Things Present – Things Past
By Estepheia and Marcee
Part 13 - Family Business
ride home was spent in silence. Buffy listened to the clatter of hooves and
decided that that was going to be the only thing she'd miss if, no, WHEN she
returned to her own life. Other than Charles, of course. Or the five course
meals and the fact that she didn't have to cook for herself.
*I can't wait to tell
Spike that I met his human persona, William the Blushy. I wish I had a
photograph of him to take back. Not for myself, of course! Just so I can show
Dawn the not-so-cool beginnings of her favorite vampire.*
didn't notice it, but this was the first time in a very long while that a
heartfelt smile was plastered across her face.
*Too bad, Charles found us
when he did. I would have liked to ask him about his poetry.* She frowned at the memory of
the lecture Charles had given her as he lead her out of the library. *`A lady is never alone with a gentleman for
more than five minutes.' Blah blah!*
There was the sound of someone clearing her throat.
Willoughby was looking at her disapprovingly. Buffy realized she was slouching.
*A lady always keeps her knees together,
but never crossed. Blah blah. I never said I was a `lady'* She stifled a
sigh and struggled for a more dignified posture.
party," she said, unable to restrain herself. "I've seen corpses that were less
"Maeve!" Willoughby exclaimed.
sure it will be your last," Mrs. Willoughby said, looking perfectly amiable but
sounding awfully catty. "I don't expect you will be graced with many more
*Great, cause I'd rather give
myself paper cuts til i've bled to death before going to another party like
that.* But she swallowed the remark, reminding
herself once more that she didn't want to mess up Maeve's life. So she just
exchanged a tiny smile with Charles.
dropped Mrs. Willoughby and her son off at home and then drove on, into seedier
parts of town. It was a long ride. The Watcher was deep in thought, watching
her, while she peeked through the window at the passing streets, taking in the
strange and unfamiliar sights of Victorian London.
Willoughby cleared his throat to get her attention. "Please accept my
apologies," he said, sincerely. "Obviously, it was still too early to expect
you to blend into society, OUR society."
shrugged, fiddling absentmindedly with the strings of her purse. "It's okay, I
admit I wasn't exactly trying very hard..."
so," the Watcher continued. "I have read enough books on history to know that nothing
is immutable, but deep down I always thought that the British Empire and its
values would stand tall for a long time. But it seems a lot has changed... or
rather, will change in the next hundred years."
"Apology accepted," Buffy said.
nodded and Buffy thought the matter was closed, when the man asked: "So, pray
tell me, is there something I should know about Mr. Crawford?"
required great effort but Buffy managed to keep her features indifferent. *Gee, observant much?* She shook her head.
"I think I noticed a certain resemblance to someone I know back home, and I was
wondering if it was possible that they're related. It would be kinda nice to go
home and tell my...my friend that I've met his great-great-great... ancestor-guy,"
she lied. "So," she continued. "Where are we going?"
place called Wapping. Director Hartford told me that the Council was informed
about a feast to be held tonight at a local inn."
feast? But we've eaten already. Besides, I can't take another bite without
popping this corset," Buffy said, but she knew that wasn't what he had meant.
I am not mistaken, you wouldn't enjoy the fare offered. Besides, we are not
Willoughby, are you actually suggesting we crash a party? There's hope for you
yet!" She twirled one of her stakes. "So, how many vamps are we talking about?"
that all? Wow. I appreciate your confidence in me, but are you sure you want me
to take them on all at once?" *In this
will try to catch them one by one on their way to the Inn."
Collier didn't normally receive visitors after dark. She was, therefore, quite
surprised to hear insistent knocking on her front door. She peered through the
window and saw two ladies and a gentleman standing in front of her house.
Behind them a carriage stood waiting. She quickly shuffled towards the door and
Mr. Swift!" she exclaimed, executing a stiff curtsey. "I `aven't seen you in a
long while, Sir."
it has been a few years," her visitor replied with a nod. He was a strong
looking man, broad shouldered, and wore an air of authority.
this must be Missus Swift, then," the old woman said, with regard to the
beautiful blonde lady, whose pale skin looked like delicate porcelain. "I `eard
so much about you. Yer `usband told me all about your charitable `eart and your
love for the little `uns."
Mrs. Swift smiled distantly.
time I brought the whole family," Mr. Swift said with a strange smile. He gestured
towards a thin, dark haired woman. "My ward, Miss Christian."
a pleasure, Ma'm, Miss..." Mrs. Collier opened the door wider and stepped back.
Mr. Swift took a step forward and removed his hat. "May we come in?"
you can, sir," Mrs. Collier said. Her visitors crossed the threshold. "But
we've gotta keep the voices down, or else the cubs are gonna start crying."
lead them into a room sparsely furnished with an old sofa, a table and several
chairs. There were few things of luxury to be seen. The only ornament was a
cross hanging on one of the walls.
few pleasantries were exchanged. Business was discussed. Mrs. Collier offered
to make tea, but her distinguished guests declined politely, expressing their
desire to see the sleeping children as soon as possible.
and Mrs. Swift followed the old woman into the back room. Here, the lingering
smell of sour milk and excrement that had assaulted them from the moment they
had walked through the door, became overwhelming. There were twelve cots,
baskets and cradles, each containing a small bundle wrapped in shabby blankets.
The infants were sucking on pacifiers made from cloth wrapped around sponges
that were soaked in a mixture of alcohol and sugar.
at all those pretty little dolls," Miss Christian said in a childlike voice.
"Can I play with them?"
now, Dru," Mr. Swift said firmly.
Mrs. Swift added.
one he called Dru wandered whimsically around the small room, looking closely
at each infant, smiling dreamily, humming a soothing lullaby.
Swift looked at the sleeping infants, appearing absolutely delighted, even as
she dabbed her nose with a scented handkerchief. She pointed at five babies,
who smelled reasonably clean. "These,"
she said. "We'll take these. Jon?"
Mr. Swift nodded in assent.
good choice," Mrs. Collins hastened to
say. "As you can see, they're all `ealthy an' strong, from good families, good
fact, all the children looked thin, but the visitors didn't mind.
Swift pulled out his wallet and paid the agreed amount without hesitation. Then
the visitors picked up the babies they had chosen, the women each carrying two,
Mr. Swift cradling one himself. They climbed into the carriage, where two large
cozy baskets were waiting to accommodate the little ones.
been a pleasure doing business with you, Mrs. Collins. Helping those in need is
so rewarding. It always makes me feel like celebrating."
And with that the carriage drove off towards Wapping.
Continued in Part 14 - Keep in Touch
NOTE: Angelus's alias was suggested by Nmissi. If you want to check out it's
significance, read this: