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Ficlet: The Scourge Does Titipu

Title: The Scourge Does Titipu
Characters: Darla, Angelus, Drusilla, William
Prompt: Nekid Country – Japan  (for the [info]nekid_spike community)
Word count:
Rating: PG
Warnings: Musical comedy
Summary: After a pleasant evening at the theatre, the Scourge of Europe talks about broadening its horizons.

Nominated at the Fang Fetish Awards!


March 15, 1885

For once, the entertainment was interesting enough that a bored family member hadn’t thought to start a bloodbath. In any case, the one usher during intermission had been plenty to tide them over until a late supper. They walked through the park afterward, unwilling, just yet, to disturb the convivial atmosphere and split up for hunting.

“I enjoyed the one about the little list. I can think of quite a few other things that never would be missed,” mused Darla, with a pointed look at the youngsters. In truth, she was feeling unusually beneficent, but there was no need to let them know that. “Which part did you like best, Angelus?”

“The ‘Three Little Maids’ appealed to me, most certainly. You know me and little maids, Darla,’ he teased. “All done up like cakes, they were. Very pretty morsels.”

Darla murmured her agreement, “Indeed they were. Those silks . . . ”

Drusilla twirled along the path, calling, “William! Do you think I am sufficiently decayed?”

William strode after her, laughing. “You are aged to perfection, as you well know, my wicked petal. I adore both of your elbows, and everything else besides.”

Drusilla giggled coyly, “Oh, fool! To shun delights that never cloy!”

“I shall not shun any delights at all that you’ve got on offer,” he promised, catching her round the waist and spinning with her for a few turns, before leaning in for a kiss.

Darla smiled indulgently. “They really aren’t so bad, at times.”

Angelus regarded her with amusement. “You will not condemn them to the chopper for their profligate flirting, then? Magnanimous of you.”

Darla smiled and shrugged. She walked in silence for a while, then abruptly spoke, “I think we should take a trip, the four of us. Shake off the filth of London.”

“And pick up the filth of someplace else, then?” Angelus responded with a grin. “As you wish. Did you have a particular destination in mind? As if I need to ask.”

 “You know me so well, sweet boy. I admit it: I find I’ve a wish to see the Orient. There, I said it.” She sighed. “It’s just a silly impulse, I suppose. You know I loathe traveling by cargo ship.”

Angelus tucked her gloved hand into the crook of his arm. “I propose a pact between you and I, that we’ll be on the first passenger ship to the Far East. What do you say to that?”

“I say that is a wonderful thing to look forward to. I do hate waiting, though.”

William and Drusilla strolled up. Drusilla cocked her head toward Darla speculatively.

“What’s this, Grandmum? You wish to sail to exotic shores?” Drusilla began to hum the march from the play. “It will be a great adventure, you know.”

“Yes,” replied Angelus. “Darla has got a bee in her bonnet to see the eastern lands. But not if she’s to travel with swine, and I don’t mean present company.”

“I hear they’ve got an exhibition of a Japanese village, just over in Knightsbridge,” offered William. “Would you like to investigate there, first? They have kites and fans, and all sorts of interesting things, I believe. There’s real Japanese tea and real Japanese people.”

“I wonder if they taste the same as Englishmen?” wondered Drusilla. The others looked at her with raised eyebrows, instantly just as curious as she.

Angelus knew a brilliant plan when he heard one, even from the mouth of his youngest. “Willie, m’boy, that sounds a treat! Will that do you for now, then Darla? An excursion to mysterious Knightsbridge, to gather intelligence for the journey to come?”

“Why, yes Angelus. I believe that will be just the thing
,” she replied with mock primness

With the prospect of so exciting an outing, the youngsters gleefully began, once again, to act out their favorite bits of the evening’s play. William leapt atop a statue (it might’ve been Apollo) and began to belt out the ingénue’s solo:

The sun, whose rays are all ablaze
With ever-living glory,
Does not deny his majesty —
He scorns to tell a story!
He don't exclaim, "I blush for shame,
So kindly be indulgent."
But, fierce and bold, in fiery gold,
He glories all effulgent!

