|Story Title:||Miles To Go Before I Sleep|
Will Buffy’s dream of an altered past take her? Can she find some answers to her problems in a dream of another time and of what might’ve been?
The Hokey-Pokey dance, called Hokey-Cokey in the UK, was, according to WIKIPEDIA, invented in 1940 during the Blitz in London. A Canadian officer suggested to Al Tabor, a British bandleader of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s that he write a party song with actions similar to "Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree". The inspiration for the song's title that resulted, the hokey pokey, came from an ice cream vendor whom Tabor had heard as a boy, calling out, "Hokey pokey penny a lump. Have a lick make you jump". He changed the name to the "hokey cokey" at the suggestion of the officer who said that cokey, in Canada, meant "crazy" and would sound better. Before the invention of ice cream cones, ice cream was often sold wrapped in waxed paper and known as a hokey-pokey (possibly a corruption of the Italian ‘ecco un poco’ - "here is a little"). An Italian ice cream street vendor was called a hokey-pokey man.
Infant formula history:
In 1867, the Swiss merchant Henri Nestle
invented the first artificial infant food, and in 1873, 500,000 boxes of
Nestle's Milk Food were sold in the United States as well as in Europe,
Argentina, and the Dutch East Indies. By the late 1880s, several brands of
mass-produced foods, mostly grain mixtures to be mixed with milk or water, were
on the market. These included Liebig's Food, Carnick's Soluble Food, Eskay's
Albumenized Food, Imperial Granum, Wagner's Infant Food and Mellin's Food.
Mellin's was perhaps the most widely used. Mellin's food required neither
boiling nor straining, that having already been done, but is almost instantly
prepared for use by dissolving a certain quantity in hot water and then adding
How much did these powdered formulas cost? Advertisement published in the New York Times, March 30, 1884 (p. 3) states: Nestle's Milk Food, 70 cents--$1.00; Mellin's Food, 30 cents-50 cents. Horlick's Food, 65 cents-$1.00.
Music Referenced: Promises, Promises by Naked Eyes http://youtu.be/H8Q83DPZy6E
|Thanks:||Giant thanks to Anona for betaing this chapter, including her grammatical and punctuation corrections, wonderful commentary, and final review. Also thanks to Capella42 for her insightful suggestions that made the whole story better and epd4 for her help with the initial beta. All mistakes are mine because I simply cannot stop fiddling right up to the last moment.|
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.
Buffy’s Dream, Saturday, April 30th, 2011:
The only sound in the house was the couple’s labored breathing and soft footfalls on the creaky stairs. Buffy remembered how she’d watched William help his pregnant wife, Cecily, up these very stairs on that one night she’d spent in this house. Although she didn’t specifically remember it, she knew he would’ve done the same for her many times over the last months.
On the third floor, William opened the door to their bedchamber. Buffy hesitated momentarily, unsure if she was supposed to enter there or go across the hall as Cecily had done that night. Perhaps she should go across the hall and change into … bedclothes? Maybe he would come to her there? The look of urgency in William’s eyes, which held the passion she’d seen time and again in Spike’s, answered her question.
She stepped in and moved up to the window, which overlooked the back garden. It was bathed in moonlight and looked like a pristine, peaceful oasis from the grime and bustle of the city that lived on the other side of the house. Light danced off the small fish pond in the center of the area as small ripples formed on the surface of the water, then faded. A wide lawn surrounded the man-made pond and garden was edged with flowerbeds. Three or four benches were scattered around, each with a different view of the garden. A large cherry tree cast a dark shadow in one corner, blotting out he moonlight and hiding whatever was beneath it from Buffy's view. William came up to her and she turned to face him, expecting another kiss, but he surprised her by kneeling down in front of her. He began to methodically unhook all the many fasteners that held her shoes to her feet. Buffy had to smile – I mean, really? That took chivalry to a whole new level.
“William?” Buffy asked tentatively.
“Yes, my darling?” he replied, looking up momentarily from his task.
Buffy cleared her throat. “You … I mean, I could probably do that,” she offered.
William’s expression grew concerned. “You don’t enjoy … What I mean is, I thought you … I’m dreadfully sorry, Avengelyne,” he stammered, standing up. “I simply thought you enjoyed my unwrapping you from your trappings as much as …”
“No! William, I do … I just didn’t want you to feel like … a servant or something. You’re not beneath me,” Buffy rushed the words out, laying a hand on his arm.
“You’ve never made me feel that I was, my angel. I simply … well, I know you no longer need my help with your clothing, but I do so look forward to unwrapping my wonderful present each night. I know it isn’t proper for a husband to help his wife dress and disrobe each day, but it fills me with a joy I cannot …” William stopped talking and ran a hand through his curls, then pressed his palm to the back of his neck as a slight flush rose to his cheeks.
Buffy reached out and touched his face and gave him a smile. “I love being unwrapped by you. All these buttons and … what the heck are those things on my shoes anyway?” she asked holding one foot out from under her dress and looking at it.
“Hooks and eyes, dear,” William explained. Buffy knew from his overly patient tone that he’d told her that before, probably several times. “I know the layers upon layers of clothing and contraptions are confounding to you, my angel. And I know that you could master it if you wished, but … I’d very much like to continue our tradition, if it doesn’t offend you too terribly.
“That is … unless you’ve suddenly become a proper lady. In which case, I must insist you bring my Avengelyne back, for ‘proper’ and ‘Avengelyne’ rarely go hand in hand. It is one of the innumerable things that I love about you.”
Buffy smiled and shrugged slightly. “Well … since you put it that way. I’d love to be unwrapped by you every night for the rest of our lives, William. You are my destiny … You know that, right?”
