|Story Title:||Miles To Go Before I Sleep|
The Way Things Might Have Been
Buffy tries her best stay awake and keep from dreaming, but her efforts are thwarted by a worried Tara. What nightmares await Buffy in her dreams?
Music Referenced: The Way Things Might Have Been, Gregg Allman Band http://youtu.be/5DkvUsx6xIA
|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:
“We’re home, my darling,” Spike’s voice rumbled as a deep whisper near her ear, his breath warm against her cool skin.
Buffy stirred slowly, lifting her head from where it rested on his shoulder, blinking her eyes open, and looking around. “Huh?” she asked groggily, rubbing at her eyes with gloved hands.
“We’re home,” he repeated as the door of the horse-drawn carriage opened and he moved away from her, stepping out.
Buffy looked around in confusion. She was dressed in a long-sleeved, high-collared fancy ball gown. The fabric was a rich, beautiful gold brocade. It pressed tightly, and quite uncomfortably, against her ribs and waist, and flared widely at the bottom. She had on white gloves and her hair was done up atop her head with pins and combs. She could see just a few copper-red ringlets falling down to frame her face.
The black, enclosed carriage was empty save for her. She looked at the open door and saw Spike … no … not Spike … William standing there. His gloved hand was extended towards her, waiting to help her down from the carriage. His blue eyes sparkled behind his spectacles as they met hers across the short space. His curly, light brown hair was slightly mussed, as if blown by the wind that had come in the open window of the carriage during their ride. He had a ‘cat that ate the canary’ smile on his lips, as if he knew a secret and wasn’t telling.
Buffy moved over, took his hand, and let him lift her down from the high carriage. It wouldn’t have been a problem in jeans and sneakers, but was rather tricky in a long dress and heels. Once on the sidewalk, she knew precisely where they were. It was the Weckerly home on Macaulay Road in London; just a short ways down the street was Clapham Common. Based on her attire and the carriage, which had a one horsepower ‘engine’ that ran on oats, Buffy guessed it wasn’t 2011 anymore.
“Thank you James … that will be all for the night,” William called to the driver of the carriage.
“I … uhhh …” the driver stammered a moment. “That is to say…” James started, looking sheepishly down at his passengers. But William was no longer looking at him or listening; his full attention was focused on Buffy. James hesitated a moment longer, then offered a heavy sigh before saying, “Very good, Mr. William,” and clicking his tongue at the chestnut mare. The carriage moved away slowly with wheels grinding and hooves clomping loudly on the dirty cobblestones of the street.
“Please be honest with me, now, Avengelyne,” William began as he slid a hand against the small of her back and guided her up the walkpath to the front door. “Did you really enjoy it or were you simply being polite to spare my feelings?”
As had become her custom when she was with Spike in her dreams, Buffy watched the man she was with warily, looking for signs of Riley Finn lurking just below the surface. But Riley didn’t know about Macaulay Road or anything about William, and he certainly would’ve never called her ‘Avengelyne’. She let out a relieved breath, although not a lot, because the corset she was strapped into wouldn’t allow much breath to be taken in. She felt sure this wasn’t Riley Finn playing a trick on her and allowed herself to relax.
Buffy smiled and tried to figure out what he was talking about. Despite the cool night air, a slight blush crept up her throat and colored her cheeks with warmth as the night she spent with William in the Common came rushing back to her. Certainly that wasn’t what he was referring to, was it?
“It was … lovely,” she hedged. “Perhaps we could do it again soon.”
William brightened and a boyish grin crept across his lips, clearly pleased with her reply. He opened the door for her and let her precede him into the house, still smiling almost giddily. The house looked just the same as Buffy remembered from her trip back in time. Not only looked the same but smelled the same and even felt the same. The foyer and front palour were lit with a couple of low-burning oil lamps, which gave the whole interior a warm, inviting glow. The large grandfather clock on the far wall said it was after midnight – apparently everyone else in the house was in bed. It was cozy and comfortable and she immediately, and most inexplicably, felt right at home. She felt as if she belonged here.
