Summary- Astral Projection and a photo.
Disclaimer- I own my own brain. Yay me.
Dedication- To Chelsea who i can always guarantee will give it to me straight.
Notes- This is a two part fic. Thats it. Deal with it now.
The scene looked like something out of a bad horror movie, candles lay in a circle around the figure dressed in black and the flames flickered in the darkness. An ancient stone pot sat in front of the figure filled with ingredients which smouldered and sputtered with stark energy and magic while smoke ebbed off the mixture in soft grey whirls. The dark figure picked up a small silver knife ignoring the way it glinted in the candlelight and held out a hand, slowly drawing the sharp blade over a delicate finger.
Willow cursed as her sliced finger throbbed. She watched as crimson liquid seeped from the shallow slice and let a drop of blood drip slowly into the stone pot and smiled softly in rapt attention as it made a cool <poof> sound.
She looked down at the crumpled piece of paper that held the words of the spell lest she forget them.
Not that that was likely.
Since Oz left she was certain that she wouldn’t be alone forever. That soon someone would come along, after all Xander had Anya and Buffy had Riley, surely soon someone else would notice Willow.
But weeks passed into months and nothing.
In her fragile self confidence and delicate ego she had wondered if maybe it was her, so she’d changed her hair and clothes.
More months passed with excruciating slowness and no one as much as made a pass at her.
Certainty, that she wouldn’t be alone, turned to suspicion and doubt. Then finally dread that she had found her soul mate only to scare him away.
A year had come and gone and so had the hurt but still she was no closer to feeling anything.
They’d started college and vanquished demons, passed psychology and defeated Adam, Spike was an unwilling ally and she’d actually met Dracula. But not someone who she could love and be loved by in return and it hurt dammit!
Hence the spell. She’d found it in an old book of Jenny Calendar’s, a worn leather bound volume full of exotic magic’s that Giles would have a fit if he knew she had even looked at, let alone tried. It showed you your soul mate, the one person on the earth who would complete you, walk beside you and love you more deeply and completely than anyone else in the world. There was a caution on the spell book. It read;
Use the spells with caution dear
As much heartache is found here
Thy soul mate may ne’er be revealed
And leaving life for dreams concealed
Is fair foolish, for who can save even a day
When thou is wishing life away.
Willow liked that. Basically, as Dumbledore said, it doesn’t do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. But she didn’t want to go looking for her soul mate; she just wanted to know that there was one out there for her. On the other hand she was scared that the spell would reveal that there was no one for her. A hopeless romantic, she had no idea what she’d do then.
But negative thinking wasn’t going to help her here. So breathe deeply and focus on love.
She took another deep breath and began the spell.
Goddess of Light, I subject to thee
And ask a boon in all solemnity
I ask that my true love be shown
And that my soul mate be known
Goddess of light I subject to thee
Grant my plea.
The strangest feeling came over Willow, like she was looking up from the bottom of a deep pool at the murky surface above.
Her room had vanished in a haze and only the silver glints ahead showed her where to go.
She kicked deeply and found herself at the surface. She was in the ocean and all she could see for miles was water, clear and blue. So peaceful and yet there was something bothering her. What was she here for? Was her true love a fisherman? Before the thought was complete she found herself floating above the surface of the shimmering water, flying.
She breathed deeply as air rushed over her in a cautious wind and she giggled silently, this was so nice. The sharp pain of Oz’s betrayal was a mere memory these days and the voyage made it obsolete, he didn’t matter, all that did was finding someone knew and all that was here was peace.
Up ahead she could see a mass of green and grey- land. She flew over luscious green hills and sandy beaches and bright trees and, soon, houses. She dipped down and brushed her fingertips across rooftops, feeling the tiles smooth against her palms and laughed giddily, delirious with the sensation of being weightless. Weightless from emotional grief and pain, no worries and no hurt to tie you down. It was sheer bliss.
Gradually Willow became aware of her surroundings, she was in Sunnydale!
Her true love was in Sunnydale? For a brief heartbreaking moment she wondered if she was being brought home because there was no one, that she was destined to walk in this life alone and die unloved and unfulfilled.
But her dream self flew over her house and slowed down making its way through the familiar streets, past objects that she knew until it came to stop in front of a very, *very* familiar house.
What was she doing at Giles’s? Because if Giles was her soul mate then she had better get used to being alone.
Giles was like her father, more so than Ira Rosenberg had ever been.
The door opened silently and she felt her dream self enter the home she knew so well. She floated gently to the floor and stood upright, hovering a few inches above the carpet.
What was she doing here?
“Eh Watcher, I’m done here so just hand me my cash and I’ll be gone.”
Willow’s mouth gaped as Spike came into view.
“Yes Spike, there’s nothing I’d like better than to get rid of you, however there is still a little matter of the information.”
“Bleeding hell Watcher, I told you what I know. Now pay up and I’ll be on my merry way.”
Giles sighed as he handed over some money. Willow watched bewildered as Spike was outlined in bright Technicolor whilst Giles and his house seemed swamped with grey.
“As always pleasure doing business with ya.” Spike smirked and walked out of the door- straight through Willow. Spike stopped for a second and looked straight at the point where Willow was but after a brief second he just shrugged and continued walking.
Willow’s dream self followed silently.
Spike walked through the town like he owned it, and in a way he did. Despite the chips interference in his life Spike was still pretty well respected by the demons in town. His track record with violence accorded that kind of respect and reverence normally reserved for the most heinous of criminals. Unleashed Spike would truly be a force to be reckoned with. He would wreak such vengeance and retribution on those that treated him as inferior while he was incapacitated that would make Angelus look like a Sunday school teacher in a snit in comparison.
Spike strolled into Willies and ordered a bottle of whisky to go. Willie put the drink on the bar and looked like he’d rather die than ask for payment. The bar and Willie had undertaken the same grey hue that Giles had and Willow had a sinking feeling of what that meant.
Spike slapped a few dollars on the bar anyway and left without even looking at the other demons in the bar. It was certainly not enough to cover the tab but Willie was smart enough to keep his mouth shut.
And still Willow’s slight form followed him.
Of course at this time Willow was beyond bewildered. Spike was her soul mate? This bloodthirsty, feared, Vampire was the one who was supposed to care and cherish her? Willow wondered if she’d read the spell wrong.
Instead of heading towards the cemetery and his crypt Spike took a turn down into town and towards Willow’s home. Before Willow knew it they were standing in front of her house and she watched as Spike pulled out his cigarettes and lit one whilst staring up at her still lit window.
Up there was her vulnerable body, surrounded by candles and incense. All alone while Spike stood down here watching the window.
Astral Willow frowned. Spike had known exactly where her house was. She didn’t think he even knew her name, yet judging from the cigarette butts that were littering the ground under the tree, this wasn’t the first time he’d stood out here.
He turned and leaned his forehead against the tree briefly before turning to gaze up at her window again. There was a look on his face that Willow couldn’t identify…was it longing?
Still frowning slightly she watched Spike take a long drink from the whisky bottle before sighing deeply and turning to leave.
He walked slowly across town like he was deep in thought, simply relying on his feet to take him where he wanted to go. Every now and then taking sips from the bottle in his hands.
They ended up back at his crypt. Spike slammed the door shut behind him and shrugged off his duster laying it on the tomb he used as a bed. Willow had never been in Spike’s crypt and she was appalled to learn how dirty and cramped it was. Did Spike really live like this?
He sat down on his coat, threw his empty bottle onto the floor and pulled things from his pockets, another cigarette and a battered lighter. It took a few tries for the obviously broken lighter to actually light the cigarette and when it finally did Spike took a large drag before rifling through his pockets again, this time coming up with a second bottle of whisky and something Willow couldn’t quite see.
