I lazily fanned myself with the practically blank piece of parchment, taking a break from writing utter crap about 'creatures of the night causing me plight'. A born poet, I was not. As, although I was trying my best to impress William, who was watching me tentatively, all I could really focus on at that moment was the sun streaming through the window.
God, it's so freaking hot. I thought England was supposed to always be dull and rainy and cold...
On the contrary, seeing as when I arrived here it was June 1880, it was now nearing July- and it definitely felt every inch like an American summer.
"Elizabeth, I was wondering if, um..." William spoke in a soft voice, fiddling with the buttons on his waistcoat.
"...Yes?" I prompted, pausing mid-fan to cast fond eyes upon his fumbling form.
"W-would you like to go for a walk?" he stuttered, fidgeting next to me on the sofa.
Well, whatever it is. It certainly looks like a sofa, but that sounds far too modern for the Victorian era...
"A walk?" I repeated questioningly, allowing my make-shift fan to flutter to the floor.
"Out. For. A. Walk... Bitch." Oh, the hilarious irony.
"Yes... we don't have to, of course- I simply thought that, given the lovely weather, you would perhaps enjoy going outside, as opposed to me keeping you indoors all day," he blurted out in a garbled rush, wide, innocent eyes searching mine hopefully. "But, again, it is entirely your choice what we do. It was merely a suggestion..."
"I'd love to go for a walk with you, William," I beamed in response. His tensed shoulders instantly relaxed, and his whole face seemed to light up.
"Of course... that would be great! I'm not gonna lie to you, I was kinda hoping that you'd have something like this in mind. After all, it's such gorgeous weather today!"
"I know! The sun rarely makes such a prominent appearance here in London... not that I'm complaining at all- it is truly glorious!" he replied happily, getting to his feet.
"Aw, yay! I'm so glad you're a sunny person too! Some people are all about the doom, gloom and storm clouds..." I giggled, as William clasped my hands, pulling me up to join him.
"Well, seeing as we both share a love for the more pleasant type of weather," he grinned, "let us make the most of it!" He then realized that he was still holding onto my hands, and let go abruptly. I felt a familiar, unexplained ache at the loss of his touch. "Shall I ask Cook to prepare us a picnic? I know the perfect spot where we could sit..." he proposed with an anxious, unsure expression.
...How?! How in the world can such a shy, modest, self-deprecating sweetheart become a cocky, charming Ladies' Man who's every word- and every move- oozes sex appeal?
God, it's beyond me.
"That would be lovely!" I smiled reassuringly, putting my curious thoughts to one side. "I'll just wait here for you, and, uh... continue writing my poem! Ya know, I really think I'm making progress here!"
Okay, that may have been the teeniest, tiniest white lie...
But William didn't seem to notice. He tilted his head slightly, his chiseled, handsome face radiant with happiness. "Wonderful! I promise to return to you presently, Elizabeth," he proclaimed giddily, before dashing off towards the kitchens.
He. Is. So. Darn. Cute.
Although, that head-tilt does keep reminding me of Spike. Bad, bad Buffy...
But thankfully, he did return to me 'presently', as it was only about five minutes before he came strolling back into the living room, laden with a large, wicker picnic basket in his left hand. He then offered me his right arm, which I happily linked through mine. And as we walked- out of the door, down the cobbled path, and into the big, wide world- I secretly relished the feeling of his warmth, strength and nearness.
After about ten minutes of searching for William's 'perfect spot', with flowing conversation and constant laughter along the way, we eventually reached our destination. It was a grassy meadow lined with leafy, blossoming trees, on the edge of a riverbank.
William's right. It really is perfect.
"Is this... sufficient?" William asked, smiling shyly.
"God, it's more than sufficient! William, it's... it's beautiful," I breathed in awe, grabbing his hand and guiding him towards the nearest tree. He laughed at my enthusiasm, as I took a dazed seat beneath the tall oak, pulling him down next to me. My senses had been deliciously assaulted by the warmth of the sun rays peeking through the branches above us, combined with a cool, gentle breeze; the subtle scents of flowers and dewy grass; soft, sweet birdsong accompanied by the faint sound of trickling water... it was as if we'd stepped into a fairytale.
And just when I thought it couldn't get any better, William opened the picnic basket, presenting an array of enticing food. I greedily eyed the feast of chicken drumsticks, bread rolls, slithers of cheese, strawberries, grapes, biscuits and iced buns; almost squealing with delight when he then produced a filled, heated teapot paired with two china teacups. It was no wonder he'd carried the basket so carefully...
And to think, I've been in England all this time and have not yet sampled a cup of tea!
William began pouring tea into my cup, insisting I tell him exactly how I liked it. I noticed that he had his tea far stronger than I did- as I requested he fill practically half of my cup with milk (brought in a cute little lidded jug), with two and a half spoons of sugar. I still felt like a 'Lady' though, as I regally sipped my tea, attempting to suppress a giggle.
"So, tell me the truth. Does this picnic cater to your tastes?" William questioned lightly, taking a bite of his chicken drumstick. I couldn't help but smile at the memory of Spike's odd obsession with Buffalo wings, thinking how these were probably the closest thing to that favourite food of his in this time period. He even ate the same as Spike; gnawing away at the chicken, barely chewing it before swallowing, and then occasionally licking his lips with that long, pink tongue...
I quickly chased away any inappropriate thoughts, before responding. "Hell yeah!" I idly picked up a strawberry, sucking on its sweetness. "Everything is so, so delicious. Especially these!" I gestured towards the scarlet fruit, before popping the rest into my mouth. "You should try one!"
