NOTES/DISCLAIMERS:   See Part One.

THANKS:  To Melissa for stepping up to the beta-ing plate on this one. Also for the backwards uninvited spell.

DEDICATION:  For Jonquil...she knows why...

SUMMARY:  After the 'My Will be Done' incident, Willow tries to make it up to her friends by taking over Spike-sitting duties for a while.  Spike sees this as an opportunity for escape but gets more than he bargained for.  Warning:  Despite the title, this is NOT going to be a warm, fuzzy fic.

NOTE:  Don't look for plot holes in this story because you might stumble and hurt yourself.  When I started this fic (a long time ago) it was supposed to be a 'fun' writing exercise, something to turn to when I needed a break from the difficulties inherent in the intricate plots of "Take Your Time" and "It's About Time".  As much as this story might need it, I'm not going to spend my time covering all the plot bases like I try to do in my other stories.  In Cookie Cutters I make many great leaps in logic (for example, would Giles and Gang really leave Willow alone to watch Spike for Xmas vacation?  Doubtful!) and ask that you suspend disbelief now and then.  If you can do it for Joss, maybe you can do it for me, too?!  Otherwise, I may never be able to finish it...Thanks :)
 

COOKIE CUTTERS
~ 4 ~
 

Well, Christmas came very quickly for ol' Spike.  Apparently, the witch hadn't consulted Father Christmas about whether I'd been naughty or nice, because the next day, I woke to find a pile of presents sitting on the toilet.  I blinked a time or two just to make sure that the mound of boxes covered in obnoxiously festive wrapping paper, perched carefully on the toilet seat wasn't some sick mirage.  Hey, if it can happen to people dying for water in the desert, then it could happen to a vampire craving blood in a watcher's tub.

So I blinked and craned my neck this way and that to get a better look.  It's when I saw the light reflected on the perfectly tied golden bows, making them glisten against the snowy white porcelain that I knew they were real.  No self-respecting mirage would dare look so bloody Norman Rockwell-like.

God how I wanted to laugh out loud, but I settled for a toothy grin instead.  The stupid cow actually thought she could buy my good behavior?  Sod all chance of that!

But she didn't need to know that yet.  Besides, I was dying--figuratively speaking, of course--of curiosity, sitting there, staring at the gifts.  What, exactly, would one red-headed, might-as-well-be-a-virgin witch buy a vampire that was chained up in a tub, anyway?

Loofah?  Tube of caulk?  Or if I'm really lucky, one of those hats that holds a beer can beer on each side and has a feeding tube attached?  Or in my case, a pint of blood on each side?

Actually, I could probably use one of those...

Anyway, the possibilities were endless...endlessly annoying, that is, and my foolish little benefactor was nowhere in sight.

"Witch."

"Witch!" I repeated more loudly when no little girl appeared.

"Red!"

Still no sign of the stubborn little thing, but at least now I could hear someone in the other room.

It wasn't until I angrily bellowed, "Willow!" at the top of my lungs--but without a hint of desperation in my voice I might add--that she bothered to appear, the bitch.  My voice was still echoing through the tiny flat when, like magic, there she was, standing in the doorway.  My very own personal Father Christmas...if he were a redheaded witch with complete bastards for friends.

"Afternoon, Spike!"

Damn she was chipper.  The way she was grinning madly as she glanced between me and the presents made me want a sip of her blood, just to see if she was on something.  I could have used a bit of a pick-me-up around then.

"What are those?" I demanded, jerking my head in the general direction of packages.

"They're exactly what they look like.  Christmas presents."  She frowned as she picked up one of the smaller boxes, fingering the curly gold ribbons.  "I would have brought in a tree, too, but I didn't think it would fit."  She bit her lip and for a moment I thought the chit was going to cry.  But then she tossed the little wrapped box back on the pile with a laugh.  "Anyway, Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Joyeux Noel, Froehliche Weihnachten, Mele Kalikimaka, er--"

"Um, why?" I asked, interrupting her irritating United Nations Xmas roll call.  "I admit I'm not quite up on the whole Christmas gig, but from what I can recall, gifts are usually given to people you actually *like*...or at least to people who don't want to rip your throat out and drink your blood.  And they're usually given at Christmas time, aren't they?  They way I look at it, you're 'bout a week early, witch."

