Take Your Time ~ Chapter 21
 

The vampire was just preparing to get some sleep when his door flew open, banging against the wall hard enough that it bounced back and almost closed itself. William managed not to jump at the clamor. He was expecting this as he had already heard his sire do the same to every other room in the house.

"Where is she, William?" Angelus snarled as he strode into his childe's room uninvited.

William the Bloody cocked his head to the side to look at his sire, wondering what could have upset the older vampire. "Darla? Haven't seen her, mate. Thought she went to Paris for a fortnight hoping to absorb a little culture...or was it drain a few artists? I can't remember which."

"What?" Angelus growled, only half paying attention to the other vampire as he peered suspiciously under the bed and in the wardrobe. Coming up empty, he turned his frustration to the younger demon. "No! Not Darla...Rose! Ya better be tellin' me what ya did to her, because I swear, William, I brought ya into this world, and I can take ya out of it!"

William the Bloody stood up and faced his sire. He was not one to cower down before his maker's wrath.. He didn't have it in him before he was changed, and he refused to become anyone's flunky simply because he owed him his new life. He did admire Angelus though, and was even grateful to him, but just because technically he was Angelus's childe in vampire terms, that didn't mean he would be treated like one. The English vampire preferred to think of it as more of a mentor-disciple type of relationship, but deep down inside, he knew he would do anything for the older vampire.

"Tsk...tsk...calm down, Angelus. I just don't have the slightest idea who you are talking about, do I?" William had never seen his sire so restless before, and he couldn't help being unnerved by it. "Who is Rose?"

"She's a woman, a livin' woman, that I found in the park. I brought her here, fed from her, and now she's gone," he replied distractedly, his dark eyes still flitting about the room for any sign of the missing redhead. Only when he was completely satisfied that she wasn't in the room did Angelus begin to pace the floor wildly.

"Is that all? Bloody hell, Angelus. There are thousands of women out there. So, one escaped...just go get another! Besides, that's what you get for playing with your food." William the Bloody was still new to 'unlife' and couldn't help making vampiric puns whenever he had the chance. They may have been used for centuries, but to him they were all new and rather funny.

"No!" Angelus growled, his face now that of the demon's. "There is no other woman like her, William. This is a woman from my past...the woman I was in love with when I was alive...and I found her alive in the park today!"

The fledgling vamp wrinkled his nose. "Blimey, mate...after 60 years she must be a shriveled husk of a woman by now. Forget about her. Find yourself something fresh and soft and young to sink your teeth into! Take me, for example, tonight I found this sweet little barmaid with the most beautiful, round bre--"

Angelus grabbed the younger vampire by the neck, slamming him against the wall. "She isn't some old hag, William. She hasn't changed a bit in the passin' years. She is still as beautiful and young and delicious as she was the day I was turned." He emphasized each word by slamming his childe against the wall, causing plaster to shower down on them until William's hair was almost white with it.

"Angelus?" he managed after the older vampire had quit using him as wrecking ball. "You mean this is the woman you told me about? Your maiden meal?" Angelus had told him all about his first during William's initial hunt. He had been trying very hard to get the newly made demon to wait for the perfect first kill, wanting his childe's to be as special as his. Unfortunately, William the Bloody hadn't been able to withstand the hunger and had drained and killed the first drunken sot that he had found. He barely remembered now what his victim had looked like.

Angelus stared at his pale and dusty childe for a moment as something nagged at his memory, before nodding and letting him go. "Yes, it's the same one."

"Come on, mate. How can that be? Are you sure it wasn't just another redhead that looked like her?" William asked skeptically, brushing the plaster from his hair and clothing.

Angelus pushed away the irritating feeling that something was not right and focused on the matter at hand. "It was her. She admitted as such, and I tasted her. It was Rose." The Irish vampire found himself staring at his hand and the silver band that he still wore. Certain memories came back to him of how he had once hoped Rose would wear his ring. "Now," he said sharply, snapping himself out of his sickening reverie, "where is she?"

"How the bloody hell would I know? Does it look like I have some mysterious women chained up in here anywhere? I heard you beating all the others to a pulp, so if they don't have her, and I don't have her, then she must have escaped."

"Impossible. I fed from her. I took as much as I could without killin' her. She should have been asleep fer hours...too weak ta move fer days."

