PAIRING: Spike/Willow. Spike/Buffy, Spike/Tara implied
RATING: NC-17 overall
SPOILERS: Season 6 through “As You Were”.
DISCLAIMER: All hail Joss Whedon, UPN, the WB, FOX, Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. GO team! Theirs, not mine.
AUTHOR”S NOTE: Quotes are used from the script to “Intervention” by Jane Espenson.
DISTRIBUTION: Please ask my permission first, just so I know where it’s headed.
FEEDBACK: Sure, fire away to firstname.lastname@example.org
“That’s perfect, Will,” he said. “Now we just need to get these in the mail as soon as we can.”
“We’ll print out the mailing labels next,” she said. “We should definitely be able to get these to the post office before noon.” She turned and saw me standing there, and her whole face lit up. “Hey,” she said, happily. “You’re back.” She ran over and hugged me tightly. “What do you have?” she asked, looking at my packages.
“Presents for you,” I said in a low voice, as I grabbed her hand and walked her to the kitchen. I put the box on the counter and put the bag behind me.
“I want to see the presents,” she said, trying to peek around me.
“After we have dinner, and you come back here with me, then you can have them,” I said. I leaned down and kissed her, running my hands over the curves of her body. She looked really amazing today, her skin glowing, her eyes bright. She wore a black scarf around her neck. I thought of the reason why, of the bite marks that she was covering, and was filled with a wave of longing. I wanted to be alone with her.
“After you tell me that you’ll spend the night with me.”
“You brought me bribes to get me to sleep over?” she said incredulously.
“Yep.” I raised my eyebrows. “Think it will work?”
Xander and Anya came in the room. He came over and slapped my back. “I can’t tell you how happy we are,” he said with a smile. “What you did, making the wedding happen, we are just so grateful.”
I was a little overwhelmed by all the attention. “It wasn’t that big a deal, really,” I told them.
“We want to take you out tonight to thank you,” said Anya.
“I have plans with Red,” I said. “We were going out for curry.” Richard came in and helped himself to a beer.
“Indian food!” said Anya. “That’s a great idea. We can go to the Jewel of India. It’s really good. It’s downtown, near the Sun.”
“That’s where I was going to take her,” I said. For our first date, alone.
“Well, that works out nicely then,” said Anya. “Richard, maybe you and Buffy could come too?”
“I’ll ask her when she gets here,” he said. “I’d love to go. That’s one of my favorite restaurants.”
“We had really wanted to be alone,” Willow said apologetically. “It was supposed to be our first date.”
“You’re orgasm friends,” Anya said. “It’s not like it’s a real date, with you sitting there holding hands and whispering love poetry. You’re just two people who hang out and get together all naked and sweaty sometimes. It doesn’t really mean anything.”
Willow looked like she’d been punched in the gut. “I should go check on the flyers,” she said hurriedly, and left the room.
“You shouldn’t have said that,” I said angrily.
“Why not?” she asked, confused. “Isn’t it the truth?” No, I wanted to say. It’s not. But it was, sort of, although it sounded wrong that way. It didn’t begin to explain how much she meant to me.
I walked out to the living room and Willow was sitting on the floor, folding flyers. “Red?” I said, walking over to her. She startled, dropping a stack of papers in a flurry. I sat down next to her and helped put them back into a pile. She folded each paper into thirds and sealed it shut, putting a mailing label on each one.
“This is really frustrating,” she said. “I used to be able to wiggle my nose and make them fold and seal themselves. Now I just have to sit here, slow as molasses.”
“Oh, don’t be that way, Red,” I said to her. “You’ve got two hands, same as any of us.”
“That’s about all I have to offer,” she said. “Two little hands.”
I lifted one of her hands to my mouth and turned it over, gently kissing her wrist. “I love these hands,” I told her. “I love the things they do to me.” I bit her gently on her soft skin, and pressed a kiss into her palm.
She shuddered. “How can you do that?” she asked me, her eyes wide.
“Do what, kitten?” I asked as I sucked her fingertips into my mouth.
“Make nonsexy parts seem so sexy,” she said, closing her eyes.
“You’re a sexual muse,” I told her as I kissed her fingers. “You inspire me to new heights.”
She smiled at me. “You have a way of making me feel so beautiful,” she said.
“That’s because you are,” I told her. “Beautiful inside and out, mind, heart and soul.” I pulled her into my lap, and kissed her thoroughly as I stroked her back. I pulled away and smiled down at her. “Do we have a happy Willow again?”
She smiled back. “One happy Willow coming right up.” She kissed me again, and I cupped her face gently, savoring the taste and feel of her. We broke the kiss and she hugged me tightly around the neck. “Flyers,” she said, scrambling out of my lap. “I have to finish these up and get them to the post office.”
“Let me help you with them,” I said. “I’ll drive you down there.” I followed her lead, folding the flyers and preparing them for the mail.
She shook her head. “I’m going home after that. I have some things to do.”
Richard and Anya came out. “All the calls have been made,” Anya announced. “We have officially notified everyone of the change in plans.”
They sat down and helped fold the flyers, Xander joining us a few minutes later. I helped Willow stack them into a box and she stood up, pulling her brightly colored hemp tote over her shoulder. “Let me carry this for you,” I offered. “I’ll just help you with this and drop you home.”
“I’ll drop her off and take the flyers to the post office,” said Anya. “I’m leaving now anyway to open up the Magic Box.”
