< > Denotes thoughts and such
Take Your Time ~ Chapter 1

Willow sat in the library, staring at the computer screen but not really paying attention to the information it displayed. She was supposed to be doing some research, as usual, and trying to find anything that may hint as to the whereabouts of either Buffy or Angel. Instead she was doing mental battle with herself, embarrassment tinged with shame versus her conscience. Not a fair fight really, but her embarrassment had managed to prolong its inevitable loss by several days.

Willow sighed, not that Giles noticed, and he was the only other person there. Xander was late, as usual, Oz was on his family's annual vacation to Tahoe, and Cordelia had an appointment at the salon. So for now, it was just Willow and Giles.

<I might as well get this over with before Xander gets here.>

"I wish Buffy would hurry up and come back," Willow said out loud. "I'm afraid I haven't quite gotten the hang of this slaying thing yet."

Giles looked up from where he was standing, reading a dog-eared volume of demonology. "I think you are doing exceptionally well, Willow. Considering you're not an actual slayer and all. Why? What makes you say that?"

Willow chewed on her lower lip, trying to decide the best way to tell the Watcher. Finally, she suddenly blurted out, "I'm sorry Giles. I know I should have told you this earlier, but I didn't want you to be disappointed in me, because of Buffy and everything . . ."

"Willow?" Giles interrupted her confused attempt at a confession and sat in the chair across from her. "Tell me what?"

"Tell *who* what?" Xander chimed in as he strolled through the swinging doors of the library. "What did I miss?"

"Well, one night last week," Willow began sheepishly. "When I was on patrol, I dropped by the old mansion, where you know, all the vortex hell-suckage stuff happened. Because I keep hoping that maybe Buffy or Angel might show up there, and. . . ."

"You saw Buffy?" Xander demanded. "Where is she?"

"No, Xander, not Buffy. Will you please let me finish?"

When Xander nodded disappointedly, she continued, "No, I saw, um, Spike."

"Spike? Really?" Giles said matter-of-factly. "How interesting-- all my sources claimed he had left town with Drusilla after. . ." Giles' tone quickly changed when he finally realized what she had done. "Wait a moment, you mean you went there alone?"

"Well, kinda. I mean-- *yes*, I did." Willow replied, staring at the table.

"I don't think that was a very good idea, Willow. You never know who may show up there." Then remembering that someone had already shown up, and it was the original point of the conversation, Giles quickly stammered on. "Like Spike, for instance."

"Yeah Will, what if Angel had been there?"

Willow's eyes met Xander's. "Angel? That would be a, a good thing-- you know, Angel and Buffy and all."

Xander was practically screaming inside. <Why is everyone always so worried about Angel? I will be damn glad if I never see that pasty-faced vampire again. *Damn glad!* > "Obviously your idea of a good thing is a little different from mine. Remember," Xander lectured. "Angel, plus no soul, equals *bad* thing, Willow."

"Xander is right," Giles said with concern, then recognizing who he had agreed with, he quickly added "for a change. We have no way of knowing if you were successful in restoring his soul."

Willow jumped up, frustrated. "Giles. Xander. I *know* it worked. Not *know* like I have actual proof *know*, but I felt it." She was tired of trying to convince them that her second attempt at soul restoration was a success, and she had long given up on trying to convince Xander that their Angel could not be held responsible for the demon's actions.

She was pacing the floor now, annoyed with the constant interruptions. <Just let me finish before I change my mind.> "May I finish?" Willow stopped pacing long enough to send Giles a pleading look. "Spike, remember?"

She took their distracted grunts as permission and continued. "Anyway, I sneaked in trying to be 'stealth-girl', just in case, and to make a long story short, there was Spike, very drunk, and about to kill himself." Willow added quickly, "But I stopped him."

"You what?" Giles and Xander shrieked in unison.

Xander quickly strolled over to Willow and puts his hands on her shoulders, peering intently at her. "Willow, please tell me that you mean you *stopped* him from wasting good beer or from doing a very bad Billy Idol impersonation. But *please* don't tell me that you stopped him from dusting himself, thereby losing our chance to rid the world of "Mr. 'ello love, aren't I irresistible because of my bloody accent even though I'm a blood-sucking pale-faced git?" (He tried his best British accent for the last part, with moderate success.) "Ya know, I bet he isn't even really British. He's probably from Cleveland!"

