* Big thanks to my tireless betas Tracy and Ves for their help, patience, and encouragement. Much thanks also to Melissa for the pom-poms.
** Warning -- this chapter is Spike/Drusilla heavy...sorry, but it had to be done, no matter how icky.
*** Dedicated to the members of my list, Carriefic.  Especially for everyone who gave their thoughts on my big question last month.  Thanks for your honesty!
 
 
It's About Time  ~ Chapter 15
**************

About an hour before sunset on a late summer evening, Spike sat sprawled in an Adirondack chair beneath the weeping silver birch tree in a heavily shaded corner of his mansion's garden.

He was so thoroughly engrossed in his book, sipping occasionally from his second glass of Beaujolais, that Spike didn't notice when he was no longer alone.  Having just gotten out of bed, Drusilla stood silently by the French doors that led from the house, watching Spike, waiting.

"What are you thinking about, my Spike?" she asked after several minutes passed without him noticing her.

Barely glancing up, Spike tried not to sigh in response to Drusilla's query, but since it felt as if she'd asked him that same exact question a million times in only the few weeks that he'd been back, a slight groan managed to escape his lips anyway.

"I'm not thinking, pet.  I'm reading...hence the way I'm staring at this papery thing with all the words in it," he added, waving a worn paperback copy of 'Little Women' in the air a bit.

"You're thinking about *her*, aren't you?" Drusilla continued with an injured look that Spike took no notice of.

"Which one?" he asked, focusing again on the book.  "Meg or Jo?  Personally, I think Meg's a bit dull.  I like Jo.  The chit's got...spunk."

"You read too much, my sire, my Spike.  It makes your mind all jumbled and complicated.  I get lost in your thoughts, caught like a spider in their silvery web."

Spike cocked a brow as he turned the page.  "Not sure I like the implication that I've cobwebs for brains, pet."

Leaning her head against the ivy-covered back wall of the mansion, Drusilla plucked at the vine's green leaves.  "You never used to read this much.  This fascination with books you have isn't healthy, my Spike."

"Wasn't me, pet, remember?  Moreover, one book is hardly a fascination," Spike rebutted without looking up.  "You should actually try it some time...broaden your horizons...expand that little mind of yours a bit."

Without even seeing the stricken look on Drusilla's face, Spike quickly regretted his sharp tone.  "Let us not forget, I started reading a fair bit while I was waiting for you," he continued more softly, stressing the last few words to get his point across.  Then, with a patient grin, Spike met Drusilla's cautious eyes. "Helped pass the time, didn't it?  All those dreary years without you.  'Sides, this is the first book I've picked up since I came back to good old Sunnyhell. Took if off that parking lot attendant you snacked on last night.  Otherwise, it would have hardly been my first choice in reading material."  He tossed the book aside with a flourish.  "I take it Angelus was never successful in making a learned man out of William, because my library doesn't appear to have anything in it other than a couple of old X-Men and Witchblade comics."

"My William didn't read much, my sire.  He found...*other* ways to occupy his time."

With a lazy smile, Spike held out his hand to beckon her.  "Ahh...spent all his time worshiping you, did he?  He may have been a simple lad, but he certainly had taste."

Drusilla's pout changed to a teasing smile that reached her eyes, making them sparkle in the twilight.  Venturing further into the garden, Drusilla took care not to step into the few remaining patches of fading sunlight that painted the intricate pattern of bricks beneath her feet.  She placed her hand in Spike's and let herself be drawn onto his lap.

"My William had other interests, but he always came home to me," she murmured silkily, tracing his lips with a single sharpened fingernail.  "To his Dark Goddess..."

"Sensible lad...quite handsome, too," Spike said huskily, before capturing her errant finger between his teeth and drawing it deep within his mouth.  Although Drusilla whimpered and squirmed appropriately as he took turns nibbling and sucking on her fingers, Spike could tell that she was still bothered by something.

"What's wrong, my pet?" he asked.  "You seem to be in a bit of a brown study tonight.  Why don't you and that Brittney bird go out as soon as the sun finishes setting?  You haven't been out with your girlfriends in over a fortnight, Dru.  You told me you loved your girls night out before I came back.  Bet that would be just the thing to put that sadistic smile I love so much back on your face."