Xander looked at me. “I noticed that the paint for the dining room is still sitting in the cans. Richard and I have the day off. With the three of us working, we can get it done pretty quickly.”
I thought of Tara, sitting at the table, tapping on the paint chips. “I’m not sure I want to paint it anymore,” I told them.
Richard looked puzzled. “It will look much better in there without the flat white paint,” he said. “And you already bought all the stuff that you need.”
I was being stupid. Paint wasn’t an emotional issue. It was just paint. “You’re right, it will. I’d appreciate it if you would help.”
“We should get going,” said Anya. “We’ll leave you three to your manly home improvement stuff.”
“We’ll meet you at the restaurant at seven?” asked Xander. She nodded and he kissed her. He picked up the box and walked her out.
”Should I come by the house and pick you up?” I asked Willow.
She shook her head. “I’ll meet you here at five,” she said. She turned to leave.
“Aren’t you going to kiss me goodbye?” I asked her. She looked over her shoulder and blew me a kiss, closing the door behind her.
“I don’t understand women,” I said. “She’ll sleep with me, but won’t stay the night. I kissed her five minutes ago, but she won’t kiss me goodbye.”
“They don’t think the way we do,” said Richard. “They’re not wired the same way we are.” We walked into the kitchen and I grabbed a bag of blood from the fridge while he peeled an orange. I morphed into my demon and tore into the bag.
“That is one ugly mug you’ve got there, man,” he said, watching me feed.
I pulled my mouth away from the bag. “What do you mean?”
He looked at me oddly. “The fangs, the face,” he said, gesturing at his forehead. “Kind of scary.”
“That’s the whole point,” I told him. “Vampires are supposed to be frightening. We’re predators.”
“Wouldn’t it make more sense to look like humans?” he asked. “I mean, something like that comes up to me in an alley, it’s a pretty big hint that something bad is going to happen.”
He had a point. “True enough, “ I said. “It definitely doesn’t help us to blend. Makes it easier for the Slayer to tell who to stake, though.” I polished off the bag of blood and tossed it in the trash, and my demon receded.
Xander came in, running his hands through his badly mussed hair. “You have lipstick on your mouth,” Richard pointed out. Xander swiped it away with the back of his hand.
“And a hickey on your neck,” I said. I laughed. “Scooby girls are an oral lot, aren’t they? They all like to bite.” Xander looked at me oddly. “Not that I would know about Anya first hand,” I said hurriedly. “I mean, we only had that one date, and we didn’t even get that far.”
“Didn’t get far?” he said. “Exactly how far did you get?”
Whoops. “Nowhere,” I told him. “Got nowhere with her. Still all kinds of hung up on you, she was. And it all worked out in the end, didn’t it? You’re in love and you’re getting married. All’s well that ends well.”
“Let’s get started on the painting,” Richard suggested. We walked into the dining room and pushed the table and chairs out into the hallway, laying down drop cloths on the floor.
“I’ll go get the ladder,” I offered. I walked down the hallway and opened the door to Tara’s room. My heart ached as I stood in the doorway, smelling the traces of her scent. Her bed was made in the sheets and blankets that she’d picked out. I remembered our fight in the Super Mart, her tossing the wastebasket at my head. I pulled down the ladder and carried it from the room.
Richard and Xander had already set up the trays of paint and were taping around the baseboards. They finished up and we began to paint, each taking a wall and rolling it on. “You know,” Xander said. “Anya and I weren’t planning on having a very fancy wedding. Money is tight, we couldn’t afford what we really wanted.” He paused. “We weren’t going to have any attendants, but now that we have the Pierre, we want to make some changes. I know it’s not much notice, but I would really like for the two of you to be part of the wedding party, now that it’s more of a formal occasion.”
“I’d be honored,” Richard said. “Thank you.”
“Thanks,” I said to Xander. “I would really like that.”
“Do we need to rent tuxedoes?” asked Richard.
Xander shook his head. “We’re going to have a theme wedding,” he said. “You’ll need to get costumes.”
We stood back and admired our handiwork. The dining room glowed faintly, the walls beautifully painted champagne satin. “We kick ass,” Xander said proudly. “Seriously, we could do this professionally.” We walked into the kitchen and popped open some beers, sitting around the table.
“That was hard work,” I said. “Painting around that chandelier was a real bitch.”
“Not to mention whoever built the house apparently didn’t own a level,” said Richard. “There isn’t a plumb angle anywhere in that room.”
“I think that it was added onto in stages,” I commented. “I think that the house started with just the main living room and then was built out and up, adding on what was needed.”
“I think that you should put in a Jacuzzi,” said Xander, rubbing his shoulder. “That’s what this house really needs.”
I swigged my beer. “I put one in,” I said. “It’s in the basement.”
“No shit?” said Richard.
“No shit,” I said. “I’ll show you.”
They followed me down the stairs. The previously unfinished basement was now paneled in wood, the only exception the wall that held the metal access door to the tunnels. Wooden decking comprised a series of low stairs, with a cover over the hot tub. I pulled it off to reveal the green fiberglass eight-person tub, and turned on the controls. “You put in hot tub in a house you’re renting?” Xander said incredulously.
“Bought the house. The owner was eager to sell. It wasn’t difficult; she hadn’t been able to get it off her hands because it was haunted. I didn’t tell her the spooks had moved on,” I said. “Myself, I’m done moving on. I’m settling in.” I laughed. “And this place is fully covered for fire. Buffy can go ahead and burn this one out.”
Richard wandered over to a wooden structure in the corner. “What is this?”
“Sauna,” I told him. “Tara loved the heat, so I ordered a sauna. She never even saw it, or the hot tub.”
”Well, I think we should try the thing out,” said Xander. “My back is killing me and this is too good to be true.” He stripped down to his boxers and jumped in. Richard and I followed suit. We relaxed in the hot water, the bubbles massaging away the stress of painting.
“If we had beer, this would be heaven,” said Richard. I leaned over and flipped open the built in cooler, tossing each guy a beer.
“I’m never leaving here again,” said Xander. “I’m moving in.” I drank a few beers, until the warmth of the water and the alcohol had the edges of the world roughed down into a nice, hazy blur.
“Hello? Is anyone home?” Buffy called out upstairs.
“We’re in the basement,” called Richard.
Buffy walked down the stairs. “Wow, it’s a hot tub,” she said.
“Way to be observy, Buff,” said Xander.
“Why are you all naked in a hot tub?” asked Buffy.
“We’re not naked, we’re wearing underwear,” said Richard.
“Come on in. It’s very nice,” I said.
“I don’t have a suit,” she said.
“Strip down to your bra and panties,” suggested Xander.
“You guys sound like the beginning of a bad porno,” she said. Richard looked at her. “From what I’ve heard,” she said lamely.
“If you’re going to be a sissy about it, you can put one of my shirts on,” I suggested. “Upstairs in my room, dresser has a bunch of them.”
She came back shortly after, black t-shirt covering her to her knees. She had a Diet Coke in her hand and had pinned her hair up with a plastic clip. She maneuvered herself into the tub, sitting gingerly down next to Richard without a splash. She opened her Coke and took a sip. “This is really nice,” she said, leaning back against Richard. “This feels so good.”
“Did you see the dining room?” asked Xander. “We painted it.”
“I’ll pop my head in when I go upstairs,” she said. “So aren’t we supposed to be running around, getting the wedding stuff fixed?”
“All is now well, thanks to Spike,” said Xander.
“I don’t recall hearing that phrase before,” she said, smiling at me.
“What can I say,” I said. “I’m the man of the hour.”
“We’re going to be in the wedding,” said Richard. “I get to escort you.”
“Who are you going to be?” said Buffy excitedly. “I’m going to be-“
“Hello?” called out a voice from upstairs.
“That’s Dawn,” said Buffy. She struggled to get up. “We should get out.”
“It’s a hot tub, not a Roman orgy,” Xander said. “It’s not going to corrupt her.”
”Come on downstairs, Niblet,” I called.
Dawn came downstairs. “Hey, hot tub,” she said. She smiled. “Buffy’s in a hot tub with three naked guys. Mom would be so proud.”
“They’re not naked,” Buffy said. “They’re wearing underwear.”
“Go put on one of Spike’s t-shirts and come back,” said Xander. Dawn left.
“You didn’t tell her to strip down to her bra and panties and hop in,” I said.
“I’m not a pervert,” said Xander. “I don’t want to see little Dawnie in her bra.”
“But you wanted to see me in mine?” Buffy asked.
Xander paused. “Is there a right answer to that question?” We all laughed.
Dawn came back and sat down in the tub, draped in my t-shirt. I pulled a Coke from the cooler and handed it to her. “This feels great,” she said with a smile. “I had a totally suck day at school and this is so nice.”
“What happened at school, pet?” I asked her.
“The strap broke on my sandal and I had to tape it down,” she said. “The tape kept pulling up and the strap kept flapping around. People made fun of me all day.”
“That does suck,” said Buffy. “We’ll have to buy you a new pair. And hopefully some more new stuff for school too.” She looked at her sister. “I quit DP today.”
Dawn looked conflicted. “Should I be, yay, because that job totally sucked for you, or boo, because now we’re going to starve?”
“Richard has a friend that owns a temp agency,” she said. “I went there today and they’re going to pay me to train, to learn how to type and use Word and Excel. In a few weeks I’ll be able to get a job making a lot more than I made at fast food, and I won’t smell like grease any more.” She smiled looking thrilled to bits.
“That is really great news, Buffy,” said Xander.
“I’m really proud of you,” said Dawn. She hugged her sister tightly, both of them smiling widely.
“So we’re going out tonight to celebrate the wedding fixage,” said Xander. “We hoping you and Richard would come. We’re going to Jewel of India.”
“Sure,” she said. “I’m definitely in a mood to celebrate.” She turned to Dawn. “Do you mind if I go out?”
“Janice’s mom invited me to dinner,” she said. “I was going to ask if I could go.”
“You’re welcome to bring Janice to dinner if you want,” offered Xander.
Dawn shook her head. “Indian food is yuck,” she said. “And Janice’s mom is making lasagna. It’s the best thing in the whole world.”
“I don’t blame you for wanting a real meal,” said Buffy. “I’ve been feeding you fast food for weeks.” She looked guilty. “I wish I’d paid attention in Skills for Living in eighth grade. The sewing and cooking would come in handy about now.”
“I have a cookbook,” I told her. “It has pictures, shows you just what to do. It’s simple really. I’ll show you.”
“You’re learning to cook?” she said. “Why?”
“It’s fun,” I said. “And it’s nice to make food for all you human types. Can’t exactly ask you to come by my house for a nice goblet of blood, can I?”
She smiled. “Yeah, but the idea of you in an apron hovering over the stove is too funny.”
“I don’t wear an apron,” I said, offended.
“The guy makes a mean omelet,” said Richard.
“I’m expanding my repertoire,” I told him. “There’s a recipe for Chicken Kiev that I want to try. I want to make dinner for Willow, but I need to practice making it before I use her as a guinea pig.”
“So what’s going on with you and Willow?” asked Dawn. “I stopped by the house and she was going through all the boxes of magic stuff that we put away. I asked her what she was doing and she said she was bringing some of it over here.”
“First I’ve heard of it,” I said.
“It was supposed to be a surprise,” Buffy said admonishingly. “Spike is interested in Wicca and Willow is bringing things over to get him started with.” I smiled, thinking of how sweet that was.
“Did Red tell you about the Wicca class?” I asked her.
“Yep,” said Buffy. “All systems go. We’ll all be there to support her.” She looked thoughtful. “And I think that what you’re doing is right, Spike. I think that Wicca is a really important part of her life and she’ll be much happier when she can get back into it.”
“But she could get mixed up in the dark stuff,” said Xander. “It’s really dangerous.”
“The dark stuff that she got into isn’t part of Wicca. It was a wrong turn that she took. That’s why we’ll be there to help her,” I told him. “Not breathing down her neck, just supportive of her.”
“She seemed really excited,” said Dawn. “She was humming and smiling. I haven’t seen her look like that in months.”
Richard stood up from the tub. “If we’re going to go out to dinner, I should get home and clean up,” he said.
He helped Buffy up. “We’ll get going too,” she said. “I should help Dawn with her homework before we both go out for the night.”
Xander stood up. “So we’ll meet there at seven?”
“Seven works,” I said. I got up and handed out towels from the rack next to the tub.
A small hand closed around my wrist and I turned to look in Dawn’s eyes. “I know I’m just a kid and I’m not supposed to understand,” she said quietly. “But I do.”
“What do you mean?” I asked her.
“This thing with you and Willow,” she said. “Be careful. You’ve both had to go through so much pain. Try not to hurt her, and don’t let her hurt you.”
“You don’t understand, pet,” I said. “It’s not-“
“Wild crazy sex thing?” she said. “Dumped boy gets it on with dumped girl?” I looked at her, stunned. “Just be careful. Things that look simple on the outside can turn out to be more complicated than you think.”
I answered the door. Willow stood outside. She wore a long black cloak and carried a bag over her shoulders. I opened the door wide and let her in. She pulled a ribbon at her throat and the cloak fell to the floor. She turned to look at me, an enigmatic smile on her face. Her hair was straight and sleek, falling around her bare shoulders. She wore a black leather bustier and a long black skirt, her neck circled with twisted strands of jet. Her lips were painted red, her eyes lined with kohl. She was all flame and darkness, and I flashed back to her hair against my coat, the red strands sliding over the leather. “You’re unusually quiet,” she said with a grin.
“Come to bed,” I said, and grabbed her hand. The bag that she was carrying dropped to the floor.
“No bed,” she said, laughing. “It’s not bed time.”
“It is now,” I said, sweeping her into my arms and carrying her down the hall.
She looked up at me, her eyes dancing with humor. “Haven’t you ever heard that good things come to those who wait?”
“He who hesitates is lost,” I declared, as I dumped her on my bed.
“Slow and steady wins the race,” she countered.
“In delay there lies no plenty,” I said as I pulled off her tall leather boot.
“What’s that from?” she asked.
“Shakespeare,” I replied. “Sonnet twenty-six.” I threw her other boot across the room.
“You really need to show off more of that big brain of yours,” she said. “Smart men are sexy.”
I pulled off her skirt; revealing that she was naked underneath, save for two filmy stockings that covered her legs, ending at the thigh in a wide band of black lace. “Look at you,” I said admiringly.
She smiled up at me. “I’m exploring my naughty side.”
“Good thing I’m dead,” I said. “This get up would stop the heart of a lesser man.” I unfastened her bodice and slid it from underneath her. The large bite on her breast had scabbed over, contrasting sharply with the pale skin surrounding it. I bent my head and covered the wound with delicate kisses. She caressed the back of my neck, making soft mewling noises that made me hard as a rock. I licked her, tracing over the edges of the scab, drifting over to her nipple, licking her until she was hard in my mouth.
I moved my mouth to her other breast and nipped at it, licking and sucking her nipple until she was pulling at my pants and biting at my neck. “Please,” she said. “Now.”
“No,” I said. I pulled off her stocking and tied her wrists together. “Good things come to those who wait,” I told her seriously. “Slow and steady wins the race.”
She slid her leg around mine, pulling me close to her. “You’re evil,” she said breathily.
I grinned. “You don’t know the half of it, love,” I said as I trailed kisses down her chest. I licked her navel, laving her with my tongue while my hands slid down her sides, exploring the soft skin of her ribs, hips, the sides of her ass. I moved my mouth down to her clit, and licked her once, long and slow. She cried out, and I did it again. Even more gently, even more slowly, until she was writhing and squirming and begging me, and all I was doing was blowing a gentle stream of air across the surface of her swollen bud.
I rolled over next to her and looked at her. “Sleeping over tonight?” I asked casually. She rolled on top of me, struggling to loosen her hands. I grabbed her wrists with my hand and rubbed her clit with my other hand. “Tell me,” I said.
“No,” she said through clenched teeth. “I won’t.” I rubbed harder and licked her neck, working her up until she was ready to explode, and then I stopped. “Bastard,” she said.
