< > indicates thoughts and such.
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Take Your Time  ~~ 34 ~~
 

It was too good to be true.

It had to be a dream.

He stared out the slivered opening between the carriage's curtains as it darted through the dark streets of London before looking back down at the peaceful face of his beloved. <If this is another bloody dream, I don't want to wake up,> he told himself.  Then Spike bit his tongue, not just to make sure he was awake, not just hard enough to draw a few drops of his own blood, but viciously until his mouth filled with his own coppery-tasting essence.  He didn't swallow the blood or even swish it around to savor his own unique taste like a fine wine.  He simply held it.

It wouldn't take much.  Drusilla was already substantially weakened, and he could finish her life--or at least this miserable existence that was her 'living life'--in an instant.  Then, with his own already flowing, immortality-giving blood, a simple kiss would be the beginning of their eternity together...just a kiss.

But he didn't.  And that was how Spike knew it wasn't a dream.  In countless dreams before he'd stolen Drusilla away from the same nunnery and then had the opportunity to sire her.  He had never hesitated...not once.  This time he didn't follow through, though, because this was real and so would be the consequences of any hasty, albeit passion-generated, actions.  The blood that, at that very moment, was both setting his own taste buds aquiver and his demon on edge, was not meant to create a childe today.  Drusilla was not his to sire.  It was a bitter pill to swallow, but swallow it he did, and along with his blood, a future as Dru's sire that he once thought he'd do anything for.

Spike gently combed his fingers through her ebony hair, smiling in both remembrance and anticipation of their years together.  <So much to look forward to.  Or back to, depending on how you look at it,> he told himself.

William watched his older self with great interest.  When Spike had slit his own tongue on a sharp fang, William could smell the blood.  He knew exactly what was crossing the blonde demon's mind at that very moment.  In fact, William was a little disappointed, again, when Spike didn't carry through and change Drusilla right then and there.  However, William also understood the reasoning behind the other vampire's restraint.  Why ruin a good thing in the future?  Some chances weren't worth taking, and he understood that concept better the more time he spent with Spike.

It amazed him to think how much his unlife had changed in the past 24 hours.  Outwardly, it may have appeared to Angelus and Spike that he was handling this all quite well.  Inwardly, however, his turmoil easily matched that of his sire's or his future self's, perhaps even Rose's.  It's bad enough to encounter your soon-to-be self, but to suddenly have your future laid before you was somehow both comforting and unnerving at the same time.  Sure, it was great to know that he'd still be around in a century plus.  But on the other hand, to already see the results of his decisions really took those very same choices out of his hands.  He had only two paths now, the way he saw it.  He could accept and embrace his apparent future as it was shown to him by Spike, or he could try to blaze his own trail through the coming years.  The latter was tempting, to say the least, since he always loved to play the role of the rebel, but as he looked at his future self and the woman in his arms, he knew the decision was already made.  Whether it was right or wrong, William didn't want to fight it.

"Not much longer now, and she'll be ours, mate.  All ours," the younger vampire offered in support.

Spike looked up for a split-second.  He'd almost forgotten the other vampire was there.  "She's beautiful, isn't she?" he whispered reverently, already fully focused on Drusilla once again.

"Yes, she truly is quite a handsome woman," William admitted.  In truth, he'd thought she was beautiful from the first moment he saw her, and he'd always hoped that Angelus would decide to turn her instead of just killing her.  Unfortunately, before they'd ever had a chance to fulfill either of their desired plans for Drusilla, they'd both become distracted by the news of Rose being back in their fair country.

"But you haven't seen anything yet, mate," Spike said, beaming with pride.  "Wait until she's one of us.  She can make a grown man cry using only one fingernail.  Bloody hell, her cruelty and bloodlust are breathtaking sometimes!"

"But I don't breathe," William retorted, eyes flashing mischievously.

Spike rolled his matching blue eyes.  Now he could almost understand why Willow seemed to constantly sigh while in his presence.  He could almost be annoying sometimes.

Willow.  Without meaning to, and certainly without wanting to, she was in his thoughts once again.  Desperately looking for something take his mind off the redhead and put it back on Dru where it belonged, Spike grasped onto something that had been nagging at the back of his mind.

"Tell me something," he began.  "When we went into Dru's room, she looked right at you and said, 'You're back...you're real'.  Care to explain what that was all about?"

William quickly took out a cigarette while he listened to the odd question.  "Obviously, you ninny, she remembered me from the last time Angelus and I paid her a little visit.  I think that was the night we killed the uncle.  You must remember that!  What a bloody wanker...begged like a girl, he did, which of course only made us torture him more slo--"

Spike bolted upright in the carriage seat, jostling but not waking the woman on his lap.  "Y--you helped Angelus with Dru?  He let you go along and join in the fun?" the blonde vampire interrupted.

William was puzzled by Spike's line of questioning.  He paused to watch a stream of smoke drift out the window of the moving carriage as he wondered what it all meant.

"Of course," he finally admitted.  "Didn't you?"

Spike's face grew dark as just another difference between his past and this one surfaced.  "No, I didn't.  Drusilla was one of Peaches' special projects.  I barely knew anything about her until the day he brought her lifeless body back to the house."

"Well, that's bloody terrific, isn't it?" William grunted.  He knew enough to realize that these kinds of differences could prove very important down the line.  Leaning forward in his seat, he fixed Spike with a steely gaze that demanded answers.  "Why the difference, Spike?"  When the blonde vampire didn't answer immediately, he went on.  "Look, you stupid git!  I can tell you're hiding things, even from me...from yourself.  If you can't trust yourself, whom can you trust?  Just spit it out already!"

Spike groaned in frustration as he ran a finger over his Dark Princess's warm lips, something he'd never felt before.  For a moment he was completely lost in the new sensation, but he quickly pulled his attention back to the matter at hand at the sound of William clearing his throat.

"Well, I've noticed just a few tiny differences between your sire and mine.  He seems..." Spike stopped himself.  He wasn't about to pour his heart out like some jealous adolescent, even to himself.

It was William's turn to groan and then clench his jaw in impatience.  "What kinds of differences?  Did he used to wear a bloomin' tiara while he danced the can-can in your past or something?  Or did he keep you chained up in the attic and only feed you dirty old men?  What is it, already?  Do you think I can't see the bloody hate in your eyes sometimes when you look at him?  Do you think *he* can't see it, Spike?"

Spike winced.  He'd thought he did a fairly good job keeping his emotions in check, considering the situation.  <Fine!  You want to know?  Want to see how pathetic you become?>

"Your Angelus is much more bloody attentive to you than he was to me, at this point in time, anyway," Spike admitted reluctantly, ashamed of the envy in his own voice.  "The way he looks at you...hell, I haven't seen that in a very, very long time."

As William considered Spike's confession, he lit another cigarette and passed it to Spike.  He couldn't imagine Angelus not involving him in his interest in Drusilla from the beginning.  Still, he understood some of what Spike was talking about.  He also knew that it couldn't have been easy for the blonde demon to admit his feelings, because...well, William would normally rather pull out his own hair than admit to any jealousy as far as his sire was concerned.  William gave Spike a moment to relax with his smoke while he started trying to decipher what could have changed.

"Well, I don't know about 'Dear ole Dad' always liking me best," William joked after a while.  "But you forgot one little thing...I've been sharing him with the ghost of Rose since about a fortnight after he turned me.  Sure, he'd often go months without mentioning her, but she was always bloody there...in his preference for redheads, the way he treated the pure ones...so many damn things I can even begin to tell you." William ran a hand down his face.  "Crikey, the first time I saw Rose, I felt like I already knew her so bloody well that I didn't know whether I hated her or loved her!"

"That's the effect she seems to have on vampires, Will," Spike chuckled, then caught himself and hastily added, "Must be another side effect of the bloody spell."

"Must be," William agreed with a knowing smirk.  "So, you see, Rose has always been a part of my life with Angelus.  Maybe I'm just used to it.  Besides, I'm the one that should be jealous, Blondie!"

"What for?"

"You had our sire to yourself for years...no mysterious woman haunting his every thought."

<Could that be the only soddin' difference?> Spike wondered as he took some long draws from the cigarette.  <That William was used to sharing Angelus's attentions from practically night one?  But with me, by the time Drusilla had come along, I'd never really had to share him.>  He shook his head violently, trying to make some sense of it all.  <No!  That's not bloody all...there's got to be a helluva lot more to it...>  But two cigarettes later, Spike eventually conceded to himself that perhaps the difference in Angelus had more to do with Willow than anything else.  Apparently, his sire's obsession with his time-traveling companion differed quite a bit than his previous fascination with Drusilla.  Nevertheless, Spike needed more information before he'd let himself believe that.

