brushed aside...Foreigners, anyway...

Radicals...With socialistic leanings, no doubt...Should never have let them slip
onto the faculty...

Fortunately, Mr. LeGrand was a true gentleman, of noble character...And did not
choose to press the matter...

And regarding this matter of a police arrest for the disturbance of Princetonian
peace...

Miss Fate was quietly informed it would be best for her to depart Princeton...

Sadly, her response was not quiet...Not ladylike at all, the board shook its
collective head...

Yes, a grave mistake to make an experiment like this...
***

Yet More (Semi) Parallel Lives... "Great Race, 1906"...Part IV...

Walthrop left Princeton as well in protest over the Board of Trustees' treatment of
Miss Fate...

Despite her strenuous objections...Especially after learning that his family back in
New England...Who had only recently transplanted from England...The same
Amelia Sr., Amelia, and Philip Walthrop whom her Spike had described to Buffy
Rebecca in her...Buffy's...own universe...Were not particularly wealthy...

Still she couldn't help being pleased...At least this Walthrop bore considerable
resemblance to her own...er Buffy's...er Buffy Rebecca's own...

True blue when given his chance...Even if it was a bit unnerving to her to have
him only come up to her shoulder...

Fortunately a small Midwestern college, run by radical types, who had actually
endowed chairs for women...Was eager to take up her cause and accepted them
both into its Engineering and Physics programs...

Hardly Princeton...But...

Before they left for the Midwest...Buffy-Millie decided to visit her parents...At the
small college in western Massachusetts where they both worked...

About time she met them and saw her...Millie's...home...So, I'm an East Coaster
here...

And she wished to visit dear Wilhelmina...Willow...and Alexander in New
York...Who had written after hearing of her plight in sympathy, inviting her to
stay...

Will and Xander...Married...Wow...Gosh, I hope Will's dealt with...Well...

Maybe Tara isn't in this dimension...

Of course things had to be settled with dear little Spike...Er Max...Er William...

But that was easily taken care of...If Millie was as ok with it as Buffy was...

After all, they could hardly go out to the Midwest together...Unless...

And he'd proven himself a true Walthrop...

She sensed he needed her...Maybe not as much as poor Spike/Walthrop had but...

And, well...to be honest...the need was mutual...

Millie was ok with it, Buffy-Millie decided...

At least no protests were voiced from any other part of her mind...

Knowing he'd need a little encouragement...And wishing to nail things down
quickly...Buffy-Millie took the forthright approach...

She was a little tired of waiting for the guy...At least in her...Buffy's...universe that
just hadn't worked out well...

Besides...She was a leetle nervous about meeting parents and friends she did not
remember well as yet...Alone...

She got down to business when he came by to help her pack...She'd like him to go
with her to New England and New York...Meet the parents...

Meet her parents?...Ummn...Like an escort, that sort of thing?...Walthrop
thought...Encouraging...

Not a problem for a Victorian gentleman...Matter of fact...He could introduce her
to his friends, the Roosevelts, in New York...Dear old Teddy was back from
Washington for the summer...Had she heard of him?...Assistant Secretary of the
US Navy?...Perhaps read one of his books?...Doing so well in politics right now...And
dear Edith...And the children...

She seemed to recognize the name...

Hopefully his savings would hold out...But making the visiting rounds might
actually save him a bit before the new college got underway...He would be
heading for New England anyway...And she should have a companion on the trip...

And she'd like to meet Amelia Walthrop and his sibs...If ok?...

Meet my mother?...And the chicks?...Walthrop thought...Oh, a courtesy call...Such
a thoughtful girl...

Very encouraging, he thought...Best idea I ever had was to stop by her place that
evening...

She must be getting over the height difference...

Hmmn...Meeting the Teddy Roosevelt...Well, not quite the Teddy yet...But
still...Neat, she thought...

Geesh...1897...There's going to be a war...Next year I think...Yeah...Should I say
anything to Teddy... "Keep your head down, you're fated to be President"
maybe?...Nah...Ben had recommended not playing around with history...Anyway,
back to basics...

She looked at Walthrop...He wasn't quite getting it...Though he was definitely
interested...

"Will...I'm not exactly the belle of the ball, you know...But if you're ok with
that...I'm sure we'd do well together...Similar interests and all that..."

"And I know you care for me..." she looked at Walthrop who was now
beginning to get it and trying to recover... "Naturally, same here...So..."

Rushing things perhaps...But she needed a little stability in her life...And she'd
gotten to know him a bit better in the past two months...Definitely a Walthrop...

Ummn...Why was he so?...Silent?...Guess I should've let him make the first
move...But I'm leaving in two days...Then we go right out to Indiana after I...Or
we...Get back...No time...

He doesn't look all that happy...Gee...

I know, the teeth and chin...And I am so tall...Oh...Wait...Maybe...

"I love you, Will..." she told him...

Yeah that was it...

Definitely...He looks much happier...

***
Buffy-Millie's dad had the twinkle in the eyes she remembered the Emperor as
having had...

And the same first name...Constantine...Constantine Fate...

She wondered...Had he perhaps been holding something back from her and
Mom...Mother...All these years?...

Imperial princess Buffy-Millicent Theodora...Well...Maybe not...

But he was a grand one all the same...Giles himself couldn't have done the father
bit better...

And she was remembering...Papa, wonderful, sweet Papa...Teaching
her...Encouraging her...As Mother did as well...

Maybe it was worth losing MTV...For parents like these...

But...She mustn't let herself...Forget...At least not totally...Buffy's father...

And yet...Constantine Fate was her father...Here...And always had been...

Still...She must never forget Hank Summers...She could never forget Joyce, not
with Kristine her spitting image in 1890's dress...But she might forget Hank...If
she wasn't careful...

And somebody has to remember him...

***

Her parents were loyally furious at her forced resignation from Princeton...

Professor Fate vowing to call LeGrand out himself...He'd show that young
buffoon...Sneak thief...A thing or two...

Her mother, Kristine, very Joyce in her sensitivity to Buffy-Millie's moods,
guessed her daughter's relationship to Mr. LeGrand might have crossed
certain...Boundaries...

Nothing she had to be ashamed about...Kristine told her when she tearfully
confessed to her after a few days...Perhaps though...Mother'd talk to Father about
it at some later date...He was already quite angry enough at the young man...

She herself wouldn't mind a little target practice at the fellow herself, Kristine
noted...

Yeah...I guess I can pass up MTV for these two...Buffy-Millie happily noted...

Her parents' anger was a bit overwhelmed by their concern at Millie's
announcement of her betrothal to Walthrop and their plans to move to
Indiana...And damned well complete their graduate degrees...

Walthrop was rather startled himself...He understood they had an arrangement of
sorts between them but...

Still...The Fates considered...Walthrop seemed like a fine young man...A fine short
young man, the Professor noted to himself...

Their Millie insisted she was genuinely in love with him...

And they did prefer her not to go alone to the Midwest...

***
Amelia Walthrop was...To the extent Buffy-Millie remembered...Via Buffy
Rebecca's merged memories...the image of the tattered old photograph twenty-first
century Spike had kept...

Very Emma Thompson...And sweet...Though clearly steel-willed...And devoted to
her oldest son's welfare...

A little intimidating, actually...Buffy was a bit surprised to find herself so
nervous...The human Mum-in-Law...

Well, certainly an improvement on Drusilla...

She had never felt quite so self-conscious...Either as Buffy or Millie...As when
Amelia gave her the full inspective glance...

A little tougher than she'd expected, this...

She decided to bring out what she felt was her strongest point...Her intellect...

Fortunately, she had recovered a fair portion of Millie's formidable
knowledge...And Walthrop had told her Amelia was a strong advocate of women
intellectuals...Though her own education had of necessity been in patches...

Unfortunately, in her nervousness, she babbled rather foolishly...Though William
assured her she was doing fine... "Scoring well"...An expression she'd
given him which he'd come to fancy...

The kids were no problem, fortunately...Sweethearts both, especially young
Amelia...

Well...Now she knew...

So that's why Spike took to Dawn so quickly...And never harmed her even before
the chip's appearance...

A little gift to her Spike from the Powers That Be...Dawn and little
Amelia...Identical...

Phil was a neat kid as well...Practical bent of mind...But with a refreshing degree
of respect for her intellect...Must be from exposure to his Mum...He enjoyed
discussing science with her, especially the race to build a powered aircraft...

Will had told him of her work on the problem...Was she going to try it herself?...

Well...Maybe someday...First she had to finish her doctoral work...Then, financial
backing...

Well...He reflected...That was easily addressed...Marry Will...He'll make some
money for you and I'll help you build the craft...

Deal...She told him...Practical kind of a kid...But very sweet...

Will...Max...Took on the task of informing his mother of their plans...

She'd rather guessed it...Adoring letters from him regarding Millie for the past four
months had primed her...And it only took a moment to see he was set on her...

She was however a trifle concerned about Miss Fate's heart...Their marriage was
convenient for her, and to be fair, for him...But...She wondered if the girl had her
heart in it...

Her Will craved affection...And as a good Mum, she felt he was entitled to it...And
Millie, clever as she was, and hopefully, capable...Seemed a little...Cold...

She had to be honest she told Buffy-Millie in their private conversation...

Cold...I seem cold?...Buffy-Millie thought...Me?...Buffy Summers?...Cold?...

She might think differently if she had seen us together two weeks ago...Max had
been quite startled by her...Skill...And pleased...

I even let him call me Buffy...And called him Spike...Among other things...

So we have bedroom nicknames now...Just between us...Is that cold?...

Still, she's talking about feeling and heart...The important things...Not a little
sexual heat...

This was disturbing...She respected Amelia's perception...Was this what Riley had
sensed?...

"It's been a rough six months for me, it's true...But I love Will and I will try to
make him as happy as I can..." she told Amelia...

She hoped so...Amelia told her...
***

Yet More (Semi) Parallel Lives... "Great Race, 1906"...Part V...

Neither family being especially wealthy...Mrs. Walthrop a "widow" of sorts...
With a small inherited income...

Buffy soon realizing it was best not to delve too deeply into Mr. Walthrop's state...

And the Fates, poorly recompensed college teachers...

But especially with the breath of the Princeton-LeGrand scandal hovering over
them...

Buffy-Millie and William chose to keep their wedding preparations to a bare
minimum...

Which irritated one Wilhelmina Harris...Willow to her friends...Wife of the owner
of the New York Sentinel...New York's favorite newspaper...

Millie's and now Buffy-Millie's long-time best friend...

And a young lady not unused...To "scandal"...

After all, a short, red-haired, fiery-tempered, intelligent...Jewess...Marrying into
one of New York's wealthiest families...

Buffy was pleased to see that Xander must still be preety Xander...To deal with the
kind of ruckus this sort of thing had raised...

All for the love of his Willow...That's my Xander Harris, she thought...Despite any
minor differences...

And she was rather happy to learn that her family...Not to mention Walthrop...Had
no..."problems" with Willow...

In fact she was rather relieved to remember that Millie had been best friends with
Willow forever...

After all...Late nineteenth century...

Buffy did not want to find out that her new self was a fire-breathing racist under a
thin veneer of culture...Especially as she was as much Millie as she was Buffy...

But Willow was clearly annoyed with her Millie's attitude...

The plighted couple were visiting the Harrises in New York...

"You two don't have to hide under a bushel basket, Millie..." Willow told her...

"Do they, Alex..." Clearly not a question...

The young newspaper publisher agreed whole-heartedly...And did, in this case,
despite his somewhat more well developed sense of propriety...

He'd learned it was best to concede the field to Willow at home...

A woman as passionate in her angers and hates as in her devoted love of her
husband, two children, and extended family...

She...With Alex's enthusiastic...Well, migitated by his slight concern over the
proprieties...support...Insisted on giving them an engagement party...

To which she invited many of New York's notables...Including Walthrop's old
friend, Theodore Roosevelt...His young distant cousin Franklin and niece
Eleanor...Several literary luminaries...The famed proponent of powered
flight...Who had thought quite highly of dear Millie's theoretical
work, Octave Chanute...And...Quite pointedly...Mr. Angel LeGrand...

***
Angel...Willow invited Angel...Buffy-Millie thought, horror-struck...

What was she thinking?...

"Will, what are you thinking?...Inviting LeGrand?..." she asked her...

"I want to see the look on his face when he sees who the party is for..." Willow
grinned at her...

She didn't tell him who the party was for?...

"I told him an old friend of mine was getting hitched...He thinks he's doing us a
great courtesy by coming...To the little Jewish girl's ball..." Willow noted...

What a guy...And something that New York's growing Jewish community was
sure to remember...Should he perhaps ever wish to enter politics at some future date...

Buffy was a little distressed to see that some of New York's finest turned Willow's
invite down...Very politely...

Not for her sake...But...Damned prejudiced jerks...

Well, better times are coming...In a few decades, anyway...

Somehow though...It was embarassing...Not for Willow...But to see people she'd
read about, admired...Acting like...

God, she couldn't believe it...Eleanor Roosevelt declining a Jewish woman's
invitation...

Well, at least Teddy and Franklin were coming...And maybe it was Eleanor's
family who had refused to let her go...

"Oh, it's all right..." Willow assured her... "Most of the others are only coming for
fear of what Alex will print about them if they don't..." She grinned wickedly at
Buffy-Millie...

"He's a good husband, my Alex..."

And a man of principle...It went without saying, of course...she rushed to add
loyally...

***

Walthrop was rather pleased at the thought of confronting the sniveling thief
without his street toughs...The thought of ripping LeGrand's throat out somehow
seemed very appealing...

A pleased Buffy-Millie won his promise of good behavior...

***

Teddy was a delight...She found herself quite captivated by him...

Far more intelligent and charming...Sensitive...Than she'd ever imagined from
years of watching actor Teddies crying "Bully, bully" and waving a big stick on TV...

Nothing like meeting them in the flesh, she thought...