Willow glowered at me, which wasn't quite the reaction I was expecting.  "Quit trying to ruin all my fun, Spike," she pouted.  "I just happen to like wrapping things, but if you don't want them..."

Want them?  Not really.  Curious about them enough to want to rip them open with my teeth?  Damn straight.

"But I didn't get anything for you," I replied coolly.  Like a slow, lingering death followed by a long, blissfully painful unlife.

She leaned over me, so close that I could see the tiny freckles on the bridge of her nose and all I could smell was...sandalwood?  Strange, that.  I always expected her to be more the vanilla-type.

Her eyes flicked between my chained hands and feet, then back to my eyes.  "Haven't you?" she asked softly.

I must have looked confused, because all the sudden she was smiling again. She stood up straight, saying merrily, "Don't worry, Spike.  I'm Jewish.  And I'm Wiccan.  Either way, no Christmas presents required."

I leered at her.  "Suppose that means you aren't going to sit on my lap and tell me what you'd like in your stocking?" Oh yeah...I was flirting, but it's to be expected.  Bloody hell...the wench was goading me into it, actually!  I didn't know what game she thought she was playing, but I'd played them all before.  Not only did I plan to win, I wasn't even going to be a good enough sport to tell her the rules.  My grin widened and then I winked at the chit, thinking that'd really send her into a pink-cheeked tizzy.

Bloody hell was I wrong.  The smile she gave me in return knocked me for six.  Crikey, I didn't even know Red could smile like that.  It was almost sensual...sexy.  Bloody hell, it *was* a sexy smile, and it had been so long since a woman, any woman, had looked at me like that that I could feel my body begin to react.

As if sitting chained in the loo isn't bad enough, now I was getting a damn hard-on to go with it.  I had to quit staring at that mouth of hers, the moist lips, the hint of pink tongue.... Damn.  I looked back at the pile of presents, hopefully looking disgusted with the whole thing, and shifted a bit until I had the, er, situation under control.

"So, do you want your presents or not?" she asked. If the bint'd noticed my painful state, she didn't let it show.

I lifted my hands as far as the chains would allow.  "How'm I going to unwrap 'em?"  I tried again by giving her my naughtiest grin, the one that always made Dru go all damp on me.  "Want me to use my tongue, luv?"

I must really be losing my touch because not only didn't she giggle like a virgin schoolgirl, she didn't even blush.  Instead she arched one of those stubborn brows of hers, saying, "While I'm sure that would be very...enlightening, vampire, I thought it might be better if you use your hands."

There was that smile of hers again.  I tried to match it.  "You going to uncuff me then, Red?"

She shrugged, all coquettish like.  "Only if you say the magick word."

Way to ruin the mood, Witch, since there was fat bloody chance of that happening.  "Abracadabra?" I smirked.

"Suit yourself," she said with a shrug, then silently gathered up the packages and headed for the door.  "I just thought you might be hungry, that's all," she tossed back at me over her shoulder, before disappearing, leaving me alone with the tiles again.

Bollocks!

I'm going to skip ahead a bit now.  This story's bad enough without you having to read how I actually lowered myself to say the bloody 'P' word.  Remember, I wanted to be free, and like some long-dead pillock once said: 'Drastic times call for drastic measures,' right?

You're probably wondering what this is all leading up to.  You can bet Tiny Tim's crutches that I was...so let's jump ahead just a few minutes, past all the grovelly, embarrassing bits.  Now, you're going to have to pay attention, because this is when things started to get, well...pretty bloody strange.

