|Primary Characters:||Angel, Willow, Spike, Ms Callender, Drusilla|
|Warning:||m/m sex, non-con sex, violence|
|Description:||Spike captures Angel and gives Buffy an ultimatum. If she doesn’t show up before a certain deadline, Angel will be killed. Willow is the one who has to save her lover. But what connection does Spike have with Angel?|
Willow was on her way over to Xander’s house. Even though she and her old friend had been lovers for about two months now, it felt strange and new to be dating him. After all, this was the Xander she had known since kindergarten. As always, she looked over her shoulder, wondering, hoping, that her other lover – Angel – would show up this time.
Though she tried hard not to feel jealous she knew there would always be a special place in the vampire’s heart for Buffy. And Buffy was her friend, so she shouldn’t feel this way. Why did Angel have to love the very person who could cause him the worst harm? For a vampire to love the Slayer was total insanity.
Willow was beginning to think that it had been fate at work. When Angel had decided to try to forget Buffy in Xander’s arms, it had seemed too good to be true, at least when she had been invited to share that embrace. But each time she went over to Xander’s house, she feared the day would come when Angel wouldn’t be there. One day he would succumb to his fatal attraction for the Slayer and leave her and Xander without saying goodbye.
Tonight, though, her fears were laid to rest. There it was, a darker shadow coming out of the darkness beside the house. Silently the vampire approached the front steps of the house. Willow couldn’t help smiling. And she was rewarded. A sad smile moved the pale features for barely a second. If she was lucky, he would squeeze her hand for just a moment.
Angel was like the wind. One second he was by your side, strong and reassuring, the next it was as if he’d never been there at all. This time, Willow got lucky. Angel seemed to be in a good mood, as far as his moods went. He even put his arm around her shoulders briefly. Willow’s heart made a little somersault in her chest. She had secretly loved Xander for years, but there was something about the vampire that cut right to her very soul.
Why was she questioning her luck? Willow wasn’t stupid. She knew that this bliss couldn’t last forever. The day would come, when Angel had to move on. If not sooner, then later, when she was growing old and feeble. Maybe Angel would stay by her side until her death, but for him that would only be a fraction of the time he could call his life. But Willow knew he would be gone long before that day. She would just take what she was being offered and leave it at that.
Without any more delays, she rang the doorbell. No answer. Again, and finally they heard the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs and into the hallway. The light was turned on, and the door swung open, revealing mrs Harris, looking slightly perplexed.
“Oh, Willow, dear. Xander isn’t home. Angel. Hello.”
Her voice trailed off uncertainly when she caught sight of the pale young man. As always, she sounded somewhat hesitant at the mention of that name. There was something about him that didn’t seem quite right. She had no idea what it was. He was always friendly, polite, and smiled sweetly, every time she met him. But still –
Something about him sent a chill down her spine. She couldn’t quite figure out what it was. Not the eyes, despite the sadness she could see reflected in them. Not the smile. But something. Trying not to let her discomfort show, she hesitantly returned the smile.
Willow’s eyes assumed their normal expression, one of perpetual melancholy, and she sneaked a look at Angel out of the corner of her eye.
“That’s funny. We were supposed to meet him here.”
“Really? He didn’t mention anything about that. I think he said something about going to the Bronze.”
“Maybe it’s just a misunderstanding. We’ll see him there then. Bye, mrs Harris.”
“Bye, dear. Angel.”
“Bye, mrs Harris.”
The total lack of cordiality in her voice didn’t seem to get through to the vampire, or maybe he took it for granted that mortals would shun him. All except for Willow and a few others.
Willow began chattering nervously to cover her disappointment, hardly expecting Angel to reply. He never did. And tonight wasn’t any different. She got the impression his mind was dwelling on something, maybe the fact that Xander had forgotten about their date.
The Bronze was the same as always. Willow often thought the level of noise in there made it difficult to hear her own thoughts. Buffy and Giles had a stakeout over at the cemetary, but since nothing serious was up, Xander’s and Willow’s assistance hadn’t been needed. Angel trailed behind her as if she was the big strong vampire, paving the way. Most of the time he was content to follow the lead of his mortal friends.
Looking around for Xander, Willow managed to grab a table with two chairs, close to the exit, but in a spot that commanded an excellent view over the crowded dancefloor. At first she couldn’t see Xander anywhere. She was wondering if maybe mrs Harris had got the part about his going to the Bronze wrong. Then she noticed someone else she knew, and winced inwardly. Cordelia.
Though she always tried to pretend not to be hurt by the barbed comments the brainless girl kept throwing her way, in reality the treatment was wearing her down. Willow was about to look away in disgust when she realized who it was Cordelia was dancing with so very closely. Cordelia’s behavior wasn’t at all unusual, but her dance partner was. Xander. And for the first time in the year or so she had known Angel there was a small sound of distress from close by.
When she turned and faced her immortal lover, she knew the look on his face mirrored her own. For just the briefest of moments his features showed emotion, then once again his face closed and turned into the expressionless mask he normally presented to the world.
Any second now, he would turn and leave, as silently as he always did, Willow just knew it. And when he did, she would be back to being the lonely, insignificant girl she had been before she walked in and found Xander and Angel in bed together just over two months earlier. But she was wrong. He didn’t walk away. Instead, he took her hand, and pulled her up onto the dance floor.
It was the most spectacular dance Willow had ever danced. She had never thought she would act like Cordelia and girls of that type. But here she was, performing some kind of show. It didn’t take the other kids long to notice the couple who were acting out all that teenage lust on the floor. But as usual, Xander and Cordelia didn’t pay attention to anything but themselves.