She was very pleased to find he had great respect and liking for William...Who'd
been out West with him several times...And had been a good friend to him in
Europe where mutual friends had introduced them while Teddy was dealing with
the sad case of his dear brother, Elliot...Eleanor's father...

Her pleasure was enhanced by his strongly expressed opinion on Princeton's
behavior towards her...And his equally strongly expressed opinion of a certain
fellow guest...

Mr. LeGrand was quite the wallflower at this affair...And chose to leave rather
early...

To both William's and Theodore's disappointment...

And Buffy-Millie's...To see Angel facing a thrashing by William...And Teddy
Roosevelt...

Not a bad prospect...Much as she'd prefer to do it herself...

Sadly for him, young Franklin Roosevelt was left to face the remnants of
Buffy-Millie's annoyance...

"She doesn't seem to like me very much..." he noted to the charming Mrs.
Harris...Which surprised him...

Everyone liked him...And she reminded him so much of his dear cousin Eleanor...

You're lucky Eleanor didn't show up tonight...You...Angel...Buffy-Millie thought,
looking at the somewhat puzzled and crestfallen young man...

I might have given out a little future history...About a certain Lucy Mercer...

Well...Maybe I'm being a little harsh...Different universe, after all...

She looked at dear little William...

Max...You won't let me down, will you?...she thought...

Well, if Buffy Rebecca can put her trust in the human half of his vampire
counterpart...

***

The years following were a mixed blessing to Millicent...er Buffy...

She and Walthrop were successful in completing their graduate degrees at the
small college in Indiana...Hers, a doctorate in Physics...His, a masters in
Engineering...

Although Buffy-Millie was not able to reinvent the twenty-first century...At the
dawn of the twentieth...

She was able to make use of her Buffy memories in a profitable way...

By recreating small but highly useful items she remembered reasonably well from
everyday use...

Like, for example, an amazing mechanical tool for opening cans easily...

Which her husband the young engineer-poet translated into workable
gadgets...Whose initial success soon persuaded them to risk their modest savings
in...A small factory...Which within two years had become a rather large one...

The Fate-Walthrop Company...And Spike...er Max...surprised himself by turning
out to have superb mangerial and sales ability...

Which in fact did not particularly surprise his wife...


She was pleased to work with him as a partner...With most of the designing end in
her care...

And sincerely joyed in having two children with him over the next three
years...Although she made a point of introducing him to the wonders of birth
control afterwards...

While no intention of giving up the pleasures of her Max's company...No great
desire to die young in endless childbirths, thank you...

But there were...Problems...

She was terribly frustrated in her career goals...There seemed no chance to do real,
creative work...Despite her husband's enthusiastic support...Both emotional and
practical...

Going down as the inventor of the can opener and a few household nick-nacks was
not what she...Millie...Had dreamed of when she went into Physics...

Besides...These weren't her ideas...They were just the dregs of her...Buffy's...
Memories of the past...er future...

She wanted to make her own discoveries...Or at least, do or create something
unique...

As long as Slaying was out of the question...

And what made it far more irritating...Was Angel's success...In the full glare of a
soon devoted public spotlight...

It was an age suited to an Angel...New technology was available allowing a man to
travel faster and farther...In any medium...On land, in water...Even...The air...And
it needed to be tested...

By a handful of daring, courageous heroes...Who instantly became world-wide
stars...The medium of publicity having likewise reached a new peak...
Instantaneous transmission of events...by telegraph...telephone...Even wireless...

And of all these heroes, one stood out, head above the rest...

The gallant, courageous, noble, handsome, independently wealthy...Dazzlingly
white-toothed...

Angel LeGrand...The Great Angel...As his adoring public chose to label him...

With a little persuasion from his publicity men...

Arrgh...
***

And there was...Poor Max...

She loved him dearly...But...While he had no doubt of her affection...

She could be difficult at times...Her frustration...With a relatively primitive
existence...With the failure of her dreams...Sometimes fell on him...

Much to her shame...And constantly repeated, deep, deep regret...

She realized she took him much too much for granted...

It made him wonder a bit...About her inmost feelings...

He was...Uncertain at times...Of her true love...

This crazed obsession with Angel...

She did her best to reassure him...That he was the one dearest to her heart...

He was...Really...

She went so far as to tell him of Buffy and her world...To help explain her
frustrations and her occasional strange behavior...Knowing he might think...

Could she offer greater proof that he was the love of her life?...

Oddly enough he accepted her tales...Somehow, he felt...It explained a great
deal...And some of it...Well...

Sounded familiar...

Yes, he could believe there might be other universes...Other dimensions...

Where dwelt alternate forms of Millicent...er Buffy...And himself...

And a Mr. Wells had just written a fascinating novel about a man traveling in
time...

But...The old issue came back to haunt her...Even in her greatest expression of her
trust...

"So...You say you knew...A version of Angel...In this other existence?..."

Ummn...Well...Barely...He was a much better person...Though he was a vampire...

Like your counterpart...

"And he left you to me there as well, eh..."

"Hardly, honey...Left is not the right word by a long shot..."

Ah...So...What did happen to him...

"He...was..."

"He turned evil...And I had to kill him..." she told him brightly...

A white lie...For the sake of a happy marriage...And my beloved husband's
self-respect...

"So you killed him...And my counterpart got a chance to take his place..."

No...Not like that, see...

Your counterpart was very noble...After he fought off his curse and all...My robot
sister came to help him redeem himself and...

"My counterpart wound up with...Your robot sister..."

I see...Walthrop said quietly...

It was very romantic...she told him...I fell in love with him too...After our minds
were merged...

Ummn...

Probably before...she told him...I just didn't realize it...

I see...Max told her...

Angel no doubt blocked me from your view...

"I love you, Will..." she told him...Looking so glum and ashamed...

Couldn't he understand?...This thing with LeGrand...Was just...

He told her everything would be...Was...Fine...He knew she loved him...

Really...
***

She did have a chance to work with a Dr. Langely of the Smithsonian
Institution...A reasonably generous man in terms of offering shared credit...

At least for 1903...

Who hoped to be the first man to develop a working powered aircraft...

She hoped, knowing as she did about the Wright brothers, that he might at least be
the second...

Though one never knew...It being, after all, another universe...And perhaps, her
boss...would be remembered...Among the more expert at least, as having built a
superior craft...

With hopefully...At least some mention of her theoretical contributions to the
design...

However they had a rather serious disagreement in the work...He wanted to launch
his "aerodrome" from a houseboat in the Potomac...Using a catapult...

An idiotic idea, she thought...

And even crazier to have it done under full public scrutiny...Without any
preliminary testing...

Still the poor man was in a tough spot...He had to deliver...And he was the Boss,
however kind he might be to her...

She wasn't sure about the date...Too soon she thought...Scanning the papers for
any announcement of the Wrights' success...

The test was held in the full glare of publicity...And Dr. Langely kept his word to
her, mentioning her contribution to the design prominently...

Unfortunately, he insisted on using the catapult...At every disasterous try...

Even worse, he'd managed to get public backing...At a time when public backing
was not easy to come by...And was very carefully watched over...

Despite the fact that several top men in the field, including Chanute, praised the
design...And agreed the catapult idea was the real cause of the failure...

The press had a field day...

And a large share of the blame for the miserable failure fell on her...

Imagine...That fool Langely...Taking on a female "physicist" as a
collaborator...No wonder...

"Professor" Fate...What a ludicrous notion...

Not to mention the waste of public funds...And the embarassment to the Nation...

Even William's dear friend Teddy...Now President Teddy...Backed quietly away
from any association with her...

Naturally news of the Wrights' success came out a short time afterwards...

And while Angel LeGrand was not foolish enough to risk his life being the first
man to fly a powered aircraft...He was quite content to be fourth...And set some of
the first records...As the acclaimed "Great Angel"...

Angel...What a perfect name for the "Prince" of the New Air Age...The Age
of the Technologic Pioneer...

The Press loved it...They loved him...As did...As always...The ladies...

As for "Professor" Fate...

The quotes stuck...And stuck in her craw...

Arggh...

***
Much to her joy and relief...Walthrop was as determined as she to knock LeGrand
off his little pedestal...

Something had to be done...She deserved her chance to set things right, he told
her...

All she had to do...Was beat the little twit...At his own game...

Set a few trivial new records...Go a little faster, Fly a little higher...

And in machines designed and built by herself...Not fronting for some company of
design engineers...His dear papa's company at that...

Her courage and skill proven...The public would flock to her...Not of course that
he thought she was concerned with that sort of thing...

"It would be kinda nice..." she admitted to him sheepishly...

The basis for their lasting relationship...
***

Yet More (Semi) Parallel Lives... "Great Race, 1906"...Part VI...

A blow came to them at this time...Especially to poor William...

His beloved mother died...Of diphtheria... Barely 46 years old...

Buffy-Millie was furious with herself for weeks...To have wasted time...And
energy...

On schemes to show up Angel...

When she could have been creating penicillin...vaccines...God knows...the
CAT-scan, perhaps?...

She couldn't discuss this with poor Will...He had too much grief to hold her hand
on something like this...

She sought the advice of the only other person in this universe who could
understand her plight...And sorrow...

Good old Ben...Now, thanks to a necessary change of appearance...It having been
time for his old self to go...And for him to take a new and slightly younger form...
Good middle-aged Ben...Who'd kept in touch so that she could speak to him
regarding any difficulties she might have in adjusting...

She wrote him from Indiana...And, true friend and benevolent minor deity that he
was, he came to them while they were back in New England...Settling poor Mum's
affairs...

She felt terrible...She'd only meant for him to write...But he took his pledge to
assist her "transplantation" seriously...

Buffy-Millie explained her guilt...She was wasting her time and energy on
senseless things...When she could be saving millions...Bring the world the miracles
she had grown up with...Taken for granted...

Ben sympathized...He knew what it was like to know a cure was possible...And to
have no chance to put it into effect...

But...

She wasn't a doctor...Or a biologist...And even if she changed professions...She
had little knowledge of the details of the workings of the miracle medicines she'd
described to him...

Not something she could build a career on...

She reluctantly agreed...

But, Ben pointed out to her...Noting poor Walthrop with his little sister and
brother...

There was always a way one could help the living...

***
She insisted on Amelia and Philip staying with them before William could ask
her...

It would be like having Dawn back with her...she noted happily...And Phil was a
sweetheart...

Only her sorrow for Amelia Sr's loss... And Will and his sibs' grief...Kept her from
expressing her full happiness at their coming...

William was deeply grateful for his wife's kind heart...

She would have made...Must have been...What did she call it?...Oh, yes...

A wonderfully compassionate Slayer...

***
Young Amelia and Phil now respectively 14 and 16, took to assisting her...With
little Buffy and William, Jr., the children...And in her work...

With the greatest devotion...And admiration for their sis...

But...

They couldn't help noticing...

Her obsession with the defeat and humiliation of one Angel LeGrand...

Which kept her from doing other things...Grand and great things...And...

Seemed to bother dear brother Will no end...Much as he tried to conceal it...

Poor Millie...To waste so much time worrying about a fool like that...

***
A prize had been offered...For the first successful attempt to cover the measured
mile on land in under ten seconds...

A challenge the public looked to Angel LeGrand to accept...

Well...This time...Someone else would be accepting the challenge...Buffy-Millie
Fate-Walthrop grimly noted...

***

A rocket-powered sled...A bold new idea...Well...To be honest...

Buffy had seen them on TV lots of times...

Very fast...Even in this era of low tech...

Strap a load of rockets to a sled...You get in the sled...Fire the rockets...And,
what...

Go up like a Fourth of July candle?...Walthrop asked her...

There was no danger, she insisted...A quick ride...On a secure rail...With special
protection at the two ends...

"If there's no danger...There's no reason we can't both go..." he noted...

Well...Maybe there was a leetle danger...

Then there was definitely a reason for him to go...

***
A few weeks later they were ready...An old abandoned rail line section a few miles
from their home...The new rocket-powered sled, a real work of art, Walthrop told
her proudly...waiting on the track...

She stood by the sled...She and Walthrop had put a little touch of elegance into the
sled...Long body frame, all black metal, rather sleek actually, with a pointed
prow...Cushioned seats...Quite comfortable inside actually...Lots of padding...

As long as Walthrop insisted on going...She intended to see they came through...

"Gentlemen...I intend to cover the measured mile in less than eight seconds..."
she told the few reporters who'd showed...

They smirked...A couple laughed...

"Professor" Fate at it again...

She gave them her grimmest glare...In her severe black dress...Even black
beads...Mourning for poor Amelia yet...Not to mention a practical color for
working on the sled in the mud and muck of the old rail yard...

With those teeth...Truly frightening...

One reporter wished he'd brought his camera...What a picture...

The Wild Witch of the Midwest...

"Are the rockets in order?..." she turned to Max...Who pulled up his goggles...He
likewise in black...

"All set..." he gave a thumbs up...And patted the sled, grinning at her...

They stood beside each other...

The long and the short of it, one reporter chuckled to his mate...

She glared once more at the smirking reporters...Morons...Well in ten minutes
she'd give them a glimpse of the future...

They got in and strapped down...She gave a countdown...

Nice touch, one reporter noted...That ten..nine...eight...thing really builds the
tension...

The rockets fired on time and the sled swooped down the rail...

A reporter noted a couple of metal parts had fallen off the contraption...From deep
underneath...Some kind of brace or clamps...

Well, probably not important...

***

They passed 300...340...380...miles per hour...Crushed into their seats...

She grinned at Walthrop in triumph...Today was their day...Took his hand and
squeezed it...

He returned the squeeze and looked out...And down...

Far down...Very far down...

The sled had done what rockets do best...Blasted off and headed towards the
stratosphere...

He grabbed her hand and she looked at him...Taking her eyes off the speed gauge
to see...

Ulp...

About 1000 feet up now...And rising...

"Did you check the rail clamps when she was locked onto the railing?..." she asked
him, a touch of annoyance...Trying to hold back the shading into real terror in her
voice...

He nodded to indicate he had...