Thanks to the marvels of modern witchcraft, less than an hour later I was standing in the middle of the watcher's lounge, unshackled, not bound in any way and without the threat of a Holy water gun pointed at my bits and pieces.  I don't understand how she did it, but I tested the damn thing and it actually worked!  Somehow the witch had reversed the 'uninvited spell'.  Instead of not being able to enter the flat, I couldn't bloody leave, could I?  She'd disinvited me to the whole damned world!!  I still don't know how she did it, but it worked.  Figures that her spells choose now to start working, eh?

So I was free to roam the watcher's place.  You think I'd be grateful just for the chance to leave the loo, wouldn't you?

But it gets so much bloody worse.

The presents.  Crikey, had I been off the mark.  They were full of clothes.  Not blood, not sharp implements of torture, not even a cushion to soften up the hard porcelain a bit.  Just clothes...really poncey ones, too.

"What is all that?" I growled, eyeing the odd items she was holding up to me.  It was driving me stark raving loony not being able to figure out what the little witch was really up to.

"Well, I know you want to go out, and I figured since you can't hurt anyone, there's no harm in letting you free for a few hours each night.  But we don't want those scary soldier guys to track you, so I figure we have to raise your body temperature, right?  That's how they found you last time, I think.  By your body temperature."

I grunted.  It was the only thing that seemed suitable at the time.

"So, we have electric socks to keep your tootsies warm, microwavable thermal long-johns, as used by the most recent expedition to Everest.  I also have those microwavable scarves and gloves - in black," she proudly told me as she held up each item for my inspection.  "Straight off the Home Shopping Network.  Then there's a black turtle neck and a wool coat..."

The coat was the worst of the lot.  It was brown.  And it was plaid.  And some how it managed to clash with the tan-and-black checkered trousers she'd shown me earlier.

"Tell me you're bloody joking, you stupid cow," I growled, making her wince.  "If I went out wearing this getup, I'd be a laughing stock!  I'd look like a cross between your twit of a watcher, Bozo the bloody clown and Steven Seagal after he let himself go!"

"Fine, don't go out!" she huffed, shoving the hideous garments back into various boxes and bags.  "Stay inside then.  It's probably for the best anyway since Giles and the rest will be back in a couple of weeks.  I'd hate for you to get used to freedom when they'd most likely just chain you back up in the tub anyway.  Why put yourself through that kind of torture?"
 
I kicked at all the boxes, sending the clothes flying about again.  "There has to be another way for me to go out at night and still be safe from the goon squad!"

Her eyes widened, then she frantically looked away.  "Well, um...not *really*..." she said, licking her lips as she began to pick the clothes up yet again.

Not really?  I stopped my angry pacing and scowled at her.  She looked nervous.  She was trying to hide something and making a piss-poor job of it, as usual.

"Not really?" I repeated, my curiosity getting the better of me.  I stepped on the black turtleneck sweater as she tried to pick it up. Slowly, she looked up at me.  "Spill it, Witch," I snarled, squatting down to her green-eyed level.

"There, um, is something else that *may* work," she hedged, unable to look me in the eye.  She swallowed hard, and let go of the shirt to stand up and turn away.  "There's something I might be able to do that would allow you to wear your own wardrobe and pretty much go anywhere that you want, but it does have certain...limitations..."

While I couldn't see her face, I didn't need to.  Her voice trembled.  I could hear her reluctance, her unease, her...fear?  Disappointment?  It only made me want to try this other way more.  "I'll do it."

She glanced at me cautiously over her shoulder then slowly shifted back around.  "B-but don't you want to hear about the limitations?" she asked, her voice twittering and her eyes glancing nervously about the room.

I moved towards the little redhead, loving the way she backed away from me, her breath growing more ragged with each step.  "If it keeps me out of the tub, better yet out of this flat, I'm all for it," I growled rather menacingly as I backed her up against the tele.

Her brow wrinkled and she bit her bottom lip, as if she were weighing something in her over-active brain.  "I don't know," she said.  "I think you should stick with the microwavable clothes...much safer..."

"And since when have I given a toss about safe?  I'm a vampire, unsafe by design."