Willow could feel all of Angel’s hard body pressed against her own, and found herself responding to his proximity, with a sort of breathless desperation. Her small hands buried themselves in his hair and held on, as if someone completely different had taken possession of her and turned her into a creature of violent passion.
When Angel’s sharp teeth nicked her lower lip, she didn’t flinch at the tiny pain. His eyes met hers, and the intensity of his need for her washed over her like a tidal wave. She wrapped her body around his and followed his every move. How long that upright love making lasted, she had no idea afterwards. What broke the spell was Angel’s whispered words close to her ear.
And she heard herself replying, without a trace of hesitation.
“I thought you’d never ask. What are we waiting for? Who needs Xander?”
“You’re reading my mind.”
She hardly remembered how they made their way to Angel’s home. Next thing she knew they were on his bed in a bare, unfurnished room under a single sharp light. Her clothes had vanished almost instantly, and Angel’s too. It was some time before she was aware of anything but the feeling of Angel’s cool skin against hers, and his cold hard lips pressing into her mouth. Eventually, her heartbeats returned to normal and her thoughts were once again the normal Willow’s.
Still, they lay closely entwined, not wanting to let go. She knew that part of this explosion of desire had sprung from a need to blot out the sight of Xander in Cordelia’s arms. But she liked to think that some of it belonged to her and Angel alone. And for about the dozenth time she tried to talk to her lover. Although she was willing to take the relationship for what it was, the union of two lonely people, she couldn’t help being curious about Angel’s past.
“I know you don’t want to remember your past, but couldn’t you tell me a little about what your life was like before -?”
“Why not? Remembering won’t change anything, but if you really want to know, I suppose there’s no harm in it. What would you like me to tell you?”
“About you. About the boy you were before this Darla – I suppose her name wasn’t really Darla back then, but anyway -“
“No. She went by a different name then, and I did too. Alright. My family was quite poor and I didn’t go to school for very long. I had four younger brothers, and every penny I could make was needed to help my family. My father got me a job at a trader’s house. I would run errands, help out in the office, or the stables. It didn’t pay much to begin with. Then the manager began to single me out for special attention. I was so young and stupid, I actually thought he saw something in me, something to do with my ability to do the work. You know what they called me, once I became a vampire?”
“Ironic, isn’t it? They were referring to my face. And that’s what the manager saw in me. Nothing more. But like I said, we needed the money, so how could I tell him to leave me alone?”
“Angel, did he – rape – you?”
Angel’s laughter was brittle and completely humorless. Willow was beginning to think that these reminiscences weren’t a good idea. But before she had time to finish that thought, Angel went on with his story.
“Yes, I think that’s what it would be called today. He probably thought he did me a favor. The money, I mean. Eventually I got a new job at a finer house in the city. That’s where I met all the aristocrats. Not that they were any different. Except for one thing. There would be women willing to pay for my favors. As you can imagine, I liked that better.”
“Didn’t you ever have a girlfriend?”
There was such a long pause, Willow was beginning to think she had made a mistake, asking that particular question. Angel seemed to withdraw into himself more than usual, and Willow cursed herself for her inquisitiveness. But he seemed to have decided to tell it all. And part of her was grateful. She knew he would never be able to tell Xander all this.
“Yes. I did. Lydia. She was part gipsy, I think, or Jewish. Her hair was as black as a raven’s wing, and she was tall and strong, even though you wouldn’t think so to look at her. When I met her, I was happy for the first time in my life. We were going to be married, as soon as I could make enough money to get us some sort of home. If only I had swallowed my pride and asked my mother if we could move in with her and the boys. But I just had to get something better for Lydia. And so I met Darla. That’s not what she was called, of course.”
“You couldn’t have known what she was like.”
“That’s true, I suppose. I had heard about vampires of course, but I always thought they were a superstition. The sort of talk that peasants would amuse their children with in the evenings. Darla was the mistress of a notorious nobleman. Some people said he was in league with the devil. Others that he was part demon himself. That was probably the truth. Darla flattered me, and I was foolish enough to think that for once she was impressed with me, not just the way I looked. Before I met her, there were times I was tempted to disfigure my face. My younger brothers found work in bakeries and inns. So why did I have to do what I did?”
“How does it work, really, becoming a vampire?”
“Of course, to begin with, Darla fed on me. I wasn’t sure what to make of that, and in the end, I was frightened out of my mind. But she promised me she would show me a new and wonderful way of life, and I wanted to believe her. Then she gave me some of her blood. After that, I wasn’t me anymore.”
“I never knew that.”
“And I went back to meet Lydia in our special meeting place, where she was waiting for me. But I didn’t come. Angelus did.”
By now, Angel was shaking all over, as if he was crying. Willow feebly reached out for him, and held him. But she might as well not have been there at all. It was as if he didn’t notice her presence.
“Please, don’t cry, Angel. I’m sorry I asked you all these questions.”
“I’m not crying. Didn’t you know? Vampires don’t cry. And that’s what I am, even if I wear this face for you. The face I wore to catch all my victims back then.”
“But you’re not like that anymore. You have to remember that.”
“But I am. All this time, since I got my soul back, it’s just my conscience that’s keeping me from doing the same thing over and over again. Right now, with you so close to me, I have to use all my willpower not to feed on you.”
“You don’t mean that, Angel.”
Again there was a long pause, and Willow was beginning to feel uneasy.
“No. I don’t mean that. After a time, I got used to living like this. And my need for revenge keeps me going. But can you imagine what it’s like to go on, remembering the things I did? Not just to strangers, but to my own mother, and my younger brothers too. And when they were dead, I went to find my best friend, and his wife and two little children. I fed on them, but not only that, I played with them, like a cat with a mouse. Their fear nourished me, just like their blood. This is me, this is the Angel that you love.”