Her fear moved down the scale towards panic...And guilt...She must have
miscalculated...Somehow...

With the rockets reaching the end of their burn...

"I'm really sorry about this, Max...I don't understand it..." she told him...As the
rockets sputtered out behind them...

Guess I really should have tested the full-scale sled one last time...

"Iloveyou..." they gasped out to each other...

They went down as fast as they had gone up...Clinging to each other for dear life...

Aaaah...

***
A farmer tending his pigs a few miles from the site of the Walthrops' efforts heard
a strange, whizzing noise...

And suddenly a loud plop...As the Walthrops and their sled went into his pigs'
mud hole...

Clambering to the top of the sled in the muck...Buffy-Millie felt a moment of
absolute panic when Walthrop did not appear immediately...

And an intense, overwhelming desire when he did...

Good to be alive, she noted...Very good...

Unfortunately the reporters had followed their vapor trail and showed up just
when she was about to make the fiasco worth William's while...

"Well...I'd like to see the Great Angel top this..." Walthrop told the
reporters...Looking as proudly as he could at her while covered in pig muck...

Sadly the record was intended to be set on land...Only...

No exceptions...

Walthrop found the broken pieces of the locking clamps while surveying the rail
site a day after the run...Deliberately and with considerable effort...Hacked
through...

Difficult job for most men...To crawl underneath the sled and cut through while it
was sitting on the rail...And by someone who'd known exactly where to cut...

Nice effort by the little lady, Mr. LeGrand noted to the press...After he broke the
record in a similar rocket-powered sled about ten days later...

A very similar sled...

Arrgh...
***
A prize was offered...A test of speed and maneuverability...On water...

To complete a difficult and intricate course...At a speed of at least 50 miles per
hour...With a final flat lane top speed of at least 100...

The public looked to its hero of the hour...Who promised not to disappoint them...

***

Wilhelmina Harris was engaged in a different crusade...She having been caught up short
during a suffrage demonstration by a fellow marcher...Who noted during
discussions that her husband's newspaper, the Sentinel...Did not employ a single
woman...With the exception of a society column researcher...

Hmmn...She'd been embarrassed on this one...Well...She'd have to speak to Alex
about it...

***
She cornered him in his office...

"Employ more women?...On the Sentinel?..." dear Alex was shocked...Leaning
back in his chair to look at her...

The things dear Willow comes up with...

It's that friend of hers...Millie...And those crazy suffragettes...

Young Warren Mears...Harris' assistant and the man who really kept the Sentinel
running...A real genius with machinery...Entered...To report that the "Great Angel"
had announced he would attempt the water trial...In his family company's newly
designed speedboat...

Taking advantage of the distraction, Alex tried the social good approach...Times
were hard...

"Dear...To do that...I'd be putting men out of work...Family men...With children..."

She looked at Warren...Hmmn...Single..

But sadly, indispensable...

There were plenty of single women...Many with children...Who needed decent
work...She pointed out...As for his argument...

Ridiculous evasion...And not worthy of him...

He could add a few new reporters...Two printers were retiring...

Ummn...Now...She knew he was a Progressive...A man who was willing to take
stands which some in Society...Might frown on...For the sake of the greater
good...Or for individual justice...

Yes?...She noted grimly, waiting...If he uses our marriage...To get off the hook...

Wisely, Alexander avoided that minefield...

He wasn't opposed to the idea of female reporters...But...Our advertising clients
are our lifesblood...

And they are...Conservative...

Well...Being the Sentinel's bookkeeper...Unpaid...And unofficially...Willow had to
admit to herself they couldn't afford the loss of a large part of their client base...

Warren smirked...Female reporters...What would they write about?...We have a
society reporter...

Get out...Willow told him...

Maybe not so indispensable...

Alex took advantage of the lull...And considered...Hah!...

He actually had one female candidate in mind for the position of reporter, he told
Willow...

A Black woman...

Who'd applied just the other day...Alex grinned proudly...He'd been waiting to
check her credentials before telling his wife of his grand experiment in social
justice...

Surely...That would be sufficient progress for one week...

A Black woman...Female and Black...He had her there, Willow had to admit...

That was progress...

Though she seriously doubted he'd planned to actually hire the lady until one
minute ago...

Name?...

Oh...Ummn...Dubois...That's it!...Yes...Miss Madeline DuBois...

And you're going to hire her?...

Of course...Well, as long as all her credentials are confirmed...

"Ok..." She regarded him coolly...

Clever little man, sometimes...Well...I'll let him off easy...This time...

"Invite her to dinner..." she told him... "I want to meet her..."

Yes, dear...

But he deserved a bone...She was pleased with him...

"Alex...It's very courageous of you..." she smiled at him...And rather...Exciting...

"But don't let me down on this..."

Yes, dear...

Well...We have to start somewhere...Willow thought...Looking at her husband's
rather satisfied face...

But this is just the beginning...

Warren slipped out of the room as quickly and quietly as he could...

A lady...A black lady...Comin' to the Sentinel?...He had to tell the gang this one...
***

Warren hadn't bothered to mention that one other person had entered the
competition for the water speed trial...Seemed too ridiculous to mention...

Professor...She actually did hold the title from her teaching at the college in
Indiana...Millicent Fate...

She still felt it best to use her own name...Partly to make it her personal
triumph...No offense, sweetheart...And partly to avoid associating the Walthrop
name with a somewhat...Vaudevillan...activity...

Must consider the childrens' futures...Including sweet Amelia...Who would be
"coming out" in a few years...And Philip...Not to mention little Buffy and Will Jr...

Can't let them be associated with such low...Entertainment...And...She admitted
only to herself and Walthrop...A potential fiasco...

Not a chance, William told her...Unless...Someone causes trouble...Again...

He would be keeping a close eye...Several...On the equipment...

***
She had chosen to do things dramatically...With a craft capable of lifting itself just
out of the water on skis as it reached high speeds...

A brilliant design...Sure to revolutionize seacraft...

A potential gold mine for the Fate-Walthrop company...
***

The commission sponsoring the trials informed her that they
must...Reluctantly...Disallow her entry...

She clearly didn't understand the dangers involved...For a wife and mother to risk
herself in such a manner...

No...The public would never stand for it...

Arrgh...

Walthrop suggested they try a duplicate of the same course in any case...Present
the commission with a fait accompli...

Witnessed by reporters and the public...The prize was unimportant so long as she
proved she could do it...Which he had no doubts about...

It's why she loved him...She told him...

However...He insisted on going with her...

She wouldn't have it any other way...she told him...

***

The boat was black, gleaming in the sun...Incorporating the sleek design she and
Walthrop loved in their vehicles...Again plenty of protective material around the
pilot and passenger seats...

This time only two reporters even bothered to stop by...

She had switched to off-white for this one...At Walthrop's suggestion...

She looked so beautiful in off-white...Highlighted her eyes...

And she tried to smile...Annoyed as she was at the lack of coverage, she knew
Walthrop had sunk more of their funds than he should have into this one...For her
sake...

Even the reporters noted she didn't look like the grim witch they'd been led to
expect...Rather a cute couple, actually...

Sadly no photographer present...

They strapped in and took off...It started well...

The boat skimmed along, rising out on its skis as planned...But then...

At the first turn...She couldn't steer...The wheel turned uselessly in her hands...

They headed straight for a sea wall...Can't stop she mouthed to Walthrop...

They jumped in the nick of time...

The press had another field day...Commenting solemnly on the sad and pathetic
spectacle...

Of a woman attempting projects far beyond the scope of her abilities...

***
Despite William's careful guard and the assistance of workers from their
factory...Plus Amelia's and Phil's surveillance...Someone had gotten into the boat's
control works...The control wires had definitely been severed...

And she had no doubt as to who was responsible...

Two could play at this game, she told Max...

Who, much to her delight...Agreed...

There's a lot of Spike in him, after all...She noted...Rather wickedly...

***

The Great Angel was to make his attempt on the 12th...

"Professor" Fate and Co. planned to be in attendance...

With a little surprise...

A new invention of her own...Well, built with Max's devoted help...She noted
gratefully...

An acoustic torpedo...

Not an especially dangerous one, mind you...She didn't intend murder...

Much as she might wish it...Two young children to think of...And her young
sister-in-law, Dawn...Amelia, she corrected...And Philip...

No, just enough to do a little damage...And prevent any new records from being
set here...
***

Play Theme...The Angel Le Grand March (Monty Python's Flying Circus)

A small brass band...Local musicians...Played a jubilant welcome to the gallant
hero...

Dazzling in a cream white suit...Gloves...Shoes...And those white teeth...

The crowd spilled over the river front...Police holding them back...

A small circus troop performed...Vendors hawked the crowd...

Angel made his way slowly through the cheering, dense throng...

How does he manage to keep those clothes so white...Several of the phalanx of
eager reporters wondered...

The Great Angel waved to his cheering public...Nodded pleasantly to the
numerous ladies...Showed his trademark smile to the prettiest...And climbed
aboard...

His gleaming...White...Speedboat...

His devoted mechanic, aide, and bodyguard, Hezekiah, secured him in his
seat...The crowd quieted down and waited for their hero to set off...

At an inlet just up the river, Fate and Walthrop waited...Torpedo at the ready...
They set the torpedo running and picked up the sound of Angel's high revving
motor...

"Pretty poor engine design...From the sound of it..." she noted to Max...

They got into their car and headed out...Unfortunately...

Their car chose that moment to backfire...Several times...

The torpedo was even more sensitive than she had realized and picked up the
backfires as the stronger sound...

Redirecting its course...

Fortunately...It was not very powerful...Only blowing out their rear tires and
causing them to crash mildly...Flipping them...Into a mud hole...

She noted the torpedo had...After all...Worked...

If he'd only gotten the car tuned up first...

Mr. LeGrand completed the course to the greatest acclaim of his career to date...

Setting a new world's record...

And winning the $10,000 prize...

No one noting that the LeGrand boat incorporated the same lifting feature
Professor Fate's had...

Arrgh....

***
But Angel could not afford to rest on his laurels...

There were many eager young heroes nipping at his heels...

And all fame is fleeting...The public was in fact getting a bit jaded at the daily
announcements of new records being set in every field...

Though Angel's sense of showmanship had kept them entertained and excited...So
far...

But he knew it would not last...He was more aware than anyone of how illusionary
his successes were...

He'd done nothing that would last...Hadn't even been allowed to participate in the
design of the vehicles he'd driven and flown...All the work of his father's team...

And his father...While pleased to see his son winning such universal acclaim...

Was not particularly impressed as regarding the more practical side of his boy's
achievements...

Even that crazed woman...That Miss Fate...Had created her own vehicles...And,
disastrous for her as they had proven to be...

They had been rather an inspiration to his company's design team...

LeGrand needed something...Special...To capture the public's imagination yet
again...On a permanent scale...With a practical benefit for the LeGrand Machinery
Works, Inc...Particularly it's new subsidiary, LeGrand Motors...Which his father
hoped to build into the Nation's leading automobile manufacturer...

If the damned things really did become popular with the public...

***
Miss DuBois...Tall, graceful, charming...Black...

"We're very, very pleased to meet you...Miss DuBois..." Willow told her
warmly...Welcoming her into their brownstone...

The maid having been uncertain...As to whether to send her to the servants'
entrance or call for the police...

***
LeGrand Motors had created a new prototype automobile...A truly remarkable
vehicle...Elegant, sleek, yet incredibly durable...

The automobile of the future...Today...

And Hercule LeGrand, Angel's father and Chairman of the Board, wanted to see
it properly introduced...

With a bang...

Angel made a bold proposal to the executive board of his father's newly-founded
auto works...What about an auto race?...

Hmmn...His father frowned...Hardly a new thing...

"Buffalo to Albany?..." One board member asked... "Been done..."

"New York to Cleveland..." Another noted... "Last year..."

Angel smiled and rolled the prototype's model down the long table of the Board...

"New York...To Paris..."

Hmmn...
***
Miss DuBois' credentials were exemplary...Several years on the leading Negro
papers in New York and Washington...

Degrees in English, History, and several foreign languages...

Impressive...And a little embarrassing...Mrs. Harris sheepishly noted...

Even dear Millie would have to run to keep up with this one...

Beautiful...And a very charming manner...Clearly she'd dealt with a lot in making
her way thus far but had somehow managed to keep her spirit intact...

She for her part was deeply impressed with Willow's sincere desire for her
success...Mr. Harris had seemed a trifle hesitant when he interviewed her earlier...

But clearly they both were committed to Social Advancement...Even if he was
being dragged a bit by his wife...

Yes...She could consider their offer...

Consider?...Alex thought...Are there many leading New York papers offering
positions to young black women?...Reporter positions, that is...

Hmmn...Willow thought...Miss DuBois is a bit...Forceful...

But that's what we'll need here...However...Noting that Alexander was seeming
rather impressed with the young lady...Her forthright manner...

And her beauty...

He seemed...In fact...Rather more pleased with the idea of her coming to the
Sentinel than she'd expected...

And was doing his best to assure her of his strongest support...And admiration for her courage...

Perhaps...

Perhaps...We'll need a special assignment for Miss DuBois...Something
important...Prominent...

Far from New York...

Odd though...Somehow...She had the strangest feeling she knew the
woman...From somewhere...
***

Rumors of the planned race spread like wildfire...Through the great city of New
York...Across the State...Across the vast Midwestern prairie...

To a small college town in Indiana...

***
Buffy-Millie knew it would be an expensive gamble...To design and build a new
car...Spend months circumnavigating the globe...But...This time...If LeGrand and
his goons tried anything...She'd be ready...

William was less sure...Their small company was profitable but could only bear so much loss...And to be away from home and the chicks for so long...

All in the cause of beating Angel LeGrand...

Still...She was so anxious to recoup her past failures...So sure she could pull this
one off...So...desperately unhappy...

Something had to be done...

And...If they succeeded there would be enormous benefit for the company and
their futures...

After all, all their success was due to her work...Her inventions...