The blue-eyed vampire watched but didn't speak as the darker one strained to control his frustration. If there was one thing his sire new well, it was torture and how to prolong it. If Angelus said that he had drained enough of her life to keep her weak but alive for days, then that is exactly what he did. The Irishman had it down to a science, and William was an eager student.

Angelus stared down at the floor for a moment before looking at his apt pupil. "There were some things about her that I didn't feel ya needed ta be knowin' before, but if we are goin' ta find her, ya need ta know everythin'."

William sat back down on his bed and waited for his sire to speak. He was smart enough to know that this was not the time to be making any more jokes. He looked up at his mentor and eagerly awaited an opportunity to please his sire.

"What I hadn't told ya about her was that this husband of hers turned out ta be a vampire. I never caught a good look at his face, as he was obviously older and well experienced at keepin' to the shadows."

This brought up a while new brood of questions, but William remained silent, waiting until Angelus asked for his opinion.

"When Darla said that Rose would be me first, this odd-looking vampire interrupted, sayin' that she was his. So, instead of fightin' fer her, he bit her and gave her to me, sayin' somethin' 'bout not wantin' me to kill her. When I was done, he carried her away in a very protective manner." Angelus ran his hands down his face in frustration and confusion. "Yet, she was unspoiled then and is still so to this very day. There wasn't even a mark on her, save fer the one that we made that night."

Angelus looked at his childe now and waited for some response.

William was back on his feet. "Well, he sounds like a right poofter to me. How pitiful can a vampire be, living with some woman for that long and not even bedding her?" he scoffed. "It's a disgrace, if you ask me. That vampire should be lashed to a bloody pole and left to enjoy his last sunrise."

Angelus laughed at that and smiled at his childe. Despite William's unusual and sometimes irritating sense of humor, he was becoming a model vampire and a good right-hand man. He had an inborn love for the hunt and was a quick learner. It was true that he wasn't as subservient as most childer, but Angelus found that he actually didn't mind. He enjoyed having a companion that didn't cower at his feet or lick his boots whenever he had a chance, yet was still completely loyal. The Irish vampire was pleased with choice for a childe.

The blue-eyed demon turned serious. "It sounds like witchcraft to me. It's the only explanation-- a very powerful witch, as well, if she was able to control one of our kind for so long."

Angelus nodded his head in agreement at first but soon began shaking it in bewilderment as her behavior earlier that night still puzzled him. "What ya are sayin' makes sense, but still, she was very frightened and did nothin' in the way of sorcery to try and free herself from me. There is more here that we have yet to be understandin', William."

The younger vamp opened the door to the hallway. "Let's have another look around...she couldn't have gotten far without leaving a trace."

Together, they searched every room, every nick and cranny of the old house, for any trace of their missing witch. It wasn't until they looked closely at the front door that the vampires smelled a slight trace of blood. There, just below the door handle, was a small, bright red smear.

Angelus bent down and drew a finger tip through the smudge and brought it to his lips, darting a tongue out in anticipation. The moment it registered with his taste buds, he knew it was his Rose. "That's hers," he exclaimed, then sat back on his haunches thoughtfully. "It seems I underestimated my Little One. Somehow she managed to walk out on her own." It only took a moment for him to realize that she had used his own powerful emotions-- his lust, his passion, his temper-- against him in order to orchestrate an escape. A rueful smile crept on to his mouth as he headed back toward his own bedchamber, this latest development only making him desire her more.

So caught up in his own thoughts, Angelus didn't notice as his childe dipped his own fingers through the crimson smear that Willow had left behind and sucked every last bit from his fingers. <Bloody hell, mate!> he moaned to himself as he reveled in her heady essence. The mixture of the innocent blood and the danger from sampling his sire's possession sent a powerful surge of lust through his own body. <Now I know what all the fuss is about...>

***

Willow awoke hours later to the smell of something delicious. She had no idea how long she had been asleep, but it was obvious to her that it was now nighttime. A few of the lamps were dimly lit, and she was just able to make out a tray of steaming tea and scones on a small table in the corner. Her hand went hesitantly to her still-painful neck, only to find that it was now covered by a bandage. <Wonder how he managed to do that?> She looked around but found no sign of the blonde vampire.

"Spike?"

Before his name had finished leaving her lips, his familiar dulcet tones wafted in through the open door. "Just sitting out on the steps having a smoke, love. Be right there."

