(For Deb. She knows why.)
"Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper "I love you"
Birds singing in the sycamore tree
Dream a little dream of me..."
"Did you find out anything?"
"Uh-huh....come over here."
William followed Buffy across the lunchroom to
a small alcove where no one was sitting. They
placed their trays on the table and sat down to eat.
"So..?" William urged. "What happened?"
Buffy sighed, placing her napkin carefully in her
lap. "Well...the night of the dance, Anya told us that
she was ready for....you know."
William nodded. "For the having of sex, I remember."
"Yeah, well....they didn't."
"I remember that, too."
He remembered it all too clearly. The ice in the air
for the rest of the evening had almost been visible.
Anya had wanted nothing to do with Xander, and
after he'd spent a good half hour begging her to talk
to him, he'd gotten angry to the point where he'd
wanted nothing to do with her, either.
William had done his level best to keep Buffy
away from the table for the duration of the dance,
not wanting to have her evening spoiled by their
He'd steered her over to have the photographs her
mother wanted taken, then pulled her out onto the
dance floor for several songs.
When the band had taken it's scheduled break, he'd
held onto her hand and wandered around the room
with her, stopping to talk with various friends and a
couple of the chaperoning teachers.
Oz and Willow, also picking up on the tension, had
pretty much followed the same course, leaving Anya
and Xander at the table to fume alone.
Although they'd managed to keep things on track at
the dance, by the time the limousine dropped them
off at Buffy's house the mood of the evening was
irretrievably broken. The girls had gone to Buffy's,
while William and Oz had returned to the pool house,
no breakfast out, no moonlight swim.
Xander, upon stepping out of the limo, had turned his
back and walked off, refusing to answer when William
had called after him.
At that point, Anya had burst into tears and ran off
into the house. Willow and Buffy had no choice but
to kiss their dates goodnight and follow their friend
"Say "nighty-night" and kiss me
Just hold me tight and tell me you'll miss me
While I'm alone and blue as can be
Dream a little dream of me..."
Buffy took a bite of her sandwich, then wiped
her mouth carefully with her napkin.
He could tell she was collecting her thoughts and
probably having an internal debate as to whether
or not she should tell him the unpleasant details.
Since he didn't want to push her in either direction,
he held his peace and waited for her to speak.
"Anya made a reservation at the hotel next to the
country club...where we went for dinner?" she went
on, handing him a bottle of apple juice.
William twisted the tight cap off for her and handed
it back. "Mm-hmm."
"She told Xander about it and they went over to the
hotel...and everything was going fine until...."
These pauses in the conversation were maddening,
but he still said nothing and let her go at her own
"They were.." Buffy lowered her voice. "...getting
undressed and then Anya went to get her purse...she'd
brought some con.....some protection."
William smiled just a little as Buffy's cheeks turned
red at the thought of uttering the word 'condom'
out loud. "That was sensible," he said quietly, stifling
his urge to laugh.
"Maybe," Buffy said, "but when she turned around,
she saw Xander taking a....taking one out of his
wallet. He'd brought them, too!"
He waited, and waited, for the 'crisis' part of the
story...but Buffy seemed to be through. Puzzled, he
shrugged, "So....what happened?"
"Well, Anya was furious, of course," she said,
taking a drink of her juice. "So, she left...and you
know the rest."
William was truly perplexed. Something was
definitely missing from this story.
"I'm not following you, love. Why was she furious?"
"Because....HE brought condoms." She whispered
the last word.
"Yeah, I got that part. But why was she mad?"
She set her juice bottle down on the table,
looking at him as though she couldn't believe
what he'd just said. "Because," she said again,
"he had condoms in his wallet. He...he just
assumed that they...that they would be....doing
Leaning his elbow on the table, William rested
his chin on his fist. "But they WERE going to be
doing something," he pointed out.
Buffy looked even more incredulous. "Yes...but
HE didn't know that. So why did he bring them
to the dance? And why did he have them in the
Now it was beginning to make sense. "Buffy,"
he laughed. "That doesn't mean he was taking
it for granted that they'd have sex. He probably
carries them in his wallet all the time."
The remark was a tactical error on his part.
She sat back and folded her arms across her
chest, and he saw immediately that he wasn't
doing himself any favors with that explanation.
"Why would he do THAT" she asked, "if he
wasn't expecting something or already doing
it with someone else?"
William was beginning to wish he'd just gone
ahead and joined in her indignation from the
get-go, condemning his friend without a fair
trial by a more impartial jury...one that had
nothing to lose.
Unfortunately for him, he was too far into it
to turn around.
"I'm just saying," he tried to explain, "that it's
a good idea to be prepared. It's not just him.
All guys do....."
Another big mistake. He knew exactly what was
Buffy's eyes widened. "Do you?"
As a matter of fact, he did, but fessing up to it
now didn't seem like a particularly good idea. Like
driving a car into oncoming traffic, it was counter
productive behavior that could get you killed. "Me?"
The next time he saw Xander, William decided,
he was personally going to kick his ass up and
down Main Street.
"Buffy." He reached for her hand. "Why would
I do that? I'm in love with YOU, and I can wait
until the time is right."
This was all perfectly true, and he was pleased
and a little relieved that he hadn't been forced
to admit the WHOLE truth, or lie to her.
"So you don't have one in your wallet?"
"No. I don't have one in my wallet." Still not a
lie, since they came in strips of three. He hated
himself for the small deception, but it was for a
Then to his immense relief, the bell rang,
signaling the end of lunch break.
"Stars fading, but I linger on dear
Still craving your kiss
I'm longing to linger til dawn, dear
Just saying this...."
He found Xander in the boy's gym.
Sitting down on the bench beside him,
William opened his locker and grabbed
his PE clothes. "Hey."
Xander looked at him. "Yeah, I'm fine. Why
wouldn't I be?"
"No reason." William stripped, then pulled his
shorts and tank top on.
There was a long pause, then, "Is this about
me and Anya?"
"Now that you mention it." Observing him
out of the corner of his eye, William tried to
keep his face steadfastly neutral.
Xander stood up and put one foot on the
bench, then the other, tying his shoes with
a yank that almost snapped the laces. "How'd
you find out?"
"Anya told Buffy, and...."
"SHE told YOU." Sitting back down on the
bench, Xander threw his jeans and t-shirt
into his locker, slamming the door with an
echoing 'clang'. "She's got a big mouth,
William tensed. "Be careful, Xander," he
said quietly, turning to look at his friend with
Returning that look for a moment, Xander
then glanced away. "Sorry," he muttered.
They sat without speaking for a moment
before Xander burst out with, "I do NOT
understand women. What the HELL do they
want from us?"
"Well, I don't know about most women,"
William said, "but I know that Anya DIDN'T
want you whipping out that giant economy
size box of Trojans you've got in your bedside
"Hey, I didn't have the box, okay?" Xander
protested loudly. "I just had a couple."
William looked at him skeptically.
"All right, I had six."
"Six? Talk about being over confident."
"Oh, shut up." Xander said irritably, then
sighed. "So.....what do I do now? I apologized
a dozen times and she won't give a fucking
"Grovel," William advised without hesitation.
"Beg. On your knees, if you have to."
"You're not serious."
"It's your only hope."
"No way!" Xander shook his head. "I am NOT
gonna grovel. Harris men DON'T grovel."
William closed his locker door. "Then say goodbye
"All right, I'll grovel."
"Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave your worries behind you
Her mother picked Buffy up early for a dental
appointment, so William was alone when he
pulled his car into the driveway of his uncle's
Parked along the curb was a limousine. It was
a smaller version of the one they'd hired for the
dance, and the driver stood next to it, leaning
against the door as he examined a newspaper.
William stood in the driveway for a moment, staring
at the limo, then at the house, then back at the
limo. For some reason he couldn't quite define,
it made him uneasy to look at it.
"Can I help you?" he asked the driver. The man
looked up briefly, then shook his head, no.
Inexplicably, William's heart rate increased. The
closer he got to the back door of the house, the
harder it pounded in his chest.
Pausing for a moment, he grasped the handle
and opened the door.
There was a middle aged man sitting at the
kitchen table, sipping tea. He looked up when
William stepped into the room, smiling as he
rose to his feet. "Hello, Your Grace. It's so good
to see you again."
"But in your dreams, whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me...."
"While I'm far away from you, my baby
I know it's hard for you, my baby
Because it's hard for me, my baby
And the darkest hour is just before dawn.."
