The Kindness of a Stranger


pairing: Spike/Willow
genre: romance
rating: mature adults
time frame: during s2 of BtVS
summary: Spike does Willow a favour.

01 : 02 : 03 : 04 : 05 : 06 : 07 : 08 : 09 : 10 : 11 : 12 : 13


Chapter 1

He saw the girl sitting on a bench in the dark municipal park. He heard her rapid heartbeat and saw her shaking body, but it was more what he could feel. He felt her pain. He'd felt it across town; it had drawn him here. It wasn't unusual to for him to be drawn to pain. It called to him like a baby's cry called its mother. The simile was fitting. A mother went to her child to ease its discomfort, to put an end to its pain. That was what he did. He put an end to pain. Was rather good at it actually. It was almost an art form in his hands.

But this pain was different. As he got closer to her, as he began to hear her heart race and see her body shake, he felt something different. He wasn't sure what that feeling was, but it was on the vague edges of his memory. He had felt something like it before, but it was so long ago, he had forgotten its name, its taste.

He stood in the shadows of the trees, studying the girl who was all alone, crying in the darkness, just outside the light of the street lamp. This was the Hellmouth; didn't she know better than to sit in the dark? Maybe oblivious citizens like her were what made demons from all over the world flock to this seemingly quiet little town. He saw movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned in time to see a vampire step out of the shadows and stalk toward the crying girl.

He took two steps forward, enough to bring himself out of his own protective shadow. He growled low in his throat, a sound nothing but another vampire would have heard unless it had been standing right by his side. The vampire heard and turned his way, a small shake of his head let the vamp know that he had seen the human first; the other would have to look elsewhere for his dinner tonight.

He had expected a fight, but the other vampire turned and ran; it was as if he knew who his opponent was, but that was almost impossible. He had only arrived in this sleepy little town last night and no one here knew him or his reputation. He would have heard if any others of his acquaintance were in town. He came here searching for one in particular; he intended to get what he needed and then leave as soon as possible.

But this girl's pain had interrupted his search. He stepped back into the shadows to study her. She was small, barely an adult, probably still in her teens. Flame red hair hung in a silky sheet down her back. But her pain…

There was enough emotion in this girl to make him re-evaluate her age. Well, her emotional age. This girl was used to heartache. Something desperate had pushed her over the edge. It wasn't just her body crying, it was her soul - her human soul. Souls were something he had come to despise. He'd never thought about them much while he was alive, even less after he had died. He'd learned the hard way just how much harm a human soul could do. It could make you hurt in a way no demon ever could.

His curiosity got the better of him; at least he told himself it was his curiosity, and he moved forward toward the girl. He thought of at least a hundred different things to say as he stepped toward her and tossed out all of them. He honestly didn't think he wanted to scare her, at least not until he found out what was making her so upset. He thought back, trying to remember what he would have done when he was human if he came upon a crying girl. That was easy; he would have run in the opposite direction, as fast as he could. This wasn't helping and here he was at the bench.

He sat down near the end of the green wooden bench and turned his body toward her, pulling one leg up and bending it at the knee. He pulled his foot back under his thigh, trying to twist himself into some kind of comfortable position. Being here was making him decidedly uncomfortable and he didn't know why and that was making him angry. On any other night, she'd be the uncomfortable one. What the bloody hell was wrong with him?


Willow turned to look at the stranger. She knew she shouldn't be out here, knew what went bump in the night, especially in Sunnydale. But she couldn't sit there anymore. Couldn't sit and research and pretend that she was the same as she had always been. What would they say? What would they do? Buffy was a kill first and ask questions later kind of girl. Even though that rule didn't apply to humans, Willow was sure her friend would make an exception in this case. Even if she didn't, Xander would and Giles would probably help him. Giles, he had started to become the caring father she never had, what would he think of her? She couldn't bear to see the disappointment; the pity that she knew would be on their faces.

"What's wrong?"

Who was this man? Why did he care about her, he didn't even know her. Why didn't he just leave her alone?

"Maybe it'll help if you talk about it."

"It won't help," she told him. Why wasn't he just going away? Wasn't that the goal of every person who lived in this town - ignoring everything that goes on around you?

"Then maybe you'll feel better just getting it off your chest; you know, who better to tell your troubles to than a stranger?"

"I don't talk to strangers."

He smiled, she was tough. "Excuse me then." He rose and stood before her, bowing and taking her hand. He kissed her knuckles and said, "How do you do? My name is William. William Pratt. Originally from London, England. And you are?"

Willow couldn't help but smile. He really was very charming. Not to mention good-looking, but that didn't concern her right now. Charming and good-looking were what had gotten her in this predicament in the first place. That wasn't fair. William wasn't the problem. He'd done nothing but be kind to her. He'd offered to help. As if he could…

"Willow. Willow Rosenberg. Of Sunnydale, California. And thank you, but you can't help. No one can help." This last sentence would have been unheard if she had been speaking to a human. But she wasn't, although she didn't know that.

"It can't be that bad. There must be some way out."

"No!" she yelled. "No, I could never, I couldn't…"

It was in the following silence that he heard it - and he knew. No wonder she was so upset; what was she? 16? 17?

Her trusting green eyes looked up into his crystal blue ones and she found herself telling this stranger what she hadn't told anyone else, "You see, I'm pregnant."

He decided to be quiet and let her talk, see if she would tell him how and why. In the still that followed, as he listened to the crickets chirp in the cool October air, he wondered why he didn't just drink her and leave. He could, he should, but he didn't. After a few minutes of easy silence, he reached out and took her small ivory hand in his. Comfort wasn't something he was familiar with giving to humans. He didn't give it to anyone, really, except for his Drusilla, and then only in her more raving moments.

Her hands felt as if they were freezing, colder even than his, and his were the same temperature as the surrounding night air. She didn't pull away, just sat there, looking at his hand holding hers, as if she were trying to figure out why he had done it. He didn't know either.

"It was a football player from Northwestern High. They were here last month for a game and he got lost in the halls after the game. I was in the library, I'm always in the library, resea- doing homework. I was lonely, really lonely. Do you know what that's like? Probably not, you seem real nice and you're good-looking and you probably get your choice of girls. But I'm always lonely. It's worse when everybody's around, ya know? They all have their lives and things and people that they're interested in, and we do stuff together, yeah, but it's not the same. Okay, I have school but that's not the same, and I used to have Xander and Jesse, but Jesse's gone now and Xander has… well, Xander doesn't have anybody but he still doesn't want me. He wants Buffy and Buffy wants Angel and even Giles has Ms. Calendar. And so I'm alone. And lonely. And that hurts. It hurts down so deep that I can't tell the difference between the pain and the rest of me anymore. Do you understand what I mean?" she tilted her tear-stained face up toward him and when he nodded, she went back to examining their joined hands.

"So when Ryan, that's the football player, walked into the library and asked for help, he well, he looked at me like he saw me, ya know? Really saw me. Not just girl, one each, to give him directions. He has this really beautiful smile, and he offered to take me out for something to eat and said he'd call his friend to come pick him up later. His bus had left and he said the coach never counts heads like he's supposed to and they'd never miss him and so I went. To get something to eat, I mean. With him. With Ryan."

He understood this story more than the girl could ever imagine. Loneliness so profound that it becomes a part of you. So much a part that you wear it like a suit of clothes. Without it, you'd probably be unrecognizable, even to your closest friends. He didn't remember much of his human life, but this - this he would never forget. He had left most human emotions behind, but loneliness was universal. Every being in every dimension was familiar with it. Love, hate, anger - these things had different manifestations in different realities. But loneliness was the same no matter where you went. Human or demon.

