Parts: 21 - 30
“Oh God.” Buffy stood up “it is you, Willow.” She felt her insides bubble up, it was Willow. She couldn’t believe it. She wanted to share her elation. She put her hand on Spike’s arm “Willow.”
Willow looked down at the hand on Spike’s arm and wanted to turn and run. The touch was so familiar and triggered the one memory Willow would trade her life to give up. Of soft pale hands grasping at hips straddling a firm waist, of a head thrown back and long blonde hair streaming back, of eyes closed in ecstasy and voices keening together. Pain, betrayal, hurt.
Never again! Screamed her inner voice and she felt the metal door of iron slam shut behind her defences. Impenetrable.
Spike smiled at Buffy’s childlike glee, it had been a while since he had agreed with her on something but this was it. Willow was alive and here in front of him, emotions swam to the surface and threatened to overwhelm him. His best friend was alive and here.
“Hey Red.” He said softly but Willow couldn’t look up at him.
She stood quietly, not really sure what to do or say. She *hurt* just seeing them together. They looked so happy; maybe theirs was a real love, which is why they both radiated glee.
She nodded her greeting.
“Oh wow Willow, I can’t believe it’s you, I missed you so-” Buffy stepped forwards to hug Willow but Willow stepped back. There was no way she could deal with that.
Just when she thought she might have to teleport herself somewhere else, she felt the cool soft arms of her soulmate wrap around her waist. She felt herself relax slightly and leaned back into Dru’s embrace.
“Hey, Drusilla, you remember the Slayer.”
Dru had been coming down the corridor to see her Sire when she felt an overwhelming sense of dread and pain down the bond she shared with Willow, she practically ran the last few metres and found what had Will so rattled, she had no idea what had gone on in Sunnydale but she was willing to bet it had something to do with these two, and Willow needed her support, which was the important thing here.
She looked at Spike and felt only traces of a love that had mellowed into sisterly affection. But still he was family and it would be so much fun to rattle him.
He was staring at Willow as if she was a precious idol. Drusilla’s suspicions raised a notch.
“Drusilla.” Buffy gave a look of disgust and suspicion at the Vampire currently wrapped around Willow.
“Well, hello Buffy.” She said putting on her best look-at-me-I’m-sane accent “I’d say it’s nice to meet you again but we all know what a big lie that is, so I’ll save us all the trouble of trying to digest such a blatant falsehood.”
Willow’s lips twitched as she recognized what Dru was doing.
Spike’s jaw dropped “Dru?”
“Spike?” she mimicked opening her eyes wide
“What happened?” he said staring at her
“Well Willow and I went to the biggest toy shop in America and they had a special offer, two for one on marbles; so I finally got a full set!”
At that Willow couldn’t hold it in anymore and burst out laughing, she turned and swiped at Dru’s arm
“That was awful.”
Spike couldn’t help staring “You’re sane. Wha-how?”
“Yes my Spike, it’s good to see you too. I am sane thanks to my dear little Willow.”
Dru grinned and dragged Willow over to the couch and sat down, pulling the redhead flush next to her. Willow cottoned on and draped her leg over Dru’s.
Spike noticed the red mark on Willow’s neck
“You claimed her!”
Dru smirked “Yup.” Spike gaped in shock, Dru had never expressed any interest in any sort of claiming, not even with him. And here she was telling him she had claimed a mortal, not that he had issues with who she had claimed, he had had so many dreams about claiming the girl himself; but that wasn’t the point.
Buffy watched confused, she knew about claims, had since reading up on Angelus back when they were still in high school. What she didn’t get was why Willow had let Dru bite her. Of course that really didn’t matter because Willow was alive. She suddenly realised that she was still touching Spike and wrenched her hand away.
Spike glanced down in surprise he had been so focused on Willow he hadn’t even noticed that the Slayer had been touching him. Dammit, now he was going to have to wash his coat!
“So, let’s pretend I care for about 30 seconds, what are you two doing here?” Dru relished the opportunity to be the one protecting Willow for a change and it was obvious that Willow did not want to deal with them.
Spike frowned still in shock that Dru was coherent and sane.
Buffy suddenly remembered why they were there and turned to Willow, not wanting to let her out of her sight now that she had found her again
“Do you remember the Sisterhood of Jhe, we fought them senior year?”
“They tried to open the Hellmouth.” Willow told Dru, her eyes firmly fixed on the Vamp.
“Passé.” Dru said airily with a wave of her hand “Been there done that.”
“Well they came back full force, with reinforcements. We heard that Fangs and Red Witch closed a Hellmouth in Texas and wanted them to do the same for us in Sunnydale.”
“Ain’t it grand to be famous?” Dru intoned with a roll of her eyes. Willow put her hand on Dru’s arm and stared at her and Dru stared back, engaging in silent communication. Dru could read the reluctance and unwilling in Willow’s eyes, she could tell that Willow really didn’t want to do it, but knew she should. Willow could tell that Dru would keep her safe and away from anyone that hurt her and it was her choice whether they went or not.
As the moments stretched between the two women Spike couldn’t help but feel jealous at the obvious closeness. They were so in tune that words were not necessary. He had never felt so alone.
Dru reached out and stroked Willow’s cheek tenderly. The decision was made. She turned to Spike
Buffy jumped excitedly at the thought of Willow coming home “Great we can take Wills and have a great chat on the way back, start out now.”
“No.” Willow said quickly panicking “I can’t leave the club until I’ve straightened a few things out.”
“Can’t Drusilla run this place alone?”
“I’m not leaving Willow mine alone.” Dru stated firmly and Buffy scowled “Where she goes I go. Either we both go or you do it yourself.”
“Well fine you both can fit in the car.”
“No.” Willow said again “Dru gets carsick.” Spike raised an eyebrow in disbelief and Willow hurried to add “Side effect of being sane.”
“Well that and Spike’s driving. You have to be nuts to appreciate the fine art of driving like a maniac.” Dru teased with a quick smirk at Spike, who grinned back, he liked this version of Dru.
Willow took a deep breath and continued “Me and Dru can take my car, take it slow, we’ll meet you back in Sunnydale.”
“Nah we’ll wait.” Spike argued wanting Red to look at him full on, he’d noticed that she hadn’t met either of their eyes since they’d come in. or really spoken directly to them. He missed the intensity of her green eyes, always warm and curious to him. He missed the soft lilt of her voice and just wanted her to say more that the half dozen words she had managed since he entered “You can follow us out, if you want pet, you haven’t been *home*,” he stressed the word hoping she caught its underlying meaning “For a while, maybe you forgot the way.”
“Fine.” Willow regained some of her confidence now she had had the time to adjust to their untimely arrival “Go out front, drinks are on the house. Give us two hours to settle affairs and pack and we’ll be waiting out front.”
She called for her assistant “Silver?”
The elfin lady popped her head around the door “Miss?”
“Please escort our… guests to the bar, they are to have free drinks all night and please assemble the management staff, meet here in ten minutes.”
Silver nodded “Yes Miss.”
“Cheers Red.” Spike said with a grin and moved towards her.
A brief shot of panic flew down the bond and Dru hugged Willow to her shooting a warning glare at him, *mine*. She didn’t know what was going on but she would be damned…again, if she let Spike touch Willow.
Spike was taken aback, Dru was rarely ever possessive, and all he’d wanted to do was hug his Red anyway.
Silver picked up the underlying currents easily and escorted a confused Spike and Buffy out and closed the door.
Willow stood clenching her fists and staring at the door for a while in silence and then turned knowing full well Dru would be standing there to hold her. Dru enveloped her in her arms.
In reality it took less than the two hours to settle things with the very efficient staff that were to run things while the girls were out on their mission. It was the very reason these ones had been hired anyway; to fill in when Fangs and Red Witch had to be someplace else.
Willow had teleported to their room and packed for both of them in a few minutes. No, the real reason they were waiting was because Willow was steeling herself to see the two people who she wanted nothing to do with ever again. She felt petty and childish. For Buffy and Spike to be together now and looking so happy, they must be in love and no matter what Willow had felt for him, she knew, realistically, that he had never loved her. Therefore logically she couldn’t be mad at him. Logically. Buffy was another matter entirely. She had known of Willow’s feelings for Spike and had owed it to the redhead to at least tell her that she and Spike had been or were together. It made it that much harder to see Buffy knowing that she knew of Willow’s feelings and had totally disregarded them. Maybe she and Spike were in love, maybe she had been even when Willow had confessed her feelings to Buffy way back then, that just made the betrayal that much more painful.
Willow sighed as she stared out of the window; the same window she been staring out of for the past 45 minutes. Dru had been sitting silently on the bed watching her. She hated to disturb the girl but they had to get going.
“Pixie.” She called softly making Willow jump at the sudden noise “it’s nearly time. Are you gonna be okay?”
Willow sighed and took a deep breath. Did she have a choice?
“You want to talk, lovely, I’m here.”
“I hate Sunnydale, I hate the idea of going back to Sunnydale and I hate that I’m having to even entertain the idea of going back to Sunnydale let alone going.” She said flatly and sank to the bed beside Dru “This sucks.”
Dru brushed Willow’s hair away from her forehead “The sooner we go the sooner we can come back.”
Willow shot her a glance “Yes mom.”
Buffy stood by Spike’s Desoto trying to calm down. Willow was alive and coming home. She’d be bringing Xander the best present he had ever had. She felt a brief sliver of worry but brushed it away. This was perfect.
Spike sat in the car smoking a cigarette letting his mind wash over everything. Willow was alive and here. She was coming home. But the lightness had a dark side. She was with Dru had been claimed by Dru. That in itself made more questions than it answered.
How had they met? What was Willow doing here? Why did she leave Sunnydale? How had she gone from Sunnydale to San Francisco? How was she the infamous Red Witch? Why hadn’t she called? Did she have any feelings for him? Could he make he love him? Did she love Dru?
Just as he felt his head about to explode he saw them walk out of the club and drop their suitcases into a black car.
Willow had on dark sunglasses that concealed her eyes
“Are you sure you don’t want to ride with us Willow?” Buffy said with a smile “We can talk and catch up.”
“Me and Dru need our stuff and I don’t think it would all fit in the trunk.” Willow said softly not wanting to talk to the Slayer.
“Oh c’mon Will.” Buffy urged in that annoying way. Willow swallowed; it had always been hard for her to deny the Slayer anything. Buffy had been the first person, other than Xander and Jesse, ever to look at her and see something worthy of friendship *for all the good that did her* she thought cynically. But it was past time that she stood up for herself.
“No, besides at least this way we won’t inconvenience you driving us back.”
“Back?” Buffy looked at the club “Oh to pick up your stuff.”
“Whatever.” Willow sighed; she still only heard what she wanted to.
“Well how about Spike and Drusilla drive together and me and you?” Buffy smiled broadly
*over my dead body.* Willow thought with a grimace “No, Dru is with me. You are with Spike.”
Buffy froze at the comment. Did Willow know about...nah.
“You could drive with me ducks.” Spike offered with his trademark grin
“No.” Dru growled and wrapped her arm around Willow’s waist “I’m with tree. Now anymore arguments or hall we just stay here?”
Spike glared at Dru as he got into the car and watched in the rear-view mirror as Willow got in the drivers seat.
“What the hell is Willow doing with Drusilla anyway?” Buffy sniped. And that was something Spike really wanted an answer to.
Xander paced in the shop part of the Magic Box, Buffy had called and said that she had a surprise for them all and that they should all be there at the Magic Box. Obviously they had managed to locate Fangs and Red Witch. Dawn was beside herself with curiosity and excitement, she was such a fan of the Duo. Giles sat there doing some paperwork and Anya sat near him massaging her belly.
Xander grinned as he caught sight of his pregnant girlfriend. She insisted on doing everything by the book, after all it was the first time she had been human and she wanted everything to be perfect. She refused to be sick at any other time of the day other than the morning, after all she’d said “it is morning sickness, therefore I should be sick in the morning.” Everything she’d read about talking to the baby or eating the right foods she followed religiously. It was so cute… and frustrating as hell.
“Really Buffy should be more caring about my schedule, the book said I should get lots of sleep. The baby needs sleep to grow. Although why it can’t do it during the day when I’m awake is most inconvenient. Still I have to sleep sometime.”
“Yes Anya.” Giles said absently, quite used to Anya’s schedules by now.
“Yeah well I have school tomorrow but I’d rather be here to meet Fangs and Red Witch.” Dawn said bouncing in her chair
Xander just smiled and turned his attention back to the book he was reading. *His Family*
The Sunnydale sign was just as battered as she remembered, probably more so since they had had to stop to prop it up after Spike had run it down in the Desoto. He claimed some sort of tradition was behind it.
But to Willow it was more delay in the inevitable. She and Dru had spent the whole of the ride consciously not talking about the fact that she was going back to the place she had fled from almost two years ago. They had sang along to the radio and talked about the club or their travels. Willow had got progressively quieter as they had neared Sunnydale until Drusilla was filling up the silence with inane chatter about nothing.
Willow had never loved her more.
The watched as Spike’s Desoto pulled up outside the Magic Box and Buffy bounded out the door and waited for Willow to stop.
“We could cut a U-ey and head up to LA to kick Angels’ ass.” Dru offered
“Cut a U-ey?” Willow raised an eyebrow “Someone’s been watching too much Clueless.”
Buffy tapped on the window and Willow, after taking a deep breath, wound it down.
“I want to make sure everyone’s there first okay, give me a minute and then come in. Oh everyone is gonna flip.” She spun around and after speaking to Spike for a few seconds went inside.
“Oh God, I’m gonna be sick.” Willow muttered wiping her sweaty hands on her jeans.
“Last chance to head for the hills.” Dru said again hoping to relieve the pressure “Although I think our guard might have something to say about it.” She gestured at Spike who stood against the Desoto staring at the m and smoking a cigarette.
Willow’s hands were shaking so badly it took two tries to undo her seatbelt.
Knowing the pain and nervousness that inundated her friend Drusilla grabbed her chin in both hands and looked into her eyes dropping a kiss on her cheek.
“Red Witch is powerful and strong, she has a core of steel and a heart of pure gold. I am here Willow mine.”
“Thanks Dru.” Willow said and got out of the car.
Spike moved to stand near them
“Hey Pet.” He said softly “You ok?”
Willow shrugged a shoulder glad for the dark glasses that kept him from seeing the truth.
Spike dropped the cigarette and crushed it under his boot. He stared at the still glowing embers on the tarmac
“She wants to make a big announcement, hail the conquering heroes and all that rot.”
Still Willow said nothing; she had no idea what to say to him.
Dru got out of the car “Hey Spike.”
“Drusilla.” He nodded and half smiled as he realised that he felt nothing but a distant fondness for the no longer insane Vampire.
“So you still help the Slayer and her toys?” Dru grinned at him
“Gotta eat, Dru.”
“Bull, you made *friends*. Admit it, little Spike-y made friends with the humans.” Dru teased
“You’re one to talk.” He shot back “How long you and Red been together anyway?”
Dru watched as Willow’s shoulders stiffened. He had called her Red. One more part of the puzzle fell into place for Drusilla.
“Over a year.” She answered
“So how’d you manage to make Dru sane?” he directed his question to Willow but she had her eyes fixed on the door to the Magic Box. “Red?” he touched her shoulder.
Willow almost jumped out of his grasp. “We should go in now.”
Spike watched thoughtfully as Willow walked over to the shop. *Exactly what was wrong with his Red?*
Xander looked up as the bell rang and Buffy walked in with the hugest grin splitting her face in half.
“Hey Buff, I guess the news is of the good?”
“Hell yeah!” Buffy said and pulled Xander into a hug
“Hey, that’s mine!” Anya complained “Put him down!”
“Anya!” Buffy grabbed Anya in a bear hug
“Oh!” Anya was pleasantly surprised “Pregnant women are supposed to get lots of hugs.”
Giles watched Buffy warily “Are you quite alright Buffy?”
Buffy beamed “Never better.”
Dawn couldn’t contain herself one more minute “So did you find ‘em?”
“Who?” Buffy’s smile was the most mischievous that they had seen in a long while, before Glory, before Adam, before Angel.
“Fangs and Red Witch?” Dawn said grinning, Buffy’s good mood was infectious and they didn’t even know why she was grinning like a damn Cheshire cat.
“Oh yeah and you are not gonna believe.” She bit her lip and did something no one ever thought she would
“Oh my God!” Dawn said her eyes wide “Buffy just did the happy bounce!”
“Did not.” Buffy denied
“Did too!” Dawn insisted “There was bounce-age.”
“Oh maybe a little.” Buffy did it again for the hell of it.
“So where are they?” Xander said feeling confused.
“Ooh is you sure you’re ready for this?” Buffy teased.
“Enough is enough.” Anya demanded “You are very annoying and all this isn’t good for the baby, I’m sure!”
Buffy went to the door and motioned to someone outside.
Xander exchanged bemused glances with the rest of the Scooby’s. Until she walked in. She pulled off her dark glasses.
Her hair was longer and a darker red and her clothes tighter and darker but it was undoubtedly her.
Willow left Dru standing by the car and saw Buffy poke her head out of the door motioning for her. She took a fortifying breath and steeled herself before walking inside.
The first thing she saw was him.
She was five years old again, sitting in the playground all alone. She was the new girl and had arrived that day. All around were the sounds of children playing games and shrieking with laughter. She was too scared to go and ask to join in any of their games so she sat under the tree clutching her lunch bag and gazing forlornly at the others. Suddenly a wiry boy with wild brown hair stood in front of her
“Hey. You’re the new girl what’s ya name?”
“Willow.” She replied shyly
“I’m Alexander Harris.” He said with a grin “I saw you in class, I fort you were a little angel but mom tol’ me they don’ exist.”
“Oh.” She blushed
“I like ya dress, it’s got cupcakes on it.”
“My mom picked it out.” She looked at herself
“I love cupcakes.”
“Me too.” It was great they had something in common “I have one in my lunch if you wan’ it Ales…Ales…Xander.”
“Xander?” he put his little head on the side “I like it, wanna be friends?”
She nodded and beamed.
“Xander?” her voice broke and for the first time in over a year she allowed herself to feel. She stepped forward but didn’t have far to go. Xander ran and launched himself at her, wrapping his arms around her.
“Oh Gods Willow.”
“Xand.” She felt tears spring to her eyes. He was here and he was real.
Xander turned his face and smelled her hair, this was Willow. No one on earth had the same smell as Willow, Vanilla and strawberries, the smell of the past and fun and innocence and just…Willow.
She hugged him tight trying to bury herself inside him. Finally she pulled away and looked up into his tearstained face. He placed a kiss on her forehead
“I missed you.” It said nothing but everything. He had missed her smile, her laugh, her tears, her friendship, her knowledge, her annoying way of always being right, the way she knew exactly what to say to make him feel better, to make him feel worth it. The way her nose crinkled when she was thinking, the way her smile still lit up the room, the way she always got his jokes and laughed even when they weren’t funny, the way she rambled and babbled when she was nervous, the way she got hyper when they had caffeine, the way she deciphered foreign films and her almost motherly way of making sure he ate something green each week.
“I love you Xand.” She knew.
“Move outta the way.” Dawn elbowed Xander aside; he had had her to himself for too long it was her turn.
“Hey Dawnie.” Willow said and wrapped Dawnie in a hug. Xander kept a hand on her shoulder just wanting to touch her to reassure him self that she was still there.
“Hey Wills, where did you go?” Dawn said as she cried “We missed you.”
“Me too Dawnie.” And she had, so much.
She pulled away from Dawn “I think you grew.”
“I did?” Dawn stared at herself and gave Willow a watery grin. Before Willow could return it she was hit by a huge bundle of tweed.
“Oh heavens Willow!”
“Hey Giles.” She hugged him back; this guy had been like her father how could she just walk away?
“I’m so sorry.” She whispered to him as she inhaled his scent.
“You’re safe.” He whispered back and Willow felt tears fall as the forgiving words echoed in her head.
“Oh God Giles.” She held him tighter.
“Don’t I get a turn?” came a voice by her side and she broke away wiping her face on her sleeve to look at Anya.
Her eyes widened “Anya?! You’re pregnant?”
“Yes.” Anya looked pleased and then frowned “It is most inconvenient but I am allowed to be hugged.” she held out her arms and Willow embraced her awkwardly over her bulk.
“Are you okay?” Willow asked as she withdrew
“Oh yes. Even though I look like a whale, I have a glow or pregnancy mask which makes me attractive. My feet hurt and I have constant backache, I get grouchy and then happy and then I want to cry.” she started to tear “Like now, and we all missed you and I’m having a baby.”
Willow started to laugh through her tears “And he or she will be the luckiest baby ever.”
“Thank you.” Anya sobbed as she pulled a tissue from her sleeve.
Xander wrapped his arm around her waist as she turned to face them all.
Buffy came back in the room hoping to be part of the hug fest but Willow was still clinging to Xander like a life line. She contented herself that she and Willow would soon be together sharing a movie, popcorn and a slumber party night.
Dawn sniffed and grabbed Xander’s arm. “Group hug?”
Everyone laughed and the tears started to disappear.
“Where did you find her?” Xander wanted to know as he steered Willow towards the couch.
“San Francisco.” No one had seen Spike come in; he was leaning against the doorway staring at the happy scene in amusement.
“Spike!” Xander’s face was practically split in two “Willow!”
Spike rolled his eyes “Yeah, I know mate. We found her in Frisco, thought you might want a visit.”
“What were you doing there?” Dawn frowned
“It is our base of operation.” Willow said stroking Dawns hair the way she had done countless times
“*Our* base of operation, who is our and what operation?” Anya wanted to know.
“Well that would be me and Fangs.” Willow said with a grin as four jaws dropped
“You are Red Witch?” Giles asked incredulous as he stared at his young protégé.
Willow blushed “Yeah.”
