To Sleep Perchance to Dream
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon = BtVS, Laurell K. Hamilton = Anita Blake, me = nothing. I own nothing, nothing owns me.
A/N: For those of you that haven’t seen the fifth season of Angel, um… hope it’s not too confusing. When I say "Fred", that’s the same as "Illyria". Hope this helps :) Let me know if you want more, or if this works as a one-shot.
Summary: She's just what Richard needed... a mild-mannered science teacher with a slightly blue side.
If anyone had been watching, they would have seen the woman in the bed tossing and turning fitfully. She would occasionally cry out, and her pillow was wet with tears, but she didn’t wake. Her dreams were full of the glory of war, the clash of swords, the horror of dragons’ fiery breath, and the heartbreak of Wesley’s death. She continued to be tortured in her sleep until "… and given the chance I’d lie again…" started blaring.
Setting the alarm clock to ‘music’ rather than ‘alarm’ may not have been the smartest move. Six am was far too early to deal with country music. The woman in the bed woke up long enough to glare at the clock and hit the snooze button before pulling the cover over her head again. Nine minutes extra sleep was never enough, but she needed all the help she could get before she had to deal with those… hellions… at school. When the alarm went off again, she banged her fist down on the top, merely trying to turn it off. Instead, the clock shattered, littering her bedside table with springs and electronic debris. ‘Not again, that’s the fifth time this month – why can’t humans make things less fragile?’ She was most decidedly not a morning person.
Three cups of coffee later, she was ready to face the day, her ‘schoolmarm’ persona set in place. A tightly twisted bun of brown hair replaced her straight blue locks, and wire-rimmed glasses rested on her nose. A very unrevealing and unremarkable cotton blouse and a tweed skirt replaced the body armor look that she favored, and sensible shoes clad her feet. Of all the things she hated about passing her self off as a middle school teacher, it was the sensible shoes she hated the most.
After the… incident… she and the surviving members of Wolfram and Hart had scattered across the globe. Since Wesley was gone, she felt there was no reason for her to remain with that group. She managed to make it as far as St. Louis before she realized that she could not survive in this world without shelter and currency, both of which she currently lacked. Having no skills of her own that she could barter for with the humans, she accessed the memories of her host. Fred’s skills were easily divided into three categories. First, she could fight evil – but most of her talents there lied in research and using a stun gun. Second, she could eat endless amounts of tacos – Illyria knew little about the human world, however she doubted that taco-eating abilities paid well. Finally, she was a genius physicist. After careful analysis of several ‘help wanted’ lists in various newspapers, Illyria realized her best option was to get a job teaching. Although the depths of stupidity of the humans also amazed her, Illyria knew few humans would be stupid enough to hire a demonic parasite with blue hair to teach their young. She assumed that it would be the blue hair that scared them the most after listening to the stories Wesley had told her about Sunnydale High. It was then that she adopted Fred’s vocal mannerisms and facial characteristics, and assumed the name "Miss Winifred Wyndam-Price" as her pseudonym. Luckily, she had been hired after her first interview. Apparently, Seckman Junior High School was desperate for more science teachers.
. . . . . . . . . .
Her first day on the job was not going well. The little monsters were running amuck, and she didn’t know what to do about it. She knew what she’d do if she were allowed to discipline them as she wanted, but she thought that the school board would look unfavorably on her… alternative… methods. She’d lost her lessons plans, and then promptly lost her textbook as well. Becoming flustered, she’d started stuttering. Smelling weakness, the kids had pushed her as far as they could by passing notes, throwing paper airplanes, and talking. They were hoping they could push another young teacher to tears. They didn’t know that they were more likely to push her into revealing her demonic side…
‘Fred’ briskly walked into the staff room, immediately directing her attention to the pot of coffee. "These children are worse behaved than demon spawn" she muttered under her breath, reaching for another packet of sugar to dump into her drink. It was only after her second cup that she noticed the presence of another member of the teaching staff in the room.
"Rough day, Miss Wyndam-Price? Oh, I do hope that’s you. I missed the meeting where the new teachers were introduced, but I thought I saw you walking into the classroom across from mine this morning. I’m Richard. Richard Zeeman. Nice to meet you."
Illyria focused on having a blush stain her cheeks. "Nice to meet you too, Mr. Zeeman. It has been rough, I’m guessing it’s because I’m a new teacher? I’m sorry for disrupting you. Please, just call me Fred."