If she chose to risk it all on one more throw...Well...She had the right...

But she wanted...Needed...his support...And...As always...

He gave it...And put the best face on it...It would be the trip of a lifetime, after
all...

But it did hurt a bit...After all these years together...We're still chasing after
LeGrand...

***
Buffy-Millie arranged that her parents would care for the children...Despite their
serious reservations about her schemes, they agreed...

Amelia and Phil were angered...Millie was out of her mind...A race around the
world...She and Will would be killed...Dead...They'd been lucky to escape two
brushes with death...This was insane...

At the very least they could take them with them...To keep her and Will out of
danger...Safe...

But there was nothing to do but accept the inevitable and prepare to go to New
England with the little ones...

***

The Commission set up at the instigation of the LeGrand Company to work out
plans for the Great Around the World Race regretted to inform Mrs. Walthrop that women would not be allowed to compete...

If the race was approved at all...

The proposed route was far, far too dangerous for a frail woman to attempt...Even with a male companion...

But...

They greatly admired her spirit in wishing to apply...As they did all five of the
little women who had sent in applications...

Yours very truly,

Prominently listed among the commissioners...

The members of the LeGrand Motor Company Board of Directors...

And among the list of board members...Hercule and Angel LeGrand...

Arrgh...

Well...We could get a lawyer...Walthrop suggested...Or just follow their
route...Force them to accept that you were able to do it...

Oh, we'll force them to accept that I'm able to do it, all right...she grimly told
him...

But...

"I go as an official racer...Or no one goes..."

***
The full Directors' Board of LeGrand Motors had met to give approval to the race
plans...And make the final selection of contestants...To be rubber-stamped by the
supposedly independent Racing Commission Hercule LeGrand had formed...

Angel...As a member of the board...Was in attendance...With his mechanic and
roustabout, Hezekiah...

The Board was still somewhat divided...To sponsor such an event...A
bit...Vaudevillan...

Angel made use of his most persuasive powers...

"Gentlemen...The Automobile...Symbol of America's Technical Prowess...This
Race Around the World will be the final proof of that Prowess...If won by an
American...In an American car...

A LeGrand Motors car, gentlemen...

This company has created...The greatest car ever designed...And I will, with God's help and Our Country's support...Drive it to victory..."

His teeth sparkled as he wooed the Board in spite of their reservations...

Here-here...

A tall, slender...Brunette maid brought in the coffee...Looking at Mr. LeGrand as
he expressed his noble, manly sentiments...

Understandable...Angel LeGrand, after all...

However...Hezekiah had the slight feeling...That he knew her from
somewhere...Hmmn...Was she the gal from...The one his cousin got...Nope...

Where?...Wait...Nah...Couldn't be one of the Boss'?...With those teeth?...Not
likely...Still...He had the strangest feeling...

For her part, she gave him a quick glance...Wesley?...A bald Wesley?...With
muscles?...And scurried out of the room...

She went out the door, but stood by it...Listening on the other side...Hezekiah
noted the door ajar...The tall maid obviously listening at it...

Well, Angel LeGrand was speaking, after all...Still...

One dissenting voice was heard...A slight, bearded chap wearing thick
spectacles...Apparently of Scots extraction, judging by his heavily accented
voice...New to the Board, several noted...

"No...No...Absouloutely Nooo..." the slight Scotsman rose, shaking his head
decisively...

"Shall a company of this repute allow itself to place its future in the hands of a
charlatan?...A well-known libertine?...Gentlemen...I say...Noooo..."

Further...The wee Scotsman pointed out...It was becoming a scandal that several
racers had been denied their chance to apply...The Racing Commission...A
laughing-stock...

Was this Company merely a tool for publicizing young Mr. LeGrand's exploits?...

Hmmn...Angel looked at the little man...Could it be?...

He strode over and pulled at...Walthrop's?...beard...

The little man screamed and jumped up...Holding his torn beard...

Angel attempted to apologize...He'd made a terrible mistake...You see, you look
just like...

"See..." the man cried to the startled members... "The damned fool...He tried to
pull me beard off..." He tugged nervously at the beard, pulling it off to reveal...
Walthrop...

Oops...

Hezekiah pulled the door open, knocking Buffy-Millie in her disguise to the floor
as she held the stethoscope she'd been listening through in her hand while she
leaned against the door...

She leaped to her feet before the astonished Board could realize what was
happening...

And pulled...Something...Vaguely dangerous looking from her hair...A fiendish
device, perhaps?...

"Back!!..." she hollered fiercely... "Or all of you go to kingdom come..."

She faced them with a grim look...Fixing on LeGrand...

Now, Millie...Angel looked at her, shaking his head...

Was she ever going to get over him?...he wondered...

Well, after all...Angel LeGrand...

But he wisely kept his place...

She turned and raced for the window where Walthrop was already climbing
out...He jumped...

The board looked at each other in collective horror...He jumped!...

She climbed up...And tossed the bottle in her hand at Angel...Lemon-scented
water...

She turned to face them...

"Angel will lose...Your automobile will lose...I...I will win..." she grimly called
out to the Board, waving her hand at them all in a wide sweep...Standing at the brink...She jumped!...

The Board looking on in yet more collective horror...One aged gentleman fainting at the sight...

The disgrace to the Company...What could the mad woman have been thinking?...

Angel ran to the window...

"Millie?!..." he looked...

Down to where Walthrop waited in a truck with mattresses to cushion her fall...

Sadly, too many...She bounced...Off the mattresses and onto the ground...

"Max!!..." she hollered...As he started off...

***
Yet More (Semi) Parallel Lives..."Great Race, 1906"...Part VII

***

Willow, with Alexander's reluctant approval bailed the Walthrops out of jail two
days later...

And used her persuasive talents...And a leetle sexual blackmail...To get him to get the Sentinel to take up Millie's right to be included among the contestants...

As a matter of noblesse oblige, of course...

Sensing that public opinion was moving toward Professor Fate's "underdog"
side...LeGrand persuaded his father and the Company to drop any charges against
Mrs. Walthrop...

In the spirit of sportsmanship...After all, the little woman...All the little women
who met the qualifications...deserved their chance to compete...

And he for one...Was all for allowing the little ladies their chance...

The Press as always applauded their hero's nobility and gentlemanliness...

***
Annoying...Thought Wilhelmina as she read competitors' tales of Angel's noble
and chivalrous gesture toward the crazed female "Professor"...

Millie was a professor, after all...Even if the college she taught at was a little,
unknown one...

But the Great Race offered an opportunity...Both for her dear friend and...For one
of their newest reporters to display her talents...

"Alex...Who are you sending to cover this Race?..." she asked...

Well...He was a bit surprised that she asked...She usually thought this sort of thing frivolous fluff...And with Angel LeGrand prominently involved...

Of course, dear Millie seemed likely to be entering after all...So, naturally she was taking an interest...

"It seems to me Miss DuBois might be perfect for the job..." she told him...

Miss DuBois...To cover an event like the Great Around the World Race?...For the Sentinel?...

When she was becoming so pleasant to have around the office...He wisely did not say...

"Willow...Dearest...I really don't think our readers...Our advertisers...Would find
it...Acceptable..."

Would they know Miss DuBois was black?...No...And if she used the byline
M.DuBois...Would they even know she was a she?...At least until it was too
late...And the reading public was hooked on her tales...

Just present them with a fait accompli...

Well...He'd consider it...And ask Miss DuBois about it...But...

She was becoming so...Useful...At the office...A real finger on the pulse of the
city...

Uh-huh...Willow wondered just whose pulse Miss DuBois' fingers were feeling...

She'd be happy to discuss it with her for him...Willow noted...

Perhaps...She could go along with Millie and Will...

***
Miss DuBois in fact was already looking into the possibility of joining the
race...As a contestant, backed by the Sentinel...

A chance to do a major story in two fields a woman was rarely if ever allowed
into...

Sport and Engineering...

And square that rarity if the woman was Black...

She was determined to participate in the race itself...At least in driving the route
with the racers...Sharing their hardships...Not be ferried about by train and boat like the LeGrand phalanx of admiring dolts...

A real chance to get the feel of what being a racer must be like...And bringing it to the public...

But she knew it would be long odds for her to get in...Even as an observer...Let
alone a contestant...

And, a forthright young woman, had felt it best to get started on the project
without waiting for the approval of her superiors at the Sentinel...

But perhaps...As long as young Mr. Grand seemed anxious to demonstrate his
support for "the little ladies" and had helped Professor Fate to get her place...He
might be the right place for her to start...

And she would need interviews with all the participating racers anyway...May as
well start with him...Son of the race's principle sponsor as well...

She requested an interview...By telephone...

It would be shock enough that a female reporter was requesting an interview...To
add in the race factor as well...

Angel was headed down to the company's testing grounds...But Angel LeGrand
always has time for a lady...

If she didn't mind coming down to the proving grounds he could meet with her on the 20th...

Which invite she was quick to accept...

Willow was a bit...Startled...To learn from her protege that she had anticipated
her...But persuaded Alex to confirm the assignment and leave it to Miss DuBois to settle her arrangements...

Heading down to demand a place in the race from the loathsome LeGrand...

Forthright lady, that Miss DuBois...
***

There was a slight problem, Walthrop told Buffy-Millie...

He would need a bit more time to raise the funding she'd need...Unless she wanted to take a major risk with what savings they had...

Pity the preliminary starting date couldn't be set back a month or so...

Hmmn...Buffy-Millie thought...Yeah, a pity...

Bet Angel has no problems like this...With his family's money and companies...

And a supply of thugs to deal with troublesome competitors...

She remembered that his adoring Press had mentioned that he would testing his
company's new car in Saratoga Springs...With a major unveiling on the 20th...

Hmmn...And that new car is a unique prototype...The only one of its kind...

Delay of a month or so, eh...

Would he like to see the children in New England once more before the race start
date?...

Indeed, William noted...If you think we'd have the time?...

With perhaps a little side trip to Saratoga Springs, New York...

On the 20th...she grinned...Wickedly...

Oh...
***

The Angel Special...Dazzling...White as the teeth of its owner...Long,
sleek...Similar to what would be the Stutz-Bearcat in externals but far more sturdy and reliable...

And measuring up in every way to the standards the race would require...And the
stresses it would impose...

Perhaps the most beautiful automobile built to the present day...Hercule LeGrand proudly noted to reporters...Certainly the most durable...

***

A card reached the waiting Angel...From Miss DuBois...Who for some reason was having a leetle trouble at the entrance to the proving grounds...

She had to admit he recovered from the shock of her with aplomb...And the
gallantry he was famous for...

He was deeply distressed that she'd been put to any embarrassment...His fault
entirely...

He quietly suggested to the guard that he check credentials rather than make
personal judgments in the future...

And welcomed Miss DuBois...Of the New York Sentinel...To the LeGrand Motor Company testing grounds...

If she'd care to come to his tent by the testing track...Where he had taken the
liberty of providing some refreshments...They could commence...In absolute privacy...

Her interview...

Tall as Millie Fate...He noted...And quite beautiful...

But...He had the oddest feeling he'd met her...Somewhere...Before...

***
Walthrop was rather uncertain about this escapade...Destroy the Angel
Special?...From overhead?...With a bomb?...

They were heading into rather deep waters on this one, he noted...

"Not destroy, Max...Damage...We drop a small bomb...When no one is anywhere
around...Leave them a month or so of repair work...And we get the time we need for you to hunt up our funding..." she told him...

Simplicity itself...As was the plan...They'd use a small helium dirigible...Moved by pedal power...Thus avoiding the noise of an airplane...

Employ a new device of hers...Which she had developed very reluctantly and only to recover their losses in the failed competitions...A bombsight...Allowing a bomb dropped from overhead to be perfectly targeted onto a ground site...

She hated it...The first and only weapon enhancement she ever intended to
build...But...The company's reputation had suffered from her failures and the resulting publicity...And she couldn't allow the family to suffer for her fiascos...

However...In this case...It would be quite useful...

They had, after all, nearly been killed...Twice...A mother and father...

Well...If she promised to abort the mission if anyone was anywhere near...

"Max...What do you take me for?..." Buffy-Millie asked him, shocked...

An extremely obsessed woman...he told her, frankly...But...

With a just cause...And legitimate grievance...

"Well...If you don't want to help me..."

I said a just cause, dear...He reminded her...I go too or you don't...

I do take him much too much for granted...Buffy-Millie thought guiltily...

***
"Champagne, Miss DuBois?..."

Miss DuBois politely declined...

She was a bit nervous at being alone with the Great Angel in his tent...No one but
Hezekiah anywhere nearby...And he apparently inclined to keep to his machinery repair work outside...


He had a reputation of being...Fast...

"Are you perhaps related to the famous Dr. DuBois?..."

A distant cousin...Interesting that he knows about him, she noted...Apparently not all white teeth and hot air...

"I feel that this new century will see great Progress in all fields...Including the
advancement of the most destitute and oppressed groups of all societies..." Angel smiled at her...

A very beautiful woman...And he rather liked them tall...

"Indeed Mr. LeGrand...And what is your position on the advancement of
women?..." she asked him...

Women...He paused to flash his most winning smile...Have no need
of...Advancement...

They are...Already...In the highest position of all Society...

Guardians of the Nation's...The World's...Future...

And Keepers of the Home's Sacredness...The Nation's Moral Tone...

Hmmn...Miss DuBois looked at him...

And your opinion of females entering your race around the world?...

Well...Only one, "Professor" Fate, had been accepted...But he admired the pluck of all the ladies who'd sought to compete...

Admirable spirit...

They'd all make wonderful mothers...

Indeed...Miss DuBois continued to look at him...

And... "Professor"...er Professor Fate?...

A tragic case...An old friend actually...At least in happier days...But...

Driven to distraction by her desperate attempts to match a man's ability...

He blamed the husband for some of it...

The right sort of man would have kept her...Satisfied at home...

"Really..."...Miss DuBois said dryly...Staring at him...