Willow took a long hard look at Angel and thought about the things he had told her. But nothing could make her stop loving him. She had seen his real face, and even then she loved him. As she had from the first time she had laid eyes on him. Back when Buffy was in love with him, back when Angel loved Buffy. Buffy who was her best friend.
“Yes, you’re right. I love you. And don’t you see that by killing Darla, you killed the person who killed Lydia and your family and friends? Remember that. She killed you, so she’s the one who indirectly killed the rest of those people.”
“You’re the angel, not me. I’m a monster. Willow, Lydia was carrying our child. I killed my own child. God forgive me. And now there will never be another one. Vampires don’t father children either, in case you didn’t know that.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Maybe you’re right. Maybe by killing Darla, I began to atone for what I did. But it’s no real comfort. I was the one who did all the things I did. And I took a great deal of pleasure in it.”
“Stop torturing yourself, Angel. It wasn’t you who did all those things.”
“There’s just one thing I’ve been wondering. I wasn’t sure if I could ask you, but I’d like to know.”
“That’s ok. Go ahead, ask anything you like. I’m glad we were able to have this conversation. You’re the only one I could ever talk to like this. Xander couldn’t handle any of it.”
“Did you ever – feed – on animals?”
“Yes. After I gave up feeding on people I did. But it was the same. Causing suffering for my own selfish needs. I would try to go without for as long as I could stand it. Then I would have to find something to feed on. But eventually blood transfusions were invented. I stole bottles of blood from hospitals. I would get friendly with a nurse or a doctor and when their backs were turned, I would find where the blood was kept. I could always smell it. Now I order them from hospital supply companies.”
“Oh. But after you became a vampire, didn’t you have girlfriends then, other vampires, I mean?”
“Yes. There was Darla. We were together for generations. And there were others.”
“But after you got your soul back?”
“No. I couldn’t. Not after what I did to Lydia and our child. I haven’t dared to be close to anyone until I met Buffy and you and Xander. A vampire who turns on the other vampires isn’t exactly popular. Not with anyone.”
“Angel, you’re not a monster. Exactly because you have these powerful needs, and you resist them, you are good. If someone else did what you do, what would you think?”
“I don’t know. There’s never been anyone like me. At times I just want to die. If Buffy would just kill me, then it would all be over. But I know I can’t give in. All the vampires that would still be around, killing people, making new vampires. I couldn’t let them go on without trying my best to stop them. One day, if the Slayers are successful, maybe then I can allow myself to rest.”
“I’m glad you’re still around. You’ve been so helpful, and for a more selfish reason, I’m glad. But I’m really sorry for your suffering. Is there anything I can do?”
“No. Nothing more than what you’re already doing. There are times, when I’m with you that I almost manage to forget. When I let myself pretend I’m just the boy I used to be. That’s all I ask.”
“I should go home now. Mom will be frantic by now. Even more if anyone I know has called her and told her about the way we were acting tonight.”
“I’m sorry, Willow. I didn’t mean to get you in trouble. It was just -“
“I know. And I wanted it too. But I really need to go now.”
“I’ll walk you home.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course. It’s not as if I need the sleep.”
Willow loved Angel’s bitter smiles. And maybe it was her imagination, but since getting involved with her – she refused to even remember Xander right now – he seemed to be just a little bit happier. Despite the things Angel had shared with her tonight.
His past was really even more tragic than she had been able to guess. Another thing she loved about him was his protectiveness. Always on the lookout for for anything or anyone that might do her harm. Never considering himself and his own needs. But then those needs were better left alone anyway, she knew that.
Outside her house, Angel gave her a last kiss, then melted away into the shadows. She took some time to collect herself before facing her mom’s worried questions. That night she slept soundly and woke up refreshed and even happy to face the new day.
It had been a while since she had felt this good. School was just a vague dream, until the night when she could meet Angel again. They didn’t make any plans, but usually he would show up somewhere, waiting for her, and everything would start over again.
Buffy was full of questions about the new development between Xander and Cordelia, but Willow couldn’t give the matter her full attention, between studying and daydreaming about Angel. And it was clear that Buffy had never really disliked Cordelia as much as Willow did. Something told Willow that Buffy would have been much happier with a girl like Cordelia as a friend. But that thought didn’t cause her any pain. Not anymore.
Now that she had Angel, she could rise above that sort of minor concern. How was it possible that Buffy didn’t notice anything different about her? Maybe she put it down to the loss of Xander. Willow had never been able to confide in Buffy about her feelings for Angel, and telling her about the threesome just wasn’t possible. And as usual, many things were lost on the Slayer.
One night without Angel was tolerable. Willow told herself that he must have run into some vampires that needed exterminating. But the next night, she couldn’t repress a small shudder of worry. Something wasn’t right. She debated with herself whether she ought to tell Buffy after all, but eventually decided not to.
Buffy was full of her trip to L A. Her visits with her dad were few and far between, so Willow knew how much it meant to her. Perhaps Giles would be more understanding? But when Willow stopped by the library she remembered that Giles too would be gone for a week. He was attending a librarian’s convention in London, and she thought he had some official Watcher business to see to as well. Not that he would tell her about that. So she said goodbye to her friends and continued worrying over Angel on her way home.
Next day she couldn’t stand it anymore. Since she and Angel became lovers, they hadn’t been apart for more than 48 hours. Something had to be wrong. What if something had happened to him? The irony of worrying over someone long dead wasn’t lost on her, but the thought wouldn’t leave her alone.