William shrugged slightly. “So you have said many times, my darling. I’m afraid you have gotten the worst of this bargain.”
“No,” Buffy argued gently. “You’re a good man, William. Decent, sweet, kind, proper … I love you so much.”
William laughed lightly, his eyes glittering in the moonlight that shone through the window. “I’m afraid that since I met you I am no longer proper, my love. I sometimes cannot recall how to even spell the word. For that, I am eternally grateful.”
Buffy snorted a soft laugh and nodded. She was sure that was true.
Buffy watched William work the hooks on her shoes in the moonlight and she reached down to touch his long curls. She wondered if William thought they made him look like a ponce like Spike did. She hoped not. She loved them and felt like she could spend hours with her fingers entangled in their softness. William looked up at her and their eyes met across the short distance. Buffy’s breath caught in her throat and she was again taken by the way he looked at her. All the shyness and awkwardness seemed to be gone, replaced by love and passion and confidence that had been lying dormant, just waiting for the right person to help bring it out into the light.
No words were spoken as William unwrapped his lovely wife from her trappings. Slipping her small feet out of her shoes, he set them to one side before standing up and lifting first one of her hands, then the other, so he could remove her gloves and unbutton the cuffs of her dress.
After pulling her gloves off, he gently kissed the tip of each of her fingers in turn, then placed sweet kisses against her small, soft palms. After unbuttoning the tight cuffs of her sleeves, he caressed the red lines that they left on her wrists with his lips and fingers. Soft, mewling moans escaped his throat as he inhaled the fragrance of her and tasted her sweet skin.
Buffy let him move her without objection. She watched as he slowly found every button, every hook, every knotted strand of lace, and slowly, gently undid them all. Each confounding device was replaced with a kiss or a lick or a caress of his hand. It was like a dance, slow and sensual, one she knew they’d danced many times before, although she had no memory of it.
The dress had an untold number of buttons down the back and he slowly and deliberately unbuttoned each one. He replaced each button with a touch of his lips to her back, until he could slide the dress off her shoulders and down to the floor. Buffy stepped out of it and he picked it up and draped it over a chair before turning back to his sensuous task.
William then set to work on the camisole, crinoline, and petticoats that were layered under the skirt, giving it the fullness and bustle in the back that was the fashion of the day, replacing each one with the touch of his lips to her body. Then he dropped back down to her milky thighs and unhooked the garters that held her stockings up. His tongue traced over the line the garters had stretched up her thighs and Buffy thought her knees might buckle any moment from the ecstasy of it. Her body longed for him, wanted to push him down and end the blissful torture, but this was his dance – he had the lead – she would follow.
William rolled the stockings down her legs slowly and carefully, finally removing them from her feet in perfect condition to be rolled back on the next day. His long, slender fingers were like ghosts as they slid the silken garments off, conjuring chill bumps on her heated skin as he trailed his delicate hands ever so slowly down her legs.
His fingers felt warm and tender, and they left trails of tingles on her body everywhere they brushed against her heated flesh. Buffy knew it was no accident when his thumb passed over her nipple as he turned her around to loosen her corset. She couldn’t stop the moan that broke the silence in their room when he did that. She was sure she saw Spike’s smirk christen William’s lips before he stepped behind her to work his magic on the painfully tight garment. As he let the torture device fall away, he dropped a warm kiss on her bare shoulder and Buffy closed her eyes, letting herself get lost in the feel of his soft lips on her skin.
William continued unwrapping his beautiful wife. He moved back in front of her and lifted her chemise over her head, then untied the string that held her bloomers up and let the crotchless, cotton garment fall to the floor. Buffy giggled slightly at the thought of crotchless undies in these stuffy, sexual-repressed Victorian times. She assumed they were a practical matter, since it would be nearly impossible to get them down to go to the bathroom without completely undressing. Still, she thought it funny and oddly ironic.
William’s smile widened when she giggled. “You always find that amusing, my love.”
Buffy looked up at him. “Well, don’t you? I mean, I was pretty sure they were invented by … I don’t know – Pamela Anderson or … Hugh Heffner or someone like that.”
William shook his head. “When I see them, I can think of no one but you and your lesson for me of their quite improper use. I can no longer sit at my desk at University without a stirring in my loins for you. I can see you atop the heavy mahogany, I can feel you engulfing me just as you did that night you accompanied me to retrieve the book I left behind. You, my dear, are quite the instructor.”
Now it was Buffy’s turn to feel a slight blush rising up from her neck to her cheeks. She gave him a saucy smile as she imagined making love to him atop his desk in his classroom. Oh, she had definitely sullied dear William’s innocence.
William ghosted his fingers down her bare arms; her creamy skin called to him in the moonlight and he dipped his mouth down to taste one dark nipple. Buffy moaned again and ran her fingers through his hair as her pussy throbbed and yearned for him to touch her there. But he didn’t. He pulled back and moved behind her again – his task of undressing his lovely wife not yet complete.
William pulled the combs and pins from his angel’s hair and her long, auburn locks fell in silken waves over her shoulders and down her back. Buffy tilted her head back and shook it from side to side, shifting her hair softly over the bare skin of her back.
William stepped back and watched her in the soft light of the moon as it poured in through their window and bathed her in its luminescence. In its heavenly glow, she appeared even more angel-like than normal.
“I love how you move, how you moan,” William whispered. “How you yearn for me, just as I yearn for you. You are a dream, Avengelyne, one I pray I’ll never awaken from.”
