Spike had been busy calculating the possible costs of Angelus and Willow's meeting when he heard her speak. He couldn't believe his ears, so he feigned not understanding. "What was that, Red?"
She opened her eyes to find him looking at her through puzzled blue ones. "Why can't Angelus be more like you?" she repeated firmly.
The blonde vampire found himself dumbfounded for a moment, so he resorted to jokes to try and fumble his way through the emotional turmoil her simple question had stirred in him. "Um...in which way? My devastatingly handsome good looks? My charm? My infectious wit? I could go on and on..."
Willow gave him a ghost of a smile. "I am sure you could. No, I mean, how come you can control yourself around me? After all, here I am, practically a vampire cocktail, throwing myself at you, and still you don't bite me or hurt me. Why is Angelus so...so...evil?" she finally finished with a sigh, already realizing how stupid her question sounded.
Spike's forced teasing grin melted into a dark grimace. He wasn't sure what he had hoped Willow would say, but that certainly wasn't it. He had been compared to Angel too many times in the past by a disappointed Drusilla, and too often reminded how he paled in comparison to his sire.
She watched his face fall. <Oh great...I hurt his feelings....> She hurried on, hoping to repair his bruised psyche. "Not that you aren't evil, Spike...because you are! You're the most evil vampire I know--"
"Give me some credit, love," Spike interrupted rudely. He couldn't believe that she was trying to boost his darker self-image. <How pathetic does she think I am?> "My ego isn't that bloody fragile. I know what you meant."
"Well, I just...I thought that--"
Spike interrupted her with an icy look that was matched by an equally cold tone. "You think too much, my wife."
Still not realizing the real reason the blonde vampire was upset by her question, she became somewhat defensive. "Sorry, but when you kidnapped me you also kidnapped my mind. If you wanted a more uncomplicated companion, then you really should've brought Xander instead!" Spike gave her a look of warning, but Willow kept going. "Although, I doubt he would have sucked the stake out of your back the way I did because he is way too squeamish, and we both know how much you enjoyed that!" <That oughta cheer him up! Spike loves a good bit of innuendo...he won't be able to resist!> A very mischievous glint came to her eyes as she waited for Spike's comeback.
It never came. Spike just stared at her, his mouth opening and closing to speak but not uttering a sound. Eventually the words came, but he ignored her invitation to a verbal battle, letting his bitterness speak for him instead. "Feeling better, I see," he commented harshly.
Not noticing his change in mood, Willow nodded her head happily and hugged her knees to her chest. To Spike, it made her look like a little girl, and the fact that such an innocent-looking woman could continuously turn his life upside down, only served to increase his ire.
"Look, do you want an answer to your childish question or do you want to sit around and play 'what if' all night, my little virgin?" he demanded impatiently.
The child-like glee drained from her face just as Spike had intended. "Answer, please," she responded coolly.
He stood up and started walking casually about his home, his eyes continually going from one object to another with fake interest, just so he wouldn't have to look at Willow. "You seem to be forgetting something, Pet." Spike sounded bored and used the endearment 'Pet' because he knew she despised it. "If I didn't need you in one breathing piece to get Drusilla back, then--"
"I know, I know...I'd be dead," Willow interjected firmly. "The only reason you put up with me is for Dru...you hate every second you have to spend with me...I know the drill, Spike." Willow tried to keep the emotion out of her voice as she spoke, but it wasn't easy, and she found that she could only say it if she didn't look at him. The redhead was a little angry for allowing herself to think that they had become friends again. "But that doesn't answer my question, does it?"
Spike turned at the tone in her voice. The teasing manner was gone, as was the child-like amusement. She was completely serious and business like, even though they were talking about her own death. For some reason, that made him even angrier.
"What makes you think I am any different from him? He is my sire. He was my teacher, my mentor, and probably the best damn mate I had ever had. For decades, we were inseparable. I would have done anything for that bloke, and I think he would have done the same for me, if push had come to shove. That is until Dru came along. Then everything changed..." Spike was suddenly hit with a strong wave of despair again over Drusilla, making him momentarily forget about his bitterness at Willow.
Willow knew she should remain silent for a few minutes so that Spike could mourn for Dru, but at the moment she didn't care about his feelings. Spike still hadn't answered her question. The redhead pushed on. "But...but you *love* Drusilla. You are capable of loving another, even when you are a demon. Why can you do that and why can't Angelus?"
The blonde vamp let his pain turn to anger, releasing it on his travel companion once again. "What makes you think he can't?" the vamp spit out sharply. "Because he didn't turn into your beloved, sickeningly-sweet Angel the moment he saw you in the park, you think he isn't capable of love? Maybe you just aren't the right woman. Maybe you never meant that much to him."
Willow felt as if she had been slapped in the face. Her wide eyes jumped up from her hands to Spike, but he was busy staring at something interesting on the other side of the room. "That isn't what I am talking about and you know it!"
"Do I?" he asked sardonically.
"What I meant was, if the situations were reversed, I don't think Angelus could do...well, this..." she said, indicating herself and the room. "I don't think he could control himself, no matter what the reason. You seem to have more control, more willpower than he does. You love Dru so much that you even put up with me, while Angelus wouldn't...he couldn't..." Suddenly, Willow felt foolish so she stopped herself from saying anymore.
Spike still hadn't looked at her. He told himself that the last thing he wanted was to see her sniveling over Angelus...again, but part of the real reason was also that the last thing he wanted was to see how he had hurt her...again. The vampire shook his head and chuckled cruelly, running a casual finger over a chair back, supposedly looking for dust.
"You're asking all the wrong questions, love. What you should be asking is why is it that Angelus can't love when most other vampires can? The answer is simple. He isn't capable of it. He never was, even when he was alive. *That* is the only bloody difference between Angelus and me, Willow!" The angry vampire finally spun around. He wanted to make sure that every word he was saying got through to her. "That damned Irishman only ever thought of women as being good for one thing, Willow. Well, two things if you include dinner. And from what I saw of his behavior in Galway when you weren't around, I am sure that attitude didn't just come with demon."
The blonde vampire walked toward her, watching as she struggled to keep her own emotional distress from showing on her delicate features. "Why would you think that spending a few weeks in the company of you would make him think of women any differently? Trust me, if we had stayed there another fortnight, he would have grown bored with you and moved on to someone more experienced. Someone who could give him the only thing he really wanted in the first place."
Willow felt sick to her stomach. With every word that came out of Spike's mouth, she felt her insides clench. She didn't want to believe him, but she knew first hand that he been with a lot of women. He had told her as much himself, as had Angelus's mother. But that was the past and people change. "You're wrong, Spike. He may have been that way once. It may have even been that way with me, but he loved Buffy very much. <And he will again if I have anything to do with it!> she reminded herself. "You could see it on his face every time he looked at her. You are dead wrong, Spike."
When Willow didn't deny Angelus's scandalous days in Galway, it caught Spike by surprise, and soothing his pain and anger. "You call that love?" he snickered. "Ha! And you accuse me of not knowing what real love is! If you ask me--"
"Which I didn't," Willow muttered.
Ignoring her, he continued, "--that was just some twisted type of penance that his guilt-ridden soul came up with to make sure he was a miserable sod for the rest of eternity."
The redhead studied his face for a moment, trying to decide if he actually believed what he said or if he was just venting his frustrations about Angel again. She was surprised to find that he looked sincere, but even if Spike believed that Angel never truly loved Buffy, Willow knew that he had.
"You know what?" she said finally, exhausted by the conversation. "Forget I even asked. You wouldn't give me a straight answer anyway. You are so blinded by your jealousy that you don't even know what the truth is any more."
Spike looked shocked momentarily. "Jealousy? What the bloody hell are you talking about?"
Willow took a deep breath and released it slowly. Sometimes she felt like she was the more mature one in the room. "Drusilla and Angel! Who else would I be talking about?"
Spike stood up straighter and turned around for a moment, just so he could let the relief show on his face without her seeing. Composing himself, he faced her once more. "Willow, I told you all of this for your own good, you know! Weren't you just telling me that Dru wasn't good enough for me? Well, I am just telling you the same thing. He wasn't good enough for you when he was alive, and as he is now, you two certainly wouldn't win the grand prize on the newlywed game. Even if he did have his soul, Willow, he is still a bloody wanker...always brooding and whinging, all the personality of a bowl of porridge."
"So," Willow said in all seriousness, "the reason you are saying all of these horrible things to me is because you are concerned about my love life?"