“I must admit, not too very long ago I would’ve scoffed at the preposterous idea of sorcery and spells, but since I met you, my dear …” He let his voice trail off as Buffy turned around to face him, their bodies only inches apart.
She smiled at him and reached out to touch his face with a gloved hand. “Since you met me you believe in magic?”
William closed his eyes and leaned into her touch. “Indeed,” he agreed. Opening his eyes he added, “What else could explain you enjoying an opera … albeit a comedic one?” he teased with a slightly evil glint in his eyes. It reminded her so much of Spike it took her breath away and brought a small smile to the corners of her mouth.
Buffy put on a haughty air and acted thoroughly offended. “I’ll have you know I’m quite cultured and refined, my dear sir, and I resent your implication that I wouldn’t enjoy the opera.”
“Indeed,” William continued to tease as they stood in the foyer of the large Victorian home, “that was the very first thought I had of you when you appeared in my bedchamber uninvited and unannounced – how very cultured and refined you were.”
Buffy laughed and slid her hand down from his cheek, letting it come to rest on his chest. “Well, you do only get one chance to make a good first impression. I’m glad I didn’t give you the wrong idea, like I was some kind of crazy harlot from Bedlam who just broke in to seduce you and use your body for my own pleasures.”
William laughed easily with a joy that sparkled in his eyes, and Buffy thought he’d never looked more handsome. That was a little strange since she really hadn’t spent a lot of time with William before, just a few hours, but now it somehow felt like she’d been with him for quite some time.
She remembered the sadness and pain in his eyes that night when she’d visited him in the past. It broke her heart when he admitted that his wife, Cecily, didn’t love him as he loved her. Then, when Buffy tried to explain why she couldn’t stay in this time with him, the pain and hurt and betrayal that shone in his eyes nearly killed her. Remembering that made it hard for Buffy to imagine William laughing like this, teasing so freely, looking so joyful.
She loved his new-found confidence and wondered where it had come from. Her need to ponder that question lasted only a few seconds, however, as he leaned in and touched his lips to hers softly. Buffy moaned against his mouth and let him pull her body against his as he deepened the kiss. If it wasn’t clear before, it was abundantly clear that she wasn’t just the lunatic nursemaid from America, or the fallen angel trying to get her wings back, any longer.
“You had me from ‘hello’, my darling angel. I’ve been entangled in the spell of your eyes, your hair, the curve of your lips … the beauty of your heart from that very moment. You cast a love spell upon me with barely a word,” he admitted. “You have no idea what you do to me.”
Buffy’s smile got wider as she slid her hand down his chest, across his abs, and cupped his erection in her palm. “Oh, I think I have some idea,” she teased as she leaned back against him and captured his lips with hers.
When they were forced to break the kiss in order to breathe, William slid his hand down and laid it over hers, pressing her palm hard against his urgent need. “Oh, dear lord!” he exclaimed suddenly, removing his hand and stuffing it down into the pocket of his trousers.
“What … did I … hurt you?” Buffy asked, her eyes wide with fear.
“No, my darling … it’s just,” William pulled out a wad of bills from his pocket and held it up.
Buffy’s eyes went wider, then her brows furrowed in confusion. Maybe she was a harlot, after all. “Is that for …” Buffy swallowed, unable to even complete the thought. Her heart wrenched in her chest. Was that what this was? Cecily was out of town or something and she was the … other woman? The other paid woman? The whore?
William nodded. “I’m terribly sorry, my darling. I was so enthralled by your beauty that I failed to pay …”
Buffy’s eyes were growing wider by the moment. Her stomach lurched and roiled, her heart ached, and tears stung the back of her eyes.
“… James his wages,” William finished, pulling away from her. “I’ll only be a moment – I’ll just catch him at the stable and …”
“The money is for … James? The carriage driver?” Buffy interrupted him, her mind still whirling.