Buffy turned around to face him, her heart in her throat, unable to speak, as he began unbuttoning his own clothes. She wished she could help him, undress him as he’d done her, but she had no idea where the buttons were. She was sure, in the relative dark of the room, she would likely end up ripping more off than actually unbuttoning. William didn’t seem to mind, though, as he undressed by rote, years of repetition making it unnecessary for him to even look at what he was doing. Buffy licked her lips as she watched him lose his jacket, his waistcoat, and his tie, drop his braces from his shoulders, then shed his cufflinks. After that came his shirt and then his undershirt. He draped his clothing, one piece at a time, over the same chair where he’d left her dress.
Spike’s smirk returned to William’s lips and Buffy suppressed a grin as she watched him continue undressing: removing his shoes and socks, his trousers, and finally his underwear. What she saw was no surprise, of course, but it still made her smile widely to see his desire for her standing so hard and proud in the dim light of the moon. There was no fear or shame on William’s face like there had been the first time she’d seen him in his crowning glory. Now there was just that lustful desire that she knew so well. It was a look that mirrored Spike’s blue eyes as he stood in front of her, unabashed.
Buffy moved forward and removed William’s spectacles, setting them down gently on the bedside table. She pressed soft kisses on his eyelids, then the tip of his nose, then his lips, then she just kept traveling down. Over his strong chin, his Adam’s apple, the soft indentation between his clavicle bones at the base of his throat, tickling her hands down his sides at the same time.
William’s nipples stood at attention for her when she trailed her tongue over one, then the other, circling them lightly and nipping at them gently with her teeth. A deep moan fell from his lips and his cock jumped and bobbed as she teased him, just as he’d done her. He tangled his hands in her long, fiery mane as she worked her way down to his flat abs. Someone’s been working out, she thought with a grin as she kissed each quivering muscle of his six pack.
“I still make you tremble,” she whispered against his soft skin.
“Always,” he agreed breathily.
Buffy dropped down to her knees and touched the tip of her tongue to his cum slit, tasting the creamy pearl of pre-cum with a moan of her own.
“Avengelyne … what you do to me,” William groaned out, watching her in the soft light as his whole body shuddered in need.
Buffy’s lips wrapped around the mushroom head of his cock as her tongue continued to swirl softly ‘round and ‘round his slit, making William’s legs tremble and his knees weaken. Buffy clamped her hands onto his slim hips to help support him, digging her nails into the soft flesh of his ass and he cried out in surprise. She would’ve eased her grip on him, but she could tell he liked it by the way his cock throbbed and pulsed in her mouth. Buffy suddenly crashed her mouth down on him, swallowing his length and sucking down hard. William’s resolve shattered in that instant.
“Dear Lord God!” he exclaimed as he lost control and his cum spewed into her mouth. She dug her nails into his ass even harder as his hips bucked against her involuntarily and she took every drop of nectar he had to offer. Before she could even lick him clean, he was dragging her up from her knees and his mouth crashed against hers ferociously, his tongue delving into her, needing to taste his essence on her sweet, honeyed lips.
The gentle unwrapping of his gift was over. Now was the time to give her what he knew she needed, what she longed for, and what he longed to give to her. He lived to make her scream his name and call to Almighty God. He loved lifting his angel back to the heavens.
William pushed her back across the room until her knees hit the soft, downy mattress and she fell backwards onto the bed. William dropped to the floor in front of her and spread her dimpled knees, running his hands up her thighs roughly until her pink, dew-covered blossom was opened for him.
“Oh, darling … how beautiful you are, so wet and soft,” he breathed tenderly to her as he dropped his mouth to her mound and whispered his tongue across her clit.
“Oh, William!” Buffy exclaimed, as she tangled her fingers in his hair and lifted her legs, resting her feet on his strong shoulders. He leaned into her and tasted her sweet juices, which he knew were the real ‘Nectar of the Gods’, despite her claim to the contrary.
William’s tongue and lips caressed her softly at first, barely touching her clit, just dipping slightly into her throbbing hole, and grazing gently over her taint before starting their trek back up again. Buffy writhed and moaned under his teasing touch, trying to press his mouth against her harder as she raised her hips up to meet him. But he refused to be controlled and pulled away when she did that.
“Fallen angels must wait for their reward,” he chastised her as he ghosted his fingers against the outer petals of her flower.
Buffy moaned and whined and finally begged just a little. When she saw Spike’s smirk come back to his lips, she knew she’d taught him well; perhaps a little too well.
“Will you be a good lass now?” he asked, cocking a brow at her.
Buffy nodded and fisted the sheets under her to keep from pulling against him again.
“Very well then,” he acquiesced as he slid a finger into her and dropped his mouth back to her clit.
An unintelligible gasp escaped her throat. She closed her fists tighter on the sheet to keep from reaching out to him as he began sliding his finger in and out of her slowly … oh so slowly … too slowly.
“Yes … William, more, please,” she begged him.
“All in good time, my dear Avengelyne,” he assured her as he slid another finger in with the first, but kept his slow, steady pace.
He circled her clit with his tongue and Buffy thought she would explode with frustration. Her whole body tingled and thrummed with need. She felt like a volcano was bubbling inside her, molten lava just under the surface, just waiting for one small crack in the earth’s crust to set it free and allow it to explode into the atmosphere – carrying her with it.
“God, William … please … please make me cum,” she begged again.
“Tell me, Avengelyne … tell me what you need,” William replied as if he didn’t know, his voice a low rumble. He dearly loved her telling him what she needed him to do to make her body sing.
“Touch me … harder,” Buffy instructed.
William smirked and pressed a finger hard against her thigh. “Here?”
Buffy lifted her head and looked at him with growing anger and frustration. “No! Not there!” she screamed at him, knowing full well that he knew what she meant.
“Where then, my darling? Show me.”
