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.
DISTRIBUTION: Please ask my permission first, just so I know where it’s headed.
FEEDBACK: Sure, fire away to firstname.lastname@example.org
“Stop it, stop it,” said a horrified Dawn, who stood in the corner with Richard. Giles grabbed Xander by the throat and slammed his head into the wall as Xander kicked him hard in the shin.
“Separate,” said Willow. The two men flew apart, landing on opposite sides of the store.
“I like that trick much better when I’m not on the receiving end of it, love,” I told her.
“You’re using magic again,” yelled Xander, advancing on Willow. “I knew Spike was wrong. I knew getting you back into Wicca would be a mistake.”
“Don’t attack me,” Willow said adamantly. “I’m sure you’re upset about Anya, but you have no right taking it out on me, or on Giles.”
“It’s Giles’ fault that Anya’s gone,” said Xander. “He was here, he should have protected her.”
“And you should have been here,” countered Giles. “You should have been here to walk her home. She told me that you don’t even bother, that you don’t have the time. How could you let her walk through Sunnydale alone at night?”
They started screaming again, walking back towards each other. “Hold up,” yelled Buffy. “Just shut up.” They continued to argue, and Buffy and Willow exchanged a look. Red whispered under her breath and the room became quiet, their mouths working but no sound coming out. They stopped and turned to look at her.
“Even if you’d both been here,” said Willow, “they still would have taken Anya. Even the two of you together wouldn’t have been able to stop a Fyarl demon. Much less a pair of them.”
“How do you know it was Fyarl demons?” asked Buffy.
“Two of them tried to kidnap Willow the other night,” I explained. “They shot her up with cardiolis.”
“Why didn’t you tell us about it?” said Buffy.
“We thought it was just some demons trying to shake me down,” I said. “It didn’t occur to me it had anything to do with the Scoobies.”
Xander stepped forward and asked a question, his mouth moving silently. Willow waved her hand. “-check out the demon haunts?” he finished.
“Yeah, definitely,” said Buffy. “Spike and I will go see what we can find out.”
“And I’ll call Clem, get him to head out with me,” said Xander. “We’ll be able to cover more ground that way.” He headed for the telephone.
“And Giles and Willow can stay here and do research,” said Buffy.
“No,” said Giles abruptly. “I know what a Fyarl demon looks like. I was one. I’m not sitting around the shop twiddling my thumbs.” He turned away and began to replace the books in the shelf that had toppled over, his hands shaking slightly.
“We can analyze the syringe, see if we can trace the source,” said Willow. “And we have the other one back at the house to compare it to.”
“Good plan,” said Buffy. “Spike, come with me.”
Willow turned to me. “Do you mind if I take your car?”
I kissed her forehead. “Fine by me, love,” I told her. “Be careful.” I turned away.
“Wait,” she said. “You should change your clothes. I don’t want you to mess up your suit.”
“I’ve got some stuff in the trunk,” I told her. I turned to Buffy. “I’ll be back in a minute.” She nodded and turned back, talking to Richard.
Willow and I walked outside to my car. I opened up the trunk and sorted through it, finding a crumpled shirt and a pair of jeans. I sat down on the curb and untied my dress shoes. I undid my belt and took off my suit pants, handing them to Willow. “Aren’t you afraid that someone will see you?” she asked with a smile, as I slid my jeans up my bare legs.
I buttoned up the fly and turned to her. “I’ve found people in this town turn a blind eye to pretty much anything out of the ordinary.”
I handed her my suit jacket and unbuttoned my shirt, tossing it in the trunk. I slid the t-shirt on over my head. I sat back down and put my shoes on. “I hope I don’t have to do any running tonight in these sodding dress shoes,” I told her. “And I’m really regretting not wearing my duster.” I stood up and took the clothes from her, setting the suit down carefully in the back seat. I took the ring box out of the pocket of my pants and handed it to her. “You’d better keep hold of this,” I said softly. “Wouldn’t want it to get misplaced.”
She cracked it open and looked inside. She looked at me, her expression conflicted. “I said no, Spike,” she said. “So why did you buy a ring anyway?”
“You said not now,” I corrected her. “Not the same as no. Not now implies maybe later.”
“You’re arguing semantics,” she replied.
“I’m notorious for having my big plans fall apart,” I said. “I’m not about to let it happen this time. Got the ring, got the girl, just waiting for the right moment.” I grabbed her and nuzzled her neck, making her laugh.
