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Ficlet: Tipperary

Title: Tipperary
Author: Rebcake
Rating: PG
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.

June, 1916

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 French river 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!
Goodbye Piccadilly,
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.

FIN


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

Comments

( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
petzipellepingo
Nov. 12th, 2008 08:10 am (UTC)
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.”


A very Drusilla notion. This is just...neat.
rebcake
Nov. 12th, 2008 08:34 am (UTC)
You're always the first to comment, dear heart. Thank you, thank you! I see by your icon, I needn't harangue you to further remembrance. It's funny, I think, that dear droopy William ended up with a gal with real poetry in her. At least until a certain Slayer came on the scene.
shapinglight
Nov. 13th, 2008 10:57 am (UTC)
This was absolutely lovely. I enjoyed it enormously, especially as I've always felt that Spike would want to do his patriotic bit to some extent, even if he pretended he didn't care.
rebcake
Nov. 13th, 2008 04:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the lovely comment! The only evidence we have that it might have mattered to Spike, is that he sang "God Save The Queen" on the sub in WWII. I suspect I should have made him more conflicted by his desires in this, but done is done.
(no subject) - rebcake - Nov. 18th, 2008 11:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shapinglight - Nov. 20th, 2008 11:30 am (UTC) - Expand
mere_ubu
Nov. 15th, 2008 04:29 am (UTC)
Oh, this is wonderful! I love your Spike and Dru interaction in everything I've read so far; it's always just exactly how I think they would be and then some. *sniffle* And Drusilla's observation about the poppies is a thing of poetic beauty. They're such complicated creatures--capable of still feeling human twinges of sympathy and patriotism even though they themselves are the deadliest of weapons.
rebcake
Nov. 15th, 2008 05:35 am (UTC)
You are too kind. I personally think their interactions would have a lot more sex in 'em. (Oh, yeah!) I'm working up to it, I swear. Very, very slowly.

One of the things I was trying to convey here (not very successfully) is that Spike and Dru are motivated by very different things. She can see what the poppies represent, but only he is really bothered by all those bereft mothers (against his better judgment). She is planning to enjoy the carnage entire, he has an impulse to wreak a little havoc on Jerry. They aren't at cross-purposes here, just not there for the same reasons. I think she sees the bigger picture, probably. But, even without a common purpose, they make a great pair. Probably because of all the s-e-x, which I failed to show.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments. It makes my day that much sweeter. And, hey, it's Friday, so that really means something!
(no subject) - mere_ubu - Nov. 19th, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rebcake - Nov. 20th, 2008 01:25 am (UTC) - Expand
zoesmith
Nov. 18th, 2008 03:37 pm (UTC)
Oh absolutely wonderful story! Great characterizations, great descriptions, and I really liked the setting. Thank you very much for this!
rebcake
Nov. 18th, 2008 11:29 pm (UTC)
I'm so pleased you liked it. Thanks for commenting. I've now done two pieces with song fragments in them, which is something that can put people off (including me!), so thanks for giving it a chance!

In my defense, I will say that both fragments were more than 90 years old, in historical context, AND make direct reference to language used on the show. Sometimes you just have to poke at the sore spot, ya know?
zanthinegirl
Dec. 8th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
Your Dru is wonderful; she always has a method to her madness and you capture that beautifully.

And I love Spike's "latent patriotism!" That really fits with his singing "God Save the King" in that submarine episode from season 5 of AtS. I'm blanking on the episode name, and am much too lazy to go look it up...
rebcake
Dec. 9th, 2008 03:25 am (UTC)
I'm pretty sure it's called "That Submarine Episode." Isn't it? *flip, flip, flip* Oh, right, it's "Why We Fight". Whatever. I like ours better.

Anyway, you're right, with Spike the patriotism seems to come out in song. That's why I put in the source of "Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square!" line (from Becoming, Part II) into this fic.

I'll bet he also does a killer "God Save the Queen" a la Sex Pistols.

Thanks for the nice comments. It's easy to get Dru wrong, so I'm glad you like mine.
(no subject) - sockmonkeyhere - Mar. 23rd, 2009 08:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rebcake - Mar. 23rd, 2009 03:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
mwrgana
Dec. 9th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
Just caught up with this and loved it.