"In the beginning," Spike began, "right after he lost Rose after stumbling across her in the park, you two set about trying to find her, didn't you?  I watched you two, in some pub or other, flirting with the barmaid..."

"Oh God, the hours we spent going from pub to pub looking for her!"  William laughed, easily recalling that time.  "And the night we found out the chit was gone--disappeared from London--I've never seen Angelus like that before.  He was out of his bloody mind--crushed but not trying not to let it show, you know?  I'd thought for a while that he was going to go mad, but it wasn't long before he was back to himself again--killing innocents left and right.  I think Angelus somehow knew they'd meet again.  You know, destiny or some other tripe like that, so he never really stopped looking for her."  William stopped as more fond memories of his sire came to mind.  "Now, I don't know how cruel Angelus was in your time--"

"The cruelest," Spike answered without hesitation.  "He was beautiful to watch...the way he stalked his victims, toyed with them.  You know, all I ever wanted was to be just like him.  Well and irritate him, too.  Sometimes I'd purposely defy him just to...well, you know," he said with the lift of a scarred brow.

William completely understood since it was also one of his favorite ways to chase away the boredom.  "So, when did it go wrong?"

Spike's face grew darker and he looked back down at the girl on his lap.  "We were a bloody great team in the beginning, believe me--just like the two of you are now.  Then, around the time Drusilla came along, well, I guess he didn't know how to be a sire to the two of us at the same time, or something...I don't know..." Spike's voiced faded away and he looked out the window again.  There was much more to it, including Angelus's abandoning them, but he figured that was another thing that William would be better off not knowing.

There was a silence as the two contemplated all that had been said.  Spike was the one who broke it first.

"So, how'd Angelus find our little Rose, anyway?" he asked casually, just trying to change the subject again until he could get his emotions under control regarding Angelus.

"Well," William began in reply, knowing perfectly well that Spike was trying to steer the conversation in a different direction, "after we got back from Paris, having had our fill of the bloody frogs, I kept hearing in certain circles about this mysterious little girl.  Rumor was that she could hold her own at a card table with the best of them, and being the gambling bloke that I am, I just had to see her.  She sounded like the kind of women we might want to meet, right?  So anyway, I lurked at a game that I heard she'd probably sit in on--this was just a couple of months ago, mind you--and I watched her through the window.  You know, just checking out the competition.  The very bloody second I saw her, though, I knew it was Rose.  He'd described her so many times to me and in such detail that I could picture her clear as a bell in my mind.  Plus, Angelus's has sketches of her all over the bloody place.  It's like a shrine in his bed chambers...gives me the willies."

Spike flinched at the mention of Angelus's bedroom, but once again managed to avoid that line of thought.

William continued, unaware of Spike's baser thoughts.  "The look on Angelus's face when I told him I'd found her...well...it's a lot like yours when you look at Drusilla...except darker...less luvie-duvie."

"Luvie-duvie?  Sod off, mate!  I've never looked luvie-duvie in my life!" Spike said in indignation.

"If you could see yourself...it's bloody sickening," William teased.  "Well, actually, you can see you, can't you?"

"Yes, I can.  Talk about sickening...cut your bloody hair or something, would you?"

They joked for a few minutes, exchanging insults like brothers before a silence turned the conversation back to Angelus.

"Look," William groaned.  "I'm not saying unlife with Angelus is all bloody hearts and flowers this time around.  I mean, he can be a right bloody prick at times, but..."

"Some things never change," Spike laughed softly, exchanging a wistful smile with William.

"...but," the younger vampire continued, "I couldn't have asked for a better teacher...sire...lo--"

Spike held up a hand.  "That's enough!  If you keep going on like that and sounding like a right bloody poof, I may have to heave."

William wrinkled his nose.  "Actually, I think I made myself a bit sick.  If you ever tell him I said any of that, I'll just have to kill myself later...or something...to get you back for it."