"I was planning to compete myself...At least unofficially..."

Really?...Said Angel...
***

Buffy-Millie and Max had pedaled their sausage-shaped little blimp over the site where the Angel Special had been parked after its daily trial...About 2000 feet overhead...

No one was about...As the grounds were fenced off with tight security at the
gates...

However no one had considered to look directly overhead...

"Beautiful car...I've never seen one like it..." Walthrop noted...Looking through the bombsight at the Angel Special...

"No, me neither...And we won't see it for at least a month after I get through with
it..." Buffy-Millie noted with a sly grin...

She set up the small bomb on its guiding track...An infernal machine...Though of
relatively modest power...

***

"Are you absolutely sure about this...Buffy...? Walthrop asked her..

Hmmn he never calls me Buffy...Except in our hottest throes of passion...
She thought...

"I'm sure as I'm sure of anything..."she told him... "Today that pig..."

"Careful...Sweetheart that bomb has only a ten second fuse..."

She had begun waving her arms...And struck the bomb rack...The bomb slipped
off and falling off the rack, lodged in the pedals of their little blimp...

He looked at her...And sighed...

"I'll get it..." he said resignedly...

She held him back and the bomb exploded...

It was after all a fairly small bomb...Barely punctured the bag of their blimp...

They managed to come down over the water...And floated safely to shore, courtesy of Buffy-Millie's new fangled life jackets...

***

Miss DuBois and Mr. LeGrand had vaguely heard...Something...

Apparently some distant thunder...

Angel...While Saluting...Truly...Miss DuBois' courage...Felt...Perhaps...She was
making a mistake...

The Great Race would be no place for a woman traveling alone...However
intrepid...

She was willing to concede that...She surprised him by saying...If he amended the
"woman" to anyone...Therefore...She was looking to travel with a racer...

Miss DuBois?...Travel with a racer?...A young woman...A lovely young
woman...Alone...With a race team?...

No reader would know she was a Black woman she told him dryly...Until later in
the race...

He hadn't been talking about that, he informed her...But the impropriety of her
traveling with two men...Alone...

Of course...She accepted his point...But...If she were to travel with someone of
impeccable reputation...

But...Angel looked at her...Tempting...But...If his public found out...And in the
course of a six months race it was likely they would...

A female companion...Unmarried...Not his betrothed...Black...

Not likely to sit well with his adoring fans...

No...

He suggested politely that she reconsider...He of course couldn't speak for the
Racing Commission...But he doubted they'd accept a lone woman...

A lone...Black woman?...She asked him...

Now, Miss DuBois...

She thanked him...She'd see herself out...

She had no doubt she had in fact just heard from the Commission...

Hmmn...She thought...And I thought I'd of enjoyed going with him...

Moron...

Still...He is a beautiful man...

Well...At least there was one woman in the field of competitors...

She decided to head straight out to Indiana...
***

Well...No problem...Walthrop told the crestfallen Millicent...

Pleased as she was that she’d hadn’t ended by drowning him...

He'd raise the funds in time somehow...

Fortunately one of the other racers' funding fell through temporarily...And Angel,
in the spirit of gallant fair play and competition...Requested a one month's delay of the start...

Which was granted...
***

Yet More (Semi) Parallel Lives..."Great Race, 1906"...Part VIII

The extra month's delay had given Walthrop the time he needed to raise funds for
the new car and the race's expenses...

Though he did not tell Buffy-Millie the full extent of the risk they were taking...

She was so desperate to make the effort...And he reasoned, with six months to
recover from any "problems" LeGrand's men might cause allow the way...This time they would succeed...

He had absolute faith in her genius...And if the company was put at some risk...If
their home had to be included in that risk...Well...All their past success was due to her...

With the exception of the week they'd spent in New England with her parents and
the children...And their little excursion to Saratoga Springs, NY...She had kept to her workshop on their home property for nearly two months...And emerged triumphantly two weeks after they got back...

He hadn't seen her so happy in years...And she wanted him to be the first to see...

"My greatest achievement...The Hannibal Super Twin 8!..." she proudly hugged
the car...

Walthrop beamed...So nice to her happy...She's so rarely happy these days...

The car was a monument to her design skills...Gleaming in her trademark
black...Rugged and functional yet sleek...With maximum visibility in all directions...Heavily armored against...Any possible foes...Retractable headlights, plus a large spotlight...With a set of caterpillar treads which could be lowered to replace the wheels in exceptionally rough terrain...And the engine...Fuel efficient, and the most powerful and durable ever placed inside an automobile...

And Buffy Summers hadn't even known how to change oil...She proudly
recalled...

This was Millie's creation...Well, Buffy-Millie's...Buffy's memories had helped as
always...

She was eager to show off and pulled him into the car...

So many features...Where to begin?...Ah...The vertical lift...

"When the flood waters rise...We rise above them!"

"Push the button, Max!" Walthrop pushed the vertical lift and the body of the car
rose smoothly...Nearly twenty feet above the chassis...

Phew...Both thought...It works...

"When fog and snow blind the roads...We heat our way through them!..." she
cried...

"Push the button, Max!"

He pushed the button activating the forward heating unit...A powerful red glow
came from the prow in front of the car...

Phew...

"And when savages and enemies...Of any kind...Attack us!..."

"Button, Max!..."

Walthrop pushed the button on the main front cannon...It popped out in front,
automatically set the range on the targeted wall and fired...Blasting a hole in the workshop wall...

"Yeah!..." Buffy-Millie screamed, clenching a fist... "Yeah!"

The Slayer in me is back...She thought happily...

Phew...Thought Walthrop...She'd of been so disappointed if it
hadn't...Say?...What...Enemies?...

Ummn...Dear...It's nice to have proper protection and all...But...

"Millie...We won't actually be using this thing...Will we?...I wouldn't want to hurt anyone..." he looked at her...

"Just a little protection, Max...A little ace in our hole..."

Ah...Well, if you really want it, Mil...So long as nobody's hurt...

***
Miss DuBois had arrived in the Walthrop's home town...Craftsville, Indiana...

Town seemed a little familiar to her...Somehow...

After her unfortunate little encounter with Mr. LeGrand...She was anxious...She
had to get a place in the Race somehow...Plus...

She needed background on the other potential racers...And who better to begin
with than the famous...Or infamous...Professor Fate...A woman...

Who might well sympathize with a struggling fellow female...

And agree to take her along in the race...

Still, pity about LeGrand...Beautiful man...Even if a moronic twit on the subject of women...

After a minor degree of harassment from a few louts in town, Miss DuBois got
directions to the Walthrop home...

"Strange people, those..." the sympathetic young fellow who guided her told her...

"Especially that woman..."

"I wouldn't go there if you paid me..."

Hmmn...Well...The Professor was struggling against large odds...

Hopefully she'd appreciate the forthright approach...

***
She reached the Walthrop home...A large, old, dark house in a run-down area of
the town near the small college where the Professor taught...The Fate-Walthrop Company being located nearby as well...

Gated...With an extremely high fence...And multiple warning signs to warn off the curious...

Professor Fate was a bit tired of the "curious"...

But Miss DuBois was sure the Professor would ...As a fellow woman...Who was
rumored to be sympathetic on the race question...

Welcome her...Once she knew why she had come...

Unfortunately she had not discussed her plans to see the Professor with her
employer's wife Mrs. Harris...Who hadn't known Miss DuBois was off to see her dear friend...

A little too forthright in this case perhaps...
***

The sound of music came from the Walthrop house...Loud music...

It was lonely in the house without the children, Buffy-Millie thought...So she
decided to liven up their celebration of her latest achievement with one of her more successful attempts to recreate Buffy's world...

A stereophonic music system...

Capable of playing phonographic records...Or amplifying music played from a
keyboard...

She was playing... Trying to, anyway...


Play theme..Here Comes the Sun]

"Here Comes the Sun..." At least as much of it as Buffy could remember...

Appropriate, she thought looking at Will who was setting up a romantic dinner...

Partly in declaration of her rising spirits...And partly...To celebrate the fact that her William would never need to fear the sun...

So long as dear Ben was right about there being no vampires active in this
dimension...

William pleasantly applauded her efforts to beat George Harrison to the punch...Very
New music, dear...Very new...

Millie had had training in classical music...So she switched to Bach...Toccata and
Fugue...
Toccata and Fugue

Likewise appropriate...To celebrate her greatest triumph...

She wasn't bad, actually...But mainly Walthrop was pleased to see her so happy...

And quite fetching in that nightgown...The red one, with the puffy shoulders...The Puffy Buffy shoulders he liked to say...

She grinned at him as she finished with a crash...Looking at him...Wickedly...

They didn't often get the house alone to themselves these days...

She set the stereo system to play on its own...

Hey there...Spike...She called to him...

Good thing no one but Ben was around from her universe to appreciate the
Freudian significance...

Not that William would have minded...He'd come to sense quite a kinship with
this...Spike...

And anything was better than having her call out...Angel...

***

The Walthrops were clearly...Busy...

And did not seem to hear her knocking...A doorbell ring got only a phonographic
record telling her that Spike and Buffy were...Occupied...Please come again...Not...

Leetle joke Buffy-Millie liked to play on the "curious"...

Spike and Buffy?...

Strange...She was sure she'd heard those names before...Together...

Anyway...For a forthright woman and intrepid reporter-photographer a ten-foot
spiked fence is no obstacle...

With luck she might even sneak a peek at the Professor's car...

***

Hercule LeGrand was a bit worried...His son was on his own in this endeavor...

Well unless you count the agents placed around the world strategically at every
principal city along the proposed route..To provide assistance in case of "emergencies"...

But in this he would not have the unique "help" his father had obtained in his
previous successes against Professor Fate...

It wasn't that Hercule lacked faith in his son...He had total and absolute faith that
the young prancing fool would fail utterly if left to himself...Look at what he'd had to do to get him out of that potential disaster at Princeton...When he'd stolen that foolish woman's thesis...Well parts of it...

And then in a fit of remorse had wanted to confess all...After all the effort Hercule had gone to to keep it from becoming a scandal...

No, the boy was physically brave and charming enough...But he lacked that certain something...That ruthless, hard-driving ambition that had brought and would keep LeGrand Machinery Works and the new Motor Company to and at the heights...

That killer...literally...instinct....

Still he had Hezekiah with him...A man who would follow any order in his
service...

Sadly that would have to do...Besides few of the other competitors were likely to
be much trouble thanks to his selection process...And the "rubber-stamp" Racing
Commission...

As far as the "Professor" went...She was a danger...But nothing to be done...Well,
the boy'd just have to deal with her without that special "help" from his father's "unique agents"...They just weren't available in this case...

However...With other agents around the world...And Hezekiah...Surely... Something could be done to ensure Angel's victory...If the damned fool woman actually became a threat...

***
Miss DuBois had managed the fence with relatively minor damage to her
clothing...And her camera intact...

The music was still blaring from the main house...But there was an unlit large barn to the left...

Hmmn...The home of the Walthrops' racer perhaps?...She'd just take a quick
look...Maybe one or two photos...Then over to their front door...

***

The Walthrops were...Deferring their dinner a bit...

Boy, Buffy-Millie thought...Judging by the way people in the future would talk
you'd think no one knew how at the turn of the 20th century...

Definitely a misconception...In fact...Must be not having TV or movies to occupy
one's time...You become...Powerfully focused...

She was trying to make up her mind if she wanted her sweet, ssssweet Will to call her Buffy or Millicent this time when...A tremendous clang of bells came from the outside workshop in the adjacent barn...

They banged heads jumping up and looked at each other...

The Car!...

And ran for the workshop...

***

Perhaps...Miss DuBois thought...As she swung in the net she'd been trapped in on entering Professor Fate's workshop/garage...Perhaps one could be a bit too forthright...

The bells were clanging as loudly as ever...Surely the Walthrops would eventually come by...And call off the large...Huge...Mastiff who snapped at her from below...

Yes...One could be a bit too forthright...

Walthrop and Buffy-Millie entered...And saw a young Black woman hanging from the booby trap net Buffy-Millie had installed...With Rolf their watchdog doing his duty...Quite happily...

Miss DuBois dazedly saw...A tall, fierce-looking blond young woman, with her
buck teeth adding a slightly grim touch, arms folded...In a rather frilly and frivolous-looking red nightgown with her even more blonde, slight and short but quite handsome young husband beside her in shirt sleeves...Looking at least, a little more welcoming...

"Professor Fate, I presume?..." she called to her... "I am Madeleine DuBois, of the New York Sentinel..."
***

Walthrop had called Rolf off and cut their uninvited guest down...

Who did her best to make a profuse apology to the Professor for her
intrusion...She hadn't been able to raise anyone and...Well...Seeing the light on in the barn...And guessing the Professor's latest was there...

There was no light in the barn...Millicent grimly informed her...And she didn't
remember posting any signs on their gate that said... "Trespassers welcome"...

Wait..She worked for the New York Sentinel...For Wilhe...er...For Alexander
Harris?...

Indeed...Miss DuBois told her...

Hmmn...Willow never mentioned anyone being sent out to her...And she couldn't
imagine her not contacting her...

Still...Instantaneous communication wasn't exactly that yet...

So...Why was she here?...And why poking around her car?...

Seat, Millie...Walthrop nudged her...Having brought over a couple of chairs...

Oh...Right...We're polite early twentieth century here...

"Would you care to have a seat?..." she asked, a shade less grimly...

"Please..." Walthrop smiled at her...

Strange...Buffy-Millie thought...It's almost as if I know her?...But I can't quite
place her...

Not surprising as her future self was not due to meet the new Slayer, Ms. Basey
Granger, for another week...

She smiled a bit...Another old friend, perhaps?...If she could just place her...

Then remembering she was in an interrogation, returned to her previous grim
frown...

She's rather attractive when she smiles...Miss DuBois noted...Not at all like those
awful photographs...
***
Walthrop persuaded his wife to be a leetle more gracious...After all, a little good
publicity never hurts...