“Yes. I’d meant to give it to him when he dropped us. He must think me a simpleton to have forgotten something so important,” William explained as he headed for door. “I’ll only be a moment … or well ... several, actually,” he called over his shoulder as the door closed behind him.
Buffy blew out a relieved breath and wiped the bead of sweat from her brow with her glove. She needed to get her bearings, that was for sure. She turned quickly, hiked her skirt up, and headed down the hall to William’s study. Inside the book-lined room, she went to his desk and began rummaging for what she knew must be here … and she was right. His journal.
Buffy fiddled with the oil lamp until she finally figured out how to make the flame go higher and then began scanning through the entries quickly.
September 22nd, 1880:
I finally found the courage on this night to propose to my lovely Cecily. She accepted! I am the happiest man…
Buffy swallowed the bile that rose in her throat and kept flipping …
January 19th, 1881:
The pews were full, mother sat near where I stood, right in front. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen her more proud and joyful. Cecily was like an angel as her father walked her down the aisle at Holy Trinity Church of Clapham this glorious morning. The only thing that eclipsed the large wedding was our wedding night. Propriety dictates I not elaborate here. Suffice it to say it was momentous.
Buffy rolled her eyes. Momentous, my ass. My night with him was momentous … I wonder what he wrote about that?
Buffy skipped forward in the book quickly. She went past the births of Anne and Bess, looking for December of 1891. She had to pause when she came to a page that was completely blank save for the date and just a few words.
October 24th, 1886:
Mother passed in her sleep last evening. I am … overwhelmed with sorrow. Mere words are insufficient to express my grief. It is all-encompassing. My very soul seems to be leaden with despair.
Buffy paused there and tears stung her eyes. She ran her hand over the page as if trying to soothe William’s broken heart. She wished she could’ve been there to hold him, as Spike had held her when her own mother died. Buffy wiped at her eyes with her gloves and moved on; there was nothing she could do to take his pain away now.
December 15th, 1891:
My hands are trembling as I write this. My heart has filled beyond capacity with an emotion I can scarcely describe with words. I had thought that I knew the color of true love, but I had no inkling of its rich, vibrant lustre until this very night. This night I met Avengelyne. This night my life changed. I should feel shame for this, guilt and remorse, but I can feel only joy. This fallen angel has wrapped around my soul, captured me with barely a word, lifted me to heaven with her, and promised to stay…
“Promised to stay…” Buffy repeated aloud. Her voice was so loud it seemed to echo in the silence of the room. She looked up nervously, afraid someone might've heard her, but the door was closed – there was no one about. She scooted from behind the desk and hurried to the door, opened it, and looked down the hall to make sure William hadn’t returned. She didn’t see him or hear anyone moving about in the old house. Her heart fluttered nervously in her chest as she closed the door to the study and returned to the desk as quickly as she could.
She kept flipping pages and scanning the entries in the journal as quickly as she could.
December 30th, 1891:
Avengelyne, or Elizabeth as everyone else knows her, lives under my very roof and yet I cannot touch her. She awaits the birth of my son … she’s to be the nursemaid. I am going quite mad being so close and yet so far away from her. Stolen whispers in the dark are all that we can abide. I have contacted a solicitor to inquire about obtaining a divorce from Cecily, but Avengelyne insists that I wait. Wait for my son to be born. I have tried to explain the complexities of divorce and the time it will require to my darling angel, but she is steadfast in this. I yearn for her every moment of every day, but have been unable to do more than steal a single kiss during this last fortnight. I feel as if I may burst into flame at any moment.
Cecily has shown me more attention these last days than she has the whole of our marriage, and yet, I can scarcely stand to look at her, let alone touch her. I am afraid that she will see my love, my longing, for the young American and I force myself to be attentive to my wife, although it physically pains me to do so.
