Prattfall..."

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Normalverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, .com...

Summary: As you know I leave the "Pratt" to the Whedonverse, except for this one little bit...

In early 30's Hollywood Spike offers advice to a distant relative...

Part I...

Hollywood, California...early 1931...Land of incredibly abandoned wealth, lavish glamour, wild ambitions, and desperate poverty...

"Get away!..." the butler, a stout 50-ish type in formal suit, glared from behind the fence bars...Seltzer bottle raised, while the guard at his side raised crossbow...

"Ow!..." Drusilla howled, wringing hands, having tried once again to cross the fence barrier...Spike pulling her back...Blowing anxiously on her hands...Glaring at the butler safely behind the fence barrier...

Holy water seltzered in a lady's face?...Hardly sporting, mate...

Even if...Given Charlie Chaplin one could appreciate the humorous side of it...

Inwardly of course...He patted Dru's arm...

"Mr. Chaplin only receives guests by invitation..." the butler repeated, firmly... "Especially of the Undead persuasion..."

At least one hopes Mr. Chaplin has learnt his lesson regarding female members of the Undead...After those two before...

"Just wants his autograph..." Dru, plaintively... "We loves the Tramp, we does..."

"Write United Artists...Good evening..." the butler turned on heel...The guard backing away, crossbow targetted on the two "fans"...

"Comes all the way from England, we does!...Bastard!..." Dru howled...In raging demon face...

"All the way from England...Oh..." she sighed...Resuming human...

"Celebrities, love...What you gonna do?..." Spike patted her...

"Loves the Tramp...Dru does...Wouldn't have hurt him..." she noted as he led her away down the street from the Chaplin estate...

"Well...He probably sees it differently, girl..." Spike noted...

"Never see his films again...Nasty..." she muttered...

What?...He blinked...

Lord, one more pleasure in this damned miserable existence gone...

"I'm sure it wasn't personal, Dru...If Charlie had met you..." he tried...

"Kill his family, I will..."

"He'd probably be grateful to lose a few ex-wives..." he pointed out... "And you'd only be hurting yourself, Dru...No more Little Tramp?...You love the Tramp..."

"Nasty...Mean to poor ole Dru..." she frowned...

"Now, Dru...Perhaps if we tried a less direct approach...Got ourselves a proper invite playing human?..."

She eyed him narrowly...

Killing the Chaplin family having more of a satisfying ring to it...

"I'm sure if Charlie met you, you'd charm him, Dru...Playing the human girlie..." he smiled... "Acting?..." he grinned... "Showing Mr. C what Drusilla can do..."

She relented a bit...

"I did tell you it wasn't a good idea to just show here and ask to see him..." he noted... "I tole you I'd heard he'd had some experience with our kind..."

"He'd know then..." she noted, crossly... "What's the good?..."

"Oh, Dru..." wheedling tone... "You're a good actress...You could fool them...Bit of a challenge, right?..."

She frowned again...Challenge?...

"Lets get settled in and find a place and see what the ins-and-outs roundabouts are...I'd bet we could find a way in soon enough and then..."

"You think so?..."

"We came all this way, Dru...Just for the Tramp's autograph for your keepsakes' box...You can hold out a bit longer, eh?...Fools the Tramp be something, eh, Dru?..."

"Would be nice..." she admitted...Carefully...

"You think he don't knows...?"

"A busy man, Dru...These are just security people...Well-informed types, to be sure...But that's all to the good, eh?...Makes for a challenge, eh?...A little more than just a scrap of paper and ink?..."

Hmmn...

Well...She paused...

"Hows about we taxi home, gets ourselves a nice bit to eat, and settle in?...Tomorrow we see what's to be done?..."

Hmmn...She looked back up the road to the lights of the estate...

Ok...

"But we gets it from him...Personally...And signed... 'To Drusilla...'..."

"Of course..." he nodded...Waving at a passing cab which stopped... "Just a little patience, Dru..."

She frowned but had clearly relented...Oh-oh...Bright smile...He looked to see...

The cabbie a chipper young brunette chewing gum, waved them in...

"Don't worry, folks...The girl can drive just fine..." she smiled at them...They stepped in...He giving the address of their rented bungalow...

Dru eyeing Spike...Hmmn...?

"We could use a personal driver, love..." he suggested in whisper as they pulled out...At a speed which thrust him back into his seat...Ooof...

"Been seeing the sights?..." the girl asked... "Quite a palace that Chaplin place..."

"Indeed...And well fortified..." Drusilla frowned...

"They like their privacy, the movie stars...When I'm one, I'll probably be the same..." the girl grinned...

"Really?...You're an actress?..." Spike asked, pleasantly...Pulling himself upright...

"Frances Kay, remember the name, folks...You'll be glad to say you knew me when..." she grinned...

Hey, watch it, m-f-er!...Howl at passing truck...

"Sorry...Pardonnez-moi..." she apologized... "Yep, that's what they'll put on my tombstone, I hope...Actress..."

"You must know your way about the place, then..." Dru noted, sincerely curious... "The studio places, all that...?"

"Gotta know the details if you're gonna break in..." Frances nodded... "Course I'm not just some girl off the train...I've had professional training...And I've been on stage in NYC...Off Broadway but nearly so..."

"You may be just the person we were looking for..." Dru smiled...

"Ah..." Frances gave a wink to the mirror... "Someone else wants to be in the pics, huh?..."

"Wouldn't mind giving it a try..." Dru beamed...

***

Have to say...Spike eyed the happily chattering Frances, now chowing down a large blue-plate special at his expense in the all-night diner Dru'd insisted on treating her new "friend" to...

No one has that light touch with thrall that my Dru has...Anyone watching the kid would think she was perfectly normal...

Though this girl's spirit is clearly a hard one to repress...

"Dru...Ma'am..." Frances corrected as she continued her lecture on breaking into Hollywood... "The first thing is to get some good mug shots...Some that really catch the eye..."

",,,And the libedo, if you'll pardon my French..." wry smile...

Dru nodded... "I see...Spike?..." she eyed him...

"We'll take care of it first thing tomorrow..."

"I know a first-rate guy..." Frances nodded eagerly... "He'll set you right up..." she eyed Dru carefully... "You've got that English look...Quality, you know...I think they'll go for you in the right clothes and make-up..."

"Really?..." Dru beamed... "You're very kind, Frances...And please, it's Dru..."

"Dru, it is..." nod... "And sir...?" she eyed Spike...

"Will...In company...Spike, between us three..." he smiled... "But we should let you get home Frances...You'll have a few things to wind up tomorrow if you're to move in with us..."

"I don't know..." Dru shook head...He looked at her...

Well, if you want, girl...I saw a good place to dump the body a few blocks back...

"I think...Since we want to learn all we can about the acting business here..." she paused...

Hmmn?...Spike looked at her...Frances chugging at some more coffee, but awaiting her new mistress' pleasure...

"...If we could move into your place or somewhere's near...You say a lot of your friends there are trying to enter the business...?"

"It's a nice crowd...Mostly...A few weirdos and whores...Uh..." Frances hesitated at Dru's shocked look... "Sorry, Dru...Shoulda minded my ps-and-qs a little...Hope you know I learnt better growing up...Just this town...You know...A little rough around the edges..."

"That's quite all right, Frances..." Dru patted her arm... "I suppose I've got to be prepared for such things if I want to make my way in the business..."

Spike blinking...

Make her way?...

I thought we'd come for an autograph...A prized one, to be sure...But...

"My place is small...Just me and Gina...Regina MacKenzie?...She's been in a few shorts, you've seen her?...Well, maybe you'll recognize her when you meet her, my Gina...Anyway, there was a little place on the upper floor of the house available..."

"Wonderful..." Dru beamed... "Lets go see the landlord...I'm sure we can make arrangements tonight..."

"Just a manager...Phil Greeves...I'll introduce you..." Frances nodded...

"After you finish, of course..." Dru noted politely...

After all, the poor girl hasn't had a proper meal in weeks from the looks of her...And the thinness of her blood...

The minor problem of living arrangements was quickly settled, Greeves being so eager to rent the empty room even thrall not being required just yet...Though sadly...It being necessary for Spike to have a room of his own to avoid unwanted gossip...The career of promising actress Regina MacKenzie had come to an abrupt end...Spike, as a true gentleman...Dru proudly noting to the wanly downcast Frances...Politely offering to dispose of the corpse alone...It being clear, though unnecessary to mention among them, that Frances and Gina had had a rather close relationship...

***

"Prattfall..."

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Normalverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, .com...

Summary: As you know I leave the "Pratt" to the Whedonverse, except for this one little bit...

In early 30's Hollywood Spike offers advice to a distant relative...

Part II...

Amusing as playing human might be...Spike sighed...Looking at the clock on the dresser near his rather uncomfortable bed...Made barely tolerable with a little earth from the graveyard in which he'd dropped off poor Regina the night before...

The readjusting one's time schedule to fit approximate human hours was rather a chore...

Still...Dru seemed quite eager to take up this new game...And who knew...Could be rather fun to meet and massacre America's brightest stars...

Within limits of course...

Chaplin for one...Garbo...No question their careers must continue unbroken...Whereas a number of others, particularly a few who seemed to be failing the transition to the new sound medium...Take the sad case of the great Douglas Fairbanks for example...Could only benefit from a quick and tidy exit...

And at least in the case of the Little Tramp, Dru's continued good spirits might be essential...

He rose and dressed in casual suit, suspenders, garters on socks, finally hat...Pausing to spit-polish his shoes...And moved to the window, carefully pulling back the shade...

Ah...California failing again to live up to its sunshine state rep...Cloudy with light rain...

Excellent...A fine omen for the first day of Dru's new hobby...

He speculated a mo...Well...Why not?...He had, after all, mentioned many times that he could write better scripts than most of the crap reaching the screen...Though there was no denying Chaplin's and a few others' genius for utilizing the visual arts...And a few of the new sound films seemed to show developing promise...Yes, there might well be a chance for a new voice in film writng...And it would be an excellent excuse for not frequenting the light of day...The busy, monomanic writer, grimly focused on his work all day, partying and drinking all night...

Perfect occupation for a vampire...And he could quote a few examples...

Yes, this could be fun...He opened the door to the small landing at the top of the stairs and peered out...No dangerous leakage of light...A few sounds of bustle, though not all that much...

Late-risers, these film people...

I guess the tales are true...He thought...

Hmmn...I wonder...He reached out his senses carefully...

Dru still in the place, subdued...Sleeping...But nothing...Ah...He peered over the railing of the landing...

First floor, I'd say...Hard to pin down...Not necessarily a vamp but definitely demonic...And right now, rather dormant...

Surprising, actually...Given how suitable this lifestyle is for our kind, I'd've expected the place would be full of us...

But we should meet our compatriot as soon as possible and learn their game...Don't want to find some fellow with some crazed agenda for world conquest or global mass murder is hanging out in our boarding house...

Sure to mess up Dru's new career...And mine...

He moved down the stairs...

Try and catch the fellow or lass while they're still in whatever state of dormancy they choose to call sleep...?

Or wait and catch them in action?...

Well, no rush...And so long as the weather permits, might be nice to take a stroll, get the lay of the land, and pick up a few groceries...As well as find the location of the nearest speakeasy, our liquor supply being somewhat limited...

He headed down...

Movement on the second floor raised a hackle or two...

But mere human...A door suddenly opened and he paused...

No need to butcher the neighbors just yet, Regina having provided for him and topped Dru off quite nicely...Not to mention their having a fine cow at hand in the obliging Frances...

He eyed the cadaverous figure standing in the doorframe...

Hmmn...He blinked...

Did I get it wrong...?

Nope...Human as they come...Poor fellow...He eyed the face...Ah, look at those soulful eyes...

Just brimming with a mixture of decency and torment...A soul, no doubt...However lost...

"Good morning..." the figure waved politely...English accent, London in fact...He returned the wave...

Nice to find a fellow Brit in such a place...

"Hello..." Spike continued down...Stopping a few feet away... "Looks like we have the place to ourselves..." he noted...

"The kids sleep till noon excepting the ones who must work by day..." the man smiled... "New to the place?..."

"Just moved in...My girl and I...She's got a place with a friend...Walthrop's the name..." Spike put out a hand...

"Pratt..." The cadaverous gent smiled...A surprisingly warm and kind smile...

Spike allowed for human strength...Not bad...And calloused...The fellow's a worker...Though clearly of some culture, given that accent...

"Billy Pratt..."

"William as well..." Spike eyed his companion... "Pratt, eh?...From London...?"

"Guilty as charged, sir...Though I'd hoped my time in Canada had made me a bit more of a mystery...And you?..."

"By way of Brusset...London for a good bit..."

"And new in town as well?..." Pratt smiled...

"That obvious...?"

"The clothes...I recognize the tailor...And they're too new to have been worn long..."

"Likewise guilty..." Spike smiled...

"And here to seek your fame in the flickers...?" Pratt, politely...

"My girl's caught the acting bug a little...I'm in the writing line...But just seeing how it goes..."

"Really?...The writing line...?" Pratt nodded thoughtfully..."Anything I might have come across?..."

"Nothing yet but a little poetry, I'm afraid...Just starting out...Thought it might be the right time..."

"Indeed...They could use some decent writers in this town..." Pratt agreed... "Well, I've got to be off...A little day work to keep the body and soul together...Hope to see more of you, Will...I've not have a chance to speak to a Londoner for a bit..."

"Likewise..." Spike nodded... "Might I walk out with you?...I'm looking for a place nearby to pick up some smokes and such..."

"Delighted..." Pratt nodded...Hmmn...He winced at banging his forehead slightly on the low doorframe...

"Bit of a curse those extra inches...But, good for the comic bone..." he smiled...

A door on the floor below opened...A radiant-looking, slender, young woman, fair-haired, smiling up at them...

"Billy Pratt..." she grinned... "Off to do your duty?..."

"As one must my dear..." Pratt bowed... "Miss Sullivan...Mr. Walthrop..."

"Charmed..." beaming smile...

Spike bowed...

"Miss Sullivan is sure to be one of the greatest film actresses..."

"...Never discovered..." Miss Sullivan finished, smiling...

"Maggie..." Pratt waged finger... "Well, come along, Will...Mustn't keep the ditches waiting for me..." He continued down, passing Margaret as she patted his arm briefly with a look of concern...

"Don't overdo, Billy..." she called, lightly but with a note of worry... "Remember your back..."

Spike giving her a quick, hard stare as he passed...She returning it coolly...The slightest of nods...

Trouble there, he thought...

Whatever she really is...

***

"Prattfall..."

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Normalverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, .com...

Summary: As you know I leave the "Pratt" to the Whedonverse, except for this one little bit...

In early 30's Hollywood Spike offers advice to a distant relative...

Part III...

Pratt pointed out the nearest cigar store to Will...Noting with wry smile that it also served other items at the right time of day...If one asked for "Mike"...Spike nodding with smile...Thanks...

"Well, lad, take care if you've brought anything in your baggage...There's plenty who'll hit you up...Good kids, most, but times are hard, you know..."

"We've little but we'll take care...Thanks again...And remember what your lady friend said..."

Pratt chuckling... "Ah, if only...Fine girl, though...Will..." he paused... "You might try Universal...And mention my name...I've done some work for them, just bit stuff but they seem to have an open mind for new things...Jimmy Whale is a good fellow there, has me under consideration for something...Ask for him and tell him I said you were a fine young writer..."

"I appreciate it, Bill...Thanks..."

"Yes...Just...Make it clear you have a girl...Jimmy's a good fellow but rather of the persuasion..." Pratt eyed him... "He might make assumptions..."

"Right..." Spike nodded...

Hmmn...Pratt...Of London...?

I wonder...

He watched Pratt heading off to a pausing bus...

Does look a bit like Auntie Sal in the face...

He returned with the groceries and smokes...And a promise of a meeting with "Mike" in the evening to find Dru up and eagerly taking some basic lessons in film acting from Frances...

"Got a few things..." he announced...

"And met some of our fellow residents..." he eyed Dru...Who returned the look as Frances waited patiently...

"Demonic but not one of us..." he noted... "She or it is living on the first floor...Calls herself Maggie Sullivan..."

"Do you know her, Frances?..." Dru asked...

"Maggie?...Sure...She's tops..." Frances beamed... "A kid who's sure to go places but a real sweetheart...She's got most of the guys eatin' out of her hand but she keeps it classy...I think she's got a real thing for Billy Pratt on the second floor...Though frankly..."

"I understand..." Spike nodded... "Fine fellow though...Despite looking like we ought to..."

Dru frowned... Rank prejudice...

"From London, the fellow...You know, my mother's family is Pratt of London...I wonder if he could be a relation..."

"A relative?...Here?..." Dru stared... "Will we have him join us?..."

"If you mean join the family as opposed to a dinner invite...Not right now..." Spike put up a hand... "We're just settling in and I'd rather not get things too shaken, what with the thing at Mr. Chaplin's and Miss MacKenzie last night, not to mention our incidents along the way here..."

I mean if you want to continue your acting career...he smiled...

"Frances says I've the gift..." Dru eagerly began... "We're going to meet the photographer in two hours...Is it all right, outside, still?..."

"Should be fine...Looks like more rain all day..." he nodded...

"Now as to this 'Margaret'..." he eyed Dru...

"William...I've got to practice my poses..." she frowned...Posing with hair piled... "Surely you can kill her if you think the situation requires it..."

"Thought I'd speak with her first..."

"Whatever..." Dru waved a hand... "Is this soulful enough?..." she asked Frances...

***

Margaret apparently out...After several tries at knocking, Spike weighed the possible gains of breaking and entering versus the consequences...

Well...Short of finding a demonic portal to another dimension...A temple of demonic sacrifice...Or a file folder listing whatever the lady...Or whatever it was...Was up to here...Probably not worth the implicit declaration of war...At least not just yet...

He opted for a stroll outside, weather still permitting...To the studio friend Pratt had recommended, Universal...

Rather a famed place just this year...Might be a bit fun to see the place...He caught a cab and was taken over...

Hmmn...

The name William Pratt did not seem to carry much weight with the gatekeeper...

However "James Whale" did catch a bit of attention...

Appointment?...Spike weighed the possibilities again...

A wasted trip on perhaps the only day possible for awhile versus the risk of detection...?

He eyed the guard...

Hardly sporting, really...

"Yes, indeed...Though I am a bit early..." he nodded...

He had the cabbie drop him near but not quite at the office he'd been directed to and got out...Choosing to stroll a bit...

Quite a place...He glanced round at the scurrying figures...Trucks racing...Heavy equipment being moved about...A group hastily assembling what appeared to be a frame for the front of several Western-style stores...Painters feverishly applying paint to what appeared to be building sections being carted off to various locations...Large groups of men, women, and several varieties of human-appearing but definitely non-human creatures in costume being ordered about by men and a few women screaming into megaphones...

Hmmn...Interesting...

A frowning guard heading his way...He put on a friendly smile, pulling at his hat to dodge a few stray rays...

"Looking for Mr. Whale's office, friend...?" he asked, politely... The guard pointed...

He nodded and sauntered over, pausing to watch a group of young women in tight dance outfits march by...A couple waving...He waved back politely...

Your lucky day, ladies...I've a steady blood supply at home...

However, don't press it too far...

He'd reached the office...A rather temporary-looking structure...He paused but caught the guard who'd directed him looking his way...

Oh, well...Never hurts to do the brazen young cock thing...And Pratt had told him to call on Whale...He knocked and stepped in...

Mr. Whale?...Not in right now...The secretary shook her head...A young, stubby kid of twenty or so, sitting in the office smiled...Rising...

"So I've company...Carl Laemmle..."

Even the Undead, after "Dracula"'s success, having heard of the said Mr. Laemmle, wunderkind of Universal, Spike immediately shook the proffered hand...

"Meeting Jimmy, eh?...Well, if he can keep me waiting, you can expect a long wait, kid...What's your line?..."

Spike explained politely that he'd been referred regarding a possible writing opportunity...

"So you're a writer, huh?...You familiar with this horror stuff?..."

"Well..." Spike looked at Laemmle...

"You've seen 'Dracula' right?...Vampires, all that?...Broke all records this year so far...Saved this studio..." Laemmle, vigorously puffing on cigar...

Unlit...Spike noted to himself...He glanced at the slew of photos on Whale's wall...One an elderly grim gent of considerable resemblance to the kid, puffing away...Ah...Living up to Dad, I see...

"Oh, yes...Nice bit that...Scared my girl practically out of her wits..."

Not that that's all that hard, he thought...Remember a terrified Dru begging him to check that that fellow in the cape wasn't looking for her...

Strange that...Considering we've met the real one's grandnephew...That preening fop, Vladimir...A number of times...And everyone knows old Vlad's gone and got himself redeemed or something years ago...

Some folks just have no consideration for the clan and family...Though a few do say Vladimir had something to do with his vanishing from the scene...

And even fewer still maintain he's seeking his lost wife...Which might explain poor Dru's willies...Along with rather admittedly fine acting by that Hungarian fellow...What's his name?...Lugosi?...

"We're looking for more of the same, boy..." narrow stare... "So you're English, eh?...You a nancy?..."

Audible sigh from the secretary...

"Not the last time I checked with my girl...Sir..." Spike frowned...

Shrewd nod from Laemmle..."Just checking...Always good to know where one stands...Nothing against nancys, you know...Some fine artsy types there...Jimmy Whale for instance...He's got a project that could make this studio the biggest thing since sliced bread..." Laemmle frowned... "If he can pull it off...So you know this horror stuff?...You've read the books...'Dracula', 'Frankenstein', the HG Wells stuff?..."

"I've read them...Most are a bit thin, if you don't mind the critique..."

"Thin, eh?...Well, in the movies, thin is good...The people like thin...They don't want two hours of just gabbing on a stage...They want action, thrills, blood...Within proper limits of course...Can you do blood, kid?..."

"I suppose so, sir..." Spike nodded... "If it's absolutely required..."

"That's what packs em in, kid...And girls of course...Pretty girls facing the monsters...Nothing like the way they swooned when Lugosi bites the girl...You saw that...?"

"He was impressive, sir..."

"Right...That's what we want...Blood, action, pretty girls in danger...Monsters who get theirs at the end...Gotta have that moral uplift ending of course..."

"Family values, sir?..."

"That's right...Family values...And blood...Action..."

"...And pretty girls in danger...I think I could do that, sir..."

"Great...All right, then, we'll see if Whale can use you...Come back this afternoon...He's having a preliminary meeting with me and the rest of the staff then and he has to be back for that if he wants this project to move on...We'll see what he thinks..." quick hand proffering, hearty shake...

"Thank you, sir..." Spike nodded... "I'll put everything I know into those thrills and chills..."

"I'm sure you will, kid...I've a feeling about you being just the man for this job..." Laemmle nodded...Pointing a vigorous finger...

"Course..." he chuckled as Spike gave what he deemed was a sufficient grateful smile... "Since it was a woman who wrote the thing..."

***

"Prattfall..."

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Normalverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, .com...

Summary: As you know I leave the "Pratt" to the Whedonverse, except for this one little bit...

In early 30's Hollywood Spike offers advice to a distant relative...

Part IV...

Spike had returned to find a bubbling Dru with Frances in tow bearing a large portfolio of photographs...Which she insisted on spreading before him on the floor...Urging him to pick the best...

Hmmn...

Well...This one...He regarded a picture of Dru in saintly pose...Eyes upturned...

Perhaps a bit much...Tempting the heavens and all that...

Picture of Dru with hair piled...Rather shimmering gown...Shadows in background setting off her cheeks...

"We liked that one too..." Dru noted eagerly...Frances with enthusiasm though slightly subdued...

But...Her face falling just a bit... "You didn't like the first one?..."

Well...He began...

Hmmn...He eyed her darkening face...

Perhaps best to move on...

"It's fine...I just thought if you were limiting the pics..." he pointed to another...Dru in another gown, hair down...Looking winsome... "That's a fine one..."

Hmmn...She frowned...

"And this one..." he pointed...My...He eyed it...

Dru looking almost healthy...This photographer bloke is a genius...

"That's good..." she nodded, stiffly...

"Perhaps I'm not the best judge..." he noted...

"I should say so..." Dru replied, archly... "If this first one doesn't appeal to you..." she sniffed...

"Well...I'll leave to you...I should get ready for my meeting this afternoon with Mr. Whale and Mr. Laemmle..."

Dru blinked...Frances stared...

Carl Laemmle...?

The Carl Laemmle...?

"'Dracula''s Carl Laemmle?..." Dru asked...

"The one and only..." Spike grinned... "And James Whale..."

"Who?..." Dru asked...

"Very promising director fellow...Friend of my possible relative, Bill Pratt..."

"He's very close to Mr. Laemmle..." Frances nodded... "They say he's been given practically carte blanche with his new project...They brought him in from Broadway..."

"And he wants to see yours truly..." Spike beamed... "So I'd best get to work actually writing something..."

"They wants to see your poetry?..." Dru stared...

"Want..." Frances corrected... "They'll tell you if they want the 'wants' for any role..."

"Right, want...Thank you Fran..." Dru nodded...Spike staring...

My...She really has been bitten by this movie acting thing...

"No, not poetry...They want me to right horror...Like 'Dracula' only more so..."

"You?..." Dru stared...

He looked at her startled face...

"I do know something about instilling fear, Dru..."

I am part of the team who once made men fear the night, you know, lass...he thought, a tad miffed...

"I'm sure, William..." Frances, reassuringly...

Dru waved it off...Hollywood...All sorts of strange things can happen here...

Anyway, rehearsal to prep for...Casting call for some small parts at ten tomorrow, she explained to Spike... "Fran and I have to rehearse a few bits...I hope you don't mind if we have dinner while we work..."

"It may not be speaking but we want to be ready..." Frances nodded...

"Indeed..." he eyed the two... "Well...Go to it ladies...Perhaps we'll all have something to celebrate by tomorrow night and can do a night on the town then...'

Uh...Not too much from Frances...He whispered to Dru...

She's looking a bit peaked...

"Oh, no.." Dru shook her head... "Fran has me on a new diet...High protein and vitamins..."

He blinked... "Dru...?"

"High school track runner we picked up on the way back from my photography session...He's in the closet..." Dru nodded to the closet...

Oh...

"Would you mind taking care of him later on tonight?..."

"Not a problem, love..." he nodded...She beamed and briefly pecked him on the cheek...

"Good...Please go now...We'll be very busy...Frances!..."

Hmmn...He sighed at the closed door...

Well, only two hours till my appointment...Not likely to write any great scripts in that amount of time...

May as well deal with our other little problem...

He descended the stairs...And knocked carefully at Margaret's door...

Which this time was opened...She, lovely in blouse and skirt smiling at him... "Mr...?"

"Walthrop...Might I have a word?..." he said, pleasantly...

"I was about to go out for some lunch..."

"I'm famished myself..." he smiled... "Perhaps you'd let me do the honors...?"

"I don't like blood..." she frowned at him... "This is a human body and I eat like any human..."

"And I eat any human...But, standard chow is fine on occasion...Please..." he smiled... "I really think it's in all our interests if we talk..."

***

"This isn't too much sun for you...?" Margaret frowned...

"I can handle a few stray rays..." Spike noted...Pulling hat down a bit...He took another bite of his quite rare burger as they strolled along the little town square they'd chosen for their lunch./confrontation...

"Not bad...Pity no suds to wash it down..." he took a pull at his ginger ale..."But as you can see, I can accommodate myself to many things..."

"And your mate?..." she eyed him...

"Drusilla's anxious to make a go of it in acting...For the moment, she's a good girl...So long as you stay on her good side..." he smiled...

She took a swallow of her hot dog...

"That really is a human body you're using, isn't it?..." he stared...

"One hundred percent..." she nodded... "But I still have a few tricks if you're thinking of anything..."

"Not at all...But what are you and how did a nice demon like you end up in a frail human shell like this...However attractive it may be..."

"Consumptive kid...Or she was...Of sixteen...I took her a few weeks before she would have died...It was considered a miraculous recovery...Really made the parents happy...We're more or less a merged hybrid now..." she began... "I'm an unusual case, actually..." she eyed Spike...

"Twenty years ago, I was the chosen one..." she smiled...

He paused... "You mean...?"

"The Slayer...Oh, don't panic, kiddo..." she put up a hand... "I was probably the worst Slayer in history...Or herstory if you like... I got turned my first night out...But my Council was not about to lose a Slayer to the dark...They prevented my full transformation and sorta separated me out..."

He stared... "Slayers are demon-powered, you know..." she eyed him... "They planned to pull the Slayer demonic force out so the vampire would be your run-of-the-mill vamp...But..."

"Not so easy?..."

"Not so easy...I wound up a bizarre hybrid...Slayer demonic force in control of a human body with the vamp demon, poor thing, chased back to Hell...But the demonic force the Watchmen stole from the First way back when is not an entity...It's only chaotic force...And running a human body, even a zombie-ish human corpse...It's not too pretty..."

"So...?'

"So the only cure of sorts was to link me into another human body...Non-chosen to drive the Slayer force out...But...You can't quite scrape all the demonic force out of a Slayer...And the Council couldn't quite sanction stealing a human body, even a dying one...So they turned to some ole acquaintances on the other team for help...Given I was likely to be quite the loose cannon in my current form the other team's boys agreed and arranged my hybridization..."

"Inspiring cooperation..."

"Wasn't it?...The Wolf, Ram, and Hart can be quite pragmatic when it's a matter of business...And I believe the Council paid dear for me..."

"Leaving you part Slayer?...Part...?"

"I'm not a Slayer any more...Even in part...I don't hunt the Undead...I'm a hybrid with human form who just wants to be left alone...And enjoy the brief life I got...Lord only knowing how long I got..."

"I see...So I should simply trust you and leave it at that...Hoping you won't send your latest Slayer after us...Me and Dru, that is..."

"I've no love for the Watchers...They did what they did to save their own necks and sacrificed me...Both human mes to do it...After all, William...I'm that sixteen year old dying girl as well as that thirteen year old Slayer...Both fed to a demonic force that still feeds off them..."

"You seem happy enough, lass...Daylight capable...I sense some degree of enhanced strength and sensitivity...What's to complain of?...You turn to a toad or a hyena by night...?"

"I can't bear children..." she said... "I mean the demon within prevents any life from forming within me...And..." she sighed... "Human males are afraid of me..."

He stared...

"Have you considered just toning down the goddess-like radiance?..." he suggested...

"That's not it..." she frowned... "Human males are driven to fear by the demonic force still within...A side effect of scraping part of my Slayer force out...It would normally cause your kind to fear me..."

"Really...?"

"Don't give me that...You may have beaten a Slayer, William...Yeah, I know who William the Bloody is...But you still fear them when in range..."

"So men fear you...Ever consider the distaff side?..."

She glared at him...

"Ok...Rule that out...Say...What about my possible relation?...Billy?..."

She smiled... "He's a lamb...But..."

Oh...Spike nodded... "Yes...I did sense that a little...Still...He did seem to like you..."

"You think so?..." she eyed him...Rather eagerly...

"Perhaps he falls somewhere in the middle...?" he suggested... "Then too, that appearance of his...Perhaps it counters your effect...And he leans strongly your way..."

But...He eyed her...Looking at the clock tower in the square near them...Chiming one...

"We aren't here entirely to resolve your romantic problems...You realize my instinct is to resolve potential threats the quick and easy way...And Dru multiples that about one hundred times...Slayer or no, you are possibly in touch with the Council and spying on us..."

"I can still draw on some Slayer strength..." she noted... "Maybe not enough to fight you easily but enough to make it tough...If I were a Council spy, wouldn't the Slayer be here right now?..."

"They must keep tabs on you, regardless..." he replied... "Sooner or later you'll lead them to us..."

"So long as I'm safe...And there's nothing visibly wrong here...You're safe..." she eyed him... "Kill me or force me to contact them and you're in trouble..."

"A Slayer...Even an ex-Slayer?...Willing to cut such an evil deal?..." he said, quietly... "Fills me with horror, or it would my human soul..."

"I've got my life to lead...And you two seem to be restraining yourselves...So long as you keep it quiet, why should I stick my neck out?..."

"No deal, Margaret..." he shook his head... "I'm sorry but my every instinct says you'll go running to the Council...Even a mere human can't repress an urge to help others if she's not twisted in soul and I'm sensing you're not the evil type..."

"What about a truce?..." she suggested... "You have most of the cards...Drusilla, your own self...And you hold my Billy's life in your hands as well as mne..."

"You think I'd kill my own possible flesh and blood?..."

"Without hesitation..." she nodded...

"True enough, though I do like the fellow...And your side?...A weak Slayer, capable of limited defense...Possibly some magics ability?...And possibly in contact with the Slayer and her Council...?"

"Not too great but not insignificant..." she eyed him...

"And the truce terms...?"

"I do nothing so long as you refrain from kills and attacks on me and you do nothing so long as I refrain from attacks on you and contacting the Council..I'd prefer you go with animal blood but so long as no one is found dead from now on..."

"How could you possibly trust me?..." he smiled pleasantly...

"I have no choice...Unless I want to give my life up and try to get Billy to give his up and run with me...I doubt we'd get very far...Even if he would consider it..."

"However I do have a choice..." he noted...Eyeing her throat carefully...

"How about this?..." she smiled... "You don't want trouble now...So, try an attack tonight...If you succeed...Game won, problem solved...If you fail the truce is in effect..."

"A trap?..." he suggested...

"Consider it a challenge..." radiant beam...

 

"Prattfall..."

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Normalverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, .com...

Summary: As you know I leave the "Pratt" to the Whedonverse, except for this one little bit...

In early 30's Hollywood Spike offers advice to a distant relative...

Part V...

Paramount-Publix Pictures Studio...

Casting call...Open...

Ergo, an endless line of desperate young women attempting to look nonchalant and fresh from their grand tours of Europe...

"Name?..." the middle-aged, frighteningly black-haired, secretary paused from filing her nails to give a cold stare at the wan-looking young woman facing her...

Dru froze up a moment...

Ummn...

"Waverly..." Frances, next in line before the desk, cut in...Dru giving grateful beam...

"Yes, Drusilla Waverly..."

"Any acting experience...?"

"In London and Coventry...A bit of Shakespeare and some singing and tableau during the War...With a traveling company..."

Now sadly defunct due to age of the founders and several vicious if mysterious murders...She did not say...

Thank God Spike had suggested they leave Mr. Briggs and his wife alive to vouch for them if they ever needed a little work in the halls or provincial stage...Although the dears might be a wee bit surprised to find their dear Drusilla still successfully claiming to be in her 20s...

"During the War...?" the secretary eyed her...

Ummn... "Child acting...Though I did a bit later..."

"Right...Photos?..."

"Here..." she handed over her portfolio of shots...The secretary waved to indicate a pile of the same...Opening briefly and thumbing...

"You got a gown...?" the secretary asked...Looking up at her... "We may need a few extras to do some society types..."

"Oh, yes..." Dru nodded eagerly... "As does my friend Frances here..." Catching Ms. Kay's uncertain eye...

Don't worry about it, Fran...

"All right...Have a seat in there..." the secretary pointed behind her...

Oh, my...Dru blinked...

First hurdle passed...

"I know you..." the secretary turned to Frances, nodding... "You can go on in..."

"Thanks, Edna..." Frances patted her shoulder... "You're aces..."

"Hey, girls..." she waved to the privileged group waiting inside...The women still waiting in the reception room line casting longing, hopeful, and occasionally, dirty glances their way...

"Fran..." several acknowledged her...She led Dru to a seat, sitting beside her...

A couple of those who'd greeted her staring...

What, no Gina...?

"This is so exciting..." Dru babbled eagerly... "Really, I never thought I would get so far the first day..."

"You have that look, sweetie..." Frances patted her arm... "Tole you...They're always looking for that classic English look..."

"Gina working today?..." one girl asked Frances...

"She left town..." Frances replied... "Guess she got sick of the whole thing...Said she'd met a nice guy on her last job who had a job in New York coming..."

"Gina?..." the girl and several others stared... "Chucked it for some guy?..."

"It happens...We parted square..." Frances nodded... "This is my new roomie from England, Dru Waverly...Dru...Abigail, Kate, Carole...And Joan..."

"Hello..." Dru smiled... "Nice to meet you..."

"Likewise..."Abigail, the blonde, curly-haired, short girl who'd inquired of Gina stared at her...

Cute but...She looked at Frances who seemed pretty smitten with her new friend...

Well, guess life does go on...Especially these days...

Can't believe Gina would be the one to bail, though...Everyone said she was starting to go places...Though given the stories on how she was getting to go places, maybe the thing about the guy isn't so strange...

"So all of you are actresses...?" Dru asked...

"Depends on what you call acting..." Joan, tall, athletic, with wavy brown hair, replied in friendly but cynical tone... "I'm more of a dancer myself...And knockabout vaudeville...You of the legitimate stage?..." lofty tone at the end...

"Not really...Just a little Shakespeare...Mostly I sang and did tableau...Spike and I...My boyfriend...Did do a little comedy..."

Boyfriend...? Abigail looked at Frances who seemed unfazed...

Nice...Open-minded type I reckon...

"Comedy, eh?..." Joan smiled, nodding... "You got the look for it...I mean in the surprise way...You know, the fine lady who does a prattfall..."

"That's what Spike...William, my boyfriend...Used to say..." Dru nodded eagerly... "The audience would love seeing me so dainty and then taking a tumble...Or, a pie in the face...And they did..."

"'Spike', eh...Sounds like a sharp fellow...And interesting..." Joan grinned... "So you sing too, huh?..."

"A bit...They seemed to like it...Though they were often a bit plastered where we performed..." Dru shrugged, smiling...

"A little Shakespeare too, eh?..." Abigail asked...

"Is there any of us who doesn't...?" Dru grinned... Chuckles round...

"'To be or not to be'..." Carole, a tall, gorgeous, platinum blonde with wavy hair and teasing look, quoted... "And if we don't make the cut today...Probably not..." wry smile...Joan patting her hand...Hang in there, kiddo...

"You've got the English accent, that's for sure..." Kate, an auburn-haired, rail-thin girl noted...

"You're all right, Dru..." Joan patted her... "Nothing like versatility in this business...And you look like you can do the grand lady preety well..."

"She's gonna make her mark..." Frances beamed...

One way or the other, Dru thought...

***

"The camera closes on the man and his deformed servant... 'Quiet, you fool'...Henry pushes his servant down...We see the crazed look in the man's eye...We know he's up to something more than sightseeing at the graveyard..." the speaker smiled cynically...Puffing on a cigarette in an elegant holder as he paced the room...Pausing before the group in chairs before him...

Spike eyeing him from his seat in the second row, next to an assistant of Mr. Laemmle's...

"Right..." young Laemmle nodded from his chair in front... "Ok, good...We grab em by the balls in the cemetery right out...But the sex angle?..."

The speaker rolled eyes... "Carl...Friend Henry gets his jollies out of the creation of life...He is a would-be God, Carl...No little piece in a gown is going to top that..."

"Jamie...You're killing me here...You know and I know the public is gonna want a pretty gal in a gown..."

"Yes, yes...Later...Henry and the deformed servant dig up the hanged man...Darkness all about...Wolves howling...Monuments all round them...Blasphemy, Carl...Not Browning's lukewarm hinting...Out and out blasphemy...Utter violation..." wrings hands...

"Yeah!..." Laemmle nods... "Go on, Jamie...But don't forget that sex angle..."

"We move on to the university sequence...Distinguish professor lecturing on his subject to the medicos...Telling us the brain of the dead man...Dead, Carl...On the table...Is one of a man whose life was one of crime and murder...Deformed...Unfit...The last brain we'd want to see reanimated in a monster's body..."

"I get it..." Laemmle beams...Then frowns... "But Jamie..."

"Yes, yes...Henry has a girl...A strong-willed one, his fiancee...Elizabeth...She shows up later..."

"Thank God..." Laemmle sighs... "But not too much later, Jamie..."

"Soon enough, soon enough...The deformed servant shows, after all have left...Looking for..."

"The brain..." Laemmle nods... "I see it...Yeah..."

"A brain...The right brain...A nice, mild-mannered, lovable brain...And one is handy...But then..."

"He takes the wrong brain...Beautiful..." Laemmle beams...

"The wrong brain...He can't read and he takes the wrong brain..." the speaker nods...

"Wouldn't it be more dramatic if he dropped it...?" Spike called...

Uh... "Sir..." he added...As the speaker, James Whale, eyed him...

"Dropped it, you say?..." Whale blinked at him...

"Dropped it?...A mess on the floor?..." Laemmle, frowning... "Audiences hurling in their seats?..."