She had to do something to find out the truth. After all, whenever she had been in danger, someone had been there to save her life. Many times it had been Angel. Even before they had become lovers. On the pretext of searching for a school book, she went over to Buffy’s house and asked mrs Summers to let her into Buffy’s room.
It was obvious that mrs Summers didn’t go into Buffy’s room a lot. Nailed to the wall, with broken cross, was a piece of paper. Willow’s heart was pounding so loudly when she pried loose the cross, she could hardly hear her own thoughts. The message was written in an old-fashioned crawling hand, and the ink looked eerily like blood. It was signed Spike.
To the Slayer.
I have your vampire friend, Angelus, and if you fail to come to my chambers by midnight Saturday, he will die for the second time. Saturday night is our anniversary. Do not be late.
Willow knew that Buffy couldn’t be reached until she returned late Sunday night. By then Angel would be dead. With Giles out of town and Xander in Cordelia’s clutches, what could she alone do to save her lover? But she didn’t let that discourage her. Somehow she would find a way. There had to be someone she could turn to for help. But even if she found someone, what could she possibly do against the vampire who had singlehandedly killed two Slayers?
Running away from the Summers’ house, Willow almost forgot to say goodbye to Buffy’s mother. Mrs Summers stared in confusion after the disappearing form of her daughter’s best friend.
“Did you find that book, dear?”
But Willow didn’t hear her. Again mrs Summers was uncomfortably reminded of how strange her life had become since her daughter had begun to change. Was it really only the terrible teens or was it something else, more sinister? Shaking her head, she slammed the door shut and returned to her study.
Breathlessly, she ran into the computer lab and slumped down on a chair. Her friends in the computer club stared at her in astonishment. Ms Callender’s keen eye missed nothing of Willow’s agitation. She wasted no time scolding the girl for her late arrival. Knowing Willow something out of the ordinary must have happened to make her neglect her computer classes.
“What’s wrong, Willow? Anything in our line of work?”
Willow looked around at the members of the computer club. She thought they could be trusted and they had already been involved in some strange goings on. All the residents of Sunnydale were used to that sort of thing by now. She looked at ms Callender as if to gauge the answer to her question there.
“Could I speak to you alone for a second, ms Callender?”
“Of course. Continue working on that database, boys, I’ll be right with you.”
“Now, Willow, is there anything I can do to help?”
“Yes. But first I have to tell you something.”
“Alright. Don’t be shy. For a grownup I can be very understanding.”
-It’s Angel. He and I –
Willow’s voice trailed off uncertainly. Did ms Callender know about Angel? Had Giles told her?
“Angel? What’s happened to him? Go on.”
“You see – Actually -“
“You’re in love with him, aren’t you?”
“Yes. But that’s not the problem. Spike’s taken him, and he’s going to kill Angel at midnight tomorrow night, unless I can think of something to save him.”
“Yes. Look. This is the message he left for Buffy. I don’t think he knows about me and Angel. Anyway, Buffy’s out of town and won’t be back until late Sunday night. And then it will be too late.”
“I see. I wonder what ‘our anniversary’ means?”
“I don’t know. But it must be something Spike finds important.”
“Yes. This seems to be targeting both the Slayer and Angel himself. What do you know about Angel’s background?”
“He’s been a vampire for about 200 years. But some gipsies were able to set a curse on him, so he got his soul back. From then on he hasn’t killed any people. Not any animals either, at least not lately.”
“And he and Spike has a common background?”
“I think so. Xander said something about Angel being Spike’s ‘sire’, whatever that means.”
“Sire? That could mean that Angel was the one who made him a vampire. Do you think that could be true?”
“Maybe, I have no idea. Angel’s hardly ever mentioned Spike at all.”
“That could be the connection. Oh, well, I should be able to get some of my friends together by tonight. Then we’ll go exploring.”
“What do you think about the guys here? Couldn’t they help out?”
“Good idea. You fill them in. I need to make a phone call or two. Forget about the exercises, you can catch up later.”
While Willow told her computer club friends as much about Angel that she thought was advisable, ms Callender got a few of her techno-pagan friends together. After telling her mother she would be spending the night over at Xander’s place, a lie that gave her a severe case of guilty conscience, Willow went to meet her computer club friends over at ms Callender’s house.
There were too many for him. Angel felt his strength ebbing. He would never admit it even to himself, but since he had given up feeding off the living, he was never as strong as he remembered feeling at the height of his vampire existence. But he would never turn down the chance to strike back at those who preyed on the innocent, just as he had done himself all those years ago.
His own safety wasn’t important. The penance he had imposed on himself didn’t give him any room for selfpreservation, and the debt he owed was too great to ever be paid back in full anyway. Angel could feel his mind slipping into darkness. When he came to, he was in a dark place, not surprisingly. The sharp light of day would have hurt his eyes, and done even more permanent damage to his entire body.
His hands were tied over his head, and his arms were already numb by the uncomfortable position. Also, his legs were securely tied together. Whoever had gone to all this trouble to string him up had also removed his clothes. For some reason, Angel felt a shiver go down his spine.
He wasn’t afraid to die. In fact there were times when he positively craved the merciful end, though he never allowed himself to give in to the seductive promise of peace at last, but there was something about this that gave him a bad feeling. And his fears were justified. The low laughter that grated on his ears was all too familiar. Spike. In a way there was some kind of ironic justice in the way his most notorious mistake had come back to haunt him.
“What’s the matter, Angelus, aren’t you pleased to see me again? No kiss for your favorite vampire boy?”