Dawn jumped up and down “I know Red Witch!”
“But who is Fangs?” Giles wanted to know
“That would be me ducks.” Came a voice from the corner.
“Argh Drusilla!” Xander yelled and pointed to the Vampiress in the corner
Willow bit back a grin and motioned to Dru “C’mere baby.”
Dru sauntered over and sat next to Willow draping an arm over her shoulder. Willow put her head on Dru’s shoulder
“Dru this is Dawn and Anya.” She gestured to the heavily pregnant Anya and the wide eyed Dawn
“Pleasure to meet you girls, Willow has told me so much about you.” She lied politely
“H-hey.” Squeaked Dawn
“I thought you were insane?” Anya frowned
“I got over it.” Dru said flippantly
“This is Xander.” Willow patted the gaping boy on the knee
“We met.” Dru gave a huge grin “How do you feel about immortal life?”
“Ack!” Xander jumped off the sofa “Remember dinner and a movie first!” he almost hid behind Anya.
Dru burst out laughing “He is so cute Tree.”
“Mine.” Anya glared viciously at the Vampiress
“And um… you’d best stay away from Giles.” Willow said quietly
Dru wondered why for a moment as she stared into the stony face of the elder gentlemen, he reminded her of someone she knew when she’d been human, her father. Distinguished and concerned and…her heart sank as she recalled why this man was so familiar. She been inside this man’s mind. She had violated it, pulled out the memory of his dead love. Oh this wasn’t going to be pretty.
Drusilla stood and walked over to him
“You have every right to hate me, stake me I have no soul and I won’t insult you by telling you different, all I can say is that I’m different now. I am a demon but Willow mine has become my conscience, I know how much you mean to her and so for that I’m sorry for what I did to you.”
Giles stared at the woman who had raped his mind and even he could see the change in her. He wasn’t sure how to feel, it was disconcertingly like Angel and Angelus.
“We shall see.” He managed and walked away from her.
“So you guys are Fangs and Red Witch?” Dawn beamed “Wow. Clem is gonna freak out!”
“Clem is still around?” Willow had always liked the sweet demon, he was a sweetheart.
“Yeah we hang out; he is a total Fangs and Red Witch fan.” Dawn carried on.
“You hang out with Clem?” Buffy was astounded
Dawn rolled her eyes “He picks me up from school all the time and we hang out sometimes I mean it’s not like I’m always at Janice’s. Geez Buffy get a clue.”
Willow rolled her eyes; looks like some things would never change.
Buffy frowned for a moment and then shrugged turning to Willow.
“So come on and chat Wills. How did you end up with ex- loony here? What were you doing in San Francisco? How come you didn’t call? I can’t believe you guys are fangs and Red Witch, I guess the Magic isn’t as wonky as it used to be huh?”
“I hate to break up the reunion, Tree.” Dru broke in correctly interpreting Willow’s expression “But the sun is gonna be up soon and we need to find a place to crash.”
Willow nodded “I wonder if my parents place is still empty.” She looked around at the guys for an answer
“Not sure.” Xander confessed “When you went missing we called but could never get an answer.”
Willow gave a half hearted shrug “Not like we were ever the Walton’s anyway.” She briefly wondered if they had still been putting money in her account, she had left her bank book at the house when she’d left.
“Guess I’ll check tomorrow, we need to go find a motel.”
“Stay with me.”
Willow turned to look at the speaker.
Spike frowned as he realised he’d spoken out loud; he had wanted to beg her to stay with him, to come stay and talk to him the way she used to. He just didn’t realise he’d said it out loud.
“Both of you.” He hurriedly added “I have room.”
Willow blanched as she thought about staying in the crypt where she’d seen…
“No.” it came out sharp and desperate “I -I mean there won’t be enough room at the crypt.”
“Oh I don’t live there anymore, I moved back into the Mansion. Decided to make some new memories for the place. Knocked out a couple a walls and she’s home sweet.” He grinned “Plenty a room.”
“We couldn’t put you out like that.” She protested
“No trouble pet, the Watcher sometimes stays there too.”
Giles stays with Spike?
“Seriously, we’ll find a motel.”
“Hell no.” he demanded beginning to wonder, again, why she was acting so funny.
Willow didn’t know what to say, there was no way she could handle being around Spike and Buffy’s little love nest.
Dru saw the conflict going on as everyone switched between them like spectators at a tennis match
“Just a minute.” Dru grabbed her hand and took her into the kitchen
“What’s wrong, Pixie?”
“I can’t stay with-” she bit off her words and tried to slam down her defences but the brief time she’d been here with Xander and the others had been enough to crack those barriers that she had spent so much time cultivating and it was twice as difficult to put them in place.
“It’s only for one night, I’ll be there with you Tree and I promise not to leave you alone with them.”
Willow nodded tightly “Fine.”
Dru lead her back into the lounge where a whispered conversation was hastily cut off.
“Me and my Tree would be just fine with that Spike. Tree was just a little concerned, that place has bad memories for me.” Wow she was good!
“See!” hissed Dawn at Spike
Willow wasn’t sure what they were talking about- and she didn’t want to know.
“Lets go.” She said and put her glasses on again.
Xander grabbed her hand before she left.
“I’ll come to the mansion tomorrow for breakfast, me and you Wills how’s that?”
Willow hugged him “Nothing I’d like better.”
“Don’t let her get away again!” Xander pointed at Spike pretending to be menacing
“Not planning on it.” Spike’s voice was low and sent shivers down Willows spine.
Willow couldn’t sleep, even though she was tired. Too much had happened in too short a time and she knew full well that tomorrow would be full of awkward questions and more pain.
She and Dru had driven to the Mansion and Spike had played dutiful host giving them two rooms next to each other. He looked as if he wanted to talk but Dru had sensed that Will needed some down time so she excused them both and went to bed. The last thing she had seen as she rounded the stairs was Spike watching them with a blank expression on his face.
She wrapped her arms around herself feeling the satin nightshirt against her skin. It soothed her.
She wrapped her arms around her knees and rocked gently trying to lull herself to sleep. She looked up as the door opened
“Hey Dru.” She knew it was Dru, the bond allowed them to feel each others presence
“Tree.” Dru slipped into bed with Willow and wrapped her arms around the redhead.
They were silent for a few minutes and then
“Since they arrived in Frisco you have been so different, withdrawn, hurting and fragile. That is not the Willow mine I have come to know and love. I promised not to push and I won’t Pixie but repression is not good.” she gave a lop-sided smile “Trust me I know.”
Willow bowed her head “I hate this place, the Hellmouth. It’s caused me nothing but pain. Nineteen years of pain. From my parents and Cordelia and her Cordettes to Xander’s obliviousness and Jesse dying. Angelus, Oz. Tara. But through it all I thought I could handle it.” She sniffed and looked into Dru’s sympathetic face
“Buffy would never hurt me; I had Giles. Then after Tara left I fell in love again. So deeply, but he didn’t love me- I knew it, he told me he was in love with someone else and that was fine. I was his friend, sort of, he talked to me about this girl and how much he wanted her and it hurt but I just wanted him to be happy.” She ducked her head again as she remembered
“Then I told Buffy that I loved him, I thought she’d be mad but she, understood, she was so supportive. I figured I was the luckiest girl in the world having a best friend like Buffy. She told me that it was okay and that she’d even put in a word with him. She made me feel on top of the world, I thought I could do anything- so I went to tell him how I felt.”