"Your secret's safe with me," the blonde vampire chuckled before looking back down at his future lover's face.  So many things were different for William than they were for him.  Through some odd twist of fate, Angelus's obsession with Willow had brought William and his sire closer together--probably because it happened so early in their relationship.  However, when Drusilla had come along in his own lifetime, Spike had been left out and therefore jealous that his sire's attention had been divided for the first time.  Spike groaned and leaned his head back against the seat.  In that instant, everything became clear.  He knew what he had to do.

Spike sat up straight and shifted in his seat a little.  Picking up Drusilla, he set her on William's lap.  William looked from her beautiful face to his own questioningly.

"She's yours, for now," Spike informed him painfully.  "Someday, she'll be mine, but not yet.  So you better take bloody good care of her, mate...or..."

"Or what?" William challenged.  "You'll do something even more ridiculous to my hair?"

Spike smiled in spite of himself.  "Worse...I'll put us in a baby blue, polyester leisure suit in the 1970s and learn to do the hustle!"

William grimaced. "Ooh, sounds bad...that some kind of futuristic torture?  Like an iron maiden?"

"Damn, close, mate.  Damn close."

*****

Angelus was awaiting their arrival.  When they pulled up, he was a little surprised to see William climbing down from the carriage with the girl in his arms.  He was expecting Spike to be reluctant to part with her, even for William.  Angelus took the frail woman into his embrace when William offered her, but he didn't even glance at her.  Instead he was fully focused on Spike.

"Are ya ready, then?"

"No," Spike growled, "but I don't have a bloody choice, do I?  None of us do."

"There always be choices, Spike.  Most of us will never be knowin' the consequences of the paths we didn't take, but perhaps ya will...or ya have already?"

<Great!  Riddles...that's all I need.  I almost forgot how much the wanker used to love to listen to himself talk!>  "And sometimes your choices come back to bite you on the ass," Spike grumbled, his eyes glued to his future in Angelus's arms.

Following his childe's line of sight, Angelus finally peered down at Drusilla and felt his hunger awaken.  She wasn't Rose, but he was going to make the most of the situation anyway.  She would make a sufficient substitute for one night.  Angelus turned on his heels and re-entered the house, heading for his room.

"Ya can come and watch me turn her, if ya want," he called over his shoulder.

Spike insides clenched at the thought.  It took all his determination not to run after them and rip Drusilla out of his sire's arms.  Instead, he gritted his teeth and stared at the ground.  "Go on," he instructed William.  "Make sure he doesn't muck this whole thing up.  The moment she has the demon in her, find me!"  William nodded his agreement before rushing to follow his sire up the stairs.

After taking a moment to gather himself, Spike headed for Willow's room.

Willow was lying asleep on her bed when he unlocked and opened the door.  He was actually relieved to find that she wasn't awake.  Spike didn't want to talk to her.  He didn't even know why he'd come to her room.  He guessed he was simply trying not to think about what was happening just a few doors down.  Having to occupy himself somehow, Spike simply sat in an armchair in the corner and watched her sleep for a couple of hours.  Although, it would be more accurate to say that he watched her *try* to sleep because soon she started tossing and turning, obviously in the throes of one of her nightmares that he was very used to.  In the short time that they'd shared a bed, he'd become accustomed to her waking in the middle of the night or day, trembling from some terrifying image of Angelus as her mind tried to make sense of what he had in store for her.  The blonde vampire would hold her until she fell back asleep or until they became otherwise distracted, but always whispering to her that he'd take care of her and that he would never allow Angelus to harm her again.  <How's that for a bloody plot twist?> he speculated silently.

Willow awoke with a start from nightmares that this time involved all three vampires.  Before she could even begin to straighten it all out in her head, she sensed she wasn't alone.

"Leave me alone, Angelus," she said softly, her sleepy voice coming across as a whimper.

"Sorry to disappoint you, Willow, but it's only Spike...not your beloved Angelus," he said coldly, getting to his feet.

"Spike?"

"'Fraid so, Pet," he replied, already opening the door to leave.

Willow sat up and focused her vision on the figure by the door.  This was the first time they'd been alone since she'd been brought to the house.  There was so much she wanted to say, not to mention a strong desire to pummel him until he begged for her forgiveness, but at that moment the thing she wanted the most was answers.  She tried to center her thoughts, knowing that she had to get through to the part of Spike that she knew so well.  They'd spent too many years together, building their unusual friendship one step at a time, for him to act as if she were nothing to him.