Without waiting for Angel’s reply, Spike moved closer with the catlike grace he had had even when still a mortal, all those years ago. His hands reached out and despite himself, Angel flinched. He had seen for himself the unspeakable harm those hands could inflict, seemingly effortlessly.
But when the touch came, it was gentle, mocking in its sensuousness. Spike’s fingers traced a line from Angel’s cheekbone all the way down over his neck and chest. They stayed here and there and bestowed a caress or a playful pinch in the most sensitive spots. Cursing inwardly, Angel remembered just how well this vampire who was the most evil of them all knew his body and what caused the desired reactions.
Distracted by the almost hypnotic quality of the touch, Angel forgot to watch Spike’s face. Bad mistake. Lightning quick, the vampire’s head moved closer to Angel’s and stole an intimate kiss, before biting sharply into Angel’s lower lip. A wave of pain washed over him. He could feel Spike drinking deeply from the wound and for a moment Angel feared he would be drained dry. But long before he lost consciousness, Spike withdrew, licking his lips not to miss anything of the precious fluid.
“Ah, I had forgotten how sweet you taste, Angelus, my love.”
“Don’t flatter yourself. There was never any love on my part.”
“You hurt me, Angelus. No love? No love? Then what did you call it?”
Angel refused to rise to that taunt. His eyes avoided Spike’s as he frantically began to revise his options. That didn’t take long. His options were exactly one: To stay here and let Spike play with him for as long as he wanted to. It was no use straining against the bonds holding him. He wouldn’t give Spike the satisfaction. All he could manage was not to show his fear. Beyond that he was helpless.
“I see – It was all an act? Just so you could catch me? The honey to tempt the careless bee? Then tell me, Angelus, sweet Angelus, why did you not simply feed on me, and throw me away? Tell me that and I’ll grant you there was no love between us.”
“All that was several lifetimes ago. Everything is different now.”
“Ah, yes. Because you’re exclusively into women now, is that it?”
“Wrong. I was always exclusively into women.”
“But you didn’t let that little obstacle stand in your way, now did you? Anything to catch your prey, was that it? You’re awfully silent tonight, Angelus. Come on, don’t be shy. As I should know, you weren’t always this proper.”
“What do you expect me to say? I’m at your mercy. Finish me off. Do your worst.”
“But that wouldn’t be any fun, would it? You and I have a lot of catching up to do. Do you remember what date it is, Saturday night?”
“No. But why don’t you tell me?”
“How you hurt me, sweet, lovely, Angelus. It’s our anniversary. And I don’t believe you. You remember. But I suppose it’s convenient to forget.”
Willow had pointed out to him how Darla had been the one ultimately responsible for the deaths of his family and all the others. Willow. Why had he allowed himself to remember her now? He would never see her sweet face again, never be able to hold her and tell her how much he loved her. Why had he never told her that?
In all the years since he got his soul back he had never dared to love, and now that he did, it seemed he would lose that love after such a short time. And even if she was right about all she had said to him that wonderful, precious night they had spent together, it didn’t change the fact that he, as Angelus, was responsible for loosing the scourge that was Spike on unsuspecting mankind. Even if he never saw Willow again, he wished there was some way he could undo that damage. But even that was beyond his capabilities now.
“Answer me, Angelus.”
And now Spike’s playful mood changed into something darker. When faced with Angel’s refusal to acknowledge the bond they had shared, Spike turned to more direct methods of provoking a reaction in the beautiful renegade vampire.
His sharp nails traced new, deeper paths on Angel’s skin, and wherever the red lines sprang up, Spike’s mouth followed, avidly drinking every drop. His fangs sank into the sensitive skin of the neck, the chest, the inside of Angel’s thighs.
Finally, Spike controlled himself with an effort. It wouldn’t do to end the game too soon. There was far more to be done, before he would either have the pleasure of killing Angelus, or even him and the Slayer together. If that foolish blonde girl would show her face.
Either way, he won. How satisfying it was to see Angelus like this, helpless, immobilised. All this was having a powerful effect on Spike. His arousal wouldn’t be sated by this mere snacking. He had to have more. And fortunately the means of satisfying that need was close at hand.
“I think it’s time we revived an old habit of ours. With a slight difference. This time I’ll be the “man”. You see how you like being on the receiving end.”
Unfortunately, there was no doubt at all in Angel’s mind about what Spike was referring to. With a sinking feeling he realized that all he could do was to submit and bury his consciousness somewhere deep within his tortured soul. Endure, wait for the end.
He knew it couldn’t be long. When Spike was this aroused it wouldn’t last. Angel kept telling himself that for the time the ordeal lasted. But he couldn’t repress a shudder as he felt the hardness pressing against his skin.
Ms Callender didn’t waste much time on pleasantries. She went straight to the point. Outlining the situation to the gathered techno-pagans and her students, in a few words, she then asked for suggestions for a plan of action.
There was a vivid discussion about the merits of various ways of penetrating the vampire stronghold, and the method for trapping and holding a vampire captive. Finally, Willow spoke up. She had remained silent, turning the matter over in her mind for some time. But now she thought she had the solution.
“Spike has this girlfriend, at least I think she’s his girlfriend. And she’s strange, even for a vampire. Weak, and she has these dolls that she really loves. If we could get hold of one of those dolls, maybe we could lure her out of there. But it would have to be at night, of course.”
“That’s a brilliant idea, Willow. Not that we have to go there at night. We could go down there and take the doll and then leave a message for her to come and get her doll back. If I’m not mistaken, vampires sleep during the day. Giles would know.”
“Yes, Buffy says that they sleep during the day. But not hanging upside down as in the movies.”
“Then if we had some kind of protection, shouldn’t we be able to get in and out again safely?”
