Title: Through Time to Me: Chp 3 All the World’s a Stage
Disclaimer: Characters belong to ME
Prompt: Autumn or Around the World
Summary: Buffy and Spike have been called back across time to Tudor England to protect Queen Elizabeth I from a vampire attack on the Eve of All Hallows.
Chp 3 All the World’s a Stage
The next day was wet and overcast. Spike, naked to the waist, peered out of the tiny paned bedroom window and grinned at the gloomy weather. “England, pet,” he announced with more than a hint of pleasure in his voice. “Lovely wet, windy Autumn day. And no sun so gloomy. God, I’d forgotten that I could walk in the streets on a winter’s day here. And today’s going to be just as dark by this afternoon.”
Buffy was trying to untangle her hair with her fingers. She picked up the remains of her linen drawers and gazed at them ruefully. He’d done it again! Another set of underwear ruined, even if they were Tudor ones. And there was no way she could ask Will for a second pair.
She pulled on the green stockings and breeches, wincing a little when they rubbed at sore places on parts of her anatomy that had been under constant siege all night. God, had they slept at all? She could remember dozing off once after a particularly vigorous bout, only to be wakened by a cold insistent tongue doing things between her legs that even now made her tremble and long and –
This was insanity. Even here, back in time, about to try and save a Queen’s life, the only real feelings she had were for Spike. And yes it was lust, for the sex and for his body, but it was also something more. She looked at him now, peering out of the window like some excited schoolboy, giving her a running commentary about what was going on in the street, so pleased that it was wet and dull and he could go outside.
She – she liked him! Trusted him? Jeez, no way. But of all the people she’d ever known, she enjoyed being in his company. It was as if together they made a complete circle and without the other they were incomplete.
Buffy shook her head and fastened the doublet. All this thinking was giving her a headache. She had to concentrate on the job in hand, then find a way of getting home, back to Dawn and her dreary life in Sunnydale.
Dreary! She stopped in the middle of buckling her shoes. Was her life really so dreary since Willow had brought her back? Only when you’re not with Spike, came a whisper in her head and that frightened her in a way no vampire could ever do.
Downstairs she found Maria in the big kitchen, stirring what smelt like porridge in a pot over an open fire. Buffy shook her head when the child offered her some. It smelt of burnt milk.
“No, thank you!”
”There’s bread and honey.”
”No, I’m good. How are you this morning?”
The little girl removed the pot from the flames and set it on the flag stones to the side of the fire. “Nor sure, Miss. Mr Will has told me again about his being my Watcher and me being a Slayer and I think I understand. I killed something in the alleyway the other day. It just turned into dust. And I’m stronger than I used to be.”
Buffy smiled. She could remember when she‘d first been called – the amazing realisation that she could pick up heavy weights that most men couldn’t shift. “You’ll get used to it, Maria. You’ll learn how to hide your ability from other people. But remember it’s your mission to kill vampires and demons. Never be ashamed to do your job.”
“Have you been a Slayer for long in your world?” the little girl asked shyly, wiping her nose with the back of her hand.
“A few years,” Buffy said.
“And what about the vampire you travel with. Have you had him for long?”
“Had him?” Buffy said, startled. “Oh you mean, how long have I known him? Not as long, but it seems like forever.”
“I feel I ought to try and kill him, but Mr Will says he can’t hurt humans any more.”
Buffy’s lips twitched at the thought of this child trying to stake Spike. But then she frowned. It wasn’t funny. Maria would be trying to stake vampires that were almost as dangerous as Spike. How long did Spike think she would last? Until Christmas? Buffy couldn’t see her still being alive in two weeks time.
“I am to come with you today to Greenwich,” Maria said, brightening. “Just fancy, I am going to see the Queen herself, God save Her!”
Buffy smiled. “And until we leave, I’ll show you one or two things you’ll need to know. Now, take that stake out of your belt and try to plunge it into my heart!”
Spike strolled into the Watcher’s room having left Buffy and Maria training in the garden. He would have liked to have helped, but knew the girl was worried by his presence. And bloody hell, her life was going to be difficult enough without him making more complications for her.
Will was sitting at his desk, his quill pen scratching over the paper. Spike stood and watched him, a joyful surge of feeling inside him. He’d had many good days in his life, but this one was one of the best.