"We can't," she said, playing with the buttons on his shirt.  "We had a tiny difference of opinion, so I had to kill her."

Spike sat up a little straighter.  Using a finger beneath her delicate chin, he forced her to look up at him.  "Drusilla...I thought it was Roxanne you *had* to kill?"

Her face darkened before she looked away.  "That was weeks ago, my Spike.  It seems that history keeps repeating..."

"How about that other girl, then?" Spike started with a concerned frown.  "The blonde...what's her name?  Sarah?"

With a shrug of indifference, she shook her head.

"Let me guess," Spike nearly groaned.  "You had a fight with her as well?"

Drusilla nodded sadly, and as she turned to Spike, she looked like a lost child, sad and innocent.  But Spike knew better.

"Oh, come on!  It's been like a bloody sorority house around here since I got back. What about Sophie? And, er, Lauren? Then there's Wilma or is it Wendy?  You know, the chit with the enormous nose that you turned behind that music shop awhile back..."

Leaning in to lick the scar on Spike's jaw, she whispered, "Gone," against his raised flesh. "All gone..."

"They're *all* dust, Princess?"

Drusilla gave him an endearing smile that Spike remembered well, although tonight he was finding it a little less charming and quite a bit more absurd.

As Drusilla began to kiss his neck, Spike sighed, again, and had a fleeting thought that for a male, let alone a non-breathing vampire, he probably sighed *way* too much.  He blamed it on Willow. Every other breath Red takes is a bloody sigh! he commented to himself silently.  She's been a bad influence on me.

"Well, no wonder it's been so bloody quiet around the homestead lately."  He leaned away from Dru's eager mouth and waited until she looked up at, giving him her undivided attention--as undivided as Drusilla's attention could get, anyway.  "Tell daddy what happened, Dru."

She shrugged daintily.  "Same thing as before, my Spike.  They're all against me."

"Same thing as before?"

Drusilla slid down off Spike's lap to kneel at his feet and rest her head on his knee. "They kept asking me when you're going to turn her," she said, her fingers slowly tracing a sensuous path up his inner thigh, but Spike stilled her hand, covering it with one of his own.

"Her who?"

In answer, Drusilla rose gracefully to pluck the last flower that remained on a stunted rosebush nearby, which looked as if it had been chopped back several times but stubbornly refused to die.  Staring pointedly at Spike, Drusilla crushed the rose in her ivory fist, then turned her hand and spread her fingers, letting the mutilated bloom drop to the ground.  With a wicked grin, she crushed the flower beneath her black satin slippers with a ferocity that normally Spike would have found enticing.  Tonight, however, the prickling sensation her actions created within his body weren't erotic ones.

Ignoring the unsettling feeling, Spike leaned back in his chair, forcing himself to strike a seemingly casual pose.  "You mean, Rose, I take it?  Willow?"

"They think you're going to turn her, *my* sire, *my* Spike."

While he wasn't surprised that other vampires thought that way since he'd made it very clear to the entire vampire population of Sunnydale that Willow was off limits, Spike was still surprised that they were stupid enough to discuss it with Drusilla.

Bunch of wallies.  He wondered if maybe it was time to start turning a smarter breed of human?  Perhaps picking minions and possible childer because they just happened to be walking alone in the dark or were stupid enough to go home with a complete stranger wasn't the best way to choose one's progeny.  Perhaps they needed to start hanging out at libraries and Mensa meetings instead?  Definitely worth some thought.

In the meantime, however, he had to quell Drusilla's fears before her waxing jealous streak drove her to hurt Willow in spite of his explicit orders.  Spike was well aware that although Drusilla often referred to him as her sire, in actuality Angelus had been the one to turn Dru before giving up all rights to her in exchange for Rose. What's more, although Spike could simply 'demand' that his Dark Goddess obey him for fear of death, as was his right technically, that wasn't the kind of relationship he wanted with Drusilla.

Still, he couldn't continue with his present plan of simply avoiding the subject or making a joke out of it either.  Obviously it was time to be more direct with Drusilla.  Not necessarily honest, but definitely more direct.

"Do *you* think I'm going to turn Willow?" he asked poignantly.

"You like her," she whimpered pitifully in return.

"I *owe* her, pet.  There's a difference.  Now, don't worry your pretty little head anymore about the girl."

"And yet you've declared her off limits, even to me," she said, rubbing her hands together worriedly.  "You've locked her away, all safe up on her pedestal, and you threaten anyone who touches her with all sorts of delicious tortures."

"Drusilla, I *love* you," he reminded her in his calmest voice.  "Everything I've done for the past century has been for you, Drusilla, but I owe her.  We both do."  Spike rose smoothly to his feet and took her into his arms.  "We're together now *because* of Rose.  Remember, that little girl had a big part in this peculiar passion play of ours."

"Then you *are* going to make her one of us, my Spike.  You're going to sire her, to thank her."

Her voice trembled, but whether it was with fear or anger, Spike couldn't be sure, and yet he couldn't help chuckling at the irony of Drusilla's words.  "Don't think she'd quite see it like that," he mumbled more to himself than to the woman in his arms.  "Not at first, anyway."

She pulled back to give him a pleading look.  "Spike?"

"Drusilla, I've no intention of turning the chit. She'd make a horrible vamp anyway...what with all the overanalyzing she does.  She's all talk and no action.  Bloody hell...she'd make our accountant-bloke Dalton look all rash and hasty-like in comparison, wouldn't she?  Nah, she wouldn't last the night in our world.  It'd be a waste of my blood."  He laughed.  "'Sides, I've already spent one lifetime with the girl, off and on, and that's enough for any bloke.  Believe me."

"Then you aren't going to be her sire?"

"No, Drusilla.  I have you, and no one else can compare, so why bloody bother, eh, love?"

With a soft smile and a release of breath, Drusilla relaxed back into his arms.  Thinking a little further persuasion wouldn't go astray, Spike kissed her until she was putty in his hands and completely incapable of seeing through his lies.

He seemed to be doing that a lot lately, lying to the women in his life.  Actually, for a demon he didn't lie all that much...mainly just about the topic of Willow becoming a vampire.  If he wasn't lying to Drusilla about it, he was lying to Willow herself.  Even as he trailed kisses down his Dark Goddess's neck to nip at her collarbone, Spike was remembering the last time he'd had to lie to Willow.

It had happened a few weeks earlier, only a couple of nights after she'd cut her hair.  Since Drusilla had yet to kill off all of her girlfriends, she and the rest of her babbling brood had gone 'shopping,' giving Spike a couple of hours of freedom.  He'd found Willow at home, but due to her parents being home, they'd gone for a walk through one of Sunnydale's many desolate parks instead of lounging about her kitchen drinking wine as they usually did.

He couldn't forget the look of childlike glee on her face when she'd thrown herself into his arms.  As he returned her embrace, Spike quickly realized she was babbling about her hair, of all things.

What was the fuss all about? he'd asked himself.  I already told Red how much I like the new look, what more could she want?

Just when he was about to tease her for fishing for compliments, Willow calmed down enough that he could actually make out what she was saying.

"It's still short, Spike!" she said repeatedly, pulling away after her impromptu hug.  "It's still red and it's still short!"

"And mine's still blonde, still short and still remarkably sexy," he retorted dryly as they continued on their way.  "What shall we compare next?  Chests?  Show me yours, and I'll show you mine," he said with a lecherous grin, which Willow ignored all-too-easily in Spike's opinion.

"Don't you get it?" she asked.  "I'd tried to cut it before, but it would never stay cut!  This time it stayed cut!  Don't you see what this means?"

"That over the past century they've vastly improved on the ability to produce bloody sharp scissors?"

Shaking her head, Willow stopped walking to put her hands on her hips and glare at him.  "No, it's proof that the spell really is over, Spike.  That I'm no longer trapped in some sort of magick time bubble.  I'm a normal human again.  I'm mortal."

Spike froze, for once not sure what to say.

So you have your proof now, do you, Red? he silently queried. Talk about your soddin' mood killers!  And me without any bloody wine....

Afraid that Willow would easily see just by glancing at his face how he truly felt about her mortality, Spike eventually looked up at the stars as he fought to gain control his escalating emotions.  It didn't help that he found himself automatically seeking out a couple of constellations that Willow had shown him over the years.  The stars would always be there, he'd always be there, but Willow was content to let herself fade away.  It wasn't right.

Spike could feel the weight of Willow's eyes on him as she waited for some sort of response.  Knowing he had to say something other than the collection of colorful oaths that were currently on the tip of his forked tongue, he fixed her with the coolest face he could muster and said in a fake, bored tone, "You sound surprised, Red."

"More relieved than surprised," she replied with a carefree grin.  "I was afraid that maybe we'd messed up, and I'd be stuck looking 17 forever."

Willow began to stroll away again, and with the extra spring in her step, Spike thought it looked as if she were skipping with joy, which only infuriated him further.

"But, my hair is short, so--"

"And your life will be, too!"  Spike's voice came out sharper than he'd intended.  Hidden deep within the pockets of his duster, his hands clenched into tight, angry fists, and what little fingernails he had were cutting into his palms.

Luckily, Willow didn't seem to notice his slip as she continued her jaunt through the park.  "I'm already over a century old, Spike," she happily shot back at him over her shoulder.  "That's hardly a short life."

"It's a drop in the bucket, pet."  Spike was calmer now, the self-inflicted pain in his palms helping him find a token amount of self-restraint.  "You're barely a pimple on the enormous ass of time."

Willow stopped and turned to look at him with a mixture of disgust and amusement for his analogy.  "First of all, ewww!  Second of all, would you rather I stick around a century or two more just so I can be a...a...boil on time's big bum?"

Spike actually chuckled.  "Not quite what I meant, love, but--"

"Spike, this is a pointless and--might I add--icky conversation," Willow interrupted.  "I'm human now, so I guess I'm doomed to simple pimpledom, time-wise.  Nothing we can do about it now...nothing I *want* to do about it now either, you understand?"

"I understand that you still have your own unique way with words, Red."

She smirked.  "Just as you have your own unique way of changing the subject."

Caught red-handed, Spike resorted to his other favorite stalling technique: The leisurely search for a cigarette, followed by the slow, almost ritualistic lighting of the inevitably discovered smoke.  Willow waited patiently, but Spike knew she was watching him very closely.  He could practically feel her inquisitive green eyes boring into him as he took his first long drag.

"Spike, you know how I feel about this," Willow said finally.  "We've discussed this all before.  I don't want to live forever, and I especially don't want to be a vampire.  Remember?"

Spike stared up into the night sky again as he exhaled a small cloud of smoke.  He hated this conversation so much that he almost wished something would fall from the sky, just to get him out of it. Where's the bloody Sky Lab when you really need it?

"Rings a vague bell, pet," he said distractedly.

"A bell?" Willow snorted, regaining Spike's attention.  "Should sound more like Big Ben."

"Yeah?  Well, ask not for whom the bell tolls, love..."

"Spike!" Willow groaned.  "Please, I'm trying to be serious!  I need to know that you understand how I feel.  I--I want you to be happy for me, because for the first time I'm starting to think that maybe things can go back to normal..."

"Normal?" Spike scoffed, throwing his cigarette down after only a few long drags.  "Hate to break it to you, pet," he said, kicking at the glowing butt to extinguish it, "but you'll never be normal."

Spike would have winced at his own words if Willow hadn't reacted by giving him a sharp look, as if to say, "And whose fault is that?"  He hated that look, but before Spike could call her on it, she quickly softened, ending with a sigh.  "Please, I don't want to argue.  I don't want to fight about this...not with you, Spike."

Crikey how he wanted to argue with her, though!  Shake some sense into the obstinate redhead! His baser instincts were recoiling at the mere idea of discussing whether or not he would turn her.  He was a vampire, after all, and the demon in him didn't want to *negotiate* this particular point.  It wasn't natural.  Then again, nothing about his relationship with Willow was natural.  He knew that.  *All* of him knew that...his demonic side, his human bits, even Spike the man was well aware that what he and Willow had was...unique, to say the least.

Which was why he was reluctant--no, not just reluctant...he was violently opposed to the idea of losing whatever it was they shared to something so trifling as death.

Still, she didn't need to know that.  Not yet.

Leaning in close, Spike decided it was time to try yet another way of changing the subject.  Although he wasn't hopeful that this method would work either, he always loved trying.  "But arguing is what we do best, Red.  Well, *second* best anyway," he drawled silkily, but when he reached out to teasingly trace her collarbone with his finger, Willow surprised him by grabbing his hand and clutching it tightly against her.

"Promise me, Spike," she whispered up at him with such seriousness that Spike's smirk melted away.  "Swear that you'll never make me a vampire."

Standing there, with his hand clasped inside hers and held firmly against her throat so that he could feel the blood rushing through her veins, hear the pounding of her heart, Spike couldn't catch his breath.  Not that he needed to, but the feeling was still markedly unpleasant, as if a fully-grown and well-fed Suvolte demon were sitting on his chest.  He couldn't breathe, couldn't move...he couldn't even look away from those innocent sea-green eyes of hers.

Spike almost sighed, but just caught himself in time.  Even with everything she'd been through, she still had a genuine ingenuous air about her.  How could he even think of destroying that innocence by...

Bloody hell she was good! he thought, having to give himself a quick mental shake to chase away any seeds of guilt for his future plans.  She really knew how to hurt a demon.

Considering how he felt, he thought he'd have to force the words out, spit them in her face, but instead they slipped out smoothly, sounding surprisingly genuine even to his own jaded ears.  "I promise, Red."

She'd smiled then, her face lighting up so much that it seemed to outshine the many stars in the sky.  How anyone could be so happy to die, *really* die, was beyond his understanding.  She obviously was incapable of thinking clearly on this particular subject, which was exactly why he had no intention of keeping his vow to Willow. No matter what he told Drusilla or Willow, Spike was not going to lose her.  No, not now...not ever.

But it was too far in the future to worry about now, Spike had decided.  He wanted Willow to have another decade or so of 'real' life.  He wanted her to experience it all--the boredom, the pain, the sense of futility--before he turned her.  She'd be more physically mature then, grateful to end the aging of her body.  One day she'd thank him for stopping the ravages of time before her laugh lines deepened into wrinkles, before her skin lost its fight against gravity and the blush left her cheeks.   One day, she'd fall down on her knees before him in gratitude, but for now, what she didn't know wouldn't hurt her.

And the same went for Drusilla.  His Dark Goddess didn't need to know his future plans either.  It would be safer for Willow that way.

Lost in his own thoughts as he continued to cover Drusilla's pale throat with long kisses and wet nibbles, he finally realized that she was talking, asking him something...something about weeding?

"What was that, pet?" he murmured near her ear.  "'Fraid you lost me..."

"Since we don't need her anymore, may I do some weeding?  Please, my sire, my Spike?  I promise I won't get dirty and ruin my pretty new dresses."

He pulled back to look in her eyes, which were still half-closed with passion.  "Weeding?"

"If we don't need her anymore, we--"

"I *owe* her, Drusilla!" Spike said forcefully, his patience threatening to wear thin.  "Without her, I wouldn't have you!  I promised to keep her safe as long as I'm in town, Drusilla, and I intend to keep that promise."  When he noted a pout beginning to form on Drusilla's ruby lips, he continued in his most convincing tone.  "Dru, baby, you need to forget about Willow.  I did it all for you, Princess.  She was just the tool, baby, but *you* were the goal!"

Drusilla still looked unconvinced and even a little lost.  He tried again.  "You were the light at the end of the bloody tunnel, Dru.  She was, er..." Spike struggled for a simple analogy that Drusilla might actually understand.  It was at times like these that he found her obtuseness the most tiresome.  He never had to 'dummy down' his words for Willow.  In fact, he often found himself trying to...

No! he chastised himself.  This was not a good time to play the comparison game.

He started again.  "You were the glorious light at the end of the tunnel, Drusilla," he repeated firmly.  "She was simply the rickety old track that led me to you.  I used her so that you and I could be together for eternity...the way we're supposed to be."

Drusilla brightened a little, so Spike kept at it.

"Actually, the bint thinks it's rather romantic what I've done to be with you.  She really wants us to be happy and be together.  You could almost say she's our biggest fan, love."

"Our fan?  I don't believe I've ever had a fan before.  She wants us to be together, truly?"