“I hope so.”
“I’m going. There’s no way I’m not going to be in this rescue operation.”
“I thought so, Willow. Anyone else?”
To Willow’s surprise the other four members of the computer club volunteered as well as a really odd guy from ms Callender’s group of techno pagans. He had long matted hair, a ring in his nose, and wore an odd assortment of clothing. The guy barely spoke, chosing instead to express himself mostly with signs. At first Willow thought he might be deaf and dumb, but it turned out that wasn’t the case at all.
Since it was late in the evening, the actual foray into enemy territory would have to wait until the morning. By then they were all well prepared. Garlic, crosses and a number of other odds and ends were employed. Willow had managed to acquire a few of Buffy’s weapons and decided to bring them along. If she had half a chance, she would kill Spike. But she knew that if Buffy herself hadn’t been able to, she wouldn’t either.
To their surprise it was easier than expected to enter the underground cavern and remove the doll from Drusilla’s eerie collection. Where Drusilla herself was, they never learned. They didn’t really want to stay around to find out. Leaving the message, they hurriedly returned to the surface.
Willow was beginning to think that the whole thing was going far too easily. Could it be some kind of devious trap on Spike’s part? If he wanted to strike back at Buffy by catching the man he thought she was in love with, then maybe he wanted to get a hold of the Slayer’s closest friends as well.
But nothing happened to confirm her fears, and they settled down to wait in the agreed upon spot. It was chosen to lure Drusilla into a false sense of security, while secretly giving the mortals an advantage.The place was dark and secluded, and hopefully that would appeal to the vampire girl almost as much as a graveyard would have. One of the techno pagans knew about the abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of town and brought them there.
They took turns sleeping, but no one felt very inclined to let down their guard for long. Each and everyone of them knew that this desperate venture might be a fatal mistake. If Spike’s gang descended on them, their chances of survival were slim, not to say nonexistant. But this was all they could do. Willow hadn’t had much sleep since she had found that note pinned to Buffy’s wall. The hours of waiting she spent reviewing the plan.
If only that pale vampire girl would fall into their trap. Towards the end of her vigil she must have dozed off for a few seconds, because she woke up to feel ms Callender’s hand lightly touch her shoulder. Willow knew better than to make any sounds that might warn Drusilla off. Vampires had a keen sense of hearing as well as all other senses. It really seemed too good to be true. The vampire girl appeared to have come alone.
Petulantly she called out to the seemingly empty room.
“I know you’re here. I can smell you. Come out, give me my baby back.”
Silently, the guys responsible for the trap moved into position. Then Willow and ms Callender stepped out onto the vast floor.
“It’s here. Come and get it.”
“Why did you take my baby? That’s not very nice of you.”
“We just wanted to meet you and give you a message to take to Spike.”
Drusilla’s lower lip pouted slightly at the mention of her lover’s name.
“Spike isn’t at home right now. He’s meeting Angelus. I don’t like it. Angelus is pretty, and if only Spike would share it would be alright, but he wants him to himself. I’m so angry with him.”
“Come a little closer. See, we haven’t harmed your baby in any way.”
Willow didn’t say anything. While ms Callender tried to lure the vampire closer, Willow contented herself with studying Drusilla more closely. She had never seen the vampire girl before. There was definitely something odd about her. And surely she couldn’t be as stupid as she sounded?
Seemingly unsuspecting, the vampire approached the center of the floor, holding her hand out in a childish gesture to get her doll back. A doll? Someone several hundred years old playing with dolls? The thought was absurd. Yet, here she was, this powerful vampire princess, come to get her “baby” back.
When Drusilla was only a few steps away, Willow read something in her eyes that warned her that the slight girl might not be as harmless as she looked. But seconds before the vampire sprang at them, the trap fell on her. Surrounded by a tightly fitting net, made of silver rope, she struggled helplessly. (Where had that odd young man found that net? Willow wondered, but she couldn’t let herself be sidetracked by unimportant details like that).
Everyone else approached from all sides, holding out crosses and garlic to ward off the threat the vampire posed against them, even like this, securely tied up. Four techno pagans brought the special cage that the same odd guy had provided. No one had thought to ask where he found all that stuff.
“Why are you doing this to me? When Spike finds out he’s going to be really angry at you. You don’t want to see Spike angry, it’s not a pretty sight.”
Drusilla herself didn’t sound scared, on the contrary she seemed to derive some kind of ghoulish pleasure from describing her lover’s frenzy when aroused into anger.
“Like I said, we have a message for Spike. It’s simply this: Do you want Drusilla or Angel? Which one is more precious to you? You see, Drusilla, we will kill you unless Spike trades Angel for you.”
“He will choose me. It’s me Spike loves. You’ll see. Spike will come after all of you, and then we’ll feed on you. We’ll have a feast.”
“Yes, yes. But first he has to come for you.”
The unenviable task of delivering the message to Spike fell to Willow. Her four computer club friends went with her. All guys were thrilled to be out in the field for once, to see some real action. Still, all went well. But Willow couldn’t help wondering why Spike kept himself so busy with Angel.
If all he wanted to do was strike at the Slayer by hurting the man he believed her to be in love with then surely merely holding Angel would be enough. Drusilla’s words about Angel and Spike rang unpleasantly in Willow’s ears. There was something about all this that didn’t make sense. Something about Spike and Angel. She was hoping she was mistaken. But the thought kept nagging at the back of her mind.
It was well that they weren’t present to see Spike’s anger when he found the note. He had come back to see Drusilla, and to gather his group of faithful vampires in time to meet Buffy, should she choose to make an appearance.