"Oh, yeah, um, no 'Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval' on you," she said, attempting to smile, but if you ask me, it looked more like a nervous twitch.

Still, she earned a chuckle.  Sure, didn't know what the hell she was going on about, but it still struck me as funny.

She stared at me, licking her lips, then suddenly shook her head and ducked away.  Grabbing the socks and scarf as she went, she skittered into the kitchen.  "I, er, really think that the wardrobe change is the best way to go," she called from the other room.

I heard the sound of the microwave door slamming shut and the buttons being pushed. I thought for a moment, trying to figure out what the little chit was up to.  I had no doubt whatsoever that she had ulterior motives for getting me to wear that hideous costume.  Even she didn't have that bad of taste, but it was plainly obvious that she really wanted me to wear the clothes.  She probably couldn't wait to take my picture.  That way the whole damned Scabby Gang could get a good laugh at my expense.

There was no bloody way I was going to let that happen.  I'd already supplied that lot with enough giggles for one lifetime.

The girl was taking a steaming scarf out of the microwave when I came up behind her and slammed the glass door shut, causing her to jump.  Startled, she spun around, surprised to find me so close, no doubt.  But she didn't give up easily.  With a timid smile, she actually reached up to wrap the heated scarf around my neck, but instead I grabbed her by her delicate little wrists and yanked her closer.  "Plan B, Red.  Now!" I hissed in her ear, then let her go.  She dropped the scarf like it was on fire and stumbled as far out of my reach as she could get in the tiny kitchen.  She clung to the front of the sink with a white-knuckled grip as she tried to calm herself.

Oh yeah...I've still got it.

But I couldn't gloat for long because now she was scared of me and that wouldn't do.  Damn!  I wanted to be free, and freedom meant earning the chit's trust.  Shouldn't be hard, considering how damned innocent she was.  And even if it meant saying the 'S' word, I'd do it.  Crikey, I'd already lowered myself to say the 'P' word, what's one more nauseating nicety if it meant being free?

"Sorry, Willow," I said with something that so closely resembled sincerity that I almost fooled myself.  I ran with it.  "I haven't got much, Red, but I do have some bloody pride left, in spite of what those grunts did to me.  I still have a reputation to keep up around this hellhole."  I paused then, as if barely able to go on...as if the words were too painful to say.  "If I wear those clothes...bloody hell, pet, I might as well stake myself," I finally managed, lowering my chin and letting my gaze drop pitifully to the floor.

"I, um, er, well...are you sure?" she stammered awkwardly, and I could hear the sympathy in her voice.  Damn I'm good.

She continued.  "I can understand your wanting to, er, be yourself and everything, but...it's only clothes.  I'm sure no one will laugh at you...at least not more than once, right?" she joked with a weak smile.

I said it again, but it was damn hard.  "*Please* tell me about this other plan, Willow."

Tucking a lock of misbehaving hair behind her ear, she reluctantly said, "It-it involves a spell..."

I groaned.  Can you blame me?  What's the chance of the stupid cow managing to cast two spells in a row without one of us turning into some sort of water fowl?

"A pretty simple spell, actually," she went on to say.

"Can you do it?" I sighed.

She nodded bravely.

I ran my fingers through my hair when what I really wanted to do was yank it out by the roots in frustration.  I looked again at the clothes, especially the tweed monstrosity that was supposed to top off the whole ensemble--to make me less conspicuous, she'd claimed--and that was all it took to convince me.  I may be chipped but that doesn't mean I have to turn into a complete nancy-boy.  That was Angel's alter-ego, not mine.

I took one of those unneeded deep breaths that we vampires are so known for, and said, "In for a penny, in for a pound, right?  Do it, Witch."

At the time, they didn't sound like words of doom. But if I had known then what I know now...well, let's just say things would be different...