"Only if you call me Richard. Now, demon spawn? That’s a bit harsh." He grinned.
"Oh, that." Her blush deepened. "Just came from California. You wouldn’t believe some of the things I saw out there. Really, in comparison, these kids are just angels."
They continued chatting until the next bell rang, then walked back to their classrooms together.
. . . . . . . . . .
Fred and Richard each had third period off, so they would meet in the staff room to talk while they graded papers or worked on their lesson plans. He had taught one of the physics classes last year, so he was able to help her when she was making up quizzes and exams.
However, their conversations weren’t limited to just school-related subjects. He opened up to her about his failed engagement to Anita Blake, and she’d told him a highly edited version of her feelings for Wesley. They each knew that the other was holding more back than they were telling, but it didn’t matter. Illyria hadn’t told him about Fred and her true nature, and Richard didn’t dare say a word about his lycanthropy.
Illyria was surprised to see how much more progress she had made in her "humanity" lessons in less than six months. The kids in her classes were able to show her so much more than Wesley had, and Richard was helping too. The switches between her psyche and Fred’s personality had become less taxing, and she thought there was the chance that soon she would only have to switch her outward appearance. She’d even stopped dreaming of Wesley.
"Got plans for tonight, Freddie?" She hadn’t even noticed him coming into the room, but only Richard could get by with calling her by that ridiculous sobriquet.
She looked up and smiled at him. "No, Richie-boy, you?"
"Tickets to tonight’s special showing of ‘Evita’. Got an extra if you’re interested."
Her eyes lit up. "’Evita’? I do believe I’ll be taking you up on that offer, Mr. Zeeman."
. . . . . . . . . .
She and Richard had had a wonderful evening. ‘Evita’ was absolutely amazing, and the supper after had been excellent. He’d taken her to this quaint little café where all the workers had recognized him. The cook had gone to the trouble of making her tacos, which weren’t even on the menu. The café had been close to the University, so they’d strolled across the campus, ending up in the gardens. She still didn’t know what came over them, they’d taken off their shoes and splashed around in the fountain in the middle of the gardens like a pair of children. She felt more like Fred the more time she spent in his company, that was the only explanation she could come up with.
He’d been a perfect gentleman the entire night. When he let her off at her house, he’d parked the car and got out. Getting her door, he’d escorted her to the front door. She’d wondered if he was expecting an invitation in or a goodnight kiss, but he’d just hugged her.
"Thanks for a wonderful night, Freddie. Glad you could come to the show. See you tomorrow."
She closed the door, and giggled. She peeked out the curtains to see him look back to the house as he backed his car out of the drive. He’d apparently seen her, because he gave a little wave. She couldn’t help thinking that if he’d wanted a kiss, she wouldn’t have argued with him.
. . . . . . . . . .
Only the glowing green neon numbers of the alarm clock disturbed the darkness of the room. All that could be seen of the woman in the bed was a spray of blue hair that fanned out on the pillow under her head. A quarter after three, and all was quiet in the house.
. . . . . . . . . .
A bedraggled, barefoot Illyria briefly rested her hand against her extended abdomen, trying to catch her breath. She gave a brief ‘puft’, trying to blow her hair out of her face. The heat over the stove was sweltering, but if she stopped stirring then… actually, she didn’t know what would happen, but she knew she couldn’t take a break. The toddler running around the room fell down and started shrieking. Illyria wanted to put her hands over her ears, or to just shake the guttersnipe, but she couldn’t do that. The other children started whining and screaming in support of their fallen brother.
"Shut the brats up, woman! God! Can’t you do anything right? Supper’s burning again, and the kids are dirty!" She hung her head as Richard berated her.
"Oui. This place is a hovel." She hadn’t realized that Richard had brought his friends in with him. It didn’t surprise her, though. She was used to being belittled in front of his friends.
"I thought you married some sort of brilliant goddess, Richard." Anita wrinkled her nose. She turned to address Illyria directly. "You look like a dirty hag. Don’t you ever stop breeding? Richard really deserves better, you know. Someone like me. Well, that’s not entirely true – what I mean is that he deserves me
, not just someone like
If Illyria had expected Richard to deny Anita’s statement, she was disappointed. He just looked at her, and smirked. "She’s right, can’t argue with that."
Illyria looked on in horror as Richard pulled Anita close to him and kissed her deeply. The children were all screaming, Richard and Anita were making out, Jean Claude was smirking at her, and whatever was on the stove was smoking and starting to flame. She just buried her head in her hands and cried.