“I’m a right bastard, “ I said, as I nuzzled her shoulder. “But you want me, don’t you?”
“Yes,” she said, melting in my arms.
“Tell me you’ll stay the night and you’ll be coming in seconds,” I told her, lightly biting along her collarbone.
“Undo my hands,” she said, grinding against me.
“Tell me you’ll stay,” I told her, my fingers circling her nipples.
She looked down at me and her eyes glowed with golden sparkles. “Bind,” she said. My hands locked together, bound by an invisible force. “Unbind,” she said, and her stocking untwisted, freeing her hands.
“No fair using the mojo, Red,” I told her. ”You’re supposed to be using your powers for good, not evil.”
“There’s a long, fine history of sex magic,” she said, as she pulled off my pants. “The goddess approves, trust me.” She smiled down at me. “An it harm none, do what thou wilt,” she said. She leaned over and kissed me, her hands sliding down my body. Everywhere that she touched, my body burned. I was scorched by desire, totally enflamed by this woman. “Do you like the way I make you feel?” she whispered against my lips.
“More than anything,” I told her. She licked my eyebrow, my collarbone, my jaw, and I moved my head, trying to gain her mouth, but she kept just out of reach. “Please, Willow,” I said to her.
“Tell me that you need me,” she whispered in my ear.
“I need you,” I told her. Her hand stroked my cock, sliding up and down, harder and harder, while her other hand swept over my chest, my nipples and my throat, like liquid fire on my skin.
“Tell me that you want me,” she whispered, looking down at me.
“I want you so badly,” I told her, staring in her eyes. “Have mercy.” She guided me inside her, and I closed my eyes, feeling the heat of her slick walls around me. She held my hands in hers as she thrust on me, and I trembled with frustration, wanting to touch her, and being forced to submit to her will. I bucked underneath her, moving my hips, and with every thrust she stilled, only moving again when I stopped. I closed my eyes and I was lost, seized by her need, her desire, and I surrendered willingly. I gave myself up to her utterly, eclipsed within her, gladly lost within her.
We walked hand in hand down the street, and Willow whistled happily. “Something put you in a good mood, pet?” I asked her.
She turned to smile at me. “Something.”
I ran my thumb over her fingers. “Someone?” I teased.
“Maybe,” she said, smiling softly.
“You’re a real piece of work,” I said. “Can’t give an inch on anything, can you?”
“You’re no pushover yourself,” she said, looking over at me. “You give as good as you get.”
“I’ll get down on bended knee in the street if I have to,” I told her. “Just say you’ll spend the night.”
“I’ll think about it,” she said with a grin, and kissed me. We reached the restaurant and I opened the door for her.
We were overwhelmed with the scent of curry. A petite woman in a sari smiled at me. “Can I help you sir?” I looked past her, and saw the Scoobies gathered around the table.
“That’s our party over there,” said Willow with a smile. We walked over to the table and I pulled out her chair. She smiled up at me and we sat down.
“Sorry we’re late,” I said with a smirk. “Car wouldn’t start.” Xander gave me a dirty look.
“Look at you,” said Buffy, admiring Willow. “All sexy and leathery and all.”
Xander looked over his menu. “You didn’t turn her, did you Spike?” he asked. “Last time she had a changing of the look, she was an evil vampire who wanted to kill all of us.”
“Don’t think I’ve heard that story, pet,” I said, putting my arm around Willow.
“Please change the subject,” said Anya. “Because we’ll have to get into the whole blame conversation again, and fingers will be pointing at me, and I really hate that.”
The waiter came over to our table. “What would you all like to order?” Richard leafed through the menu, ordering for himself and Buffy.
“How spicy do you like your curry?” I asked Willow.
“Spicy, the hotter the better,” she replied.
I smiled at her. “Girl after my own heart. Now, do you trust me to order for you, or are you going to fight with me over that as well?”
“I submit to your expertise,” she said with a grin. “But just this once.”
“Sir?” the waiter said to me.
“We’ll start with Vegetable Samosa and follow with Chicken Vindaloo and Lamb Korma, very spicy,” I said. “And lots of paratha, please.”
“And to drink?” he asked, writing down the order.
“Double gin on the rocks for me and a Coke for the lady,” I replied.
“I’m the lady,” said Willow gaily. “I didn’t think men talked like that anymore.”
“I have a full complement of manners at my disposal,” I told her. “I can be as courtly as the next man.”
“Spike the elegant and courteous date,” she said with a smile. “You are just full of surprises.”
“I am a man of many hidden talents,” I said.
“Like what?” she said.
“If you spend the night with me I’ll show you,” I said, as I kissed her cheek.
“You have a one track mind,” she said, caressing my face.
“You’re the one who laid the track,” I told her. “Dressing all delicious, smelling so nice, having such soft skin.” I trailed my hand over her exposed shoulder. She leaned over and brushed my lips with hers.
“Can you two stop being all smiling and cuddly?” asked Buffy. “It’s just so- weird.”
“And for the love of God, stop touching each other,” said Xander.
Willow looked miffed. “I’ve had to watch Riley kissage, and even Cordelia kissage. I was never PDA girl with Oz or Tara. It’s your turn to deal with watching the smoochies.”
The waiter returned, bearing a tray of drinks and passing them out. I took a large sip of my gin. “What does that taste like?” asked Willow. I held out the glass. She took a tiny sip. “It’s very strong,” she said.