Buffy’s brow furrowed. Cecily had allowed her to stay in the house? That seemed … impossible. Or was the ex-demon so certain that William would never stray … so certain of William’s undying love that she let Buffy stay just to rub the Slayer’s nose in it? Buffy harrumphed and kept reading.
December 31st, 1891:
As I write this on the first morning of the new year of our God, 1892, my head is pounding, my vision blurred, and my heart heavy and full of remorse. I must admit to partaking in the libations much too freely at the New Year’s Eve celebration at the Addams’ home last evening, but that explains only a small portion of my discomfort. Last evening I was unfaithful to my true love. I had relations with my wife.
Buffy’s breath caught in her throat as she read the last two sentences again. Unfaithful to my true love … relations with my wife.
She took a deep breath and continued to read…
My level of inebriation is no excuse. My desperate state of yearning for Avengelyne is no excuse. I have no excuse for my loutish behavior.
When I came into my bedchamber last evening after returning from the WC, Cecily was there, waiting. She has made overtures towards me more frequently of late, which I have deflected feigning illness or overwork. I fear that she knows the truth of me; the truth of Avengelyne. And yet she says nothing to reveal such knowledge or suspicion. My angel maintains that I wait to tell my wife the truth of my heart. Wait for the child to be born. Avengelyne has known things she couldn’t possibly know about me, about my family, so I must trust her when she says that Cecily is a ‘vengeful bitch’ who would ‘kill our children without a thought’ if she knew the truth. And so I have remained silent. But this … what I have done … I am so horribly ashamed.
My wife stood in the faint light of the moon in my bedchamber, completely disrobed. Her abdomen stood round and hard beneath her full breasts. I was awestruck by this vision. I had never seen her in this state before; she has never shown me this miracle with Anne or Bess. I could not stop my hand from reaching out and touching the child that grew within her. It was my undoing. My lust overtook my good sense.
I saw only Avengelyne as my wife turned her back, bent over my bed and spread her legs, offering herself to my aching need, but it matters not. I am certain Avengelyne will know my deceit when she lays eyes on me this morning. I fear that she will leave my household, leave me, and how could I blame her? How could I ask her to forgive me? I have been untrue to my heart, I have spit in the face of my angel’s love; I have committed adultery with my own wife.
No words exist to suitably express my remorse and shame. The fear of losing my angel grows with each passing moment, for I know she will know with barely a look.
Buffy felt a green monster swirl up from her gut and threaten to consume her. She felt overwhelming anger with Cecily – the wife that had made love to him only ten times in ten years. Up until now, Cecily’s only interest in William was using him to somehow clone Buffy and Spike’s children with her magical vengeance wish. The rest of the time, she kept him at arm’s length while fooling around with his boss from University: the ‘vulgarian’, Daniel Retchford.
She felt so sorry for William. His tender heart was caught in the middle of a power struggle between Buffy and Cecily, each one tugging at him, trying to gain the upper hand. It wasn’t fair to him. It was like two parents using a child in a divorce to get back at the other, never considering what damage is being done to the child caught in the middle.
“I’m sorry, William. It wasn’t your fault,” Buffy whispered to the empty room, laying her hand on the page as tears trickled from her eyes. “Please don’t blame yourself.”
Buffy turned the page quickly, hoping that her past-self would understand as well as she did, and forgive him.
January 1st, 1892:
As I knew she would, Avengelyne knew of my indiscretion the moment she laid eyes on me this morning. I could see the hurt in her eyes, the quiver of her chin just before she turned and hurried out to the back garden with Bess and Anne in tow. I was compelled to follow her – I had to beg her to forgive me, no matter who heard, lest she depart, never to return. In the garden, she sat alone on the bench under the cherry tree, watching the girls play their game on the lawn. The sadness rolled off her like the waves roll to the shore at Brighton.
I sat down next to her, unable to meet her gaze. My head dropped in shame, my hands were clasped in my lap like a schoolboy awaiting penance from the headmaster. To my utter surprise and relief, her small hand covered mine for just a moment.