“So I’m part of a big Spike plan?” she asked, cupping her hand around the back of my hand and gently kissing my lips.
“The only plan that I care about now,” I told her, as I claimed her mouth. She moaned softly as I put my hands on her waist and pulled her into me, so our bodies were pressed together. We were interrupted by Xander walking out of the shop. Giles followed behind, his expression grim. “Clem’s meeting us at Spike’s in fifteen minutes,” Xander said. “We’re going to check out the tunnels.”
She kissed me quickly on the lips. “I love you,” she said in my ear. “Be careful.” I watched her drive away, and went back into the shop.
Buffy was pacing impatiently. “Let’s get going,” she said. I followed her out the back door through the alley.
“Where’s the niblet?” I asked her.
“Richard’s taking her back to his house,” she said. “He’ll take care of her.”
“I’m glad that he’s around to be there for you and Dawn,” I told her. “He’s a good guy.”
“Well, I was hoping that Giles would get to know him a little tonight over dinner,” she said. She gestured to her pink dress and high heels. “But obviously Chez Francois is out.”
“You look very pretty,” I told her. She smiled at me.
“And I feel guilty for even complaining about my dinner plans when Anya is missing,” she said.
“We’ll find her,” I said. “What was the row all about, with Xander and Giles getting all physical?”
She shook her head. “Giles was really furious with Xander. I don’t know why. It’s not his fault that this happened.”
“He’s in a bit of a mood,” I told her. “I figured he’d blow his stack over Willow and I, but he didn’t even say anything. Broody Giles is a new one on me.”
We walked into her house and she headed for the weapons chest. “Don’t go for anything too noticeable,” I told her. “No one is going to be very forthcoming if you shove a crossbow in their chest.”
“It’s worked well for me in the past,” said Buffy, picking one up and driving a bolt home.
I was following Buffy down an alley when I heard Willow’s voice in my head. *Spike?*
“Hey baby,” I said. Buffy turned and gave me a dirty look. “Not hey baby you, hey baby Willow,” I explained. “In my head.”
*Hi Buffy,* said Willow.
Buffy startled. “Jesus!” She cried out.
“Little odd, isn’t it?” I asked her. “Took some time for the rest of us to get used to it.”
*Clem wants you to meet him at the Old Brogue,* said Willow.
“How do you know?” asked Buffy. “What did you do, read his mind?”
*No, he called, * said Willow. *You know, on the phone.*
We changed direction and headed back down to the docks. “Hopefully Clem’s got a good lead,” said Buffy. “The longer we go without finding Anya the more worried I get.”
“Clem’s got different contacts that I do,” I said. “The supernaturals are comfortable working with him. They’re not crazy about vampires.”
“Who are the supernaturals?” asked Buffy.
“Trolls, fairies, elves, leprechauns,” I explained. “The folk and fable crowd.”
“Like Olaf?” she said.
“Well, yeah. But he was turned into a troll, not born one. The supernaturals keep to themselves. They don’t come looking for action.”
“I don’t think I’ve run into any of them before,” she said.
“Well, you’re going to meet a whole lot of them now,” I said.
I knocked on the door of The Old Brogue. A porthole opened up and an eye peered through the hole. “Clem sent us,” I told him. The door swung open and we walked in. It was an Irish bar, with Guinness banners on the wall and maps of Ireland. A folksinger sat on an elevated stage, boisterously singing “Black Velvet Band.” The patrons sang along, merrily drinking big tankards of beer. “Looks pretty normal to me,” said Buffy. “I don’t think we’re in the right place.”
A good looking man walked over. “Hey guys,” he said happily. “Willow got in touch with you pretty quickly.”
“Clem?” said Buffy warily.
“Oh, right, the glamour.” He went over to the bar and came back with a small glass jar. “I’ll just put a bit of ointment on your eyes and then you can see,” he said.
I closed my eyes and a cool sensation covered my lid. I opened my eyes. The bar was filled with fairies, trolls, and other creatures. I opened my eyes and saw Clem putting the ointment on Buffy’s lids. She opened her eyes and did a double taking, looking all around.
“Xander’s talking to a fairy in the back,” he said. We followed him through the crowd, turning into a smaller room that was filled with small tables. Xander sat at one, talking to a translucent blue figure. An elf sat on the other side of him, munching on a handful of pretzels. We walked over and sat down.