A teasing smirk settled easily back into place now that most of the tension had dissipated. Spike began patting his pockets once again, looking for his last cigar. "Yeah, well, you know what they say, Red. You got to be cruel to be kind."
"Well then, as I tried to tell you before, you are the *kindest* vamp I know."
His eyes lit up, shining brighter than the fat cigar he has just set aflame. "Flattery will get you everywhere, love." And with a wink, he was gone before she could come up with an appropriate response.
<I am really getting sick of him just leaving all the time. When do I get to make a dramatic exit?> She sat and tried to figure out what had happened. Why did the mood change so quickly in the room? She looked at it from every angle, and came to realize that her question about Angelus had triggered Spike's mood. She smacked herself on the forehead with her hand. "Smooth, Willow. Even after 70 years you still have all the social graces and tact of...of...Cordelia!" <Here he is, mourning the only woman he ever loved, and you just had to go and shove the reason for her death in his face, didn't you?> She continued her pondering silently. <How many times did Drusilla ask him why he couldn't be more like Angelus? And while it isn't quite the same, I am sure asking Spike why his infamous sire isn't more like him, is far from a compliment in his yellow eyes.>
Willow turned her head and focused on the wall opposite the door. As strong as she tried to be, sometimes she just wanted this over. Every morning she hoped when she woke up that it was just a bad dream, all the while knowing that it wasn't. Strange as it was, it was all real. Sometimes, especially when she was with Spike and he was in high spirits, she could easily forget just how messed up her life had become...how it wasn't an everyday occurrence to be whisked back in time and have to stay there for who knows how long. When she was alone, however, or when Spike's face darkened with grief over Drusilla and hatred for his sire, as it just had, it would again seem like too much for her to handle. Willow hated feeling weak and out of control, so as she lay there, she begin to make plans once again...plans on how to keep her sanity as well as how to fix everything that they had managed to mess up.
When he came back in an hour or so later, he found her once again sitting in bed, but her face was turned away from him. <Oh bloody hell...I think she is crying again...> He restrained himself from making his presence clearly known and from trying to say something to ease her suffering. What he had told her may not have been kind, and he may not have handled it the best way, but it was the truth. The living Angelus was a drunk, a womanizer, and a lay-about, and while those qualities made for a fun mate to go carousing with until the wee small hours, they did not add up to the kind of man that could keep a woman like Willow happy. Surprisingly enough, the soulless Angelus was a sober, forward-thinking vampire, and while he was still not a one-woman vamp, he at least had a level head on his demonic shoulders. And the resouled Angel? He was so excruciatingly dull and depressing that Spike began to think that Willow would be better off with the Xapper or the wolf-boy. <Not that there will be a choice, since I plan to rid us all of Angelus as soon as I have my princess back!>
Willow didn't hear the vampire come in the room. She was too deep in thought over everything that had happened and had been said, as well as her plans for the future. It wasn't until she rolled over that she saw him leaning against a far wall, simply watching her. They exchanged stares for a moment, each trying to figure out what the other was thinking, and each being totally off base.
Spike was the first to move. "Better change that bandage," he stated plainly, grabbing some supplies from the cupboard.
Willow sat up, exposing her neck to him without the slightest hesitation. He changed the dressing in silence, noting that it looked like it was healing well and very rapidly, considering it had been less than 24 hours since he had found her. "You'll be right as rain in another day or so," he told her as he finished his ministrations to her slender throat.
When she turned her green eyes to him to offer her thanks, she put her delicate hand out to cover his, pausing briefly to notice how it seemed to warm beneath her touch. "Spike, can we just go home now? Please?" she pleaded softly.
His jaw tightened as he glared at her for a moment. He was suddenly barraged by thoughts that she had orchestrated all of her recent emotional outbursts just to play on his emotions. <Could she be that manipulating?> "No!" Spike pulled his hand away from hers and leapt off the bed as if she were made of Holy Water. "There is no room for discussion, Pet," he spat out. "We are in this until the end...and all your tears, and batting those...those...long eyelashes of yours and looking at me like some lost kitten isn't going to make any difference. I eat kittens you know!"