“It’s alright, William. I know what happened. I still love you.”
My relief was palpable.
I could barely blink my tears of shame and relief back quickly enough to keep them from falling from my eyes. Then she stood quickly and was gone, across the garden to join the girls in their fanciful game. I stared after her and my heart expanded a thousandfold with love for this woman who is a true angel from heaven.
Buffy let out the breath she’d been holding and swallowed back her tears. “Thank God,” she whispered to herself.
January 5th, 1892:
My heart is conflicted as I write this. As my fallen angel predicted, Cecily delivered a son this very morning. William Wesley Weckerly, Jr. He’s a fine boy with flaxen hair the color of a dandelion and eyes as blue as a cornflower, just like sweet Bess. They must get this from Mother – I can see a glimpse of her in his small face. This, of course, fills me with joy beyond words. The conflict I feel is … Do I dare express it here? I should not, but I must or I will certainly burst. Cecily has passed! I say this not with horror, but with glee. She gave me a son, but never lived to see his face. I should be in mourning – I am anything but mournful. For this disrespect I should feel overwhelming guilt; I feel only freedom. I should have tears of misery staining my face; I have only tears of joy. This night I will hold my Avengelyne and pray that God can forgive me my transgressions.
My entire body is tingling with anticipation. My heart is fluttering in my chest like a bird taking flight. I am free. I am in love. I am loved in return. If God cannot forgive me, then I will gladly give my soul to the devil for this extraordinary pleasure.
Buffy blinked back tears and sniffed back her emotions. Cecily was dead. Buffy wasn’t crying for Cecily, but for the conflict that William felt over being happy about her passing. She had, after all, given him three perfect children. Buffy’s perfect children.
“Guess what goes around, comes around, bitch,” Buffy murmured to herself.
January 6th, 1892:
Last night was the second most glorious night of my life. Yes – the devil may have my soul as long as he never takes Avengelyne from my arms.
January 10th, 1892:
Only three days since burying Cecily and Avengelyne has imparted the most wondrous news to me. She is with child! I am overjoyed and vexed in the same breath. To wed her now would be an unmitigated disgrace. It would trample every societal rule, spit in the face of the church and God Himself. And yet, I do not care and neither does she. I will wed her this very week.
January 15th, 1892:
This day we took the carriage to the small town of Rye and were wed in a civil ceremony at the Register’s office in the town hall. Avengelyne deserves considerably more, but it is all that can be done. We cannot be wed in the church this soon after Cecily’s death. This whole affair is very improper and I fear the retribution that will surely follow from my peers, but I am certain that this angel is my destiny. I can feel it in my very soul. I am more sure of her love than I am the sun will rise on the morrow.
February 28th, 1892:
The ill-mannered offensive oafs of this town make me seethe in undisguised anger. Do they think that I cannot hear their disapproving utterances and whispers? See their boorish stares when we are out in public? Yes! Yes I knew this would happen! Yes, I am well aware of the mores we have trampled marrying so soon after Cecily’s passing and crossing social classes. Knowing this does not make it any less painful. Avengelyne says I should be ‘Donald Duck’. I do not know who Donald Duck is, but she insists that I let their scornful looks and hurtful words roll off me like water off a duck’s back. She’s even gone so far as to quack at me under her breath to remind me. She possesses wisdom beyond her years and always has the most colorful way of seeing the world. If the imbeciles who know nothing of true love don’t upset her, then I refuse to allow them upset me. I strive to become the epitome of Donald Duck.
Buffy laughed out loud with that and shook her head. She looked up at the closed door and wondered just how far away those stables were. She bit her lip and continued flipping through the journal, hoping they were a good ways off.
March 18th, 1892:
I feel so badly for Avengelyne. The ladies in our social circle will not even give her the time of day. There are no invitations to soirées or gala balls. Even Anne and Bess have lost friends due to our impropriety. I must hand it to my angel, however – she conducts herself with dignity and pride. She truly adores the children and they have accepted her as if they’d known her their entire lives. The girls have taken to her as if there was some kind of secret bond between them and began calling her ‘Mother’ almost immediately, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to do.