And if she is working for dear Wilhe...For dear Alex...She wouldn't want to offend them...

Well...What exactly had Miss DuBois come for?...She asked her...

For a ride, she told her candidly...In the Great Around the World Race...

And of course to meet the famed Professor Fate, intrepid female pioneer...If
possible to document her triumph...

Hmmn...

Well...Would she like a closer look at the car?...

No photos...She turned to her...As Miss DuBois began looking for her camera...

Yes...Thanks...Beautiful design...Are you sure about the photos?...She asked
brightly...

"Very sure..." Buffy-Millie told her...Grimly...

Walthrop for his part was a genial host, pointing out some of the less sensitive but still marvelous features of his wife's greatest achievement to date...

Miss DuBois was properly appreciative...

"So you want to observe the Race?...For the Sentinel?..." Walthrop asked her
pleasantly...

Well...She had hoped to actually enter as a contestant...Just to get the feel of the
thing...

Admirable...Walthrop told her...But...All alone?...The whole route?...

Buffy-Millie looked at him...Miss DuBois was an extremely attractive
woman...And clearly intelligent, brave...And forthright...

She...Buffy-Millie...could do that...Race alone around the world...She simply
chose not to...Solely for the pleasure of his company...Nothing more...

Racing Commission must have had a fit...Walthrop smiled at Miss DuBois who
returned his smile...

Charming man...Handsome too...For such a lil'feller...

Yes...A fit...She sighed...Which left her in her present situation...

"Well, Millie?..." Walthrop turned to Buffy-Millie... "Think we can help the
lady?..."

Hmmn...To have this brave young beauty traveling round the world with
them?...Still, good publicity...But on the other hand...

Miss DuBois peered into the car...Very unusual controls, she noted...What does
this?...

A tremendous explosion as the front cannon emerged and fired...Twice...Hitting a post beam...

Triggering a chain reaction...

They all managed to escape the collapse...Fortunately the Hannibal Super Twin 8
lived up to its reputation for sturdiness...

***

Back in the main house, Walthrop managed to restrain and calm
Buffy-Millie...Now sweetheart...Car's fine, We're fine...

No harm done, he told an apologetic Miss DuBois...

Hmmn...Buffy-Millie growled...Well...

Dear...Possible friend of your Willow's here...

No...Harm...Done...She said, grimly and reluctantly...

Walthrop fetched them all some tea...

Well...She hoped the accident wouldn't affect their decision too much...

She was very eager to do a proper job for the Sentinel...Justify Mr....And
Mrs....Harris' confidence...

And they had another mutual acquaintance...Miss DuBois told them both,
brightly...Mr. Angel LeGrand had spoken very highly of the Professor and her work...

Angel...Angel LeGrand?...

She knew Angel LeGrand?...

Yes, just came from Saratoga actually where she'd seen him and his new...

"I knew it!!...GetOut!...." Buffy-Millie raged at her...

Millie...Walthrop looked at her...

"She's in cahoots with him...Willow didn't send her...She's here to sabotage my
car!..."

Perhaps she'd best be going...Miss DuBois told Walthrop...

The dark side of the Slayer was surfacing in Buffy-Millie...Not a pretty thing to
see...

Especially with those teeth...

Looking at his fuming wife...Walthrop agreed it might be best...

***
Buffy-Millie was a little mortified to learn from Willow a week later that she had
indeed...Well, Alex had indeed...Hired a Miss DuBois...

Well...If Willow really wanted her to go...

But that forthright lady had already made her own arrangements...Persuaded
Alexander to let her go in a Sentinel car...Alone...At least for as far as she could...To follow the racers...At least unofficially...

Alone...She'd be trying it alone?...Buffy-Millie thought...

Impressive...Very Forthright...

Hmmn...So, I don't have to take her for dear Willow's sake...Eying Walthrop at the breakfast table over Willow's letter...

Phew...

Alexander had his men deliberately pick a light model...One that would break
down within a few hundred miles of the course at best...

Couldn't let the poor girl get killed...Even in the line of duty...

The fact that she didn't seem to recognize the car's defects suggested to him that he had followed the right course...

Even Willow reluctantly agreed it was safer if she didn't drive too much of the
course in her own car...

A few hundred miles would be quite sufficient...To get the feel of the race...And
would be sufficient distance from Xander..Followed by a reasonably adventurous but infinitely more comfortable journey by train and boat...With the other reporters...

Well...Perhaps a segregated train and boat...Without the other reporters...An
unfortunate reality of travel for 1906...But one she and Miss DuBois would work to rectify...

Miss DuBois had other plans...And in fact was quite aware her car would never
last...

Stranded out in the great Prairie...One of her gallant fellow competitors was bound to take her along...
***
[Suggested theme (The Entertainer, Scott Joplin)]

In the end, seven contestants were approved for the Great Around the World
Race...Including Professor Millicent Fate-Walthrop...

But Millicent...er Buffy...Fate-Walthrop had no intention of facing LeGrand as
one of several competitors...

She bore no malice towards the others...But...This was between her and Mr.
LeGrand...

Besides...She'd seen the others...Three were gadflies...No serious technical or
automotive experience...The other two...Hmphf...Their cars would be luck to make it to Albany...

Including that Miss DuBios...What was Alex thinking letting her take a car like
that?...

She had no compunctions about speeding their certain eliminations...Harmlessly,
of course...

Probably doing them a favor...Preventing them from doing serious injury to
themselves...

Hmmn...William wondered about that...Still...She deserved her chance to take on
Angel...Alone...

And in his heart he was anxious...And determined...To finally see this thing
settled...Once and for all...Whatever the outcome...

Even if it might mean losing her...To the world's biggest jackass...

Things had to be settled...Once and for all...

***
Yet More (Semi) Parallel Lives..."Great Race, 1906"...Part IX

The Great Day had arrived...The Start of the Great Around the World Race...

Starting line...Just before the great Brooklyn Bridge...A fitting place to begin a
race celebrating Technologic Prowess...

An additional driver was included...At the insistence of the New York
Sentinel...Or rather at the insistence of Wilhelmina Harris...At the extremely reluctant sufferance of the appointed Race authorities...

Miss Madeleine DuBois, Sentinel reporter...As an observer...

Alex, though still not overwhelmed at the thought...Was glad to have one of his
reporters on hand...

And, oddly with the support of one Angel LeGrand...Who'd been more impressed
by the beautiful and intrepid reporter than he might care to admit...

Well...The Race authorities had put their best collective face on the matter...

After all the Sentinel was putting up one third of the costs...And her race need not be mentioned...As she was not an official contestant...

And, if she died along the way...Well...It wasn't as if...


***

Play...The Angel Le Grand March(Monty Python's Flying Circus)

A large band played "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean..." Orators...Mostly local
politicos...Harangued the crowds on the glories of the New Technologic
Century...A moving spectacle...

Standing by the Hannibal Super Twin 8, Professor Fate faced the crowds... Glaring as some louts hooted at her...The rest...Far too busy casting adoring glances at the tent of the Great Angel...And crowding near his gleaming white car...

Two children looked up at the grim-faced woman in black above them...

Who suddenly broke into a delighted smile...As she looked down at
them...Startling the reporters who'd set up to take a shot of the Wild Witch of the Midwest...

She's really not so bad-looking when she smiles, one noted to the other...

"Moomma..." Little Buffy shrieked happily...

Little Will took up a defensive positive at his mother's right leg...Facing the
crowd...

She lifted him, tickling him...

He's getting much too serious, she noted...Needs a little more affection in his life,
she thought, a trifle guiltily...

Like his dad...

Well...Once this thing is over...And I put it all behind me...

Yes...Life in this universe wasn't all so bad...she thought...Grinning over at her
parents who were standing next to Amelia and Philip...

Especially with William in it...

Who was at the moment...Occupied...

Her parents came over to give her a final hug and best wishes...He was so proud of her, Constantine noted...As she was...Kristine added, hugging her...

Yeah...Life here isn't so bad at all...

Amelia and Phil however were grim...This was a stupid, dangerous thing they
felt...A waste of Millie's talents...

Chasing after that foolish Mr. LeGrand...Again...

Poor brother Will...

"Where is William?..." her father asked...

Oh...He's finishing up a few loose ends...Buffy-Millie told him...

Amelia grimly consented to a hug...The last hug she ever expected to get from her sis-in-law, she told her...

"I'm not doing this for Angel LeGrand, Melia..." Buffy-Millie told her...

Yeah...She knew...For all women...She'd heard it before...

Actually, I'm doing it for Will and me...Buffy-Millie told her, solemnly...Looking
in her young sister-in-law's eyes...

To finally put things to rest...And prove something to myself...

Amelia seemed to want to say something to her...But hesitated...

Buffy-Millie kissed her...

Phil manfully restrained himself...And chased after her after she kissed him on the forehead and left for the car...

"Watch out for that fellow..." he told her...Hugging her...Buffy-Millie grinned at
him...

That doofus...No problem...She told him...Drawing a grin from him...

He liked that slang Millie used...Different...

Like her...
***

Poor Will was in fact rather busy...Engaged in work he did not fully approve of...

However...He did feel Millie deserved the chance to deal with LeGrand alone...

And to be honest...Something about the work did appeal to him...Exciting
really...In a nefarious way...

A little touch of Spike drifting in from Buffy's universe...

***

Wilhelmina and Alex stopped by to give both their racers a proper send-off...

Miss DuBois seemed a little lost in that crowd...Ignored off to one side...But
intrepid as always...

She assured Mr. Harris she'd get her first story out before the afternoon press...

Willow gave her a large hug and best wishes...She was sure Miss DuBois' journey would be a great success for all Women, she told her...

And headed over to greet her dear Millie...Now engrossed in a final check of her
Hannibal 8...

Now lined in a row with the other racers...Each slowly coming in from their
respective garages...

She scanned for the missing Walthrop...He ought to be finished by now...

He was ambling over...A slight, sly grin...

Which she returned...

***
"Max?..." Buffy-Millie greeted the returned Walthrop...Who paused to give the
in-laws his best and the chicks their demanded hugs and kisses...

"Everything is ready..." he told her...Grinning sheepishly in spite of himself...

He was getting a little too good at this sort of thing he noted...

***

The cars were in position...The Governor of the Great State of New York gave the signal...

Play race theme (Raiders of the Lost Ark)
A gun fired...And the Great Race was on...

For five of the seven racers...And Miss DuBois' little car...

Two stalled dead at the start line...

So much for cars three and six...Walthrop noted slyly...As they sped down to the
bridge and across...

***

Car four developed an unfortunate oil leak about ten miles into the race...Ruining
the motor beyond repair before it was detected...

Just a millionaire's son out for a joyride, really...No great harm done Walthrop
noted...

Car number two had a slight problem with its transmission system after twenty
miles...Leaving various parts strewn along the road before coming to a stop...

Another dilettante, Max noted...Probably much better off...

The Walthrops were now in the lead...Of course it was only the first twenty miles
of the first day...Still...

"Oh...Max...I love you..." she grinned wickedly...

"Next...Car number five..." He couldn't help it...He had to chuckle at this one...So beautiful, she'll love it...

"What...what..."

"The engine falls out..."

"The engine falls out?..." she went into a fit, full snorting mode...Then...

A prominent 5 on the front of the Hannibal...

"Max!!!...We're car number five!" she looked at him...Raging...

Oops...Hmmn...It had been dark in the garages and he’d rather lost track...

The engine fell out with a sickening clang...The car rolled to a stop...

Car one sped by...And suddenly went off the road...Into a tree...

Fortunately the driver and his companion were unharmed...Although the car....

"Max..." she looked at him, terrified...He didn't?...I mean...I didn't want anyone to be hurt...

"That wasn't supposed to happen..." Walthrop looked at her...Shocked as she...

The number one car groaned and all four tires fell off...Rims and all...

"After they stopped...That was supposed to happen..."

Smoke rose from the Hannibal's hood...

"Fire..." Buffy-Millie yelled, pushing Walthrop out...

He ran to the back of the car and grabbed her latest...A fire extinguishing
device...Amazing thing...Blew foamy flame-dousing soaps on the fire...Remarkable...He was trying to market it to fire departments...

She had run to the hood...Her baby in danger...

Walthrop dousing the hood before seeing her...

Oops...Covered in the stuff...

"Sorry, dear..."

She glared... But was clearly near tears...Finished before we start...And I look
worse than usual...

In sympathy he stuck the nozzle in his trousers and gave her the extinguisher
unit...She pressed the button and grinned...

***

They were chasing each other around the car when another pulled up...Miss
DuBois...

Who persuaded them to pose for a photo...What the hell...

Besides...Being stuck for a couple of hours like this would prevent suspicion from focusing on them...

Fortunately the Hannibal was designed for quick repairs in tight situations...The
engine was back in place and they were on their way before two hours...

Two hours lost...she thought grimly...Max abjectly apologetic...

Well...He was only doing his bit...And against his grain...

A little slap on the wrist from the Powers That Be, she supposed...

On the other hand...With the exception of Miss DuBois...Only she and the Angel
Special remained now...The others simply could not make repairs in time to keep
up...Where their cars were not poorly designed to begin with, they were too hand-crafted for easy repair...

Flexibility in design...Ease of repair...The hallmark of the Fate-Walthrop
Company...
***

Miss DuBois' car broke down as expected about 500 miles into the
race...Realizing that it was reaching its last legs she pushed it to its limits and managed to briefly take the lead of the remaining two racers...

Thus putting her in position to intercept them...

She sat in the middle of the road with her carrier pigeons...Vital to maintaining
communication with her paper over the often wild route...And her camera...

Buffy-Millie spotted her car on the flat road about a quarter mile before they
would have reached her and deliberately pulled over...Much to Walthrop's surprise...Was there some problem with the car?...

She'd been thinking about Miss DuBois for some time...And Mr. LeGrand... Whose action in helping the lady to overcome the Racing Commission's opposition to her observer status had surprised her...