"We went back to the library after. I told him he could call his friend from there, I have a key. Um, Giles, I mean, Mr. Giles, the librarian, I help him out sometimes and he gave me a key. He called his friend and then he, well, he, um, he kissed me. A real kiss, I mean, not a peck on the cheek or a, you know, a friend kind of a kiss. And he just kept kissing me and it was nice and it felt so good to have someone want me, you know, and I just sort of, didn't stop him. When I should have stopped him, I mean. And then he, well you know, and it hurt, it hurt a lot and I was crying and I wasn't really paying attention and the next thing I know, he's dressed and saying his friend is here and he has to go and he had a real nice time and thanks. Thanks! He told me 'thanks'! Can you believe that? Men are such - something really evil. And two days later I started to throw up and I thought it was just stress you know, from what happened, but it kept happening every day and now it's two weeks later and I was supposed to get my, um, visitor, yesterday and I didn't and I just knew. I don't know how I knew, but I did. And I got one of those tests last night and it was positive, and so I got four different ones today and they're all positive and I don't know what to do. They'll all hate me! I didn't tell anybody about it, not even Buffy, well, Buffy's got kind of a, well, she thinks the solution to every problem is to beat up something until everything's better but that's not gonna help this time, is it? And Xander. I've loved Xander since I was five and I know he doesn't love me, not like I love him anyway and he'll be so disappointed in me. And Giles! Oh, god, Giles. He's gonna freak! Well, no he won't freak, because nothing makes him freak, at least not on the outside but he'll look at me with those eyes and he'll be polishing his glasses for hours because he won't know what to say, and I can't! I can't tell them, not like this. I can't tell them I got knocked up by some anonymous football player from another school because I was so lonely I wasn't paying attention to what he was doing to me!"

He'd watched the girl during her outburst. He'd thought for a moment that she was a bit mad, like Dru, but he realized early on that she wasn't crazy, she was desperate. And tired. And lost.

"What about your parents, you didn't mention them, what will they do?"

She tossed him an offhand smile, "My parents? My parents are home approximately six weeks out of every year and they've already fulfilled their quota for this year. When they are here, they never see me anyway," her voice got very quiet then, "Even if I'm in the room with them."

The girl had no family, it seemed, outside of her friends and she was afraid she'd lose them if they found out the truth. What kind of friends were these, that they'd turn their back on this sweet girl for making one mistake? He wanted to kill them, he wanted to hunt them, chain them up and torture them for her. But if she was going to get through this, she'd need them, her so-called friends.

"What if you had a boyfriend?" he found himself asking. He wasn't sure why, but he decided to go with his instincts, they'd never led him astray so far.

"What?" she didn't understand the question.

"What if you had a boyfriend?" he reiterated, "One that you met and fell madly in love with and then he left. Just disappeared. Do you think they'd understand? Would they support you then?"

"Oh, yeah, boys are just falling out of trees around here. Where am I going to get a guy to pretend to like me for a couple of weeks and then disappear?"

"I wouldn't have to pretend."

"You? You, you'd do that? For me? But - you don't even know me. We just met, why would you do that?" She was skeptical, but hope was shining from her eyes. He felt happy that he'd put it there. She'd been so lost before and he had put that light in her beautiful green eyes. Usually, he took hope away. He had no idea why he wanted to give some to this girl, except that he'd felt her pain so intensely; identified with her loneliness in a way that no one who knew him now would ever guess at.

He decided to use the persona that he'd used so far in the states. It had worked on everyone else.

"I work during the day," he added, as if it was an afterthought. "I'm a salesman. I work for a pharmaceutical company. I'm the guy who talks the doctors into prescribing new drugs that my company comes out with. Takes up most of the day - keeping doctors hours. I'm only going to be in this area for a few weeks, so I'm perfect, don't you think?" He flashed her his sexiest smile.

Willow grinned back. "Yeah, I do. I also think you're probably very good at your job too. Especially with the female doctors," she giggled.

"My specialty," he said with a laugh. "Now, Willow, why don't I buy you some cof- wait, coffee probably not good for the baby. How 'bout I buy you some ice cream and we tell each other everything about ourselves. We're supposed to be in love, remember?" He stood and pulled her up also, wrapping her arm through his.

Chapter 2

Her tongue swept up the side of the cone, grabbing the drop of raspberry fudge chip ice cream right before it would have fallen to the ground. The soft pink tongue followed the line of the dripping white confection up to the top of what remained of the scoop he had bought for her. His eyes followed the motion, 'Lucky cone.' he thought and felt his jeans get just a little tight. 'Girl. Human girl. Not getting involved, just helping her out because she has soddin' wankers as friends, but they're all she's got and she's gonna need even the pathetic friends she's got in the next few months.'

Why did he care? She was just a little girl, sixteen maybe? "Um, Willow, how old are you?"

She wasn't sure she wanted to tell him, he'd been so nice, and well, he was perfect really, perfect for the plan. Which he had come up with incidentally, after she'd told him she was in high school. She had trusted him with her secret, she figured she could trust him with her age.

"Seventeen last Thursday." She held her breath looking for a sign that he was revolted or maybe he would want to back out. She'd never hold him to this crazy plan if he wanted to back out, it was her problem, he really didn't have any reason to help her. When he didn't flinch or show any sign that he was disgusted, she posed the same question to him. "Um, how old are -?"

'Two hundred and six, not counting human years.' "Twenty-two."

"Oh. Well, that's only five years older. That's not bad, right?" She seemed uncertain.

When he'd been alive, she'd be passed marrying age, practically a spinster. "It's fine, pet. Don't worry."

"Where'd you go to college?"


"In England?"

He laughed at that, "Of course. Didn't ya notice the accent?"

She had the grace to blush, "Well, but you don't sound, you know, all stiff-upper-lippy." She smiled, "Giles is British and he's oh-so-very stiff-upper-lippy. I thought it was like a rule or something if you went to one of those schools, you had to sound like that."

'She really is delightful - for a human. Hell, she's delightful period.' He hid his amusement by putting his arm around her shoulders and pulling her toward the park. "So, what else should I know? Tell me more about your friends."

"Well, I told you about Xander. And Buffy - well, she's kind of a new friend, but we're really really close. She's only been here since March. Giles, too, he showed up at the same time as Buffy. Um, there's something I should maybe tell you about my friends…" She didn't know how to put this, but she had to tell him something, he was bound to notice all the books and the researching and the weapons if he was going to be around for a couple of weeks.

"What's wrong? They belong to a cult or something?" He was laughing, and she thought it was ironic how close he had come to guessing the truth.


He pulled back to look in her face and raised his eyebrows.

She laughed at the shocked expression on his face. Oh, what she would give to be normal like him and not know what was really out there.

She started walking again, she couldn't look in his face when she said this. "We, um, we all are sort of interested in, well, mysticism, I guess you might call it."

"Are you telling me that you're a swami or that you're a witch?"

He didn't seem phased, that was good.

"Well, neither, but I have been reading up on magicks. But no, that's not it. We, well we research and talk about, um {sigh} demons."


"Yeah, you know, vampires, werewolves, slimy Solrath demons and little pink Bolving demons."

'What the hell-?'

"Um, you believe in, in vampires, luv?" He tried to make it sound casual, but he wasn't sure he'd pulled it off. 'She knows about Solraths and Bolvings? Not your typical fare in this dimension. Just how into this are these kids?'

"Well -" What should she say? She knew she couldn't lie to him. She'd never tell him about Buffy, but everything else… "Yes, I do."

"Good. Makes ya interesting. Always a good thing." He smiled down at her. He didn't know what made him lean down and kiss her forehead, but he'd gone and done it, there was no taking it back now.

She seemed a little stunned by it and stopped walking.

He turned to ask what was wrong, but when he saw her hand on her forehead, he didn't have to ask. "Pet, if we're gonna be madly in love, you're gonna have to get used to me kissing you." For some reason the thought made him smile.

For some reason the thought made her smile. "Kissing?" she asked tentatively.

"Haven't you ever been kissed, pet? Other than that clumsy moron that hurt you, I mean?" The idea was ridiculous, but she was sure acting as if she'd never been kissed. He remembered what it was like.

"Um, well, not really, no." She was suddenly very shy and very red in the face and he could see her drawing back into herself.

Now, this is where he really excelled. "Let's see what we can do to change that, yeah?"

As he spoke, his left hand cupped her cheek and slid around her neck and under her hair. He smiled in a way that he'd never seen - because he had no reflection - but always seemed to make his female victims practically swoon at his feet. Most of the male ones, too.