"That is brilliant..." Whale beamed... "Young man, that is brilliant...He drops the brain, ruining it...He has no choice but to take the other..."

Hmmn...Laemmle pondered...

Well...

"Just don't do a close-up on the smeared brains, ok?..." he suggested...

"No, no...The effect is all we want...Brains handled like mere spare parts...Ghoulish, macabre...And yet the key to the whole horror about to unfold..." Whale beamed at Spike...

"What is your name, laddie?..."

"Walthrop, sir...William Walthrop..."

"Well, if you're one of Mr. Laemmle's boys, I want you on my creative team right now...Carl?..."

"If you want him, Jamie...He's yours...Writer..." Laemmle, struggling a bit to remember the blonde kid...Oh, right...The writer...

"And quite a promising one if this is any indication, lad..." Whale nodded... "Welcome to Team Frankenstein..."

"Top secret, Walthrop..." Laemmle cautioned, turning to face Spike...

"Absolutely, Mr. Laemmle..." Spike nodded...

***

"Now..." the overweight young man, a casting director, eyeing the group of young women in the room...Two added to the group since Dru's and Frances' inclusion...

"What do we have here?..." he turned to his tall brown-haired assistant... "What do we have here, John?..."

"Nice looking set..." John replied, quietly...Frowning slightly...

"Nice looking set...Right..." the director nodded..."Exactly..." he leered at Carole...Who gave a demure smile...

"Ok...You..." he pointed to Kate... "No boobs but you could pass for the rich family's daughter...You're in...John..."

John made a note...Kate gave heavenward look of thanks...Though the messenger may be Hell's own, the message...

"You..." the director eyed Carole again... "I know you...You were good last time...Can you tell a funny story?..."

"And how, cuddles..." she returned... "Farmers' daughters or keep it clean?...And the girls know we've dated, Ray..."

"You're in, babe..." he grinned...John made a note...

"Joanie..." the director smiled at a smiling Joan... "You bitch, you stood me up last month...You're out..." he pointed...

"F-you, fat boy..." Joan glared, rising regally... "I'll be running this town one day...And I'll have you going for my coffee and pissing your pants for not being fast enough..."

"Maybe, sweetie..." Appreciative nod at the performance... "But not this week..." the director glared... "Out..."

Joan picked up her things and sauntered out of the room, slamming door...

Nasty...Dru frowned...

Still, one must be a professional...She calmed before he looked at her...

"New meat, eh?...What's yours, honey?..."

"Dru Waverly..." she replied...Before Frances could assist...The director nodded... "Not bad...English, eh?..."

"As they come..." she nodded, smiling...

"You're in...Non-speaking but we'll see if you can do more...John?..."

"Right..." John wrote in his book...

"Francie?...How's the girl...?" the director eyed Frances...

"Ready and willing..." Frances beamed...

"That's my girl...John?..."

"Right..."

"Ok..." the director eyed Abigail and the rest... "You dear girls are likewise in...Thank the gods of Hollywood we need a screen full of pretty gams...Studio 3 at six am...Anyone late is out..."

"Drusie?..." he turned to Drusilla... "How's about coming with me and John for a mo?...I want to see if we have more for you..."

Uh...She eyed Frances...Who nodded...

"Yes, sir..."

John frowning a bit...

"Just let me get a few things settled and let John get the names to ole frog-face outside...Ladies, see you all at six..." he stepped to the rear and went out...John headed for the front office...

"Dru!..." Kate hugged her... "Congrats, sweetheart!...First time out, solid base hit..."

"Way to go, honey...But watch lard-boy..." Abigail noted, patting her... "Fortunately he's not known for having much stamina...Just keep him working for it a little and he'll be too pooped to pop off...No offense..."

"None taken, Abby..." Dru smiled... "I think I can handle him..."

"That's the girl..." Carole beamed... "He's not all bad, really...And Joan did stand him up..."

"Not all bad...?" Abby glared... "He's a fat pig...Just not too much below decks...Again, apologies, Dru..."

"Again, none taken, Abigail...Thanks..." Dru nodded... "But really, there's not much to worry about...He's faking it..."

"What?..." Kate stared...

"John's more his type..." Dru said, smiling serenely... "I can read men rather well, dears...He's just putting it on for us..."

"You're kiddin'..." Carole stared at the door... "Ray?..."

"Absolutely..." Dru nodded... "Though he does cover well...And could be nicer, considering..." Frown...

"Geesh..." Carole shook her head... "And to think...I nearly...Though come to think on it...He did kinda back away the minute I started showing some interest..."

"Arggh...More than I wanted to hear..." Abby shuddered, sighing... "But it does explain a few things..."

"A rare talent we have here, girls..." Kate grinned at Dru... "And a useful one...Girl, you have got to come to all my calls..."

"Just experience...And a little sensitivity to such things..." Dru noted...Shy smile...

"Well, we are working girls..." Carole beamed... "Lets ring poor Joanie and take her out...Ok?..." Nods... "Dru, ole Ray won't try to pull too much with John around and he does tire easily...Fran'll let you know where we're going, will you come and spill the beans?..."

"I'll be there...Girls..." Dru nodded...

"Utterly professional...Don't worry, Fran..." she whispered to the worried Frances, last to leave...

***

Meeting over, Whale had requested his new creative team member stay a moment to deal with hiring details and get acquainted...

However, no need for the rest of the team to linger after introductions...There being much for them to do independently...All would gather at seven am sharp tomorrow...

Several of the team eyeing Will as they left...

Watch it...One mouthed...He gave slight nod of thanks...

Friendly bunch of creative geniuses, he noted...This should be quite enjoyable...

Whale offered the requested scotch and soda...Pulling chair from behind desk and sitting...Rather close...

"So...Young Walthrop...Tell me all about William S. Walthrop..." Whale smiled...A Cheshire cat grin...

"Not much to tell sir...The usual...Aspiring writer-poet...No great breakthrough as yet..." Will took a pull...Careful glance outside...

Ah, still delightfully cloudy...Phew...

Hate to have run out on the boss when things are going so well...

"But dedicated to his craft, all the world well lost, selling his soul for new experiences to bring to the world in his own words..." Whale continued...

"In a manner of speaking, sir...Yes...Though, to be honest...The words haven't come so fast and fair as I'd wish..."

"Time, laddie...Time will give you what you lack...If you have the gumption to stick...Take it from me, Will..." Whale eyed him intently... "Never let that dream go...Never settle...You'll win through but only if you never settle for anything less than your finest dream..."

"Yes, sir...I agree, sir..."

"Good laddie...So...A writer who's come to the new Babylon to try and save us..." Whale grinned...Putting hand on Will's arm...

"I doubt I'd be doin' much in the savin' line, sir..." Spike smiled wryly...Neither disdaining nor accepting...

Whale considering...Sensing the lack of response...

Ah well...

Phew...Spike relaxed...

A true gent who gets the message without a word...Quite a relief not to have to snap the boss' neck on the first day of what looks to be quite an artistic experience...

"But you do think Hollywood needs the services of one Walthrop...?" Whale leaned back...

All in good time...Rome's not built in a day...

"I think it's a magical place, sir...And I rather like magic...And want to be a part of it, at least for a while..."

Whale beamed...

"Exactly, Will...Magical...Which is why I'm here...And I knew from the moment you spoke up, why you're here...This place is where we can work magic we can't work anywhere else in this world...Not even the stage, not even the pages of the finest novel...Only here in this glittering, false, fairy-tale world of Hollywood can we do what we were put here to do...What we're going to do..."

And of course, he grinned...If we all make a mint of money doing it...I doubt we'll complain, eh?...

"Not me, sir..." Spike smiled...Downing his scotch...

***

"Prattfall..."

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Normalverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, .com...

Summary: As you know I leave the "Pratt" to the Whedonverse, except for this one little bit...

In early 30's Hollywood Spike offers advice to a distant relative...

Part VI...

Dusk had arrived when Spike, bearing a load of notes borrowed from one of the other writers, reached the rooming house by cab...

All-in-all, one of the most pleasant days of his existence, alive or dead...He reflected...

An exciting new world...A fascinating bunch of new colleagues of the creative variety...Lord, how I've missed being round creative types on a steady basis in the past fifty years...

Angelus' admitted creativity having been rather of a specific and narrow field...

A chance to utilize long buried talents...

And, I get paid for it...Rather nicely for these times, too...

"Will!..." hearty, booming call...Though behind it a heavy weariness...

"Bill..." he waved to the approaching Pratt... "How are things?..."

"Not bad, lad, not bad...Bit of a long day..." Pratt smiled...Wincing at a muscle twinge as he moved an arm to offer a hand to his companion... "Did you make it over to Universal?..."

"I did indeed...And was rather successful..." Spike beamed... "Many thanks for that intro by the way...I think it did the trick..."

"Will, that's wonderful!..." Pratt clapped him on the back... "A bit of luck on the first try...Excellent...But I thought you had the look of a winner on you, lad... So Jimmy was impressed, eh?..."

"I'm on the writing staff..." Spike nodded... "Lets hope I know what I'm doing..."

"You'll make good, lad...I sense it..."

Amazing...Spike thought...A man who could frighten birds out of trees with his looks but eyes reflecting a soul so kind even I would like to live up to his faith in me...

"He ought to..." Margaret eyed them from the front door of the rooming house, in lovely grey sweater jacket, white pleated blouse and light slacks, her warm smile even having a rather pleasant effect on one Walthrop...

"Being a Pratt on his mother's side..." wry smile...

***

Ray having lived up to Dru's sensations...Actually wanting her to test a few lines and apparently, once John had gone to see to the filming schedule for tomorrow, as anxious to have her gone as she was to join her new clique of friends...All had gone rather delightfully well for one Dru Waverly, Paramount bit player...

She was rather touched to find Frances faithfully and nervously waiting for her just outside...Chatting up Edna in the office while keeping a careful watch in case of trouble...

Above and beyond the call of thrall, really...She patted her friend, smilingly assuring her that the director had really been a lamb once they'd be alone...Poor fellow must be desperate to diffuse any possible notions as to his inabilities with the ladies...A sensitive soul really...Who saw "possibilities" in her...

Indeed...She now couldn't help wondering if Joan was perhaps quite as nice as she'd assumed...Perhaps she'd deliberately humiliated the poor little fellow...

Still, a wonderful day and no need to mar it with another mysterious disappearance...

"We should get William to come...I'm sure he'd enjoy meeting the girls..." she noted as Frances drove them back... "I can't wait to tell him how well everything went..."

"I hope he had a bang-up day too..." Frances smiled...

"Not too bang-up..." Dru sighed, thinking of his planned meeting with the mysterious Margaret... "I'd hate to think we must find a new place...It's so jolly there..."

***

Pratt shook his head at Margaret's story as he, Will, and she sat at her parlor table, sipping tea and looking for Drusilla's and Frances' return...Will having insisted on inviting Pratt and Miss Sullivan out on the town with them all to celebrate his new position...

"Nothing but a little date checking once William told me about his family..." she insisted, eyeing Spike... "It sounded so much like what you've told me, Bill...I couldn't resist looking things up and there it was..." she pushed the old clipping forward... "Just thank my friend at the LA Times that he keeps files on all the major papers back to 1859..."

They all looked again... "The Times, London, March 16th, 1880...Strange disappearance of Cambridge student..." the article title read... "William Soames Walthrop, student, disappeared from London on March 13 of this year after leaving a party at the home of Sir Richard Trustlow Addams, MP...Police have been baffled by..."

"Aunt Annie's boy...Incredible..." Pratt sighed, looking up at Spike... "So you're Will Walthrop's son?...My dear God...What a thing...After all these years to finally learn what happened to the poor fellow..."

"Not that unusual, cousin Bill..." Spike smiled... "Dad left after poor Grandmum passed, thinking his career a failure and sure he'd shamed the family with his marriage to a street girl...It happens, you know..."

"Indeed..." Pratt shook his head... "Such a pity, though...He had promise, Cousin Amelia always said...She used to quote from some of his works, you know...Will?...Why didn't you ever contact the family in England?...It would have meant so much to her...And the others...We weren't badly off, you know...Despite my own failures..."

"I'd known nothing of the family till Margaret enlightened us, Bill...Amazing research skills, there, girl..." he smiled at her... "Just a few stories Dad told me before he passed on...Drink and bad company, plus Grandmother's consumption...He didn't last long...And I was rather young when Aunt Amelia..." he paused...

Amelia...He blinked a second...Amelia...Oh, my poor Amelia...Sister, light of my life...

The moment passed... "...Died in '22..."

"And your mother...?" Pratt eyed him...

"Cicely...Yes...A worthless trollop, Bill...Pretty enough but vicious and heartless...She killed Dad as much as the liquor and TB, abandoned me...I've no idea what became of her and hardly care...But, again...Such things happen..."

"Well, whatever she was...She produced a fine addition to the family..." Pratt raised his teacup...

"Pon my word..." he glanced at Margaret... "I believe someone has introduced spirits into my tea..."

"You need something to put some color in that face, Billy Pratt..." she frowned at him... "You're not a young man anymore and it's time you remembered that..."

"No work tomorrow, Maggie..." he smiled... "Day of rest...Though I may toddle over to Universal to see if my luck's running as well as my cousin's...Seems like Jamie Whale's in the right mood..."

"Just what is Whale considering for you, anyway?..." Spike asked... "Perhaps I could do my cousin a return favor and put in the good word if opportunity allows..."

"I'll not be one to refuse a helping hand, especially from family, Will..." Pratt grinned... "But...Jamie has sworn me to secrecy on this one..."

"Really..." Spike grinned back... "Well...Doctor...I shall do my best to refrain from prying...While looking for the chance to casually note that William Henry Pratt is a distinguished actor, known by everyone of consequence in England, and the best possible choice for any major part he might be considered for..."

"Doctor?..." Margaret perked up...Eyeing them both... "A medical role?...Pasteur?..."

"Cousin..." Pratt growled slightly, grinning...Waging finger... "Now see what you've done...I shall have no peace for weeks..."

"You will help him get it, William?..." she looked at Spike, pleading in her face... "He deserves it...There's no more dedicated actor in the world, let alone Hollywood..."

"Maggie...You'll make me ears flame, girl..." Pratt shook his head... "But Will, what does Whale have in mind for you?...Can you give us specifics...?"

"The project's just starting to jell...Quite a few scenes need fast work once they get the final go-ahead...As Laemmle says, time is money...And so, an opportunity for yours truly...If I can rise to the challenge..."

"He'll eat those words if Jamie heads the project...He's the best but he has a bit of von Stroheim in him...He'll take whatever time he needs to do the job right...A true artist...I admit I do hope I get the part..." Pratt sighed... "It would be a great thing to work with him in a solid role..."

"Be a great thing to have enough money in the bank to not have to dig ditches..." Margaret frowned...

"That's stopping as of today..." Will nodded... Pratt frowning...

"Bill...Family is family...My success is due to you...Mum...Well, at least Grandmum...Would have it no other way..."

Pratt put up a hand... "No, Will...I've nailed meself to the mast and must take what comes in the business...Thanks, but..."

"Strictly a loan, then...Come now, Bill...No actor worthy of his salt turns down a loan..." Spike grinned... "Just till Whale puts you on the roll permanently..."

"We've lost one artist in the family to the harshness of the world...Lets not lose another..." he said, surprising himself with his earnestness...

Margaret beaming...Her heart all in her radiant face as she mouthed a "Thanks" to Spike...

"We'll discuss it later..." Pratt frowned... "But I thank you, Will...And I will take you up on tonight's invite...So long as Maggie puts on her dancing shoes...?"

"I never take them off...You know that Billy Pratt..." she grinned...Pulling up the tablecloth to show what were indeed, very nice shoes, well suited to dancing...

"A date then..." Spike smiled...Eyeing Margaret...Slight nod...Which she returned...In the friendliest manner possible...

Ah...Well...He thought...

Just so long as no one in the Underworld ever hears I backed off a fight...A shame though...Would've been interesting to see what the lass has got...

But...Family is family...He smiled at his tablemates...

***

"Prattfall..."

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Normalverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, .com...

Summary: As you know I leave the "Pratt" to the Whedonverse, except for this one little bit...

In early 30's Hollywood Spike offers advice to a distant relative...

Part VII...

A jubilant Drusilla was only too happy to include Margaret Sullivan and William Pratt in their celebration...And rather to Spike's initial concern and shock, warmly hugged the new family member on learning the result of Margaret's research...

So wonderful...Just the perfect end to a perfect day...But did "Cousin Billy" have any suggestions as to how to handle tomorrow?...

Check the weather...And keep both parasol and suntan lotion handy...Both Spike and Margaret did not say...

The Cocoanut Grove nightclub at the Ambassador Hotel...Famed Hollywood hangout of stars Gloria Swanson, Mary Pickford, Joan Crawford, and, as Drusilla eagerly informed Spike in urging a change of venue from her new girlfriends' more modest recommendations, Charles Chaplin...

To which he happily agreed...Noting that it would neither hurt his and cousin Bill's reputation to be seen at Hollywood's hottest spot with a bevy of beautiful young actresses nor said actresses'...

The girls all rather pleased by the change of plans...Though Pratt was a bit concerned young Will might be letting caution out the window too quickly...

"Just one evening, Bill...And it is good for all of you to see and be seen..."

True enough...And proper attire...When one has friends at several studio costume suppliers...Not impossible to obtain...

Margaret's eager pleas deciding the matter...It would be so nice to have Bill seen among the in-crowd there...And of course young up-and-coming cousin Will, the writer...And good for the girls as well...

"And the career of one Margaret Sullivan..." Pratt had smiled... "Well, why not...But just this once till the first thousand a week comes in, Will...And be sure you can handle it...It's only a legend that actresses eat like birds..."

"We're flush enough for one blow-out..." Spike assured him... "Consider it an investment in the family's future..."

"Right enough..." Pratt nodded... "It really is the place most things get decided in this town..."

It being 1931 however, a brief stop was recommended by Pratt...At the cigar store/speakeasy...

Although alcohol could be made to flow at the CG and other famed locales despite current legal restrictions, the management generally preferred the lesser fry to bring their own...Concealed at least until the evening was well underway...

***

Having asked for "Mike" the "cousins" were ushered into a backroom...

"Well, well...Billy Pratt and friend...In tuxes, no less..." hard-faced stare by the said Mike...Rather a hulking fellow, Spike noted...

"Loan of a friend..." Pratt explained... "We're off to celebrate the arrival and success of a relative, my cousin Mr. Walthrop..." he indicated a Spike looking rather elegant in studio tux...

"...And would like to purchase a little lubricant for the occasion..." he finished with smile...

"Oh..." Mike gave a cold stare... "I think maybe we're out tonight..."

"Michael..." Pratt eyed him... "A man like you is never out...Unless he chooses to be..."

Hmmn...Spike eyed the said Mike narrowly... What's your beef, beefy?...Your kind don't cotton to vampires seeking booze...?

"I reserve the right to choose my customers, Billy...I don't like the looks of your cousin, here..." Mike, grimly...

"You're being rude to family, Michael...What've you got against my flesh and blood?..." Pratt asked, kindly but firmly...

"I've my reasons..." Mike, grimly...Icy stare to Spike...

Ah... "I do think we've met..." Spike smiled, coolly... "In Europe a few years back?..."

Pratt blinked...Hmmn?...

"So we did..." Mike glared... "And so you know why I should choose not to sell to the likes of you..."

Hmmn...Spike eyed the demon...Yes, the fellow D'Hoffryn had sent to hound him after the little father of those seven kids had demanded vengenance...

Last time we met you were on fire, friend...I'd think you'd prefer to avoid another round...

"Perhaps you and I could..."

"I'll handle this, Will...Michael...I would like two bottles of your best white wine, a bottle of Scotch, and two of champagne...The good stuff...Or I will be...Annoyed..." Pratt glared in deep growl...Moving on Mike coolly...Eyebrows tightening...Eyes fixed...

Whoa...Spike stared as Mike took a step back...

Not the hell bad...Especially for a mere human...

"Eh?...Michael...?" Pratt eyed him...Standing over him...Eyes burning in sockets...

Ummn...

"Sure, not a problem...I think I hear the truck coming in now..." Mike blinked at the menacing figure... "Just a mo, fellas...Sorry for the delay..." He backed away...And headed out the rear door...

"He's a bit anti-social at times, ole Mike...Don't give it any mind, Will..." Pratt smiled to Spike...

"That was very nice, cousin Bill..." Genuine admiration in Spike's voice...

"The looks come in handy at times..." Pratt grinned... "Ah, Michael..." he smiled as Mike returned bearing the desired product... "As efficient service as ever..."

Mike wiping face with handkerchief as Spike pulled out wallet... "Sure, Billy...Sorry for any misunderstanding..."

"Not at all..." Pratt beamed...

***

Cocoanut Grove ...

Dru's spirits mildly dampened by the failure of Mr. Chaplin to show...But quite raised again by the constant requests of photographers to snap a few shots of the elegant young actress and her friends at table...And the steady requests of visitors from out-of-town for autographs...

"You're on your way, kid..." the recently arrived Joan noted on witnessing the third request..

"Oh, they just think I must be someone..." Dru modestly noted...

"Well, you are..." Spike beamed at her... "You're Dru Waverly, Hollywood's newest star..."

"To Dru Waverly..." Frances raised glass...The others following suit...

"Now...Who's up for spinning me around?..." Margaret asked... "Will?...Billy needs to get his mug in a few photos...Take me around once or twice?..."

"By all means..." Spike rose, bowing slightly...Dru smiling briefly at them... "If you see Mr. Chaplin?..." she asked...

"We'll rope him and bring him over..." Margaret grinned...Tapping Spike on shoulder...Shall we?...

"And who's he?..." Dru returned to having Frances and the girls id the members of the elite of Hollywood present who might be of use to her acting career...

***

"So I take it our truce is on?...Despite our little rendezvous plans...?" Margaret asked...Lifting her gown with one arm to allow easier movement...

"My cousin's fond of you...Dru's never been happier...And I'm rather comfortable for the moment...If you can keep to your offer, I'm willing to keep to mine..." he noted...Taking position, raising arms...

They began moving across the floor...

"Quite so..." she nodded... "I would ask though that you refrain from any more corpses in the house...That boy is already starting to stink...At least to my heightened senses..."

"He'll be gone by early morn...Very early morn...Does he break our agreement?...He was Dru's...She didn't know..."

"I know...I saw her dragging him upstairs...I'm willing if there'll be no more..."

"And what proof do I have the Slayer isn't on her way...?" he asked...

"My word of honor..." Margaret beamed at him... "And my awareness that you'd kill Billy in a second for revenge even if you couldn't do me..."

"As I said...I'm fond of Billy...And he's family...But you're quite right, I will kill him in front of you if you're lying to me...Then you..."

"Then how wonderful we have reached a fair and equitable arrangement, William..." she smiled at him...

"You love him...Sincerely?..."

"Any sensible woman should...If she has the brains to look past a few hard features...And I've been briefly mated to a few far worse...When I was vamped and then governed by my demonic Slayer force...Involuntary relationships from my current point of view..."

They paused and smiled for a photographer...

"I should say...I believe that bit about frightening men...I noticed our waiter couldn't stand within two feet of you taking your order..."

"They rationalize it as natural nervous fear of an incredibly beautiful woman..." she noted... "Paralyzing shyness, that sort of thing..."

"Well, you are that..." he eyed her... "And you could settle...For cousin Billy...?"

"It's not that he's the only one...I care for him, Spike...You can see why...That damned beautiful soul of his...I want it with me...Always..." she whispered... "I'll be good to him, if he'll have me..."

"And therein lies the problem?..." Spike asked, turning her round and smiling at a passing couple...

"I think he cares for me...Don't you think so?..."

"As much as he can for any woman..."

She frowned... "Don't be that way...He is attracted to me...I know it...Maybe he's just too good for this sordid mating ritual...Too good for this miserable world...But he cares, I'm sure..."

"So?..."

"I told you I can't have children..." she eyed him... "And above all things in this world, Billy Pratt loves children...And wants them..."

Try to keep your demonic mind out of the gutter, vampire...This is your cousin, we're talking about...She hissed at Spike's smirk...

"Sorry...The dark side will out, love..." he apologized... "I know what you mean...And I believe it...But what about adoption?...There are a lot of kids minus parents who give a damn these days...Lie to him and after a few years..."

Though if you'd like to pick out a few you think Bill would like...I could arrange 'accidents'..." he noted...

She frowned... "He wants his own...And I won't lie to him...Or make him do it that way..."

"Well, then?..." Spike eyed her...They stopping as the music stopped...

"I don't know..." Margaret sighed... "I was hoping...Maybe...William?...If you could talk to him?...Find out if he could, honestly bear it?...Not having kids I mean..."

"And if he can't?..."

"I'll worship him from afar for all my life...Whatever time I have..."

He stared at her...She shrugged... "Haven't you ever loved like that, Will?...Drusilla?..."

"She's my siress...Our relationship is...Complicated..." he hesitated... "But you're describing a fantasy...Something from one of these things we're about to join in making...Not real life...That kind of love lasting through time is a fairy tale...Nonsense..."

"Then I believe in fairy tales...Sue me..." Margaret smiled... "Never, Will?...I'm sorry for you...I was thinking when you mentioned your "mother"...That Cicely...That perhaps she..."

"No...And I'd appreciate never hearing the name again..." he frowned... "But, Bill is an unusual case...He might just possibly tolerate your notions...Though speaking as I do for the family in this matter...I must say not being able to reproduce is a serious deficiency..."

She eyed him coolly...

"Just stating the natural concerns of a proper English family...Whatever the demon kicks in, besides...But..." he shrugged... "What the hell?...I'll ask him...When opportunity allows..."

"Thanks..."

"Don't mention it...You'd look good in the family photos...No possible cure for the infertility is there?...Something Dru and I could hunt down...As a family thing?..Wedding present, sort of...?."

"No...Nothing I or the Council know of..." she replied... "We'd better get back...I assume Drusilla's patience can only be tried so far..." faint smile...

"She's too busy learning the ins-and-outs of Hollywood..." Spike noted... "And watching for Mr. Chaplin..."

***

"Prattfall..."

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Normalverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, .com...

Summary: As you know I leave the "Pratt" to the Whedonverse, except for this one little bit...

In early 30's Hollywood Spike offers advice to a distant relative...

Part VIII...

At Pratt's, Margaret's, and Frances' mutual urgings the party was starting to break up at a relatively early hour...Busy days for all tomorrow...Pratt also being a bit concerned about cousin Will's wallet...

One shouldn't let a day's success go to one's head in these times...He noted...Though it had been a delightful time...And the ladies surely had deserved their night out...And their chance to hobnob with the creme dela creme...All of the ladies but Margaret...Even...To Spike's slight, through unjustified concern, given her excellent behavior...Drusilla having made the most of the opportunity to mingle...

Kate returning to explain she would not require a ride home in Frances' cab...Mr. Hughes, the dashing young aviator/producer, having offered her a lift...While Joan had already left word she was continuing the rounds at the Brown Derby with an old pal...Old and old money, the best possible combination, she'd noted...

" One Margaret being particularly deserving?..." Spike smiled as the two gentlemen rose to fetch the remaining ladies' coats...

"Always startles me that such a beautiful girl spends so much time at home...Frightens them off, it seems, the fellows...I suppose such beauty is hard to imagine falling into one's lap..." Pratt reflected as the coat-check girl stared at him a moment, rather unnerved by his brief, absent glance...But immediately relaxed at his warm smile and kindly nod...

"I think she could find herself falling into the lap of one Pratt..." Spike grinned... "If he were but to ask..."

Pratt eyed him... "I should think she'd be terrified at the notion...Kind a lass as she is..."

"Billy..." Spike frowned... "That girl is dying for you..."

And very nearly did...He did not say...

Pratt waved a hand... "A young girl with a kind heart can develop some fool romantic ideas when she's alone...Poor Margaret needs to get out and find a sharp young buck, not some old broken-down fellow barely clinging to the raft...A pity you're not available, Will..."

"You aren't interested, Billy...?" Spike asked as they accepted the ladies' coats from the girl...

"I've seen meself in the mirror, Will...And I read my bank statement each week..."

"She finds the view acceptable...And the bank statement will change soon enough...Unless, she's really not your type..."

"Margaret?...Lord, a man would have to be dead and buried for her not to be one's type...But I'd not cripple her chances like that...Indeed, I wish she'd not stayed at the table all evening...She should have been out being seen...I'm grateful you took her round Will...She's not pushing herself as she should...With her looks and that fine speaking voice, she ought to be queen of this town instead of hustling for bits with the rest of us..."

"She seems content, Bill...And I think she'd prefer your attention to that of Mr. Meyer or Laemmle..."

Pratt paused...Staring at him...

"If I had anything to offer her, Will...Lord knows I might be foolish enough to take my chances...Terrible as it would be to inflict me on a poor, foolishly sentimental girl..."

"She's not as simple and innocent as you see her, Billy...Not to suggest anything..." Spike noted quickly at Pratt's hard stare...Backing away involuntarily...

My God he's good...

"But her feelings aren't simply Little Neil or Esmerelda pitying the hunchback...She cares, Bill..."

Pratt pondered a moment, eyeing him sideways... "Spoken to you?..."

"A few times now..." nod...

Pratt shrugged... "Even if she weren't certifiable to find me palatable ..." rueful smile... "I still have nothing to offer...A life with bit parts and ditches dug till the ole back gives way...Not for her, Will...A girl with a real chance?...I couldn't be so cruel..."

"But if things work out, with Whale?..."

"It could make a difference...But there's no guarantee even if I get the part it will lead to anything...I've had hopes dashed before..."

"Well...Let me do what I can...And you keep your end up, cousin..." Spike patted Pratt's arm... "Perhaps the family Pratt-Walthrop can yet take this town by storm..."

They were nearing the table...Carole waving to them as she chatted up a chubby, bespectacled fellow in elegant suit now sitting between her and an equally bubbling, to Spike's startled look, Drusilla...Abigail to Dru's right, talking to a young fellow in suit with a familiar look to him, Spike noted, likewise having claimed a seat...Dru pausing momentarily to shift her attention to him...Dear God, it's Thalberg, Pratt hissed...

"As to romance..." Pratt glanced Dru's way with wan smile, shaking head as she gabbed away merrily to Hollywood's other two boy wonders... "You might watch your own missy, Will...This town can be hard on young love...Innocence gets lost fast..."

Frances, urged by Dru to enjoy herself...And eat a good dinner...Glided by them, dancing on the arm of a tall, strapping, rather large-eared fellow, she introduced briefly as "Clark"...

"Dru's been around enough to know the score...And I'd never stand in her way either...So long as she's not hurt..." Spike said, quietly...

"Two knights of the Table Pratt..." Margaret had risen and come to them...The chubby man chatting with Carole looking a bit relieved as she moved past him...As Dru explained her passion for the art of motion pictures to Thalberg, clearly a kindred spirit... "Back to guard us fair ones from the dragons?...Just in the nick of time..?"

"At your leave, milady..." Pratt bowed, handing her her coat...

"William!..." Dru called... "Come and meet Mr. Selznick and Mr. Thalberg...!"

Pratt having kindly agreed to handle the driving at Dru's request...She wishing to minutely analyze the encounter with two of Hollywood's titans with Frances as quickly as possible, he having drunk the least of the party, and Spike not being an experienced driver...Spike found himself in a rather surreal moment...On one side Margaret anxiously trying to get information as to his conversation with dear Billy regards his interest in her without actually mentioning the subject...Dear Billy being in easy earshot...On the other...Drusilla anxiously inquiring of her friend and thrallee as to whether the young man with large ears who'd paid attentions this evening had "honorable intensions"...

"An older woman...But he's getting out of it soon..." Frances explained eagerly... "Clark is such a nice guy, really very shy despite those looks..."

"He seemed so...But I did notice..."

"So did I..." Abby grinned...

"He's getting the choppers fixed..." Frances sighed... "They never show on camera and I don't mind 'em...Probably have to get a rack myself later on..."

"Pray he never forgets the denture cream before a shoot..." Abby chuckled...

"Well...Just so long as he treats you well..." Dru patted Francis... "Now...Do you really think we're ready for tomorrow?..."

"Just get a good night's sleep and bring something to read...It's liable to be a long day before they need us..." Frances smiled...

"Absolutely..." Abby agreed... "But bring something to pep you up in the afternoon...You don't wanna look worn out then...The studio big boys usually don't even show until 2pm...Up all night and don't have to worry about being up at 6...You might try these..." she pulled out a purse...

"Abby..." Frances frowned...

"Hey...Just caffeine tablets...I never take the hard stuff...But 2pm is when you wanna look like a million, Dru...Take my word for it, swallow a couple of these after lunch and rouge up those cheeks..."

"She's a point, Dru..." Frances nodded... "But if Joan offers you anything, no...She plays a little too rough with the stuff sometimes..."

"Heroin or cocaine...?" Dru asked...Smiling at the stares... "I have worked in English provincial theater a bit, girls...Not exactly a garden of innocence..."

***

Refusing Frances' polite offer to assist with the disposal of the little item left in the ladies' closet earlier that day...Spike was carefully lugging the carpet-wrapped body down the rear fire escape...

While pondering possible angles on the script notes he'd been given...What would really make audiences already used to the great Lon Chaney's creatures and the sensation of "Dracula" swoon in their seats...Short of setting Dru loose in theaters across the country...True, Whale was right...Dear imaginative, free-loving, opium-crazed Mrs. Shelley had left a potential horror gold mine behind her if the right vein could be tapped, the proper nerve ending electrified to howling glory...Everything was there to have the little humans dead in their seats if the story were presented in just the right fashion...

The Fates, Powers That Be, or Satan himself had truly connived to present William the Bloody with a project worthy of his unique artistic gifts...Honed to a fine edge by the diligent instruction of three of the world's leading mass murderers...

Even if one had gone all poncey on him...

"Need a hand?..." Margaret's casual, low-volume, yet startlingly clear, inquiry interrupted his train of thought...She stood on the escape on her floor...Standing eyeing him coolly, in pyjamas and wrapped in an old overcoat, having earlier returned her evening's finery to Pratt to return to his costume department pals at Universal...

"Ah, Margaret..." he nodded...Glancing at the floor entrance... "Sorry if I disturbed you, I thought I was being still as the grave..."

"I knew you'd be busy, besides I have hypersensitive hearing...And I didn't want Billy woken...Here, let me give you a hand..."

"Might be best if you weren't involved...Should the coppers by some mischance show...?"

"I'll scream and insist I thought my insane neighbor was just taking an old rug to the garbage..." she smiled, maintaining the casual air and low-volume crispness... "This will be the last, so long as we are friends...?" she eyed him...

"So long as we are friends...If it's humanly possible..." he smiled...She took up an end...

"Don't judge me too harshly, Will..." she breathed, a nervous smile...

He blinked...Glancing at the rather sodden carpet roll...

Me?...

"I mean your soul, Will...If and when we meet..." she whispered, firmly... "I'm only going along with this as nothing can be done for..." she glanced at the carpet... "...Lives are at stake...And...I'm a girl, more or less...In love and protecting my feller..."

"I should hope my soul will consider its own miserable failure to restrain me and be generous...Or I've have a talking-to with it..." he nodded...

"I know you can't help what you've become, Will...And I am sorry I can't help you..." she paused...They continued moving silently until they reached the ground exit, next to within he'd parked Frances' taxi...He eyed her...

"Suppose we leave poor tormented Will the soul in his grave lest you risk causing my well-honed instincts for self-preservation to kick in..." he said, carefully...

"Right..." she nodded... "Sorry...Had to mention it..."

"And soul-boy in Heaven or Limbo appreciates it I'm sure...But I'd recommend you ease your conscience in the local church of your choice, not in post-midnight conversation with a sadistic killer vampire...I mean that, Margaret..." he said, quietly, hard stare... "Dru's having a fine time and I like it here and I don't want to ruin things just yet...But don't assume my enjoying a pleasant few days, years, even decades means I've reformed or found the path of virtue...A friendly warning to a potential family member..."

"I know..." wan smile... "It's just...I have my instincts too, Will...But I'll leave it there..."

"Good..." he nodded... "Now I'll see our young friend here off with all due ceremony...Good night, Miss Sullivan, I truly enjoyed our evening and your company...Pleasant dreams..."

"Good night, William..."

God bless you and forgive me, my poor, poor darling...She did not say...

***

"Prattfall..."

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing..

Archived at the Normalverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, .com...

Summary: As you know I leave the "Pratt" to the Whedonverse, except for this one little bit...

In early 30's Hollywood Spike offers advice to a distant relative...

Part IX...

Day dawned...

Spike pleased to see...After chucking the damned, jangling alarm clock out of the window, that the forecast in the newspapers yesterday was confirmed...

Overcast, heavy chance of rain...

He tensed, looking out the open window in his rather stylish pyjamas and robe, at a sharp bang on his door...Repeated...

"William!..."

He relaxed...Dru's voice...Then blinked...

At 5:20?...

Ah, right...They're due at 6...

"We're leaving!..." her voice eager...

Well, mustn't let one's girl head off to a day's work without a...He blinked as he opened the door to find...No one...

She'd left?...He'd expected to have to get her out of bed after last night's frolics...

He peered down the stairs...She'd left at top speed, apparently...

Ah, the sound of a car...Frances, waiting for her down in the lot, undoubtedly...He moved back to the window and offered a sheepish wave to the departing cab...

Well...Best of luck, ole girl...He caught sight of a parasol sticking out of the cab window...

At least she remembered to "be prepared" as the Boy Scouts would say...Or dear Frances had...

He now regretted chucking the damned clock...He still had nearly two hours before he'd need to be up for his day at Universal...

Ah well, time to work the ole brain-pan and review the notes...He went to the room's small table where the sheath of notes, along with a few jottings of his own lay...

Hmmn...Brain-pan...Perhaps those brains should be in pans?...

No, the glass jars...Like in museums...And the shattering of the first would be a fine effect...

I wonder...He glanced at the notes for various scenes...Just what does Mr. Whale have for cousin Billy here?...Surely it must be Frankenstein himself...Henry the crazed doc who enjoys a spot of necrophilia...Well, at least it seems that way, giving his drooling over the various body parts...

Yes, could see Billy in those scenes...He'll be wonderful...Ranting and raving...Making the creature sympathetic by comparison as he rejoices in playin' God...

Interesting idea, this...Sew up the best parts and reanimate...Remember some fellow back in Yorkshire who was trying something similar...Demon cobbler who had an interest in science, wanted to bring his wife back?...No, his girlfriend, right...The wife very much alive and living off his savings after poisoning him and stabbing her in a jealous fit...But the little fellow bore no grudge, surprisingly...Even though the poison had had an unknown side effect...Magics contaminated, apparently...What had the little fellow gone on about that afternoon in the pub?...Ah, right...Galvani...Galvanic energy...The life force and all that...

He'd read "Frankenstein" too...Though ridiculous of course...Electricity not being an occult force, all you get is fried meat...

Hmmn...The resurrection...Shooting galvanic energy from a battery into the corpse...The audience would likely buy it, sure...But not exactly a big effect...A few shocks and jumps like a frog's twitching and the creature is up and talking?...Must be more we can do to make it spectacular...

A thunderbolt's crash and the sound of heavy rain reached him...Ah, wonderful...A perfect day for a vampire to begin her acting career...No chance of...

A lightening bolt crackling caught his attention...

Hmmn...Lightning...

Now there's electricity at her most grand...

Yes...Bolts of lightning striking a grand tower, the whole place trembling and lit up with energy...The creature violently pulled from its dead slumber by jolts of massive power right into huge electrodes...While cousin Billy, Dr. Frankenstein, rants and foams at the mouth, the mad doc scarier than any monster ever could be...

That's the ticket...

***

Dru, in gown, hair styled, seated in chair in dressing room, yawned as she looked up from her copy of "Screen Lives"...

A long article on John Gilbert politely suggesting the famed idol was a bit high-pitched, judging by his first screen performances in sound...Though sure to succeed with practice...

"He's dead in the water..." Frances noted, looking at the article from her seat next to Dru... "Meyer's been out to get him since they had a fight when Garbo jilted him...It's not the voice..."

"That's awful..." Dru looked at her friend, now looking quite regal in her own gown...

Really a lovely girl in the proper clothes and not chewing that awful gum...A habit quickly broken by Dru...

And the slight toning down of her spirit...Admirable as it was...By repeated blood drains and thrall not the worst thing...That slight air of fragility adding immensely to her charm...

"The way it works in this town...If he don't find one of the other boys who hates LB enough and will help him get out of his contract, he's probably through..."

"Too bad...I love Mr. Gilbert and Miss Garbo together...Are they ever going to call us?..." Dru looked at the clock hanging on the wall above a bank of dressing room mirrors at which a long line of young women were fixing their make-up with the guidance of numerous stylists...

"Maybe, maybe not...Depends on what they need..." Frances shook her head...

"Carole and Joan are out there...Why did they take them?..."

"God...The director in this case...Knows..." Frances shrugged... "They fit the scene...Like furniture...Don't fret, Dru...It may be better we're not called too early...You remember what I said about the big boys not showing till later...Just relax and be ready to shine..."

"Right..." Dru sighed...Leaning back in her chair, pouting a bit...

"If you're hungry, we could go to the ladies room?...:" Frances suggested in low voice, hesitantly

"Oh, no...I'm quite well..." Dru shook head... "And I wouldn't want to risk messing your lovely gown...Or leave you all pale and tired on a day like today, Fran..." she patted her...

Abby, in rather elegant dress, came over and took a seat by Frances, plopping down...

"Welcome to glamour central..." she noted wryly...

Watch that gown...A passing attendant frowned at her...Eyeing the others who briefly gave pleasant smiles, straightening up...

Hmmn...Nothing...They leaned back down...

Abby pulled out a small silver flask... "Hair of the dog that bit us last night?..." she offered to Frances who shook head...Then Dru...Who eyed it, then gratefully accepted...

"Watch it..." Frances frowned... "If they catch you or smell it...You're out unless you're sleeping with somebody pretty well connected..."

"Just suck a mint..." Abby offered Dru one, taking back the flask and quickly concealing it under her gown... "They'll never notice..."

"So long as you don't get potted..." Frances cautioned... "Don't press it, Abby...You've been kicked out before for drinking on the job..."

"Fine, fine...Just trying to make the day a little lighter...The thanks I get..." Abby retorted... "Say, Dru...Tell William thanks again for last night...That was the best time I've had in God knows...Not to mention the best dinner..."

"We'll do it again soon..." Dru nodded... "Assuming he don't blow the new job today..."

"God keep him wise..." Abby agreed... "Are you two going to get married?...I don't mean to pry but you seem pretty solid..."

"We've been together a long time...Maybe..." Dru shrugged... "Actually he hasn't asked..."

"That's bad..." Abby frowned... "But he did seem pretty much all yours...Exceptin' his dancing with Margaret he was like glue with you all night..."

"He's learnt his place..." Dru smiled... "And Margaret was just a piece of kindness...He's trying to fix her and his cousin up..."

Abby made a face... "No offense to family, Dru...But somehow...Margaret and Bill Pratt...I can't see it outside a movie...A movie where he's Dracula or got her tied up..."

"She likes him...There's no question on that..." Dru noted..."Though to be honest...I completely agree...Still, William wants to help..."

"Sounds like an offense against Nature...Again no offense intended, Dru...And Billy Pratt is a sweetie...But the thought of having him in my bed..." Abby blanched a little... "Whereas, Dracula can sink those fangs in Abby any ole time..."

Dru nodded pleasantly... "It's quite a thrilling experience...So I'm told..." she added hastily...

"Hope I'm not interruptin'..." they became aware of a grim, heavy-set woman glaring at them... "You two...If you're not too busy jawin'...Out on the set..." she waved at Dru and Frances...

***

Spike, meanwhile, a bit crestfallen to find Whale way ahead of him on the lightning idea...Though Whale had listened kindly...Pleased to see the kid had grasped the need for a grab-'em-by-the-balls approach...Not a genteel appeal to their sensibilities as some of the writers presented to him had suggested...

"Yes, we've got the whole scene laid out...A huge storm...Electrical apparati buzzing away everywhere...Bolts of artificial lightning all over the laboratory...It'll be terrific...Colossal...Leave the audience feeling they're the one who've been raised from the dead..." Whale beamed...Waving arms as he strode among the seated staff...

He paused... "But A for effort, lad...Exactly what we want and good to see you're on our wavelength...How about the university scene...The brains?..."

"I've filled out the scene..." Spike nodded... "And I think we should have the assistant panicked into dropping the first brain...Show him terrified to be in a room full of body parts...It's a medical university...Be a nice joke to see the fellow who'd just helped dig up a corpse getting the willies in a nice safe anatomy hall..."

"Excellent..." Whale beamed... "You've thought it out well...And we've got the man for the assistant...Renfield himself, Dwight Frye..."

General roar of approval...Spike joining in...

"Our main problem now is how the creature is to be played...We don't want the thing too sympathetic, yet it's not some mindless killer..."

"Mrs. Shelley does say he has a good command of the lingo..." a bespectacled chubby man noted...

"Yes, but we don't want a deformed poet or philosopher here...We're going with Johnny Balderston's adaption of the Webling play...The creature is an innocent, almost a child, really..."

"Except he kills people by the boatload..." the chubby man noted...

"If you do your job right he does, Garrett..." Whale nodded with smile...

"If an innocent, why bother with the 'criminal brain' nonsense...?" slight French accent from a distinguished-looking fellow...Bob Florey, the one who kindly lent him the notes yesterday, Spike noted...

"We need a reason for our boy going over the edge...A quick explanation the audience will buy...A deformed brain...The 'criminal' though..." Whale waged a finger... "There we get a chance to make the audience think a little...Is he a criminal?...Or simply a childlike mentality trapped in a mighty frame...Does he kill out of pure malice, for revenge?...Or...Has he got his reasons which we can use to hook them over to his side?..."

"No restraint..." Spike noted... "Can't help what he does...Particularly with the sort of family he finds himself in..."

"Exactly..." Whale, eagerly... "The father figure offers him nothing...His mother is Lightning...Or Nature if you like...A heartless bitch...He's raised to learn that no human being offers him any compassion or help..."

"So if I get the message..." another rose, one of the senior writers... "It's the good doctor who's the real villain of the piece..."

"The man who defies God and abandons his creation when things don't work out...You've got it..." Whale, nodding...

"Sounds like a film director..." Garrett noted to hoots...Whale giving mock frown, then smiling... "Exactly...A selfish tyrant bent on getting his own way, regardless of consequences...Should be easy for you to fill out, given the sterling example before you boys..." he grinned...

"So..." Florey spoke up... "Is it Clive?...Or are we going with someone else?...It would help to know...I mean we know it's Lugosi for the monster..."

Spike frowned slightly...Hmmn...Not looking good for cousin Bill...

"Colin's under consideration..." Whale nodded... "As for Lugosi...We'll see..."

"Well, it would help to know..." Garrett agreed...

"Just write the character...Let the actor fill the niches..." Whale shook his head... "The story's one of tragedy and a man's wild ambition exceeding his conscience and control...Focus on that and a proper dollop of thrills and chills and we'll have a blockbuster of a film...Oh, and young Walthrop...?"

"Sir...?"

"Give some thought to the romantic sequences...I suppose we must have them...Try some ideas centering around Elisabeth as a force pulling Frankenstein back to sanity after he's crossed over...A soul of steel, under the demure fiancee...She'd have to be to stay with this lunatic..." grin...

Ummn...Romance?...Spike blinked...

"Pass your ideas to Bob and put your heads together..."

"I was hoping we could kill her in the second half..." Florey grinned... "The Shelley novel does speak of a female creature and the monster killing the girl on the doc's wedding day..."

"I would love to, Bobbie..." Whale smiled... "But the censors will never allow it...Besides the film won't have time to fit a second creature in...And we've been over this...It would pull from the main impact of our creature...Diffuse attention..."

"Perhaps a sequel..." Spike suggested... "The girl gets croaked to help build monster two in part II..."

"It's something to think about, lad..." Whale agreed... "But lets focus on project one...And making our monster something that will put Browning's Dracula back in his coffin for good..."

***

"All right...Hold it..." the assistant director frowned at Dru...Holding a glass dainty in her hand...Eyes on the young man partnered with her...

"You're at your first ball...A handsome young buck has you on the floor...You're sipping...No, don't sip...Your first champagne...A young rich girl with her whole happy life before her...Right, not a thought in your pretty little head...That's it...Ok..."

She relaxed at his turning away...Rolling eyes a bit...

"You were fine..." the young man smiled... "A natural..."

"Thanks...Wish they thought so..." Dru frowned at the director and his bevy of assistant directors passing...

"It takes time...But you've got the looks and poise...I'm sure you'll make it..."

She nodded, smiling at the praise...

Not a bad-looking fellow at all, she noted...Eyeing the tall, slender man carefully...In fact, rather nice...Piercing eyes, wavy dark hair...And a rather confident air...Masking what she sensed as a rather shy nature...

"Dru Waverly..." she introduced herself...

"Cary Lockwood...At least until the studio makes up its mind..." the tall young man bowed slightly... "A compatriot, I hear..." smile...

"Midlands...And London..." she nodded...

***

A friendly promise to Florey to do his best brain-storming regarding the Elisabeth scenes as the meeting broke up and Spike found his moment as Whale paused to discuss some matters with chubby Garrett Fort...

"Mr. Whale?..." he caught Whale as Fort took his leave...

"Walthrop?...An inspiration regards our heroine?..."

"Well...Not yet, sir..."

"So...?" Whale eyed him... "Another matter...?"

"I was just wondering about the Frankenstein part, sir...Henry, I mean..."

"Please don't me tell you want the part..." Whale grinned... "Blonde is not how I visualize Henry...And yet I should hate to see you dye that lovely hair..."

Uh...Spike regarded the slight leer...

I suppose I should be flattered...Especially as the alternative means killing my boss...

Right, flattered...

"No, sir...But I was wondering if it hadn't been settled...Just that I had an idea or two..."

"A friend you'd like to put forward?...My boy..." Whale sighed... "You're in Hollywood now...You have no friends...Only those hoping to use you to get into the business...At least in your professional status...Well?..."

"Well, I understood he was actually already in contention...And I thought I might mention a scene idea that he would fit very well into..."

Whale sighed... "You're a good kid, Will...But frankly, between us...Things are settled...Though I can't say more just yet...However, run the scene by me...Perhaps we can use it..."

"I see...It was just he'd be so perfect...He's a marvelous pantomime actor...I was thinking of a scene in which Frankenstein reaches to the heavens just as the creature comes to life...First imploring, then demanding life for his creature...Like this..."

He raised hands in an appealing gesture, then a defiant one...

"Hmmn...Not bad..." Whale nodded... "We don't want to lose all gesture and emotional language..." he smiled...Shaking head...

"Of course..." he grinned... "Only one man can do that thing with his hands...It's Billy, isn't it?...Billy Pratt?...He showed you that..."

"Uh...Yes, sir...A good friend and a fine actor..."

"That he is...But not our doctor Frankenstein..." Whale eyed Spike...Smiling at the "young man's" downcast look...

"Don't despair for our Bill...I think he'll find he's wanted...But not another word..." Whale put fingers to his lips...

***

"Prattfall..."

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Normalverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, .com...

Summary: As you know I leave the "Pratt" to the Whedonverse, except for this one little bit...

In early 30's Hollywood Spike offers advice to a distant relative...

Part X...

"O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend

The brightest heaven of invention,

A kingdom for a stage... princes to act

And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!

Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,

Assume the port of Mars and at his heels,

Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire

Crouch for employment. But pardon..." sigh, hands lowered in rueful supplication...

"... and gentles all,

The flat unraised spirits that have dared

On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth

So great an object: can this cockpit hold

The vasty fields of France? or may we cram

Within this wooden O..." Hapless wave of hands...

"... the very casques

That did affright the air at Agincourt?

O, pardon! since a crooked figure may

Attest in little place a million;

And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,

On your imaginary forces work." Striding forward to the group watching...

"Suppose within the girdle of these walls

Are now confined two mighty monarchies,

Whose high upreared and abutting fronts

The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:

Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;

Into a thousand parts divide on man,

And make imaginary puissance;

Think when we talk of horses, that you see them

Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth;

For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,

Carry them here and there; jumping o'er times,

Turning the accomplishment of many years

Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,

Admit me Chorus to this history..." Beaming nod...

"Who, prologue-like your humble patience pray,

Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play!" Wide wave of arms...

"Bravo, Billy!" Margaret cheered...Spike, Dru, and Frances beaming and clapping...Dru turned to Spike...

"Your cousin is wonderful, William...Bravo, Mr. Pratt!..." Dru clapped again...

"A thousand thanks, gentles all..." Pratt bowed... "Lets hope the Hollywood Players' production of Henry V agrees..."

"When's the audition again?..." Margaret asked...Sipping on a glass of Scotch, from a bottle making the rounds, left from last-night's purchases...

"Thursday...Fortunate it was that I dropped by Universal today and met my ole chum Fred there..."

"What about Universal, Bill?..." Spike asked... "Any word out of the Sphinx?..."

"Patience..." Pratt smiled... "Though I have learnt it, it is a worn thing...Still, it wasn't no and this will be a wonderful thing if it comes off in the meantime...And what of our new literary figure and Hollywood's latest star, mates?...Tell us all..." he sat down by Dru...Patting her leg...

"Even I haven't heard the gist...Tell, Dru..." Spike agreed...

"We had ourselves a very nice day..." Dru beamed... "We both were called for some shots...And we are to return tomorrow...They may want us for the whole week..."

"Dru, that's very fine..." Pratt smiled up at her... "You're on your way, lass...We'll see your name in lights before the year's out..."

"This mean I'll be Mr. Drusilla Waverly...?" Spike grinned...

"Not unless you make an honest woman of me..." Dru, archly...

He paused...Staring at her...She staring back...

Ummn...

"Now, that would be fine..." Pratt kindly moving to fill what was developing into an awkward gap... "But there's no rush, children...Lets be sure our rise to Hollywood stardom is secure and then we'll see as to the matrimonial angle..."

"Just so long as I'm in that..." Margaret, teasingly...Pratt giving a reproving look...Maggie... "But how about a bit more from our Chorus?...Don't you have to get us to Mistress Quickly's, Southhamption, and France?..."

"And a job of it, too..." Pratt smiled...

"Pray continue, cousin Billy..." Dru leaned back... "We are all attention..."

Pat to a rather flummoxed Spike... "Now, now...As Billy says, time enough..." she whispered...

Careers...Marriage?...Spike thought...Blinking...

We just came to get Chaplin's autograph and now...Suddenly...I've gone from William the Bloody, sadistic killer, to a career man worrying about his job and hoping Hollywood won't turn his girl's head?...Making wedding plans...And with friends and supportive family at his side...

Somewhere I just know that bastard Angelus is laughing his head off...Whatever handwringing human-saving his soul-boy maybe up to...

***

It came...As all intuitive leaps do...To William at the least likely moment...After a pleasant dinner with the gang at Margaret's, followed by a quick dessert, courtesy dear Frances...While Dru practiced posing with Frances, he was in his room, pondering the character of Elisabeth, dutiful and loving fiancee of Henry Frankenstein...A woman who could fight the storms of her beloved's mad and frenzied ambition while still retaining her sweetness, grace and...

Right...

Talk about the wrong man for the job...He sighed...

Still...No reason a little darkness couldn't creep in there...Wasn't there a best friend in the picture...A rival for our lady's hand?...Perhaps something could be hinted at there...Bessie not quite so pure and innocent, guilt perhaps driving her character to atone for that bit of whoopie with dear ole Henry's staunch mate...Hmmn...

So...Amelia lived to 57...1922...All those years wondering about her fool brother...Well, best possible outcome, for her...Could only have gone one way, after all, had I looked her up...

She would have tried, if she'd known...And been killed, doubtless...Turned, very likely...Dru would've enjoyed it...Angelus?...Lord, he'd've kept her his playmate just to torment me as well as her...No, all worked out for the best...She kept her illusions about me to the end...Poor fool...

Innocent stupidity...Now there's a family trait...Mum, me...Amelia...Even cousin Billy...Especially cousin Billy... Never saw a man so full of the milk of human kindness and belief in his fellow mate's essential goodness...

And yet he could kill by surprising you in a dark alley...Or even by daylight when in grimace mode...

Innocence and...

Oh, my God...

That's it...Of course...He stared at his notes and script outline...Thumbing quickly...

My dear demon God, James Whale is a genius...Cousin Billy...He's the Creature, the Monster...An innocent, childlike soul trapped in a mad killer...Twisted to hate all the living by the harshness of his birth and reception in this world...Expressing everything in gestures and pantomime...Those marvelous hands...Those eyes appealing to you...Convincing you that this hideous Monster is more sinned against than sinning...

And he'll do it...No one in this world or the Underworld better suited...This will make him the biggest thing since...

Oh-oh...

Lugosi...

***

Any plans for the demise of the world's current master of horror were put on hold by a late delivery for which Dru required assistance...The delivery boys having a bit of trouble hauling her new icebox up to the second floor room she shared with Frances...

Icebox?...Spike pondered as he assisted the two delivery men, trying to seem to strain a bit...The latest thing, artificially refrigerated without need of an actual icebox...

True, poor Frances should have a steady fresh food supply to maintain her strength...But...

Oh...He realized...

This was to give poor Frances a little time off and extension on life...

Doubtless Dru had located a supply...A slaughterhouse or perhaps even a hospital with blood samples...

Of course, cold blood...Human or animal...Is an acquired taste...But there are some who prefer it...That French fellow who used to keep young women chilling in the stream near his estate?...Armand, was it?...But it does preserve it better...

And one can always warm it a bit before dinner...If one does it carefully...

With Dru's strong support, he'd persuaded Frances to take his room for the night...Rather than sleeping on the floor as the devoted friend and minion had offered...Dru being anxious to have him for the whole night tonight...She wanted to talk...

"Nice idea, that..." he nodded to the refrigerator in the corner... "What did you find to put in it?...Nothing in the way of more corpses...?" he asked... "We do have a deal with Margaret downstairs..."

"Cow's blood...There's a slaughterhouse in the next town that keeps it for laboratories...And a little human from a hospital laboratory near here..."

"That's lovely..." he nodded... "Blood on demand in the comfort of your home without the muss and fuss of corpse disposal...The modern world is turning out to suit us very well..."

"William..." Dru said, quietly... "Are you happy here?.."

"If you are, love...But as for myself I'm content for the moment...Are you...?"

"I think I would like to stay a while...My film career is going very well..."

He tried to repress a start...Film career?...

"A few people I've met think I have real potential..." she noted... "Though, of course, I must be patient and learn as much as I can..."

"Right..." he replied...

"And we have such nice friends here..." she noted... "You have family and you do like my friends?..."

"Lovely people all..."

"So?..."

"If you're happy here,, Dru...I'm happy..."

"Good..." she nodded...Nestling up to him...

"But it will out, in time, you know..." he said, hesitating..

She raised head to stare at him...

"The demonic, I mean...You can't keep the ole instinct to kill under wraps forever..." he noted... "It will break out over time..."

"I suppose..." she nodded... "But they say, if one sticks to animals, mostly...Things can be kept quite calm for a very long time..."

"Do they?..." he smiled...

"Some live among humans a very long time, quite peacefully..."

"I've heard it's possible...If one is of a peaceful disposition by nature"

"At least until I tire of the place...Is that all right?..."

"Again, dear heart...Up to you...I will do my damnedest to keep the pledge..." he nodded...

"Good..." she patted him... "Now as to that talk of marriage...I hope you know I'm not asking you to make any commitments just now...Cousin Billy is quite right, we should see how our careers progress..."

"Yes...We wouldn't want to rush into anything..." he nodded...

Though...In time...Once we've seen how things go and if we're in for the long haul here...

"Of course..." he nodded...

"That is, of course, providing we don't happen across anyone...Else..." she noted...

"Not me, that's for sure..." he smiled...

"Nor me, of course..." she hastily replied...

But this being Hollywood...She eyed him...

"Things can happen..." hard stare...

"Dru...You are free as a bird, you know that...If you wish to be..." he eyed her...

"Oh, no..." she insisted... "Nothing like that...I was just thinking that it might be that you never asking me might mean..."

"We've never needed a human scrap of paper ...But if you really wish to have one..."

She frowned...

"I'd never force you to it, Spike..." she rolled over...

Uh, boy...he sighed...

Blew it, didn't I?...

"Dru?...Would you do me the honor?..." he tried...

"We'll discuss it another time..." she replied, crossly...Without turning back to him...

He couldn't help being surprised at the sense of relief that filled him...

"You do know one must obtain a divorce before remarrying or the marriage is null and void...Bigamous..." she said...Coldly...Still not turning back to him...

Ummn...

Hardly think a marriage that lasted two days in 1880...He thought...

***

"Prattfall..."

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Normalverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, .com...

Summary: As you know I leave the "Pratt" to the Whedonverse, except for this one little bit...

In early 30's Hollywood Spike offers advice to a distant relative...

Part XI...

A nervous Frances knocked them awake at 4:30am...

Not only were she and Dru due in by six...The weather had taken a lamentable turn for the better...Partly cloudly...Despite the newspaper forecast of continued rain...

Best they went in as soon as possible...Should be easy to get in before dawn...

As for William...He was to work at home for the moment on his scenes...Just a matter of pulling shades and avoiding taking a stroll without protection...

Dru still a bit miffed at his poor response to her suggestions for their future happiness...Ignoring him as she gulped a little blood from her supply and urged Frances to a hearty if quick breakfast...Frances at least giving him a kind good-bye on their leaving for the day's work...

Hmmn...

Bigamous, she'd called it...?

The girl dead over fifty years now, according to that article in the Times he'd found...And she wants him to get a divorce...?

He'd doubt most would even consider him a widower...What was Dru about with that?...

One might almost think...

Lord...No...Tell me she didn't...

Tell me a vampiral Cicely is not going to walk...Well, request permission to walk...Through my door some night ...Demanding support to the lifestyle to which she once had been accustomed...

Dru's little long-delayed bad joke?...

No...

But if not...?

Well, nothing to be done about it until tonight...Unless the studio sends the girls home early...

Or Dru has a little loss of self-control...

He settled down to work a bit...

That idea about Elisabeth might just possibly be the key he needed...Give her a little edge, keep the audience guessing as to the nature of her relationship with nutcase fiancee and handsome best friend...

At seven-thirty, Margaret cheerily called up to him, inviting him to breakfast with her and Billy...

Who came out of his room at her call, quashing any possible hopes that things might have advanced between them that night...

He scarfed down a vial of blood from the refrigerator...Not bad cold at that...And headed down to join them, finding that Margaret had thoughtfully pulled down most of the shades...Just leaving a couple to let in a little light, well away from her dining room and the passage leading to it...

"I hope you gents can finish up without my presence..." Margaret noted as they drank coffee... "I'm off to RKO today..."

"Maggie?..." Pratt beamed... "Something solid?..."

"We'll see..." she smiled, rising and reaching for a coat which Spike rose to help her with... "I've been waiting to hear and they left a message with Phil last night...If you're going to be in, would you rinse up, Bill?..."

"Absolutely...Fortunately dishwashing being another among my list of useful trades..." he waved his teacup...

"Just don't break my good china...Toodles, boys...Wish me luck..." she moved to Pratt...

"All the best, dear..." Pratt put a hand on her arm...She sighed and kissed his cheek...

"What am I going to do with you, William Pratt...?" she sighed... "A good day at the writing grindstone, Mr. W..." she smiled to Spike, who lifted teacup to her, as she headed out...

"Quite a girl..." Spike smiled after her...

"Yes..." Pratt shook his head... "Well...Lets hope they deal kindly with her...Else I must make good...Seems I'm not to be let out of this..." he eyed Spike ruefully, nodding after her...

"Nor do I want to be...To be honest..." wry smile...

"Then you must make good, cousin..." Spike smiled... "And we must see a certain Mr. Lugosi decides against another major monster role so soon after his last success..."

"Will..." Pratt growled...

"Process of elimination, cousin Bill...Whale all but told me yesterday when he confirmed it wasn't Frankenstein, MD you were up for...You're the right man for this, Bill...The only possible choice..." Spike insisted... "Anyone else will make it a caricature...You'll make this poor thing live...In a manner of speaking..."

"In a manner of non-speaking, most likely..." Pratt gave a wry smile, relenting... "Jamie's made it clear the Monster will not be much of a talker..."

"All the more reason you must do it, Bill...No one else can match your pantomime...If Lugosi does it, the Monster will be a monster, small m...Unless it starts talking about 'the ruined battlements of its castle in Twansylawania'..." wry grin...

"Lugosi's the man of the hour in this line..." Pratt shrugged... "If he takes the part..."

"But Whale doesn't want him, does he?..." Spike noted, shrewdly... "It's the studio, trying to follow up on 'Dracula'..."

"There's drawing power in a proven name...Bill Pratt is an unknown commodity..." Pratt noted... "This is a business, after all, Will...Not merely an artistic endeavor...They have a lot of people depending on the success of this thing..."

"Lugosi could make it pass...Maybe...You will make it Immortal..."

"I appreciate the faith, cousin..." warm smile... "And if I get the chance, I will try to make it so..."

"Well, you now have one operative embedded in the belly of the beastie, Bill...We'll put this over, I promise you..." Spike nodded... He raised his teacup... "Cousin, I give you...The Monster...!"

***

Paramount lot dressing room...

"Simple blackmail..." Joan cheerily explained to the girls...Dru, Abby, Carole, and Frances as to how she'd managed to get back into the line-up the other day... "I tole John, Ray's assistant I'd spread it from here to Timbuktu that Ray was as big a fairy as Tinker Bell if he cut me out...And that I could back it up with the testimony of several nice young men I happen to know...Upon whom Ray has bestowed mucho favors..."

"I'm amazed Ray worries so much...He's hardly the only gay assistant director in this town..." Abby noted...

Carole a bit pensive...

Gee, we did have a nice time that night out...Ok, no fireworks but he was so funny...She frowned at Joan, who deigned not to notice...

"Well, in any case, he caved and here I am..." Joan noted...Powdering her face briefly...

"Just don't louse it up for the rest of us..." Carole growled... Now, darling...Joan patted her...

"Hey, lover-boy..." she winked at Ray as he and John entered...

"Don't press it, Joan..." John frowned at her...Oooh...She pouted... "That's sweet of you to rush to the defense of your...Boss..." she grinned...

"Joan...You're here cause I can use you...Get out on the set..." Ray frowned at her... "Carole, you and Fran too...I'd like to talk to Miss Waverly a moment..."

"Ummn..." Abby perked up, bright smile... "Anything for me?..."

"Probably later...Sit tight, honey..." Ray nodded... "Dru?..."

Dru eyed Frances and the others...Frances winking, holding up crossed fingers as she rose to follow Joan and Carole after John...

"Dru?...You think you could handle a couple of lines in the next scene?..." Ray eyed her...Abby and several other girls staring...

"I...Think so, sir..." Dru blinked...

"Good...It's nothing too big...They're easy...John will go over them with you in a minute..."

"Thank you..." she breathed...

"Just be natural...Don't worry...We're all here to help..." Ray nodded kindly, patting her...He turned and head for the set entrance...

"Attagirl, Dru!..." Abby beamed... "You'll blow 'em up...And burn through the film...!"

"I hope so...Within limits..." Dru said, paling a bit...

***

All right...Spike thought...Sitting at his writing desk...

Murder is the option of last resort here...Hard as that may be to accept...Not only would the sudden and brutally violent death of Bela Lugosi would be a bit more likely to attract unwanted attention...It would be sure to halt production on the lot for weeks...Suspicion might even fall on cousin Bill...

Normally, not the worst outcome for me, to let an innocent suffer for my crimes...But...

Family is family...And besides, we're talking about one of the world great, if not yet recognized, artists...

And, truth to tell...Lugosi in his way is likewise an artist...Would be a shame to cut his career short...And he finally bringing a little dignity to our people, it would hardly be the proper way to repay him...

Surely William the Bloody...And whatever is left of William Soames Walthrop, poet, in me...Can come up with a way to more or less non-violently persuade the current king of horror that playing a non-verbal killing machine is not the right next step for his career...

Hmmn... Pity Dru is tied up this week...She can be very persuasive...

Assuming I could get her to face Mr. Lugosi...She wouldn't come out of the covers all night after seeing "Dracula"...

Well, a possible back-up plan...For now, lets put the 70-plus year old brain of yours truly on the case...

Though?...He pondered...

Since it is clear Mr. Whale and some of the boys loath the thought of Lugosi and fear his entry to the project will transform the creature at its heart completely...Since dear Bela is sure to demand lines...Lines spoken in a Hungarian accent...

And since my initial effort at least is strictly a non-violent one...I have to stop reading about that Gandhi fellow after this...Perhaps more than one superior vampiral brain could be employed in this effort...?

***

"Prattfall..."

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Normalverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, .com...

Summary: As you know I leave the "Pratt" to the Whedonverse, except for this one little bit...

In early 30's Hollywood Spike offers advice to a distant relative...

Part XII...

"You know darling..." arch tone...Airy wave of hand… "A man like that has got to be of some use. Just stick him with the rest of the plotted..."

"Potted..." John corrected...Stepping aside to let several workmen pass with a piece of scenery...

"Sorry, yes...Stupid...Potted plants..." Dru continued...Smoothing gown nervously...

"Ok, try it through once more...A little more slowly, a bit lighter...You're teasing, maybe just a bit maliciously...And look just a bit up and over my way..."

"Right...'You know...Darling...'" smirk...Incline of head…Wave of hand… " 'A man like that has got...to be of some...Use...Just stick him with the rest of the potted plants..."

"Very good..." John nodded...

"Really?..." Dru, eagerly...

"Just keep it light and bright, teasing...You've got it down..."

"I preferred the 'plotted' myself..." her partner of the other day's shooting and the focus of the remark, Cary Lockwood smiled at her...Resplendent in his tux...

"I'll pass that on to the writers..." John, dryly... "Ok, Dru...Just keep practicing and we'll get to you in a few..."

"Yes, thank you... 'potted...potted...potted plants'..." Dru repeated... " 'Just stick him with the rest of the potted plants.'"

She threw a look up...Arch expression...

"Now, don't throw the ole neck out, girl..." Cary grinned at her... "Really, you'll do fine..."

"He's right, Dru..." Frances had moved over her way... "You'll be aces..."

"Oh, I can't wait till it's over..." Dru sighed... "This is terrifying..."

"Deep breath..." Cary commanded... "Relax...It's just two lines and you've got them down perfectly and if you muck them, we just do it again...Don't fret..."

"Ignore him..." Ray had stopped in passing...Cloud of assistants and staff about him, several scurrying on as he and the rest paused by Dru… "Fret and get it right the first time..."

"That's the kind of support we need..." Cary, mock frown... "No wonder we love working with you, Raymond..." Ray gave mock glare, continued on...His train of attendants following…

"Don't scare her..." Carole had joined them... "Dru, Cary's right...You'll be fine..."

"Places..." John hurried by...

"This is it, kid..." Cary hissed to Dru... "Just remember me when they hand you that Oscar...I'll be the guy ushering you to your seat..." grin...

"...'A man like that has got to be of some use. Just stick with the...' Lord!..." Dru sighed...Hand on forehead...

Just relax…Deep breath as Mr. Lockwood says…We can do this…

God, evading a lynch mob of angry peasants is a day in the park compared to this…

"Don't touch the make-up, girlie..." a passing stylist making last checks and touch-ups, frowned at her as she rubbed her cheek nervously…

Well, at least she doesn't need powder...Quite pale enough...

"Right, yes, sorry..." Dru nodded...

"And remember those 'plotted plonts'..." Cary called from his spot...Frances glaring at him from hers...

***

A call to Bob Florey from Phil, the house manager's phone, had produced the desired result of an afternoon meeting in a nearby watering hole not generally favored by the Universal crowd...Spike explaining that what he wanted to discuss with Florey and the other head writer, Garrett Fort, might not be quite something suitable for the studio office...

Seated in comfortable booth, the day's cloud cover having permitted fairly easy travel, he got to the point immediately, eyeing his human superiors...

At least for this project...

"Look...I know Lugosi is up for the part of the Monster..." he began... "And I know neither you boys nor Jimmy Whale wants him murdering the part with accented lines..."

Florey, elegant in trim suit, eyed Fort, rumpled in much worn jacket...Both eyed Spike...

"I also know a friend of mine, Billy Pratt, is Whale's real choice...And that he's perfect for the part..."

"Maybe..." Fort nodded after a pause... "Maybe not...But you oughta know kid, the best man for the job is whoever the studio says he is..."

"We can't let Lugosi ruin this project..." Spike shook his head... "This film has the potential to be a classic...One for the ages...If Lugosi gets it and demands lines, the monster will be a joke...Dracula in a bad suit with green skin and scars...Or at best, a pale shadow of what it could be..."

"The kid has passion, eh?..." Fort grinned to Florey who smiled...

"Kid...If I tole you the number of 'classic' projects I've worked on in this business that went down the tubes because some suit decided to put his girl or his buddy into the lead...Or decided to do his own rewriting..." Fort shook his head... "And I for one don't intend to put my head on the chopping block for Art...I've done with the role of starving artist, thanks…"

"No one has to go to the guillotine for this..." Spike insisted... "We just have to get Lugosi convinced that this is not for him...It's not his cup of tea anyway, after all...We just have to make him see that..."

"What he'll see is that if he don't do this, he's got competition for Chaney's empty seat as King of Horror..." Fort noted...

"But does he want to be Chaney?...He's a stage actor, after all...He wants to be a leading man, not buried in make-up for the rest of his career...And grunting what lines he gets..."

Florey eyed Fort...Kid has a point...

"So?...How would we...Without risking substituting the breadline for the studio cafeteria line..."

Florey grinned... "Persuade dear Bela that the Monster is not a suitable career move for him...As well as get the studio to accept that...'Cause whatever dear Bela may wish, in the end, it's our boy genius Laemmle who'll decide..."

"I'm not sure..." Spike admitted... "Which is why I've brought my bosses into this...Three writing brains being better than one, at least in a case like this...Look, I'm willing to be the fall guy if things go south..."

"And you will be..." Fort nodded...Grinning at Florey... "If things go south...Though next time, kid..." smile... "Don't be so quick to put your head on the pike..."

"You've been considering the matter..." Spike eyed him...

"We've contemplated the sit...With suitably cautious gravitas..." Fort nodded... "And as a matter of fact, we do have an idea or two...Which might require a young hero to put his neck on the line, if you're so inclined..."

"For Art..." and Family, he did not say... "Anything..."

"Ah, youth..." Fort chuckled... "Bob?..." he turned to Florey...

"Should you fail, gallant boy, remember to fall on your sword and say nothing of us, your somewhat less gallant comrades..." Florey grinned... "One for all and all for Art...!" he raised his glass...

"For Art..." Spike raised glass...

"And a smash hit that keeps us able to raise a glass or two..." Fort added...

"I won't say no..." Spike smiled...

***

"Vitamin supplement…" Dru explained to Carole's eyeing of the amber-colored medicine bottle Dru had swallowed from as she sat with the girls and a rather charming Mr. Lockwood at lunch… "I'm a bit anemic…"

"So am I…" Joan grinned… "But I prefer it in the arm…" she patted her purse…

"Jesus, Joan…" Abby frowned… "You wanna get us all canned?...Get rid of it…"

"Don't be a prude…" Joan frowned… "Nobody cares…And it's just a pick-me-up…"

"Get it out of here, Joan…" Carole glared… "God, I swear I'll tell Ray or someone higher…I'm not gonna be screwed out of a job cause you wanna get high…We're trying to work here…"

"The little minx here brings her stuff in a medicine bottle, I got mine in a medical syringe…Why don't we give our fair English girl the third degree?...Hand it over, dearie…" Joan reached for the bottle…

"Joan, knock it off…" Frances glared…Dru frowning as Joan grabbed at her bag…

"Don't do that, Joan…" Dru eyed her tablemate with an icy look…Joan instinctively backing off, pulling arm back…

"It's not alcohol, I promise you…" Dru noted…

"Joanie…Be a good girl and pipe down…" Cary addressed her sternly… "And the girls are right…Get that stuff out of here before you're caught…"

Joan rose with frown…Though avoiding Dru's cool look… "The girl knows when she's not wanted…" she sauntered off…

Cary rose and followed her, taking her arm which she pulled away, continuing with her out the door of the cafeteria…

"There is one train wreck waiting to happen…" Carole shook her head… "Hope Cary can talk some sense into her…"

"You all right?..." Frances asked Dru, look of intense concern…

"Certainly…It's a shame…" solemn nod… "Such a pretty girl to abuse herself like that…"

"She's been on that road a while…" Abby frowned… "Sometimes you just have to stand back and give em their head and watch out for yourself…She'll drag us all down with her if we're not careful…"

"She's off my list as far as I'm concerned…" Frances nodded…

"I should speak to her…" Dru said, quietly… "I sometimes have a way with such people…It's a tragedy she should lose herself like this…"

"Well, you're a good friend…" Abby nodded, smiling… "But I'd be careful…Joanie has a rep for taking offense easy and doing dirt if she wants to get you… Sharp claws…And fangs…And some dangerous people for friends, including one guy she sees who's an out-and-out gangster... "

"Really?..." Dru smiled serenely… "Well, I shall take care…But one does want to help if one can…"

***

There being no time like the present...And armed with the top-secret knowledge from his superiors of Lugosi being due to be present for a test involving make-up...Spike had made his way to Universal despite a worrying decrease in the day's cloud cover...

Hope dear Dru doesn't forget to keep an eye on the weather...

...Where he planned to set in motion the first step of the plan Florey and Fort had suggested...

Rather worthy of its own movie...Or at least a stage play...Spike had thought, approvingly, on hearing...

They really had been putting their heads together on this one...Not a bad script, really, should circumstances ever allow it to see light of day...He carefully emerged from the cab at the disappearance of the sun behind a bank of dark clouds...

And here I am, leading Unman in this bit of derring-do...

He headed into the office Florey had described to him, near the shooting sets..The secretary at desk...A rather lovely and rather passionate friend of the elegant Florey...Nodded to him at the mention of his name...

"Ok, go on in...Down the hall, turn right, third room..." she said... "But if this goes South..." she frowned...

"They will have to kill me and raise me from the dead as something foul and evil before I'd even consider giving you away..." he smiled boyishly...She returned the smile...

He entered the hall...All quiet...

"I am...Drakula...Und I bid you..." he smiled at the bare walls, moving down...

Confidence, Walthrop...He told himself...Both Florey and Fort are backing you up on this work...A collaborative effort unlike your past artistic failures...

He knocked at the door the secretary had indicated...

"Mr. Lugosi?...Sir...Walthrop, William Soames from Mr. Whale's office..."

"Damnit!...Ahhhh...Come in..." loud voice...

He opened the door carefully...A loud creak...Hmmn...

What, no mysterious coach with no driver?...he grinned, opening...

On the other hand...Where were the make up staff...?

"You got my chicken sandwich and coffee?..." an unmistakable, accented voice addressed him...

"""

Back from lunch, the girls awaited their call in their dressing room...

"Joan...?" Dru touched the girl's left arm as she passed...Joan seeming a tad wobbly...

Doubtless she'd decided on that little pick-me-up for dessert...

"I'd like a word...Could we talk a...?..." Dru blinked as Joan turned away and strode off...Completely and quite deliberately ignoring her...

Hmmn...She followed her workmate into the outer hall and then into the ladies room...Assuring Frances in passing that, no, there was no need of any help...

She was very sure Joan wouldn't want to be a bother to them after they'd had a few minutes together...

The toilet stall door flew open...Breaking the lock but was stopped by a firm hand before it could slam against the other side...

"Hey!..." Joan glared up... "Occupied!..." She stared at Dru, in costume for the afternoon's work, staring back at her, serene smile on her face...

Jesus, Mary, and...she blinked...

"Joan, dear..." Dru smiled... "I said that I would like a word..."

Joan's large eyes...Her greatest asset in her work apart from her breezy manner which several directors...At various times, not all work-related situations...Had assured her would "click" with audiences once the right vehicle was found for her...Bulged a bit...

Helped in doing so no doubt by Dru's strangely gentle yet strangling hand now round her throat...Lifting her to a standing position...

"Don't be afraid, Joan...Be in my eyes, sweetheart...That's right...You're not afraid of your good friend, Drusilla..."

Joan quieted...Her eyes calmed, lids drooping...

"Good girl..." Dru nodded, relaxing her grip... "Now Joan, normally I might be inclined to a rather quick resolution of a matter like this...But you see, for the first time in quite a long time, I have work of my own...A career...Perhaps a considerable bit different from the one I'd once intended to have...But one where scandal can be at times almost as damaging...Since, naturally, I don't want problems or scandals complicating my career, just as I'm getting starting I think we'll try another way here...One that works out quite well for us both...Are you listening, Joan?..."

"Yes..." Joan whispered...

"That's fine...Now, poor dear, you are ruining your health and your career with reckless behavior, Joan...And while I don't like to interfere in other peoples' lives, the scandal of your self-destructiveness could cause serious trouble for our current production, our studio, and all our careers...That cannot happen, dear...It won't happen...Will it, Joan?..."

"No..." Joan said softly, staring...

"I know an addiction such as yours can be quite difficult to break so being a friend and for the sake of all our friends as well as myself and you...I'm going to help you and make it very easy for you...Tell me you are glad for that Joan..."

"I'm glad for that..." Joan whispered...

"It's nothing, dear...Just what I'd do for any good friend...Now...I'm just going to make it easy for you and then after work you'll go home and dispose of anything you have there and you will never need it or want it again...And we'll be very good friends for the rest of my time here in Hollywood...Which..." Dru shrugged... "Might be a very long time, if all goes well...Tell me that pleases you, Joan..."

"It pleases me..."

"'Drusilla'...Lets be on a first name basis, darling...'It pleases me, Drusilla'..."

"It pleases me Drusilla..." Joan repeated, flatly...

"I'm glad..." Dru patted her arm... "Now please...Just open your dress so that I can help you and no one will see to wonder at the marks...Not even a boyfriend once they heal up, they'll be that hard to spy..."

Joan stared...

"What, dear?..."

"I don't..." slight agitation... "I'm afraid..." she breathed, trembling...

"No..." Dru soothed... "No...I won't hurt...Much...And you won't die...Unless and until I need you to...Now, please..." she indicated the shoulder button of Joan's dress...

"Nothing kinky?..." Joan asked, hand on buttons... "I really don't like the kinky stuff..."

Dru blinked at her... "Sweetheart, I'm only going to suck your blood...I'm not into that sort of thing either..."

***

 

"Prattfall..."

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Normalverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, .com...

Summary: As you know I leave the "Pratt" to the Whedonverse, except for this one little bit...

In early 30's Hollywood Spike offers advice to a distant relative...

Part XIII...

Spike carefully explained to an exasperated...How the hell long are these people going to be with this crap, it's hot with this muck in here?...but by nature courteous Lugosi that no, in fact, he was not a studio messenger boy fetching him his long-delayed lunch but in fact a staff writer of Mr. Whale's bringing him some notes on the character he was being considered for...The Frankenstein Creature...

"I see..." Lugosi in chair with hairnet on, stared at the slight blonde man... "Well...Very kind of Mr. Whale..." he noted, nodding as he took the folder Spike offered... "It's rare I get to actually see a project in detail before I'm told I'm in...Thank him for me...And could you possibly take a look in the hall and see if the idiots working on me and this muck..." he indicated what appeared to be plaster or some such material, smeared on his face and partially on the hairnet...

"Glad to, sir..." Spike nodded... "And I'll try to get a call through to the studio cafeteria on that sandwich..." he went over to the door... Peering out...

Three men and a middle-aged woman hurrying his way...One of the men and the woman looking rather harassed and in workaday clothes...The makeup people, no doubt...Two beefy men in suits looking midway between harassed and harassing...Studio execs, mid-level, he thought...

Say, I'm becoming quite up on this place...Getting all the nuances and character types down...He thought, smiling inwardly while putting a non-committal, easily switched from nonchalance to groveling servitude, expression on his face...

The male stylist mopping brow...The female sighing...

Ah...Spike thought...So...

Things not going so well regards the magic of movie makeup?...

Excellent...

"Say?..." he called... "Are any of you helping Mr. Lugosi?...He's asked me to find someone to help him with his make-up..."

The two execs stopped in their tracks and eyed hm, suspiciously...

"Just who the hell are you?..." the taller of the two execs glared at him...The other eyeing him narrowly...The two makeup artists looked him over as well, but with no attempt to seem immediately intimidating...

"Assistant writer, Mr. Whale's team...William Soa..."

"Yeah, yeah...Tell Bela we'll take care of it, just to sit tight..." one of the execs frowned at him...

"Yeah, we'll take care of it..." the other exec, a chubbier, shorter clone of the first nodded...

They paused at the door and after a nervous mutual glance inside to see Lugosi on his chair, muttering in Hungarian...Pulled back for a conference with the two makeup people...

"Right..." Spike nodded pleasantly at the group...

They'll take care of it...

Oh, this is going to be a lot easier than we ever thought possible...

"Mr. Lugosi?..." he stepped back inside...

***

"Ok, folks..." A weary Ray eyed his cast from his post next to one of the cameras, John looking sourly by his side at several actors and extras... "It's been a long, grueling day, I know...You've been at it a long time...But we're almost there for the day and if we can just manage to stay on our feet a bit longer, we're done...So, everybody...Light and bright, this is a party...Great...Action..."

"Scene twelve, take fifteen..." clap of clapperboard...

Lockwood in tux sauntered briskly across the set, the ornate ballroom of a fairy-tale grandiose mansion...Several lovely young women in gowns, including Abigail and Joan turning from their partners to look at him as he passed...Behind them, Carole on cue smiling at him as her partner, a young, blond-haired fellow in tux frowned at her...Frances, seated on small sofa with male partner, likewise turning to look at the passing Cary...Dru, standing by the leading lady, who, affecting a shy and nervous manner, requested her suggestion of what to do "faced with a man like that", indicating the gallant but cynical charmer swaggering past...

"You know, darling..." airy wave of hand...Mocking smile...

Ummn...Dru froze, blinking at the camera...

Ummn...

"A man like that..." her partner hissed angrily...Ray sighing...

"A man like that has got to be of some use...Just stick him with the rest of the potted plants..." Dru finished...Gulping at end...

"Cut..." Ray rubbed his forehead...Looking at John... "Can we use that?..."

"We can squeak by with it..." John nodded, frowning at Dru...Who looked a bit paler than she'd ever looked before...And rather wilted...

"Great...That's a wrap...Thank you, people..." Ray called...

"I'm very sorry..." Dru gulped...The leading lady, a blonde, sighed... "It's fine...We're all tired...It'll pass..." she turned and strode off to where Ray was engaged in conversation with John and several assistants...

"You were fine, Dru..." Frances had hurried over... "You were great, kiddo..." Abby patted her... "Tops..." Carole agreed...

Hmmn...Dru looked where their star was talking rather stridently to Raymond and others, including that rarely seen eminence from beyond, the director...Who'd stopped by to see how the minor bits featuring their star were doing...The director frowning now...

Oh-oh...

"I'm sorry, Dru..." Joan, having made her way over to her, eyed her a bit wanly, offering a weary pat on the arm... "I'm sure you'll do better with practice..."

The others stared at her...

Joan...Carole frowned...

Dru regarded the honest voice of newly imposed thrall...Frances having had a few days to adjust and adapt her condition into a mix of submission and adoring friendship...Oh, my...

I sucked...

"I was terrible..." she sighed...

"Not at all, girl..." Cary had come over, ignoring the call of his leading...And at least for the moment, in terms of star power, definitely leading, lady to join her and the big wigs clustering round her now... "You were fine, just a bit stiff on that last shot...Long day..."

"Really?..." she looked at him, a bit hopeful...

"Really..." he nodded...

Oh...

And beautiful eyes like that could never lie...Could they?...

Frances was fuming at Joan who merely stared at her, exhaustedly...

"That was a lousy thing to say...!"

The others ready to join in...

"No, no... !" Dru called...Nodding to Joan who cast a wanly nervous glance at her...

Did I do wrong?...

"She's just telling the truth...Don't be kind...I need to know..."

"Well, I'm telling you the truth..." Cary said firmly... "And I say you were good, you just got tired at the end of fifteen takes of one scene...It happens, you'll be fine...Just come back tomorrow and don't worry yourself exhausted..."

Dru eyed him...

Well...That is a hell of a sincere look...

"You are one marvelous actor, Mr. Lockwood..." she smiled...

"Dru..." sigh... "My girl, ninety percent of this business is how willing you are to work hard and come back the next day no matter what...Now if you have that kind of stick-to-it-tiveness, you'll be fine..." he replied...Hard stare...

"And you are good..." Abby noted...Carole nodding...

"I didn't mean anything bad..." Joan noted... "Please don't be angry with me, Dru...I want to be your friend..." Vaguely frightened, pleading look in the eyes...

"It's quite all right..." Dru nodded, smiling... "And I will come back tomorrow...Ready..."

"Good girl..." Cary nodded...

***

"So this is the part?..." Lugosi looked over the synopsis Spike had handed him... "No lines?...I thought I'd read 'Frankenstein' and I don't think the Hungarian version was that far off...The creature is quite eloquent..."

"It's the adaptation of the play that has been running well..." Spike shrugged...

"And they want me to sit under this pile of whatever the hell it is and just lumber around for two hours?..."

"And strangle a few people, probably...I think you murder a little girl in one scene..." Spike noted helpfully...

"What?..."

"Drown her, maybe strangle her...I don't quite remember..."

"A little girl?...Not some prostitute or unfaithful wife?..."

"No, sir, a little girl...If I may...?" he took the synopsis... "Yes, right here...The creature encounters a little girl making flower boats on the water after he's strangled Frankenstein's mentor and escaped the laboratory...She's too young and innocent to be afraid of him...And the next thing you know..."

A little ridiculous, to be sure...Given most three year olds have the sense to be afraid even of Dru...

"Let me see that..." Lugosi took the manuscript... "My god?...Is that idiot kid Laemmle out of his mind?..."

"The point is to make the creature as horrible as possible...Actions to match appearance...Though we're sure the actual drowning will probably not be passed by the censors...We'll probably have to just suggest it..."

Lugosi shook his head... "This is not how Bob Florey explained it to me before..."

"Well, Mr. Florey is not directing now, Mr. Whale is...And I believe Mr. Whale's changed Mr. Florey's adaptation considerably..."

"Goddamn..." Lugosi gasped, reading... "I'm an actor...I can deal with a ton of crap on my head and elevator shoes...I can handle not getting a single line in a two-hour performance...But...This is crazy...I can't drown little girls...I shouldn't even be shown near little girls after 'Dracula'...Unless my character is Heidi's grandfather or something like that...This is perverse..."

"It does seem a little much, sir..." Spike nodded...

***

"Prattfall..."

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the
Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Normalverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse.com...

Summary: As you know I leave the "Pratt" to the Whedonverse, except for this one little bit...

In early 30's Hollywood Spike offers advice to a distant relative...

Part XIV...

Mission well on its way to accomplished…Spike happily thought as he strode through the hallway leading from where he'd left a fuming Lugosi with the two returned makeup artists…

A ton of crap on my head, no lines, and to top it off my character's a perverted maniac who slaughters little girls?...

He had to sympathize…Unlife would be hell despite the pleasure of murdering the innocent without the ability to banter during and after…I mean the killing would just be a chore without the chance to creatively exercise the wit…

Yes, Mr. Lugosi had chosen himself the right niche in horror for a handsome and urbane leading man…That suave and elegant Unman of the Underworld, the vampire…

Just a matter of finding another Stoker or two…But surely some brilliant young writer would soon come to the fore and provide new material for the genre…

He could really pat himself on the back…He'd just set two of the world's great artists…Three if one counted the creative directing genius of Jimmie Whale…On their proper courses…

Really, if one pondered the matter, Humanity owed him…Despite the 35,981 murders since that evening in 1880…

But, hey…No big deal…Happy to do it, Humanity…Especially given the involvement of family members…In fact…No reason that brilliant young writer who continues the saga of the vampire could not be one Walthrop

He paused at the door to the outside…Hmmn…Luckily, dusk…He stepped out and pondered his next move…

Drop by his fellow writers' offices and report in on successful progress or head home and await their call?...Probably best to…

Hmmn

The two suits from earlier were standing in the middle of the parking lot to the building, with them a furious-looking Laemmle…

And Florey, one of his own bosses…

Trying no doubt to add his bit to the success of their endeavor…Clearly Lugosi had already made his wishes known…He made his way slowly toward the group, hoping to learn more…After all, he could always claim to wish to catch Florey for…

"All I wanna know is…Who let Lugosi have that damned script?..." Laemmle was shouting now…

Hmmn…Perhaps, best to head home…My work here is done…Spike thought…

"Now, Carl…Jimmie probably wanted Bela to know just what he might be getting into…" Florey was noting…

On second thought, perhaps I could just hole up a moment here to catch the denouement…Spike felt his suit for a cigarette…Just your average working lad catching a smoke before heading home, watching the comings and goings...He lit up, eyeing the group…Keeping in the darkness at the side of the building…

"Goddamn it!..." Laemmle stamped a foot… "Since when do we care what an actor thinks about a role?...And now Lugosi swears he won't play it with Whale's version…"

Excellent…Spike beamed, leaning by the building wall…

"Well…Carl…" Florey smiled… "There is an alternate version…"

Spike paused…What?...

"One Bela was quite happy with…"

Laemmle eyeing the elegant Frenchman…

"Your version, you mean…?"

"Well, it was the original script…" Florey nodded… "We have a little footage of Bela in costume, you know…I think you might reconsider…"

You son of a…Spike stared…Of course, you were the original director before Jimmie Whale came in…

Good God… I've been set up …He realized…Glaring…

Me, William the Bloody?...Set up by a scheming little human?...Who sat there in that bar, laying his little plot to blow Whale out of his director's chair…Using one idiot assistant assistant writer…

And blowing cousin Bill up along with Whale…

He took face a moment, then pondering the matter, reverted…

No, not quite the solution here…Can't kill one without killing them all, and if I want to stay in Hollywood for Dru's sake, at least, that is not a viable option…

The group was moving off…He slid down the wall, trying to remain in hypersensitive earshot…

"Let me speak to Bela…" Florey was suggesting… "I think I can bring him round again…" The group reached a door and entered…

Jesus…Spike fumed…That little…

Well, welcome to Hollywood…He ruefully told himself…Where vampires and demons are relatively honorable threats to a human's existence…At least we torment one to one's face before opening one's throat…

All right…What to do now?...

Hmmn…Unfortunately nothing apropos comes to mind but savage murder of a certain Frenchman…

No, a confrontation is not the best plan just now…Perhaps I should go to Whale?...Though he might not be too pleased to learn his bright young junior junior assistant to the assistant writer just managed to involuntarily ease him out of his project…

Fort?...Just possible he wasn't in on this…In any case a bit safer to confront him than Florey…Though it might do well to have a full belly before such a meeting…Just in case things get ugly…He looked round…

Ah…A pretty young secretary leaving for the day, all by her lonesome, heading for the nearest bus stop I should say…

Perfect…The least likely person in this town to be missed…They disappear here all the time…And since she's not a resident of our humble boarding home…Not a violation of the agreement with Margaret…

Technically, anyway…He stubbed out his cigarette and set off…

***

Fort indeed seemed quite startled by his report when he caught him at his office…

Florey trying to regain control of the project?...Goddamn…He swore up and down Jimmie Whale's concept was the way to go…That he was happy to get the alternate directing assignment, "Murders in the Rue Morgue"…That little French…

"He's been playing his own game all along…Stringing us…" Spike noted…

"I'll kill him…" Fort fumed… "This means cutting me out too, you know…He'll use that miserable original script he wrote…"

"More important, a major artistic work is headed for the trash heap…" Spike shook his head… "That original script is a passable rewrite of the novel but a terrible film…Especially with Lugosi speaking…The whole concept is destroyed…"

"Not much we can do now…Not if Laemmle is sold on it…" Fort sighed… "Florey knows we can't risk speaking out…We'd have to reveal we passed the script to Bela and out to the breadlines we go…"

"Could Whale stop him?...Laemmle seems to listen to him…"

"Up to a point…But Carl wanted Bela from the start for the draw…If push comes to shove and he thinks the box office is on the line…" sigh…

"Then our job is work on Laemmle, the boy genius…" Spike frowned…

***

"Anything wrong, Frances?..." Dru asked as they drove home in Frances' cab...

Her minion was unusually quiet for her vibrant, upbeat nature, considering she'd not been required this afternoon to top off her daily nutritional ration...

"Just a long day..." Frances replied, eyes on the road... "You must be tired, Dru..."

"Astonishingly, given my nature, yes...Quite..." Dru sighed, stretching wearily... "One earns one's keep in this business, that's for sure…But I get the feeling you're unhappy about something?...Fran?...Was there something you'd like to talk about?..."

"Nothing important..." Frances replied...Watching the road carefully...

"Tell me...Am I keeping you from doing something important, you'd planned before we met?...Or is it something else?...Oh, do tell, dear...I should hate to learn I've caused you needless trouble…" Dru's voice just a bit insistent at the end...

"I...It's no big deal...I don't like her...Joan..." Frances frowned, not looking back...

"She'll be quite well behaved from now on, I promise you..." Dru replied… "And quite free of her loathsome addiction.."

"And now she'll be hanging around with you…" Frances said, quietly…

"Is that what was worrying you?...Oh, Frances…" Dru spoke soothingly…Patting her from her seat in back… "I've no intention of killing you yet…Believe me, when it comes to someone I want to feed on regularly…"

"So I'm still gonna be with you?..."

"Absolutely, Fran…I don't like Joan, though I think she couldn't help herself…I certainly do not want her in my resting place day and night…In fact, if circumstances allowed it to be uncomplicated, I'd probably have killed her in the bathroom today…Believe me, dear…It's only necessity…Though it is one more way to reduce the demands on you…And lengthen your life…"

"You don't like her?...You're not going to…?"

"Turn her?...Lord, no…" Dru sighed… "If and when the time comes, a simple twist of the neck and she's gone…Don't worry, love…"

"Thanks…" Frances nodded…And drove in silence for a few minutes…

"Dru?..."

"Dear?..."

"Do you…Have you got any plans…About me?..."

They turned into the street leading to their building…

"A long life and successful career, I hope, darling…"

"Thanks…But I don't care about that stuff so much now…I was wondering…After I die…?

"I see…" Dru nodded… "Fran, it's not something you should be eager for…A sweet girl like you…"

"You don't want me…I know…" Frances sighed…Pulling into the building driveway and parking…

"I am fond of you, Frances...But..."

"I get it..." Frances sighed... "I know you go that way, Dru…The straight Undead and all, I mean…William…But...It doesn't stop me from loving you..." she looked sadly back at her… "That way , I mean…"

"Well, dearest..." Dru shook her head, kind smile... "You would feel that way even if you weren't so inclined...Thrall has a powerful effect on humans...I do wish there was some way I could..." she paused, eyeing the sad-faced girl...

I never have had anyone to confide my secret in...And she'll never tell William...Not if her life depended on it...

"Frances?...May I tell you a secret?...My secret?..." Dru asked, gently... "Then we would have something between us we truly share alone?..."

Yes...Oh, yes...Frances breathed... "Please..."

"William doesn't love me, Frances...The soul, I mean..." Dru sighed... "And not even Spike loves me...Not just because he can't, in the human way...But...There's always been...Her..." she frowned...

"He's got another girl?..." Frances eyed her, startled... "But he seems all yours...?"

"He was sired by me...That has a certain bonding effect...And he is naturally attached to anyone who needs him...A trait from his human...But even though...After fifty years together..." Dru sighed...

"He's never forgotten her...Never..."

"Some gal...He knew then?..."

"He was married to her, for two days...The love of his human life...Who he believes rejected him and drove him to...Me..." Dru stared at the wall...

"I am merely a substitute, Fran...A comfortable pillow to lay his sad, lost soul on...And one day, perhaps..."

"So, she's...Like you?..."

"No, Frances...She's nothing like me...Or rather the exact opposite of me..."

"Ah, a blonde, like him..."

"No, Frances..." Dru sighed.. . "I mean in what she is, not her looks...She's a brunette, too...Or was...Lord knows what she'll look like if we ever do meet again...And we will, one day...I feel it..."

"Some slip of a dame...Dru, you'd kill her easy...Or do her like me and Joan..."

"Not this dame...Not Cicely..." Dru shook her head... "And when William finds out the truth...As he will, one day...Even Spike will curse the day he met me..."

"The day I stole him away from her...And took everything from him..."

It's my nature...she explained, wistfully... "He is like me...Like I was in that one respect...He is endlessly giving, as I was...Once...And for me, as I now am...That is the most powerful lure of all...And, one day, I see it will be the end of me..."

Or, from another point of view...She pondered a moment...

"But if she's just human, an ordinary girl...And dead...?" Frances noted, questioningly...

"She's not just human...She is...Was...Will always be...The Slayer..." Dru looked mournfully at Frances...

"The What?..."

"A woman gifted with great power to defend your people from all evil...Not just my kind, but even far worse...There is one in every generation, a Chosen one...But she is special beyond that...She has come back many times before, stronger each time...And William...Is her mate...Always…"

"But he's yours now..."

"No..." Dru shook her head... "He is not and never will be mine...Spike, even, is only partly mine...But William, much as I want him...Much as I risked to try and have him...He'll never be mine...Gods of Demonity help me..."

"And this dame...This Cicely..." Frances paused... "She's...Dead but..."

"But...She'll be back...And her footsteps echo in the memories of each and every Slayer...Her reflection buried in William's eyes, shining back to me once or twice in half a century...Little warning notes telling me to beware...To never rest easy...And telling William, the trapped soul, to wait, in hope...Because, one day…"

Frances stared at Dru's wan face...Serene, yet drawn...

"I am doomed, Fran..." she said, simply... "And God is cruel enough to a poor demon who can't help what she is to give her moments of lucidly clear vision of her doom...That is my secret, love...I know you'll keep it..."

"Sure..." Frances nodded... "Sure..." she repeated, eyes shining... "But gee what a movie it would make..."

"You really think so?..." Dru asked...

***

"Prattfall..."

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Normalverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse.com...

Summary: As you know I leave the "Pratt" to the Whedonverse, except for this one little bit...

In early 30's Hollywood Spike offers advice to a distant relative...

Part XV...

"Frankenstein" writers Walthrop and Fort considered their options in Fort's office…Art and family at…Well, sometimes no other word, however unfortunate is appropriate, Spike thought…Stake…

"The kid actually does admire Whale and wants to be remembered as a creative person in his own right, like Thalberg…But in the end it all comes down to the bottom line…And even Laemmle has to answer to Carl Sr…And the banks…" Fort noted…

Spike pondered…An image of strangling said old man in his mansion drifting idly through his mind…Fun perhaps, but not the practical solution here…Hmmn

"All right then, if the artistic won't fly, why not use the bottom line argument in our favor?…After all, why settle for one Master of Horror when two could be made available?…Allowing the studio to squeeze twice the number of films into the yearly gross…And even to do combination films pitting the Two Masters of Horror against each other…After all, this is America and the people love a good fight…"

Perhaps two Masters and a Mistress of Horror?...Though Dru really seemed more into light comedy and possibly straight drama…And of course she'd probably prefer to sign with Paramount anyway...Dru having a strong sense of loyalty in her own unique way…

"Double the take…That's a line of argument Laemmle Sr. and Jr. would go for…" Fort nodded… "And it wouldn't hurt the rest of us to have twice the demand for workers on horror films…The question is, how do we get that point across to our wunderkind Carl?...And get the project back on track minus the Count and his lackey…Without cutting our own throats for the greater good, please…"

"Would never occur to me…" Spike assured him…

***

As they reviewed the scenes possible for tomorrow, Dru determined to follow Mr. Lockwood's advice…A thought occurred to an immediately concerned Frances…

Spike had discussed Margaret with Dru in her presence…As one of those…What, again?...Slayers?...

"Not exactly, from what she's told us and what we've sensed in her…She was once a Slayer but is now a strange sort of hybrid…Mostly human but different…A unique case…" Dru explained…

"She could be tryin' to fool you…" Frances frowned… "You said Cicely would be back…Maybe she's here right now…"

"I would know, Fran…Both of her Slayer ability and her Cicely nature…At least, I'd sense the danger in her…" Dru shook her head… "Besides, I happen to know the current Slayer is in Germany and I've no doubt of Margaret's affection for Mr. Pratt…Believe me, if I thought otherwise, I'd've never agreed to our current arrangement…And Margaret was here long before Spike and I came…"

"Maybe you or I should knock her off just in case...Better safe than sorry, you know…"

"Fran?...She's Spike's cousin's would-be girl…I couldn't, he'd be upset with me…And, if she has still connections to the Council of Watchers killing her could bring the Council's and the Slayer's attention down upon us…Now, Frances…" Dru eyed her sternly… "I appreciate your concern but she's no threat to me as yet and I rather like her…I thought you did too…She is a very sweet person…"

"I like her fine, sure…But if she's got anything that could hurt you, Dru…"

"Please…Leave Margaret to me, Frances…I wonder if I should have told you these things…I didn't realize they would upset you so…"

"No, I can deal…" Frances put up a hand… "I'm grateful you trusted me, Dru…Just promise me you'll keep an eye on her…And if you have to…"

"Unfortunately I doubt that thrall is an option in Margaret's case, but should it come to that, I'll do whatever's necessary, don't worry…" Dru patted her… "Now, what about choosing a nice place for dinner?...I think William wanted to invite Mr. Pratt and Margaret…"

"Elmo's is pretty good and not too much…Ummn, Germany?..." Frances asked… "What's in Germany for the Slayer?..."

Dru shrugged…"I'm not sure…The current Slayer was born there, I think, and they always seem to be born near where they're most needed…Maybe something to do with that ranting little man with the mustache like Mr. Chaplin's little Tramp…"

***

"If we could just show Laemmle what Cous…Pratt is able of, especially alongside Lugosi's interpretation…And stress the benefit of two Horror Master draws…" Spike began…

"Along with the built-in benefit of being able to use one against the other if one starts getting too full of himself in salary negotiations…" Fort noted…

"Exactly…"

"And keep that weasel Florey away until the deal's done…" Fort suggested…

"I think that better be your department…" Spike noted…

Seein' as I'd likely end up dealing all too permanently with him…He did not say...

"I'll work on Laemmle…Pratt lives in my building, I can work out a meeting, and Laemmle will be less suspicious of of a nobody like me than you, the head writer…There's just the problem of getting Lugosi to try his monster at the same time…"

"We've got that sewn up…" Fort smiled… "The bit of footage of Lugosi as the monster as Florey conceived it is in Whale's office…I can get it tomorrow…I'll just say some of the boys want a good howl…"

"That bad?..."

"I'd say so…But dressed up a little by Florey, with a big push on the box office potential of the star of 'Dracula'…He might put it over…Especially without sound…" Fort grinned…

"Then I'll definitely need a good sound man…" Spike nodded… "Know anyone who can keep his or her mouth shut after as well as during…?"

"I think this being a film studio we can find…Someone…"

***

"So…You want me to come over to Universal tomorrow…For a make-up test?..." Pratt eyed Spike as they sat at Elmo Chop House with Frances, Dru, and Margaret…

"Oh, Billy…" Margaret beamed… "It sounds like a real thing…"

"This is sanctioned by Jimmie Whale?..." Pratt asked, careful look at "cousin Will"…

"Not…Exactly…But by Garrett Fort, one of the head writers…" Spike, firmly… "And it's essential to close the deal…"

"Well…" Pratt pondered… "I suppose it would be interesting to see what the damned thing will end up looking like…But surely…" he paused, eyeing the three eager young ladies listening…

"Trust me, cousin Bill…" Spike smiled… "This will clinch the deal and make you the most talked-about actor in Hollywood…And more important, immortal as an artist…"

Margaret eyed Dru… "Has he told you?...What the hell this thing is?..."

"Not yet…" Dru rolled her eyes… "The boys want to keep their 'big secret' a little longer…"

"But this is for the monster thing, right?... 'Frankenstein'?..." Frances asked… "And you English guys always play the crazy doctor, right?...Accents and all?..."

"'Fraid we can't say more, Fran…Sworn to secrecy, right Bill?..."

"At least for the present…" Pratt nodded…

"Well, we'll ferret it out, won't we, girls?..." Margaret smiled at Dru and Fran… "I say we slip over and get the goods on this production and blackmail Laemmle and co into giving Billy and Will a share of the gross…"

"Sounds good…" Frances nodded… "Yes, indeed…" Dru smiled…

Yes…Indeed…Margaret smiled warmly at Dru

Anything to get you alone for five minutes away from my two poor beloveds, you hag from Hell…You murderess…You adulteress…

***

"Prattfall..."

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the
Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Normalverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse.com...

Summary: As you know I leave the "Pratt" to the Whedonverse, except for this one little bit...

In early 30's Hollywood Spike offers advice to a distant relative...

Part XVI...

Elmo's Chop House…The inexpensive local haven of Hollywood's future stars as Pratt grandly put it…Nodding to the said Elmo, a friendly-looking, if somewhat grubby, balding middle-age man in cooking apron, who offered a brief greeting as their group took seats…

"Not quite as elegant as the Cocoanut Grove and of course one must accept that Elmo is neither an interior decorator…" All eyeing the drably wallpapered walls enlivened only by cut-out magazine covers of various film stars…One or two signed…Though one might question whose signature… "nor exactly a chef of wide-ranging talents…" he noted… "But he's always willing to stake a starving artist to a coffee and roll…One can overlook appearances and make allowances for a good heart…"

"Absolutely…" Margaret smiled at him…

Stay with the basics…Anything beyond spaghetti, steak, or hamburger is risky…Pratt noted to Dru as she eyed the short menu…

"So long as it's rare and a bit bloody, I'm fine…" she smiled back…

"Now's there's a true English girl…" Pratt grinned at Spike…Who bowed slightly in acknowledgement of the paid compliment…

Despite her concerns, a suspicious Frances could find nothing to worry her in Margaret's behavior during their dinner…She seemed, if anything, inclined to offer Dru generous support in her determination to soldier on in her new-found career despite the slight setback of the day…

And Dru seemed to appreciate said support…Without any sign of concern toward someone who could be her only real threat in this town…At least until that other kid, the true Slayer fraulein whoever she was, showed…

Still…A little watchful care never hurt…And dearest Dru hadn't specifically put the nix on that, at least…

***

"It's the only way…" Margaret continued her campaign in tandem with Spike and Pratt to bolster Dru's spirits… "Just go right back in and show them you can take it…Believe me, we've all been kicked in our teeth in this town countless times, eh Fran?..." Warm smile to Frances who nodded…

"No doubt about that…"

"Well, I intend to give it me all, girls…" Dru agreed, smiling shyly… "Thank you…"

"There's the girl…" Pratt beamed at her from his seat… "Dru, I've no doubts about your coming success…Why in a few days you and Will here have managed better than all but a handful…I doubt Chaplin succeeded as quickly…"

"Have you met Mr. Chaplin?..." Dru asked, eagerly…

"Only from a distance…" Pratt smiled… "Though like all of us lacking the look of a screen idol, I've tried to find and model a character to capture the public as he did…Whenever ready to toss it all in the garbage and haul off for England, I go to see the Tramp on film and remember Chaplin started from nothing and now…The one universally recognized genius in the business…On all levels…"

"He'd better reconsider his attitude toward talkies, though…" Margaret noted…

"But why?..." Spike shook his head… "'City Lights' was a triumph…The greatest thing he's ever done and still remained a silent film…I think he's right as far as the Tramp goes…Let him speak and he's no longer a universal symbol..."

"I agree to a point…" Pratt nodded… "Certainly Chaplin's Tramp would be diminished in some ways by sound…Still a grand character but not quite the figure the world's come to adore…Still, I'd like to see Mr. Chaplin try new characters, new stories…I think he has it in him if he wishes…An actor should always want to break new ground…But…" Sigh… "Of course, I could understand him not wishing to start over from scratch with a new creation…It's a danger to create a character one can't let go of…Even if one loves the character…"

"Typecasting…" Dru nodded solemnly…Must avoid that at all costs…As her new girlfriends continually stressed…

"Yes…" Pratt agreed… "Even more, I think…If one has the luxury of choosing roles…Not something most of us get, unfortunately…There's that divide between wanting to take a successfully developed creation to its full potential, believing there's always a new depth to be found…And yet avoid it becoming simple repetition…"

"Yet Chaplin keeps finding new depths to the Tramp…" Spike noted…

"Yes…And it's hardly for me to tell him what to do…He may yet have a dozen great films in the character…But I would fear it becoming a trap in the end…" Pratt shrugged… "Perhaps that's just the fear of a limited actor…"

"Oh, Billy…" Margaret shook her head…

"Dear heart…I'm simply saying I'm hardly the man to pass judgment on a man of genius in the craft…"

"You will be…" Spike insisted… "You'll be one of those they will remember and look to for inspiration…A real credit to the family, Bill…"

"Would my brothers think so…I fear they'd have a different opinion as to my choice of profession…All being rather successful in the imperial diplomatic service…" Pratt, ruefully…

"When you next go to England…" Spike smiled… "They will scramble to be known as the brother of William Henry Pratt…Mark my words…" he raised a glass of beer…

"Or the cousin of William Soames Walthrop…" Pratt responding likewise with glass…

"I doubt it…" Spike said quietly… "But we can both hope to leave some bit of creative work behind us, cousin…Even if all I accomplish is to see you get started properly…"

Margaret eyeing him…A look on her face that Frances caught…

Sad, even shameful…And somehow, fiercely protective…A look given to both cousins…

Jesus…Frances blinked…She loves them both?…What the hell?...And yet…

The sorrow and shame was for William…Much as the protectiveness was for the two of 'em…And the twinkle for Pratt alone…Hmmn

Something tells me…This don't bode well for my Drusie, I think…

"Ah, enough with the melancholy, lad…And lassies…" Pratt rose from his chair… "Come, lets have ourselves a fine walk home in the moonlight and be grateful we're alive and free to do the work we love…Come, Dru…Margaret…We've all busy days tomorrow…"

The group rose from their seats…Pratt gallantly helping Drusilla with her coat…As did Spike with Margaret, then Frances…

"Yes…" Dru smiled at Margaret… "RKO…How wonderful…"

"A small part…I play a maid…But, we'll see…" Margaret nodded… "Selznick is taking over there and he's quite a character…Lots of shake-up and some brilliant people coming to the fore…"

"A maid…" Spike shook his head… "Someone at RKO doesn't have eyes…"

"Agreed…" Pratt frowned…

"I was lucky to get it…" Margaret put up a hand… "And, as we all know, there are no small parts…" she grinned…

"Balderdash…" Pratt sighed… "Well, hopefully a couple of days of seeing your work and Mr. Selznick will cast you as his next top star…"

"That elusive dream of every young girl in this town…" Margaret noted with smile…

"But they don't all deserve it, lass…You do…" Spike said, firmly…

"There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio…" she replied…Eyeing him carefully…Then Pratt… "I am content, gents…Don't fret for me…"

Frances standing now by Dru as the group moved for the door…A questioning look…

Hmmn…Not even a little concern?...Slight frown as Spike continued to speak with Margaret and Pratt…

Well, my beloved Dru may know her feller but something tells Miss Frances Kay that trouble's abrewin'…

"Fran?..." Dru had turned to her… "Are you all right?..."

"Fine…" Frances nodded…Brief smile… "Aren't you going with William?..."

"He's engaged in his little plot with his cousin…" Dru smiled…Staring at her minion a moment…

"Is something troubling you, dearest…?"

Frances shrugged…Hesitating as Spike came to them… "Time to go, ladies…" he patted Dru's shoulder…

"We're ready…" Dru nodded…

"I just want to go over a bit more with Bill while we walk back…Do you mind?..." Spike asked…

"Not at all, William…" Dru smiled… "I hope things go well…"

"I may possibly have a role for you in this, lamb…" he grinned… "But let me work out the details…"

"Anything I can do to help, you know that…" she nodded…

"Thanks…She's a peach, eh Frances?..." he beamed at Fran, giving Dru a brief peck on cheek…

"She is…" Frances agreed…But her eyes were on Margaret who was staring at them…A hard, icy stare that somehow chilled the blood…Which immediately disappeared as Pratt, busy a moment with his coat, turned back to her…Her warm smile returned…

I may not know what a Slayer is, exactly…Frances thought…But I'd guess that was a Slayer's glare…

***

"So I just come by at ten and report to make-up…?" Pratt eyed Spike who nodded…

"Exactly…And just give them Fort's name…They'll do the rest…"

Questioning look…Slight frown…

My God, Spike thought, eyeing the grim visage facing him…There he goes again...Lord, I'm actually feeling uncomfortable…Any human would be shaking in his boots right now…How can so gentle a soul project such menace?...

"Will…" Pratt, slight growl… "I don't want you risking your own career…"

"Trust me, cousin…This will work…By this time tomorrow you will be the Monster…And Immortal…"

Slight start from Margaret at the "Immortal"…

"Maggie?..." Pratt, concerned…

"I'm fine…It sounds wonderful, Billy…I'm sure Will can pull this off for you…" she smiled at Spike…

Hmmn…Spike smiled back but blinked a bit…I do believe I sense an 'or else'?...

Somehow…I'm feeling almost as uncomfortable under her smile as I did under cousin Bill's glare…

***

"Just so long as it's okay…" Spike heard Frances saying to Dru as he came up to their room…

"Not at all…" Dru patted her… "I'm sure your family is anxious to hear you're well and working…By all means go and give your sister the best from all your friends here…"

"Frances is off to see her sister…" Dru explained… "I was telling her it's quite all right…Indeed, probably the best thing…For her to maintain contact with her family and all…Avoid anyone wondering about her behavior, that sort of thing…"

"Absolutely…Will you be away for a bit?..." he asked…

"Oh, no…Just stopping by her place tonight…I've work tomorrow…" Frances shook her head…

"Well, then …You should be off…" Dru smiled… "I only wish you'd spoken up sooner…I hate that you should have to have so short a visit with your sister…It would have been fine for you to miss dinner tonight…"

"She works late anyway…It's fine…I'll be back by 2 or 3…" Frances eyed them both…

"Certainly…" Spike nodded kindly… "Just take it easy coming back…"

"Yes, indeed, Fran…" Dru, a bit anxious… "Stay if you feel tired…I'll make excuses for you at the studio if necessary…"

"Thanks…See ya…" Frances turned and hurried down the stairs…Pausing to wave briefly at the bottom… "Bye…"

"Bye…" Dru waved back…Sighing to Spike… "She should have let me know she wanted to go visiting…I hate her traveling so late…"

"She'll be fine, pet…Fran's been a taxi driver in Hollywood for years, she's dealt with night driving…"

"I suppose…" Dru nodded… "Still…I must urge her to be more assertive with me about her needs…She's really very affectionate, poor thing…"

Sound of cab horn honking…Several other tenants, all young would-be actors or writers entered…Two cheerily greeting their acquaintances above… "Will!...Dru!..."

They returned the greeting…Dru looking at the sound of a car driving off… "There she goes…"

"Well, she seems about as content as thrall could make a lass…" Spike smiled, opening the door for her…Pausing in the doorway… "Did you enjoy dinner?..."

"Couldn't hold down that hamburger…" she sighed… "Mr. Elmo is sweet but overcooks as a rule I think…"

"Mine wasn't bad…But I do have a stronger stomach for human food…Cousin Bill seemed willing to try my little plan, eh?..."

"Indeed…I'm sure you'll succeed, Spike…" Dru, fondly…Brushing something from his coat…

"Would be nice to pull it off…" he paused… "Leave a little something behind besides umpteen murders…As you're doing as well, love…"

"Thank you…" Dru, beaming…Then a tad downcast… "But I have some ground to recover after my little fiasco today…"

"As Frances likes to say, you'll be aces…" he grinned…Pausing…Glancing into the open room…

She eyed him, a bit reprovingly…William?...

Respectable young actress here…We shouldn't push our luck when my roommate is away…And several people saw her go…

He ruefully backed slightly away…She smiling…

There's a good boy…

"Well, nite then, Dru…"

"Good night, William…" she kissed his cheek…Stepped inside and closed the door, gently…

Hmmn…Spike blinked a moment…

Somehow this wasn't how I pictured my vacation in Hollywood…

***

Frances pulled over a few blocks later…Stepping over to a drugstore where she placed a call to her sister, informing her that she was very well, working, but would have to ask a small favor…

Could Sue possibly agree to cover for her with a friend by promising to say she'd stopped by tonight…?

Her sister's voice requested more information in what seemed a frowning tone…Fran?...

"I'm seeing her feller…He's gonna tell her but just not yet…C'mon Sue…Help me out here…" she pleaded…

Well…At least this one's a guy…Sue thought…Sighing…

"Ok…You were here…Tonight…But Frannie, watch it…And make sure you know what this guy's about…?"

"I will…" Fran replied… "Thanks, kiddo…Give my best to the kids and Mom…Love ya…" she hung up…

Indeed, I'll watch It…Whatever Margaret is…And whatever she's about, I'm gonna find out…

Continue on

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