“You’d probably like it with a bit of tonic and some lime,” I told her. “And it really is the perfect complement to the curries we’ll be having. It accentuates the flavor.”
“He’s right,” said Richard. “Gin and tonic is the only way to go with Indian food.”
“I think cold beer is perfect,” argued Xander. “Takes the bite off the curry, but it’s smooth. None of that aftertaste that you get from hard liquor.”
“But that’s part of the experience,” said Richard. “The aftertaste works with the curry. The flavors mingle.”
“Just try it, Xander,” I told him. The waiter came back, bearing loaves of paratha and the appetizers. I tore off a piece of the flat bread and fed it to Willow. “This is my absolute favorite thing,” I told her.
She munched appreciatively. “This is really good.” We both dug in, eating bread and the vegetable turnovers. The table was quiet as we all ate.
“I absolutely love this place,” said Richard. “When my folks came out her from Ann Arbor, this was where I brought them to dinner.”
“We should have booked this restaurant for the rehearsal dinner,” said Anya. “This food is so incredible.”
“Just wait until you try the curries,” I said. The waiter brought out the entrees, filling the table with platters of steaming food. We all shared, sampling a bit of everything.
“I don’t think that I can eat anymore,” said Buffy. “I am so full.”
“That’s the most that I have ever seen you eat,” said Richard. “I’m glad that you’re getting your appetite back.” She smiled at him and gave him a peck on the cheek.
Anya checked her watch. “There is a double feature at the Sun in twenty minutes,” she said. “Xander and I are going to go. ”
“What’s playing?” asked Buffy.
“’Jean de Florette’ and ‘Manon of the Spring’,” I told her. “French films, subtitles.”
“That sounds kind of boring,” said Buffy.
“They’re really brilliant films,” said Willow. “Masterpieces, really. Although I don’t think the subtitles are very good. I don’t like the way that they translated the dialogue.”
“That’s the nice thing about speaking the language,” I said. “You can just ignore the subtitles and immerse yourself in the story.”
“I think we’ll pass on the frog filmfest,” said Buffy. Richard laughed.
“I’d like to pass too, but I can’t get out of it,” said Xander. “It is but one of the sacrifices that I make for love.”
“If you really don’t want to see them, then we can do something else,” said Anya, disappointed.
“We’re going to go,” said Willow. “You can come with us.”
“I’ll take her,” said Xander. “I’d rather be with her and bored than apart from her and having fun.” He frowned. “That didn’t come out right.”
We paid the check and said our goodbyes to Richard and Buffy. We walked down the street to the movie theater, buying our tickets and going inside. The lobby was decorated in Art Deco style, the refreshment counter a sweeping curve of shining chrome. “Do you want any candy or popcorn?” I asked Willow.
“I’d like a box of bonbons,” she said.
“I can’t believe that you have room for anything,” said Anya. “I don’t think that I’ll ever eat again.”
“I always get bonbons at the Sun,” she said. “It’s part of the whole experience.”
We paid for our refreshments and Willow took my hand as we walked up the wide carpeted stairs to the balcony. We sat down in the faded velvet seats and looked down onto the screen below. Anya sat on my left with Willow on my right.
Willow sank down in her seat and leaned her head back, contemplating the ceiling. I looked up, seeing the gigantic mural that covered the arched roof, a sun, brightly gilded, on a clear blue sky. “Do you ever miss the sun?” she asked.
I leaned back in my seat so that we were looking from the same perspective. “It’s been such a long time, I don’t even think about it anymore,” I told her.
Willow looked thoughtful. “If you’d had a choice, to never see the sun or never see the moon, which would you have chosen?”
I thought about it. “I was very different when I was alive, and I hadn’t seen much of the world. I probably would have chosen the sun.”
“But you’re glad that you live in the dark?” she asked, turning to look at me.
“I like the dark,” I told her. “I like the peace in it, the anonymity of it. You can hide, and change, and be whoever you want to be.”
“Do you think that what Manon did was wrong?” asked Willow. We were walking down the street towards the car.
“I think that she was justified in getting revenge for her father’s death,” I said. “The Soubeyrans destroyed her life, her father’s life. They deserved to be destroyed in turn.”
“Revenge is wrong,” she said. “I know that, intellectually. But when it happens to you, it suddenly becomes personal. It’s hard to stay objective, to keep your focus.”
“Like when you fought Glory,” I said. “I still can’t believe that you did that. Hubris. You’re the only mortal I’ve ever known who has gone toe to toe with a god and survived.”
“Buffy,” she said.
“Buffy didn’t survive, did she? And she’s the Slayer.”
“You think it was stupid, what I did, don’t you?” she asked me.
“It was stupid. But I understand why you did it. The real question is, do you understand why it was wrong?”
“Because revenge is wrong?” she said.
“No. Because we could have lost you, too. You would have been dead, Tara lost forever and Buffy as well, in the end.” I stopped her. “Would you do it again? If you had to go back and do it again?”
“I would,” she said, unwavering. “I’d do it in a heartbeat.”
Something shoved me hard from behind, slamming me into a wall. I heard Willow scream, a high-pitched yelp that was quickly smothered. I turned around, enraged, to find two tall figures carrying Willow along, down the alley. They shimmered, their appearances altered by magic, and I didn’t know who or what they were.
I snarled, my demon in full force as I lunged at the back of the one nearest me. He turned and kicked, and I dodged it, cuffing him soundly across the head. The chip didn’t go off. You’re dead, motherfucker. I smashed his head into the wall repeatedly, sending bits of masonry flying into the air. Soon he fell down and stopped moving.