He pulled her to him and wrapped strong arms around her small body and made her feel safe in a way she never had before, not ever. His mouth slowly closed on hers, his lips not forcing hers, just rubbing enticingly across each other. His tongue brushed her bottom lip and she gasped, giving him the opening he needed to slip his firm tongue inside her mouth, not intrusive, just a gentle exploration.

She closed her eyes and relaxed into his chest and his mouth, savoring the taste of him. Tobacco and ice cream and something sort of metallic, she thought it was a perfect combination. Her arms wrapped themselves around him and she couldn't help but notice the powerful feel of his shoulders and back as his muscles moved beneath her fingers.

He hadn't meant to kiss her like this. Just a peck, really. He wasn't going to get involved with this human, well, she was human for one thing! But her eyes held such innocence and such strength, and when he'd touched her cheek it was like he'd been… He wasn't going to think about what it had felt like.

'But her mouth - jesus christmas, her mouth! Hot and sweet and soft and…'


She pulled away from him like a shot and stepped back about three feet, looking around. "Buffy? Um, Buffy, I can explain!"

"Explain? No, no, don't explain. You two go right back to what you were doing." Buffy was smiling in a way that was beginning to really piss Willow off. And her eyes had never left William, sizing him up from top to bottom. Without even realizing it, Willow stepped in front of him, physically placing herself between William and Buffy's enthusiastic gaze.

"You go, Willow." Buffy was very impressed. She'd never seen her friend so much as look at anyone but Xander and here she was necking in the park with the hottest guy Buffy had ever seen. 'Please God, don't ever tell Angel I had that thought.'

"No, Buffy, its not - um, not what you -" but before she could finish William wrapped his arm proprietarily around her neck and shoulders.

"Pet, don't you think it's time we told your friends? I know you wanted to keep it secret, but now that we've been caught red-handed so to speak…" He'd felt it the moment she walked up, 'Slayer!' and he almost vamped out, but then he saw Willow's terrified face and thought better of it. Wasn't this how he'd defeated the other slayers? Watch them, observe their style, learn their weaknesses. What better way to get to know his third dead Slayer than through her friend?

"Well, if - if you say so. William, this is Buffy. Buffy this is William."

Buffy reached out a hand but Spike just waved a hello from his position behind Willow. "It's so very nice to meet you, William. How long have you two known each other?"

Willow bit her bottom lip and turned questioning eyes up to Spike's face and he quickly filled the void. "Couple of weeks now. I'm new around here. Marketing pharmaceuticals to doctors, not much time for socializing, you understand."

Buffy was still smiling at him with the grin of either a besotted teenaged girl or a sick llama, he wasn't sure which. "And how did you two lovebirds meet?" She was so going to kill Willow later for not mentioning this glorious hunk of man. After she got all the delicious details about what they'd been up to for two whole weeks, of course.

Spike answered her yet again. "In this very park actually. I was sitting here admiring the afternoon sun in your lovely town and Willow was out for a little stroll. We took to each other right from the go, isn't that right, pet?" She was so happy that he was answering all Buffy's questions that she just nodded at everything he said. She was really bad at lying. And he had stuck to sort of the truth. That would make it easier for her later.

Buffy finally realized she was staring and turned her eyes to look at Willow. "Will, you've got to take him and introduce him to Xan and Giles and Cordy. They're still in the library. I'll be there in a while. I've been getting those stomach tin - um, cramps, I mean cramps. Must have eaten some bad sushi. Gotta go hunt down those - uh, sushi sellers. I can tell they're around here somewhere. I'll be back to school in a while, 'kay? I want to hear all about you and William." With a small wave, she was off.

Willow turned a shy smile toward William. "Well, do ya wanna?" she asked timidly.

'Hell, yes! Oh, wait. She's not talking about that, is she? Is she? No, probably not.' "Do I wanna what?" he asked with a straight face.

"Go meet my friends?" 'What did he think I meant?' she wondered for the split-second before he answered.

"Sure, lead the way." He pulled her hand to his waist as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders.

They passed an elderly couple who were neighbors of Willow's and after they exchanged evening pleasantries, the man remarked to his wife about what a nice looking couple they made, their little redheaded neighbor girl and the blond man with warm blue eyes. He held her like she was his most precious possession and the way her head leaned to rest on his shoulder as they walked away showed adoration and absolute trust. It was just so sweet.

"I think he'll be very good for her. Did you see the way they looked at each other? If they don't love each other now, they will very soon. You could see the world in their eyes, Guadalupe. Just the way I first looked at you, my love," he said to his wife.

"Pedro, you're such a hopeless romantic." She smiled and kissed him with all the passion of her sixty-eight years. "Lucky me." They shared a smile and walked home, enjoying their love as much now as they had when they first fell in love.

Chapter 3

The halls of Sunnydale High School were still and quiet, the footsteps of Willow and her new friend echoing through the silence.

Willow's natural insecurity was starting to bubble to the surface and Spike felt her body tense very quickly. He stopped his stride and pulled the girl to his chest, wrapping comforting arms around her. 'If she backs out now, it'll be tougher to get the inside skinny on the slayer, keep the chit calm.'

"What's wrong, luv?" he asked her with a soft voice, while rubbing small circles on the small of her back.

"W-why d-d-do you th-think something's wrong?"

He pulled away from her and looked into her fearful green eyes with his knowing blue ones. "J-j-j-just a guess," he said with a smile and pulled her close once again.

He felt the rumble of her laughter against his chest and slowly, as her merriment grew, her body relaxed against his. She felt his lips on the top of her head and noticed for the first time how perfectly they fit together, her body curled into his, his arms encircling her like she was made for this spot. 'Bad Willow!' she chided herself. 'This man is doing you a big huge favor and you're thinking about how to seduce him.' She was a little startled by that. 'Was I trying to seduce him? Not that I could if I wanted to, but if I could, would I want to?' She giggled again. 'Who am I kidding? OF COURSE I would want to!'

She felt it was time to move this along before she embarrassed herself. "Ready for the third degree?"

"Lead the way, pet," he offered with a flourish of his arm, following her into the school library.

Xander was the first one to see her, "Wills, thank goodness. You tore out of here like -" he cut himself off when he saw the man that was following his bestest friend into the library. "Um, Wills-" but again, he didn't get to finish his statement because he was cut off by a blur of a tall brunette cheerleader walking uber-exuberantly up to the newcomer.

She offered her hand with a big smile and a "Hel - lo, salty goodness!" as she eyed the peroxide blond from head to foot, with a few detours along the way.

'Now that's what I call 'biteable'.' Spike thought as he indifferently shook her hand and before pulling his redhead close. Willow wasn't just biteable, she was keepable as well, something he could never imagine doing with the future Playboy centerfold standing in front of him now. 'And I thought Dru was high maintenance' he thought and tried not to shudder at the overly-obvious brunette.

Cordelia was silent for the first time in her life, trying to figure out why this damn-fine man was not falling at her feet, but instead holding onto Willow like he was afraid he might lose her.

Willow took the opportunity to finally say what she had come to say. "Um, Cordelia, Xander, this is William. He's my um, well, he's my -

"I certainly am, luv," he interceded with a squeeze and a soft kiss on her lips. As he pulled away, he smiled and gave her a reassuring wink. "I'm William and I'm Willow's - all Willow's and only Willow's," he said pointedly in Cordelia's direction.

"You must be Xander," he said, walking up to the boy Willow had talked so much about. "Nice to finally meet ya, mate. My girl talks about you all the time." He shook the boy's hand as Xander sat there mouth agape and eyes wide.

"That's funny," Giles said icily as he walked out of his office, "As she's never once mentioned you." There was no way the girl he had come to look upon as a daughter had kept something like this from him. 'Would she?'

"Ah, Mr. Giles," Spike said warmly, also shaking the man's hand. "Willow has been a little secretive, it seems, with all of us." He walked back over to the frightened looking girl and took her hand, pulling her to sit down at the table they had been congregating around. Once she was seated, he began the 'Sure-Fire- Method-Of-Calming-Willow' and put his arm behind her to rub circles into her back. She instantly relaxed into his touch.

"Seems Willow's neglected to tell me about your demonology studies." The rest of the room began to shoot daggers into the redhead, but Spike pretended not to notice. "Don't believe in it myself, but hey, Willow's a very smart girl and if she enjoys it, just makes her more interesting as far as I'm concerned. So, you all in this demon study club as well?" He looked round at the other occupants of the room and saw them visibly relax.