Spike sighed as he drank some of the whisky and his shoulders slumped. Willow automatically felt bad for the blonde Vampire. He looked so alone and lost and she had always been a sucker for strays. No matter that his feelings of hurt obviously mirrored her own at this point.
“Oh pet.” He said softly to the empty room. Willow shuffled closer and was surprised to see that Spike was looking at a photograph. Her curiosity got the better over her desire to give Spike his privacy and she pulled herself closer to get a look at who the picture was of.
Her astral jaw dropped.
It was of her!
It was a picture that she was sure she’d seen at Giles’.
They had all been to the beach one day, Giles included, and Buffy had started snapping pictures. It had been such a fun day for them all, with no demons or doom and gloom prophecies to screw up the day. It was before Angelus and before Oz left and they all had been so happy. This picture bought back memories; Oz had snatched the camera off Buffy and snapped Willow when she wasn’t paying attention. Willow was squarely in the centre her head tilted towards the camera as she laughed at Xander’s beach dance, the sun was glinting off her hair making it look like liquid fire and there was mischief in her eyes. Even Willow had to admit it was a good picture.
The edges of the photograph were smooth, like the rough edges had been smoothed away by constant handling. It was a bit battered and Willow wondered if Spike had kept it in his jacket pocket and how long he’d had it. Come to think of it why did he have it?
As if in answer Spike lifted his hand and gently stroked the photo, trailing his hand across Willow’s cheek.
“So perfect.” His voice was a caress. “You have no idea how perfect you are, do you pet?”
Willow was startled until she realised that he was talking to the picture.
“What I wouldn’t give to-” he suddenly clenched his jaw and bit off his words tearing his gaze away from the picture like he was in pain. He shoved the picture back into his pocket and took a healthy swallow of whisky not even wincing as it made its way down his throat.
Willow took a few steps back and warily watched the Vampire.
“Right.” He mocked himself “Talk to yourself, become the damn Poof all whiny over a human chit who wouldn’t give you the time of day.” The whisky seemed to take effect all of a sudden as he began talking to the air unaware that he had the very audience he seemed to dream about. He took the picture out again, like he couldn’t bear not to touch it.
“No she would. Nice to everyone is my Red. No, not mine, not ever mine. That bloody wolf, I’d rip off his head and stick it on my damn mantelpiece,” as he swept his arm around he realised that he didn’t have a mantelpiece. “Teach him to hurt such a-” he interrupted himself by falling over and landing in a smash of glass in the broken remains of his earlier drinking bouts.
He put his hand out to steady himself and ended up with a huge slash on one hand “Dammit.” He muttered as he glared at the wound.
He let out a bitter laugh and then gauged how much effort it would take to pull out the large shard of glass against how drunk he was and decided that right now it was probably better to leave it there.
“Hurts.” He said softly “Why won’t she love me?”
It was those heartfelt words that shocked Willow into action. Taking a deep breathe she felt the pull of herself and opened her eyes to find herself back in her own body surrounded by candles in her room.
Quickly finishing her ritual and thanking the Goddess for her help she threw on her shoes and coat and grabbed a few things before running out of her house towards the cemetery.
Spike was staring blankly at the ceiling, sobering up for the arduous task of removing the sliver from his hand when he heard a knocking at his crypt door. That confused him.
The Slayer always burst the door open and demons wouldn’t exactly knock if they wanted to kick his ass. Jehovah’s Witnesses weren’t yet brave enough to visit cemeteries and he didn’t know anyone who wanted double glazing in their crypt. And he hadn’t ordered Pizza. That left very few alternatives.
After a few moments the door opened hesitantly and a familiar Red head peered around the door before coming in and bringing its body with it.
Willow spotted Spike sitting on the floor where she’d left him just a few minutes ago.
