"Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year..."

Summary: In the last days of 1880, betrayal and tragedy have their way with Cicely the Vampire Slayer...

("But Cicely wasn't...And Halfreck..." Now, now Joss never confirmed that Cicely wasn't or that Haly was...Besides you're in the Cicelyverse AU now...And to read up on how Haly took Cicely's form that night, the plot against William, etc...www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html )

Disclaimer: Joss, you left the gap, I exploit it...But the Buffy stuff's all yours and ME's...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/swb.html

***

Part I...



Frank Loesser...

Play



"Jan-u-ar-y and Feb-ru-ar-y were nev-er so emp-ty and gray

Tragically I feel like crying

"Without you, my darling, I'm dying."

But let's rather put it this way:



Spring will be... a little late this year,

A lit-tle late...ar-riv-ing in my lone-ly world o-ver here

For you have left me, and where is our April of old?

You have left me, and winter continues cold,

As if...to say...Spring will be a lit-tle slow to start,

A little slow....reviving music it made in my heart.

Yes, time heals all things, so I needn't cling to fear,

It's merely...that spring will be a little late this year."



***



London...Evening, late November 1880...



The grand hall of the Antiquarian Hall of the Royal Society of Antiquarians and Librarians...

Chairman of the Society...Council of Watchers to those present or otherwise in the know...Arthur Rathskeller, a slight but resolute-looking man of sixty, with greying hair, stood at the podium...Awaiting the securing of the hall doors for this most secret of sessions...Eyeing the sea of faces before him...Mostly male, but including some females...But for his strong bearing, he every inch the stereotypic image of a scholar who spent his days lost among tales and legends of the past...Excepting also perhaps the weary yet firm set of the eyes...Eyes which had seen far too much in his varied career...

A career now closing...

Beside him on the platform, his close friend and field Watcher to the current Slayer, Simon Farris...White-haired, but vigorous, in his late fifties...Tall with quick yet always controlled movements...A grim and sober cast to his features...As befitting both the current critical situation and the heavy charge about to be placed upon his shoulders...

"Ladies and gentlemen..." Rathskeller called the group to order, the sounds of various voices about the hall quickly fading out... "I call this session open...And without further ado, wave the reading of the last session's minutes and shall proceed directly to my report..."

"As you know, the situation with our Slayer, Miss Adams...Or, I should say, Mrs. Walthrop..." Various expressions at the second name about the room, ranging from vague glimmerings of sympathy through annoyance to pure disgust...Farris, impassively solemn beside the Chairman...

"Has been deteriorating for some time now...She has broken nearly all communication with us and continues to refuse both our assistance in her current 'activities' and our pleas that she resume her duties following on the upcoming birth of her child..."

A handful in the audience, summoned from the far corners of the globe and not currently in the full know of all details, gasped a bit...

Child?...

Further...Rathskeller paused... "We have reason to believe, from the reports of the Watcher in field, Dr. Farris, with me here..." A slight nod to his companion... "That she is close to making contact with the vampire demon who has taken the body of her husband..."

"Therefore..." the Chairman's face turned infinitely weary... "This organization is now faced with a crisis in which extreme measures must be considered..."

***

Southern England, late November 1880, same time...

AHHHH...A deep-voiced cry...Followed by full, all-out howl of rage...

The hideous furry creature in foreground, facing the source of the howl, blanching a bit...Ma'am...

"I says I surrender..." it whined, raising all of its arms...Staring down at the terrifying in her anger, if small, dark-haired woman in tawny-colored, open jacket, white starched blouse and long dark red skirt, slit on the sides to allow some ease in movement...Stake in her hand...The essential hat precariously perched and pinned on her piled hair...

"I don't..." she breathed deeply... "...Care..." she paused now, clearly in some distress...The creature politely, if nervously, looking to see if there was any thing it might do... "Are you all right?...Ma'am?" it asked, a note of honest concern...

"Tell me...What do you know about him?..."

Hmmn?...Genuine puzzlement...

"Spike..." she gasped out the name... "William?...Your old, even deader, friends said you knew him..."

"Spike William?...Never heard tell of him, Slayer..."

She jerked it back and down by the arm...Its howl fading quickly into a pleading whimper...



"Ohhhh!!!..."

"I've...No...Time for games..." she pulled it back to its feet...The creature staggering and holding its arm...

"Don't know him, Slayer...Not by name...Tells us his looks...Eygo will tell you true if she's seen him..."

She?...Cicely eyed the seven foot thing...A mass of fur with four arms...But, if one looked in the...Hmmn, yes only two...Hard to tell till it'd brushed the facial fur back to see her better...Rather soulful eyes...Yes, a female...Of sorts...

"Is a pretty one?...Yours?..." it asked...A bit coyly now as the pain in its arm dropped a bit...

"This high..." a hand flat at barely an inch above her own head... "Brown...Hair...Wait...I've..." Cicely paused, trying to fight for breath...

Picture...she waved a rather tattered old daguerreotype of a solemn-looking, bespectacled young man in stiff-looking suit...A gift from William's poor, now-frantically-anxious-over-brother-Will's-long-absence, sister Amelia...

"Him?...Oh, yes..." Eygo beamed, making an attempt to clap with pleasure...OW!....She rubbed her arm reproachfully...

"I know...He be a prowlie-growlie...I seen him..."

"Vampire?..."

"Yes...Pretty one, too...He with the whacko one..." Eygo looked a bit distressed at the thought of the 'whacko' one...

Hmmn?...

"Like you, Slayer...Dark hair..."

Drusilla...

"Drusilla?...Was the 'whacko' one, Drusilla?...Black-hair, pale..."

"Aye, aye, aye Slayer..." an eager nod... "Yes... 'Come on, Dru'...he says... 'Take care, uh girlie?...' he says...He like Eygo..." she beamed... "He wave other night going by...Ah!...Yes, I tell my pallys Clem and Foupa 'bout nice, pretty prowlie-growlie...They tell?..."

"Where?!...Where did you see them?!!..."

"Prowlie?..." it thought a moment...Cicely now rather wobbily on her legs...

"You sick?...Sit..." Eygo pointed to a bench about ten feet from them..."Eygo think it out...Hard..." It gave a expression of determined thought, hesitantly starting to move to the bench...

"Better for the little one..." it eyed Cicely's protruding belly..."Sit..." it repeated, rather sternly...

"Yes...All right...But tell me..." Cicely rather gratefully staggered over to the bench and sat, breathing hard...Her thin, lined face pale as a 'prowlie-growlie'...

Eygo delicately taking a seat next to her, careful to keep what distance it could on a small bench...

"Prowlies were in the dead park...That way..." it pointed to the left... "Pretty one fight other prowlie... 'Mate, I'm no toff...And that's no way to speak to a lady, especially mine...' he says..."

"The graveyard in town?...They must be resting there..." Cicely hastily stood up...Barely able to stand...

Eygo eyeing her sympathetically...Poor Slayer...

"Pretty one yours..." it noted firmly but gently... "Sorry..."



"Yes...Thank you, I must..."

"You no go alone...Not now in prowlie-growlie time..." it worriedly pointed one of several handlike appendages at the moon above... "Prowlies in dead park, lots..."

"I kill prowlies...Miss..." Cicely smiled wanly... "But thank you again..."

"Eygo come...You no go lone..." it rose from the bench...

"No...I'm better...I do best alone...Thank you..."

"Me come..." a firm tone... "I was human once and I lost my husband that way too, miss..." Eygo eyed her carefully... "Before I foolishly consorted with the Dark Powers to save him and ended up..."

Eygo...it smiled sadly at Cicely's startled stare...

"Me able talk pretty sometimes...When I thinks hard..." a gentle smile...

***

London...

The Council of Watchers in secret session...Same time...

The Chairman continued...

"Given my failure to contain this situation...I have decided to resign my position..." He hurried on without acknowledging the scattered "No!"s and other shouts of support... "And given Dr. Farris' experience with and knowledge of this Slayer...Along with his considerable expertise and ability in all matters pertaining to our work...I feel that he among us is best qualified to assume the Chairmanship and guide us in these very difficult times..."