Giles started and the others followed, with questions as to how they met, why Willow had kept it secret, what William did for a living, where he had grown up in England, his education, background, etc, all the questions normally asked of a human suitor to a girl for which all concerned understandably had a genuine affection.

He was relieved to see that he was giving the right answers because they were all becoming comfortable around him, seeming to accept him, even maybe like him. They had sat in companionable conversation for about three hours, Xander had even made a donut run and everyone was relieved to see that apparently William didn't favor jelly, bringing him up one notch higher on their individual scales because they wouldn't have to fight him for their favourite.

It was almost midnight when he felt the slayer getting closer. It wouldn't due to have her walk into the almost empty library and feel a vampire presence, so he made the excuse that he had an early morning and offered to walk Willow home before he headed back.

Giles was so thrilled to see the shy girl happy and cared for that he practically insisted that she go home early for once and get some rest. The happy couple set off with smiles and waves and promises to see each other the next day and got out of there well before the slayer's return.

On the walk home, Willow thanked him over and over again for how nice he was to her friends. "And the way you answered all of their questions, you didn't have to do that. You're just so nice, and so sweet and in my experience guys like that don't exist and you're doing this even though there's nothing in it for you and I just want to say thank you again," she finished as they reached her doorstep.

"You all right here by yourself, luv?" he asked, "I feel terrible leaving you here on your own with your parents gone. What if someone broke in? Shall I check for you?"

She was touched by his concern, maybe there really were nice guys left in the world. "I'm sure it's fine, I'm here by myself all the time." At his comical frown, she conceded with a grin, "Fine, come in, check to your heart's content, no baddies, you'll see."

Spike stepped across her threshold with a huge grin, 'Works every time!' and proceeded to turn on lights and check for intruders that he knew weren't there because he heard no heartbeats except for his redhead's.

She waited in the entry for him to finish checking and smiled an 'I-Told-You-So' smile when he came back looking sheepish. She had absently pushed the on button on the Bose stereo that sat on the foyer table, something she did every night when she came home to an empty house. An old Etta James tune came on and she smiled inwardly, remembering seeing her parents dance to this song at her cousin's wedding.

Spike saw the wistful look appear on her normally troubled face and got an urge to make it last. He pulled her into his arms and danced her around the entry and living room, turning her in practiced steps and spins that he learned over a half century before. Her wistful look turned into one of true happiness and he was suddenly very glad that he was the one who had put it there.

The last notes of the song died out and he went to place a chaste kiss on her cheek, but she was turning toward him at that moment and their lips met. He felt her blood run faster, heard her heartbeat increase and the sensations fueled his libido. A hand came up to tenderly cup her cheek and quickly became entwined in her hair, pulling her closer. She seemed as eager as he was, but she was just a teenager, in trouble and confused about her life right now.

That thought made him break away from her, "I'm so sorry, Willow, I didn't mean-. I should never have-. I'd better go. Tomorrow night, I'll pick you up here, say nine o'clock?" he looked embarrassed and Willow mentally kicked herself for making him kiss her.

"Yes, all right, nine o'clock. I'll - I'll see you then. And I'm so sorry - about kissing you, I took advantage - and you've been so nice - and I just want you to know, I'd never, I mean, I guess I'm just so relieved, I feel like a great big old weight's been lifted, and I just - I won't do it again. I mean, I know we'll have to um, well, kiss, in front of my friends, I mean, so that they think we're, well, you know, but I promise, I can control myself at, well, other times, and I really really appreciate what you're doing for me and I don't want you to go home thinking I'm the kind of girl that attacks guys, because I'm SO not that type of girl, I don't even talk to guys, well, normally, except for you, and - and - well, Ryan of course, and well, Xander, I've been talking to him since -" She suddenly realized she'd been babbling. "Just - don't worry, I won't do it - ever again, I promise, just relief kinda, and well, good night."

She held the door open and he left, walking slowly back to the abandoned warehouse that he and Drusilla had taken up residence in, stopping on the way to feed. He spent the whole time lost in thought about a seventeen year old pregnant redhead and what she was making him feel. And shaking his head with a chuckle that she actually thought she had taken advantage of him with that kiss.

Chapter 4

She didn't even make it out the door the next morning before she was being barraged with questions. She had expected Buffy or Cordelia - or both - to be standing on the steps of the high school waiting for her to give her the third degree. She may yet have to deal with that, but right now, at six am, just as her alarm went off, she heard a knock at the front door and knew that she had a lot of explaining to do, right now.

She arose and opened the door to Xander, smiling and bearing doughnuts. She smiled back and turned to head for the kitchen. As expected, he followed her and sat the bakery box on the table. As they had done countless times before, Willow set the glasses on the table as he pulled the milk out and poured. At the third glass, he stopped.

"You've done it again, Will," he told her, not unkindly.

She sighed and picked up the third glass, returning it to the cupboard.

"I wasn't thinking, I'm still asleep," she offered as an excuse.

"It's only been six months," he said, understanding. "How many years was it the three of us? I miss him too, Willow."

The seriousness of her life overwhelmed her once again, and she started to cry. Xander, as her oldest friend, knew it was best to let her cry it out, so he held her and offered soothing words until she stilled.

"It's okay, Will. I still go by Jesse's house every morning to pick him up before school. Before I get there I remember that he's gone, but I go anyway. It's normal, I think. But even if its not, since when did we ever want to be normal?" he asked her with a slight chuckle.

"That's true," she offered as her tears slowed. "And that was even before we knew that we lived on the Hellmouth and nothing could ever be normal." She took a sip of her milk and sat in her usual chair. "Did you get me blueberry?"

"Sorry, they were out of blueberry," he said as he opened the box. He pulled out a doughnut and put it on a napkin in front of her. "Just kidding. Would I ever let down my Willow?" he asked and she smiled up at him. "Oh, wait. You're not my Willow anymore, are you?" The grin that spread across his face let her know that he had planned this entire conversation.

"Nice segueway not, Xan," she groaned. "Okay, since I've been dreading it all night, go ahead, I'm ready."

"Okay," he said, pulling a piece of notebook paper out of his pocket, only glancing at it before asking, "One. Why didn't you tell me sooner? Its me, Xander, your bestest bud since we were five. We tell each other everything. Why didn't you tell me?"

'A list? He has a list? Wonderful.'

"I don't know, Xan. It was just private, ya know? Something that was mine alone and nobody else's business until I wanted it to be." She realized that she had been talking about her afternoon with Ryan and made her brain focus on William. "I only told you last night because Buffy caught us kissing in the park. I figured she'd tell you all if I didn't, so I brought him to the library. "

"Two. Do you love him?" He wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer to this question, but he had to ask.

"No, er, I don't know." She thought about William's face, his smile, his warm blue eyes, his kisses. She thought about the kindness offered her by a stranger when she needed a miracle. "I think I could, though," she added wistfully, "I think I could love William very easily." She pulled her thoughts away from that, she couldn't afford to think like that, not even for a second; in a few weeks he'll be gone.

Xander had been watching her face very closely. Willow's eyes told him everything he needed to know. He crumpled the list that it had taken him most of the night to finish and threw it - for two points - into the trashcan across the room.

"What?" Willow asked, thinking she had said something wrong.

"The next question was 'Does he make you happy?' but you already answered it," he told her with the smile that used to make her melt. She realized with both relief and sorrow that it no longer had the same effect.

Chapter 5

At eight-thirty that night, after a long day of many questions, Willow was happily and quietly finishing the research on a demon that Angel had heard was going to be rounding up victims for a ritual of some kind. She was almost finished, now that she had some peace; Buffy and Angel had left for patrol about fifteen minutes ago, Jenny had thankfully taken Giles out for dinner and Willow had sent Xander home to study for tomorrow's algebra test.

She had put the last tome away in Giles office and was packing up her backpack, when Buffy came storming back into the library, followed by an irate Angel.

"It's none of your business, Angel, and she'll tell you that herself!"

"She's not the type to -"

"Willow, tell him its none of his business!"