“Hey.” She said shyly coming over and kneeling in front of him. “You’re in a mess.” She picked up his hand and cradled it in her lap as she opened the first aid kit she’d bought with her and found some antiseptic and bandages.
“Red?” Spike wasn’t sure if he was hallucinating or if Willow was really here, in his crypt. Maybe he’d drunk too much and this was just a fantasy. But he hadn’t drunk that much, unless Willy had put something in his whisky?
“Are you real?”
Willow smiled a Willow-y smile at him and he suddenly didn’t care of she was real or not.
“Yup, I’m real. Real Willow, that’s me. Um Spike this is gonna hurt a little bit okay?”
“’k.” He replied dreamily. Willow was here, or not, but she was still here. Maybe he had drunk a bit too much.
Unfortunately when Willow pulled out the rather large shard of glass Spike’s faculties returned to him full force.
“Bloody hell!” he yelled and vamped out.
“S-sorry!” Willow stuttered nervously and backed away slightly unused to seeing his demon this close up.
“Willow?” he said peering at her through half closed eyes.
“Uh huh.” She nodded quickly
“What are you doing here?”
She gestured to his hand, still dripping with blood. “I was gonna help” she whispered
“Oh!” Spike felt ridiculously pleased. Willow wanted to help him. His smile soon turned to a frown as she cowered in the corner fear coming off her.
“You um-” she pointed to his face and he realised that he was still vamped out.
“Oh yeah.” He turned to his human face “Better?”
“Much. D-do you want me to help you?” She dropped her eyes to the floor still unsure if he wanted her around now he was sober.
“Uh yeah, if you want, it’s a bit hard to clean up your own hand.” He grinned at her and felt some of her uneasiness fade. Willow was here!
He gave a quick look around, damn it the place was a mess, if he’d known she was coming over he’d have tidied. She wouldn’t want to spend time in a crypt that looked like a pig sty.
His glance landed on the photo that he’d stolen from the Watcher’s place and quickly snatched it up, shoving it in his jacket pocket.
“Sorry the place is in such a mess, it’s the cleaner’s day off.”
Willow grinned at his joke and gestured to his hand again “I-I could clean that up for you.”
Spike hadn’t even remembered the cut until she pointed it out. He held it out.
Willow forced herself to move closer and took his large calloused hand in her much softer one. She picked up her first aid kit and got out some surgical wipes.
“Uh this might hurt a bit.” Spike barely even noticed he was concentrating on the feel of her hand in his, the compassionate look in her green eyes and the sweet smile on her face.
She wrapped his hand in the clean bandage and patted it.
“There you go.”
He raised a hand and swept the red tresses from her face not resisting the urge to run his fingers through it.
“Um Spike?” Willow was surprised to hear her voice shake.
“Hmm.” He sounded like he was in a trance
“Why do you live here? It’s cold.”
“I’m a Vampire love. We don’t really feel the cold.” He backed up with hands that trembled. He was fighting hard not to grab her and kiss her. Devour her. It was relatively easy when they were around the others; they annoyed him enough to take his attention. But alone? When she was in front of him smelling like she did and looking like that?
“Oh yeah.” She chastised herself for always saying the stupidest things around him. Of course he never mocked her like he did the others. Not really.
“I-I better go.” She said and turned.
“Got any decorating tips?” he said hurriedly not wanting her to leave. “I guess the place could use a paint job.”
Willow gave him her sweet half smile again “Um maybe some dark colours, black, red and wrought iron? Aren’t they typical Vampire colours?”
“Yeah I reckon so.”
“Can’t you get an apartment?” she was curious
“I do have some money stashed away, for emergency situations.” He clarified “S’pose the damn chip classifies as emergency. See, before I’d just kill someone and take their place.”
Willow nodded “Why pay rent if you don’t have to.” She blushed as he raised an eyebrow.
“Girl after my own-” he broke away, his words too close to home to finish without his voice breaking like some adolescent teenager.
“Still, its kinda homey here.” She bit her lip, not really wanting to go after what the spell had uncovered for her.