"No hurry," she called back, not wanting to rely on him any more than she had to. "I just wondered if you were here."

There was silence for a minute or two and then she heard the vampire grumbling aloud. "Damn cigars just aren't the same...they just don't feel right in my bloody hand...suppose I could make my own, but still, it just wouldn't be the same..." Spike finished as he appeared in the doorway. "Although, I could invent them myself and become a bloody billionaire I suppose, but that seems like too much work," he said with a half smile as he approached her bedside. "...and as we both know, I am a very patient man." Looking down at her, the vampire was relieved that she seemed to have a little more color to her cheeks, but she still looked far from healthy...for someone who was living, that is. "How about you, Red. What would you invent first?"

Willow didn't even have to think about that question. "A decent flush toilet," she said in all sincerity.

Spike raised an eyebrow at her choice. "I expected you to say a computer or television...you surprised me yet again."

Willow rolled her eyes at his inability to understand her desire for modern plumbing, before struggling to sit up in the large bed. Her head and neck still throbbed and she felt more than a little woozy. Before the redhead knew it, Spike was helping her to sit up and arranging the pillows behind her. Willow batted his hands away. "Don't, Spike. I can do it. You aren't my nurse."

"I've had plenty of experience nursing sick women back to health, Willow."

"I know!" she blurted out rather harshly. "But I'm not Drusilla!"

"Thanks for clearing that up, Red," he mocked, but continued to try to help even as his patient resisted his efforts.

"Spike! I'm serious. Stop trying to baby me! I can take care of myself," she said firmly, then muttered under her breath, "unlike certain female vampires."

If Spike had heard her comment, he didn't let it show on his pale features. "Have it your way, love." The blonde vampire backed away with his hands in the air.

"Thank you," she said softly, then realized her stomach was growling in response to the smell of food. She eyed the tray of scones on the table and knew that the only way she would be able to reach them would be to get out of bed. <No problem,> she told herself. <I managed to make it here last night. I'm sure I can manage to walk ten feet to the table.> With a concerted effort, she was able to swing her feet around until they were on the floor. Unfortunately, it also caused her some pain and started the room spinning furiously. She sat still for a moment, gathering her strength before she tried to stand, all the time very aware of how she was amusing Spike. After another minute or two, she pulled herself to her feet with some help from the bedpost and steadied herself on the wall as she stumbled toward the table. <You and your big mouth, Willow. Spike will never let you hear the end of this one!>

Spike watched as she unsteadily made her way to the table, acutely aware once again that she was wearing his shirt. This time, though, he didn't force himself to look away. As she shuffled along, it revealed just enough thigh to make his pants seem a little too tight. He knew that back in the end of the 20th century she probably wore clothes that revealed much more, but in the early 1800s, a glimpse of calf, let alone bare knees and thighs, was enough to start a feeding frenzy.

Suddenly, Willow stumbled just a bit and that brought his mind away from the more intimate thoughts. <All you have to do is ask, Red....Why won't you bloody well ask for help?> He didn't know whether to throttle her for being so damn stubborn or double over laughing at the predicament she had gotten herself into. He thought perhaps he should just throw her on the bed again and treat her as if she were the child she was intent on acting like.

<Why isn't there a chair at this table so I could just sit and eat?> she wondered wearily as she now realized she would have to make it back to the bed with a tray laden with hot tea and biscuits. She held on to the table for a moment before trying to lift the tray with her free hand.

Spike leaned back against the wall and watched as she struggled with the tray, all the time wearing a smirk. "Need any help there, Willow? Oh, I'm sorry...help offends your independent nature, doesn't it? Maybe in about two hours, after you finally manage to pour yourself a cup of tea and if you haven't scalded yourself, you can go start the women's liberation movement. Up for a little corset burning and a few rousing choruses of "I am Women, Hear Me Nag?"

Willow did her best to stake him with her eyes, but when she moved her head a little too rapidly to deliver the deadly look, she became dizzy again. Quickly putting the tray back down, she grabbed on to the table with both hands.

Spike was there in two strides, holding her arm. "Asking for help doesn't make you weak, Willow." He waited until she looked at him before going on. All the humor in his face was now replaced with concern. "And it doesn't make you Dru, either, understand?"

Willow nodded silently as Spike guided her back to the bed. When she was settled, he fetched the tray and set it on the bed beside her.