She closed her eyes against the memory
“He was otherwise occupied.”
Dru was silent she knew this wasn’t the end of the story
“He was in bed with Buffy.”
Dru vamped out and waves of rages flew over her so deep and intense it left Willow gasping from the out lash down the bond.
“I can kill her for you.” She growled “Gut the bitch and hang her by her intestines, maybe cut out her tongue so she can’t scream and-”
Willow gave a half giggle, half sob “No.” she swallowed “it hurt so much. What they had both done.”
“Both?” Dru hesitated “Ok I get the Slayer but, don’t stake me for this, he hadn’t really done anything, and he didn’t know how you felt.”
“I know he didn’t. But from the way they were-” She bit off the end of that sentence “it wasn’t a one time thing, they had been together before. So not only had she lied and betrayed me, but he had lied to my face. Going on about how she would never look at him, how she wouldn’t even touch him. And I bought it; I sat there the sympathetic friend while he lied. I wonder if he knew; if she’d told him about how I felt and that’s why he didn’t say anything about him and Buffy. Was he playing me? Basking in my stupid adoration? Were they both laughing at me?”
Dru held Willow close as she cried
She had had no idea, she knew whatever it was had been bad, but this had destroyed Willow’s confidence, self-esteem and trust on an Angelus scale.
“I love you Willow.” she whispered “You are my moon and my stars. My whole world and I need you.”
Willow could not have given up Dru for the world.
“Who was *he*?”
“Spike.” Was the faint reply. She stared into Dru’s incredulous eyes.
Willow nodded. Dru had no idea what to say. She knew how easy Spike was to fall in love with; he had the devil’s charm when he chose to use it. He could also be cruel and ruthless so it was possible that he had known of Willow’s feelings. But to deliberately use them against her, to hurt her, to sleep with the Slayer? And *that* was as Willow would say “ew”.
Could he, would he? She would have to talk to him and find out.
“Sleep lovey. I’ll be here in the morning.”
*I hope that the man who invented showers is a zillionare and living with big breasted women* Willow chuckled at her charitable thoughts as she made her way down the stairs. It was amazing how much better you could feel after a hot shower. She felt ready to take on the Hellmouth…almost.
As she entered the kitchen she felt herself beam
“Xander! You’re here and it’s early!”
Xander looked up from his conversation with Spike and returned her happy greeting
“Wills looking good, and I’ll have you know that the working man has to get up early!” he brandished a brown box “and I bought breakfast.”
“You are so cool!” she dropped a kiss on his forehead studiously ignoring the blonde Vampire “So what did I get?”
“Donuts, both custard and toffee filled ones; your favourites and a heavily creamy mocha.”
“With extra sprinkles?”
“Hey!” Xander spread his arms wide “This is me!”
“How could I forget.” she sat next to him and pulled the box towards her inhaling the mocha deeply “Heavenly.”
“Morning pet, sleep well?” Spike watched her curiously. Was she ignoring him?
“Fine, thank you.” She answered formally “I’ll go check my parents place later and we should be out of your hair.”
“No need.” Why was she so distant? “I love having you here. I was just saying to Xand that it almost felt like old times.”
“The old times when you were trying to kill us?” she raised an eyebrow and then did a double take “Xand?”
“Yeah, well you did say that if we could stop trying to kill each other we’d actually get along.”
“I said that?” she frowned trying to remember
“Well actually you said that if me and junior could quit that macho bullshit and not hate each other, we’d actually find we had a lot in common. You were right.”
“Me and Xand here are mates.” Spike added
So he’s friends with Xander, sleeping with Buffy and living with Giles? Great. That leaves me out…again.
“Great.” There was a distinct lack of enthusiasm.
Spike was bewildered. He thought she would have been pleased that he and Xander were friends.
“So what’s the plan for today?” she turned back to Xander.
“Breakfast and talk.” Xander pointed to the donuts. Willow paused and Spike took the hint “I’ll leave you two to catch up.”
Xander waited until Spike closed the door before turning back to Willow.
“So gonna tell me how you ended up in San Francisco?”
“I had some stuff that I wasn’t ready to deal with.”
“Sort of but not really. I don’t want to talk about it.” She sipped her mocha
“Why didn’t you call?”
She sighed “At first I wasn’t ready and then I couldn’t call because I hadn’t called and because I hadn’t called I couldn’t call. It was one of them catch 22’s”
“Ah the viciousness of the circle.” Xander nodded wisely “I’m glad you’re here.”
“Me too.” She was surprised to know that she was being honest.
“So you’re going to be a daddy!”
Drusilla had left before Willow got up and was acquainting herself with the Sunnydale sewer system.
She had been too into her own self inflicted dementia to appreciate the extensive underground system which allowed them to go anywhere during the day, she met one or two vamps on her way through but no one she knew. Or thought she should know.
But she didn’t take the time to wander, she had a mission today.
She opened the entrance that she assumed took her to the basement of the Magic Box.
There was the tweedy man, bent over a crate peering at its contents. Dru stood back and looked at his huddled form. Boy he had a nice ass. She almost chuckled in admiration but held back as he remembered that she had raped this man’s mind. He wouldn’t welcome her advances.
“BLOODY-” the man jumped about a foot in the air and spun with his hand tucked in his jacket ready to bring out his ever present stake.
“Easy, tweedy!” Dru said putting her hands up in defence.
“Good heavens.” Giles said trying to regulate his breathing he hadn’t heard the gorgeous Vampire come in.
“Sorry.” Her grin gave away that she was anything but. “Didn’t mean to scare ya.”
“I wasn’t aware that there was anyone in and …” he put his head on the side “How did you get in?”
“Sewer access.” She pointed behind her intently watching him.
“I-I see.” He began to pull off his glasses but seemed to think better of it and pushed them up his nose. “What can I do for you Drusilla?”
“Actually I came to see you, tweedy.” She picked up the nearest object, which happened to be an artistically carved knife, and twirled it in her fingers.
“Oh?” his eyes fixated on the knife and refused to sway
“Yeah. Look I know we have a bad history.” She considered “Real bad, but Tree likes you. In fact you were practically the only one she ever would talk about. You were like her daddy. She missed you and told me a lot about you and I feel like I know you real well and I guess I just wanted to see if we could put the past behind us and get along, mostly for Pixie’s sake than anything. I can’t see us being bosom buddies or anything. Tweedy?”
Giles’ attention was still on the knife “Yes perhaps we could talk about being civilised once you put the ancient hunting knife down?”
She looked surprised to see it in her hands “Oh sorry.” she looked at it closer “Is this a ritual Tafin dagger?”
“Yes actually one of the remaining few, a-are you familiar with ritualistic daggers?”
“Yes, we found some beautiful ones in Romany and look at this.” She pulled her own knife out of her sleeve “Quality craftsmanship.” She handed over to Giles who inspected it curiously.
“I last used it to gut a Menorak demon.” she confessed and Giles froze
“I cleaned it!” she laughed at his expression “I find the Romany blades much easier to use than the more early European.”
“Ah but what about the Spanish influence?” Dru grinned
Willow had had such a great day. She had spent it with Xander and Anya. They agreed that Willow did not want to talk about why she left and once that was out of the way they had had such fun just talking about their adventures while out of each others sight. Anya talked about her glory days as a vengeance demon which Willow could now appreciate. She told Anya and Xander about her club and sideline as a “super hero”, Xander had been in hysterics. His best friend, Willow, who had been scared of frogs, worn pink fuzzy jumpers and yellow tights, was a superhero.