He liked that Miss DuBois...Buffy-Millie was sure of it... And not surprising... Considering her beauty and charm of manner...Yet...Angel LeGrand was the last person to risk defying Society's conventions for the sake of Romance...

But if he were forced to take her with him...And she had no doubt he would if he
found her out here in the middle of nowhere...At the very least he'd find it
difficult to pull anything underhanded...And she suspected that Miss DuBois...And
her forthrightness...Might very well cause him enough emotional turmoil to tip the
balance in the Walthrops' favor...

Yes...Somehow she sensed Miss DuBois was the key to defeating Mr. Angel
LeGrand...

But...She didn't want to leave the poor woman stranded...If by some mischance
Angel and Hezekiah had diverged from the route...So they waited and watched behind some abandoned farm buildings just off the road...

"Millie?..." Walthrop wasn't sure what it was she was up to...

She simply raised her hand again and signaled for him to be patient...

About a half hour later the Angel Special came along...Miss DuBois, seeing it
coming around a corner across the distance took up a position beside her luggage, pigeons, and camera...

Flat on the ground...Passed out from heat prostration, no doubt...The poor frail
lady...

Naturally...The chivalrous hero stopped to assist...

She couldn't help noticing from a corner of her half-closed eye that in spite of the
dusty roads his car and his clothes remained...As always...Dazzlingly white...

He fetched a canteen from the car...Poor gallant lady...

Fortunately she rallied quickly under his care...

Hezekiah examined her car and pronounced it hopeless...

And a preetty poor choice of car for a race like this, he could tell you...

Her employer's choice she told him...A man...

Well..Regardless, Angel noted...She'd done a fine job getting this far all alone...A
tribute to the courage of her sex...

And her race...He Saluted her...A true Competitor...

Now of course it was time she acknowledged the situation and accepted that for
her the race was....

Over?...Hardly she told him fiercely...As she packed her luggage into his car and
passed the pigeons to Hezekiah...She'd find a way to continue...Somehow...

Even if she had to walk it...

Angel and Hezekiah eyed each other...Somehow...She'd put one over on them they realized...Still they couldn't leave her here...

"All right...We'll take you as far as Boracho...The next gasoline depot...But that's
all..." Angel told her...

Fine...She smiled at him...He couldn't help smiling back...It was his nature...

Ho, boy...Hezekiah looked at them...Sighing...

This was trouble...Definitely...

***

Miss DuBois' pigeon-borne dispatches were creating a sensation back in New
York...Live daily reports from the route regarding the hardships and sights...Not to mention the interest generated when she transferred to the Angel Special...And when it was revealed M. DuBois was a Woman...The romantic possibilities stirred the hearts of millions of adoring Angel fans...Once assured the two were properly chaperoned, of course...

Male as well as female it must be admitted...

However...It was not deemed necessary to mention Miss DuBois' other unique
feature...

Social Advancement must be taken one step at a time...

But much to Alexander's dismay...The fact that he had hired one female reporter
did not douse the flames of Woman's ambitions...In fact quite the opposite...

If the Sentinel had hired one female reporter?...And she had been such a
success?...

Willow was secretly a bit miffed herself...Her Alex had stuck his neck out...What
more did they want?...After all one had to think of the bottom line...And their conservative clients...

But, as a leading light in New York's suffragette movement...She was forced to
take a stand...And figured it was best to go with the tide of opinion and hope to control it when the opportunity arose...

The Sentinel was petitioned to take on more women...Strongly petitioned...

Alex was annoyed...He'd done his bit...Why didn't they take on the other papers?...

Willow sympathized in secret but in public worked to maintain the
pressure...Besides...He could take on a few more women without any real difficulty...He was just being stubborn...

However she did not quite agree with the young lady at their meeting on the 14th,
a Miss Maculay, who suggested bombing the Sentinel...

She suggested instead they try pickets...A little genteel pressure...

Hmmn...Wife of the owner, several nodded to each other...

Bomb plan sounds better...

Gentle persuasion would win the day...Willow convinced the majority...
***

The Walthrops had taken the lead and reached Boracho, Arizona Territory...The
next gasoline dump...And the only one for many miles...

About five miles out from town they were attacked by Indians...Firing guns and
hollering...

Walthrop had met Indians while with Teddy Roosevelt in the Dakotas...These
seemed a little...Odd...

Still best to be safe...Buffy-Millie used a special feature of the Hannibal's...A
smoke-screen...To disburse the savages...

They raced on into town...To find themselves surrounded by a sea of people
wearing white robes...With hoods...Setting up crosses...

And rather roughly parading a group of weary and rather down at heel-looking
Indians in their midst...While jeering at them...

The mayor of the town came out to welcome them...

"Youse folks are just in time...We're in the middle of the biggest rally the Klan's
ever had..."

The...Klan?...Buffy-Millie thought...The Klan...As in KKK?...

‘Course the mayor informed her happily...We're out to make this here territory all
white before we become a full state...

Welcome to the early 20th century...

But what about?...The Indians outside town...Attacking...

He chuckled...That...That was just the sheriff and some men out to greet the racers as they came in...Sort of an authentic Western welcome...

Lovely...But why were those other Indians over there...Real ones? Buffy-Millie
asked him...Being paraded like that?...

"Aw...They're just some Injuns we brought in from the reservation hereabouts for
the party...We ain't gonna hurt ‘em...Well...Can't say as to what happens after you leave..." the mayor chuckled...

She and Walthrop looked at the Klansmen...Shoving the Indians out of their
way...A group...Obviously the leaders coming over...

Great...Guests of Honor at KKK Central...

"Really...Thanks...But we have no time for this...Just give us the gasoline and we'll be on our way..." Buffy-Millie told him...

"Now lookee-here...We been planning this here Shindig for months...You want
your gas...You'll be our Guests of Honor!..."

She looked at the sad-faced Indians...The happy-faced Klansmen were pulling
their hoods off to mop their brows before they joined the town parade...While having rather unspeakable signs brought up to them...So they were Guests...

Guests of these slimy little...

"Now look, you...Sawed-off little racist..." she glared at him...

"Either you two be our Guests of Honor at our Shindig...Or you'll be our Guests of Honor at a necktie party!..." the mayor told them...

"Citizens of Boracho!..." the mayor called...

"Somebody get a rope!..."

Right up their alley, the Klansmen nodded to each other...

Max and Buffy-Millie looked at each other...

Time to depart moron-land...

She activated the smoke screen and they took off...

Leaving the fuming mayor and his fellow citizens choking...And sorely miffed at
missing out on their favorite outdoor activity...Nothing like a good Lynching to get a celebration started off right...

Of course as the Klan leader pointed out...The Indians were still available...
***

Angel arrived with Hezekiah...And his guest ..About two hours later...

The mayor and his Klan friends were a bit...Startled...By Miss DuBois...

But hey...A surprising number of them...In secret...However they had the good
sense to be discreet...

Still Angel was so charming...And seemed so amenable to their Shindig
plans...Perhaps...

"This your maid?..." The mayor asked...

The Klansmen leaned close...Girl seemed a little too...

Even the mayor was concerned...There weren't any other Great Racers left...

If his friends took care of these...The celebrations would be rather abruptly over...

Hezekiah looked at the Boss...How's about a quick pullout?...The gas can wait...

Miss DuBois thought fast...And sighed...

There's a time for forthrightness and there is a time for...

"Maid?...Right...Sure...Maid..." she told them...Grimly...

She didn't seem like any black maid he knew...One of the Klansmen noted to his
friends...

Easterners...He noted...

Could she be a little more?...Maidish...Hezekiah whispered to her...

Maidish?...

Yeah...Black maidish...You know...With the "sho...nuff" and so on...

Ah...No, this is as Maidish as I get...She informed him...

Angel's persuasive oratory won the more uncertain in the white robed group over...

The crowd relaxed...

At Angel's polite hint...The Klansmen pulled discreetly out of sight...

For the future good of Boracho...And the Arizona Territory...National and World
press attention and all that goes with it he noted to the mayor...

Best to avoid anything that might possibly be taken the wrong way...Tarnish the
image of the...Sure to be...Western Chicago...

The Klan leader, a practical man with large real estate holdings in town, accepted
Angel's considered judgment...

Within a few minutes the robes had vanished...

And a very shaken Indian chief from the local reservation been brought forward to welcome the Great Racers...Symbolizing Boracho's tolerant and civilized state...A true City on a Hill...

***

Unfortunately the Walthrops still needed the gasoline...

So they hid the car in a ravine a few miles outside town and put together disguises with some stolen clothes...Creeping back into town about an hour later...

Play "The Boracho Reel"
To the palatial Golden Angel Saloon...Fitting place for the reception for the Great Angel and his assistant...And their...Guest er...Maid...The place properly decked out and open to all for this grand affair...Even ladies welcome...

Of a certain variety...

Buffy-Millie spotted a saloon-girl...Just about the right size...And followed her
into the ladies room...

Max took a less criminal route...The barkeep needed all the extra help he could get tonight...

And, much to her surprise, he had tended bar on occasion...Well, pub...Back in
England...

Hidden talents, my feller...She noted...As she kept by the bar...In her borrowed
outfit...

She looked...She really looked...In that dress...Walthrop noted...

She looked at him...Tongue on upper lip, smiling slyly...Not half bad, eh...

Not really all that different from some things Buffy used to...Will...Wear...She
noted to herself...

"I could keep it, you know..." she grinned at him... "I paid her for it..."

Please do...
***

Angel was making a brief but charming speech to his dear hosts...The Good
Citizens of Boracho...The next...Sure to be...Chicago...Of the West...

A rather attractive young lady presented him with the Keys to the City...Well,
future City...

And kissed him...

Several times...

Boracho's own Katie O'Shaughnessy...Singer extraordinaire...

Among her other talents...The mayor noted to Hezekiah and Miss DuBois...

Who in view of the large number of formerly white-robed gentlemen was
keeping a lowered profile and continuing a somewhat less forthright approach...

Though she was clearly not too pleased with Boracho's own Katie's attentions to
the future City's Guest of Honor...

***
"Why that slicker would get his... If Texas Jack were here..." A tall fellow
grumbled, watching Angel receiving Miss Katie's fervent attentions...

The Walthrops looked at each other...Hmmn...

"Pardon me...Mister Pardner...Who is this here...Texas Jack?" Max
asked...Polishing his counter...

"Texas Jack?!" the man looked at him incredulously... "Why he's the roughest, the toughest, the meanest gunslinger west of the Mississippi..."

"Katie's...His girl..." the man stated firmly...Looking at Angel with the young
lady...

"Katie's his girl..." Buffy-Millie looked at Max wickedly...

"Beautiful..." Max replied...

A drunken cowboy came up to the bar...Grabbing Buffy-Millie...

"Come on honey...Les hav a dance..."

Glad to...Later...

Honey...she told him...

He was not pleased...And was persistent...Not to mention...Armed...

"Wanta a lil' kiss..."

She rolled her eyes...

He waved his gun in the air...

Hmmn...Maybe a lil' hug...Honey...she told him...

Max watched nervously...But continued on the subject of the rough and tough Mr. Jack with the annoyed gentleman...

"Where might one find this here...Texas Jack?..." he asked him...

"He's got a spread just ten miles south of town...The Lazy K...For Katie..." the man informed him...

Hmmn...

Buffy-Millie might lack Slayer strength...However she still remembered her Slayer training...

And nailed her dance partner where it counted...He was down for the count...

Neatly done, Max told her...She nodded, bowing slightly...Ta-dah...

Now...As to this Mr. Jack...

There was in fact no need to search for the legendary Texas Jack...

The sounds of his trademark gunfire in the large hall quickly revealed that he had
arrived...A bit miffed at not being invited...And at seeing his girl...Occupied...

***
"Hells Bells...I am Texas Jack!..." Jack fired at the hall chandelier...

"And I am the roughest, the toughest, the meanest gunslinger in the West!..."

They usually are...Thought Buffy-Millie...

Wasn't he Teddy's old valet?...Back in the Dakotas?...Walthrop wondered, looking at Mr. Jack...

Angel turned to see the fellow who'd interrupted his speech...

An unheard of occurrence...

***
Katie did what she could to calm her short-tempered fiancee...

Who rather rudely shoved her down...

Angel LeGrand does not stand for such treatment of the Fairer Sex...

He suggested that Mr. Jack had...Forgotten himself...

If he'd immediately apologize to the lady...No harm done...

Mr. Jack's reply was, of course, unacceptable...And unprintable...

Hezekiah, followed by Miss DuBois, came down to the floor beside the Boss...

Looked like trouble...

Jack insisted that the Great Angel was a woman-stealing !@#$%ing,*&%$ing,
@#$%ing #$%&!!!...And must meet him in the street...Immediately...

"He's Teddy Roosevelt's old valet, John...I'm sure of it...Those are Teddy's old
oaths..."

Walthrop told Buffy-Millie...Who was watching the two men with great
expectation...

Angel suggested Mr. Jack might want to rectify his lack of manners...And
apologized to the Citizens of Boracho for this uncouth display...

The Citizens having taken up good viewing positions...This promised to be much
more interesting than the planned Shindig...

Jack took advantage of Angel's turn to the crowd to take his first swing...Which
unfortunately landed on Miss Katie who was interposing herself between the two in desperate hopes of avoiding an incident sure to compromise her performance at Boracho's greatest affair ever...

Angel quietly asked Hezekiah to remove his coat...And requested that Miss
DuBois leave the...

Jack swung again...Missing Angel yet again as he stepped out of the coat Hezekiah was taking...

And again hitting a lady...This time Miss DuBois...

His boys from the ranch came down to the floor in loyal support of their
employer...

Offended by the discrepancy in numbers...And the insult to Boracho's Guest of
Honor...A number of Good Citizens now took the floor as well...

A landmark in the history of Social Advancement...Klansmen coming to the
defense of a young black woman...

***

The fight was soon in full swing...Somehow...Angel avoided every blow while
landing many...

And made continued calls for peace...Appealing to the Good Citizens for calm...