"I was just worried that you..." Willow trailed off as she realized there was no tactful way of finishing that sentence. She didn't want to tell him her new theory-- that Spike was drawn to weak and needy women. "You don't need to go through that again, Spike. I don't want to...well, be indebted to you."

"Little late for that now, isn't it, Pet?" Spike said dryly and sat on the foot of the bed, leaning back against the post so that he was facing her.

Willow crinkled her forehead. "What do you mean?"

"Well, I have saved your life twice now, as I figure it."

She sat up straight in the bed, ignoring the sharp pain it sent through the upper half of her body. "What? I don't think so, Spike. I saved my own life last night, not you!"

The vampire raised an eyebrow. He had no idea that the thought of being saved by him would bother her so much. "You think? And what would have happened if I hadn't found you and stopped the blood flow?"

"I can't die anyway, remember?" she added snippily.

"Well, last night would have been a pretty good test of that little theory, now wouldn't it?"

"Fine!" Willow conceded, after losing a short staring contest. "But that is only once, and I have saved your bum several times myself!"

Spike was thoroughly enjoying himself now, and while he knew it probably wasn't good to get her upset, he couldn't help it. He always found Willow to be amazingly beautiful when she was mad, so he couldn't help goading her on a little bit more. "Listen, Red. We both know if I hadn't pulled that little stunt in the park a couple of weeks ago, you were as good as dead. Corpses had more life in them than you did, love."

Willow felt her ire building as the arrogant vampire made it sound like she couldn't live without him. Since she was in no condition to slap him again, she took her frustrations out on her lower lip and the sheets, twisting them savagely even in her weakened state. The worst part was that deep down inside, she knew he was right. "All right...all right! You win! We're even, okay?"

Spike smiled broadly at his small victory but also regretted that their little battle of words was over, for the time being, anyway.

Willow leaned back against the pillows, trying to figure out how he always managed to get under her skin. "Anyway," she said after failing to come up with an answer, "I don't want to be any more bother, so maybe you can help me get back to my room tonight? I'll manage just fine at the pub."

He shook his head quickly. "No can do, Pet. You aren't going anywhere for a couple of days. I dropped by the pub, told them you were a bit under the weather and that I was going to take care of you for a few days. They loaded me up with tea and food and various medicines and things that I have no bloody idea what to do with. I was given strict instructions not to allow my wife out of my sight until she is feeling fit again." He grinned impishly. "And you know what a stickler I am for following instructions."

"Oh, " she said softly, realizing that she would have a lot more explaining to do when she got back to the pub.

Spike gestured to a bag in the corner. "The lady there picked out some of your clothes as well as some other essentials, just in case you get tired of sleeping in my shirt." <Not that I would ever get tired of seeing it...>

"Thanks again," she said rather reluctantly. <Seems all I do is thank him lately.>

Her stomach rumbled again, reminding the redhead that she had gone a long while without food. Willow tried to ignore the fact that he was still staring at her and reached a shaky hand for the tea. When Spike made a move to help, she glared at him until he leaned back against the post.

"You really are an independent little creature, aren't you?"

"I have only had myself for quite a while now, Spike." Her voice wasn't cold or bitter; she was just stating a fact. Willow finally managed to pour the hot tea carefully. "What about you?" she queried casually. "Have you spent all this time alone, or did you, um, make friends with all the other vampires?"

As he formulated an answer to her rather personal question, Spike watched as Willow tried to pretend that she was fine, but she was barely strong enough to lift the teacup. He fought down the instinct to just take over for her, baby her like he did Dru, but she wasn't his Dark Princess. She was stronger, and this whole experience just seemed to make her even more so, despite her occasional lapses in judgment. <Like trying to seduce me...>

He shrugged. "Most of the time I was alone. A couple of times I left London or Dublin and went where I knew I wouldn't run into Darla or her little playmate. I met a few others that I hung around with for a few months here or there, just for conversation really. But most of the time I was on my own, watching after Angelus or looking for you." He paused for a moment, trying to decide how much to tell her. <What the hell...might as well let it all out.> "I even sired a couple of vampires at one point or another, but my heart wasn't in it. They never lasted long...both got themselves killed sooner or later. Funny thing is, I didn't really mind....I prefer being on my own."