“Busy?” he said at last and watched as Will raised his head and stared at him, his expression bemused as if the familiar appearance of his own home was the last place he’d expected to find himself.
“What, vampire? Yes, indeed. But it is nothing of any great importance. A mere nonsense that I need to improve. The words will come to me one day soon, but not today.”
Spike had had many over-powering feelings of want in all the years since he’d been turned, but none was stronger than wanting to walk across and read what the Watcher had just written.
“An actor and a writer,” he said.
Will leant back in his chair, easing the strain on his shoulders where he’d sat cramped over his work since the small hours of the morning. “Oh I’m an actor first and foremost, vampire. I act for sheer enjoyment. I write for money.”
“But people like what you write?”
Will grimaced and pushed the pile of paper into an untidy heap. “Sometimes they do. Do they have actors and plays in your time?”
The Watcher shrugged. “I doubt I would understand a lot of what is performed in your theatres.”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Spike grinned mischievously. “You might.”
“You have – feelings for your Slayer?” The sudden change of subject caught Spike off guard for a second. Then he laughed, a touch bitterly.
“That obvious, eh? Yeah, love’s bitch, me. Fought it, tooth and nail, but it’s no use. I love her and always will.”
The Watcher picked up his quill pen again and sharpened the point with a small knife. “And she returns these feelings?”
Spike shook his head, his face bleak. “Oh, she feels – something. God knows what. She can’t – or won’t say. But she won’t trust her feelings. She’ll only trust her eyes and her eyes say ‘soulless vampire’.”
‘Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind,” Will said absentmindedly and jotted the words down. “I have a notion to write a play about star-crossed lovers. It would be very tragic but I think the audiences would like it.”
Spike nodded gravely. “I’m sure they would,” he said. “Perhaps you could set it in, say, Italy. Give it a real romantic flavour.”
Will nodded, absentmindedly, then remembered whom he was talking to and stood up, his face suddenly bleak. “Your Slayer – tonight will be dangerous. If the Queen is turned, England will fall to the powers of darkness.”
Buffy heard what he said as she came into the room. “But Will, we know I must have succeeded because – ”
The Watcher’s hand cut the air in front of them. “No! I do not want to know. But remember, the future is as it is now. If you fail tonight, then perhaps it will be very different in hundreds of years. The powers of darkness may well rule the land. Now, I must go and prepare. We travel to Greenwich within the hour.”
When he’d left the room, Spike wandered over to the table and stared down at the papers. He picked up the quill pen and scratched a few words –
“What are you doing?”
“Soddin’ hell, Slayer! Don’t make me jump.” He dropped the quill, sending ink spattering across the tabletop.
Buffy tugged down the dark green doublet over her hips and checked that she had more than one stake tucked into her belt. “I wish I knew exactly what we were going to find when we get to the palace,” she said. “All Will says is trust your instincts as a Slayer.”
“Sounds like good advice, pet.”
Buffy pulled a face and squashed her hair under the floppy velvet hat she’d been given. “Don’t call me pet! All he says is typical Watcher speak. I’ve been hearing that from Giles since forever. Trust your instincts, concentrate on being a Slayer. Cope with whatever’s thrown at you. If Giles had had the nerve, he’d have told me to Listen to the Force! All I know for sure is that I have to save Queen Elizabeth from being turned into a vampire tonight. I don’t know who her enemies are and apart from you, my only back up is a little girl Slayer who so far has killed one vamp, and that was by accident! At a time like this, I’d even welcome having Xander along!”
“But you‘re enjoying yourself,” Spike said softly and as she turned startled green eyes in his direction, he knew he’d hit on a truth she couldn’t deny.
An hour later, Buffy and Spike were sitting in a boat, being rowed down the Thames towards Greenwich Palace. There was a thick, low, clinging mist on the river and as water dripped off the oars, she could hear disembodied voices calling out from other ferry boats and the orange and yellow lights from lanterns and flares as the busy river traffic criss-crossed the fast running waterway.
Buffy coughed as the boat shot under a bridge and the thickening mist caught in her throat. Spike’s arm curled around her shoulders and she allowed him to hold her for a few seconds, the velvet of his borrowed cloak warm against her cold cheeks.
Maria was perched on a seat in the prow, her face glowing in the light from the lantern that was needed on this dark, gloomy afternoon. Will and another young man who’d jumped on board at the last second, were sitting, heads together, talking quietly but feverishly. His clothes looked expensive, thick damask, heavily embroidered. Buffy was sure he was a Council member; she reckoned she could sense them, like vamps.