A few "No!"s somewhat louder among the crowd...Most silent...A few offering lukewarm murmurs of support...

"Dr. Farris will now give his report and then I will throw the session open to those who wish to nominate and second other candidates...However..." Rathskeller eyed the crowd sternly...

"I remind the Council that this is not a time for petty politics or ambition...Dr. Farris..." he waved the Watcher forward...

Farris eyeing the crowd...Not exactly a friendly house...Some ambitious for power themselves, some others well acquainted with him not entirely confident of his own motives and ambitions...The majority not exactly convinced this rather unassuming and colorless to date Watcher had quite the stuff for leadership under any circumstances...And tending to hold him at least as responsible as the well-liked, gentle Rathskeller for the current calamity...

But the road to power is never easy...And he'd done the difficult work...Now it was merely time to show these fools the steel in the velvet casing...

And then to the minor business of the last act...Providing the heroine with a quick exit from the stage...

A minor bit of messy business already well in hand...And keeping that mess as neat and quietly forgotten as possible the primary reason for which they would hand him the position he'd so carefully worked toward all these years of toil...

For which he would at last be fully recompensed...

"Fellow Councilors..." he began in loud, firm voice...

***

What?...



The three large vampires...Two husky males, former dock workers, one rather fleshy female, their former favorite burlesque hall entertainer...Now on their knees, the first male to the left feeling Cicely's stake 'Dickens' hard against his throat...Were having trouble believing their ears...

"Miss?..." the other male looked at Cicely...And what appeared to be her seven foot dog...No, just a demon... "You say we can go?...Undead?...If we tell you where this..."

"William...Or 'Spike'...He may be going by either name..." Cicely nodded...Eygo watching the three carefully as well as dutifully keeping an eye out for other p-gs...

Tell me where you've seen him, take me there...She held up the daguerreotype... "And so long as you're not lying, you all go free..."

"Good deal, Johnny..." the female noted to the first male, he trembling at the feel of the stake...Nodding slightly, but carefully...Yeah...Sure...

"Yeah..." the second male, the speaker agreed... "Exceptin' I've never seen the bloke..."

The others glaring at him...Moron...

This is no time to be a plain-spoken villain...Geesh...

"We have!..." they chorused...

Oh, please...the male speaker frowned...Embarassin' to have mates like this, that's what it is...

And the poor kid lookin' in the family way and all...Awful to lead her on a wild goose chase that's just gonna end in dust...He well aware of Cicely's formidable reputation...

"I see...Godhavemercyonyourpoorsoul...Godhavemercyonyourpoorsoul..." Cicely hastily murmured as she quickly staked the first male and female...The speaking male awaiting his end patiently...

"Thank you for your honesty..." she nodded to him, motioning him to stand... "If you can lead me to the main gathering places in here for your kind, I will let you go..."

"Your mate, eh?..." he stared at her...Yes, she nodded...

"Bad business...For you humans...To try and get them back, you know..." he shook his head...Replacing the greasy cap he'd naturally removed at once on meeting with a lady..."He's not him who you knew..."

"There's still something there...I know it...Please...And don't try running off..." she waved her stake...He sighed and stepped off...She following, Eygo behind her, both carefully moving off and quickly hidden among trees and tombstones...Even her human scent hard to pick up, he noted as he moved along...

Wonder what she uses to cover...

***

"I think..." Farris paused, looking to the large illuminated screen he'd had set up, on which an image of Cicely facing a huge and vicious demon had been visible throughout his summary of her career... "That given the exploits I have just reviewed...We must all concede that Cicely Addams Walthrop has been the greatest of our Slayers...To lose her is not only a bitter source of shame and a personal tragedy for myself...But a tragedy for all Humanity..."

However...

"We must imagine her great ability turned and used as a weapon of Evil against Humanity...Which is the inevitable consequence of allowing her to pursue her current hopeless course...In its venerable history, this organization has many times seen the results of a Slayer's attempts to rescue loved ones from the Darkness into which they have fallen...If I may recall to the Council just one example, the incident of 1347...A Slayer turned by her own daughter, lying in wait for the new Slayers until she'd turned five others in succession..."

"Only the transfer of all their power to the following Slayer through our united intervention...And the transportation difficulties of the era...Saved Humanity..."



"Councilors...I have loved...Love...This young woman...As I would my own daughter..." A slight pause... "But, like you, I must put aside all such feeling and think of all the young women and men who could suffer for her headstrong actions..."

Cicely's warmly smiling face appearing before him a fleeting second...At the door of his rooms...Surprising him on his birthday...Bringing the only warmth, the only springtime he'd ever known into his life...

He closed his eyes and the vision was gone...

"Yes...Her headstrong actions..."

***

"Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year..."



Summary: In the last days of 1880, betrayal and tragedy have their way with Cicely the Vampire Slayer...

("But Cicely wasn't...And Halfreck..." Now, now Joss never confirmed that Cicely wasn't or that Haly was...Besides you're in the Cicelyverse AU now...And to read up on how Haly took Cicely's form that night, the plot against William, etc...www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html )

Disclaimer: Joss, you left the gap, I exploit it...But the Buffy stuff's all yours and ME's...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/swb.html

***

Part II...



London, same time...A gentlemen's club of venerable reputation...

Where, despite the comforts offered to him in the form of comfortable chair, fine cigar, and excellent claret, a tall and darkly handsome young man twisted rather anxiously in said chair, eyeing the large clock on the wall...Carefully positioned so as to be easily visible to all members engaged in their various businesses and activities about the floor...And kept in perfect time...

Not a few members saved from disaster...Business or domestic...By that most excellent of timepieces...As well as the attentiveness of the club steward...

Who, having noting member Foxcroft's anxiety from his corner for some time now, was pleased to be able to provide some remedy at last...

"Mr. Foxcroft, sir..." he paused by the chair in which Cicely's devoted cousin, Henry Foxcroft, awaited word of the arrival of another member...

Who, God willing might be the bearer of the news he'd been desperate to receive...

"I understand that Mr. Levinson has just come through the main entrance...You wished to be informed of the moment of his arrival..."

"Yes, yes...Thanks...Please let him know I'm waiting for him..."

"It has already been done, sir...Shall I bring Mr. Levinson's brandy?..."

"Yes, thanks..."

Jonathan Levinson, London barrister and ex-suitor of the divine, in his eyes at least, even if no longer remotely available Cicely, entered the upper club room from the main staircase...Nodding quickly to Foxcroft...

Some, though not much, hope...Henry realized at once from his friend's expression...



"Levinson?...Have you heard anything?..." he asked as Levinson took the chair next to him...

"Just a little..." Jonathan paused as the steward brought over a tray with his favorite brandy and set it down on the small table by his chair...

"Well?..." Henry resumed as the steward managed to all but vanish in seconds...Jonathan taking up his glass...

"My detective believes she's been positively identified in Lyme Regis...A woman answering her description was seen prowling the streets at night by several people ...But there's an odd thing, Henry..." Jonathan frowned...His professional sense of order had been through a lot in regards to Cicely Addams Walthrop, but never so as now...

"Couldn't be odder than some of what's been happening..." Henry sighed... "Sorry, go on..."

"According to him, McIves...My detective...Based on the description you insisted I give him..."

"William...?" Henry eyed his friend...Who nodded...Then frowned again...

"You expected it, didn't you...?" Jonathan shook his head in puzzlement...

"But Walthrop is dead...We've both seen his body...Unless you have some reason to think a mistake..."

"No mistake was made, Jonathan..." Henry sighed... "He is dead..."

"An impostor?..." the barrister...and perhaps the ex-suitor...In Jonathan took hold... "Is someone seeking to take advantage of Cicely in her grief?..."

"Not an impostor...Though someone who may very well try to manipulate her grief to its...His...Advantage..."

