Word Count: 890
Characters: Spike and Drusilla
Warnings: War, history
Summary: At loose ends in war time, Spike and Dru decide to check out the big show.
This story is also nominated in Round 24 at the Shades of Grey Awards!
My offering for this round of seasonal_sd. I had hoped to have it posted by 11 a.m. to honor the armistice of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 90 years ago today. Six hours later, here it is.
He didn’t like the looks he got from people these days. It had been fun, at first, nothing but women, children, and codgers about. But now, he could feel their disdain, and it bothered him. He knew they thought he was a coward. They saw an able-bodied man, out of uniform, what else would they think? He was annoyed that he cared the slightest fig what they thought. It was a laughable notion. One thing that didn’t scare him was a fight. He was missing this one, though. The Great One. And that was the rub.
“Drusilla, my dove, what do you say we go to Dover and pop over to the continent?”
“Oh Spike, it’s a lovely party there. I’ll be a princess, going to the ball.”
“You’ll be the most beautiful one of all. We’ll dance the night through,” he coaxed, continuing along her train of thought.
“The floor will be all blood and entrails, Spike. I’ve never seen anything like it. Even Daddy couldn’t have made such a glorious bash.”
“No, he couldn’t,” breathed Spike, willing the shadow of Angelus away. “Yeah, well, don’t want to be late, do we? Missed the opening bars, already. Let’s dash, kitten.”
She smiled, and playfully scratched at him, growling adorably. He wondered, once again, how he had been so lucky as to be saved by this incredible creature. More than 35 years they’d had together, and her every little gesture was still a poem to him.
The trip to Calais took only a few hours, and Spike wondered why they hadn’t come sooner. They found a room for the day in a dank tavern, and Drusilla selected a sweet-faced sailor from the crowd for her dinner. He slumped in thrall in a corner of the tiny room.
“He’s fresh as roses and tastes of oysters, Spike. Mummy chose well, don’t you think?”
“You always do, poppet,” he replied, finding himself strangely unwilling to share the feast. “I think I’ll hold out for a bite of Jerry, myself.” His latent patriotism was perhaps ridiculous, but he’d long since learned to follow his gut, and right now it was telling him that this boy, succulent thought he might be, was not what he wanted. Spike intended to have a hearty appetite for the banquet to come.
“You can be him, Spike. It’ll be a fancy dress ball.”
“Never fancied myself a swabbie, Dru.”
“It’s your costume. It’s going to be by water, silly. You’ve got to have water clothes.”
Spike thought better of arguing with her about the relative merits of the various branches of service, and whether the British Navy was likely to come sailing down a to join the Western Front. Instead he marveled at how similar in size the sailor was to him. Her mind was always working, in its way.
“It’ll do fine, for now, Dru.”
“Before we head to the ball, I wish to see the poppies, Spike.”
“Whatever pleases you, sweetheart. We’ll go directly the sun goes down.
When Drusilla spied the poppy fields of Flanders* she wore an expression of amazement.
“They aren’t flowers at all, Spike. Do you see? Every blossom is a mother’s bleeding heart. They wither at night, but open to face the sun each morning. Such brave little weeds, they are.”
Spike felt his hunger grow. “Which way is the party, Dru? I’m ready to take a turn, myself.”
It wasn’t hard to find the place. All the traffic was going the same direction. Dru had only to speak quietly to a transport driver or two, and they soon found themselves in the camps of the mustering allied troops.
Though all was mud beneath their feet, Spike could smell a river nearby. There were also all sorts of metallic and chemical odors, like nothing he’d ever experienced. The scents of fear and excitement were familiar, but he’d never known them on such a scale.
“It’ll be the most marvelous party ever, Spike. Don’t you feel it?”
“That I do, Dru. Save a dance for me, yeah?”
“Of course.” From somewhere, she produced a lace-trimmed hankie, and pressed it into his palm. She then dragged a finger up his chest and throat, and looking up at him through lowered lashes, brushed the tip across his lips. “You are my knight,” she crooned. He lightly bit at her finger tip. “Naughty puppy. Now I must go fill my dance card.”
He watched her glide off, certain that she would know to avoid the caustic gas and the flamethrowers, as he had cautioned her. He found a likely band of tommies, nicked the right sort of uniform, and prepared to move out in the darkness behind them. He ought to be able to find some action before dawn, once they got to the lines.
His adopted company started forward, and sang as they marched past him in his shadowy spot.
It's a long way to Tipperary,
It's a long way to go.
It's a long way to Tipperary
To the sweetest girl I know!
Farewell Leicester Square!
It's a long, long way to Tipperary,
But my heart lies there
Spike knew why they sang, and wondered how many of them would ever see home. He wondered, again, why he gave the matter any thought at all.
A/N: 57,000 British soldiers died in a single day, July 1, 1916, during the Battle of Somme. The battle raged from June until November of that year.
Jerry - German soldier
swabbie - sailor
tommies - British soldiers
*In Flanders Fields, a poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD