Author: TombCrank the Crafty
Summary: James Joyce isn’t quite sure who the crazy lady in his dormitory is. Or why she keeps calling him Stephen Dedalus.
Disclaimer: Whedon owns Buffy, Joyce owns Dedalus, I own zilch.
“Stephen? Oh, Stephen.” A woman’s voice sing-songed across the darkened dormitory. “Wake up, you naughty boy.” Cold hands grasped his shoulders and gently shook him. “Mummy has come for you, Stephen.”
He yawned widely. “’m not Stephen. ‘m James.” He mumbled, waving a hand languidly towards the long row of filled beds. “Stephen’s down that way.”
“Yes you are. You’re my Stephen Dedalus. The stars have told me all about you, little bird. Have you opened your wings?” She sat down on the edge of his bed, her dark brown eyes staring unblinkingly.
James felt for his glasses on the little table next to his bed and hooked them over his ears. The blurry room went into sharp focus and he stared at the beautiful woman sitting daintily on his patchwork comforter. She was well dressed, if slightly out of fashion, and her long brown hair was held back from her face in a few glittering clips. She sat still, her skin pale and gleaming in the moonlight. “My name is James. James Joyce, ma’am.”
“Miss Edith and the stars are never wrong.” She rebuked him. “If they say you shall be an artist and write about that nasty not-Greek, then you shall.” Her hands fluttered, a pair of doves, quick and the color of his mother’s fine bone china. She moved forward suddenly, hugging him tightly to her chest. “Oh, you will write such lovely things about ivory and stars and a fiery hell. It will be wonderful,” she murmured, running a hand through his hair.
Some of the other boys had woken up from the noise of their conversation, rubbing their eyes and whispering nonsense, but the slightly mad woman seated in front of him fascinated James, so much so that he felt he shouldn't take his eyes off of her, as if she might vanish like a ghost if he look away. “Am I? Am I to be an artist?”
“The stars never lie, Stephen.” She said solemnly.
“Oi, Dru, are you coming, love?” A sandy-haired man leaned on the open door. James hadn’t noticed him standing there, too preoccupied with the mad Dru who spoke of the stars. “Do you want that morsel?”
Dru recoiled. “My little Stephen? The prick with a stick? No, never him.” She paused, taking a deep breath, her eyes going back and forth along the row of beds. She stood and walked across the dormitory, swaying to some unheard music, and stopped at Tommie Finnegan’s bed. Looking into his wide eyes, she crooned something to Tommie, who slowly nodded. “You’re going to be good for mummy, aren’t you poppet?” Dru asked. Tommie just sat upright in his bed, still as one of the statues in the square.
She came back over to James, hugging him tightly and placing a kiss on the top of his head. “Good bye, little Dedalus. Spread your wings to fly and mummy will be proud.” Dru stood over him again, watching him intently, before turning to the other stranger and linking arms with him. “Come along, poppet.” Dru tossed over her shoulder as she went out the door.
James looked on confusedly as Tommie slipped out of his bed and dazedly tottered along after the strange woman. “Tommie, it’s past curfew. If the Head or any of the Professors find you, you’ll be expelled.”
Tommie hummed a song to himself, unresponsive.
Another boy down the corridor nodded, the action bright in the moonlight that fell near his bed sheets. “Go back to bed, Tommie. You’ll get us all in trouble.”
“Don’t be such a sissy.”
Tommie ignored everyone and slipped out the open door, closing it after him with a soft click.
All of the boys in the dorm not sleeping sat up in their beds, staring at the closed door in confusion. No one spoke, the undercurrent of fear running throughout them all. Slowly, every boy drifted off to sleep, save one. James lay completely still in his bed, his glasses glinting in the moonlight. All night he watched and all night Tommie did not return.
No one had seen Tommie for weeks. The first few days were terrifyingly exciting, as police officers interrupted classes and searched for clues. They even interviewed James, wondering what the lady Dru had said, what her companion had done. All of the other boys had fallen asleep and forgotten the night’s mischief. Mr. and Mrs. Finnegan came to the school and took their son’s things, the Missus crying heart-brokenly as they did so. Tommie’s unoccupied bed was dragged off into a spare bedroom; its emptiness a constant reminder of his disappearance. And life began to get back to normal.
Then a mutilated body was found by the piers, a small boy with a curious birthmark on his ankle, just like Tommie. With him, tucked neatly in his tattered night robe pocket, was a short note written in thin, spidery lettering. Fly high, little Dedalus.
James did not sleep at all that night, or the nights after that, his glasses glittering silver as he stared at the dance of the moonlight on the wooden floor.
Author’s Notes: I blame TtH for this one. We were reading Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
in English class, which is semi-autobiographical, and I was inspired to write this little plot bunny. For those of you who haven’t read it, Joyce’s alter ego is named Stephen Dedalus. The “nasty not-Greek” refers to Ulysses, Joyce’s masterpiece, and “the prick with a stick” is the colorful nickname that Dubliners have given Joyce’s statue in his hometown. I just thought it would be interesting for Spike and Drusilla to visit everyone’s favorite Irishman, especially when considering that the first half of Portrait
sounds as if the bat-shit insane Dru wrote it herself. (Seriously, thumb through the first few pages and you’ll see what I mean.) Besides, Portrait
is the kind of book Drusilla could get behind.
-TombCrank the Crafty