"It might be wise of you to confide a little more in me, Henry...I am a friend to you both you know...I've been willing to travel blindly on this so far, and if for some reason you need me to continue that way, I will for her sake...But with more information, I might be better able to help..."

"I know, Jonathan...And you are a friend I would trust completely if it were something that only concerned me...But without Cicely's agreement...I'm constrained by my promises to her to keep her confidences..."

I see...Levinson nodded slightly...

"Well, will we be off to Lyme?..." he smiled at his friend... "It seems to be the first real evidence we have of her in nearly two months...Even if she's not there now, it's a place to start..."

And she must be getting very near her time...A very low voice...

"Yes...Very near...Not more than a few weeks now..." Henry replied, voice equally low...

"Then we must find her...It's outrageous what Sir Richard's done, throwing her out of the house like this...And you said she and Walthrop were secretly married..."

"Jonathan...On the point of my uncle..." Henry paused... "I think I can tell that part...While he has disowned, he did not per se 'throw her out' as people think...She left the house of her own accord and it was only after that, when she refused to return that he took the action against her, even to trying to stop her income from her poor deceased mother..."

"But, at such a time?..." Levinson stared... "Did Sir Richard try to annul the marriage?..."

"Oh, yes..." Henry nodded... "But she had more reason than that for leaving...More than that I can't tell you...But you're right, I should be off for Lyme, even if she's left there as well...Though I think I'd prefer going alone..."

Jonathan started to protest...

"If this is a useless trip, it's best someone is here in London to continue monitoring any news that does come in of her..." Henry noted... "And while even my going may raise some questions, two of us might well stir the whole mess up again in the papers...And encourage my uncle to set his people after us...He is looking for her still as well..."

"Might be best for her now if he succeeded..." Levinson eyed his friend... "Well, I will be guided by your wishes in this, Henry...And probably someone should be here in case new information arrives...But please, keep me informed..."

And let her know...She will always have a friend in me...Whatever may come...

***

The graveyard...Night...

A wizened old fellow, condemned forever to the last stages of consumption, eyed Cicely and her companions...Nodding with grin to the male vamp who'd brought her to this rather favored gathered spot...

"Good'un on you, Bill...Brought us the Slayer, did you?...Mates, lets have at her!...Mates?" he turned to where five seconds ago, four other males and two females had stood, staring at their unexpected guest...

Mates...? the old fellow blinked...

"Some of em have met Slayers before, Sid..." Bill, the male with Cicely, told him kindly... "Best not to rile her, she's in a merciful mood tonight...Just has a few questions for us..."

Questions?...Sid stared...His Unlife flashing before his eyes as he beheld his doom in rather pretty brunette...Say, is she preggers?...form...

"Yes..." Cicely eyed the elderly-appearing Unman...

Seems hardly worth the effort for some vampire to have taken this fellow...she thought...

"I'm looking for someone...Two someones...If you give me honest answers, you can leave in peace so long as I don't find you feeding on humans..."

"Cats and rats forever, Slayer...I swear!..." Sid fell to his knees...

Likes dogs, you know...Still got one...he explained, rising at her order...

"So how I can help you, miss....?" the former proprietor of Markle's Fine Lady's Shoes had no trouble recovering his habitual manner in an elegant lady's presence...

My demon God...he thought, recognizing her... "You're Sir Richard Addams' daughter, Miss Cicely...I remember reading of you in the society pages...I'm...I was...A great admirer of your father, miss..."

"Mrs. Walthrop..." she replied... "Yes...Thank you...Now as to the matter in hand..."

"Of course, ma'am...But..." he paused, delicately... "Perhaps you ought to have a seat?...You look a bit pale, if one may say so..." He indicated a low, large stone crypt near them...Only the size of the small coffin within...

"Seat...Yes..." Eygo agreed firmly... "Sit, Slayer...Eygo watch the prowlies..."

"Well...Perhaps...It would be...Easier to talk..." Cicely nodded, gratefully moving to the spot and taking careful seat...Eygo taking a position to her side...Bill and Sid maintaining a respectful distance in front of her...

"Better?..." Sid asked...



"Much better, thanks...Right then...Here is the arrangement I propose..." she pulled out the daguerreotype of William... "You answer my questions and I will keep my word to you...I am seeking my...This gentleman..." she held up the image... "He's now..." she paused...

Oh, God, how could you have let this happen?...Lord, why hast though forsaken me?...she stared at the picture...

"...One of your kind...Traveling with a female...His siress, Drusilla..."

"Drusilla?...The Angelus clan's Drusilla?..." Sid asked carefully...An air of respect on the "Angelus"...

"Yes...Have you seen her?...Or him?...About these parts, tonight or recently?..."

"She was said to be about here...Staying with a mate in the north sector..." he pointed north... "Folks were told to clear out and keep away, if they knew what's good for 'em...A rather exclusive bunch, the Angelus clan...A friend of mine did say just last night that the male with her was quite a good fighter..."

"Really?..." Cicely beamed a moment...Always knew he had it in him...Ummn...

"He was fighting here?...Is he all right?..."

"I would say so, miss...I imagine Drusilla would've called a very bloody vengeance from the clan on us if he weren't..."

"Your friend...The one who's seen him...Can you find him, take me..." she started to rise and thought better of it...Eygo frowning at her as well... "Bring him to me?..." Eygo nodding, pleased...

"I think so, ma'am...Jerry, she keeps to town for her me...Strolls...If you don't mind waitin' a bit?...I'm sure she'd be willing to tell you...Loves to have a chat with a lady, Jerry does...For the same arrangement, of course..."

"If I don't find her hunting humans, yes..." Cicely nodded...

"A bit of a moment, ma'am..." Sid raised his somewhat battered favorite top hat and hurried off...

"He's a bit of a queer old duck, Sid..." Bill noted kindly as Sid vanished among the tombstones... "But he'll deliver on his word, miss..."

"I hope that he will..." Cicely nodded...

"Perhaps...I could take a turn about...See if your fellow is prowling near...?" Bill suggested...

"All right...But just a few minutes...And no funny business, sir..." she gave him a stern look... "I've no tolerance for nonsense tonight..."

"Of course, miss...Back in ten, if that's all right...Not even enough time to feed..." he gave a friendly wink and headed off...

"You be good, prowlie!..." Eygo called...Growling...

"Slayer?..." she turned to the Cicely now showing her desperate weariness...Struggling to catch breath...

"What you do if he here?...If we find him tonight...?"

Cicely looked at the furry creature...The one 'person' capable of understanding her agony...

"I don't know..." she shook her head sadly...

***

London...The Antiquarian Hall...Night...

Farris sat now, on the platform, watching as Rathskeller moved to the podium for his final act as Chairman...



In the end, as he'd expected, there'd been little real opposition...Once they'd been assured he had the situation well in hand...And a solution to the crisis already in progress...

"Counselors..." Arthur eyed the crowd...Seeing the nervous, even shamed expressions of some, many instinctively pulling back into the shadows to hide their faces, the sternly dutiful set looks of others, and those already trying to catch the eye of the new man in power...

"I have the honor to present to you, your new Chairman...Dr. Simon Farris!..." he stepped back, clapping with genuine warmth, though perhaps forced enthusiasm...

"Simon..." he offered a hearty handshake which Farris accepted in equal heartiness... "I count on your help always, Arthur..." he whispered, moving past the ex-Chairman to the podium...

"Ladies and gentlemen...Councilors...I accept the great trust and care you have placed upon me...I assure you, I shall maintain the sacred traditions of this venerable organization and do everything in my power to further its success in our ongoing battle with Evil..."

"Now...As to the current situation..." he looked across the sea of faces...So many withdrawing to the shadows...Desperate not to bear a share in this...

He'd have to remember those weaklings...Not to oust them naturally, just yet...Merely to see that none of the stronger ones held positions in which their feeble scruples might hinder his efforts to bring the Council to its...And his...Proper position in the world...