Whatever he was saying, Will didn’t look too pleased about it, she thought.
He turned eventually and said, “Events are moving faster than I’d thought possible. Lord Travers has informed me that the people behind the plot are already at Greenwich, attending on Her Majesty. And so their vampire minions must be there as well. I had hoped for a chance to patrol the grounds, but now you will have to head straight for the royal apartments. And let us hope we are in time.”
“Travers?” Buffy asked, her eyes gleaming.
Will looked puzzled at her question. “Lord Travers is Head of the Council.”
“Right. A sort of family tradition, I suppose!”
“Indeed so. Now, Miss Buffy, the two people we suspect are a Sir Toby Fletcher and a woman – Cressida de Mornay. Sir Toby is a fool and a rogue, but a stupid one. He is led by the nose by his lover. She is very young, seventeen is all, but a fascinating woman. She could bewitch the very coins out of your pockets.“
“I thought for one dreadful moment you were going to say her name was Glory,” Buffy said. Bewitching human women were something she could deal with. At least there were no hell gods in this equation.
Will turned back to Lord Travers and they spoke again in fierce undertones. Buffy stared at the other man. He had to be Quentin Travers’ ancestor. That was so weird but kind of cool. She had an overpowering desire to ask if there was a Mr Giles in the Council as well.
An hour later the boat glided alongside the landing-stage. Soldiers and footmen, pages and boatmen milled around in the mist, shouting instructions as the other members of Will’s group of actors clambered out of the boats that were arriving just behind them.
“Here, lad. Carry this, you lazy lout!” Someone threw a heavy box at Buffy who caught it effortlessly and glared at Spike, who growled and started forward as if to pick a fight.
“At least I’ll pass as a boy,” she hissed.
“Must be blind, all of them,” the vampire retorted, staring at the shape of her legs in the dark green stockings. “No bloke I’ve ever known had legs or an arse like yours, Slayer.” And he grinned as the colour flooded up into her face.
In the confusion, the Watcher pulled Buffy and Spike to one side. “Follow me closely. I will take you directly to the Queen’s apartments. There is a secret staircase that leads to a passageway in the wall itself. You will find a door there into Her Majesty’s withdrawing-room. I cannot go with you. I must stay with the actors and prepare the masque in the Ballroom. My absence would be noted.”
“Does the Queen know about the plot?” Spike asked, pulling his dark blue cloak tighter around him. “If she sees Buffy in her room, isn’t she going to yell first and ask questions afterwards?”
“She has been informed of the treason, but wishes it to come to fruition before we arrest Sir Toby and Cressida. I think Her Majesty wishes to see a vampire! We have warned her of the danger, but she is one of the bravest women I have ever known. She has the heart of a man, of a lioness. That is why we are so afraid of her being turned. All that power becoming a vampire. It would be disastrous.”
Buffy tried hard not to show how irritating she found this. If their Queen was in such danger, why the heck hadn’t the Council spirited her away somewhere safe?
Spike looked grim as he followed behind Buffy and Will. This whole situation smacked of confusion and trouble and the Slayer was slap bang in the middle of it. A touch on his sleeve sent him spinning round, vamping into game face, then shimmering back as he realised it was Maria. He could see the fear flashing into his eyes, but she stood her ground, her hand flying to the stake in her belt.
“Listen, vampire,” she said, staring up at him, hostility written in every muscle. “I don’t trust you, but I trust that Lord Travers even less. He hates me, I can feel it inside.”
“I heard him talking with Master Will on the boat. He says that the spell that brought you to our time will run out by dawn tomorrow morning. Master Will wanted to tell you, but Lord Travers would not give him leave to do so.”
“By dawn tomorrow?” Spike ran his hand through his platinum hair, ruffling it into a myriad of little curls.
“Yes, vampire. Will you tell the Slayer?”
Spike nodded and she melted away into the shadows as he turned to catch up with Buffy and the Watcher. He was tempted to grab Will and shake the truth out of him, but knew he wouldn’t. And even if he told Buffy, he knew it wouldn’t stop her doing her duty as she saw it. The mission always came first, even in another time and place.
So, they had only a few hours to save the Queen and get back to their own world. Grimly, he strode on.
The last chapter follows.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/144804.html