"A slight case of accent-envy, Xander?" Willow asked softly, not able to look him straight in the face.

Xander let her go, sighing. "Why, Willow?"

Willow felt tears of guilt welling up inside her. "I don't know. He, uh, he just looked so sad, like a lost puppy, and you know how I feel about puppies. And he was crying. Before I realized what I was doing, and before he even knew that I was there, I had grabbed the stake out of his hand."

"Please continue, Willow," Giles said calmly. "Don't leave anything out this time."

Willow took a deep breath and told them in detail how shocked Spike had looked when she had intervened, yet still incredibly sad. In his drunken state, first he laughed uncontrollably and then rambled on for several minutes about how Dru had killed herself shortly after they had left Sunnydale. Her shaky mental status wasn't able to take losing Angel again, nor could she forgive Spike for the role he played in Angel's demise. He finally finished by saying he couldn't be without her.

"So, I having nothing left and want to end this. Your act of kindness is wasted on me love." His words were slurred but deadly serious. "Now, do us both a favor and drive that stake into my heart," he said.

"Then he just stood there," Willow recollected. "With his eyes closed. Waiting."

She couldn't do it. "Uh, Spike?"

His eyes sprung open, impatience beginning to show, flecking his pale blue orbs with amber. "*What* is it?"

"I don't think I can, unless, it's like self-defense or something."

Willow told them how he laughed at that, hard. < For a suicidal vampire, he sure laughs a lot. >

"Let me get this straight," he said. "Are you asking me to try to kill you, so that you can then kill me, which is all I bloody-well want in the first place?"

Willow just bit her lower lip and nodded.

"Fine, Pet, if that's what it will take to get you to finish this." Spike let out a low growl and started staggering toward Willow, his hands raised in front of his face with fingers bent in what Willow could only assume was an attempt to look menacing.

Willow had to suppress a giggle at his stereotypical vampire approach. <All he needs is a cape.>

But before he had taken three steps, he tripped over his own feet and landed flat on his back.

"He passed out, and I left," Willow finished hurriedly, hoping that they couldn't tell she was lying.

"So, that's it, Willow?" Giles asked, cleaning his glasses for the third time. When she nodded yes, he continued, "Well, that wasn't so bad. I can see no reason why you were reluctant to tell me about that. Killing doesn't come naturally to most people, Willow. Even when the intended victim is already, in a manner of speaking, dead."

"Why do I have a feeling we are all going to regret this?" Xander whined, sitting down and purposely banging his head on the table. "Ow . . . table . . . head . . . pain!"

"I am really sorry," Willow sighed, slipping back into her vacant chair.

Giles put his glasses back on and looked at Willow. It was so unfair for her to have to feel guilty for just being herself, a caring person. <Hurry back Buffy.> Trying to ease her guilt a little, Giles patted Willow's hand. "Don't worry. I doubt any direct harm will come of this. But, for future reference, it might pay for you to put a little less, uh . . . compassion into your slaying, if possible."

"Okay, Giles, I'll try." Willow said sadly.

*****

Later that night, after she had spoken to Oz long distance for over an hour, Willow wondered about the sudden strong urge she had felt to lie at the library earlier that day. At the time, alarm bells were going off in her head, warning her not to tell the complete truth. She remembered with a sense of foreboding the words she had said to Spike before he lost consciousness.

In actuality, Spike had looked up from the floor where he had landed, to find Willow standing over him, with an almost mother-like look of concern.

"Spike, I am not going to stake you. Drusilla is gone, and unless you can change the past or bring her back from the dead, or uh, undead, you will just have to learn to deal. <Oh my God! Why did I say that, he probably *can* bring her back from the dead.>

Spike had drifted off then, and Willow hoped that he hadn't even heard her, or better yet that he wouldn't remember the whole encounter. She had no idea that before Spike fell into a deep drunken sleep, one coherent thought suddenly rang in his mind.

<Of course!  Why the bloody hell didn't I think of that before!>

~~~~~~~~~

End Chapter 1
 

Take Your Time ~ Chapter 2

"It looks pretty dead tonight, Will." Xander was sitting on a tombstone, absentmindedly flipping his stake in the air. "I think we can call it a night."

Willow didn't answer immediately as she peered into the darkness of the cemetery.

Xander continued, "We have been here over two hours and nada, zero, zilch, bupkiss, slayers two bloodsuckers zero. . ."

"Okay, Xander, I get the idea." Willow chuckled then turned one last time to look deep into the graveyard, watching for any signs of movement.  Seeing none, she said, "All right, let's go home."

Suddenly Willow heard a thud, and spun around just in time to see Xander fall to the ground. Spike was standing over him with a large rock in his hand.

"Going so soon, love?" he leered at her, not moving. "But the night is so young, and I have something very special planned for us."

Willow raised her ever-present stake even higher "Get away from him, Spike," Willow warned, her voice shaking. "I'll dust you if you hurt him."

"Uh, it's a little late for that now, Red, isn't it? Don't worry, this pathetic excuse for a man is still alive." Spike paused, poking Xander with his boot. "I think. But if you want him to stay that way, you'd better drop all your little slayer toys and cooperate."

"Right, so you can kill both of us . . . or . . . or vamp us."

"Listen, love, as appealing as that sounds, I have other plans. I promise I won't kill or change either of you if you drop all your weapons, and come with me *now*. Otherwise," Spike continued. "I am going to smash his bloody head in with this rock, see?"

Willow's eyes flicked nervously between Spike and Xander's still form until Spike lifted the rock higher above Xander's face.

"Stop!" Willow pleaded, throwing her stakes and crosses on the ground. "Okay, Spike. What now?" she said, the resignation obvious in her voice.

"Ah, Pet," he smiled, as he tossed the rock away and bent over to hoist Xander over his shoulder. "Patience."

Willow followed Spike back to the mansion, desperately trying to think of a way out of this situation but coming up empty. <I can't leave him, and I'm not strong enough to carry him. What would Buffy do?>

Xander hadn't moved, and after Spike unceremoniously dumped him in a dark corner of a large room, Willow was allowed check on him. <Xander's still alive . . . *good*, but Spike is happy . . . that is a bad, bad sign.> Willow stood up to find Spike staring at her evilly.

"Do you have any idea how bloody difficult it is to find a virgin these days?"

Willow just stared at him, in shock.

"Used to be a lot easier, in the good 'ole days," he continued wistfully. "Once upon a time you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a virgin or two. But now, well . . . here we are, and I'm fresh out of cats."

Willow could feel herself beginning to blush, and looked away from him quickly. <Uh oh, this is *so* not good.> Spike slowly sauntered toward her and placed a hand under her chin, forcing her to meet his eyes. "Very rare indeed."

Willow snapped her face out of his grasp, backing away. "What does my, uh, lack of experience have to do with anything?" she asked, forcing herself to continue to look into his cold eyes. "What do you want from me?" <Ooh, why did I ask that question?>

Spike laughed cruelly, turning away. "Don't worry, your virtue is safe with me. In fact, it is vital to my plans. Actually, I guess it would be more accurate to say 'our plans' since it was your idea."

"Spike, what are you talking about," Willow spit out impatiently. But before the words had even finished leaving her lips she remembered their last encounter ". . . .unless you can change the past or bring her pack from the dead. . . ." <Oh no, Willow. What have you done? He's going to use my blood to bring her back. Geez, virgins always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop. >

Seeing the panicked look on her face, he surmised that she remembered her last words to him. "Is it coming back to you now? Before this is over, Pet, you are going to regret not staking me when you had the chance."

"I think I already do," Willow muttered.

Spike laughed again as he turned away and started sorting through some shopping bags on the floor nearby. He drew out what appeared to be women's clothes and tossed them at her. "Put those on," he ordered.

Willow just stared at him, incredulous. "What? Here? Now? But I. . . ."

"*Now* Willow. And if you are feeling rather coy you can go in there," he said impatiently pointing to an adjacent room. When Willow didn't move, Spike took a step toward Xander. "Or, if you prefer, I could just drain Xapper here of a few gallons of . . ."

"No, I'm going," Willow began as she edged toward the other room, " . . . and it's *Xander.*"

"Whatever," Spike replied, already turning his attention back to the bags.

When Willow was alone she took a closer look at the clothing. She inspected a long, green cotton-like dress that was obviously of a historical design. There was a subtle pattern to the heavy fabric and it was unquestionable that this dress was not made by modern machinery. "It's beautiful," she mumbled under her breath. "Wait a minute. This doesn't look like a ceremonial sacrificial gown." <Yeah, Will. Like you know what one looks like!> The other items confused her even more . . . a corset, pointy shoes, various undergarments, and stockings. Willow was thoroughly bewildered. The outfit reminded her a little of the Halloween costume Buffy wore last year, yet it looked authentic, not costumey, and more Victorian.

"What's taking so long?" Spike's voice echoed in the empty mansion. "If you don't hurry up, I'll come in there and dress you myself!"

"No! It's okay. I'm coming." Willow hurriedly starting undressing. It took her a while to figure out the many layers to the ensemble, but she remembered some of it from helping Buffy. She did as best she could with the corset on her own. There was no mirror in the room so Willow had no way of knowing if she had it right, but she took a deep breath and walked back to the main room. "I look like . . . "

The words died on her lips when she saw Spike. "Oh-oh my god . . . " Willow stammered. Spike was standing in front of her wearing a mid-length dark coat over a white long-sleeved shirt tucked into tight breeches and tall black boots. The dark coat he wore covered what appeared to be a vest in a material similar to her dress's. Suddenly she glanced down at what she was wearing again. <Okay, we both look like something out of "Little Women." And he looks kinda good in it, too. . . Stop it, Willow!> she berated herself for even daring to think of the vampire as anything but a killer.

Spike's eye widened when he saw her, and he stood there for a moment, just staring at her. <Nice little figure she's been hiding under all those baggy clothes.> "Good," he said, finally composing himself. "I see they fit. Now, turn around," he demanded, twirling his finger in the air, then nodding his approval when she obliged. "Since I can't be exactly sure when we'll arrive, these will just have to do since it's all the worthless museum in this town had to offer. Hopefully we won't be too obvious before we have a chance to buy something more suitable."

"I don't understand."

Spike rolled his eyes and snickered. "Come on, love, I thought you were supposed to be the smart one." <Wonder where she learned how to put on a corset? If I wasn't sure she was a virgin, I might think she had an interesting knicker drawer. Come on man, focus.> "It is quite simple, really. You and I are going to make history, or at least change it a bit." Seeing that Willow was still clueless, he went on. "It was *your* idea, love. We are going back in time to make sure that Drusilla is mine forever. I am not going to share her with that bloody Angel anymore or let him drive her to suicide."

"I . . . I don't understand. How?"

"A little thick today, aren't we? I'll speak slowly, then. Do try and catch up," his voice was sarcastic but had undertones of excitement and hope. "I did some poking around and found a way to go back in time, and we're going to fix everything. Then Dru and I will be back together for eternity."

Willow saw the pain return to his eyes and heard it in his voice.  For some reason it struck her as odd that soulless vampires could love in the first place.

"What do you need me for?" asked.

"The thing of it is, I was only able to find a musty old druid spell, and it'll only work on those who are pure of heart, soul, intent, and . . . well, you know. So the spell will actually send you back, and I'll just tag along."

Willow was blushing again, and this angered her. "I don't believe this. You think I am going to go back in time to help you get your dead girlfriend back? I think all that alcohol-laden blood has finally gone to your brain."

"He advanced on her, deadly serious. "You have no choice, unless of course you want Xander to die, as well as yourself."

Willow remained quiet, trying to absorb everything he had said.

"Now that we understand each other, let's get started."

Willow's mind shifted into overdrive as she realized the consequences if Spike was actually able to affect the past. Would he kill Angel before he was turned? <No, he's not stupid. Angel is his sire.> Would he kill him after that, after Angel had vamped Dru? What about Buffy? Buffy needed Angel to help her, at least until he lost his soul again. <No, I can't take that chance. I can't let him kill Angel.> But, if Angel, Spike and Dru weren't around, maybe things would be better. <Ow, brain ache!>

Spike took her silence as submission. <Good. This is working out just lovely.>

When he slid something onto her finger, Willow stopped her mental calculations. She pulled her left hand out of his grasp to find a simple silver band on its ring finger. "Gee Spike, I didn't know you cared," she said softly, surprised at her own attempt at humor.