When faced with the message that his beloved Drusilla was gone, abducted by a group of mortals, he immediately killed two of his vampires. The others withdrew to a safe distance to watch the storm take its course. Raging uselessly, Spike moved around the huge cavern, breaking objects, throwing rocks in all directions.
“NO! How could this have happened? My Drusilla. My Angelus. How can I choose?”
But he was defeated and he knew it. No matter how much he wanted to make Angel pay for abandoning him and turning renegade, he couldn’t turn his back on Drusilla. The girl was the love of his life, and more than that, she held a crucial key to his success in his struggle against the humans led by the Slayer.
He had underestimated his adversary. This particular Slayer had seemed to be an empty headed mere child. But now she had found a way to strike back right into his cold vampire heart.
“Come on. No more killing tonight. We have to get Drusilla back. You and you, bring me Angelus.”
The two huge vampire males returned minutes later, dragging the half-conscious, securely tied Angel from the room where Spike had been keeping him.
“Shall we put some clothes on him?”
A cruel smile moved Spike’s vampire features.
“No. Let the Slayer see what I’ve done to her lover. I wonder if she’ll still want him now? Anyone else like what you see?”
There were murmurs of assent from all over the huge cavern.
“I see you’re awake now, Angelus, my sweet. What do you think? Should I let my faithful troops have you first? I think not. We don’t have time. What a pity. I had such a marvellous plan for your death, Angelus. And now we will have to postpone the event for another time. Your Slayer friend has found a way to get you back.”
Angel hadn’t thought Buffy would come. He had heard about her trip to visit her father, and part of him welcomed the end. If he died at Spike’s hands, it wasn’t his fault. He could allow himself to let go. But Spike seemed to think he still mattered to Buffy. So his relationship with Willow hadn’t come to the vampire’s attention.
At least that was a relief. That way, his precious, lovely Willow would be safe, whatever happened tonight. He winced at the thought of being seen like this. Naked, covered with Spike’s bites. It would be obvious to everyone who saw him, what had been done to him. He was hoping Xander wouldn’t be there. That would be unbearable.
It didn’t take the vampires long to find the warehouse and drag their captive with them. Spike was hoping he would have his chance to strike back at the Slayer soon. Maybe even tonight. That girl couldn’t be all that smart.
“I’m here, Slayer. Angelus is here. Show yourself.”
There was some time before anything happened. Then Willow and ms Callender stepped forward, carrying Drusilla’s absurd doll.
“Don’t come any closer. As you see, we have Drusilla’s doll.”
“Yes, yes, I see the stupid thing. Where is my love?”
“All in good time. You will turn over Angel to us now.”
“Where is the Slayer?”
“Don’t concern yourself with that. Just hand over Angel, then you’ll find out where we have your Drusilla.”
“I want to see her.”
“We could just kill her now. If you don’t give us Angel soon, we will.”
Spike was thinking quickly. If his vampires attacked now, the humans would die. But unfortunately, the knowledge of where his beloved, precious Drusilla was would be lost with them. He knew better than to expect his vampires to hold back. This would be a feast to them. All humans would die feeding the unsatiable hunger for blood. No, there was no choice but to turn Angel over to them and hope they would keep their word. He thought they would. These pathetic humans were ridiculously truthful.
“Alright. Wait a minute. Willow? That’s your name, isn’t it? I see. Angel isn’t involved with the Slayer anymore. It’s you. How very appropriate. You know, Angelus, my love, you really must tell Willow about us if you haven’t done so already. Ah, the memories this brings back. Oh, well, there’s something to be said for girls too. Soft, fragile. Not like you, Angelus, but nice enough. I’ll bet your blood tastes sweet, little Willow. Next time we meet, maybe I’ll have a chance to try some of yours. See you then. Go on, let Angelus go.”
The two muscular vampires dropped Angel to the ground, without a second glance, then stepped back to await further orders.
“Alright. I’m waiting. Where is Drusilla?”
“Back off, all of you. Send your henchmen home, Spike. Or we won’t deal.”
“You gave me your word. Ms Callender, isn’t it? Pretty. I’m sure you’re very tasty too.”
“Wouldn’t you like to know? When your gang is far from here, then you’ll know where to find Drusilla.”
“You heard the woman. Go. There will be another time.”
When the last of the vampires had disappeared, Spike stared imperiously at Willow and ms Callender. Finally, ms Callender put a sealed envelope on the ground.
“The information you need is in that envelope. When we’re away from here, you may open it. And don’t try to cheat. For all you know, we have people waiting in the shadows around here, aiming weapons at you.”
“Alright. But if you’ve harmed Drusilla in any way, I shall hunt all of you down and make you pay. You have no idea of the means at my disposal. I will make all of you regret the day you were born.”
“She’s in perfect health. At least as much as she was the last time you saw her. We don’t take pleasure in torturing other creatures.”
“That’s your loss. You should try it some time. It’s invigorating. Go then. Until next time.”
Willow could almost feel the fangs sinking into her neck, as she began walking away. Between them, she and ms Callender supported Angel. It scared her to see him this weakened. And his injuries were unnerving in another way. Surely Spike couldn’t have -? But it seemed he had.
Yes, Willow knew what had happened, but she refused to dwell on it. Not now. She would take Angel somewhere safe and care for him there. Right now all that mattered was getting to safety. And they did manage to get away. That night, Spike was more intent on saving his beloved Drusilla than on exacting his revenge.
Willow managed to get rid of her friends from the computer club without their seeing more of Angel’s naked body than necessary. Ms Callender saw Willow’s need for privacy and whisked her group away too. With one last look at Willow’s injured lover, she said her goodbyes.