Might require a few expulsions at that...But later, when the cries of thanksgiving, jubilation, and shamed-faced relief, rang out, swamping all possible opposition...

"As I stated in my report to you this evening, we are in position, luckily, to take immediate action to contain this crisis..."

No...I will not see her pleading face...I have set all upon this cast and I will see it through...

She has made her decision...And I have made mine...

And have set myself to the road to power and immortal glory...

Even if paved with the faces of...

"With your permission, fellow Counselors...I shall take leave of you immediately and..."

Help me, Simon...she said...When she came to my rooms...Seeking me out as the one person whom she could turn to...Kneeling on the floor in tears, begging...

For him...

For...him...

"...do what...Must be done...For the sake of Humanity..."

***

"Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year..."



Summary: In the last days of 1880, betrayal and tragedy have their way with Cicely the Vampire Slayer...

("But Cicely wasn't...And Halfreck..." Now, now Joss never confirmed that Cicely wasn't or that Haly was...Besides you're in the Cicelyverse AU now...And to read up on how Haly took Cicely's form that night, the plot against William, etc...www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html )

Disclaimer: Joss, you left the gap, I exploit it...But the Buffy stuff's all yours and ME's...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/swb.html

***

Part III...



"Lovely hat, miss..." the young-looking 'woman' smiled at Cicely... "I've been unable to keep with the latest fashion, is it new?...Might I feel the material, just a touch?..." she approached slowly from where she'd halted on being introduced by her escort, old Sid, a warm smile on her face...Staring intently at the clearly exhausted Cicely...

"Thank you...It's from last season...And stay where you are...If you come any closer I will have to consider it an attack..."

Eygo giving the female a narrow stare...Which, owing to the facial fur went unnoticed...Though her tensing and growl...Did not...

"Jerry..." Sid hissed to his companion, sensing her tensing for a strike... "We're on our honor here...And this is the Slayer you've heard tell of...She's giving us a fair chance for a little information...Now bes a good girl..."

A sullen look appeared briefly on the girl's lovely features...Fading quickly back to the beaming smile like the professional actress she'd once been, she halted... "All right, Sid...Sorry, miss...What is it you want to know?..."

"You've seen Drusilla, of the Angelus clan, and her mate, around here?...The other night or recently?..."

"Lord, I should say so..." Geraldine nodded, relaxing a bit...So she's just after a prestige kill, eh?...

"When?...Where?..."

"Tonight, miss...They were still in the back north until an hour or so ago...But miss!..." she called as Cicely hopped to her feet and pulling her stake, heading north ...Whirling back at the vampiress' call...

"They's left, miss...Headed for the seaside, looking for a boat to the Continent, I think..."

***

London...Just outside the club where Levinson and Foxcroft had held their meeting...

"Mr. Levinson, I presume?..." a voice addressed Jonathan as he waited for a carriage back to his rooms...

"Mr. Farris?..." Jonathan stared at the tall, white-haired man...Who seemed a bit anxiety-ridden for the gentle scholar of antiquities he'd encountered at Cicely's a few times while pursuing his hopeful though hopeless quest of Miss Addams...

"Yes...I came looking for your friend Mr. Foxcroft...I understand he was here this evening..."

"You've missed him, I'm afraid...He's left some time ago and will be out of London for a few days..."

"Do you know where?...Is there any chance of catching him at his rooms?...Pardon me, but it is very important I reach him at once..." Farris eyed the young man carefully...

Jonathan for his part now noticing that two men across the street seemed very interested in their doings...Keeping a rather close eye on them...

"It concerns Mrs. Walthrop, his cousin..."

***



The town of Weymouth, on the Channel...Night...

"Well, there might yet be private charters heading out tonight..." the dock attendant noted to Bill, peering now at his harbor list, a long, flat book...Cicely having decided an escort, preferably male, even a vampiral one under her watchful eye, might be necessary in town and at the dock area to obtain information and avoid the unwanted questions and difficulties generally tending to plague a woman traveling alone...

Eygo, carefully hiding in the shadows with her, though willing, being a rather unsuitable choice to approach humans for information...

"Aye...There are three..." the attendant tapped his list... "The Mary Conradina is leaving in fifteen, straight on, the fourth berth, for St. Malo...The Albert leaves at 10:30 for Cherbourg from the seventh berth, and there's a special charter of the St. Ethelbert at 10:40 at the dock by the Quayside Restaurant...A private touring party, most likely..."

Hmmn...They've gone and forgot to give me their destination...he frowned..."But Billings has a habit of that...Little too fond of the bottle..." he made a quick gesture of thumb and fingers to indicate a jug being sampled...

No destination?...Cicely thought, listening as intently as her currently somewhat muted Slayer abilities would allow...As Bill gave the attendant his thanks and returned to her...

"That last one sounds very possible..." she noted...

"Aye, I thought that myself..." Bill nodded... "Though it seems odd they'd worry about their destination being known by anyone...Does the fellow know you're trailing him, Slayer...?"

"No...He'd have no idea...He doesn't know I'm the Slayer..." Cicely shook her head...

In fact he believes I loathe him...she looked a bit sadly towards the moored boats...

"Well, per'aps they simply felt like traveling with a party..." he suggested...To her blinking face...

Party?...

"Easy meals and even our kind do like to socialize at times, miss...Anyway, for the others they'll have to be coming by the docks fairly soon...Unless they're already on board..."

Hmmn...She thought a moment...

"It might be the Slayer...Drusilla must know the Council was pursuing her clan ever since they arrived in London back in February...They may be trying to avoid me professionally..."

Though by joining a private party...she shook her head...

"They do say Miss Drusilla likes to do things in a wild sort of way..." Bill noted..."And it's not likely they'd be able to toss her and your gentleman out easily..."

"Strange...Still, I'd better get over to that restaurant and see...Bill, I'm going to place you on trust to stay with Eygo and watch the docks here for them...Eygo is strong enough to destroy you, you know...No offense..."

"It's fine miss...You kept your word to my mates and I'll be glad to..." he smiled... "Rather a more interesting evenin' for me than most at that..."

"Eygo, keep a good watch, but keep hidden, please?...And don't trust our friend too far...He can't help what he is..."

Bill nodding politely in acknowledgment...As generally told about, this famed Slayer was clearly no fool...

"Aye, Slayer..." Eygo gave her a gentle pat... "Don't fight the prowlies, come back if you see pretty one...We get him all..."

"Thank you both..." she gave them a weary smile and headed off in the direction of the restaurant...

"Nice girl, that..." Bill noted... "A true lady to her pores..."

"Aye...You watch..." Eygo pointed to the docks, giving him a stern, friend-to-the-Slayer stare...

***

Lyme Regis...Same time...



Hailed by Levinson outside his hotel as he stood, still holding Jonathan's hasty message...Henry looked at the group just out of their carriage with his friend...Nodding briefly to Farris as he emerged...

"Foxcroft..." Farris eyed him... "I thought you'd agreed to keep me informed whatever you heard of Cicely's whereabouts..."

Levinson frowning at him... "Sir, you told me Henry had given you permission to ..."

"It's all right, Jonathan..." Henry shook his head... "I did...It's as I said in my reply to your telegram..."

"Never received it...Mr. Farris was anxious to be off..."

Indeed never thought we'd arrive alive at the pace we made...he thought...

"As regards our agreement, Mr. Farris...I wasn't sure if this would turn out to be more than a rumor and after our last failures, I'd thought it might be best for me to try and reach her alone..."

Hmmn...Jonathan eyed the two men...

Strange enough that Cicely's historian friend should be so anxious to inject himself into her private affairs...Though I could accept it's no stranger than my own...

But this smacks somehow of something far...More...

"I see..." Farris sighed... "I must tell you Henry, it's difficult for me to assist her if you now put obstacles in my way...Well, have you had any success?..."

"She's not in Lyme...She left this hotel two days ago...Heading for a village near Weymouth..."

"She had a lead, then?..." Farris glanced a moment at Levinson...