I turned around and ran down the alley, but I didn’t see anyone. “Willow!” I screamed, beginning to panic. I couldn’t catch her scent or get a feel for where she was. Someone was cloaking her, so I wouldn’t find her. “Willow!” I ran down the street, but it was deserted, nowhere in sight. “Willow!” I yelled.
*Spike.* I could have sworn that I heard her voice.
“Willow?” I said aloud.
*Spike, can you hear me?*
“I can hear you, Red,” I answered. “Tell me where you are. I’m coming for you.”
*They threw something over my head, I can’t see anything,* she said.
“They’re cloaking you,” I told her. “I can’t smell you or sense you.”
*Breadcrumbs,* she said simply.
“Breadcrumbs?” I could have sworn there was a hint of laughter in her mental “voice” at the question.
*I’m dropping little glowing specks behind me. Follow them to find me,* she instructed.
“I don’t know where to start,” I told her.
*We took a left, a right, than a left again* I followed her directions and was soon rewarded by a spot of glitter lying on the floor.
“I’m coming baby,” I said. “I’m coming.” I ran down the alleyway, following the trail of glitter.
*Spike! Hurry! They’re putting me inside something and it’s really small and dark* She sounded scared, and I dug down deep and ran as fast as I could. *Ouch! Something sharp poked my arm* I rounded the corner just in time to see a shimmering figure slam a trunk closed on a large sedan.
I leapt on him, pounding him into the ground. Something shot out from his hand and rolled across the pavement. He turned on his stomach and tried to punch me, but I grabbed his fist and squeezed with all my might. I heard bones shatter as he screamed. I grabbed his head and twisted swiftly, a loud crunch signaling that I’d broken his neck.
I stood up. “Willow?” She didn’t answer me, but I knew she had to be there. I rifled through the corpse’s pocket, finding the keys. I tried all of them in on the trunk, but none of them fit. I began to panic, worried that she couldn’t breathe, worried that she was hurt. “Willow, answer me,” I said. I still couldn’t feel her or sense her.
I finally just punched out the lock on the trunk and opened it up. There was a pile of papers and trash bags, and I moved them aside to find Willow underneath. She was pale, her lips tinged with blue, and she wasn’t moving. I leaned over and saw the faint rise of her chest, felt warm breath coming from her mouth. She had a puncture on her forearm.
I went back over to the side of the car and crept along, searching for what the other demon had dropped. My hand closed on a syringe. I picked it up and smelled it. Cardiolis. A powerful tranquilizer for demons, even more so for humans. Not fatal, but enough to knock out a little thing like Willow for hours. The demon was revealed, the cloaking undone by its death. A Fyarl demon. Someone had spent a lot of money getting some serious muscle for this job.
I picked up Willow and carried her in my arms. I walked back to my car and gently settled her in the backseat. I drove home carefully, watching her in my mirror. Soon we arrived at the house, and I picked her up and carried her to my bed. I undressed us both, and tucked us in together. I lay on her breast, soothed by the strong sound of her heartbeat.
All through the night, I held her hand and listened to the sound of her heart. As dawn neared, she began to stir. She opened her eyes and looked up at me with a smile. “I knew you’d save me,” she said.
“You helped,” I told her. “You are quite the resourceful little witch.”
She closed her eyes again and stretched. “I feel really sluggish,” she said. She looked over at me. “They injected me with something. A tranquilizer?”
“Cardiolis,” I told her. “Knocked you out for a good six hours.”
“Do you know who they were?” she asked. “Do you know what they wanted?”
“All I know is that they were Fyarl demons and they won’t be bothering you again,” I told her.
She looked at me searchingly. “Did you interrogate them ,to find out who sent them?”
“I wasn’t really thinking that clearly,” I admitted. “I was enraged and scared and I killed them both.”
“Why were you scared?” she asked. “I’ve seen you fight much bigger-“
“I wasn’t scared of the demons, pet. I was scared that you’d been hurt, or worse,” I said. “Just the thought of losing you-“ my voice thickened with tears that I refused to shed, and I turned away.
“I’m fine,” she said, caressing my back. “No harm, no bad. I’m still here.” She kissed my shoulders, then the back of my neck, and I turned and covered her lips with mine, holding her tightly.
She pulled away and kissed my cheek, backing away. “If you’re thinking of leaving, you’d best get over it pretty damn quickly,” I told her.
“It’s nearly morning,” she said. “I should go home.”
“I want you here with me,” I told her. “You belong here with me.”
She was quiet for a moment. “No, I don’t,” she said, and pulled on her stocking.
“Just wait a minute, Red.” She ignored me and continued to dress. I turned on the light and went to the closet, returning with the bag I had bought for her. I handed it to her. She looked at me questioningly. “The presents,” I told her. “The bribes to make you stay.”
She pulled out the contents and lay them down on the bed. A silk nightgown, ivory with pink flowers embroidered on it, and a robe to match. An emerald satin bra and matching panties. Jeans and a green angora sweater. A clear toothbrush, wrapped in plastic. A set of perfume, complete with soap and lotion and dusting powder. A boar bristle hairbrush. A pair of socks, complete with toes. She looked up at me and smiled. “What is all this?”
“Everything I could think of that you would use as an excuse for why you wouldn’t stay,” I explained.
“You really didn’t have to do this,” she said. “You don’t owe me anything.” She reached out and stroked the nightgown.