Your Dru is quite perfect esp this: 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.”

I've had it in the back of mind, for years, to write a Spru in the fields of the Somme but it's been so long that I can't really remember what I wanted to do. Perhaps this will nudge me into getting my thoughts sorted out.

Thanks for sharing - and for giving me an extra opportunity to use my icon!
rebcake
Dec. 9th, 2008 05:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for commenting. Dear Dru, she is quite perfect in her imperfection. She will never be capable of change, unlike Spike, so in a way she is a finished canvas.

How interesting that you thought they should be at Somme. There are so many places they could have gone during that time, but now that I've written this, I'm positive that's exactly where they'd be.


Edited at 2008-12-09 05:17 pm (UTC)
yourlibrarian
Jan. 4th, 2009 06:24 pm (UTC)
Here from buffyversetop5
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.

Like that callback to Why We Fight. And Dru's description of the poppies was great.
rebcake
Jan. 4th, 2009 08:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Here from buffyversetop5
Thank you so much. I kinda like the way Spike's patriotism ends up being expressed through song. Isn't that the best way to indoctrinate people, in any case? I also suspect that this wartime experience would've soured him from getting involved in WWII, which is why he was cooling his heels at a "virgin blood party". Heh. Still, it stayed with him enough to quote "Tipperary" when he teams up with Buffy in Season 2.
rahirah
Jan. 4th, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC)
Here from buffyversetop5 - lovely. Dru's the impartial chooser of the to-be-slain, and you walk the line between showing Spike's latent humanity, and remembering that it is latent perfectly.
rebcake
Jan. 4th, 2009 08:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you ever so! Spike has a tricky path. He really has to work at being a heartless bastard, IMO. Dru just is. She will always be exactly what she is, while Spike has all these warring impulses. Must be exhausting. Good thing he's got energy to spare. Thanks so much for commenting!
hello_spikey
Jan. 5th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
aaaaaaaaw. *sniffle* Lovely vignette.

I rather like Spike's continued patriotism - he may be a vampire, but he's a British vampire, damn it!

<3

Dru gave him her favor before battle. So sweet. *sniffle*
rebcake
Jan. 5th, 2009 07:33 am (UTC)
I am honored that you would bestow a *sniffle* on me. Two! *happy sigh* It means a lot, coming from a fellow Spike/Dru aficionado.

Here's part of another poem of the time, one that I'll just bet Spike couldn't shake:

The Soldier, by Rupert Brooke

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
etc.

Heh. I should probably just stop myself. Thanks for commenting.

(no subject) - rebcake - Jan. 7th, 2009 08:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hello_spikey - Jan. 7th, 2009 01:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
lilachigh
Nov. 11th, 2010 11:09 pm (UTC)
Very poignant and also terrifying.
rebcake
Nov. 12th, 2010 06:36 am (UTC)
Yeah, it's all very well to say that Spike is fighting on the right side, but I still feel for those poor kids in the trenches who meet up with him or Dru! They'll be quicker than mustard gas, I presume...

Thanks for commenting, darling!
sam_arkand
Nov. 18th, 2010 12:04 am (UTC)
You do a very good Dru! I popped over after your comments on my fic. I'm glad I checked your LJ out.
rebcake
Nov. 18th, 2010 07:54 am (UTC)
Thanks! I sort of think of Dru as unchanging, so once you "get" her, all you have to do is be consistent. Spike is more changeable, and I try to give him a voice that's current with the times, which wasn't that successful this go round, alas.

Anyway, welcome! Look around all you like! Everything is clearly labeled, so there shouldn't be any unpleasant surprises.
pssnfrt_ksss
Feb. 10th, 2013 12:08 am (UTC)
For me, this fits very well with Spike eating Nazis in WWII, and also with him letting himself be drawn more and more to Buffy's fights as well.
rebcake
Feb. 10th, 2013 01:59 am (UTC)
There's a little bit of England in Spike, wherever he goes! I like to think that he does better when he has a purpose in unlife.

Thanks so much for commenting!
( 32 comments — Leave a comment )

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