"I don't know, I would imagine so..." Henry nodded...Likewise glancing at Jonathan...

"Jonathan, would you pardon us a moment?..." he asked his friend... "Mr. Farris and I must discuss those matters Cicely wished kept private..."

Hmmn?...

Hmmn...A slight frown...

Still, I did promise...Jonathan thought, reluctantly...

"By all means..." he waved a hand... "I've long wanted to see the sights of Lyme..." he sighed... "Back in ten..." he headed off...Glancing back at them...

What can that old man have on her?...It must be blackmail of some sort...Could it be that Walthrop is alive, this is all some elaborate hoax to get them out of England and Sir Richard's clutches safely?...

"But he was dead...I saw him..." he murmured...A couple passing staring at him as he spoke aloud...

And the dead do not come back and flee with their wives...

***



"Boy..." Farris, free of Jonathan's presence, was all Chairman of the Council of Watchers now...A cold set look at Henry..."This kind of foolishness will lead to your cousin's death...We must work together if we are to save her..."

"She will not rejoin your Council, Farris...And I honestly believe she would fly again if your people came charging after her...She doesn't trust the Council any more since William's death..."

"Mr. Foxcroft, owing to your cousin's folly and my tolerant desire to help her, you are one of the few non-members privileged to hold information concerning our organization and its vital activities...But that is a responsibility as well as a privilege...And you have a responsibility to your cousin...To save her from her folly..."

"Is it folly?...She's convinced William's soul has not fled this world...She's sure something can be done...Can't you speak again to your Chairman?...Or let me...Rathskeller seems a reasonable man..."

"I am now Chairman, Foxcroft...As of seven-thirty this evening...It's what we hoped for, Henry..." his voice taking an eager, pleading tone... "I can help her now, use the full power of my position...If you'll just help me find her..."

"Congratulations...Wait?...If you have access now to their secrets...Could you help Walthrop?...I know she'd come back with us in an instant if..."

"Nothing can help poor Walthrop now, Henry...He's safe beyond all harm...Cicely must come to accept that and be content with destroying the thing using his body...The monster that would...Will destroy her if she ever does find him with anything on her mind but his destruction..."

***

"So I was sayin', mate..." Spike in new suit...Somewhat rumpled new suit, given his rather inebriated condition...Seated at the plush bar of the Quayside Restaurant in the midst of the party group heading out shortly for France on the 10:40 charter...Turned back to his new best buddy, an equally drunken human by the name of Harrison...Or was that his other new best mate, the fellow next to him..."Any way...So as I was sayin'...Poetry is the human soul expresshun...expressed in ink on..." he thought a moment...

"Paper..." Yeah, that's right... "Paper..."

"I...urrrpp...Fully agree..." Harrison...Or the other fellow...Nodded...

"Exactly..." Spike banged the table... Knew the fellow...A man of obvious intellect and appro...Appreciation could app..appresh ...Appreciate the pint...er point...

That's why...Of all humans...He's me best mate...

Or is it that bloke?...He eyed the other woozily...

Well...Tonight, en route...As we say in France...En route to gay ole Paris...I embrace all Humanity to my bosom...

'Sides I'm stuffed to the gills...

"Michaels...I salute..." the other fellow raised a glass to...Right, name of the fellow I took the tickets to this little excursion party off of yesterday, Spike blearily remembered... "You...In the name of all whom seek true beauty..."

"Sir..." the bartender came to him, beaming... "Another round?..."

Spike glanced at his mates...Gentlemen?...

Who sagely nodded...

"I believe we will, sir...Thanks..."

He glanced round...Seemed he'd forgotten something...Someone...

Ah, right...

"Gentlemen...I must...Very briefly...Desert your company..." he raised a hand against their protests... "No, no...I must see to Mrs...?...Ah, right...Michaels...Poor lamb...Very wrong of me to neglect her so long...But, fear not...Hold that bubbling thought in your brain, Harrison..."

"Enders...That's Harrison..." Enders waved vaguely at Harrison...



I think...

"Witchever...I shall, gentlemen...Return to continue our discussion, shortly..."

"Here, here..."

"Say, Michaels..." Enders called... "Which division are you with?...Leeds or Birmingham?..."

"Well..." Spike paused, trying to stand erect after three hours on stool... "Always saw meself as a Birmingham kind...Until...I decided to have a look at Leeds...Currently I am undecided as to where my future with the firm lies..."

Enders nodding sagely...Indeed... Always best to play both off each other...

"But, enough of mundane sordidness...Tonight we discuss beauty...Urrrrppp...And its meanness..."

I can't see you, William...You're beneath me...she said...

"...er, meanings...When I return..."

He rose and stumbled out of the room...Vaguely spying several brunettes...

Now where was she...?

"Pardon..." he stopped a waiter... "Have you seen my...Wife...?"

So high...He vaguely waved a hand somewhere below his shoulder...

"Answers to the name of Cicely..." he stopped short...Snarling at himself a bit...But managing to retain human face...

"Pardon...Drusilla's the name..."

So high...He put the hand at waist level...

"I would guess she's with the ladies in the dining room, sir..." the waiter pointed and continued on...

Ah, yes...Very appropriate...

Hope she hasn't forgotten to play human and killed 'em all yet...he thought...Nice time, delightful company for an outing to France...And I did see she fed well first...

Damn why'd I have to go and mention that name?...he frowned as he made his way to the dining room...

Go and spoil a wonderful evening...All Humanity in my embrace...

Except...No...He raised a wavering finger...We do not mention that name...She's like I was, six feet under...In memory...

And if I'd gone and let Dru have her way, literally...Well...Perhaps another time...

Wonder what she's up to now...Out ona town with some dimwitted toff, no doubt...Funny we haven't seen much of her in the Times we've picked up since I croaked...

Time was you couldn't open the society page without find her beautiful picture gracin' it...

Well, all that's six feet under too...

"Dru?..." he called into the room...Rather pleased to see at least it seemed she hadn't yet killed them all yet...



***

From the outside of the restaurant, Cicely eyed the lights, the waiters' silhouettes...

All seemed well...

She staggered...

The painkiller she'd taken earlier was wearing off...Its side effect of nearly restoring a little of her old energy that had won her over to its use after Simon had recommended it to her in one of their very rare meetings since she'd left London and the Council...Fading as well...

The ribs she'd broken in battle several days ago bothering her again...Strange...It had never taken her so long to heal before...

But then she'd never been pregnant before...She found her last two pills in her purse and gulped them down...

Pity...But she had no intention of contracting Simon simply to ask for more...She'd had to find something tomorrow in one of the local shops...

Now, what to do?...Waltz in and see if William was there?

Perhaps more carefully than that...

Yes and then what?...After brutally killing Drusilla that is...

What I came to do...Tell him why, beg his forgiveness...

Tell him our happy news...she beamed a little at the thought...

Club him one and take him to London...Force the Council to try...

Dust..Help..him my way...If there is no other way...

Or die trying...

Or rather, to keep him company in his agony and our little family together...Whatever the Council or the Almighty may do to us in the end...

Undie trying...

"And if that is not to your liking, Lord..." she quietly prayed... "Then you know it's damned well time for a little help for your instrument..."

***

In carriage, en route to Weymouth...

"Why would she have gone by Weymouth?..." Jonathan, having rejoined the group just as they were about to dash...Quite literally forcing his way in, only Henry's insistence allowing him a seat...Asked the question on all minds...

"I don't know..." Henry shook his head... "Some lead she got in Lyme..."

"About Walthrop?..." Jonathan stared at his friend then the impassive Farris...

"Henry, I cannot believe she is doing this without cause...Why does she think he might still be alive, let alone somewhere around Weymouth?..."

"Because..." Farris sighed...Eyeing Henry... "In a way, he may yet be on this Earth..."

"What?..." Levinson gasped...Henry looking uncertain...



"Henry, you said there was no doubt of his being dead...And I remind you that I saw his corpse with you and Cicely...Were you and she deceiving me?..."