He was in fine voice, and only made it a little comical. He bowed deeply at the applause from his family, who soon split up to find their dinners.

When he was alone, he realized he envied the sun of the song. He yet lacked its boldness and fierceness, but felt sure those things would come. Someday, he vowed, he too would blaze with ever-living glory.


A/N: Once again, I find myself doing some things I swore I never would. 1) A song!fic. 2) The “effulgent” thing. At the same time. Which, really, should reinforce the “never say never” rule that I’ve tried to live by. Also, this fic doesn't feature Spike, per se. William has been turned, but he hasn't yet assumed the "Spike" persona, which he will in the very near future, before the 1888 mineshaft sojurn in Yorkshire. Feel free to disagree.

For those of you who are not familiar with The Mikado, which this fic heavily references, here is a little background:
The Mikado
is widely believed to be the greatest of the Gilbert & Sullivan operas, and is a comic masterpiece. It debuted at the Savoy Theatre on March 14, 1885, and was set in the fictional town of Titipu, Japan. It was an immediate sensation. Its sets, costumes, and even its sprinkling of authentic Japanese music and song were fuel for a miniature Japan-craze that swept London. It has been accused through the years of being racist and, conversely, not about Japan at all, but rather a metaphor for British society. See Mike Leigh’s Topsy Turvy (available on DVD) to get a fascinating (fictional) picture of the creation of this amazing work.


( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 2nd, 2008 10:26 am (UTC)
As someone who adores Topsy Turvy - as well as the Fanged Four - this is wonderful!
Nov. 2nd, 2008 08:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks! The Fanged Four would naturally be drawn to The Mikado, with its themes of violent death mixed in with the romance and satire. What's not to love? It's the Joss of the 19th century.
Nov. 2nd, 2008 03:55 pm (UTC)
That was fun. I love G&S.
Nov. 2nd, 2008 08:05 pm (UTC)
Well, you have excellent taste! I'm glad you enjoyed my little vignette.

May I ask: how did you find me? Just curious.
Nov. 3rd, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
That was very enjoyable. I've always thought the Fanged Four would enjoy Gilbert & Sullivan.

Nov. 3rd, 2008 06:29 pm (UTC)
The people writing Buffy and Angel certainly like 'em! I was hoping to work in a bit of Gunn's G&S knowledge, perhaps by making this story a flashback as told by Spike (Angel, Season 5), but went with the simpler structure.

What do you wanna bet that David Fury put effulgent into "Fool For Love" because of The Mikado? I mean, really, where else would a kid pick up such a word in this day and age?

Glad you liked!
Nov. 3rd, 2008 10:06 pm (UTC)
What do you wanna bet that David Fury put effulgent into "Fool For Love" because of The Mikado? I mean, really, where else would a kid pick up such a word in this day and age?

Yeah, I think you're right.
Nov. 3rd, 2008 10:28 pm (UTC)
Tee-hee! This is delightful. And reminds me that I need to actually see the Mikado in its entirety some day and not just remember the bits of it that I know from hearing around the house as a child and from repeated viewings of Foul Play. *facepalm*

I especially like your not-yet-Spike William. If you ask me, we don't get to see enough of him in this transitional phase before he goes, as my mother says, puttin' on airs fit to beat Jesus. ;)
Nov. 3rd, 2008 11:38 pm (UTC)
Don't go knockin' Foul Play! That's my town!

The William/Spike transition is interesting. We know he's a passionate milquetoast (oxymoron?) when he's turned. He gains confidence immediately, but doesn't seem to get to the "Spike" stage for eight more years. The trick is working out just where on the spectrum he falls at a given point. Since we're the writers, we get to decide! I'm glad you liked my take.