"She doesn't want me, and I don't want her.  She wants us together forever, baby, just like in all the fairytales.  Happily bloody ever after..."

Drusilla smiled, and Spike relaxed when he saw the fear and jealousy begin to fade in her eyes.  "Happily ever after?  Like Romeo and Juliet?"

Spike winced, as thoughts of Angelus and Rose came to mind.  "Er, not good examples, pet.  Like...like Drusilla and Spike.  And you know, Red may have a point.  One day, they'll write stories about us, Dru.  One day they'll write endless pages about our endless love."

Drusilla bounced up and down on the balls of her feet, clapping her hands together happily.  "A book about us, my Spike?"

Finding her girlish enthusiasm contagious, Spike grinned and pulled her into his arms with a twirl so grand that it would make Fred Astaire jealous.  "No, my beautiful Dark Goddess...they'll write *hundreds* of soddin' books about us...sonnets, poems, plays, songs, even a dirty limerick or two.  Bloody hell...one day that Andrew Lloyd Weber bloke will write a musical about us that'll put the one about those mangy moggies to shame..."  He ended with a dip, bending Drusilla back low over his arm.

"Ooooh!" she squealed.  "I want that little girl who was in 'My Fair Lady' to play me."

Spike straightened, bringing Drusilla with him, before twirling her back out.  "Er, you mean Julie Andrews?" he asked, surprising even himself for knowing such an undemonly, not to mention unmanly, fact.  It had to be Willow's fault, somehow.

"No, the tele version...with that lovely Audrey Hepburn."

"She's dead, pet."

Drusilla grinned, letting go of Spike's hand to spin about with her arms spread wide, humming the tune  'I Could Have Danced All Night'.  "But so am I, my Spike."

Spike patiently watched his Dark Goddess dance about the garden.  "But she's dust and bones dead, love.  Unless you want to be portrayed as a ruddy great pile of ashes, she wouldn't do you justice."

With a pretty pout, Drusilla waltzed back to Spike, where she was enfolded into his arms.  Their dancing slowed, bodies melting together, thigh-to-thigh, hip-to-hip.

"Shame," she purred, staring at Spike's lips.  "She had such a beautiful, long neck...and you always said you love my throat."

"I love all of you, pet," Spike smiled softly as they began to fall into one of their familiar verbal games.

"Even the parts you can't see?" she asked for probably the thousandth time since they first met several lifetimes ago.

He leaned in closer to whisper his accustomed answer against her cheek. "Eyeballs to entrails, love.  Eyeballs to entrails..."

Drusilla giggled, arching her neck as Spike tugged on her ear with his teeth.  "But who should play you, my Spike?"

"Why, me, of course," he grinned.  "I'm the only one who could ever do me justice."  Spike didn't let her go, but he pulled back to look into her eyes.  "I can only imagine who those poofs back in Hollywood would get to play me.  Probably some American git who doesn't know the difference between a proper Birmingham accent and one from Manchester.  Worse yet, some California pretty-boy surfer-dude.  I'd probably come across sounding like one of the bloody Beatles or all cockney-like.  Damn Americans really suck at faking our accents."

Drusilla frowned playfully then drew her nail down Spike's cheek, leaving a trace of blood in its wake and Spike groaning with pleasure.

"But I don't want you biting some other girl, my naughty Spike," she said before licking the welling blood.  "Not even if it's only make-believe."

"Well, that settles it then, don't it?  We'll just have to play ourselves."  Pulling her head back sharply, Spike grinned victoriously when Drusilla moaned in delight and anticipation.  When he was done ravaging her mouth with his own, leaving her lips bruised and swollen, Spike was still smiling, the grin only half stemming from his success at easing Drusilla's fears and changing the subject away from Willow.

"Come on, princess.  Sun's set.  Let's go scare up some dinner, then we'll eat...in bed...."
***********
End Chapter 15  (archived June 11, 2002)

Author's Note:  Hopefully that part didn't make you, the reader, as nauseous as it did me.  I don't enjoy writing Spike and Drusilla scenes, so don't be too surprised if there aren't that many more.  I simply felt that this one was necessary.

Thanks for reading!
Carrie
~~~~~~~~~~~
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