Willow turned to Angel and said with a pleasant smile, "Angel, its none of your business. Now what -"

"See, I told you it was none of your business!" Buffy yelled. "Just leave her alone, Angel. He's really nice and he makes her so happy and you should have seen them kissing last night -"

Willow was beginning to have an idea what this conversation was about - her.

If they had been discussing her, like she was some child who needed parental supervision, well, that just… sucked.

'I've been on my own since I was ten and they aren't my mother and father! This is just so not going to happen!'

"Wait! Just wait a minute! You two are fighting about me?" She didn't want Buffy and Angel to fight - ever - about anything, least of all her. "What's this about, guys?"

Buffy started, "Angel here thinks -" but Angel thought it best to speak for himself.

"Willow, something's not right here. What do you know about this guy? He just comes out of nowhere and now you're saying he's your boyfriend? When? Where? How? You're not like this, you don't jump into things like this. This is the Hellmouth, you can't just believe every line some charmer throws at you. You're smarter than that. How do you know he's not-"

But Willow had heard enough. Angel, of all people, the same Angel who had not been up front about his current breathing status, at least not at first, was lecturing her about a wonderful guy who had come to her aid when she needed it most. A guy who asked for nothing in return, was doing this out of the kindness of his heart.

"Now just a minute, Dad!" She was irate and her anger was coming out in every word, every look, every gesture. "You're not my father and William is none of your business! You know nothing, less than nothing, about him. He's done nothing wrong - not to you, not to anybody. If you want to point fingers, then look in a mirror - oh, that's right, you can't because of the whole 'no reflection' thing," she said with mock sarcasm. "It's my life, - not yours - and what I choose to do or not do with it is up to me. Would you like it if I told you what to do? Like when's the last time you sat and talked to Buffy - who's supposed to be your girlfriend - about anything other than the baddie of the week? You don't spend any time with her; you don't even take her out for a cup of coffee! You brood and you disappear and then, 'Oops! It must be Tuesday because here's the latest creature feature and Angel's making his weekly appearance!' William talks to me and wants to know what I think and how I feel, and he buys me ice cream instead of coffee because coffee's bad for the - well, ice cream has calcium in it, which is good for you. And he cares about that, and he thinks about that, he wants what's best for me and he doesn't ask for anything for himself. He's there when I need him, not just when its convenient for him - not just every Tuesday!"

She stormed out of the library, muttering to herself about clueless, uncaring men, leaving a shocked and speechless best friend and a thoughtful vampire behind her.

Chapter 6

William arrived at Willow's door precisely at nine o'clock. He knocked. No answer. He knocked again. Still no answer. He tried the door, but it was locked. He looked down at the bouquet of flowers he had stolen for her and became angry at himself for making the effort. He growled and threw them out toward the sidewalk and sat down on the stoop, wishing he'd fed before coming over here. He was getting hungry and waiting for her wasn't helping his temper any. He buried his head in his hands and waited for Willow's return.

"She will be home soon."

William looked up and saw the old man from the park last night bending over to retrieve his flowers.

"Do you know where she is?" he asked.

"Probably at the school, she is an excellent student our little Willow. She spends a lot of time there, studying. Do you know what she studies?"

William had the feeling that this was a test and for some reason he was anxious to pass it. "Demons."

"Very good, William. It is good that she trusted you with the truth."

"I was under the impression that her 'studies' were a secret."

"Oh, they are, they are. She says nothing to me or Gualalupe, but we look out for her. Her parents, do you know about them?"

"Not really. She said they work a lot."

"Work! As if that was more important that their daughter! I don't understand Ira and Sheila; they gave birth to the sweetest angel God ever put on this earth and then abandon her for their 'work'!" Pedro spat onto the grass, leaving no doubt in William's mind what the old man thought of Willow's parents.

"And so you look out for her."

"Yes, but we don't let her know that. She thinks she wants independence, but she yearns for companionship. She has Xander, of course, but he's not as attentive as he once was. And they've both had a hard time dealing with Jesse's death."

"Who's Jesse?"

"A boy. A very nice boy who was Willow's friend since she was a small child. He was killed by a vampire this past spring."

"She didn't tell me."

"No, I didn't think she would have. She still can't quite believe it herself."

"Did she find his body?"

"No, Xander found him. He had been turned. Xander had to stake him."

William found new respect for the boy. Staking someone he loved was the hardest thing he'd ever done, and he had the cold heart of a demon. It must have been horrible for the human boy.

"You aren't going to hurt her, are you?"

"What?" He'd forgotten the other man was sitting there.

"You aren't planning to hurt our Willow?"

"NO! Why would you think -"

"I know who you are, vampire. William the Bloody is a name known round the world. I saw you once, when I was a boy. You had killed a man from my birthplace in Mexico. His family was starving. The community was gathering money to send the family to Mexico City to be with Senora Herme's parents and you brought a handful of gold and put it in my hand and told me to donate it to the cause."

"I did no such thing!"

Pedro laughed, "Yes, William, you did."

"Why would I- Did you say 'Herme'?"

"Yes, Manuel Herme was the man's name."

"I remember, isn't that strange, that I'd remember him after all this time? He was going to stake Dru." William spoke quietly, the memory returning slowly. "We hadn't killed anyone, hadn't had time to, but he knew Dru, or said he did. He knew she was a vamp, that's for sure. He broke a chair, he was going to kill her - real dead this time, not undead. I couldn't let him-"

Pedro put his hand on William's shoulder, "Thank you for telling me that. I imagine its not good for a vampire's pride to admit that he killed a man for love."

"It's Spike."


"Call me Spike, no one calls me William except Angelus."

"You know Angelus?"

"Yeah, he's my… Wait, you know Angelus too? Did yer home town sacrifice a virgin once a year to draw in the vamp tourist trade?"

"No," Pedro said with a grin, "Angelus is here."

Spike didn't say anything, but from the look on his face, Pedro did not think this came as a surprise.

"Here's here, William. He lives here. He has a soul and calls himself 'Angel'. Did you not know?"

Spike was pacing now, his brain working overtime. Something Pedro had said hit him. "He has a what now?"

"He has a soul. Sit down, William and let me tell you." Spike sat down once again on the stoop next to Pedro. "He came here right before the slayer. Only a few days. He helps her; helps all of them. He has saved Willow's life and those of her friends. He is a good man, William."

"A soul? How the bloody hell did he get a soul? When?"

"This I do not know. I only know what I have heard and what I have seen. He is changed, William."

"Bloody fuck! A soul! What am I going to do? Is he still her sire? Will the spell still work?"

"Is he what? Will what work?"

Spike tried too late to cover himself. "Nothing, forget it old man."

Pedro was indignant and stood, glaring down at Spike. "I will forget nothing, William. You will tell me now what you were talking about."

"And if I don't?" Spike taunted.

"I don't make idle threats, young man. You will tell me what you are planning for my little Willow."

The sound of Willow's name brought him back to where he was and what he was doing there. What lie would Pedro believe? He'd promised to help Willow and he wasn't going to let this bloody wanker stop him from keeping his promise. He decided to stick to the truth - mostly.

"Its Drusilla. She's weak, a bleedin' mob attacked her in Prague."

"Drusilla's here, she's still with you?"

"Of course she's still with me, you git. She's my dark princess, I'd never leave -"

Surprisingly strong hands and arms grabbed his shirt and threw him up against the porch post. "Then what are you doing with Willow?"

Spike gripped the old man's wrists and with more strength than was necessary, removed Pedro's hands from his beloved black leather coat.

"What I'm doing with her is none of your business, old man. But since you obviously care about the chit, I'll tell you this much. I'm not going to hurt Willow; no matter what you think and no matter what it looks like to her 'friends', I'm not playing with her. I'm here to help her out and I would never -" and he glared at the old man and reiterated, "never hurt her. She's special, more so than you realize and if you really do love her as much as you say you do, you'll leave us alone while I'm here. I'll be out of your hair in a few weeks anyway." He hadn't meant to let that last part slip out.

"You're leaving her?"

"I'm leaving, old man. In a few weeks and Willow knows it. Ask her yourself if you don't believe me."

At Spike's nod, Pedro turned and looked into the wide eyes of his beloved friend.