“This is Thyla,” said Xander. We all introduced ourselves to the fairy. “And this is Euan,” he said, indicating the elf.
“I heard something that might help you,” she said. “I’m not sure that it will help.”
“Anything that you have to share would be a big help,” I told her.
“A friend of mine works at a bar here in town,” she said. “She says that she’s been seeing Fyarl demons coming and going lately.” She took a sip of her beer.
“What’s the name of the bar?” I asked her. A waitress came by and put a beer in front of Xander. He drank deeply, tilting back the large mug until it was empty.
“Diamond Bar,” Thyla replied. “It’s close by the Bronze.”
Clem turned to the elf. “Tell them what you told me,” he said.
“I’m an apothecary,” said the elf. “I had a robbery the other night. It was a Fyarl demon and two manticores. They stole my entire stock of cardiolis.”
Abruptly, Xander leaned over and grabbed Thyla, pulling her into a deep, intimate kiss. She stiffened and then settled into it, wrapping her arm around his neck. Her wings fluttered back and forth, creating a breeze.
“Xander!” exclaimed Buffy, horrified. “What are you doing?”
He broke the kiss and turned to Buffy. “I love this girl. I want to stay here with her forever.” His face was lit with happiness, his smile wide.
“What about Anya?” Buffy hissed. “Remember her? Your missing fiancée?”
“She is but a paltry mortal,” he responded, his eyes fixed once more on Thyla. He gently caressed a lock of her hair. “Faerie is where I belong. Where I can love, and dance, and feast for all eternity.”
Thyla gave him a delicate peck on the lips. She turned to us reluctantly. “It’s the beer,” she said wistfully. “It makes them crave the touch of a fairy.” She smiled at Xander warmly. “Not that I really mind.”
They leaned toward each other again, eyes locked, and Clem grabbed Xander by the collar. “I need to talk to Darby,” said Clem. “He’ll know how to get a hold of some other manticores.” He held tightly to Xander as the smaller man tried to break the hold.
“And I speak Fyarl, so the Slayer and I will scout them out,” I said.
“I’ll take Xander home before he does something even more stupid,” said Clem. He cuffed Xander hard in the head and flung his unconscious body over his shoulder, walking out of the room.
“Let’s roll,” said Buffy.
We walked into the Diamond Bar. “Just try to chill out and let me handle this,” I asked her. “I know it’s contrary to your nature, but it’s worth a shot.”
The place was crowded, and a blue fairy flew back and forth behind the bar, busily pouring drinks. I spotted a Fyarl demon hunched over a barstool and sidled over to him. “Hey mate,” I said in Fyarl. “I’ve got a bit of a proposition for you.”
He swiped at me with his free hand. “Go away,” he grunted, swigging his beer.
“Anyone been asking around for a few Fyarls to do a bit of business for them?”
He turned and looked at me. “Maybe.”
I slipped him a few bills. “Care to enlighten me a bit?”
He chugged his beer. “Giant wants find girl,” said the demon. “Thinks girls know where is.”
I turned to Buffy. “Some giant’s trying to find a girl,” I told her.
“What does that have to do with Anya?” she asked. “Or Willow?”
“I don’t know,” I told her. “But there aren’t that many giants in Sunnydale. It should be fairly easy to narrow it down.” I turned back to the Fyarl demon. “Do you know where the giant is?” I asked him.
He shook his head. “Giant sent bone boy.”
“Bone boy?” I repeated.
“Giant sent bone boy,” he confirmed.
“Giant sent bone boy,” I told Buffy.
“What does that mean?” she asked.
“Hell if I know,” I told her. “Let’s go ask some giants.”
We rang the bell at the door of the warehouse. “Come on in,” said a rumbling voice. We opened up the door and walked into the cavernous space. Curls of wood and sawdust were swept into tidy piles on the floor. In the middle of the room, a huge figure worked carefully, chiseling the surface of an immense wooden sculpture.
“Hey, Harvey,” I said. “How’s it going?”
He put down his chisel and leaned over. “Hey Spike,” he said. “Congratulations on the new house.”
“How’d you hear about that?” I asked.
“Clem told me,” he said. “I made you a little present.” He picked up an ornately carved sculpture with the tips of his fingers and handed it to me.