“That is one hell of a disguise.” He mocked and was punched in the arm by his friend
“Ow, geez Will when did you get muscles?”
“Somewhere between California and Connecticut.” she joked.
Xander had looked at his watch and groaned
“Come on guys we are supposed to meet Giles.”
“Ahh research sessions!” Willow reminisced “How I miss you!”
“Only you Miss Thang!” Xander teased and blocked a punch as he opened the door to the Magic Box. They all stopped in shock.
Giles was holding his sides and laughing like a hyena. Tears were streaming down his cheeks and Dru sat there holding a cup of tea in a bone china cup and saucer looking for the entire world like a dignified lady, except for the twinkle of mischief in her eye.
“Sheesh Ru, what did you do to Giles?” Willow wanted to know
“Hello Pixie. Me and tweedy were just getting acquainted.”
Willow grinned at Dru’s new name for Giles
“Tweedy?” Xander beamed “That’s better than G-man!”
“Oh no you don’t.” Giles straightened up and glared at Xander “I put up with quite enough from you.”
“Well looky who grew a back bone.” everyone turned to look at Spike as he leaned on the back door to the training room. Everyone except Willow who made her way over to Dru and gave her friend a hug.
Spike let his eyes follow Willow’s form as she crossed the Magic Box and he tried to ignore the pounding of his borrowed blood as she hugged his Sire.
He hadn’t spent any time with her at all; she seemed to be busy whenever he was around. He wanted so desperately to just sit down with her for a few hours and talk, like they used to. Talk about anything and everything, all and nothing. But it didn’t look like that was going to happen anytime soon, unless he could induce the Slayer into letting him patrol with her.
“Hey bud.” Xander greeted and Dru raised an eyebrow
“Bud?” Spike shrugged sheepishly and tapped the back of Xander’s head in mock annoyance.
“Oy moron, respect your elders.” He walked across the room and sat at the table, as close to Willow as he could get.
Willow leaned away surreptitiously and turned to Dru
“So what were you and Giles talking about?”
“Our adventures.” Dru said draping an arm over her shoulder “You remember that Minotaur in Oklahoma?”
“Oh no!” Willow blushed and buried her face in her hands “You didn’t!”
“What? Share!” Xander insisted at his friends’ reaction
“We were called to Oklahoma to get rid of this Minotaur. You know that there no female Minotaur so they attack human females to reproduce with. Well this one was sneaky; it kidnapped a witch to perform a love spell so humans weren’t repulsed by it. Women all over kept disappearing so we went but the spell had backfired. Instead of women falling for the Minotaur, all the men in the area were horny.”
“It was like being in an Austin Powers movie!” Willow shuddered
“Only because almost every single guy we went near made a pass at Tree.” Dru teased
“I got my ass pinched so many times I thought I’d have permanent finger marks in my butt!” Willow complained
Spike growled low in his throat and fought back the urge to drive to Oklahoma and indulge in a blood bath.
Dru looked at him funny as she heard the rumble and was about to say something when the bell jangled and Buffy and Dawn walked in.
“Willow!” Dawn gave a little skip “I am so not getting over this any time soon!”
Willow chuckled at her adoptive sisters antics
“Hey Wills!” Buffy perked up
“Hey.” Willow’s greeting was much more subdued.
Buffy frowned at the less than exuberant welcome from Willow and once again felt uneasy about the secrets she kept. Maybe Willow wasn’t actually distant maybe it was a figment of Buffy’s guilty imagination.
“So what we doing?”
“Oh Wills and Drusilla were just regaling us with tails about their adventures.”
“Willow got her butt pinched by the entire male population of Oklahoma. It was most amusing.” Anya chirped.
“You started the stories without me?” Buffy looked hurt
“How was school?” Giles asked anxious to smooth things over.
“Fine, got some delinquents sorted out.”
“I can believe my sister goes to the same school with me, I’m sure this will cause me trauma in later life.” Dawn moaned and sat near Willow.
Willow began to brush her hair with her fingers the same way she did Dru sometimes.
“So what did I miss?” Buffy pushed aside the guilt and the hurt and grinned at Willow and was disappointed that Willow wouldn’t meet her eyes.
“Not much.” Willow leaned back and eyed Giles
“So why don’t you tell us about what you want us to do?”
“Well the Sisterhood of Jhe is back and wishes to open the Hellmouth again, this time they are taking added precautions and assembling an army.”
“Oh boy, last time they succeeded but it only opened a little and me and Giles had to bind the Hellmouth closed while everyone else fought the Sisterhood and various demons that spewed forth.” Willow explained to Dru
“Except me!” Xander beamed
“Except Xander.” Willow amended
“Plus bonus points for spewed in a sentence.” Xander commented
“Ew, way to focus Xand!” Willow pulled a face
“We heard about Fangs and Red Witch closing a Hellmouth in Texas and we wanted them to do the same here.”
“Close the Hellmouth?”
“We did say that when we found you in that club in San Francisco.” Spike added wanting to draw attention to himself.
“How exactly did you find us?” Willow frowned; she had never bothered to ask before “In fact how did you get in?”
“We got Angel’s season tickets.” Buffy said offhandedly missing the fire in Willow’s eyes
“Does it matter? You’re here where you belong!”
Willow deigned to answer that and just looked at Dru who winced at the fury in her friends face. *oh boy Angel was in trouble!*
“Drusilla honey, I went by my parents place but the place is all switched off. Electrics, gas, water, the works. My stuff is still there anyway, but we need to find a motel.”
“I have room, Red. You can both stay with me.” Spike said irately he had told her and they had already had this argument
“Fine.” Willow needed to work off some of this stress “Thank you. If I remember rightly, before the Sisterhood attacked the mouth we had a rash of attacks every night, so patrol is in order?”
“Y-yes.” Giles took off his glasses and wiped them with the end of his shirt. This new take charge Willow was all too strange and new.
“So I think maybe teams of two, taking each cemetery section. Anya will want to stay here be base of operations.” Anya nodded “Who works best with whom? Things have changed since I’ve been away.”
“Well we all usually take patrol together.” Buffy said liking this new Willow even more, whilst still feeling out of her depth “How about You and me, Spike and Giles and Dru and Xander?”
Willow shook her head *Hell no!*
“We need a weak with a strong, You and Xander take Rest field and those in the South, Spike and Giles can go to the Northern cemeteries, Dru can take East herself.”
“What about you?”
“I’m with Dawn.” Willow looked surprised that they had to ask and Dawn squealed
“Oh my God, I get to patrol with Red Witch.”
“Unless she does that again and then I might just feed her to Dru.”
Buffy frowned unhappy that once again she wasn’t going to get to talk to Willow, Spike was the same but Willow misinterpreted both of their expressions as they wanted to patrol together. But she recalled enough Buffy/Angel and Buffy/Riley patrols to know that they would probably get more done if their hormones weren’t on full alert.
“Why do I get the bleached one?” Giles complained much to everyone’s surprise. “Well it seemed a bit off that no one complained.”
“Let’s go.” Willow picked up Dawn by the hand and pulled her to the door.
Willow managed to listen with half an ear to Dawn’s rambles about school and reply whilst still watching out for any demons. She had incinerated half a dozen Vampires with a mere wave of her hand, much to Dawn’s delight.