"William? Pedro? What's going on here?" Willow asked, her eyes very close to tears.

As Spike turned, he saw her body collapse in on itself and was beside her, catching her before she fell to the ground.

"Inside," Pedro commanded, but then thought better of it and said, "You haven't been invited" just as Spike walked over the threshold with Willow in his arms. "Or maybe you have" Pedro said to nobody, because no one was still there to hear him. He followed them inside and saw William squeezing out a towel at the kitchen sink and carrying it over to the still unconscious Willow, who was lying peacefully on the living room couch.

"Is she all right?" he asked.

"She's fine," Spike answered, but he didn't sound like he thought she was fine.

"What's wrong with her?" the old man asked.

"Nothing." The answer was curt and to the point and made it obvious that he wasn't going to talk about it further.

"It's not nothing, William. Now tell me what's wrong with her!" A scared vampire was not something you saw every day. Pedro was sure that Willow had some incurable disease and no one had told him. He was afraid for her and no one, not even William the Bloody was going to stop him from doing everything he could to help his friend.

"Pedro, are you here?" came a soft voice from the doorway and Pedro rushed to usher his wife into the room to help.

Guadalupe saw Willow lying on the couch and assumed the worst. She slapped William across the face. "What have you done to her?! Pedro, he's not safe - stake him!"

Spike couldn't believe that this tiny human woman had slapped him! And then ordered the old man to stake him as if he were a helpless fledge!

"Guadalupe, he didn't do it. I don't know what happened," he explained as Guadalupe rushed to Willow's side and felt for a pulse. When she nodded he continued, "Willow just came home from the school. She - I don't know what happened - she fainted, I think."

Guadalupe was feeling Willow's forehead and wrists. She looked at the girl's ankles. Willow opened her eyes and smiled down at her neighbor. "Hello, Guadalupe, are - why are you here? And where's here?" She was still waking up and was still disoriented, that's why when the older woman asked her next questions, Willow didn't hesitate to answer her.

"Are your bosoms sore?"

"Yeah, off and on."

"How far along are you?"

"Just a few weeks."

"I was the same way with my son Alberto. I knew right away. Have you been sick in the mornings?"

Willow giggled. "Mornings, afternoons, middle of the night. Why is it called morning sickness anyway? That's misleading and mean to make us think we'll only get sick in the morning."

Pedro was about to interrupt with demands of who and how and what William had to do with all of this, but was cut off by Spike.

"Why didn't you tell me, Pet? You shouldn't be here all by yourself. Where are your parents?" He was getting indignant on her behalf and Pedro was as proud as he would have been if William had been his own son.

"William, I told you. They aren't here. They're never here. It's all right. I'm used to being by myself." She blushed as she realized just how angry he was, and was overwhelmed that all of this emotion was for her. "Thank you, though. For caring."

What's wrong with these bloody humans? When a sweet girl like Willow feels the need to thank someone for caring about her! Doesn't everybody who ever met her care about her? Isn't she used to people falling all over themselves trying to make her happy?



"You said 'humans' William." The fear in her eyes was growing by the second. "You said 'What's wrong with these bloody humans'. Why would you say that? Why would he say that?" She directed this last question to Guadalupe.

Spike looked around. He settled on Pedro. "Did I say all of that out loud?"

Pedro smiled at him in a way that made Spike want to snap his neck and nodded. "You did, William."

"Bugger. Look Willow -" he turned to see the girl sitting in Guadalupe's lap with her head on the older woman's shoulder, crying her eyes out.

"He's a vampire, Willow," Guadalupe told her. "But a special one. He has a good heart."

"HEY!" Maybe he'd snap both their necks. Make it a double funeral.

"Oh, shush!" Guadalupe aimed at him before turning back to her charge. "Pedro met him once, Willow. When he was a young boy. He's died his hair since then," and she aimed a disapproving glare towards Spike, "But its still him. He helped out a family in Pedro's village. He gave them a lot of money so that they could move closer to the woman's family."

"Well I did murder her husband!" Spike felt compelled to add.

"Be quiet," Pedro spat at him, "You're not helping your case."

"Case? What case?" Spike was so confused. He took two steps toward the front door and then changed his mind. He took a step back into the room. He didn't like that idea either, so he walked into the kitchen and pulled out a pack of cigarettes and put one in his mouth.

Pedro stood in the kitchen doorway and watched as Spike lit it and then abruptly grabbed the lit end and put it out. "Why did you do that?" Pedro asked.

"Do what, old man?"

"Why did you put it out? I don't mind if you smoke and the Rosenbergs aren't here to mind -"

"Willow's preggers, you wanker! The smoke's not good for the baby." He turned a glare at his companion and saw that asinine smile once again. "WHAT? What is your problem, old man?"

"I have no problem, William. I think it is you who is troubled."

Spike wanted to ask what he meant by that, but sat down heavily at the table instead and ran his hands through his short hair.

"Are you still with Drusilla?" Pedro asked casually.

"Of course, she's my… my… my dark…" he seemed at a loss as to exactly what Drusilla was to him. "Yes, you git, I'm still with Dru."

"And do you still love her?"

Spike looked at the man like he had lost a few bolts. Who did this idiot think he was, coming at Spike - William the frigging Bloody, thank you very much - and asking a bunch of insane questions?

"Do you?"

"No." Where had that come from? "Yes! No. I don't know."

Spike put his head in his hands and wished for spontaneous combustion.

Quiet murmurs from the other room finally stirred him and he walked over to the doorway. Guadalupe was still holding Willow in her lap, brushing the girl's hair and telling her about when she first met Pedro, how wild and unscrupulous he had been, how love had calmed him, how you never knew what a man was really like until you saw him in love.

Pedro stood behind him, watching his wife calm her friend. "Isn't she beautiful?" Pedro asked, and Spike thought for a moment that he was talking about Willow. He turned to punch the dirty old man and saw the wistful gleam in his eyes, saw the love radiating from him, love for the woman he had spent most of his lifetime with. The woman he would spend eternity with.

He knew he had never looked at his Drusilla like that and suddenly felt very sad. He turned back to the two women and felt a warmth flow through him when he looked at Willow's shy smile and happy green eyes. Her skin was rosy pink and her hair was flowing fire. The kind of woman to spend eternity with.

What was he doing here? She was a human, a pregnant human. What business did he have messing up her life? He was here for Angelus, not Willow, and yet he hadn't done a thing about tracking down his and Dru's errant sire. He needed to leave - right now. He needed to get back to business and forget about paltry humans and their paltry problems.

He watched Willow stand and walk toward him with unconcealed fear and he felt like an ogre. Not a real ogre, of course, nasty smelly things they were, but a metaphorical ogre, one who turned his back on sweet little girls with problems that he had offered to help solve.


It was a simple question. He should answer it.

"Why, William? What did you think you were doing?"

One answer coming right up.

Any day now.



"Why did you help me?"

"I don't know."

"Are you going to kill me? Are you going to hurt my baby?" Silent tears were running down her cheeks. Without thinking, he ran his eyes and then his hand over her still flat stomach.


"Then why?"

I don't know. I saw you, and you were alone and you were hurting, I could feel it, and I knew that feeling, I'd been lonely my whole human existence and when I saw you…

But he couldn't tell her that.

Her hand caressed his cheek as Guadalupe took Pedro's hand and left and he knew he had told her.

"I didn't mean to say that out loud."

"I know."

"I'm not like this; I'm never like this. I keep my own counsel, I don't confide in anybody, not even Drusilla - especially not Drusilla." He realized he hadn't told her about Dru and he started to explain, but she stopped him.

"I know. Guadalupe told me. I think maybe that's part of why you're helping me. You have your own love and you understand about needing someone. I understand, William and I'm glad you have someone to love. Someone to be with."

"Yeah." She didn't understand at all apparently, but then, neither did he.

"Take me to get something to eat? I'm starving."

"Sure, pet, let's go." He took her arm and led her out the door, hungry himself, but vowing not to even look at food until he'd left Willow tucked up safe and sound later that night.

Chapter 7

The walk to the Italian restaurant had been uneventful, but just as they were sitting down, Willow turned a horrible shade of green. Her momentary grasp at Spike's arm let him know that something was wrong and he followed her in her sprint to the ladies room.