Buffy looked at him with confusion for a moment, then smiled remembering that she had shown him where and how to touch her breasts that first night. She’d probably shown him more than that since then.
Buffy loosened her grip on the sheets and began by circling her breasts with her fingers, slowly making smaller and smaller circles until she reached her hard nipples. She twisted and pinched them as his fingers continued moving slowly in and out of her wet slit. William was sitting back on his heels now, watching her fingers move over her glorious body. He could never see that enough. Ever since the first time she’d shown him how to touch her, he loved seeing her hands on her body just as much as he loved his own on her hot, supple flesh.
Buffy moaned and bucked against his fingers that were buried in her as a small eruption of the lava within her burst forth, sending ripples of pleasure through her body. Before the chill bumps had had time to fade from her skin, she trailed her hands lower. Her fingers replaced his where he was holding her pussy lips open and she circled her clit lightly at first, then her strokes got harder, more demanding as she jerked against his hand.
“Fuck me, William – fuck me hard, baby,” Buffy demanded as she circled her clit with her fingers, then tapped down on it hard, sending bursts of red-hot lightning zinging through her body.
“Harder!” Buffy demanded again and William began moving his fingers faster, slamming into her harder as he watched her body convulse and writhe in front of him. Buffy’s back arched and she screamed out as a wave of the lava burst within her, spreading its joyous heat over her like a tidal wave.
Before she could even come down from that orgasm, she felt William pull his fingers out and almost immediately replace them with his cock. He folded her legs up and out and slammed into her with the passion and power that he knew she needed and he loved giving her.
The slats on the bed under the soft down mattress creaked their objection to the pressure that was being put on them as the lovers gave each other what they each longed for. William had never known such passion could exist in a woman or even within himself, for that matter, before his beautiful, fallen angel dropped into his life from out of the blue. He yearned for her constantly, it seemed, from the moment he helped her dress in the morning until he finally got to unwrap his gift every evening. The glimmer in her eyes, even as they did the most mundane of tasks, told him that she felt the same way.
Buffy felt the tectonic plates within her shift as he filled her with his manhood and slammed his pubic bone against her clit. Then he dipped his head down and bit down on her nipple with his teeth, and the thin layer of solid ground that was holding the lava flow back crumbled to dust within her.
William covered her mouth with his to smother her screams as the volcano within her exploded high into the sky, setting the clouds on fire with their heat and burning the very air. Buffy clung to him as she danced and twirled through a colorful rainbow of flames that shot up from the fluffy white clouds. Then, with a final passionate thrust, William was there with her – joining her in the blissful dance around the heavens as his cum filled her tight, hot channel.
William pulled his lips from hers, but only enough so that they could both breathe in deep gasps of air. The rainbow of colors that they had been dancing in faded slowly. They floated weightlessly back down from her old home in the heavens to the one she chose to live in with him here in the mortal coil of life. If he lived to be one hundred, he would never understand her choice to stay with him, but he’d be thankful for it every one of those many, joyous days.
“I love you, Avengelyne,” he whispered against her ear as he released her legs and gently laid his torso down atop hers – his legs dangling down off the side of the bed, his feet barely touching the floor.
“I love you, William,” Buffy replied with a catch in her throat as she turned her head and dropped a kiss against his sweaty and flushed face.
After lying in her arms for a long while, still surrounded by her womanhood, drowning in her love, William finally, reluctantly got up. Buffy shifted on the bed to lay long-ways with her head on the pillow instead of crossways, and William climbed in behind her. He pulled the heavy quilt from the foot of the bed and covered their bare bodies with it as he spooned against her back. Another improper habit he’d picked up living with his angel: sleeping in the nude.
Buffy sighed contentedly as he cuddled against her and covered them both up. She pulled his arm over her body and covered his hand, which rested against the swell of her breast, with hers. His warm body felt strange against her back, but comforting all the same, and she quickly fell asleep as his warm breath tickled the nape of her neck and his heartbeat pounded strongly against her back.
William’s lips kissing a line of fire down her neck woke Buffy from her peaceful slumber and she moaned and pressed her body back against his. His morning erection, more than evident against her ass, was all the invitation she needed to open her legs to him and let him slide into her.
“Mmmmm,” she moaned. “Best way ever invented to wake up,” she whispered in a sleepy voice as he began moving his hips against her.
“So you have told me each morning, my love,” William’s deep voice rumbled against her ear. “I agree wholeheartedly.”
After making love, William dropped breathless kisses on her shoulder and nuzzled the back of her neck, letting her long fiery locks shimmer over his face as he breathed in the scent of her. If passion and love had a fragrance, it would be this, he knew.
After lying there in each other’s arms for some time, entangled in the pre-dawn dark of their room, the sun began to chase the stars from the night sky outside their window.
“I’ll have Cassandra bring the baby up,” he offered, reluctantly pulling away from his wife with a final kiss on her soft skin. Skin that he knew he wouldn’t see again for some hours – skin that would be covered in layer upon layer of fabric. But he knew he would, once again, have the joy of unwrapping it in the moonlight of their sanctuary later that night.
She simply moaned in disappointment when he pulled away, wishing he could stay just a while longer. William slipped his night clothes on, the only time he did so was in the mornings anymore, and headed out of their room. Buffy wrapped a sheet around her body, got up, and padded down the hall to where she knew the WC was, then came back and waited in their room for Cassandra, who she knew from reading William’s diary, was the nursemaid.
After a short time, a knock came on the door and Buffy opened it. In the hall was a young woman; Buffy guessed she was perhaps nineteen or twenty. Cassandra’s long, dishwater-blonde hair was pinned up atop her head and she had dark-blue eyes, the color of a midnight sky, that were open and friendly. Buffy was taken by the girl’s delicate features, classic beauty, and warm smile. Buffy could imagine her as a model or an actress, rather than a nursemaid.
