Chp 2 By Royal Appoinment
Chapter 2 By Royal Appointment
“OK, Will, tell us why you need me here now,” Buffy said. She’d sipped some of the beer and almost spat it out, it was so revolting. She couldn’t imagine why Spike was enjoying it so much.
“Tomorrow is the Eve of All Hallows. The one night of the year when the dead rise up in search of a new body to inhabit.”
“You won’t get much vampire action then,” Spike put in. “We tend to take the night off. Everywhere’s so crowded with ghosts and ghouls.”
The Watcher bent his head in agreement, but stiffly, as if it hurt him to agree with one of the hated tribe. “That is so. But this year, the Council has information, portents, knowledge, of an attack that will be made.” He took a deep breath. “The attack will be against her most gracious Majesty, Our Queen Elizabeth, God Bless her.”
Buffy frowned. “But surely, that’s not something a Slayer can help you with. That’s well, politics. And hey, republican here. We don’t get involved in that sort of thing. You must have soldiers, spies, policemen.”
“Not for a couple of hundred years, pet,” Spike put in dryly. “But I must admit, Will, can’t see why you had to call Buffy back to look after Good Queen Bess.”
The Watcher strode round the room, running ink-stained fingers through his dark hair. “Because although the attack is being organised by humans, we believe they are gathering an army of vampires to do the blood letting. We would all willingly lay down our lives for our Queen, but we know we are no match for vampires. It is whispered that they are trying to turn our Queen. To make her a vampire!”
“Wow. In fact, double wow,” Buffy said.
Little Maria had found a small three-legged stool and was sitting in the deep fireplace, warming her hands at the still smouldering embers. “I don’t know as how I can protect the Queen. I don’t understand what I am. But I’ll do my best even though I do reckon I’m going to hell.”
The Watcher smiled at her. “Don’t fret your mind, Maria. You’re certainly not going to Hell. You have been Chosen, you are the next Slayer. I have explained all this, but will do so again very soon. At present, just sit quiet and listen, like a good little maid.”
“So Buffy is to protect the Queen. How? I mean, from all I’ve read, you can’t just hang around the court next to royalty without someone objecting, usually with big pointy swords and axes.”
The Watcher nodded. “In normal circumstances, yes, that is true. But on All Hallow’s Eve this year, the Queen has instructed a group of players to perform a masque for her and the Court. I am one of those players. I intend to take Miss Summers with me as part of the group. Then she will be able to be at Greenwich Palace without questions being asked and so guard the Queen’s presence.“
“You’re an actor?” Buffy asked, fascinated.
The young Watcher laughed and ran his fingers through his hair. “I act with some friends, but not well. I lack practice. Last year the plague ravaged through London and the theatres were shut, but this year we are clear of the pestilence and so the Queen has asked for this revel to be performed. ”
Buffy stared at him, her head a whirl of conflicting thoughts. Spike was grinning at her. “We’re going to meet Queen Elizabeth the First, pet! Makes the trip worthwhile.”
“Elizabeth the First?” the Watcher frowned.
Buffy opened her mouth to tell him there was now another Elizabeth on the English throne then realised Spike was shaking his head behind him. “I reckon the least we say about our world and time, the better,” she said firmly. “OK, Will. I’ll do what I can to protect your Queen. But Spike comes with me.”
The Watcher’s lips thinned. “I can not allow a vampire to enter the Queen’s presence!” he snapped. “Even if he is ‘safe’ as you say.”
Buffy shook her head. “Sorry, this isn’t negotiable. Spike’s the best fighter I’ve ever met. He‘s faster than me and sometimes stronger. There is no way I go into this without him.”
The Watcher stared into her face, horrific understanding dawning slowly. “You are in love with a vampire!”
“What? No. What rubbish. Of course I’m not in love with Spike.”
Will cast a doubtful glance in Spike’s direction, taking in the expression of pain on the vampire’s face. “The lady doth protest too much,” he said quietly and wondered why the brilliant blue eyes blinked at him in a sort of dawning astonishment. It was quite obvious to him who was in love with whom.
“So, when do we go to court?” Buffy asked, determined not to get involved in a conversation with yet another English Watcher about her love life, especially a young, quite handsome man.
Will sighed. “First of all, I must find you some clothes to wear, Miss Summers. That outlandish apparel will not do. ”
Buffy nodded. “If I’d known before I left home, I’d have worn my jeans,” she sighed. “What do you want me to wear? Not one of those dresses with a big skirty thingy. I can’t fight in one of those.”
The Watcher looked surprised. “No, you can not go to court with the players as a girl, Miss Summers. Women are not allowed to act. That would be most lewd and unseemly. You must go dressed as a boy!”