Spike was her soulmate…which was pretty ironic considering he didn’t have a soul. But the spell said that he was the one who would love her and cherish her more than anything and she really needed that right now.
She smiled hesitantly at him and he shuffled his feet.
“Well feel free to make yourself at home.” He offered.
“Thanks.” She wrung her hands not really sure what to say.
Spike suddenly frowned “Not that I’m not grateful for the Florence Nightingale bit but how did you just happen to be passing through the cemetery with a first aid kit?”
Willow flushed and her mind raced with how to answer that question.
“Uh…well…there was this…and the whole… and I didn’t…but then it was,” she paused and shrugged one shoulder hopefully “Luck?”
Spike smirked, regaining some of his legendary charisma “Nah, don’t think so pet.”
He stalked slightly towards her in a predatory gait which stole her breath.
He ducked his head “Tell Spike the truth.”
“I-I did a spell.” She confessed quietly.
“Well since my lips aren’t plastered to the Slayers…or Harris’.” He shuddered “I don’t mind so much. But tell old Spike anyway.”
“It was for me, I was tired of being alone so I asked who would be there for me, who I could love.”
Spike froze, not even his chest rose making him seem more like the corpse he actually was.
After a moment he said with a low voice “Yeah?”
Willow was blushing so hard that she felt she’d be red forever.
“W-well I –it um showed me you and you hurt your hand so I just came to fix you up…your hand up, fix up your hand. And I have fixed you up and I’ll be going now.” She stifled her babble and turned to leave but suddenly Spike was in front of her.
Damn Vampiric speed.
His face was closed, devoid of emotion but she could see a spark of anger in his eyes.
“That’s it then? Do your do-gooder bit and fix the hand which would have healed in a few seconds anyway. Why Red? Did you want to see if it was true, if the inferior vamp really was as pathetic as your spell said? Did the cold, heartless bloodsucker really think he had feelings?
Now so eager to leave, pet.” He was stalking her, pushing her backwards until she felt the cold crypt wall against her back.
“Are you that disgusted that a demon could think about you?” he slid an arm up the wall until it was on one side of her head.
“No-no.” she shook her head.
Without warning he slammed his other hand on the wall, effectively trapping her and making her flinch.
“I do think about you Willow.” He breathed her name and moved his head until his lips brushed her ear, sending shivers down her spine.
“Every day and every night. While I watch TV and when I’m asleep, the dead aren’t supposed to dream but I do. And it’s all about you.” He pulled away and looked her deep in the eyes “It always all about you.”
“I didn’t know.” She whispered feeling very much like a young girl about to be devoured by a wild beast.
“Now you do.” His gaze was intense.
She raised a shaky hand and touched his cheek. He leaned into the caress, his eyes closing in pleasure.
“I don’t think you’re inferior, or pathetic or cold or heartless. I like you.”
His eyes snapped open and his eyes burned into her.
“I think about you too. But you never said anything, you never talked to me and I didn’t even think you knew my name.”
“I whisper it every night.” His gaze flittered across every contour of her face, unknowing if he would ever get the chance to be this close to her again.
“Why didn’t you say?”
“You,” he touched her cheek, the same way she still cupped his “Are innocence and purity, fire and flame. I’m cold, pet. I don’t have the right to touch.” He clenched his fist and moved it away.
Willow caught his hand before it could go far.
“What if I gave you permission?”
He swallowed hard and she could see the desperate hope and longing in his face “Would you?”
“I do.” Her words were softly spoken.
With a groan that was snatched out from his lips he pressed his mouth to hers to taste that which he had been desiring and been denied for so long.
She tasted like heaven and had she wielded a stake, he would have gone gently into the sweet night without a protest.
Willow pulled away and looked deeply at him
“I never want to be alone.”
“And you never will.” He vowed with all his being and pulled her into his embrace content now that he had her and she would be with him always.