Wait...Jonathan paused... "Weymouth?...Are they?...Or he?...Crossing to France?...Is that it?..."

France?...Henry looked at Farris... "Of course...William and that Drusilla are fleeing to France..."

"Yes..." Farris nodded... "That must be it..." He banged on the roof of the carriage with his walking stick... "Head straight for the Weymouth dockside!..."

Drusilla?...Levinson stared...Then frowned...

"Has the fellow actually gone and abandoned poor..."

"Jonathan...Let me try to explain..." Henry began...

Though you will, I assure you, surely think me and Mr. Farris mad...

***

"Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year..."



Summary: In the last days of 1880, betrayal and tragedy have their way with Cicely the Vampire Slayer...

("But Cicely wasn't...And Halfreck..." Now, now Joss never confirmed that Cicely wasn't or that Haly was...Besides you're in the Cicelyverse AU now...And to read up on how Haly took Cicely's form that night, the plot against William, etc...www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html )

Disclaimer: Joss, you left the gap, I exploit it...But the Buffy stuff's all yours and ME's...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/swb.html

***

Part IV...Conclusion...



The dining room of the Quayside...

Where a wanly sweet Drusilla "Michaels" had been engaged in discussing the more practical side of married life with several other young matrons at a table...

After all, she had a 'husband' of sorts now...And it's not all jolly kills and merry feedings...Clothes have to be washed and mended, homes, even lairs and crypts, properly tended...

And having made the break, at least a temporary one, with Grandmother Darla and Father Angelus...She could no longer expect that someone...Namely a grim but dutiful Darla...Would take care of such things...

"Dru?..." Spike came over to the table... "Sorry to off so long, dear heart..." he gave a quick kiss... "All well?..." He wagged a finger at the women...Two of whom regarded him with quite pleasant expressions indeed...The other a bit more grim, not too pleased that her man had not chosen to see how she was getting on... "You ladies haven't been telling my Dru grim tales of cruel hubbies now, have you?..."

"Ah, Michaels..." A ruddy-faced, white-whiskered hearty-looking fellow of medium height came over, Sir John Eccleby, owner of the firm sponsoring this little excursion for its middle- and upper-level employees across England...

Fortunately a man far too busy and right now, too well-lubricated, to keep close track of all his scattered holdings' employees...



"Come to see to your pretty wife, are you?..." he placed a hearty hand on Spike's shoulder... "A fine and promising young husband you have here, Missus..." he beamed to Dru who smiled back...

"I'm only sorry we hadn't met personally before...But I look to see much more of him in the future..."

Pity for poor Michaels, Spike thought, nodding modesty at the praise as Dru gave a proud, dutiful wife's nod to him...Between forging new friendships with much of the firm and buttering up the boss, I've done him quite proud this night...But at least he will be remembered fondly after tonight when they find his and his wife's bodies...He was rather the shy, unassuming type of what I remember of him the other night...

"Well, enjoy yourselves, my friends...And remember the boat picks us up at 10:40..." Sir John beamed, heading off to continue his rounds...

Pity I couldn't go on with the game, Spike thought...Working for a fellow generous enough to provide an excursion like this every now and then, be rather pleasant...Regular Fezziwig, that...

***

Outside the restaurant, Cicely tried to hastily brush herself to make a quiet entrance...Young lady alone seeking a late dinner...She caught a glimpse of herself in the window...

Young married lady, husband off on duty...Somewhere...she noted, observing her rather protruding belly...

Where is the young queen of Society now?...she stared at herself a moment...Her desperately weary, deathly pale face lined and drawn...The haggard expression even startling her...

She struggled for breath a moment, then moved to the door...Take a seat, then make a quick sweep and see what's to be...A terrific pain, worse than anything she'd ever experienced, gripped her...She fell to her knees, two waiters rushing to her as she gave a deep groan...

No...No, not now...Not now...

"Miss, you'd better come in with us..." one of the men addressed her... "Can we fetch you a doctor?..."

"No...I just...Need to sit a moment..." she gasped...

"Did her water break?..." the manager now arrived, hissed to the older of the two helping her...

"Not as I can see..." the waiter hissed back... "But she's very near..."

"No...I'm fine...Just let me...Sit..." they managed to get her to a seat...The manager summoning ice water...

"Is your husband about, miss?...Can I fetch him?..." he asked her, holding the water to her lips...

My husband...?...

"Yes...I think he...Might be...Small man...My height or so...Brown-haired, glasses..." she pulled the daguerreotype to view from her purse...

"Oh..." the manager nodded at the tattered picture... "I think I have seen him...With Sir John's party...Were you joining them?...I'll go and see if I can find him...You're lucky to arrived in time, miss...I believe they're headed out shortly..."

"Yes?...Yes..." she nodded vaguely... "Please...Tell him...His wife is here...Cicely..."

Yes...she thought...Tell him...And if he comes, I don't care what happens...So long as I have my chance to tell him...

"I'll go and see...But miss, I think you ought not to be going on this trip tonight..."

I probably won't be...she smiled up at him...Groaning again as another wave of pain struck...



***

In the dining room, the manager pulled up short on spying Spike seated with Dru and her circle...

Hmmn...Yes, I think that must be...

"Well, ladies..." Spike woozily insisted... "I would say I owe all my success to my dear wife here..." patting Dru's hand...

Who made me what I am today...

Dru beaming shyly...

Hmmn?...The manager paused...Well...He signed to a waiter...

"That gentleman there..." he pointed out Spike... "Have you seen another fellow like him about?...Hair and size and glasses...?"

"Mr. Michaels?...No, no one, sir..."

Hmmn...The manager frowned...He'd dealt with this before...

And had no desire to have a sordid scene...The wronged, pregnant wife catching the playful young husband with his doxy out on the town...

Still...He looked back toward the entrance hall where Cicely was sat...

Poor girl, very near her time and all...

Perhaps a quiet word in the young rake's ear...Or the young lady...

She seems a modest sort...Perhaps he's led her on and told her they needed to pretend marriage for this little trip, the scamp...

Well...Try the young fellow...He moved toward the table but realized 'Michaels' had risen now and was being pulled off by several young gentlemen just entered from the bar...

Enders and Harrison rather eager to continue their discussion before boarding...Not to mention perhaps one final round...

The young lady then, he sighed...Coming up to the table...Dru looking up at him...

Oops...Surely the police in Weymouth proper couldn't have been that quick...Spike had buried the bodies carefully...

"Might I have a word, miss?...Nothing serious, a minor matter..."

She nodded, a worried look, and rose...Promising to rejoin the group of ladies on the boat once they'd all boarded...

To head wherever Spike had instructed the captain to take them after she'd put him in thrall just after they'd stopped by the boat early this evening...She having been nervous both about reports circulating of the Slayer being in pursuit of the members of the Angelus clan...And having a certain instinctive premonition about the situation...

"Is there some problem, sir?..." she looked about anxiously...Spike off with his new mates again...

Have to speak to him about that later...Not that he'd been bad that way since they'd started out together...Still...No time like the present to nip bad habits of a husband in the bud, as one of the other wives had noted to her...

"Well, miss...I must ask you..." he eyed her sternly... "Is Mr. Michaels your husband?...Tell me truly, miss...For I've just come from a young lady in front who's very near her labor if not started and she's looking for a young man, her husband, who matches Mr. Michaels' description..."

Hmmn?...



"A Miss Cicely..."

"Cicely?..." Dru blinked...

The Cicely?...

"The poor thing is quite distressed, miss...Now, can you...Miss?..." he looked after her as she hurried towards the front...

"You?..." Cicely stared as Dru hurried into the entrance hall...

"You..." Dru whispered, tensing...

"Will Sir John Eccleby's party please head for the dockside exit?" a waiter began calling...Several others taking up the call...

Hmmn...Dru considered as Cicely struggled to rise to her feet...

Stake clattering out of her pocket...

"You?...You're the Slayer?..." Dru was nearly sane with astonishment...