William did his best to smile pleasantly. "Hello,
Westham," he said, dropping his books on the kitchen
table. "How have you been?"
"Oh, quite well, your grace," the man replied, re-seating
himself when William indicated that he should please do
Keeping his voice quiet, William glanced in the direction
of the kitchen door. "Is she....?"
"Ah. Yes," the older man nodded. "The duchess is taking
tea with your uncle in the...the...."
"Living room," William supplied. "Thank you."
Leaving his grandmother's secretary and personal
assistant to finish his tea, William made his way down
the short hall, pausing in the arched doorway, taking in
the scene before him.
Abigail Darlington, the dowager Duchess of Richmond,
was perched on the edge of the sofa, holding a teacup
and saucer in her hand and regarding his uncle with an
air of genteel superiority.
Neither very tall or particularly imposing, she managed to
give the impression of being both. Only a little above five
feet in height, she was built along the same petite lines as
Buffy was. She had a lustrous wealth of steel gray hair,
neatly pinned up, and the same blue eyes that both William
and his father had inherited.
Poor Uncle Rupert looked completely at sea. The knot of
his tie was loose, and his collar button was undone. His
hair looked as though he'd been raking his fingers through
it, and, at the moment, he was polishing his glasses with a
fervor that should have worn the lenses clean away.
".....in any case, Abigail," he was saying quietly, "his grades
are outstanding, his conduct has been impeccable. I know that
business with the car worried you...and it did me, as well...but
even that has proven to be nothing to be concerned about. He's
an extremely careful driver."
His grandmother leaned forward, placing her cup and saucer
on the coffee table. "I hardly need you to sing me my grandson's
praises, Rupert," she said. "What I am concerned about has
nothing to do with his schooling or his ability to handle that
obscenely overpriced automobile."
William cleared his throat, causing both occupants of the
room to turn in his direction. "Grandmother," he scolded
teasingly, "did you come all this way just to interrogate my
uncle about what I'm doing here in Sunnydale?"
The faded blue eyes instantly regained a measure of their
youthful sparkle as the duchess turned to her grandson.
"William," she smiled, rising to her feet and opening her
Without hesitation, he crossed the room and pulled her
frail body into a gentle embrace. The familiar fragrance
of her perfume instantly rocketed him back to his childhood,
and he closed his eyes, letting the feeling wash over him for
A few seconds later, she drew back, lowering herself to the
sofa again and taking him along with her. "Oh, look at you,"
she said, brushing his curls back, "in need of a haircut, I see.
Thank god you haven't bleached all the lovely color out of it
William grinned. "I very nearly did, but let's not talk about
my hair. How have you been, Abby? Still as mean as ever,
terrorizing half of London?"
"I'll have you know that I'm the darling of the social scene
these days," the duchess replied, giving him a light rap on
the back of his hand.
"I have no doubts." William sat back and gave his grand-
mother a speculative look. "Why are you in California?"
"I simply felt like a bit of travel. I'm not becoming younger,
you know.....what exactly is THAT expression on your face
trying to say?"
"Something along the lines of 'you haven't been out of
England since World War II and would you mind telling me
why you're really here' ," he answered.
The duchess narrowed her eyes slightly, then turned to
Giles. "Rupert....would you mind terribly excusing yourself
from the room?"
Not only did he not 'mind', he was almost comically eager
to follow the request.
"Each night before you go to bed, my baby
Whisper a little prayer for me, my baby
And tell all the stars above
This is dedicated to the one I love..."
When they were alone, the duchess leveled her gaze with
her grandson's. "I spoke with Drusilla Haversham last week.
She tells me she hasn't heard from you for quite some time."
William could feel doors inside of him slamming shut. He
really should have known that this little surprise visit from
Grandma Abby was about Dru.
All his life, as far back as his earliest memories, the
Haversham family had been a firmly established part of his
world. Their property adjoined Black Oaks, and both families
had been prominent in the same social circles.
He and Dru, being close in age, had naturally drifted
together. From childhood playmates to preteen crushes,
they had moved through their days cocooned in the safety
of wealth and privilege. They had developed a closeness
that was unusual between boys and girls of such a young
age, telling each other secrets and dreams they never confided
to anyone else.