It was about the size of my forearm, all sweeping angles and curves. “This is a nice piece, Harvey,” I said. “Thanks. I’ll have to bring it home another time though. Need to keep my hands free.” He took it back from me and set it carefully on a tall shelf.
“So what can I do for you?” he asked. “I’m guessing it’s not a social call, since you’ve brought the Slayer with you.”
He looked at Buffy. “Pleasure to meet you, Miss Slayer,” he said.
“Just Buffy,” she said. They shook hands, Buffy’s small one the size of one of his fingernails.
“We’ve got a friend who’s gone missing,” I told him. “Apparently a giant had something to do with it.”
He looked at me thoughtfully. “Not a timber giant,” he said firmly. “We’re pacifists. We don’t have any interest in stirring up trouble.”
“No, I know it’s not your kind of gig,” I told him. “But you know more giants than I do. Apparently this one’s got someone working for him, goes by bone boy or looks like he’s made of bone. My source wasn’t the most verbal fellow on the block.”
“Hiram’s got a new hired gun, looks like a skeleton,” he said. “And I’m hearing that he’s got a bug up his ass. Something about finding a succubus.”
We pulled up in front of the club and I rang the bell. A red horned face poked out the door. A dagger flew through the air and landed in the middle of his forehead with a meaty thunk, and he fell down.
“Not feeling chatty tonight, are you Slayer?” I asked her.
“Definitely feeling a bit testy,” she said. “I was looking forward to having a little chocolate mousse or a napoleon about now.”
“Don’t get between a girl and her chocolate,” I commented as we stepped inside the club.
Two manticores came out from the door that led to the back office and Buffy dispatched them both, one with a throwing star to the neck and the other with a knife through the heart. “Are you going to let me get a little action here?” I asked her.
“I’m in the moment,” she said.
We walked through the doors to the back office. The first thing I heard was Anya screaming. Buffy and I looked at each other and took off at a run. We went through the door of the back office. It was empty, but there was a hidden door that was ajar. Anya screamed again, a horrifying noise that ended in a weak gurgling. We passed through the hidden door.
Anya was strapped to a table, and Hiram was bent over her. He made a shoving gesture with his arm, and she made a faint noise. Buffy took off her crossbow and shot him in the back. He turned around. His hand had morphed into a cluster of thin icicles, each one tipped with her blood.
“What the fuck are you doing, Hiram?” I asked him. “You’ve lost your mind.”
“No,” he said. “I’m seizing an opportunity.” He snapped the arrow out of his back, seemingly unfazed.
“Whatever your bright idea was,” Buffy said angrily, “It’s going to be the last one you’ll ever have.” She advanced on him, pulling a butane torch out of her coat and setting him afire. He waved his arms, the fire quickly burning out on his frozen body.
“It’ll take more than that to kill me,” he said. He turned around and thrust his hand into Anya, and she screamed again. I tackled him, pulling his arm away. We fell to the floor, and he slammed me in the face with his head, leaving me dizzy.
“Roll, Spike!” Buffy yelled. I rolled to the side, and she blasted him with a flamethrower. He screamed, and his head and body began to melt. He hurled himself through a door in the wall, and it closed behind him. I ran to the door and scrabbled to find the opening, to follow him. “God, Spike, help me,” Buffy said brokenly.
I turned to her. Anya was naked, pale and bleeding. The bones of her face were shattered, and she was barely recognizable. Her body was covered with small holes, and she lay in a puddle of blood. Thick trails of blood coursed down her thighs, trailing down to her feet. “She’s dying, Buffy,” I told her. “She’s fading.”
I picked up the phone and dialed. “Hello?” said Willow.
“I need you here with me, now,” I told her. “Just do it, Red.”
I put the phone down, and I felt her presence in my mind, tracking me, placing me. I heard a great pop, and she appeared before me, clutching her head. “Ouch,” she said, falling to her knees and retching. “Oh, that made me so nauseous.”
I pulled her up. “Anya’s dying,” I said. “If we take her to the hospital, she won’t make it in time. You have to fix her.”
“I don’t think I can,” she said. “I don’t think I have the energy.” She looked at me. “I could use you, tap into you like a battery.”
I heard the sound of Anya’s heartbeat winding down, slowing. “Do it now,” I said, “or she’ll die.” She took my hands in hers. “I love you,” she said, looking at me deeply.