"If you say so," William chuckled, shifting to a kneeling position in order to reach the basket. "In all honesty, I've always been rather partial to sweet fruits..."
"Nuh-uh!" I scolded, swatting his hand away. "Let me feed you." Before he could protest, I picked up the largest, juiciest strawberry, and held it up to his lips. He paused briefly, and then took a tentative bite.
"Mmm..." His subconscious, low moans of pleasure sent shivers up my spine, and heat pooling between my thighs. "They really are delicious!" he murmured, chewing, as his mouth left the moist fruit.
"Told you so!" I giggled, teasingly probing his lips apart with the remainder of the strawberry.
"Excuse me, but I will eat when I please, Miss. Summers," he replied with a devilish smirk, before devouring the rest of the fruit in seconds. I held the stalk dumbly in the air, as I became transfixed by the traces of juicy moisture staining his lips. I just wanted to kiss those lips, to feel their fullness and taste his sweetness and... oh!
Without warning, William suddenly ran his tongue across my sticky fingers, teasingly licking away any remnants of strawberry juice.
I jokingly pushed him away, and we fell into a giggling heap, as I tried to ignore the feelings- the sheer sensations which had just overwhelmed me.
No, Buffy. Bad thoughts. Bad, bad thoughts...
By the time our laughter had subsided, we found ourselves comfortably positioned so that we lay side by side on the grass, facing each other. And we stayed that way for quite some time, talking endlessly about everything and nothing.
"I am not a control freak!" I protested, mid-way through the conversation. "I just... like to be in control, okay?" The utter stupidity of my own statement made me collapse into a fit of uncontrollable giggles.
"Whatever you say," William smirked in response.
"Seriously though, the whole gang back home would be totally screwed if I wasn't so super-organized..."
"Oh, I have no doubt about that," he appeased softly. "But it sounds like you have the entire world resting upon your shoulders, Elizabeth. Do you not ever feel the need to sit back, and let somebody else take the reins?"
"Believe me, I do! But if ever I'm in need of any kind of support, I'm always comforted by the knowledge that I'm surrounded by people who are prepared to give it."
Especially Spike. If ever I was in a crisis, it was him who I'd run to... the Big Bad vampire who I knew would always be there to catch me when I fall.
And right now, it felt like I was falling- no, drowning- in the azure pools of his eyes.
"Good. I feel much better knowing that you receive the support, care and attention you deserve... wherever you are," William smiled sincerely, before furrowing his eyebrows in sudden thought. I watched with faint amusement, as he sat up fully, reaching into his waistcoat pocket.
"What's that?" I asked, gesturing towards the crumpled piece of parchment he'd produced, and was currently attempting to smooth out.
"It's just... scribblings," he muttered shyly, eyes flickering over the page.
"Scribblings, huh?" I questioned with a disbelieving smirk. "Don't give me that crap, William, I can see straight through you! I bet it's another of your poetic works of art-"
William snorted. "Why yes, of course it is. I produce 'poetic works of art' on a daily basis..."
Was that... sarcasm?
"So, are you gonna read it to me or not?" I demanded with a wry grin.
"In a moment or so, perhaps." William replied, unfazed, folding the parchment in half, and setting it down gently beside him. "Could we have a... a chat first?"
"Aw, you remembered!" I squealed, bouncing upright with a beaming smile. "I am very, very proud."
"So you should be!" he grinned in response. "I am slowly, but surely blossoming beneath your nurturing hands..."
"Gosh, you really should consider writing poetry!" I teased with a playful nudge.
"Poetry? Why, the thought never once crossed my mind!" William joked back, not yet brave enough to return my gesture.
God, this is weird. We're laughing and joking like we're from the same time period or something!
"However, on a more serious note," William asserted, despite his lips twitching betrayingly. "I do genuinely want to talk to you, Elizabeth."
"Go on..." I encouraged, shifting forward so that we were even closer together- our foreheads practically touching.
"Well, I, um... I do apologize for expelling all of this upon you-"
"Don't apologize, idiot!"
"But it's just that I... well, I'm just worried."
"Worried?" My face morphed into one of confusion.
"Y-yes. Worried... and a little scared. Although you can't tell anyone that, of course," he added lightly, although his tone remained ambiguously dark.
"Why? Is everything okay?"
"Yes, I honestly have no reason to complain!" William quickly reassured. "But, I'm just..." He took a deep breath. "I- I know that my mother is dying. And although it is a reality which I have to face, I can't... it is just d-difficult for me to comprehend. The very idea of being without her, being alone in this world..." William's voice cracked, and he ducked his head, as if concealing unshed tears.
"Oh, William," I put a comforting arm around his shoulders. "I'm so sorry. Really I... what is it? What's doing this to her?"
Oh god. Looks like my suspicions were correct.
William glanced up at me, determination etched upon his features with the intense effort not to cry. "Th-they couldn't find a cure. They think it's only a matter of time, before-" He trailed off, words not necessary. I tightened my grip on his shoulders, running my fingers soothingly over tensed muscle.
"Oh god, I- I don't know what to say... it's almost as if anything I do come out with will be petty, and meaningless, and... insignificant, in comparison to all these things you must be feeling right now. Because I've been there before. I know exactly how it feels and... all I can say is that I am so, so sorry. You are the last person to deserve any of this, William, especially as it is something entirely beyond your control."
"See, maybe in some ways, it is good to be a control freak," William sniffed, rewarding me with a wobbly smile.
"Maybe," I laughed sadly, fighting back tears of my own. "But, you were wrong about one thing."
William tilted his head to one side. "What was that?"
"You are most certainly not alone."