Buffy smiled back at the girl and reached for the baby in her arms – a redheaded baby. MacKenzie.
“Little Wanda’s quite peckish this mornin’, milady. It’s a good sign after her illness. Got ‘er color back too. I reckon it was just a bit of the croup and nothin’ more,” Cassandra informed Buffy as she gently handed her the baby. Buffy guessed the infant to be perhaps six months old, the same age as MacKenzie, and she had the same red hair and creamy complexion as the prophesied ‘seer of truth’.
Buffy bit her lip lightly as she took the baby over to the chair in the room and sat down to breastfeed her. Wanda … we named her Wanda, Buffy thought as she watched the child she and William had made that first night in the Common suckle her breast. Of course she wouldn’t have been named MacKenzie here – there were no prophecies here. The only crescent moon to be born under would’ve been the moon in the sky.
“I’ll just get the other children ready for the day, milady,” Cassandra excused herself and left Buffy alone with the child.
William came back in a few minutes later. He stopped just inside the door, pushing it closed behind himself, and watched his angel with their daughter. It was another of his favorite things to see: the babe in her arms. Although Cecily had birthed his first three children, she’d never breastfed them. Cecily had hired a wet-nurse for the first few weeks after the children were born; after that they were fed formula from a bottle. He offered the same to his Avengelyne, but she wouldn’t hear of it.
“You think I’m gonna let our baby drink breast milk from some stranger? Seriously, William! That’s worse than sharing a toothbrush with some random bag lady on the subway! Forget it!” she’d informed him.
He didn’t quite know what that meant, other than there would be no wet-nurse hired. They did use the convenience of formula, however, when out in public, for instance, or if Elizabeth had to be away from the baby at feeding times. He had been surprised that, even with the nursemaid, who would’ve taken care of the late night and early morning feedings with formula, his wife insisted on getting up at all hours and taking care of it herself.
He didn’t fully understand his angel’s desire to do that until he’d witnessed it himself one morning – then it suddenly became crystal clear. The bond between mother and child was so evident, so beautiful. From then on he made a point to share some of this time with his two redheads. He felt slightly like he was attending a party without an invitation at first, but his wife welcomed him and seemed pleased to share this special time with him, and that made him feel all the more special himself.
Buffy looked up, met his eyes across the room, and gave him a contented smile. He thought she’d never looked more beautiful – of course, he thought that every morning … and every night, for that matter. He walked over to where she sat with the baby and dropped soft kisses on the top of each of their heads.
“You are the most amazing creature, Avengelyne,” William murmured against her forehead.
“You aren’t so bad yourself, William.”
After Wanda had her fill and Cassandra came and took her to be changed and dressed for the day, William helped Buffy dress, basically reversing the procedure from the previous night, but with a much simpler dress this time. He knew that she hated the crinolines and the tight corset, and honestly, he couldn’t blame her. When she asked if they could go for a picnic in the Common for the mid-day meal today, he helped her choose a dress that would be suitable for such an outing and not terribly uncomfortable for sitting on a blanket in the grass.
William had nearly finished dressing himself when Theresa, the house maid, knocked lightly on their door to announce breakfast. Downstairs in the dining room, Anne and Bess were waiting impatiently for the adults to arrive. Nellie had made a special treat of pancakes with fresh strawberry topping for breakfast and they were anxious to dig in.
Buffy stopped short when she entered the dining room. Anne and Bess were sitting at the table, fidgeting anxiously. They looked nearly the same as they had when she visited them in the past, maybe a little older. Anne was perhaps ten, Bess about four, she guessed. Billy, or William, she reminded herself, who Cassandra was holding in her lap at one end of the table, looked to be easily a year old. The contented baby, Wanda, slept in a cradle not far from the nursemaid.
Buffy was knocked from her thoughts, literally, when William bumped into her back, not expecting her to stop in front of him.
“Oh, dear. I’m afraid I’m quite the oaf this morning,” he apologized as he caught her shoulders to keep her from stumbling.
“No … sorry – it was … my fault,” Buffy assured him slowly, unable to pull her eyes away from Anne, in particular, as he moved past her into the dining room.
“Good morning, children,” William greeted the girls. Buffy watched as her husband went over and ruffled his son’s blond curls, then picked the baby up from the cradle and touched a kiss to the redheaded child’s forehead.
“Nellie made pancakes!” Bess enthused happily, licking her lips as she waited for her parents to take their seats at the table.
“Indeed. And good morning to you, too, Father,” William chided her.
“Good morning, Father,” Anne and Bess both chorused together.
“And how is our little man, this lovely morning?” he asked the girl that was trying to feed William, Jr. apple purée, but having little luck. She seemed to be bathed in it, as did the boy.
“’e’s quite the early riser, Master William,” Cassandra replied in her Cockney accent. “Must say, ‘e doesn’t seem t’ fancy the apples, I’m afraid.”
“Well, perhaps the strawberries will be more to his liking,” William commented as he started back towards the other end of the table.
Buffy bit her lip as she watched and listened. She felt a weight lift off her shoulders, like every prophecy, every apocalypse, every demon, every evil scheme to tear her family apart had been washed away and replaced with a ‘normal life’. Anne was safe – there was no Key energy hiding within her waiting to open portals and shred her dreams. Would Bess still be Called? Possibly. But with both Buffy and William here now, surely they would be able to protect her from the dangers of that life – the girl wouldn’t be alone. The baby that had become the prophetic ‘MacKenzie’ in 2010 had been named for their Guardian-Angel-In-Training in this time. Wanda, the Vicar’s wife, had given Buffy sage advice, along with proper clothes, and hadn’t judged the crazy girl from America when she'd arrived here.
