And yet with all those WIPs plot bunnies keep on biting me. The latest one was inspired by one of my rants about poor research by the ME staff and their habit of putting Americanisms into the mouths of English characters. Luckily it was satisfied with a very short ficlet. If things had gone very differently for William in ‘Fool For Love’, how would that have affected ‘School Hard’? Character death – but it’s extremely AU. Perhaps a touch of ‘Flashman’ about this one. PG-13. Exactly 500 words.
Just Not Cricket
Cedric adopted a supercilious smirk as he watched William Pratt beating a humiliated retreat. “Have you heard? They call him William the Bloody because of his bloody awful poetry!”
The circle of friends and sycophants sniggered.
“It suits him,” George chimed in. “I’d rather have a railroad spike through my head than listen to that awful stuff.” He leaned back in his chair and grinned in anticipation of the applause that he would surely receive for his witticism.
It didn’t come.
“A what?” Cedric asked. A deep furrow appeared between his eyebrows.
“I am at a loss,” said a pale and interesting debutante. “I have no idea what you are referring to.”
“It must be something that they do in America,” Henry said. “George will keep dredging up these barbaric expressions from his time there.”
“A railroad spike,” George repeated. “They are used to fasten down the sleepers.”
“Perhaps in America, old chap,” said Sir John Hawkshaw, the celebrated Chief Engineer of the Great Western Railway, “but we have rather more efficient methods of constructing the permanent way in this country. And do try to remember that it is the railway.”
The titters that spread around the circle were directed at George rather than at William. George hummed and hawed and sat down hastily in his seat.
William Pratt turned around and smiled. His eyes lit up and he uttered a quote from the punch-lines of many a ‘Punch’ cartoon. “Collapse of stout party.”
The audience roared. George went bright red, for indeed he had the beginnings of a paunch under his waistcoat.
“A hit, a palpable hit,” said Cecily. “You may read me your poem, William.”
George rose, crimson with embarrassment and fury, and made a hasty exit from the house. Laughter sounded behind him as he walked off into the night. He collided with a tall man accompanied by two attractive women, took little notice of them, and walked on until he came to a stable. There he sat down and took a drink from a silver hip-flask.
“And I wonder,” came a voice from the stable doors, “what possible catastrophe came crashing down from heaven and drove this dashing stranger to drink?”
Buffy saw the tweed-suited vampire advancing along the school corridor wielding a cricket bat and almost laughed. He didn’t strike her as a formidable opponent and his weapon seemed awkward. However she remembered Giles’ warning that George the Terrible had fought two Slayers and had killed them both. She raised her eyebrows at the vampire. “Do we really need weapons for this?”
“Perhaps not the bat,” George said, and tossed it aside. Buffy smiled, but her expression turned to horror when George’s hand went inside his jacket and emerged holding a rather more effective weapon.
Later Giles wept over the body of his dead Slayer. “I blame myself,” he said to Angel. “I told her that he had killed two Slayers, but I didn’t think to warn her that the utter cad had shot them.”