The fight spread over to the bar counter where Max and Buffy-Millie had been
watching with unabashed glee...

"Did this sort of thing happen much with you and Teddy?..." Buffy-Millie asked
Max...

On occasion he told her...Whacking a ruffian who'd grabbed Buffy-Millie and
spun her around over the head with a bottle...

Thank you sweetie...She told him...

"How about your Slayer days, dear?..." he asked her... "You must have seen worse than this..."

Well...Preeety close...Never quite so many...She noted...

A couple of chairs flew over Max and shattered the large mirror behind him over
the bar...

Hmmn...Might be a good time to consider...

Two struggling contenders staggered over, locked in each others' grip...One swung blindly...

Oops...Max ran out to the unconscious Buffy-Millie...

Yes...Leaving would be a good idea...And the gasoline must be unguarded by
now...

Coming to...She groggily agreed...She felt her teeth...None broken...

Rats...Orthodontic surgery was so dangerous and so primitive she had chosen not
to risk trying it...But one could always hope...

Texas Jack staggered over towards the bar...The fight had long since passed him
and Angel by...

He recognized Mr. Walthrop immediately...And reverted to his old manners once
back in Polite Society...

"Very pleased to renew acquaintance, sir...And you miss..."

"You know, John...Mr. Roosevelt might find your new line a bit..."

Circumstances, sir...He'd chosen to remain in the great new Western country and
establish himself after his years with Mr. Roosevelt in the Dakotas...

And in this rather wild country...One must maintain a certain...Reputation...Or else one is lost...

Buffy-Millie could sympathize...

But...He'd done quite well here...Had a successful business outside town...And
was engaged to be married to the lovely young women whose performance had been interrupted...

Surely that interruption could not have been pleasing to the young lady?...

A few more chairs flew their way past them...

More Good Citizens were entering the fray from outside...

Ah, well, Jack noted...Rather necessary to maintain the image...Can't let her be
wooed by an experienced Easterner...Without a protest...

Bad for the reputation out here...he noted... And ducked carefully to avoid a large
bottle tossed at him...

Katie fought her way through the crowd...To join her intended...With whom she
was...A bit miffed...

Especially seeing that he had chosen to put on his city manners for a barkeep and
girl...Rather odd girl for the saloon variety...

"Jack...What's the idea of ruining my show?!!..." she hollered... "And belting
me?..."

He was apologetic...Had to maintain that Texas Jack rep, dear...We'd be driven out of the ranching business in a week otherwise...As for the belting...He'd been swinging at Mr. LeGrand...

She decked him one...Hmmn, Buffy-Millie thought...Nice form there...

However, in the interests of the family business...Katie dragged him quietly out of sight and revived him before anyone could see the famed TJ brought low...

Noting a few fighters were looking his way...Mr. Jack briefly reverted to
character...

"Wants to get me some Fightin' Room...!!!" he bellowed...

And politely nodding to the Walthrops...He hoped they'd drop by sometime...Katie was doing a marvelous job with the house...Re-entered the fight...

From the center of the fight on the main floor, Hezekiah had recognized the Walthrops as Max helped his wife to her feet...Fortunately for them he did not recognize the fist coming at him from the side as he stared at them...

However they could see that Miss DuBois was making her way through to him...

They hurried out as Miss DuBois revived the stricken Hezekiah...

***
Yet More (Semi) Parallel Lives..."Great Race, 1906"...Part X

"Pardon me..." Angel nodded politely, helping a woman to her feet as two chairs
flew over his head...

"Boss..." Hezekiah, helped by Miss DuBois, came over to him... "The Walthrops
are here...I just saw Professor Fate...Over by the bar..."

Angel frowned...Millie here?...

More Good Citizens were entering the fray...Now fighting with each other...

Angel and co began making their way through the wildly fighting crowd...A
difficult task under the circumstances...

He paused to take a swing at a bottle-totting fellow...Unfortunately Miss DuBois
chose to "help" at the same time...Clunking Le Grand with her own bottle...And, the bottle-totter staggering away, clobbered Angel in turn with a chair leg...

She and Hezekiah managed to drag Angel out of the crowd to the door...
***

The Walthrops found the gas storage area attended only by two guards...Who left
at once at the prospect of seeing the great fight at the Golden Angel...

They quickly loaded as much gas as they could carry onto the car...

Buffy-Millie grabbed two of her foaming fire extinguishers...

She sprayed foam around the area of the remaining gasoline cans...And returned to the car...

"What are you doing?..." Walthrop asked...

"Putting a crimp in our friend's style..." she grinned...

"Wouldn't want to set the whole town on fire..."

Oh...He looked at her...When she's good...She's very good...But when she's
bad...Watch out...

"You may push the button, Max..." she informed him, grandly...

The front cannon popped out and fired on the stacked tanks, setting off a
tremendous explosion...

Back at the Golden Angel, Angel and his companions heard the sound of the
blast...It could only be one thing...

"The gasoline!..." Angel cried, looking at the others...

The fire was contained by the foam and the Walthrops sped out of town before
anyone could reach the scene...

***
The Walthrops paused about a mile out of town to look back at Buffy-Millie's
handiwork...

"Well...So much for the Great Angel..." Max noted happily...

"No..." Buffy-Millie noted, frowning... "Not Angel, never Angel...He'll think of
something...But we'll be in Alaska before he does..."

"You are keeping that dress, right?..." Max looked at her...Looking so...In that
saloon-girl's dress...

Really so...

Uh-huh...Absolutely...She grinned at him...

They sped on...
***
A rather humiliating sight...The Angel Special...Towed by a team of oxen...

On its way to the only railhead in a hundred miles...McDougall...

But...Before they left Boracho...It was time for Miss DuBois to part from
them...On the first available stagecoach...

Given the potential for "trouble" Angel felt they should at least see that she made
the coach without the attention or interference of Boracho's Klan guests...

"Why can't you take me to McDougall?...I could at least catch the train there..."
Miss DuBois pointed out...

Hezekiah had the feeling Miss DuBois would find an equally valid reason to be
taken along the entire rest of the race route...And said so...Irritating her...But after all her coming along...Preventing him from using his "special" talents...If they should be required...

Not exactly what his senior employer...Hercule LeGrand...Would approve of...

Not to mention the distractive effect her presence was having on his young boss...

Angel was equally anxious that Miss DuBois part from them...A hundred miles
across the desert...Pulled by oxen...Was no ride for a delicate woman...

Besides...He himself was beginning to note the distractive effect Miss DuBois was having on him...

Hmmn...Not that he himself shared some of Society's more...Unfortunate... Prejudices...But...

It would hardly enhance the popular image of Angel LeGrand to be found with a
Miss DuBois in his train...

"Well...What do you propose to do once you get to McDougall?...You'll have to
wait a week to get a new shipment of gasoline in...After losing a week crossing the desert to get there..."

"Yes...But since Professor Fate destroyed the Boracho gasoline depot we hardly
have a choice do we?...And there's no direct rail or communication with McDougall...At least none faster than our oxen here..." he pointed out...

Well...Suppose...Just suppose...There was a faster means of communication to
McDougall...Say one that would allow the gasoline to be ordered, ready and waiting when they got there...It would save him...Say...Roughly...At least a week...Wouldn't it?...she asked...Brightly...

Certainly...But...

She looked eloquently at her cage of carrier pigeons...And back at him...

"All right...You order the gasoline...We'll take you to the railhead at
McDougall...But that's all...The end..." Angel told her firmly...

Deal...She grinned and prepped one of her pigeons...

Hezekiah rolled his eyes...We'll never get rid of her at this rate...

Well...Lets hope the Walthrops are having some troubles...Hmmn...Maybe I can
get a message out at McDougall...To some of our people further along the route...Or Mr. Hercule himself...

Time to play a little hardball with the dear Professor...
***
"We Want JOBS!!! We Want JOBS!!!" The picketers railed at Alexander as he
picked his way through to the Sentinel building...

Several dozen were scattered through the office corridors...Sitting in front of
offices...

He stopped a couple of his printers from tossing one aside from their print room
door...Gentlemen, ladies present...

And reached his office...Where Willow sat with several others...Firmly planted at
his door...

He sighed...How long was this going to go on?...

"Capitulate Alex!..." Willow told him...

"Never!..." he told her firmly... "My newspaper bows to no pressure...From
anyone..."

Willow couldn't help being proud...Alex was being so resolute...

But she had her duty...And resumed the chant...

"We Want JOBS!!! WeWant JOBS!!!"

He walked over them and entered his office...

She knocked a moment, remembering she had something to tell him...

"Yes...Oh, what is it, dear?..." he poked his head out...

"Don't forget we have a dinner engagement tonight, Alex?...For six-thirty..."

"Yes, dear..."

"Wear your blue suit...And don't forget to pick up some flowers...And remember
to call the doctor about little Willow's appointment next week...I'm going to be tied up here for the day..."

"Yes, dear..."

"And eat lunch...Something wholesome...You look tired..." she kissed him...

"Yes, dear..."

He was called back inside by a nervous Warren...

"Alex?..." she looked at him...

"Yes, dear?..." he asked, looking at her blankly...Oh...He kissed her...And went
back..

She smiled a bit guiltily at her comrades...Just a little personal stuff...Nothing to
do with the Cause...

"We Want JOBS!!!" she shouted...With the others...
***

At McDougall, the stationmaster cast a startled eye at Miss DuBois as she sat in the
Angel Special...As did several townspeople who'd come over to see the beautiful
automobile...Towed in by oxen...

Angel pleasantly requesting that he proceed with the release of his gasoline...
And consider the benefits of minding his own business...

The stationmaster shrugged..."You M. DuBois?..."

"I'm M. DuBois..." Miss DuBois called cheerily as she emerged from the car.

Uh-oh...Hezekiah thought...Something's up...

Sign here, the stationmaster told her...She smiled angelically at LeGrand...

"Excuse me..." she asked the stationmaster, turning a pleasant smile to
him...
"What happens if I don't sign?..."

Gas goes back of course...The stationmaster stared at her.

I knew it!...Hezekiah fumed...Angel glared at his passenger...Why Miss DuBois?!...

"Well, Mr. LeGrand?..." she paused...Resuming her angelic smile

This is simple blackmail, Miss DuBois...Angel noted angrily...

I get what I want, Mr. LeGrand...she noted...And continuing the Race to Alaska is what I
want and intend to get...

Angel hesitated, looking at Hezekiah...
She's got us...His look said

"Look...Lady..." the stationmaster glared at them..."You gonna sign or
no...?"

Miss DuBois looked eloquently at Angel...

Ok...Boys...Load her back up...The stationmaster called to his men...

Angel looked sheepishly at the fuming Hezekiah...We've no choice...

"Either she goes...Or I do..." Hezekiah glared at Miss DuBois...And stalked off to
the waiting train...

Angel glared at Miss DuBois...Who wore a sheepish expression...Which did not
match the feeling in her heart...

Miss DuBois was apologetic...Let her go on board...Speak to Hezekiah...She'd get him to stay...

Angel nodded, annoyed...

***
"Well...Hezekiah..." Miss DuBois had found him...Sitting in the second
car...Grimly staring out the window...

"Please listen...You must know how much this means to me..." she began...

"A deal's a deal..." he said firmly...

A passing conductor glared at Miss DuBois...This was not her car...Her car...Was
back there...

Just bringing a note to my boss' assistant...she smiled pleasantly at the angry
conductor...Who glared at Hezekiah...

Hezekiah gallantly told the conductor to mind his business and shove off...If he
didn't want to leave the train via the window...

The conductor went off, muttering...

"Are you on this train?..." Hezekiah looked at Miss DuBois...Who thought quick
and sighed...

Yes...She told him...She'd decided to head back...She'd never want to be the cause of a spit between two such good friends as Angel and Hezekiah...

Friendship...Was the most important thing in the world, she noted...After
love...And she was not the sort of woman who came between male friends...She looked at him carefully...

She hoped he realized that...

Hezekiah was apologetic...He'd never meant to suggest anything...Improper... Was...He looked at an overly attentive fellow passenger... "Yer want somethin' jackass?!"...Going on between her and Mr. LeGrand...It was just...The Race was no place for such a gentle lady as Miss DuBois...Any delicate lady...

"Well...Perhaps...You're right...Well...So I guess this is goodbye..." she smiled...

Oh...The gasoline?, he asked...

"I signed for it...Mr. LeGrand is having it loaded now..."

Oh...Hezekiah removed his hat...Apologizing profusely...Well...She was quite a
lady, he noted...

Hoped they'd all meet again...Maybe at the end of the Race in Paris...

Maybe she told him...And gave him a peck and a hug...And concealing her face in her handkerchief...Overcome by emotion, he guessed...Headed back through the cars...

The train pulled out...Angel watched the cars roll by one-by-one, gathering speed...

Miss DuBois stood alone on the platform...

He looked at her...She sighed, shrugging shoulders...

Where's...

"Ummn...Well..." Miss DuBois looked at the sky a moment, a pretty white cloud
floating over Angel's pretty white head... "Ummn...He said...He'd had enough... He didn't think you were going to win anyway...So he decided to head back to New York..."

"Hezekiah decided to head back?...Without another word?..."

Miss DuBois reminded Angel that Hezekiah had been preety determined when he
stormed aboard the train...

He stared at her...Something definitely wrong here...

She hopped in the car...Several louts standing around looking at her...A mild
shock in their faces...

"I think we'd better be going..." she indicated the bystanders... "And every moment is another mile for Professor Fate..."

Angel got in the car still looking at her...She kept an innocent expression on her
face...And they headed off...

"Hey...Conductor!!!" Hezekiah screamed...As he struggled with the handcuffs
Miss DuBois had slipped on his wrist and the seat frame...For her kit of handy items Willow had thoughtfully provided...In case she had to deal with any unsavory types out on the route...

"Lying, schemin' female..." He saw the Angel Special pulling out through his
window...

"Hey!!!..Boss!!!...Conductor!!!"

***
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