"Don't ever mistake my needing you for caring about your dreary little excuse of a life," he growled as he turned to busy himself at a nearby table. <Hmm, a sense of humor too?>

Willow winced at the bitterness in his voice. <Why should I care if he thinks I'm dreary?>

Willow questioned him about the ring. "What's this for?"

"The spell requires an anchor to a time and a person, both to where we are going and from whence we came. That ring was Angel's. Dru had taken it for one reason or another.  It's the only possession of his I could find from back then. I would have preferred to have something of mine or Dru's, then the timing would be more accurate." He continued as he lit candles and mixed some powders, "But we kept no mementos, needing to travel light and all."

"So," he went on. "With that ring, we will be able to travel to anytime that Angel wore it, which if I remember right, was up until at least a few years after he turned Dru. The plan is for us to go back to the approximate time that they met, and I will kill Angel and sire Drusilla myself"

<So that's his plan. I can't let that happen!> "How do I know you won't just kill me once we get there, or leave me?" Willow managed to ask coherently.

"As I said, the spell is actually working on you, the virgin. I'm only along for the ride, so to speak," he said, with more than a hint of lewdness. "In order for us to get back here, you'll still need to be a living, breathing virgin. All I will have to do is recite a very simple and short spell, and we will be brought back to the exact place and time that we left." Spike closed in on her, putting his hand under her chin, his eyes clamped on hers, "Let's make this crystal clear right now. If I die or you decide to disappear on me, you'll have no way of returning to your precious little life here in the good old U.S. of A."

He released her, and Willow swallowed hard, trying to absorb all the information.

"So, all you have to do, is concentrate on the year 1859 and think about Christmas time. She was turned in the spring of 1860." Spike looked at Willow questioningly, hoping he hadn't overestimated her ability to handle the situation. "Do you think you can handle that, Red?"

Willow nodded, preoccupied. She had to think quickly now. What year was Angel turned by Darla? Where? <Come on Willow, think!>

"Ready, love? Just a couple more things to finish the spell."

Willow nodded again, still distracted in her desperation to remember the details of Angel's long past.

<She's awfully quiet. Probably in shock.> "Don't you dare faint on me."

<Yes, I think that's right!> Willow glanced quickly at Xander, he hadn't moved but still appeared to be breathing. She turned to look Spike straight in the eye, "I'm ready."

"Good, Pet. Good." Spike smiled at her, pulling her into a circle he had drawn on the floor. "First we need some blood," and before Willow could object he had already made a shallow cut on her wrist with a small but sharp knife.

Willow gasped as the blood seeped to the surface. Just as quickly, Spike cut his own wrist. "You promised . . . " Willow sputtered, afraid he was going to force her to drink his blood after all.

"Don't worry. Remember, pure of soul and all that crap. Now concentrate love, this is important unless you fancy spending a 100 or so years wearing a corset and waiting for Dru to be born. We only get one shot at this. Christmas 1859--concentrate."

Willow focused as hard as she could on the date and time, but just then Xander began to stir and she faltered. Spike squeezed a few drops of her blood onto the ring. "Concentrate . . . 1859 . . . Christmas," he demanded, forcing her attention back to him. Then, never taking his eyes away from hers, he brought her wrist to his lips, "Concentrate . . . " and slowly slid his tongue across her wound, tasting her. <Damn, why did I do that? She needs to concentrate.>

Willow's eyes closed of their own volition against the sensuous feeling of his lips on her skin. <Oh my!>

Spike was amazed at his own actions and his inability to control himself, but her pure blood was like nectar. <It's a shame she'll have to remain a virgin until we get back.>

"Concentrate love," he said softly. "We're almost done." He then took his own dripping wrist and allowed a few drops to fall on the ring.

Willow watched fascinated as their blood mingled on her hand. Spike began speaking in a language she didn't recognize. <Gaelic?> Soon she noticed her hand was growing warmer, and she began to panic. Spike took her ring hand in his, then with his free hand gripped the back of her head by her hair, bringing her face close to his.

"Concentrate . . . Christmas 1859 . . . Christmas 1859 . . . " His eyes were boring into hers with an intensity matched only by the pain in her hand.

The heat was becoming intolerable now. Willow struggled to control her emotions and to concentrate at the same time. She was unaware of the tears streaming down her face when finally the pain caused her to scream.

A blinding flash emanated from the ring. Then darkness and nothing.

~~~ End chapter 2 ~~~

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