“I love you too,” I told her, and then I was sucked into a vortex of blackness and pain.
“Spike?” said Buffy. I opened my eyes and I was lying in my bed. “Oh, there you are.”
“Where’s Willow?” I asked her, struggling to sit up. “How is Anya?”
“Willow’s still out,” she said. “Anya’s fine.”
“Tara,” I said. “We have to find Tara. That’s what Hiram was after, finding out where she was.”
“Anya told us where she went,” she said. “Richard is going to get her, to bring her back.”
“She shouldn’t come back here,” I said. “It’s too dangerous.”
“It’s more dangerous to have her out there with no one to defend her,” she said. “Here we can protect her.”
“She was trying to get away from me,” I told her. “She left so that she could be free of her demon.”
“Well, it doesn’t look like there’s any getting around it,” she said. “Giles said succubae are rare and valuable demons. They’re shape shifters, and they can tap into any man’s fantasies and fulfill them. They’ve been captured and sold as sex slaves for centuries.”
“That’s bloody terrific,” I said, putting my head in my hands. “I handed her to Hiram on a silver platter. God, I’m an idiot.”
“What do you mean?” asked Buffy.
“I took her to him,” I told her. “I took her to him to get a job at his club. He’s the one who told me she was a succubus. That’s how the whole thing got started in the first place.”
“You were going to help Tara get a job as a stripper?” said Buffy, aghast.
“Oh, please don’t get on your moralistic high horse, Slayer,” I said. “I feel horribly guilty right now, you don’t need to rub salt in the wound.” I stood up. “Where is Willow?” I asked her.
“She’s at my house, with Giles,” she said.
“Why isn’t she here with me?” I asked.
She looked uncomfortable. “Giles thought it would be best if you stayed away from Willow.”
“Who the fuck does he think he is?” I asked her, getting up.
She stood up and blocked my way. “Willow wiped Anya’s mind, Spike,” she said. “She doesn’t remember anything after Hiram hit her the first time.”
“Good,” I said. “The girl is getting married in three days time. It’s best if she doesn’t remember being raped, tortured and beaten, don’t you think? How long do you think it would take her to get past that?”
“Willow had no right to do that to her, Spike,” said Buffy. “She had no right to manipulate her memory that way. It’s not natural.”
“It was a kindness, Buffy,” I said to her. “If you can’t understand that, you really are barely human.” I tried to step around her and she stepped in front of me.
“Willow was doing better, Spike,” said Buffy. “And now she’s using magic as much as before, and making the same mistakes.”
“And you all blame me?” I said. “The evil vampire is leading the innocent down the path of wickedness, is that right?” She looked straight in my face. “If not for Willow, Anya would be dead. You know that better than anyone.”
“I’m not arguing that-“ she said.
“So it’s okay to save her life, or your life, for that matter, but not to purge Anya of a horrifying experience that will scar her for life? Who the hell do you think you all are? Choosing at whim what’s acceptable and what’s not? She’s not your pet, to be used when you see fit.”
“You don’t get it,” she said. “You can’t comprehend-“
“She has been blessed with amazing gifts that we can’t begin to understand,” I told her. “Her magick is as much of a gift as yours, Slayer. Could you stop being the Slayer? Would that be more natural, to deny who you are? What you are?” I walked around her, and she followed behind me.
The garage door opened and in walked Willow with Giles close behind. “Spike!” She ran into my arms, and I picked her up and spun her around. She wrapped her arms around my neck and held on tight. I ran my hands over her back, through her hair, relishing her presence.
“Are you okay, sweetheart?” I asked her worriedly. She looked pale and drawn.
“Big headache and a bad nosebleed,” she said. “I just want you to take me to bed,” she said softly. I lifted up her legs and cradled her in my arms.
Buffy and Giles stood together, watching us. “Either of you got a problem with me, or a problem with her, get the fuck out of our house and don’t come back,” I told them. I turned my back on them and took her down the hall. “What can I do for you, baby?” I asked her. I helped her out of her dress and into a soft flannel nightgown from her drawer, and tucked her into bed.
“I want some water and some aspirin,” she said. “And maybe you could rub my back. Tara used to rub my back when I felt like this and it made me feel better.” She seemed so tired, and I could tell she was in agony.