Avengelyne has infected the entire household with pure joy and happiness. These emotions haven’t been seen within these walls in many a year, and I find myself caught up in her enthusiasm for life. She even gets on well with the house staff and they her! The house maid, Theresa, the young new nursemaid/governess, Cassandra, and even Miss Nellie all adore her. And how could they not? If only the other ladies would give her half a chance, they would see the wonder of her. Avengelyne says she doesn’t care, that she’s happy simply spending time with me and the children, but I am disquieted by this, nonetheless.
June 6th, 1892:
This night was a soirée they could not keep us from: the year-end gathering for the staff members at University. Elizabeth was simply amazing this night. She was utterly unpretentious and completely captivating. Her charms enthralled more than one of my colleagues, despite their wives’ undisguised revulsion and disapproval of our improper union. I do believe she sparked a bit of envy for me in the hearts of the men, and that, if I am truthful, has swelled my pride. It was a joy watching Elizabeth work her magic on them. She joined in conversations of politics, business, industry, and science that, as a rule, the fairer sex would have no interest or cause to partake in. She represented her gender brilliantly, with a new point of view that left the men gawping in amazement. I could not be more proud of her.
September 6th, 1892:
It is a girl! Just as beautiful as her mother, with auburn locks the color of spun sunlight! A little angel, delivered to us directly from God’s hand. Perhaps all is forgiven, after all.
I can see people ticking off the months since my improper wedding to my inappropriate bride on their fingers. As my Avengelyne says so eloquently, ‘fuck them’. The child is perfect. Her mother is perfect. Life is perfect.
Buffy heard the front door close and she jumped as if she’d been shot. Oh shit! She frantically slammed the journal closed and slid it back into its place behind his desk, then scurried from the room. William was just coming down the hallway when she closed the door behind herself.
“William!” she exclaimed nervously. “What took you so long?”
“I do apologize, my love. James left his carriage in the charge of a stable boy and had already alit for home by the time I arrived. I simply felt horrid, so I had no choice but to make the journey out to the East End to deliver his wages,” William explained.
“You’re very considerate, William Weckerly,” Buffy told him, hoping her racing heart and flushed face wouldn’t give away her nervousness about nearly being caught reading his private journal.
“I trust you found something to keep yourself occupied in my absence,” William questioned, cocking a brow at the library door at her back.
“I … uhhhh … Shakespeare!” Buffy blurted out. “Gotta love ole Willy and those tragedies,” she enthused with what she hoped was a smile that didn’t look too plastic.
“So … where were we?” she asked, her voice turning seductive as she stepped up to him and wrapped her arms around his neck.
William tilted his head to the side slightly and smiled as he pulled her body tightly against his. “I believe we were just here, dear wife,” he answered, dropping his lips to hers.
The comic opera Avengelyne and William saw was: The Sorcerer
The Sorcerer is a two-act comic opera, with a libretto by W. S. Gilbert and music by Arthur Sullivan. It was the British duo's third operatic collaboration. The plot of The Sorcerer is based on a Christmas story, An Elixir of Love, that Gilbert wrote for The Graphic magazine in 1876. A young man, Alexis, is obsessed with idea of love leveling all ranks and social distinctions. To promote his beliefs, he invites the proprietor of J. W. Wells & Co., Family Sorcerers, to brew a love potion. This causes everyone in the village to fall in love with the first person they see and results in the pairing of comically mismatched couples. In the end, Wells must sacrifice himself to break the spell.
The opera opened on 17 November 1877 at the Opera Comique in London, where it ran for 178 performances. It was considered a success by the standards of that time. The Sorcerer was revised for an 1884 revival, and it is in that version that it is usually performed today.
The Way Things Might Have Been, Gregg Allman Band
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