Buffy moved into the room and took the baby from William’s arms, and her husband pulled a chair out for her at the table.
“Good morning,” Buffy greeted everyone as she sat down, unable to take her eyes off Anne. Unhurt Anne. Whole Anne. Happy Anne. Healthy Anne.
“Good morning, Mother,” Anne and Bess replied to her in unison and Buffy nearly fell over. She’d read it in the dairy, that they had accepted her as their mother, but it still sounded so wonderful coming from their lips.
Tears welled in her eyes and she blinked them back quickly as Nellie came in and began to serve the thick pancakes, which were covered in sweet, fresh strawberries. The children had milk to drink, while Nellie served, much to Buffy’s surprised delight, coffee, to her and William.
“Miss Nellie,” William began, he’d never been able to change how he addressed the cook. She would always be ‘Miss Nellie’ to him, just as she was when he was a boy. “My dear wife would like to have a picnic this afternoon. Could you possibly put together a basket for us to take to the Common later?”
“Certainly, Master William. Be m’ pleasure,” Nellie replied with a smile. Despite all the whispers and many of his old ‘friends’ shunning William after his inappropriate marriage to Miss Elizabeth, Nellie had to approve of the coupling. The firebrand of a girl spoke her mind and took no guff from anyone. She had found a way to bring the man out of the boy. Nellie could tell that her love for William, and for his children, was true, unlike the former mistress of the house, Cecily. She was sure that Mistress Anne would’ve blessed the marriage, despite all the social mores it trampled on.
The girls’ eyes went wide. “Can we come too?” Anne asked excitedly.
“Of course,” Buffy assured her. “We’re all going – the whole family.”
“Oh! Can we stop on the east end of the Common for a pence scoop of iced cream from the hokey-pokey man?” Bess requested. “Please,” she appended quickly at the end.
“The hokey-pokey man?” Buffy asked the girl, her brow furrowed. “Does he dance while he sells ice cream?”
Bess and Anne laughed, as did William. “No, my dear, it’s their cry, ‘Gelati, ecco un poco!’” he explained. He’d gotten used to explaining things to her – everything was, after all, quite foreign to his now mortal angel. “Over the years it has simply transformed into ‘hokey-pokey’. The men who sell the iced cream are the hokey-pokey men.”
“Oh, that’s too bad. I know Annie … ummm … I mean Anne would really enjoy seeing a hokey-pokey dance. Have you ever done it?” Buffy asked, looking from William to the girls.
“I don’t believe we have,” William answered her as the girls shook their heads, their mouths full of pancakes and strawberries.
Buffy’s eyes went wide with surprise and a bit of evil glee. “Remind me later and I’ll teach it to you. You’ll love it! Especially you, William.”
“Indeed, I quite look forward to it,” William agreed. She had taught him some of the queerest things over their short time together, but he loved learning everything she wanted to teach him.
“What about the iced cream?” Bess repeated her question.
“I think we could manage that, don’t you, William?”
William smiled at his wife and nodded. “Yes, my dear, I believe I should be able to scrape a pence or two together.”
It was a lovely spring Saturday. Bright blue skies presided over the day while a light, warm breeze swirled over the fresh, green grass of the Common. That afternoon the park was full of families just like the Weckerlys. Mothers with their parasols and fathers in their bowlers were surrounded by laughing children running across the soft lawn of the park.
William didn’t wear a hat. Ever. Before meeting his love, he hadn’t really harbored any strong feelings about hats one way or the other. He developed a definite dislike for them when he found that Avengelyne didn’t care for them on him. She’d said they hid his lovely curls from her and therefore were unequivocally evil and perhaps demonic. He’d given all of his hats to the rag man that very day.
The family found a lovely spot near one of the lakes in the Common and spread a blanket on the grass for their picnic. Nellie had packed a nice selection of cheeses and hard-cured meats, along with fresh bread, more fresh strawberries, and some biscuits, which Buffy called ‘cookies’, for dessert. William had picked out a lovely bottle of red wine for himself and Buffy to share, and purchased penny bottles of Ginger Ale for the girls from a street vendor.
It was a perfect day. The best day Buffy could remember having in what seemed a very long time. The girls laughed and played and fed the ducks in the pond. A boy not far from them had a kite and they watched it dance in the breeze high above the bustle of people gathered in the Common. But, despite the beautiful day and the wonderful company, there was a nagging ache that simply wouldn’t go away inside Buffy’s heart. She knew what it was, for it turned into a stabbing, twisting dagger in her chest as she watched Anne running and playing with Bess. Her laughter ringing through the air, so happy and joyful, should’ve brought a smile to Buffy’s lips, but it only served as a reminder of Annie and what awaited her at home. Sooner or later she would have to wake up and leave this normal, happy life behind.
Bess and Anne both insisted she teach them the hokey-pokey dance so they could do it for the hokey-pokey man when they got their iced cream. And so, William’s crazy, fallen angel did so – right there in the Common … and he joined in. If they’re going to think us fit for Bedlam, let none of us be spared, he reasoned.
Soon, the quite improper family from Macaulay Road had a large circle of children doing their quite preposterous dance as their mothers looked on with disdain and their fathers regarded them with amusement. William pulled Buffy out of the circle as the children continued ‘putting their right foot in and putting their right foot out and putting their right foot in and shaking all about, doing the hokey-pokey and turning themselves around’. That’s what it’s all about.