“I’ll be right back, kitten,” I said as I kissed the tip of her nose. I walked down the hall to the kitchen. Giles and Buffy sat at the table, talking softly. I ignored them and pulled a bottle of water out of the refrigerator, and filled a tall plastic cup with ice. I rummaged through the drawers, finding the bendy straws Tara had bought.
“Spike,” said Giles.
“I have to take care of Willow now,” I said without looking up. “You want to fight, we can do it when she’s not wracked with pain, waiting for me to come back with some pills.” I pulled down a huge bottle of Tylenol, which sat in the cupboard next to the vitamins and herbs Tara had picked out.
“I just wanted to say that I’m sorry,” he said. I turned to look at him. “I think that I misjudged you,” he said. “I don’t think that you are using Willow. I think you really do love her, even without a soul.” Buffy looked at me, her eyes shadowed.
“Glad that I finally met your approval,” I said. “So glad that you could figure out that maybe everything in your books isn’t written in stone, Watcher.”
“She asked for you, as soon as she woke,” he said. “All she wanted was to come home to you. That’s what she said, that she wanted to go home.” I walked away, and went back to Willow. She rested on the bed, her hands pressed to her head.
“Baby, are you okay?” She tried to sit up and smile, but she cried out and blood began to pour from her nose. I grabbed a T-shirt from the drawer and sat down, tilting her head back and trying to staunch the flow. It continued to pour, seemingly without end. She made a weak noise and her eyes fluttered shut. “Willow!” I said, frightened.
She opened her eyes a bit and looked up at me. “I’m so tired,” she whispered.
“You rest, love,” I told her. “I’ll be right here.”
“You won’t leave me?” she said. “You won’t let me go?”
“I’ll never let you go,” I promised her. Reassured, she fell asleep. I cleaned off the blood from her face and neck, and leaned her head back against the pillow. She was so pale, her face nearly as white as the sheets. I turned off the lights and slipped into bed beside her, gently resting my arm around her waist.
I woke in the middle of the night, being kicked and punched by flailing limbs. Willow was having a seizure. I backed away and carefully turned her on her side so she wouldn’t choke. She arched several times more, and then lay still. I heard her faintly begin to cry. I turned on the light. Her face and pillow were covered with blood. She must have had another nosebleed during the night. “It’s okay, Will,” I said to her soothingly. “You’re alright.” She held out her arms and I pulled her to me, rocking her as I smoothed her hair. She was shaking, absolutely electric with fear, and her nightgown was soaked through with sweat. She held onto me desperately as she cried. Soon she stilled.
“Let’s get you cleaned up, love,” I told her. I helped her out of her nightgown and lay her down on my pillow. I took off her soiled pillowcase and put on a fresh one. In the bathroom, I moistened several washcloths and brought them back to her. I cleaned off her face and body, and she shivered. I put a clean nightgown on her, and settled us back into bed. I shook out some pills and helped her to swallow them, holding the glass of water for her. She drank the water, greedily, and I poured her another glass. She drank it down and then collapsed against me.
“I’m dying,” she said faintly. “I can feel death crawling over me, burrowing beneath my skin.”
A chill ran through me. “Let’s go to the hospital,” I said. “Let’s get you to a doctor.”
“It’s magick,” she said. “I have to pay the price. There’s nothing they could do to save me.”
“I won’t let you,” I told her. “I won’t lose you.”
“Don’t let me die,” she said, and fell back asleep. I listened to her heartbeat, wondering if I would have to turn her, to keep her by my side.
I woke up in the morning and looked over at Willow. She had good color, her breathing normal, her heartbeat strong. I kissed her cheek and she smiled in her sleep. “Spike,” she said sleepily.
“You got him,” I told her, smiling at her as she opened her eyes.
She rolled over and we embraced each other tightly. I kissed her hair, and lifted her chin and kissed her mouth. “You terrified me,” I told her quietly. “Seeing you like that, in so much pain.”
“It wasn’t really fun for me either,” she said. “It feels like every time it gets worse. The more powerful the magick, the bigger the price.”
“This was all my fault,” I told her, clenching my hands around her shoulders. “I asked you to save Anya. There’s always consequences for magick. I knew that.”
“You couldn’t have just let Anya die,” she said. “If you hadn’t called me, she wouldn’t have survived.”
I knew it was true. “But what you went through last night. I was afraid that I was going to lose you. I couldn’t bear it.”