Nasty comments about his presence made him look up as he was holding Willow's hair away from her face so she could vomit.

"What are you lookin' at?"

Their noses rose in the air as if to say, 'Of all the nerve!'

He had no patience for busybodies. "My girl's pregnant and she don't feel too good right now. Now get your nosey little ass back to your seat and LEAVE US ALONE!"

The two women left quickly but with knowing smiles on their faces. He hated those smiles. "What's with all the bloody smilin' lately!?"

Willow rose and walked over to the sink, running the water to make sure it was nice and cold before she took a drink. She started when she saw William's hands appear beside her with some paper towels. He held them under the icy cold water and then rung them out and held it up to the back of her neck.

"Oh, that feels so gooood."

"Helps when you get nauseous."

"How do you know that? Do vampires get nauseous? Do they even get sick at all? Giles said that -" but his smile made her stop. "What? Was I babbling again? I was babbling, wasn't I? I do that sometimes, just babble on and on until everybody starts looking at me kinda funny and then I know I'm babbling and I stop. Or Xander'll step on my foot under the table so I'll know and then I'll stop. He doesn't step hard, just enough so that I'll -" She stopped and looked sheepish. "Sorry."

"I think its adorable, Pet. You babble to me any time you like."

For some reason that made her extraordinarily happy and she smiled once again until William opened the door to the restaurant and then the nausea hit her again. She started to turn around, but Spike picked her up in his arms and carried her out the front door.

She took a deep breath and instantly felt better.

"It's the hormones, Luv. You're makin' lots of new hormones and it's messin' with your body. Now you know sort of what a vampire's sense of smell is like."

"Really? Because that was just overwhelming. It was like I was breathing it in through my pores. It was horrible! But wait, I like pasta. It doesn't make me sick."

"Well, it does now obviously. You wanna go back home?"

"No, I'm still uber-hungry."

"Even after that upchuckin' you did?"

She smiled. "Especially after all that upchuckin' I did. Gross, I know, but I always get hungry after I puke my guts up ."

He shook his head disbelievingly. "What ever you say, Pet. So, what do you fancy now?"


"Didn't the doc give you some nutritional guidelines or some such? Don't you need, I dunno, vegetables or somethin'?"

She took his arm and steered him toward the Dunkin' Donuts. His concern for her was so touching, it almost made her want to cry. Maybe later, food first. "Don't you know? There's been major breakthroughs in the nutritional content of pastries. Lots of, um, vitamins and stuff they're adding now." He looked unconvinced so she just pouted instead.

"Fine. Donuts it is, but tomorrow you're sittin' down to three squares, you have to promise me."

"Yes, William," she said resignedly. She hated real food. And besides, she couldn't cook, so he'd have to accept Pop Tarts as one of her 'squares'.

"What?" he said as they walked across the parking lot.

"What what?" she answered, pretending she didn't know.

"That look, that's what. What was that look for? You're not by any chance lyin' to me to get these doughnuts, are ya, Pet?" He was smiling, so Willow hoped he wasn't really angry with her.

"No - not 'lying', exactly," she began. "It's just - well, what kind of square meals did you have in mind? Pop Tarts are very nutritional, ya know."

He pulled her to him and kissed the top of her head before letting her go and opening the door for her. "You get more adorable every time you open your mouth, ya know that? Looks like I'll just have to see to ya myself."

"Um - see to me? What does that mean exactly?" She seemed nervous and he could smell her apprehension. He loved it.

"Means I'll be spendin' the day with ya. And since daylight's not really good for me, it means I'll be spendin' the night."

Now she was really nervous. "Spend -" her throat dried up. "Ahem. Spending the night?"

He gave her a sexy smirk and she melted into the floor. Or she felt like she had anyway. "Yup, spendin' the night. But first we have to make a stop and then hit the grocery store. I'm bettin' you don't have any real food in that house of yours."

She gathered the last remnants of her control and ordered three donuts, a blueberry, a glazed and a chocolate crème. Spike ordered a cup of coffee for himself and a glass of milk for Willow and they sat at a table in the corner by the window.

Willow was surprised that he was drinking coffee. "You eat?"

"Yeah," he answered, surprised at her question. "Doesn't everybody?"

"No, I mean yes, I mean-" She took a deep breath and blew it out then started again. "But you're a ~vampire~," she whispered the word, "and don't they just, ya know, drink ~blood~." Another whisper and he laughed.

"Well, yeah, I do that too. Am I breaking one of those cultural stereotypes for vampires that humans seem to have? Bram Stoker didn't get everything right, ya know."

She laughed as well. "I know that. It's just that Angel doesn't eat - I don't think." It suddenly occurred to her that he hadn't met Angel - and he couldn't - not if she wanted everyone to believe that William is the father of her baby. Angel would know right away that William's a vamp. Oh no.

"S'all right, Pet. I'm n-" but she cut him off.

"Angel! He wants to meet you! He was asking questions tonight. Maybe he saw you, maybe he knows."

He felt the need to reassure her. "Poof doesn't know I'm here, don't worry."

"Poof?" She was very confused.

"Poof - Angel. He's my sire," he confessed.

"Your who now?"

Spike laughed. "My sire, the vampire who made me." He thought for a moment before adding, "He's Dru's sire as well."

"Who's Drew?"

"Drusilla. She's the poof's - Angel's second childe. Penn was first, Dru's second and I'm the third."

"So Drusilla's your - your sister?" She sounded horrified and he chuckled.

"Don't sound so shocked, Pet. 'S not uncommon for vamp families to form lots of different bonds toward each other, lots of different relationships. Hell, the poof and I -" She held out her hand and stopped him.

"Stop right there. I really don't think I want to know what you and the poof-" she laughed. "Oh, no. Now you've got me calling him that. The next time I see him, I just know I'm going to slip up and call him 'poof'."

He picked up the trash on their table and dumped it into the waste receptacle.

When he held out his hand, she took it and let him lead her out into the night.

"So, where's our first stop, William?"

"First things first. Please, call me Spike."

She stopped and looked him up and down in a way that he didn't think she had any idea about how his body reacted to it. At least he hoped not; if she did then she was a cock-tease and that was just one description he didn't think would ever apply to his Willow.

"You don't look like a Spike."

He rolled his eyes. "Since I've never actually seen myself, my vampire self," he corrected, "I'll have to take your word for it. So what do I look like then?" He really wanted to know how she saw him.

"Hm. Not a Spike, that's for sure, but not a William either. William's too stuffy and you don't look the least bit stuffy."

"That's something, I guess. So, what then, Willow? What do I look like to you?"

"Maybe Will?" she asked hesitantly.

It was just too funny. "Will and Willow?"

"Actually, I'm 'Will' too. That's what Xan and Buffy call me anyways."

That sounded good to him. "Two 'Will's then. I can unlive with that. Let's go, Will."

"Sure thing, Will," she giggled. "And where are we going?"

Chapter 8

He stopped in front of an abandoned warehouse. "Right here."

She looked up at the intimidating looking structure. "H - h - here?"

"Don't worry, Will. No one's here to hurt you. I gotta get Dru fed."

"Drusilla? You have to feed her? Can't she do that herself?"

"No, not of late," he said, sadness creeping into his voice. They turned a corner in the passageway and there was a massive four poster bed, with the most beautiful woman Willow had ever seen asleep on it. As they got closer, Willow held tighter to William's arm and Drusilla opened her eyes.

"My little Spike. Have you brought me someone to eat?" she asked tiredly.

Spike smiled at the (until just recently) love of his unlife. "No, Dru. This is Willow, she's a friend. You can't eat her, all right?"

"Yes, my Spike. No eating the pretty little tree." The beautiful vampiress sat up and arranged her long dress so that it lay in neat folds. She looked like a prim Victorian debutante and Willow might have mistaken her for such if she hadn't known the truth.

"Tree?" he asked.

"Willow," Willow interpreted for him and Spike couldn't have been happier. 'Someone who speaks 'Dru'!'

"Here, you talk to the tree, Dru. I'm going to go heat your blood." He turned to Willow. "It's all right, Pet, she can't hurt you, she's not very strong; she’s been fadin' ever since that bleedin' mob got hold of her in Prague. " He didn't even try to hide the hatred in his voice. Willow put a hand on his arm and sat down on the bed next to Drusilla.