I wish I could recommend a particular version of The Mikado, but all the filmed versions that I've seen are a little static. Live is best, of course, but not always practical. Topsy Turvy is great, though! It's *almost* kid-friendly, but the French whorehouse, the shooting up of the heroin, and the freaky baby-carriage dream pretty much put the kibosh on that. Otherwise, it's just like Summer Stock, only better! You think I'm kidding, but I'm really not. Those scenes make up approximately 5 minutes of the run time, and the rest is any theatre-geek's costume-drama wet-dream. I need more hyphens!
Nov. 5th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
I love G&S, and I loved this. A very clever take on the Japanese prompt. Thank you.
Nov. 5th, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. G&S = clever, n'est-ce pas?
Nov. 15th, 2008 02:41 pm (UTC)
I love fanged four and here you have caught them beautifully - Angelus with his slightly lilting speech patterns, Darla being mock demur and indulgent of William and Dru, William understanding Dru's talk and Dru being Dru. Lovely. Thank you.
Nov. 15th, 2008 07:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so pleased you enjoyed it, and that you think I got the voices right. I can't take any credit for Dru's fancy talk this time around, though. She's mostly quoting the play!
Jan. 15th, 2009 05:40 am (UTC)
Oh, this was great fun (now that I finally got around to reading it)! I think it might be my favorite of your historicals. I do so love seeing Darla interact with Dru and Spike, plus you had the voices so perfect that just about all the dialogue was almost inherently funny. Especially that one exchange between Spike (er, William) and Dru about her being "sufficiently decayed" - tee hee. Doubtless I'd find it all even funnier if I actually knew G&S... And I like your transitioning William/Spike very much here.

Yes, definitely my favorite of your historicals.

Incidentally, did you realize you've been nommed over at the Fang Fetish Awards?
Jan. 15th, 2009 05:42 am (UTC)
Duh. Of course you know - it says it right there at the top of the page! :p
Jan. 15th, 2009 08:03 pm (UTC)
I am so pleased that you enjoyed this. I am especially happy that it works for someone who hasn't been immersed in G&S, 'cos it's hard to know, when you know, you know?

Alas, I must credit Mr. Gilbert for the "sufficiently decayed" line. It's straight from The Mikado, although perfect for Dru, I think. Once again, I have to say that Gilbert & Sullivan (but especially The Mikado) is so very Whedonesque, in its mix of humor, horror, death, romance, politics and wordplay. Check it out.

I'm always looking for things that might motivate Spike to change, as change seems to be his modus operandi, whatever he says to Angel in School Hard. Lots of people think it was Angel's early torture that made him so fierce, but I think he's more complex than that. He clearly retained/expanded his interests in art, culture, and technology, despite the image he attempts to project. It seems to me that those things would have provided inspiration, and not just once the Sex Pistols showed up. This reply is turning into a meta, so I'll just stop there.

Thanks so much for the kind words. And hey, I notice we share a birthday! What are the chances? One out of 365?
Jan. 16th, 2009 01:09 am (UTC)
I suspected at least some of that dialogue had to be coming from the play, but you're right, it fits them so well.

Have you seen Marina Frants' The Geekado? It purports to explain the structural weirdnesses of S4 with words that (I believe) go to songs from The Mikado. It's great fun although, again, I say this as a G&S outsider...

Thank you for saying that evil Spike isn't All Angel's Fault. Although I'm willing to buy that Angel warped him some, even if he hadn't Spike would still be an evil vampire. Ahem. And yes, he clearly is fairly flexible in his interests - he's devoted to Passions, after all, and the TV hadn't even been invented when he was turned...

I think, though, that capturing that flexibility and range of interests is really hard in any fic set pre-series. I've always been a bit cautious of reading Spike/Dru fic, because a) they always came across to me as sort of a static couple, largely because it doesn't look as though Dru has ever changed much, post-turning, and b) much as I enjoy them together in S2, I really don't have much taste for whole stories of watching them eat people. But on the other hand, you can hardly write Spike without Dru, pre-series... At any rate, I admire your willingness to tackle them while they're both still evilevilevil. *g*

This reply is turning into a meta, so I'll just stop there.

You... say that as though it's a bad thing. *g*

And hey, I notice we share a birthday!

Hey, cool!
Jan. 16th, 2009 06:21 am (UTC)
I'm perfectly willing to blame Angel(us) for just about anything. Just try me.

Very good point about Dru not changing much. Or, at all. That's certainly my take on her, but I like to contrast that against Spike's extreme flexibility. He's got to be a heckuva contortionist to fit with her. Heh.