“Are you sure you don’t need any help, Willow?”
“Yes. I’ll take care of Angel. Thanks for your help. You guys were great. Please tell them, all of them, how much I appreciate all you’ve done for us.
Surprising both of them, Angel spoke up for the first time since they had got him back.
“Thank you, ms Callender. You didn’t have to risk your lives for me. I appreciate it too.”
“Don’t mention it. I – I hope you’ll be ok.”
“Don’t worry about me. I’m a vampire. We heal quickly.”
But when Angel found himself alone with Willow, words failed him. He knew she must know what had happened, and that was bad enough. But far worse was the need to explain himself about Spike. Of course Spike had to inflict that final wound in parting. But he owed Willow the truth. In fact he owed her more than that. His encounter with Spike had shown him how selfish and thoughtless he had been not to express his feelings for the readheaded girl in words. She deserved to know. If she still wanted his love, after tonight.
“Is that true?”
“About vampires healing quickly?”
“Yes. Look. The wounds are closing by themselves right now. All except the worst of them. But it’s not as if I’m going to die. Just let me go into the bathroom and clean up. I’ll be fine.”
“Will you really?”
Angel’s head fell for a second. This was so hard. But he and Willow had come too far for him to shy away now.
“Yes. It’s not the first time, and I doubt if it will be the last time.”
Sighing, Willow decided to leave Angel alone for the time being. She didn’t know anything that might help him now. He was probably right anyway. His own body would heal him. Physically if not emotionally. When he was ready, she would try to comfort him any way she could. But eventually, she knew she would have to know the truth, about the matters that Spike had hinted at. There was something behind this that she needed to know. If she and Angel were to have any chance at all to continue this relationship, she had to know.
When Angel finally emerged from his bathroom, he looked subdued and the pain in his eyes tore at Willow. How could she confront him now? All she wanted to do was hold him, love him, comfort him, make that look go away. She held out her arms to him, but for a long time she didn’t think he would come to her. But to her relief, he finally did. He allowed himself to be held for a moment. They sat down on his bed.
“Willow, we need to talk. What Spike said -“
“He was trying to make it seem as if we were lovers.”
“And were you?”
“In a way.”
“How do you mean?”
“This was when I was still Angelus and – Well, Drusilla and Spike and I were involved, you might say. You remember what I told you about the time before I was made a vampire?”
“What I did then, I continued doing afterwards too. To lure my victims to me. Spike was one of them. But he would have been dead just like the others, if I hadn’t made the mistake of letting Drusilla make him a vampire. He said that I loved him and I may have let him believe that, but the real reason, I don’t even know.”
“You don’t know why you let him become a vampire?”
“At the time, I was lonely. Darla had moved on to other playmates and I thought I needed a companion. Drusilla and I craved some companionship. A friend, you might say.”
“But he must have been more than a friend?”
“I suppose so. But what I’m trying to tell you is that I’m not gay. I never was.”
“But why did you sleep with Spike if you’re not gay?”
“To begin with, it was just a way to get him close, so I could feed on him, play with him. But he was special even back then. Tough. Had an attitude. And I found that attractive. Not in a sexual way. Just appealing. And Drusilla preferred him even back then.”
“I see. Ok. I believe you. We talked about this before. When you were Angelus you weren’t responsible for your own actions.”
“I know. But this – Spike becoming what he is today, that has to be the one of the most evil thing I was responsible for. As far as the rest of the world is concerned. And Drusilla – please don’t ask me about that.”
“Alright, I won’t. Anyway, you had no way of knowing what would come of that.”
“I should have. Drusilla couldn’t have known. She was different, always has been. Spike was tough even as a human, had an attitude. I suppose that’s what Angelus found so attractive. But it’s hard to remember how I felt back then.”
“Because you’ve changed.”
“I suppose I have. But not enough. This is all my fault, Willow. All this, I brought on myself. So whatever he did to me – and I think you know what that was – I deserved it. I did the same things to him back then.”
“Angelus. Not you.”
“Alright. You may have a point. Willow, there’s something else I’ve been wanting to tell you. But first I need to know something. After hearing all this, how do you feel about me?”
“The same way, of course. Did you think I would stop loving you?”
“I wouldn’t blame you if you had. Willow, I know I haven’t said anything before, but you have to know that I love you just as much as you love me. Without you, I don’t know how I would find the strength to carry on. You mean everything to me.”
“Oh, Angel, I love so much.”
Willow couldn’t resist holding him again, and this time Angel stayed in her arms for as long as she could wish. He seemed to lean into her, taking comfort in her presence. It was a good thing Willow had told her mother she would be spending the weekend over at Xander’s place, otherwise she would have worried herself sick. As it was, Willow was free to spend all night with Angel.
They didn’t make love, but she enjoyed their closeness. Each time she woke up, Angel was waiting for her, and finally towards morning, when he had to retreat for the day, he even smiled at her. Willow walked home, feeling relieved. She couldn’t believe that she had managed to go up against Spike. Not all by herself, naturally. The computer club and the techno pagans would have to take credit for most of it. But most importantly, they had succeeded.
That evening, Buffy came over to see her. The Slayer was happy and relaxed after her short vacation, and filled with questions about Xander’s new relationship. Willow surprised her by not having any information for her. Wasn’t the girl the least bit curious? Buffy knew that Willow was over Xander a long time ago.
“So, did I miss anything while I was gone?”
Willow was surprised to feel that Xander’s betrayal didn’t hurt anymore. Angel was all she needed. Even if she wished her old friend could have picked a better girlfriend.
“Nothing much. I’ll tell you about it later. I’m glad you had a nice visit in L A.”