"Riigght," Willow said with a chuckle as she carefully tested her tea. "You are such the loner that we are spending more than a century trying to get Drusilla back for you."

His eyes narrowed. "Touché, Red. But, that's different. Drusilla isn't just anybody. She is..." The vampire's voice trailed off, and to Willow, he looked almost reverent as he closed his eyes and thought about his dead lover. "She is what I was made for. I'm nothing without her...I don't want to be anything without her," he finally finished and opened his eyes to find Willow looking thoughtfully at her cup.

The frail redhead just shook her head sadly as she blew into her tea.

Spike clenched his jaw. He wasn't sure, but the strange expression on her face almost seemed to be one of disappointment...or pity. "What?" he growled.

"Nothing." She did not feel like having this conversation again.

"Come on, love. I can practically hear the wheels in that brainbox of yours turning, so just spit it out already."

She took a gulp of the warm brew and looked at Spike over the rim of the cup. "It's just that you have survived this long without her. I figured by now you would have realized the truth."

Spike moved forward, his eyes glimmering with danger as he watched her intently. When Willow tried to take another sip, he stopped her with a hand on her wrist. "What truth is that, my wife?"

She put the cup down and looked him square in the face. He had asked, so she was going to tell him what she really thought. "You're too good for her, Spike. You deserve better, in my humble opinion anyway." Willow stopped herself before she said any more, but she couldn't help thinking it. <Not to mention the fact that she's weak, stupid, manipulating, and let's be honest, she isn't the sharpest tool in the shed...> Her thoughts came to a grinding halt. <Oh, wonderful...I sound jealous...jealous of Spike's 'Dark Goddess'...>

He sat perfectly still for a moment, his emotions twisting back and forth between anger, confusion, and intrigue so swiftly that his face just appeared blank. Finally, he gathered his thoughts and leaned in even closer. "And just who is good enough for me then?"

Willow opened her mouth to speak, then she noticed his lips curling into a sly smile. "Hey, wait a minute! That is not what I meant!"

"Really? What did you mean then, love?" he insinuated in a deep voice.

<Yeah, Willow...what did you mean?> she questioned herself. She answered quickly. "I meant that there are a lot of beautiful, intelligent, dead women out there that would probably love to, um, torture you on a nightly basis, I'm sure," she stuttered, embarrassed at how easily she fell back into babbling whenever Spike was concerned. "Ones that you wouldn't have to worry about wanting someone else. In fact, if I weren't so against killing, I would tell you to find someone and make yourself the perfect mate, but I am..." realizing how he might misinterpret that, she quickly added, "against killing, that is." She fought the urge to just bang her head back against the wall. <Could I sound more immature?>

Spike moved to sit next to her at the head of the bed, staring at her just long enough to make her even more nervous. Eventually, he tore his eyes away from her flustered face to slather some butter and jam on a scone. "We already had this discussion, Red. I'm not looking to meet anyone new. Now eat," he commanded and promptly shoved the scone in to her mouth when she prepared to protest.

She glared at him while quickly chewing and swallowing the tasty morsel. "You can't shut me up that easily, Spike."

"Obviously," he groaned, getting to his feet. "Don't make me wish that I had brought Xapper instead!"

She pretended not to notice his obvious attempt to distract her by mentioning Xander. "Spike, look. I know you 'love' Drusilla, but we have been alone for decades. I am sure she would understand if you..." When Spike gave her a sardonic smile, she stopped with a sigh. "I just figured that one of us ought to be having some fun, and since you made damn sure that it wasn't going to be me, it will have to be you." <Oh no...Willow, why did you say that?> Willow groaned inwardly at her stupidity and felt her cheeks begin to flush. "So, you had some children, huh? Tell me about them...what were there names and what all kind of evil nastiness did you get up to together?" she chattered skittishly. It was now her turn to try and change the subject.

Spike just looked at her vacantly, not having the slightest idea what she was talking about. "You better get some more sleep...you aren't making any bloody sense."

Willow brightened, realizing that the vampire didn't catch on to her little complaint. She faked a huge yawn and stretched, her arms wide over her head. "Yes, sleep...is a great idea. Thank you *so* much for such a wonderful idea, Spike!" she said a little more enthusiastically than she had meant to.

Spike just walked toward the door, shaking his head the whole time. <After 60 years...I still don't understand her most of the time.> "I'm going to go grab a quick bite while you rest, eat, and change. When I come back, you can tell me all about your little adventure through the looking glass last night."