Still fresh in his mind were the time framed photographs
of their early years; snapshots taken of them learning to
ride, swimming in the pond behind the main house, taking
music lessons together, crawling through the hay barns on
both estates to play with the litters of kittens born every spring,
and attending parties and dances given by the cream of British
So, it was no great surprise when their families began to
plan their futures as a combined one, naturally assuming
that the young Duke of Richmond would one day take Lady
Drusilla Haversham, daughter of the Earl of Sunderly, as his
wife and duchess.
An impression that William knew he would now have
Taking a deep breath, he sat back against the sofa and
crossed his arms over his chest. "I know I haven't been
keeping up with my correspondence as well as I should."
One thin gray brow arched. "And why is that? Are you
so terribly busy here with your school work? Or is there
William met his grandmother's piercing gaze without
flinching. "Actually...I've met someone....a girl...and..."
"Yes," the old lady sighed irritably. "I thought that must be
the case. William, how on earth could you have allowed
yourself to become involved to such an extent that you
neglect your duties."
"When I allowed you to come and live here, you promised
me that you would remember who you are...what you are
"I haven't forgotten anything," he protested. "I know who and
what I am. Nothing has changed in that sense."
The duchess gave him a skeptical look. "Indeed? Well, when
you boarded the plane for America you were practically en-
gaged to Drusilla Haversham. Plans were being discussed for
your futures, and...."
Sharply aware of what was coming, William jumped to
his feet. "Discussed by you and Sunderly," he said. "And
I was NOT practically engaged to Dru. We're friends...and
that's all we are...all we ever will be."
"Life can never be exactly like we want it to be
I could be satisfied, knowing that you love me
But there's one thing I want you to do
Especially for me
And it's something that everybody needs..."
Abigail was silent for a moment, watching the
tense set of William's shoulders. She gave him time
to calm himself before she spoke. "I see. And...is
Drusilla aware of your feelings? Because, after
speaking with her, I was left with the impression that
she expects you to formally ask for her when you are
both of age."
This information surprised him. He and Dru had never
spoken seriously of such things. The only mention made
of it had been when they were small...and all of THAT
had been talked about in the most obscure 'someday when
we are grown up and married we can do exactly as we
please and no one can tell us differently' manner of children
rebelling against parental rules and regulations.
Surely....surely Dru wasn't still holding on to such an
errant promise, a statement uttered by one small child
"Grandmother," he said firmly. "I have absolutely no in-
tention of marrying Drusilla....not at any time in my life.
"William." Her voice was equally firm. "You are not a
part of this world," she said, gesturing around the room with
one be-ringed hand. "This is nothing more than an extended
vacation for you. You do not belong here. You are the Duke
of Richmond, the sole heir to a vast fortune, and you
He jerked his head sharply and turned away.
Abigail paused, recognizing the familiar obstinate posture
that William always adopted when he felt pressured into
something, and told he 'must'.
Knowing that to do otherwise would push him even more
firmly in the opposite direction, she softened her voice.
"This girl you've met. Does she know who you are?"
His silence told her the answer to that query.
"I see. Are you planning to?"
"Yes...yes, of course I am."
"Then why haven't you? What are you waiting for?"
William clenched his fists and stared out the window.
It was a perfectly good question, but he had no perfectly
good answer for it. He didn't know why he hadn't told
Buffy everything. It wasn't as though he hadn't had
plenty of opportunity to do so.
"It's because you KNOW, William. No matter how much
you may care for this girl, she can never be the partner
you need. She knows nothing of our world, and she could
never fit in. Like goes to like, William. Swans do not mate
"While I'm far away from you, my baby
Whisper a little prayer for me, my baby
And tell all the stars above
This is dedicated to the one I love...."
Still gazing out the window, he spotted the dusty black
Cherokee pull into the driveway next door. Buffy stepped
out, talking about something with her mother, her smile
bright and her eyes sparkling.
Drusilla's image retreated even further from his thoughts. Her
dark beauty could never begin to compare to Buffy's golden
This was what he wanted....what he WOULD have.
William suddenly turned to face his grandmother.
"I know precisely who I am," he stated. "I am the Duke
of Richmond. And I WILL marry the girl that I choose. Not
you...not Sunderly...not the bloody Queen, herself. I've
found the girl I will make my wife, my duchess, and no
one...no one...is going to come between us. I promise you
"William! This is not finished! Don't you DARE leave this
But he was already gone.....
"This is dedicated to the one I love...."