******

Ten minutes later, I was sitting on a chair in front of the tele, drinking a mug of that special human blood that Willow'd managed to find and pretending to watch an infomercial for 'hair in a can' while I waited for the next step.  All of the offending garments were safely tucked away out of my sight somewhere--think the little chit was afraid I'd rip them to shreds so she couldn't get her money back--and she'd already filled me in on the details of the spell.  According to the little witch, it would allow my vital signs to mimic hers.  A type of camouflage, she'd said.  Like a lizard, but without the actual color-changing, she'd assured me.  I admit I didn't really understand what she was going on about, but when she said it would hide me from any sort of heat or heartbeat detection equipment, I was sold.

I could hear the witch moving about the apartment, no doubt gathering her eye of newt and hair-of-the-dog-that-no-longer-bit-her for the spell.  I was just about to go see what she was up to when she strolled up to me with something in her hand.  She kneeled at my feet, practically between my legs, and grabbed my wrist before I could think of anything appropriately dirty to say about her position.

"What's this?" I asked as she slid something cool over my hand.

"I brought an old medical alert ID bracelet of my father's for you.  It was the least objectionable piece of jewelry I could find.  The spell requires a band of metal to be in constant contact with one of your pulse points, so I think this is the best way."  She lifted her own wrist, showing me a delicate silver chain with an ebony heart-shaped stone embedded in the center of it.  "I have to wear one, too.  They'll be linked."  I guess the girl noticed the skeptical look on my face because she babbled on, "Don't worry, this is a very simple spell...promise I won't accidentally 'Freaky Friday' us and switch our personalities."  I was unconvinced, and she was perceptive.  "And no, you won't find yourself picking out china patterns with anyone either.  Promise," she finished with a slight blush.

Relieved that I wouldn't be waking up to find myself in love with the chit, or anyone else for that matter, I relaxed a bit.  I fingered the frail-looking chain that imprisoned my wrist. "So, what's my problem?" I asked, flipping over the silver circle with the red medical emblem.

The redhead shrugged.  "You're anemic," she said, then bit her lip, apparently to keep from laughing.  So I smirked for us both at that little bit of irony.

"Now what?" I asked as she scanned some old text.

She didn't look up from the book.  "First I need to strengthen your bracelet.  We wouldn't want it to break, um, accidentally or anything."

"Accidentally.  Riiight."  Before I could comment further, she mumbled a few archaic words while running a single, slim finger along the bracelet.  I didn't really expect anything to happen, considering her track record.  Actually, she looked as surprised as I did when both bracelets began to glow.  It was like the bracelets were on fire but without the heat.  After a moment, the light faded and I was able to inspect my new bauble more closely.

The silver links didn't look any different, but then I noticed the catch was fused closed.  Melted, more like.  I tugged gingerly on the links, and they held.   I yanked harder, then gave it all I had, but the chain remained intact and tight about my wrist.  I couldn't even slip it over my hand.  That little trinket wasn't going anywhere.

"That it?" I asked hopefully.

Now she was at the table, leaning over a small bowl while she mixed various smelly powders and things together.  "Not yet," she replied.  "Still have to create the bond between the two bracelets."  She looked over at me, her green eyes begging me to change my mind.  "Are-are you sure about this?"

"Dead-certain, pet," I countered, and she went back to work. Figuring it was best to let her concentrate, else I end up swapping spit with the watcher or worse when the spell was complete, I sat back and had a smoke...or two...

Soon I was standing in the middle of a circle she'd made on the floor out of dried bat ears, or something equally smelly.  She told me to close my eyes.

"When the spell's complete, there might be a flash strong enough to burn your retinas," she informed me.  "I'd hate to mar your eyes..."

Likes my eyes, does she?  I smirked and saved that interesting tidbit for later.  As soon as my eyes were shut, I heard her begin to mumble something close behind me.

She wasn't kidding about the flash.  Even with my eyes closed the damn light was so bright I saw spots.  "That it?"

"That's it, Spike," Willow chirped cheerfully.  I turned to see her stepping out of the circle.

As much as I wanted to make a run for the door and get as far away from the watcher's flat as I could and never come back, there was still the little matter of the witch's reversed uninvited spell.

"What about the door?" I asked.