“I owe you so much, and I have no idea how to make it up to you. I don’t know how to make this right.” She looked at me. “You being in danger tonight, Will, that was my fault. Those were demons, love, not humans.”
“You don’t know that it had anything to do with you,” she said.
“I’m pretty sure that two Fyarl demons weren’t wandering the streets of Sunnydale cruising for cute redheads,” I told her. “I’ve made enemies in this town, and word has probably gotten out that I’m flush at the moment. Kidnap my girl, squeeze me for a few quid, that was probably the plan.”
“I’m not your girl,” she said quietly.
“You are now,” I told her. “Unless you tell me that’s not what you want.”
She looked at me seriously. “You’re the one I want,” she said quietly. “That’s why I can’t stay with you.”
She stood up and began to dress. “I don’t understand you,” I told her. “Why are you always running away?” She ignored me, lacing up her bodice. “Fuck this, Red.” I snatched her hands away, grabbing her wrists. “You want me,” I told her. “You like being with me. Why won’t you stay?”
“Because I’m trying to be smart,” she said angrily. “I’m keeping some distance, keeping a little perspective.” She shrugged off my hold.
“I don’t want you to push me away, I want you to open up to me,” I said as she slid on her skirt. “I’m sick of being on the outside looking in, feeling like I’m getting somewhere with a woman only to have her take off and leave me.”
“I’m not leaving you,” she said as she pulled on her boot. “I’ll be back.”
“But that’s not what I want,” I told her. “I want-“
“I know what you want, I know exactly what you want.” She turned away. “And that’s why I have to go.”
“Please, Willow.” I hated the pleading sound of my own voice.
“I know what’s in your heart, Spike,” she said. “I know exactly what you want to hear, the way you like to be touched, what gets you hot, what turns you off.” She bit her lip. “You handed me the blueprint to being what you want, and I’m trying my best, but I can’t keep up the pretense.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked her.
“I’m helpless against you, you fiend,” she recited. “I want you to bite me and devour me until there’s nothing left.” I felt horrified. The Bot. She’d reprogrammed the Buffybot. She had seen all the information that I’d given Warren, positions, dialogue, everything. “You like a woman who’ll be dominant in bed but who submits to you when you wish,” she said. “You want her to be feminine and needy, but strong and feisty too. You want to bite her, and you want her to like it. You like the thrill of having sex in public. You like leather and long flowing skirts-“
“Stop, please.” I held up my hand.
“I can try,” she said earnestly. “But I’m not a robot. I have feelings, messy complicated feelings. And the second that you understand that, what we have will be done.”
“I don’t want you to be like the bot,” I told her. “I just want you to be yourself, to be Willow.”
She turned and looked at me. “That’s really not what you want.”
“Try me, Willow. Give me a chance.”
“I want something more,” she said. “I want you to hold me, and whisper sweet nothings in my ear. I want to have sex that actually means something, on both sides. I want to wake up in the morning, and look over at you, and know that you belong to me.”
“Don’t look at me like you feel sorry for me.” She turned away. “I knew what I was getting into, when I asked you to have sex. I knew, then, and you made it clear later, with your list of rules and regulations, that I was just a fuck.”
“I shouldn’t have done that,” I said. “I was a total asshole to even say those things to you.”
“You tried to be nice about it,” she said. “You tried to make it something more than meaningless sex. But that’s all it was, all it is, and all it will be. I know that, in my brain. I just have to get it through my heart.”
“You do mean something to me, Will,” I told her. “Tonight, when I lost you, I was panicked. I don’t want to lose you again.” She turned to leave. “Don’t turn your back on me.” I grabbed her shoulder and pulled her around.
“Don’t make this harder,” she said. “I won’t be coming around for a little while. It’s just going to be too painful.” She smiled weakly. “Playing with fire, bound to be burnt.”
“You’re the only thing in my excuse for a life that is keeping me going,” I told her. “If you care for me at all, you’ll stay. Don’t shut me out. I need you, and I care for you so much, as much as I can let myself care for anyone.”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m sorry.” Not another woman, telling me how sorry she was.
I picked her up and tossed her on the bed, pinning her down. “Don’t tell me you’re sorry,” I said. “I don’t want to hear how sorry you are.” I jerked her chin to force her to look in my eyes. “Don’t tell me you’re sorry,” I said. “Tell me the truth.”
“I can’t help myself,” she said. “I can’t help feeling the way I do.” I let her go, and she turned her mouth to mine, and I wrapped my arms around her. She held my head in her hands as we embraced, long and slow and gentle.
“I’ll give you as much as I can,” I told her as she broke the kiss. “I won’t turn you away. I want all of you, all you have to give.” I kissed her all over, marking her, claiming her. I sucked on her nipples, nipping and biting her, making her come over and over as I worked her with my fingers. I entered her forcefully, and she cried out. I ran my hand over her face as I stroked within her, mesmerized by the curve of her jaw, the arch of her brow. We kissed as I moved over her, making love slowly, savoring the moment and each other. She stroked my shoulders, her hands running softly over my skin. I slid my hands down her arms, locking our hands together. She gripped me hard, and tilted her head back. I came with her, both of us consumed by the exquisite sensations that we had made together.
I rested my head on her chest and she kissed my ear. She held me close and kissed my forehead. I began to drift off, filled with peace, satiated and content, when I felt her slip away. “Please stay, love,” I said. The covers pulled and twisted underneath me, and then covered me in their warmth.
Continued in Chapter 12