“I didn’t want to leave you,” she said. “That was the worst part. I’ve wanted to be with you so long, and we’ve barely begun.” We kissed gently, and she pulled away. She held my eyes for a long moment. “Can you bring me my bag?” she asked. I brought it to her, and she rummaged through the contents, finally pulling out the ring box.
She handed it to me and looked at me with her wide green eyes. “Will you be mine?” I asked her solemnly. “Will you marry me?”
“Yes,” she said seriously.
My heart leapt. I pulled out the ring from the box, and I dropped it. It slipped into the sheets, and we both searched for it for a minute before I held it up triumphantly. I laughed, and she laughed, and I slipped the ring on her finger. She looked down at it. “That is one gaudy, ostentatious rock,” she said with a smile.
“You don’t like it?” I asked, concerned.
“I love it,” she said. “Call me material girl. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”
“When can we get married?” I asked her. “I want to make you mine, the sooner the better.”
“I’m already yours,” she said seriously. “But we can do a handfasting, as soon as you like.”
“Now,” I said.
“Right here? In bed?”
“Now. I don’t want to wait any longer.”
She unbelted my robe and slid it off, and then pulled off her gown. We faced each other, nude, and held hands. “Within the boundaries of this room we form a sacred space,” chanted Willow. “By the bones of the earth, by the currents of air, by the flame of the fire, by the waves of the water, by the spirit that surrounds us, the circle is cast. So mote it be.” I felt the rush of power run through me. Willow smiled at me and I smiled back.
“Lady, we invoke thee,” she intoned. “Give to us your abiding love and unconditional protection.” I felt a presence surrounding me and Willow. We linked our arms together, clasping hands.
“With all I am, with all I have, I pledge myself to you. For a year and a day, we are as one,” she intoned.
“With all I am, with all I have, I pledge myself to you. For a year and a day, we are as one,” I repeated.
“So mote it be,” she said. We leaned in to each other, meeting in a warm embrace. She pulled away and smiled. “And now I’m yours,” she said softly, her eyes full of love. ”And you are mine.”
“Mine,” I said, hearing the truth in it. “I need you so badly, Willow, in every way. But you’re still weak-” She closed her mouth around my nipple and moved over me. “Oh, my love,” I sighed, pulling her mouth up to meet mine. Her hands moved on my length, stroking me until I was hard. We locked together, joining our bodies.
“I love you,” she whispered. “I never want to let you go.” She moved up and down on me, slow and easy. She felt so warm and slick around me, her tongue moving in my mouth, her breasts sliding over my chest. I came, holding her waist tightly. “Please, please,” she cried out, pulling away from my mouth. “Please.” I rubbed her clit lightly with my thumb as I increased the pace. I was afraid to hurt her, afraid to be to rough with her. I picked up the pace slightly, and she started her release. She held tight to my shoulders as she came, her breath catching loudly as she shuddered.
I went to the kitchen to get Willow some more pills. Giles and Anya sat at the table, looking over some papers. “How are you feeling?” I asked Anya. She looked radiantly beautiful, seemingly untouched by her ordeal.
She smiled at me. “A little tired,” she said. “And a little freaked out. I’m trying not to think about it too much.”
“We need to talk to you,” said Giles.
I heard a key turn in the front door and footsteps walking down the hall. A figure appeared in the doorway. It was Tara. We stared at each other for a long moment. “Why are you here?” I asked her. She had dyed her hair a bluish black, and it was jarring against her pale face.
“Richard came to get me,” she began. “Then Buffy told me-“
“Why are you in my home?” I asked, as I poured a large glass of orange juice and put a banana and a cup of yogurt on a tray. “You don’t live here anymore. I’d appreciate you leaving your key on the table.”
“I came to see Willow,” she said. “I wanted to make sure she’s okay.”
“She’s fine,” I said. “Now you can go.” I picked up the tray and turned to leave.
She moved around me and looked up at me, her eyes shining clear blue. “I’m sorry that I hurt you,” she began, and reached out to touch my arm. I jerked away from her, spilling the juice. I turned back to the counter and cleaned up the tray, pouring a new glass of juice. I turned around to see her standing behind me. I sidestepped her and walked out of the room.
I went back into the bedroom. Willow was dressed in a sweat suit, leaning back against the headboard with a throw over her feet. She was waving her hand in the air, admiring her ring. She saw me and smiled. “Breakfast in bed,” she said happily. “What’s wrong?” she asked, taking in my expression. I set down the tray on the bed next to her.