And being sane, saw that a fight in the restaurant now might well be pointless...

"Where?...Where is he?..." Cicely staggered toward her nemesis...Trying to find...Ah...She scooped up her stake 'Dickens' with a groan...

"Where you'll never see him again, poor Slayer..." Dru eyed her coolly...And raced off...A young and anxious wife, terrified of not finding her husband in time to make the boat...

Cicely reached the door of the dining room, now crowded with happy partygoers heading for the dock exit...

The manager reaching the door just then, having missed a Dru quickly lost in the boarding crowd...Opening the door to see a desperate Cicely falling back, her grip on the door broken by his pulling...

"Miss?..." he eyed her...And the sharp stick beside her on the floor...

She looked up from where she fallen...And through the closing door, caught a last glimpse...

"William!..." she screamed, but could not rise...As the door closed and Spike with his new mates joined the group boarding...

He turning at the call but not seeing anyone about calling to him...

"Miss!..." she heard Bill's voice calling as he entered the restaurant's main door, rushing to her...

"He's there..." she pointed... "Please, get me..."

"Lets get her to a seat..." Bill told the manager...Lifting her rather effortlessly...

"The fellow's gone off to France on that boat..." the manager hissed as they got her seated in a bench in the hall, Waving for water... "You her?..."

"Old friend of the family...Yes, I'll see to her..." Bill nodded...

"Awful thing...Such a pretty little wife...Shall I fetch a doctor?..."

"No..." Cicely gasped... "No doctor...I have to get..."

"I'll take you back home, Miss Cicely..." Bill told her, giving her a hard stare...



She staring back, nodded quickly...

"Best to get that doctor, mate..." the manager shook his head... "She's very near it..."

"Soon as we get her home..." Bill nodded... "Many thanks...Miss Cicely, can you walk to the door now?..."

"Yes..." she rose on his arm slowly... "I'll be fine..." she gave the manager a weak smile and let Bill lead her out...

We must hurry...she hissed...Get me round to the boat...

He nodded...

***

Outside, they made for the dock...

"There's a way round here..." Bill pointed... "Your friend, the furry lady, went that way to watch for him...We came over when the other boats left..."

"Yes, yes...Hurry..." Cicely gasped...Groaning as another wave of pain hit her...

They moved down some stairs...Wait...She paused...

"I don't think...This is the way...We're going the wrong way..." she looked at him...

"Not exactly...It's the longer way round, but no one was using it...We'd best hurry, Slayer..."

"Right..." she staggered down a few more steps...And saw, at the bottom in a heap...

"Eygo...?" she stared, then at Bill who shook his head...

"I didn't want to kill her, miss...But she wouldn't run off and you did warn her about me..." he took face...

"No..." she tried to find 'Dickens'...

"You left your stake back there at the restaurant, miss...Don't waste time fighting me, miss...I'm trying to help you, in my way..." he forced her head back...

"You know you'll never make it now otherwise..."

Uhh...She gasped as the fangs sank in...Her eyes rolling up...

Yes...Don't fight...A thought whispered...Yes, it's the only way now...

"No...He's still here...And our child...I can't..." she tried to press him back...But couldn't...

"Miss...I want you to know..." Bill now pulled back a moment... "I haven't lied to you...This is the way to the dock...Your man is on that boat to France...You'll be free to join him, always, when I'm done...Assumin' you can handle that Drusilla..."

She struggled a bit...But her strength had turned to water...And somewhere, inside a voice was urging her to simply accept what Fate had in store...

"It's really the best way, for soul and demon both, if you want him so much as you seem to...And I'm sorry about the wee one if it doesn't survive in you somehow, but I am what I am, Slayer, and there it is..." he bared fangs...

She managed a last burst of strength and shoved him back...Blinking as several arrows whizzed into him at once...

"Cicely?!..." a call...A voice she recognized, almost joyously...



"Simon?!...Simon, I'm here!..." she called out in feeble cry...

If he could just get me to that boat...her last thought as she fainted...

***

A small cluster of humans about the revived Cicely...Farris beside her where she now had struggled to a seated position on the boards of the stairway landing...

"You can't have been so foolish as to place trust in a vampire, Cicely?...He was no doubt luring you to where he could turn you..."

"He was...He had ..." she nodded faintly...Looking up at Farris, then at the three with him, only one whom she recognized as one of her Watcher's aides...

"But he did keep his word to me...Simon, William is on that boat leaving for France...I have to..."she tried to rise...

"Nonsense...You're going nowhere...Especially on the word of something that just tried to kill you..."

"He wasn't lying, I know he wasn't...Simon...I have to get..."

"It's too late, Cicely...The boat will be gone before we could get to it...And you are no condition for a Channel crossing, let alone to fight Drusilla..."

"Let...me..."

"Slayer...You are not in condition to fight...And if you try to go now, you'll kill your child as well as yourself...Is that what William would want?..."

"I can't let him go!..."

"I will see you to France myself...After the child is born...Go, get Foxcroft!..." he turned to one of his men standing off to alert for any innocents or otherwise coming their way... "Cicely, Henry is here as well...He and I will help you!..."

"No, no...I have to go...Let him take me if he wants!...We're both going to die in any case!..." she struggled wildly a moment then collapsed in the arms of Farris and his men...

***

She came to in a rather dingy room, staring at the ceiling from what appeared to be a sort of bed...Looking round feverishly...Seeing Farris and beside him...

"Henry...Jonathan?...Help me..."

"Cicely...Yes, I'm here..." Henry came over to her where she lay on the room's bed...Jonathan staying by Farris...

"I have to get to the boat, Henry..." she tried to sit up... "Jonathan..." she called to him...He hurrying over..."William is on that boat...I know you love me...Help me..."

"Cicely, you can't go...Not yet..." he shook his head...

"He's on the boat...Let me go!....Let me go!!..." she tried to shove Levinson back and collapsed back on the bed...

"Cicely, the boat is gone and your baby is endangered by this..." Henry told her firmly... "You must rest...Then we'll take you to a hospital in London...Until the child's safely born..."

"No..." she gasped... "If I lose him now...If I die before he knows, before I tell him the truth..."

Jonathan looking at Henry...

"Cicely, dearest..." Henry sighed... "He is not here to hear you...Pray to him in Heaven...He'll hear...Or God will and will tell..."



"He is here!...I know it!!...Why do you idiots think I've kept on?!...I know he's here, he never left...Calling to me, begging me to explain...'Why, Cicely?...My love, why did you do this?'...I have to tell him, whether the demon rules or no...Tell him why...If not..." she paused for breath...

"He'll never hate you, Cicely...You needn't fear..."

"He'll despair...He'll believe what the demon says...What the Evil Ones say to him...Henry, I didn't just kill him...I endangered his immortal soul!..." she cried... "If I don't let him know, in time...I may lose him forever!..."

Jonathan staring...Killed him?...Immortal soul?...

Henry looked over at Farris, seeking some kind, any kind of help or consolation...Farris staring with rather icy stare...Which faded as he caught Henry's gaze...

There is something wrong here...Henry thought, staring at Farris...I don't know what...But something is wrong...And we must get her away...From them...

"Cicely..." he turned back to her... "William will never stop hoping...Wherever he is, he will wait for you to come for him...You mustn't ever doubt him...But he would not want you to risk letting his demon take you..." Jonathan staring at the "demon"... "And it will if you try to join him now...If you don't die trying...And..." he eyed her, smiling faintly...

"They tell me this..." he gently touched one of Bill's bite wounds on her neck... "Was not done by William's demon...Would you want to risk letting some other vampire take you?...Almost a kind of infidelity, I'd say..."

Vampire?...Levinson blinked in spite of Henry's and Farris' rather hasty quick course on the occult during their ride to the Weymouth docks...

"We can treat that before we go to London..." Farris noted from where he stood... "And it is all the more reason for you, Cicely to rest and recover your strength before your labor and your continuing on to the Continent..."