Willow's face registered shock for only a moment before it changed to a look of haughty indignation. She had no expectations that he would agree to end the spell and take them home, but she had to ask anyway. <I don't bat my eyelashes! He thinks I'm flirting with him!> Willow shook her head as she came to this realization. <This has been such an odd night.> "Calm down, Spike. You know I had to ask! Besides, this is all fun and games to you, but it hasn't actually been fun for me, now has it?"
Spike rolled his eyes in an obvious display of frustration and impatience at her attitude. "Red, I've about had it with you moping about all the time. Hell, I made you Immortal, even if only for a while. I gave you something that most people want...time! Time to do anything you want with your life...time to see everything and do everything you could ever imagine! This is a marvelous adventure, and you should be bloody thankful and kissing my cold, dead feet for taking you away from that dreadful town and your boring, pitiful excuse for a life! "
She shot up straight in bed, her hands going to her hips. "What? You think I should be thankful? It will be a cold day in hell before I thank you for ruining my life, you arrogant, selfish, rude, bast--"
"Get over it, Willow. We aren't going back to Sunnyhell until I bloody well say so, and all your tears, and all your little attempts to seduce me, aren't going to make me change my mind, understand? So, instead of brooding over all of your lost loves, try to make the best of it! Have some fun, if you even know what that is!" All the while Spike was yelling he was looking about his place for something to smash, just to relieve some tension since he was out of cigars. <Bloody hell...I knew I should have bought a couple of vases or something....>
Willow felt her blood begin to boil. <Have fun? How am I supposed to have fun!> "Well, that's easy for you to say! You-you can, well, *do* things that I can't!"
Spike quieted down and ceased his pacing. He shoved his hands in his pockets and looked at her with a puzzled tilt to his head, surprised that the ethereal redhead seemed to have missed a prime opportunity to throw his moping over Dru back in his face. "Can't say I'm following you, ducks."
Willow wasn't listening. She continued her little rant, grumbling more to herself than her companion, but Spike was able to understand the general idea. "Typical man. Sure, you can do anything you want, have the time of your unlife, while I can't *do* anything, can I? You made sure of that! It was bad enough when I was 17...now I'm 74..."
Comprehension finally dawned on the clueless vamp, and a tiny smirk began to form at the corner of his lips. "Oh bloody hell...is this whole thing about shagging?"
Willow's cheeks reddened and she looked anywhere but at Spike.
"Yes, it's about sex!" she finally admitted, and very loudly at that. "Why did you have to use a spell that requires me to, well, 'sleep' alone? You obviously haven't been lacking for company, and it's not fair!" She crossed her arms over her chest, hoping it would keep her from fidgeting out of embarrassment.
"Getting a tad bit twitchy, love?" Spike was trying not to laugh, but this whole turn in the conversation was one that he couldn't have imagined if he lived to be a million years old.
She sent him her most murderous glare, but than only seemed to make him smile more. "I am glad you think it's funny!" Out of frustration, Willow picked up a cold scone and pelted it at the amused vampire. The biscuit bounced harmlessly off of his nose and fell to the floor.
Spike watched as the scone rolled halfway across the room before picking it up and tossing it away. He turned back to glowering redhead. "Such childish behavior...," he clucked, the impish twinkle once again ablaze in his blue eyes. "I don't think you are mature enough to handle sex anyway...maybe another 50 years and you might be more of an adult and capable of--"."
"Spike...go away or I swear I will stake you with this bread knife!" Willow interrupted angrily, holding up a dull but sticky piece of cutlery.
He held up his hands and approached the bed gingerly. "Truce, love?" When after a brief pause she nodded and sheathed her makeshift stake, Spike took his place at the foot of the bed. Only when he could do so with a straight face and little humor in his voice, did he proceed. "Seriously, I realize that you have to stay nice and intact for the spell, but you can't tell me that you haven't been touched or pleased by a man this whole time..." Suddenly it wasn't quite as humorous to Spike any longer as images of Willow and faceless men in compromising positions popped into his mind unwelcome.
Willow's eyes couldn't meet his and she let her gaze once again fall to her hands as they began twisting at the bed sheets. "I am *not* going to talk about this with you."
The blonde vamp leaned forward and used a long finger under her chin to make her look at him. "Bloody hell, Red. Don't tell me you haven't even necked a little bit?"