“Tara is here to see you,” I told her.
She looked sick. “Tara is here? Now?” She twisted the ring on her finger.
“She’s in the kitchen. She was worried about you, and she’d like to see you. Do you want me to let her in?”
She looked down and her eyes filled with tears. “I can’t believe that she came back, now,” she said softly. She looked up at me. “You must be kicking yourself,” she said. “If you’d known-“
“It wouldn’t have changed anything,” I told her, taking her hand in mine. “Whatever Tara and I had, it ended the second she left. There’s no going back. That’s not what I want, Willow.”
She looked at me searchingly. “It doesn’t change how you feel about me, about us?” she asked.
“No,” I told her. “I love you, I do. I’m in love with you.” I kissed her, hoping that I had reassured her. She was still so frail, the last thing she needed was more stress. She needed rest, and peace. “Shall I ask her to leave?”
She was quiet for a moment. “I think I should talk to her. Would that upset you?”
“Yes,” I told her honestly. “But I’ll get over it. The two of you, you mean something to each other. I have no right to tell you not to see her.”
“But you wish she wasn’t here?” she asked.
“I wish I never had to see her again,” I told her.
“Ask her to come back here,” she said. She kissed me gently.
“You need your rest,” I told her. “Don’t let her stay too long.”
I walked out to the kitchen. Tara turned to look at me. “She’ll see you,” I told her.
“We need to talk,” she said, “You and I.”
“I have nothing to say to you,” I told her. “You said everything that I needed to hear in your note. I don’t care about anything else you have to say.”
“You can’t just shut me out,” she said adamantly. “We-“
“I married Willow,” I told her bluntly. “We’re handfasted. Whatever we were or had, it’s irrelevant now. Move on.”
She reeled back as if I had slapped her. “You can go talk to my wife,” I said to her. “Because she loves you and she wants you here. I don’t share her feelings, either way.” She looked at me, and turned away.
I turned to look at Giles and Anya. “Questions? Comments?” I asked, my voice harsh.
Giles stared into my eyes, his brow furrowed. “Actually, I have a business proposition for you,” he said.
I sat down at the table. “What kind of proposition?” she said.
“I’ve decided that it’s best if I no longer have any ties to Sunnydale,” said Giles calmly. “I’m selling my share of the Magic Box. I would like to offer it to you.”
I was shocked. “Why me?”
He looked at me closely. “You have the capital, as I understand,” he said. “You certainly have the time.“ He paused. “And if you have a wife to take care of, you should be thinking of the future.”
Anya looked upset. “I don’t understand why you need to do this, Giles,” she said. “Everything was fine yesterday and now today you can’t wait to leave.”
“I have unexpected business back in England,” he said, looking away. “I want to leave this evening. I need to get any loose ends wrapped up before I go.”
“But you were going to give me away,” she said, upset. She put her hand on his arm. “Can’t whatever it is wait?” she said plaintively. “I really want you to be there for me on my wedding day.”
He looked at her, his expression blank. “I’m sorry,” he said. “There are certain things in life one can’t change.” He shuffled through some papers. “No matter how much one might wish to.”
“If Willow wants me to, I’ll buy your share of the shop,” I told him. “Red might fancy having part of the place to herself.”
“But I don’t want to run the store with Willow,” said Anya. “I just want your money and you to stay out of my way.”
“I’m not the silent type, pet,” I told her. “You want my money, I get a say in things as well.”
“Could you give me the money today?” asked Giles.
“We could do it now,” I said. “Let me just ask Willow what she thinks of all this.” I walked back down the hall and knocked on the open bedroom door. The two women sat close on the bed, talking in low tones.
“Sorry to interrupt, pet,” I said. Willow looked up at me with a smile. “Want to own half of the Magic Box?”
“Could I boss around Anya?” she said with a chuckle.
“You and I against demon girl and the whelp,” I said. “I’m pretty sure we’d come out on top.”
She looked thoughtful. “I have a lot of ideas,” she said. “It would be really cool, actually, to own the shop.”
“I’ll go cut Giles a great big check then,” I said. “Will you be all right, for a half hour or so? I’m just going to sign some papers and go to the bank.”
“Tara will keep me company,” she said. I looked at the two witches, the one that I loved and one I had lost, and left.
Continued in Chapter 15