“Ok Dawnie, this one’s yours.” she said as a snarling fledgling came at them. Dawn gulped audibly
“You can do it.” She offered encouragingly
Dawn pulled the stake closer to her body and put herself in the same stance she had watched Buffy take.
“One foot needs to be a bit further back if you want to balance properly.” Willow instructed and Dawn adjusted herself.
“Ok now focus your energy on the stake and watch his movements.”
The Vampire lunged and nearly knocked Dawn over.
“He moved too fast.” Dawn whined
“I’m gonna kill you little girl.” The vamp hissed at her.
“Ignore him and pretend he has a target painted on his chest.” Willow leaned against a tree “He’ll feint to the left but go right just look at the way he’s standing.”
“I don’t see it.” Dawn said as she watched the suddenly disconcerted Vampire
“Freeze!” Willow commanded and the Vampire stopped dead in the shimmering air. She walked calmly over to the frozen Vampire
“Cool!” Dawn enthused sounding so much like a young Buffy.
“Watch here.” she pointed “These Muscles show where he going to move, you see how they are all bunched just here?”
“That means those ones are going to be moved first so he’ll lunge that way.”
“Oh I totally get it now!” Dawn said and Willow stood back
“Uh can I move now?” The Vamp asked a little frightened
“Unfreeze.” Willow waved her hand and he fell forward, straight onto Dawn’s stake. “Oh my gosh I did it, I did it!” she squealed and jumped up and down.
Willow couldn’t help but grin at the girls enthusiasm. “Yay you. Hi Dru.”
Dawn spun to see Drusilla standing by a tree watching them.
“Did you see that?” she asked the Vampiress
“Yep, they make ‘em good in Sunnydale.” Drusilla smiled
“Uh guys I have to do something, Dawn is it okay if I leave you with Dru for a while? She’ll make sure you get home safe.”
Dawn looked hesitantly at Dru “No biting.”
“Scouts honour!” Dru held up her hands in amusement “Now they are tasty.”
Willow gave a half smile and walked back to the Mansion with long strides. She had something she had to do alright.
There was no one home yet, which suited Willow’s purposes fine.
She didn’t really want an audience anyway. She located the phone and took it to her room. She dialled the Number.
“Hey ya’ll this is Angel investigations we help the hopeless.”
“Fred.” Willow’s voice was low “I need to speak to Angel.”
“Oh Hi, who is it?”
“I’ll put him on.” Willow heard the sound of the call being forwarded to Angel’s office and fought down her temper.
“Angel.” He announced in his deep voice
“You have exactly 60 seconds to convince me not to release your soul into the ether and curse you forever you interfering son of a bitch.”
Angel stared incredulously at the phone “Willow?”
“I only asked one thing of you.”
“Willow where are you?” he panicked was she okay? Was Dru?
“Where am I?” she chuckled mercilessly “In the one place I never wanted to see ever again. Sunnydale. So why don’t you use your remaining 50 seconds to tell me why against my explicit instructions you gave your season passes to the Slayer and your childe to use?” she hissed. Several items in the room began to levitate.
“My-?” he turned to rummage in his desk for the passes “But they were right here and they didn’t come in my… CORDELIA!” he bellowed at the top of his voice as realisation dawned on him.
Cordelia came running into the office
Angel gave her a glare that could scare any demon and sent shivers of Angelus flavoured memory to Cordelia’s soul.
He pressed the button for speakerphone “I have 40 second s to explain to Willow how Spike and Buffy got into her club, before she removes my soul.”
Cordelia gaped “She wouldn’t do that.”
“She is 38 seconds away from doing exactly that.” Willow’s voice came over the phone; it wasn’t the speaker that made her voice sound so cold.
“You weren’t happy, when you came to visit; I wanted you to be happy.”
“So you deliberately ignored what I said and decided to make me happy even if it made me miserable. Well thanks to your interfering I am surrounded by my friends” she spat the word “Who expect me to close the Hellmouth and go back to being their lap dog.”
“I just thought-” Cordelia began avoiding Angel’s cold glare
“Well don’t.” Willow interrupted “It was never your strong point. I never asked for payment or anything all I asked was that you told no one where I was. You deliberately disobeyed a direct order, went against Sanctuary law, you are so lucky I don’t just rip out your damn throats. Or call the order of Taraka out on your asses.”
“I’m sorry Willow.” Angel said “I had no idea, I refused to help them.”
“Please don’t bring Angelus back!” Cordelia begged
“I have no desire to see that Bastard any more than you.” Willow seethed
“But piss me off again and we’ll see what I can do. As it is I wouldn’t
touch each other for a week if I were you. There is more than one way to
lose a soul.” She slammed the phone down listening to the satisfying crack.
The items in the room began to spin as she tried to reign in her emotions.
Angel put the receiver down carefully avoiding looking at Cordelia.
“Oh God Angel, I’m so sorry.” He held up a hand effectively cutting her off.
“Get out.” Tears began to run down her face
“I’m sorry.” She cried
“Willow restored my soul so we could be together and told us what would happen if we told any of the Sunnydale gang where she was. You not only ignored her gift but also showed a lack of respect for not only the Sanctuary law but me as well.” He breathed deeply “I can’t trust you and I can’t be around you right now Cordelia. Get out.”
She turned and ran sobbing her heart out and Angel slumped to his desk
with tears in his eyes.
By the time she heard footsteps in the house she had calmed down enough to stop objects careening into each other.
“Hey Red.” His voice alone was enough to make her blood pressure pick up again. She pushed hard with all her control so he wasn’t accidentally attacked by his own house.
“Spike.” She breathed deeply
“You ok Red?” he asked concerned at the throbbing veins on her head
“Yeah, nothing aspirin wouldn’t cure.”
Spike shrugged sheepishly “I got alcohol.”
“Even better.” She gave him the first real smile he had seen directed to him since she had left over two years ago.
They sat in the redecorated lounge and Spike poured Willow a drink.
“You have done some incredible work to this place.” Willow noticed as she looked around. “Of course these are guy colours; no girl would ever decorate with green and brown.”
“Yeah I did the majority of work, Xand helped a lot, and he hangs out here quite a bit, especially when Demon girl is in the hospital. He said his place feels empty without her. I know how he feels.” he added watching her intently. “Without certain people around, life feels empty.”
“Probably a good thing you’re dead then.” she said pleasantly unwilling to continue the conversation.
Spike ran his hand through his hair in frustration. Why couldn’t he tell her that she had been on his mind every walking moment of everyday since she left? That he tried to be a better person for her, did she notice? Did she care? Why couldn’t he talk to her?
Willow slammed back her drink and asked for another. She just wanted to go home. Wherever home was. Maybe they should just sneak back to Frisco. But, no, now Spike and Buffy knew where they were. Spike and Buffy, didn’t that sound an enticing combination?
Willow winced at the nickname “Yeah?”
“Are… are you happy?” *ponce* he berated himself
“That’s kinda personal.” She noted
“Friends can do personal.” He remembered her telling him that once and wondered if she caught the reference
“Are we friends?” she was perfectly serious
Spike’s heart sank “I thought we were. But you left so suddenly and didn’t tell anyone, or you were kidnapped and didn’t tell any one that you were safe. We missed you, *I* missed you.”
Willow stood up and walked over to the bar; bracing her hands on it, unwilling to let his soft words get to her. He had lied and was still lying to her. Maybe even laughing at her.