. . . . . . . . . .
Gasping, the woman shot out of bed. According to the clock, it was only four in the morning. She pulled her blanket closer, trying to wrap it around her like a shield. She continued to set up, her eyes wide in horror, trying to comprehend what she’d just dreamed. She continued to sit like that until the alarm went off two hours later. Illyria got up and readied herself for school. She still felt shaken by her dream.
. . . . . . . . . .
Richard looked up to see one of his students from last year standing in front of his desk. He cocked an eyebrow. "Yes?" he queried.
Bobby felt bad about going to Mr. Zeeman, but he thought that the biology teacher and the physics teacher were friends. "Have you seen Miss Wyndam-Price today?"
Richard felt his beast stir at that comment. "Is she not here?" He asked, starting to panic already.
"She’s here, sir, but she’s not. I mean, she seems a bit off. She just walked out of class when the bell rang without saying a word to us. She didn’t even give us homework!"
Something was seriously wrong then. Richard knew that she’d never even think of not giving out some sort of assignment. She was kind and fair, and god knew she was absolutely beautiful, but she also was a strict taskmaster when it came to her lessons.
"Thank you, Bobby. I’ll go look for her."
. . . . . . . . . .
He finally found her in the staff room, staring out the window. She didn’t even notice he was there until he tapped her on the shoulder. She jumped, and whirled around. When she realized who it was, she took a step back.
That move hurt Richard more than anything had in a while. He’d gotten over Anita’s inability to deal with his beast, but for Fred to shy away before she even knew about his nature…
Illyria saw the look of hurt that fell over his eyes, and knew that her reaction to his touch had saddened him for some reason. She hurried to explain. "I’m sorry, I didn’t mean… I had a really bad dream last night, having a bit of trouble dealing with it. You just scared me, that’s all."
He was flooded with relief. "Bad dreams I can deal with," he said, drawing her into a hug, "just tell me about it." He was surprised when she started shaking.
"I can’t; not here, not now. Just know that it was one of my worst fears playing out in front of me."
He assumed that she was dreaming about her lover’s death again. He only knew sketchy details of the man and his death, but he knew it must have been traumatic. He was content to just hold her until her fears had passed, and didn’t press her for details. She’d tell him when she was ready.
Neither noticed the students standing outside, looking in through the open door. Rumors quickly spread through the school that Mr. Zeeman and Miss Wyndam-Price were dating.
. . . . . . . . . .
They were at Richard’s place, curled up on his couch watching a movie on TV. He’d pulled her close to him, but didn’t say anything. After the movie went off, he didn’t let her go. Instead, he asked the question he’d been dying to all week. "Can you tell me about that dream now? I can tell it’s still bothering you."
"You’re going to think I’m silly."
"Yes, you will. You’re the type of guy that probably has dreamed about having a family since he was little. That was my worst nightmare – barefoot and pregnant in a kitchen, with a pack of kids that wouldn’t stop screaming. My lover was yelling at me, and my friends were there, making fun of me. It just… brought back of lot of my insecurities, I guess."
He hugged her tighter. "Wesley?"
"Not in it for once."
‘Now that’s odd. If Wesley wasn’t the man in her dreams, who was?’ Someone knocking on the door disrupted his train of thought. He reluctantly let go of Fred, and got up to answer the door. He couldn’t have been more shocked to see a bloody Asher on his doorstep, carrying an unconscious Jason. He quickly stepped out of Asher’s way. Fred had gotten up from the sofa, and was standing next to him.
"What’s going on?"
"Attack at the circus. Since Jean-Claude and Anita are out of town, I’m in charge. Lillian’s not answering her phone, and neither are you." Richard had forgotten that he’d taken the phone off the hook earlier so that he and Fred wouldn’t be interrupted. "I had to bring him here."
"What can he do? Why not take him to a hospital?" Richard was a high school teacher, not a doctor. Fred was very confused as to why the blonde man thought that Richard could help him.
Richard ran his fingers through his hair. He knew he’d have to tell Fred about his extracurricular activities sooner or later, but he always thought it would be later. "I’m sorry, there’s a lot I haven’t told you. I’ll understand if you want to leave. Don’t worry about hurting my feelings. I’m a werewolf king. Jason’s one of my wolves. I can coax his beast out to heal him."
She certainly wasn’t expecting that, but it didn’t matter. She reached out and grabbed his hand. "Nothing you can say will make me run. But we do need to talk…"