"Did you ever care about me?" Willow asked in a child-like voice that she instantly regretted.  Nevertheless, it did have the desired effect, stopping the demon in the open doorway.  "I mean, even as a friend?  Lovers aside, a friend wouldn't do this.  I wouldn't have done this to you...no matter what."

Keeping his back to the redhead, Spike didn't move for a moment.  Willow thought she'd gotten through to him, but all too soon he resumed closing the door behind him.

"Don't I even deserve an answer?" she demanded more strongly this time as she slid out of bed.  "Am I so insignificant now that you can't even bear to speak to me?"

Finally turning around, he regarded the woman approaching him skeptically.  "What do you want me to say?"

"I--I just want to know why."

Spike threw his head back and laughed.  The coldness to the sound left Willow feeling chilled to the bone.

"Why?  You practically gave me your bloody permission, Pet!  Don't you remember?  Something about doing anything for me...wanting me to be happy...whatever it took to get Drusilla for me," he taunted, once again impersonating her.  "Sound familiar?"

Willow blanched and shook her head in denial.  "No...don't even try and turn this around on me..."

Furrowing his brow, Spike continued his hurtful speech.  "But you said we were friends, and you'd do anything for a friend, right?  Let's see...you came on this magical mystery tour to help your little chum Xapper, and you stayed because you were worried about Slutty the Vampire Slayer.  So, what did you do for me...your bestest pal who has known you longer than they have put together?  You gave your future and eventually your life for my happiness.  That's the mark of a true bloody friend, isn't it?" he said through a sentimental smile.  "The willingness to sacrifice yourself in the name of friendship?"  The sappy grin quickly changed to a lewd snicker.  "If I'd known in the beginning that all it would take was a little bit of the old 'how's your father?' to get you to willingly trade places with Drusilla as far as Angelus is concerned, then I would have done it ages earlier."

Willow couldn't speak as the tears flowed freely down her face.  All she could do was shake her head in denial.  She tried telling herself that while he was saying all of these horrible things on purpose just to hurt her, that he didn't really mean them--just like that time in the park after his first betrayal--but it didn't feel that way this time.  His contempt for her right now was almost palpable.

"Oh...did I forget to say thank you?" he asked, suddenly looking concerned.  "Well, don't think I don't appreciate it, Pet, because I do."  Spike reached out to stroke her cheek, but Willow jerked her head away, pulling another cruel grin from the vampire.

"Drusilla's here, and as we speak, she's becoming one of us.  So you better get ready...for the ritual...for Angelus.  Oh, and don't forget to make yourself look pretty for him...*again*."

Spike turned to exit through the open door, but Willow refused to believe it was really happening.

"Spike...please...tell me this is a joke.  I'll laugh, I promise!" she said, trying to sound cheerful but instead sounding as desperate as she felt.  "Y-you know what he's going to do to me...everything Angelus has in store for me.  How can you--"

"Yes, I do know," Spike informed her, not giving her the chance to finish her questions.  "I'm only sorry I can't help him, Rose."

Willow sunk to the floor as the resounding 'thud' of the door closing behind him reverberated through her very soul.

In the hallway, Spike almost bumped into Angelus who was walking out of his own room a few doors down.  He saw the unspoken question in Angelus's eyes, wondering why he'd been in Willow's room.  Before his sire could speak, the blonde vampire motioned to Willow's door with a jerk of his head.  "Just getting her warmed up for you, mate.  Although, I don't think I'll ever be a match for you when it comes to this mental torment malarkey, it does have its own special charm.  Still, I think I'll stick to nasty sharp implements of torture from now on and leave the more cerebral fun to you," he offered hastily.

Angelus physically relaxed a little but his possessive look didn't wane a bit.  "From what I can tell, ya've been doin' just fine on yer own, Spike.  Luckily, in only a few minutes, you'll no longer need to be worryin' yerself with such matters."

At that moment, William exited Angelus's room with a no-longer-breathing Drusilla in his arms.  Spike was at her side, the previous conversation already forgotten about.

"Take her downstairs," Angelus directed them after watching Spike fawn over the dark-haired vampiress for a brief time.  "I'll go get me Rose."

Spike nodded an absent-minded acceptance of the directions before escorting William and his destined love down the corridor.
~~~~~~~
End Chapter 34
 

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