“You got over it, everyone got over it. You all seem to be doing so well. Thanks for the drink.” She turned on her heel and left. Spike stared after her.
“I didn’t.” he whispered.
Drusilla had left Dawn with the Watcher and hurried back to the Mansion knowing Willow wouldn’t want to be with Spike alone. But as she entered the Mansion she heard Spike in the drawing room muttering to himself, a habit he had picked up early in her insane years, she had laughed at Spike talking to the “little people”. She wandered into the drawing room and watched Spike pace backwards and forwards in front of the fire, seemingly arguing with himself.
“First sign of madness, that.” She pointed out. He spun to face her.
“Dru.” Her comment registered “What is?”
“Talking to yourself,”
“What about talking to the stars?”
“Delightful eccentricity.” She explained with a grin and he shared it.
“Damn it Dru it’s good to see you.”
“You too.” And it was, she had hurt him and left him but he was still family. “So how have you been boy?”
Spike grimaced at Angelus’ name for him but didn’t protest
“Ok, these little humans are amusing, they help pass the time. The Watcher’s okay, Xapper is fun when you get past the moron and demon girl always has some gory tale.”
“I spent the last of the patrol with Dawn.”
He rose an eyebrow “Nibblet, she’s a brat. But I like her anyway.”
“What about the Slayer?” Dru said quietly staring at him intently.
Spike shrugged “She’s a Slayer. Self absorbed and bitchy.”
*That meant absolutely nothing.* Dru thought in frustration. *I was self absorbed but he loved me*
“Aren’t they all?” Dru watched him as he paced
“Guess, never spent much time thinking about it.” He shrugged and frowned at the bottom of is glass “So what’s with you and Red?” he tried to be nonchalant.
“I love her.” Spike tensed
Dru thought about Willow trying to put forth her best qualities, it was hard, there were just so many to think of “She’s perfect. Just a wonderful mix of innocence and experience. She intrigues me. She is just the most wonderful person I have ever met, she accepts me for not only who I am but who I could be.”
Spike swallowed “She does that.” He turned away from Dru fighting back tears “Doe- does she love you?”
“It doesn’t matter.” She replied off handed-ly. “With Tree, it doesn’t matter.”
“How can it not matter?” he was incredulous at her statement. How can she be uncaring if the girl loves her or not, it would kill him, *was* killing him.
“I love her enough for both of us.” She shrugged “Besides she’s with me and she let me claim her.”
*Oh yeah* Spike thought wretchedly *She’s claimed by Dru. How could I forget that nice little detail?*
“That’s all I need. She’s been hurt, I won’t ask for anything.” Dru continued
“The wolf and the witch?”
Dru shook her head making Spike frown
“Not my story.” Dru said suddenly annoyed that Spike didn’t even seem to know that he had broken her baby’s heart, she didn’t want to continue this conversation knowing full well that she could attack Spike for either being cruel or being clueless, best to leave it for tonight. “Night Spike.”
“Night.” he said lost in thought over who could have hurt his witch.
Dru went into her room and changed into a long white nightshirt; it was soft and made of cotton, Willow had bought it for her a while back. Boy was she tired; she couldn’t wait to get some sleep and then maybe go talk to that delicious Watcher again. She paused before getting into bed and looked towards Willow’s room.
She hesitated unable to feel anything down the bond she shared with the redhead, which was never a good sign.
Spike came up the stairs to go to bed and saw Dru walk out of her room and knock on Willow’s door. She opened it and went in. Spike leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes in pain.
The next few days were bright and cheerful, a real Californian week. Dru left early, each morning to go to the Magic Box where she was helping Giles with some research. Xander had to work and so did both Buffy and Anya. Dawn was at school which left Willow with not much to do. She went to her parents place one day to pick up some of the stuff that she had left, oh so long ago and found that her parents, although not having heard from her in two years, were still depositing money in her account. She marvelled at the obtuseness of them. Spike and Buffy had tried several times to get the redhead alone for conversation but Willow had no desire to renew their friendship or to bring up previous grievances, it hurt seeing them at the best of times. Like when they all went on patrol or were at the Magic Box waiting to be given orders. Buffy would try to pair Willow up either with herself or Spike but Willow managed to get out of it. Willow was grateful that Buffy worked during the day and Spike had that deadly sun allergy which made it possible for her to avoid them during the day and she often climbed to the roof and sat watching the city where she’d grown up. She made excuses and walked about feeling a strange urge to cry. She often felt someone follow her but since they didn’t attack she didn’t much care. She could feel herself slip further away from everyone, cutting herself off like she had when she had originally left Sunnydale.
Dru seemed to be falling for the Watcher, and he returned the feelings, if his blushes and smiles were anything to go by.
Willow wrapped her arms around her middle as she walked through the darkened streets of Sunnydale. Alone. The others all convened at the Magic Box to prepare for the big battle tomorrow, they were doing the whole bonding thing before they faced the big bad and Willow would rather be anywhere else. She wondered if Dru would want to leave with her when she went in a few days. Tomorrow was the day they were supposed to fight the Sisterhood and Willow couldn’t help be glad it was almost over and she could go…away. She would miss Xander and Giles, having renewed her friendship with them both and she was proud of the woman Dawn was growing into. She wished she could see Anya be a mom but it wasn’t going to happen. Although she hadn’t seen them be all couply it was obvious that Buffy and Spike were close, they rarely ever teased each other with barbs like they had before. It was more good natured and friendly. Xander also included Spike in his plans and conversation, to Dawn he was the beloved big brother and he was Giles’ friend and Anya’s confident.
She felt left out again. Not that that was anything new, but it still hurt and she cursed herself for letting it.
She found herself in front of the Bronze and walked in.
Looking around she let the music wash over her, she missed her club and the cathartic dancing and singing. Well maybe that was something she could do something about.
Spike looked around at everyone in the Magic box, she wasn’t here. The Scooby’s were doing the usual let me tell you how much I love you before we get ripped to shreds, or kick evils ass. He wanted to talk to her. He had chickened out so much that week, just content to be near her again after her prolonged absence. He’d had another dream about her last night, he’d declared his love and she’d done that girly squeal he remembered from way back when someone did something nice for her and then she’d kissed him, a full on passionate I’ll-miss-you-when-I’m-gone-because-I-cant-live-without-you kiss. He’d woken up with a hard on you could knock nails in with. Just from a kiss, he had never wanted something so much in all his unlife. He was content with her presence, as little as that actually was this week. But tonight he had wanted to tell her that he… where was she?
Dru glanced around “Not here.”
He rolled his eyes “No shit Sherlock.”
“Has anyone seen her today.” Buffy paused and added sardonically “Or much at all this week.”
“What exactly are you implying?” Dru stood up her hands clenched tightly. *what did that little bitch know about anything, what Willow was going through, she had hurt her best friend and she was still clueless.* if she was being honest Dru hated Buffy because no matter what she’d done now, she had been Willow’s best friend before her. Everyone stared apprehensively as the Vampire glared at Buffy with so much hatred.
“Easy Dru.” Spike said
“Oh Bite me, its your-” she stopped abruptly unwilling to finish that sentence.
“My what?” Spike was perplexed
Your fault. She wanted to scream at him. She settled for scoffing at his expression and turning around to Giles. “I need to calm down, tweedy.”
“I think we all need to chill.” Xander said not trusting the way Dru had looked at Buffy. “How about we Bronze it?”
“Sounds like a plan.” Buffy shot ice at Drusilla.