"Yes..." she sighed...

"But I'll never continue on to the Continent..." she looked at Henry... "You're right, dearest...He will wait...And I will find him however long it takes...Somewhere...Sometime...But not right now..."

"You have to try, Cicely..." he whispered to her...Keeping his voice too low for the others, excepting Jonathan beside him, to hear... "For the baby's sake as well as his..." he told her, sensing what she was saying... "You are Cicely the chosen one and the fight is not over..."

She looked at him and nodded...Still wanting to hope...Her sense of Duty requiring her to hope...

"We'll get you to London...You'll have your baby and we...You, I, Jonathan...Will find William and do what we can for him..."

"Yes..." Jonathan nodded... "We will, Cicely...I promise you..."

No...Farris thought, having heard the last bits...The fight is not quite over...

But it is irretrievably lost...

***

Sensing Foxcroft's sudden wariness, Farris made no effort to oppose the young man's insistence on moving Cicely to London to a hospital of his own choice by train...

It hardly mattered now...Even he himself would be hard pressed to help her, even with the antidote to that flowing through her veins...

Yet...In spite of it all, he found he could not resist one last appeal when she'd rested and rallied a bit and they felt it safe to bring her to the train...Foxcroft casually insisting on remaining with Jonathan as they talked until she herself begged a moment alone with her...

Watcher?...Jonathan eyed Henry as they reluctantly left the room...



"I'll explain it again on the train later..." Henry told him, closing the door...But keeping in place next to it...

"So..." Jonathan smiled at his friend...Keeping his voice too low for Farris' men watching the room in the hall to hear...

"I see you don't quite trust that fellow any more than I do..."

"Cicely, with the Council behind me..." Farris began, hesitantly... "I could persuade them to restore you...All of this...Business...Forgotten..."

"Forgotten?..." she stared at him... "My husband, my child?..."

"Nothing can be done for Walthrop now except a mercifully quick staking...As for your child...A place for it can be found...Cicely..." he shocked himself as he went so far beyond anything he could ever have conceived himself offering... "I will help you raise it if you wish...Please, Cicely...Come with us now..."

"If we live..." she sighed deeply... "I can care for our child, Simon...It's Will I can't abandon...I must try to help...As long as I still live..."

He stared at her a long moment...

"Yes..." he quietly nodded... "I quite understand..." his voice flat... "I will do what I can for you with the Council..."

"Thank you, Simon...Please don't take any risks on my account...And..." she smiled faintly, but warmly at him...

"Congratulations...Mr. Chairman..." she moved to kiss him on the cheek and he froze...She staring at him, a bit startled...

"Sorry, my dear...Please..." he offered his cheek and she kissed it...

"Good-bye...Mrs. Walthrop..." he looked at her pale, sweat-streaked face...

Not any need to offer more now...he thought...She'll never survive the labor wherever Foxcroft hides her away...

She or the child...

"Simon?..." she asked hesitantly as he started to turn... "If you have any more of that painkiller...I could use more...Soon..."

"Certainly..." he nodded, not turning back to look at her...

I'll have it brought to you wherever you wish...

***

London...December 1880...

The tunnel he and the two with him been walking through for the past fifteen minutes had been completely unknown to him, except as a legend...

At his left hand, his new chief assistant, Hemmings...Something of a fool and coward, but clever in the technical aspects...Willing enough to follow any order...By his right side, old Muir...An ex-chairman and now the Council's archivist...The one man possessing the knowledge of this tunnel's location and the vast vault it led to...On the brink, a hermetically-sealed chamber, protecting the ancient secrets from destruction in the air of the modern world...

"The most treasured archives of the Council are now in your trust, Chairman Farris..." the old man paused, right arm and whole body poised to open the left door... "All the records of our Slayers through the ages..."

"Yes...But..." Farris gave an anxious look...A Chairman weighed with care for Humanity's safety...

"In our current situation...With the Slayer new lost to us and perhaps even about to turn...With such danger..."

"These accounts will guide you, Chairman...The experience of countless Watchers and their Slayers...Read them and they will reassure you...There is always another Slayer..."



Yes...Charming...Farris sighed...

Hemmings sighed himself now... "A pity about poor Miss Addams...I read her obituary in the Times...But does the Council truly believe she might turn?..."

Cicely turn?...Farris was tempted to laugh in scorn...Still, he'd sold that danger to a very nervous Council...Vampiral Cicely armed with the knowledge of what they'd done to her...And her child...Only he and his men knowing she'd been treated and the wounds sanctified...

"The danger is there...But I meant...In terms of other weapons against the darkness...Powers that may save us now..."

"What power we have is in our Slayers..." Muir sternly noted... "The magics of use to us can be found above in the general archive, but they're only minor aids, weighing little against the Slayer's power...If you wish to consult those works, I can assist you above..."

"But the legendary works...Of special power..."

"Every organization has its legends, Chairman..." the old man shrugged... "Usually taken on to protect itself...But if you wish, I can make a search of the open archives and report back to you..."

Thou hast it now:...King, Cawdor, Glamis all...and I fear thou didst play most foully for it...

"Yes...By all means...As soon as you can..." he turned to Hemmings, who was eagerly eyeing the stacks...Hoping to paw through them himself, he noted... "Hemming, go and see if our guests have arrived...I'll remain here and...Commune with my predecessors and their charges..."

The ancient archivist and the toady assistant nodded and moving past him, each with a slight bow, left the room and moved into the outer tunnel...Their footsteps fading out in the stillness...

"Somewhere here...There must be something..." he pulled at the ancient books...Grabbing at a scroll...Yes...

It crumbled to dust in his hands...But not before he'd seen it contained nothing but some fool's gentle tribute to an eon's dead Slayer...

And that was all...He stared at the huge, seemingly endless stretch of books and scrolls...

No Immortality...No conferring of limitless power...

Just the records of Watchers across the ages who'd loved their charges...Some as fathers, others more passionately...A very few who'd not loved theirs at all and scrawled notes of rage and hate...

He stood motionless...At the pinnacle of his glory and success...And all hollow...

"No, somewhere in here...In some account..." he tried to pull an old volume down and several crashed at his feet...He took one up and thumbed through it...Nothing but the usual dreary tales of victory...Ending in the inevitable tragedy...And rebirth...

"Time...In time...I'll find it..." he told himself, and looked up at the vast stacks...

Where?...He thought...Where will I put mine?...My tale of my Cicely and the Watcher who loved and betrayed her...

"Sir...Mr. Chairman..." Hemmings was back, pulling now at his sleeve... "The girl..."

"What...Girl?..." Farris pulled away, glaring...

Upon my head they have placed a fruitless crown...And put a barren scepter into my grip...

"The Slayer...Miss Caldi...Italian, sir...Fourti's girl...She's just arrived, Fourti's brought her as you ordered..."

"New Slayer?..."



Cicely's face as a young girl before him...Terrified by his coldly appraising look before his quiet smile steadied her...The most beautiful face he'd ever seen, ever would see...

She would have loved me to my dying day as her true father...Taught her daughter to love me...Made my memory immortal...

My way of life is fall'n into the sear...And that which should accompany old age, As love, honor,...Troops of friends, I must not look to have...

He let the volume in his hands slide down onto the floor...

"I'll return to this later...No..." he waved impatiently at Hemmings' feeble effort to pick up the books on the floor of the chamber... "Leave them..."

They're hardly worth the effort...

"Well, then let us meet our new Slayer..." he smiled faintly, stepping out of the dim light into the long but thankfully brightly lit tunnel, Hemmings at his side...

"How does she seem to you?...Fit for the work?..."

"She was a bit sickly...Of course with her activation, she should adjust quickly...Fourti says the weather's rather cold for her..."

"Yes..."

With her, my love, near, it would have been spring always, even if I could never be more than second-hand father to her...It will be spring for them, in Heaven...And winter for me, here and in the Hell I see now I cannot escape...Forever...

"Spring will be a little late this year..." he noted quietly...

***