She weakly kicked him under the sheets again, wishing nothing more than to melt into the mattress. Finally she realized how childish she was acting, and she looked him straight in the eyes. "No, Spike. I haven't kissed a man, nor has one kissed me, let alone all of those other things you are probably wondering. Unless, of course, you count Angelus the other night..." she hastily added.
Spike was surprised, to say the least. It had never occurred to him that she would take the virginity stipulation so seriously. During their years apart, he had often worried that she would find some man and settle down, thereby ruining their chances of going home. As soon as he saw her again in the park a few weeks ago, he knew that she had kept that end of the bargain, but he had no idea that she would deny herself intimate companionship of any kind for so long. <No wonder the poor girl is teetering on the edge of sanity sometimes!>
He gathered his thoughts, trying to be something he wasn't very good at...tactful. "Surely you realize that there are a lot of things that you can still do..."
<This is not happening! This is not happening!> she told herself. She took a deep breath and let it out. "Yes, I am aware that I can still, um, *do* certain things without destroying the spell. It's just that I never trusted that any man would be able to control himself, or that I could for that matter. I was terrified that we wouldn't be able to stop before the spell was ruined." <As it is, every time a man looks at me twice now, I can't help but think about *it*...>
Spike shook his head and adopted a very paternal manner. "Well, I guess it is time that Daddy told his little sweet pea a few things about the facts of life." He patted his lap and winked at her.
The redhead's mouth fell open in embarrassed horror. "Spike! Cut it out! This isn't funny!"
Spike ignored her protests and began his speech, fighting the urge to gather her up on his lap against her wishes. "You see, Princess, there are things that a woman can do not only with a 'friend' but also by *herself* ..." Seeing the shocked look on her eternally-young face, he stopped. No longer trying to hide the fact that he was enjoying this enormously, he went on. "Am I going to fast for you? Okay...I'll start at the beginning...feel free to ask questions, and if necessary, I am sure I could manage a sketch or two..."
"Spike!" Willow groaned, her eyes narrowing. "One of these days I am *so* going to make you pay for this!" she warned, but soon found that even she couldn't keep a smile from her own face. It was kind of funny to think that Spike was giving her 'The Sex Talk'. Of course, her parents had sat her down long ago and told her the facts of life, but when they lectured her the subject of druid spells and time traveling never entered it.
Spike just smirked at her threat. "Just trying to help, Red. Let me know if I can be of any further assistance," he teased with a lift of his brows. "Just remember, the bloody key is *No Penetration*, got it, Red?"
"Are you sure? I mean, how do you know that I can, well, do other things?" Willow managed with only a slight squeak to her voice.
"Vampires know virgins and vampires know exactly how much they can do with one before that scrumptious virgin blood becomes just another pint of O-positive," he stated plainly.
Willow nodded her head. "That makes sense."
Spike was suddenly very hungry and let out a soft growl when he realized it was the middle of the day and he would have to wait before he could feed again. "Why don't we both get some sleep?" As the vampire stood up and started walking to dim the lights, he had to ask one more question. "Willow? You haven't gone this long without...well, *any* sort of release have you?" When Willow's face reddened again, he actually became a little flustered and found himself starting to babble. "Because it isn't true what they say, you know. You won't go blind, or loopy if you--"
"Spike," Willow interrupted quickly, wanting to end both their embarrassment. "I'm 74 years old...what do you think?"
Spike quickly dimmed the lights so that Willow couldn't see the pleased yet curious look on his face.
"So, are you done with today's sex education class?" Willow inquired, a smile warming her face.
"Yes...unless you want to see those sketches...I am sure I can dig up a bit of paper and some ink around here somewhere..." he said with mock seriousness as he started going through some drawers in the cupboard. "I may need you to pose though..."
Willow sighed and moved down into the bed, making herself more comfortable. "Go to sleep, Spike" she said firmly, rolling toward the wall.
The lithe vampire chuckled softly to himself and started preparing for bed. But as he lay down on the sofa on the other side of the room, he couldn't resist one last comment. "Willow!" he admonished jokingly. "I realize that it has been a long time for you and you are all excited about your new sexual freedom, but could you either wait until I am asleep or at least keep it down over there?"
Spike never saw it coming, but somehow even in the dark, Willow was able to hit the cocky vampire directly on the nose with yet another biscuit.
End Chapter 22