"As long as we're both wearing our bracelets, you can come and go as you please."

I was free!  Bloody fucking hell, I was free!  "It's about bloody time."  I grabbed my duster and headed for the door.

I'd already taken one step outside when I heard her ask, "So, where are *we* going, Spike?"

I turned to look at her.  She was actually smirking at me as she slipped into her coat.

"We?" I laughed at her blatant stupidity.  "Sorry, Red.  There's no 'we'.  Just *me* leaving and eventually *you* realizing how daft and gullible you are!" I laughed cruelly as I turned to leave again.  As much as I wanted to see her face crumble with the realization that she'd been used, again, I couldn't wait to slip away into the night.

I'd only taken one more step when I heard her laughing.  Curious, I had to turn to see what she found so damned amusing.

Willow was leaning in the doorway, arms crossed about her chest, giggling at me.  "Um, Spike...I don't think you want to do that," she said with a raised brow.  "I'm afraid you're stuck with me."

"What?"

"You have to stay within a few meters of me at all times," she said matter of factly.  "It's a requirement of the spell."

"Tell me you're bloody joking, Witch."

She shook her head with purpose.  "Nope.  You can go anywhere you want, Vampire, just as I promised."  She shrugged as if this sort of thing happened every day.  "As long as I go with you," she added.

I admit it.  I was stunned speechless for a moment.  It was the damn grin on her face that snapped me out of it.  It wasn't sexy this time.  It was pure, jubilant pride.

"You planned this, didn't you?" I spat accusingly.  "This was your bloody plan all along, wasn't it?"  I stormed up to her, snarling, growling, the whole ferocious demon killer bit, but she didn't even flinch.  She knew I couldn't hurt her, and she wasn't scared of me.  Not even a trembling lip!  Just that same triumphant grin.

She'd set me up.  The little bitch of a witch had set me up.  The ugly clothes, her nervousness about the spell, everything!  It had all been an act and I'd actually been stupid enough to fall for it.

"You'll pay for this, Witch," I promised her.

"Really?" She actually had the balls to sneer at me.  "How?"

"I'll--"  I stopped, struck with a thought.  She was bluffing...had to be...

"Nice try, wannabe-witch," I chuckled, shaking my head woefully.  "We both know the chances of you pulling off that kind of spell are about as likely as Angel developing a personality."

She shrugged, her huge grin fading to a half-smile.  "Suit yourself," she said.  Then she turned around and walked back inside, leaving the door wide open.  She grabbed a magazine, sat down on the chair that she'd once tied me to, and started flipping through it, all casual-like.

Calling the bint's bluff, I turned and stalked away, ready to disappear into the dark of night.  Unfortunately, I'd only gotten about two steps before I noticed how warm the ID bracelet was becoming.  With another step, the warmth turned to heat, then the heat turned to pain and soon the pain became unbearable...and not in a fun way.  Cursing at the top of my lungs by now, I blew on the bloody thing, tugged at it, pulled on it, even tore at it with my teeth, but it wouldn't budge nor did it lessen the excruciating pain.  Hoping that the spell had some sort of proximity limitation, I made a run for it...ran as far as I could as fast as I could, but I didn't get far before I was on my knees, tears of agonizing pain daring to trickle down my dead cheeks.  I was defeated...by pain...yet again.  Stumbling to my feet, I eventually made my way back to the flat.  I stopped outside the door, just close enough for the pain to be bearable so I could pull myself together.  I wouldn't give the bitch the satisfaction of seeing my like this.  And she was still sitting there, as calm as could be, reading some bloody magazine.  Obviously, the pain wasn't reciprocal.

If I could have killed her with my eyes, I would have, but just thinking about it was making my head ache as well.  Slowly I marched back inside, the agony continuing to fade with each compliant step.  She looked up only when I stopped directly in front of her to stare down into her merciless, victorious face.

"You're a bloody bitch, Witch!"

Her grin only widened.  "Thank you, Vampire."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
End Chapter 4 (archived 2/28/2002 -- my birthday ;-)  )

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