Her laughter was like a balm for his soul; he could watch and listen to her joyous giggles all day. Buffy leaned back against his chest and he (quite improperly) wrapped his arms around her shoulders as they stood back and watched the group of children doing her crazy dance.
“Are you happy, my darling Elizabeth?” he whispered into her ear. She noticed that in public he called her Elizabeth, the name that she’d given when she arrived as the nursemaid from America. In private, she was always his fallen angel, Avengelyne.
“Couldn’t be happier, William,” she replied, softly laying a hand on his cheek.
But even as Buffy said it, her eyes were drawn to Anne as she danced and laughed and sang the song they thought Buffy had invented. The Slayer clenched her jaw and blinked back her tears again. This had been a lovely dream, a wonderful distraction from the reality of life, but she realized that’s all it was – a dream, and it would soon be over.
“Are you quite certain?” William questioned as he turned her in his arms to look at her face.
Buffy gave him a smile and wiped at her eyes. “Yes, William. They’re happy tears,” she lied as she leaned in and dropped an extremely improper kiss on his irresistible lips.
When it was time to go back home, Buffy begged off the trip to the hokey-pokey man. She told William she needed to run a quick errand and would meet them back at the house, if that was alright. The girls were disappointed, as was William; they all loved spending time with Elizabeth, but he raised no serious objection. Buffy took Wanda and William in the pram, along with the now empty picnic basket, and started off towards the north while the other three headed to the east.
Buffy pushed open the heavy door of the Holy Trinity Church and pulled the pram inside. There was a rather large man up near the front of the large congregation hall. He seemed to be checking all the pews for something … hymn books, perhaps. He looked up at the sound of the door closing.
“Hi,” Buffy greeted him when she got closer. “I’m…”
“What a pleasant surprise, Elizabeth,” the man enthused with a smile, cutting her off. “We missed you last Sunday,” he chastised lightly.
“Oh … uhhh … the baby was sick,” Buffy explained, thinking fast. “Is Wanda here?”
“Indeed, I believe she’s in the kitchen, my dear,” the man offered, waving an arm at a side door. “I’m sure she’d love to see you and her namesake.”
Buffy looked at him more closely and realized this was the Vicar. This was John. The man who, in real life, had uprooted his family, left his parish and moved to America to make sure the three children William had left in his care would be safe from whatever had killed their mother and forced their father to give them up. He was a large man, tall and thick, she might even call him ‘burly’, but with kind, brown eyes and a sincere look of caring and compassion.
Buffy nodded her thanks and began pushing the pram towards the door he'd indicated. Inside, she found Wanda sitting at the table chopping vegetables – it seemed she was always cooking something when Buffy came here. Her guardian angel looked up from her work and smiled at Buffy when she came in. Buffy sat the picnic basket down on the floor, leaving the toddler and infant in the baby buggy near the door, and walked over to where Wanda was working.
“Hello, child,” Wanda began. “We missed you on Sunday.”
Buffy blushed a bit but resisted rolling her eyes. “Sorry about that … the baby was sick,” Buffy explained again.
“Yes, William told us, dear,” Wanda assured her with an easy smile as she wiped her hands on her apron and turned to face Buffy. “Is she better now?”
“Yes … she’s fine. Just a touch of the croup I think,” Buffy repeated what Cassandra had told her.
“Oh, that’s quite a relief,” Wanda acknowledged as she looked at Buffy expectantly.
Buffy shifted uncomfortably and gave the woman a nervous smile. “Anyway … I … need some help … and I thought … you were so good with the helping before.”
“Certainly, child. I’m always happy to help. Is it a problem with the children?” the Vicar’s wife wondered.
Buffy took a deep breath. She’d really be hoping Wanda the Guardian Angel would be here, that she could sneak into her dream and Buffy could get some real help from a real angel. “Yes, sort of – it’s Annie … and, well, honestly, Spike too and … me and …” she stammered, but the confused look on the woman’s face told her that Wanda the Guardian Angel wasn’t in the house. This was human Wanda, angel-in-training.
Buffy sighed and plopped down heavily on a bench that ran next to a long table in the center of the large kitchen, her petticoats rustling an objection to her un-ladylike movements.
Wanda sat next to her and laid a hand over Buffy’s. “Perhaps you could start from the beginning, child.”
Buffy snorted an un-ladylike, sarcastic laugh and rubbed her eyes with her free hand. She took another deep breath and looked up at the woman who had helped her and her family so much over the years. Suddenly, it felt like a dam broke within Buffy and she just started rambling, her words coming out fast and with little thought.
“I just … I tried and I couldn’t keep them safe. I’m supposed to be her mother and his wife and the Slayer and … I just … I should be able to keep them safe! It’s … it’s my Calling, ya know? It’s what I do! Why can’t I just keep my promises? I try soooo hard and I just keep failing everyone!
“Spike’s in so much pain and all alone and he’s losing his marbles … which – hey! Welcome to the club, right? And Annie … Oh, God … as horrible as I feel, I can’t imagine what she’s going through! I promised her we’d get home and everything would be alright, and it’s not! It is soooo not!
“They all died trying to get us home, to make sure we were safe – all of them! Spike jumped into that damn bug pit – he’s such a fu… a … a big dope sometimes! I know why he did it. He didn’t want me to be watching over my shoulder, worrying that he’d come through and kill Spike and … I promised him I’d fix it and there’s just one more promise that’s dust in the wind.
“Oh, God, I know this sounds crazy,” Buffy moaned, rubbing her forehead with her hand as if trying to get the crazy to go away.
Wanda waited and listened patiently as Elizabeth ranted on. The girl was clearly upset and frustrated and frankly, making very little sense. Yes, it did sound a bit crazy, but then, she was from America, after all.