I'm also with you on not wanting to sit at the table while they sift through the entrails. I seem to deal with that by making it incidental to their activities. I usually hate novels (you know, the published kind) that detail every mundane thing that goes on. So, yeah, I mention in passing here that they eat an usher, but there's no detail. Since I am writing their perspective, my feeling is that it would mean the same as, "we grabbed a burger during intermission". I know there were particular kills that were about more than food (Darla and Angelus particularly, but also Spike's Slayers), but I think evil may be too strong a word for the vast majority. I prefer "ruthless". The opposite point can certainly be made, as well, which is why we're having so much fun with this stuff.

The Geekado is quite amazing, and yes I had seen it.

Any road, I just posted yet another "historical", which I doubt will be your new favorite. Still: no entrails! Check it out.
Jan. 17th, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC)
He's got to be a heckuva contortionist to fit with her. Heh.


As for entrails, I've always thought "eat" was a really odd choice of words for their activities, as I can't remember a single time when they even talked about consuming anything other than the blood - which I, personally, would call drinking. Oh, well.
Jan. 18th, 2009 12:11 am (UTC)
I always thought that Joss and crew used "eat" to convey a certain finality that "drink" doesn't quite have. And, also, for double entendre purposes. Who can blame 'em? In any case, it's the "playing with their food" business that I try to stay away from, in my fic. Some people really like that, though. *shrugs*
Jan. 19th, 2009 03:41 am (UTC)
I've had this story up in my tabs waiting for some time ... found via a rec from Petzipellepingo, naturally.

I actually saw the musical performed on stage last year (first time at a G&S opera for me) - so this fic was extra enjoyable for me.

Wonderful characterization of the fanged four, and I do enjoy the use of "effulgent."

All around delightful!
Jan. 19th, 2009 04:55 am (UTC)
I'm glad you were delighted. Probably not quite as delighted as by The Mikado live, though, eh? It's such a wonderful piece. So, when you heard "effulgent" in the opera, did you jump a little in your seat, and say "Spike!" to yourself? 'Cos that's what happened when we took my daughter. Except she said it out loud--oops!

I'm glad you like my characterizations of the Scourge. Thanks so much for commenting!
Jan. 19th, 2009 10:24 pm (UTC)
Oooh, I loved The Mikado live. Being deaf, it was a visual experience - they did have the lyrics in supertitles, but not the dialogue! (My companion was very indignant on my behalf and sent an email to the company about it, but didn't hear back.) So afterward, I read the entire script online.

Every time I come across the word "effulgent" - no matter the context - I think of Spike and smile a little to myself!
Jan. 19th, 2009 11:04 pm (UTC)
One of the wonderful things about The Mikado, is that it's so very lush and visual. I guess that lushness is partially because of its roots in the Victorian era, though you don't get anywhere near the same result in Pirates of Penzance or H.M.S. Pinafore. The combo of Japanese and Victorian aesthetics is a real winner.

Interesting point about supertitles. I think they do the same thing at our local company. Hmmmm.

Edited at 2009-01-19 11:04 pm (UTC)
Feb. 16th, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
[Unknown LJ tag] linked to this fic, and I realized I hadn't read it. I thought I'd dug through your stories...

Heh-- I'll happily read song-fic if it's Gilbert and Sullivan! Great story. Very nice fanged four interactions; I can easily buy this happening!
Feb. 17th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC)
Thanks! Yeah, they didn't just go to the ballet, I'll bet. You're very kind to overlook the horror of song!fic for this. *shudders* I'm so happy to have hooked encouraged mere_ubu to hop on the Mikado train! Spread the wealth!
Feb. 9th, 2013 11:37 pm (UTC)
This is great. I love Spike/William and Dru - the early years. William is so very hopeful about life, a very different character to the Spike we meet in Sunnydale, who expects to be kicked in the teeth and has every intention of kicking back twice as hard.

Also, foreshadowing makes me happy :)
Feb. 10th, 2013 01:53 am (UTC)
Yeah, Spike has chosen to tamp down a lot of his finer points in order to be the biggest bad he possibly can. I can see why he did it, but I am a bit sad for that sweet young man...

Thanks for the lovely comment!
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )



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