Willow nodded her head as she tried to swallow the large morsel of scone that she had just shoved into her mouth.

"Well, Willow," she said to herself when she was sure that he was gone. "I don't think he is going to forget about Drusilla, and if he hasn't done it by now, he isn't going to. I guess I better start making plans for the next half a century."

****

When Spike came back a couple of hours later, he found Willow sitting in bed, brushing her hair. She had changed into something familiar to him. "Willow? Isn't that frock about ready to fall apart by now? <Not that that would be a horrible thing> "I remember the day you bought that virginal gown...our first day in Galway."

"This is about the 30th of these that I have owned," Willow told him, indicating the simple, white cotton and lace nightgown. It was the type that could be worn either on or off the shoulders, but for now she was wearing it on so that it revealed less bare skin. "I am determined when we go back that I am taking it with me."

Spike took his place at the foot of the bed again and grinned lewdly. "Don't feel like you have to get all dressed up for me, love. If you feel more comfortable sleeping naked, I'll somehow manage to survive."

She kicked him under the sheets. "When will you grow up?" Willow had tried to sound irritated, but she actually preferred this Spike to the broody nursemaid that had been hovering around her earlier.

The blonde vampire became serious and crossed his arms over his chest. "Are you ready to tell me what happened?"

The smile left her face, and her hands began fiddling with the sheets. "To be honest, there isn't much to tell." She paused to gather her thoughts with a deep breath. "After you left, I started home, but I was kind of preoccupied so I didn't really think before I went through the park."

"Preoccupied?"

She met his eyes momentarily and gave a slight shrug. "I was thinking about you, wondering why you stormed off like that..."

He nodded his head as she confirmed his suspicions but pushed the guilt that was tickling at him away. She didn't need that now. "Go on."

"By the time I realized I was being followed and that I had left my cross here, it was too late." She nodded to the silver crucifix that still lay on the table. "It was a male vampire, and let me tell you, he was ugly! Anyway, somehow I managed to get away, but he had a friend."

"Angel..." Spike said with contempt, nodding his head.

"No, actually it was a female vampire. They had me and were just about to have a little snack when...um...he showed up. He saved me from them, actually, saying something about how no one was allowed to have the redheads but himself."

<That's a new one...> Spike became deadly serious, hanging on her every word. He knew that her encounter may have changed the course of the future, and he didn't want to miss anything that might point to the different paths that now lay before them. "Did he recognize you?"

"Not right away. I was on the ground but when he forced me to look at him, he said my name instantly."

Spike just nodded his head and waited for her to continue, not at all surprised that his sire would remember her.

Willow began to tell him the story, only giving him the basics of what happened, too embarrassed to go into details.

Spike knew that she was holding back. The encounter may have been very personal to her, but it was still of vital importance to their future. He tried to remain casual as he dug for more details. "So, did he try to convince you that he was still good?"

"Yes." Willow closed her eyes against the memories. Hearing Angelus tell her that he loved for the first time when she knew he was lying had been more tortuous than she was willing to admit aloud.

Spike pressed on. "Did the ass try to convince you that he was still in love with you...that there was the heart of a man deep inside of him still, or some other romantic tripe?"

She just nodded her head.

The blonde vampire knew that the meeting must have been difficult for her. As much as he hated to admit it to himself, she had loved the human version of Angel. It was obvious that even after all this time, her feelings for the dead Irishman were still alive. Spike would have told her how pathetic is was for her to still harbor feelings for someone after all these years, but he was the last one that could say that.

"But you didn't fall for it, did you, Red? You're too smart for that."

Willow shook her head again, unable to look at him because she was afraid to see how disappointed Spike would be in her. "No, I didn't believe it, but I don't know how smart I am. I *wanted* to believe him, Spike. God help me...I really wanted to."

Willow had had some time to think about her whole encounter with Angelus when Spike had left her alone to rest. She realized now how easy it would have been to just delude herself for a while and take the part that the handsome, dark vampire had given her in his twisted little play. She could have held Angelus in her arms, felt his lips on her flesh, and listened to him tell her how much he cared about her, if even for only a few minutes. The petite redhead was disgusted with herself for almost wishing that she had given in to her desires for at least a short time.