When Buffy stopped talking, Wanda pulled what she could comprehend from the rant and offered her advice. “Promises are difficult, my dear. We often make them hoping that they can be kept, but with no actual ability to do so.”
“Spi … William always keeps his promises,” Buffy admitted solemnly, looking down at the well-worn wood of the table.
“I doubt that’s true, Elizabeth. If it is, then it tells me he’s learned to not scatter them about carelessly like stars in the sky,” Wanda assured her.
Buffy nodded and tears stung her eyes. “I guess … but I need to find a way to keep these promises, Wanda. I just have to.”
“My dear, Elizabeth, I think what you should do is look at each one and decide if it is a star – tossed out with a wish, but too far from your grasp to reach or if it is a seed for a delicate flower, and, if nurtured and tended with care and diligence, it can grow strong and bloom in your hand so that you may rejoice in its sweet fragrance.”
Buffy chewed on that advice for some time in silence, studying her hands intently as if willing a flower to grow in her palm.
When she promised Annie it would be alright, she truly believed the doctors and medicine in their own dimension would make it so. But the promise wasn’t hers to make; Buffy had no control over the outcome. She and the others had gotten Annie home, but past that, everything else had been out of her control. This promise she put in the ‘wish and a star’ category.
She promised Spike they would find him and get him back. This, too, seemed out of her control. Although she would do anything to make it so, hire a hundred whaling ships, spend every dollar they had and then some to make it happen, she personally had no way to fight the creature under the ocean. She hoped that Bess’ plan would work, but Buffy had no way to actually make it happen herself. This wasn’t as far out of reach as the promise she’d made Annie, but it wasn’t really in her control, either. This could be in the ‘make it grow with hard work’ category … as long as no devil-bunnies came along in the night and ate her seedlings.
She promised the Spike in the other dimension that she would fix things there for him. She’d even had a bit of a plan for that before all hell broke loose and she had to shift priorities to simply making sure she and Annie survived. Could she actually still keep that promise?
What if she went back in time, back to the fight with Glory, and fixed things for that dimension? Could she jump dimensions and go back in time as well? Did Willow have the knowledge and power to do that or would she have to go back through the portal and trust Rack? Or take Willow back with her, use Rack’s power and the power of the scythe and …
My God, that could work! And, if she planned it carefully enough, it had the possibility of fixing everything that happened after that, not just for Spike and her friends in that dimension, but for her family here, as well. No portal opening, no bats, no Reds, no demon octopus! She could go back and purposely step on a butterfly and change everything.
Buffy’s eyes widened with hope for the first time in a long time as she finally looked up and met Wanda’s gaze.
“Did anyone ever tell you that you’re an angel?” Buffy asked as she leaned in and gave Wanda a hug.
Wanda laughed and returned the hug, still not the least bit sure what Elizabeth had been talking about. “I dare say that I am not even close, my dear.”
“Well, you are to me,” Buffy insisted as she pulled back and stood up. “Thank you – you always know just what to say to help me see the answers I need.”
Wanda shrugged. “It is within you all the time, Elizabeth. You need only open the window and peer into your heart of hearts. The heart always knows …”
“…what the mind cannot fathom,” Buffy finished Wanda’s now familiar saying.
Buffy laughed softly and shook her head. “Sometimes I think my windows have been painted shut and boarded over.”
After Wanda swooned over her namesake a few minutes and commented on how fast both she and William, Jr. were growing, Buffy said her goodbyes and headed back the way she’d come in.
Back in the main congregation hall, Buffy was surprised to find her husband speaking with the Vicar. The girls were sitting in a pew waiting silently, if a bit impatiently, for the men to finish talking.
“Ahhh … there’s your lovely wife now, William,” John offered when he heard the door to the kitchen open and saw Buffy emerge with the pram and the picnic basket.
William said his farewells to John and started towards his wife. The Weatherfords had always been kind to him and his family. Even with all the impropriety that surrounded his marriage to Elizabeth and the birth of their first child a tad too soon afterwards, John and Wanda had never judged them. When William stopped attending services, they came and visited him and his new wife and encouraged them to come back to the church. Despite the fact that he had been unable to wed his lovely Avengelyne in God’s grace, due to the taboo of re-marrying so soon after his wife’s death and marrying beneath his social class, they were still welcome here.
He met his wife halfway across the large hall. As he reached out to take the picnic basket from her hand he asked, “Did you have a nice chat with Mrs. Weatherford, my dear?”
“Yes. She’s an angel,” Buffy replied as she stopped in the middle of the large church and sat the picnic basket down on one of the pews instead of handing it to him.
“William, I need you to listen to me now,” Buffy began in a serious tone, moving up in front of him and holding his face in her hands, making him focus on her completely.
“Certainly, dear. What is it? Is something amiss?”
“Spike … I swear I’ll get you out, I’ll get you home,” Buffy asserted, her eyes locked with his, their faces only inches apart. “One way or another, I’ll get you back.”
William tilted his head to the side and furrowed his brow as he studied her carefully.
“Buffy?” he questioned – the face was William, but the voice was all Spike. It was a bit disconcerting, to be honest.
“Yeah, Spike, it’s me, baby. Don’t give up, ok? I’m not giving up, I will get you out,” Buffy vowed to him.
William nodded slightly, then closed his eyes and blew out a shuddering breath.
When he opened his misty eyes again and met her gaze, the fear and pain in his blue eyes made Buffy’s heart ache.
“Do ya promise?” he asked in a frightened whisper, searching her eyes with his, as if trying to see into her soul.
“I do. I promise.”
Promises, Promises by Naked Eyes
Never had a doubt
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