* * * * * * * * *
“You know, Slayer, you make a lovely boy!” Spike was sitting on the side of a high, four-poster bed, grinning at Buffy.
Tight dark green stockings covered her legs, her velvet breeches were red and the doubtlet that came down over her backside was a dark green slashed to show a brighter green lining. A floppy red velvet cap was pulled down over her forehead, hiding her hair. The Watcher had even found her a pair of shoes with buckles that fitted.
“Spike, if you tell anyone – “ She glared at him and pulled off the cap. “I can’t believe any of this is happening. I think we’ve fallen asleep and this all a dream. Like Bobby in the shower in Dallas.”
“I liked Dallas,” Spike said wistfully. “I always wondered if JR was a vampire!”
Buffy sat on the bare wooden floor, pulled off the breeches and tried peeling off the stockings. The wool was itchy on her skin. “How come you don’t have to dress up in Tudor clothes, anyway?” she grumbled.
“I told Will exactly what he could do when he suggested it!” Spike said. “He’s given me a cloak, I’ll leave my duster here and wear the cloak over the T-shirt and jeans. Will says he’ll tell everyone I’m from abroad if they question him. Well, he’ll be right, won’t he?”
He shifted uneasily on the hard bed as Buffy finally pulled off the hose and revealed the plain linen drawers that the Watcher had produced for her to wear underneath. “Fancy coming to bed, pet?” he murmured suggestively. “I could scratch the bits that itch!”
Buffy glared at him, schooling her face to stay expressionless, hating the pull of desire that coursed through her. “Spike, I wouldn’t get into that bed if you paid me. Look at the dust and dirt on the curtains! It’s probably crawling with bugs.”
“Fleas,” Spike said absently. “People in Tudor times had bites most of the time. It was the fleas off the rats that brought the plague, too. It’s still a comfortable bed, Slayer.” His voice was silver with persuasion.
She shuddered and curled up in a wide, wooden chair that at least looked reasonably clean. “That child, Maria,” she said wearily. “How long do you reckon she’ll last as a Slayer?”
Spike swung off the bed and threw himself down on the floor, resting his head against her knees. “Well, let’s put it this way, luv; I don’t reckon she’ll see another Christmas!”
“Why choose someone of eleven? I was fifteen and even that seemed far too young at the time. If it hadn’t been for Giles…”
“She’s got her own Watcher to look out for her.”
“Will? He’s already lost one. His Helena. I get the feeling life is cheap to him. And he seems far more interested in his acting than being a Watcher.”
“Buffy – ” Spike hesitated, wondering if he should tell her what he suspected about the Watcher. But it was so weird, so fantastic, that he couldn’t bring himself to say the words.
“Do you reckon we’ll actually get to see the Queen?” Buffy’s hand had dropped absentmindedly to his head and he smiled as he felt her fingers twisting the flattened hair into tiny curls.
“How old will she be?”
Spike frowned; trying to recall lessons learned a long, long time – well, in the future! “About fifty, I suppose. That‘s a good age for a woman in these days. We were always taught that she had red hair. Be fun to check.”
Buffy gave a little laugh. “Hey, can I get one of those little signs to put on the front door – you know, “By Royal Appointment”?
“Royal Slayer?” Spike stroked the bare leg that rubbed against his ear. “Reckon that’s young Maria’s destiny. If she lives.”
Buffy gazed at the two candles that were guttering in the draught coming through the tiny leaded paned windows. “Will said one thing that worried me. The vamps we can deal with, but he reckons they’re being controlled by humans. I can’t kill a person, Spike. Nor can you.”
The vampire grunted. “You never know, pet. Maybe the chip doesn’t work in this age. I mean, I haven’t even been born yet, nor have my great grandparents, so perhaps I haven’t got a chip.”
Buffy groaned. “Stop! My brain hurts. I so wish Willow was here. She’d know what we can and can’t do.”
Spike reached up, caught her arm and pulled her effortlessly down to lie across his lap. He ran his hand up inside the leg of the linen drawers and heard her gasp as his fingers touched her.
“Well, I’m glad she’s not, pet, because otherwise I couldn’t do – this!” And he blew out the candles as he ripped the rough knickers off her body.
Outside their door, Will stood, one hand raised to knock. But the sounds that he could hear made him hesitate, a little smile crossing his face. So this Slayer was not in love with her vampire? From what he could hear, the moans and groans, the carnal whimperings, that was hard to believe. He tried to think of any relationship that was more doomed than this one and couldn’t,
He sighed, and went back downstairs whispering to himself, “the course of true love never did run smooth.”
To be continued
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