Spike watched as she went through some sort of internal struggle, and he remembered how much Angelus 'loved' women. His sire had never had any trouble getting anything he wanted from the fairer sex...whether his hunger that night be for blood or something more physical. In the years that they had spent together, Angelus never had to physically force himself on a woman when he was in the mood for a more intimate type of playing. He could have easily raped the women, but that was precisely why the dark vampire never did. It was too easy. It was much more of a challenge to make the woman want him too. The satisfaction Angelus felt when they submitted to and even begged for his touch was more than any mere physical overpowering could provide. Spike supposed now that this personality trait of the dark vampire was one that he and Willow should be grateful for.

Snapping out of his own thoughts, he continued. "What did you say to him?"

The tired woman just shrugged her shoulders a little, embarrassed about the childish name-calling she had resort to in order to escape his sire. "I insulted his mustache."

Spike looked at her for a moment, before falling sideways on the bed, laughing. "Oh, bloody hell, Red! I wish I could have seen his face. He was always so proud of the damned ugly thing! I always thought it make him look like a bit of a fairy, myself."

She quickly told him everything she had said to him and even allowed herself a little smile when the blonde vampire seemed impressed with her performance under pressure.

When he finished snickering, Spike sat back up. He still had one more question. "So, tell me about your great escape."

She shook her heading, trying to jog her memory because that part was still a little foggy. She explained how she had decided to make him mad, hoping that he would feed from her and leave her alone instead of torturing her that night.

"Pissing off a vampire is not normally a good tactic, Willow. He could have really hurt you."

"I know, but I couldn't think of anything else. I just hoped he would bite me then leave me alone for a while, which is exactly what he did."

"By the look of your neck, Red, you really made him angry. It's a nasty, vicious bite, and somehow I don't think the old man did that to you just because you insulted his looks. I mean sure, he has an ego the size of hell itself, but he usually is able to control himself better than that."

Willow fidgeted. She wasn't quite ready to tell the blonde demon how she had lied to Angelus, saying that she had never loved him and was only using the Irishman because she was bored. "Let's just say I got a little more personal and leave it at that, okay?"

Spike softened his voice, trying to make her less self-conscious. He needed to know...he wanted to know how she managed to get to his sire. "Look, Willow, you have to tell me everything. We need to see if you...if *we* have caused any lasting damage."

Willow sighed and nodded her head. "I told him that I never loved him and had been just using him because I was bored. I told him he was too stupid for me...things like that..."

While the blonde demon let that news settle in, he had to suppress a smile. <I would have given anything to see the look on the ass's face when she said that!>

"After he fed from me, I remember waking up and feeling horrible. I managed to crawl out of his bed..." Willow was so intent on recalling the events that she didn't notice the blonde vampire grimace at her use of the words 'his bed.' She went on unaware. "I was so relieved that he hadn't locked the door...the cocky son-of-a bitch never expected I would wake up so soon..."

Raising an eyebrow at her unusual choice of words, Spike teased, "Seems to be a common mistake with the vampires in your life, love."

She allowed herself a weak smile. "At least the spell occasionally helps." She closed her eyes and leaned back against the pillows again, emotionally and physically exhausted but wanting to finish the story. "I tried to make my way home, but I was dizzy and weak. At some point, I realized that here was closer than the pub, so I changed direction. I don't remember much else until I woke up and you were playing Florence Nightingale."

Spike nodded his head yet again and covered his face with his hands as he thought about everything she said.

Willow's eyes remained shut. One thing she hadn't told her traveling companion was that it was during her flight for safety that she realized why Spike had practically run away from her that fateful night. It had slowly sunk in through her state of shock just how much sadistic pleasure Angelus had actually received from trying to hurt her both physically and mentally. It hadn't taken long for her imagination to make the next logical step-- that he and vampires as a whole were sexually aroused by being hurt in return. That step lead to a few others and then finally it occurred to her that her removal of the stake from Spike's back and the method in which she did it, was like foreplay to Spike. She didn't want to talk about it though...they both knew, and that was enough. <It's like I tried to seduce him twice in one night...he must think I am really going off the deep end.>

The room was quiet as they each tried to absorb what had happened. Willow was the first to speak, breaking the silence in more ways than one.

"Why can't he be more like you?" she asked softly but firmly, her eyes still closed.

*****

End Chapter 21
 

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