"It's okay, Will, go ahead. We'll just chat, 'k?"

"M'kay, Will. I'll be right back." He placed a kiss on her cheek and then left, disappearing down a flight of steps.

"The pretty tree lights a flame in my starry sky. And the flame wants to burn but its afraid, afraid for Princess. Not to worry, Daddy will come and make Princess sing again and the stars will fly high and Princess will live in a beautiful castle and her daisies will read her poetry."

Willow wanted to set Dru straight. "No, Drusilla, it's not like that really. Will, um Spike, and I are friends. See, I have a problem-"

Dru interrupted her. "Your tree is branching out, that's so very nice. And my brave knight rescued you. I knew he would, he's the fairest prince in all the land."

"Yes, he did." Willow smiled, she thought she may be starting to like Drusilla. "You say you knew he'd help me? How did you know?"

"Oh, didn't my prince tell you? I'm very evil. The devil himself cursed me with the sight and I prove my naughtiness every time I talk to the stars."

"You're psychic?"

"If you say so." Willow thought maybe Drusilla didn't know what psychic meant but let it pass.

"Why do you think the devil gave you your visions? Most people consider them a blessing. It's called the sixth sense nowadays."

"Oh, I know because my daddy told me I was evil. Once upon a time I asked a father about the stars and the father later turned into my daddy. And daddies never lie to Princesses."

Willow wasn't sure what to make of all that, so she changed the subject. "What's wrong with you - now, I mean? Are you sick? Because I didn't think vampires could get sick."

"A nasty group with nasty minds made stones and sparklies fly around my eyes. The blood flowed and the stars screamed and Princess was left to fade until my brave knight saved me."

"I'm so sorry. Is there anything you can do; can vampires take medicine or -"

"I'm not sure what to do, but my Spike will take care of Princess. And Daddy is here. Daddy will help."

"Your father? Your father is here, in Sunnydale? I didn't know vampires had fathers."

"Not my father, Daddy. Daddy murdered my father. Grandmama could have helped, but I don't think she's here anymore. The stars aren't whispering her name to me."

"Do they whisper your daddy's name? Because maybe I know him, or, I have a phone book, I could look him up."

Drusilla laughed and Willow thought again how beautiful this woman really was. If there really was a land of Happily-ever-after, any future she may have thought about having with William was gone when she saw Drusilla laugh. 'How could anyone stop loving this woman? How could anyone ever compare?'

Spike walked in and handed a large silver goblet to Drusilla and Willow jumped when Drusilla's vampire face appeared. Dru smiled at her and she sat back down and rubbed a comforting hand on Drusilla's arm as she drank down her blood, Spike coaxing her to finish it all, even though Dru pouted that she couldn't.

When the meal was finished, Spike disappeared again after a "Be right back, Luvs" and Dru took Willow's hand.

"Tree of mine, the stars have told me that you were coming. Clouds come and go and the stars will sing to you and your mate. Please don't cry when the time comes, the heavens shine from your eyes and the goodness of the world rests in your heart. You are only what you can be, you can't be something you're not. You have your destiny and I have mine and boats are meant to sail away. Time will find him again."

Willow blinked. Was this advice? Or a prophecy? "Um, okay."

William returned and made to tuck Dru into bed. "I'll be back, tomorrow, Dru. I have to go with Will tonight. You'll be all right here."

Willow was aghast. "You're just going to leave her here?"

"She sleeps most of the time, luv. She'll be fine."

Willow put on her Resolve Face. "See this face? Don't argue with me." She turned to Dru. "Drusilla, get your stuff, you're coming home with us. I invite you."

Chapter 9

The next few days went by in a haze for Willow. She got Drusilla settled into the guest bedroom at her parents' house. She spent an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom vomiting, but whenever she was hungry, Spike was there with something nutritious and delicious for her to eat. He even packed her lunches for school. She didn't sleep much, but Spike didn't sleep at night so they spent a lot of time talking and watching Nick at Nite.

At school, her friends asked about William and Willow was always ready with a blushing answer about how wonderful he was, how she thought she was falling in love with him. This was necessary for her ruse that Will would be the father of her baby, but it was always followed by a sharp pang of conscious because she was afraid that it was coming true.

"Honey, I'm home," she called one day after school.

"Hello, sweetheart," Spike answered, coming up behind her and taking her book bag. "This feels awfully heavy for a little human girl to carry, let alone a pregnant human girl. Do you really have this much homework? Do you have to carry all of these every day?"

"No, some of its just to read ahead on my work and I have to study for a 19th Century Literature test tomorrow, so, yeah, I guess I really do need all of them."

"Pet, you really have to be careful," he ordered her as he guided her into the kitchen for an after school snack. "Pretty soon junior's going to be getting big and you shouldn't carry heavy things in your condition. Or, that's what they told me mum whenever she had was in a family way with one of my sisters."

"You have sisters?" Willow asked, shocked.

"Yeah, well" he said. "Or, I did. When I was human. I was the oldest. Five sisters after me."

"That explains it," Willow said with a smug expression on her face.

"Explains what?" asked Spike as he dished up the omelet he had prepared for her.

"Why you're so good with women," she explained. "I mean you're - hey, this is wonderful," she remarked, motioning toward the omelet. "It's just, you're really thoughtful and sweet and you take such good care of Dru and me, I wondered why is all. But having five younger sisters and taking care of your pregnant mom, I can understand it now." She continued to eat, smiling happily.

It occurred to Spike to tell her that he wasn't sweet, he wasn't nice and the only reason he took care of Dru is because she was stark raving mad and he was in love with her. He still didn't know why he was taking care of Willow. He saw her smile and decided that he didn't want to be the one to make that smile disappear, so he didn't say anything. Let her think whatever she wanted. Soon, he'd work out a plan to cure Dru and they'd be gone. Let her live with her delusions.

He did, however, feel the need to go kill something - several somethings. So at nightfall, he made an excuse and left the house. He wandered the town, talking to other demons and getting the 411 on Angel. He killed a guy who had just slapped his girlfriend in the alley next to the movie theatre. He stopped by the hospital to collect some bagged blood for Dru and killed an entire family of visiting relatives while he was there.

He was heading to the grocery store when he saw Angel and the slayer. He followed them, trying to stay far enough away that they wouldn't pick up on his presence, but Angel, damn him, seemed to know something was out there, even if he didn't know it was Spike. The slayer kept stopping her patrol to try to get into some heavy snogging with the poof, but he kept pushing her away and telling her something was wrong, something was out there.

After a boring hour and a half of following the slayer and his pathetic excuse for a sire, Spike headed off to the grocery store to get some more food for Willow. He was very happy. His sire had obviously gone soft; getting him to donate blood to Dru's cause might not be as difficult as he had feared.

At home, he put the groceries away, then looked in on Willow and Drusilla. Willow had fallen asleep in Dru's bed again and they were snuggled together under the blankets, each holding one of Willow's stuffed animals. Spike had the thought, not for the first time, that if Dru was well maybe he could get them to have sex and let him watch - and then join in. Maybe he could get them to do this in a pool filled with Jello. Willow and Dru, two beautiful women with perfect bodies, naked and…

Willow's sprint to the bathroom stopped his dreaming and he sighed and headed in there, grabbing a couple of washcloths from the linen closet as he went. He got one nice and cold under the faucet and then laid it on the back of Willow's neck. He got another and ran it under warm water this time, and handed it to Willow as she sat up. She was still too sleepy to figure out what to do with it, so Spike washed her face for her and then guided her downstairs and into the kitchen, where he settled her in a chair before making her a peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwich. This was her favourite middle of the night, post-puking snack. He handed her a sprig of grapes and told her she had to eat them first.

He poured her a glass of juice and watched her eat. He'd never seen anyone so tiny eat so much. He wondered what she had done before he moved in. He wondered what she would do after he moved out.

Chapter 10

"Will, what's wrong with Dru?" Willow asked as she finished up her peanut butter and fluff sandwich.

"Told ya, Pet, she was attacked by a mob. They - well, they weren't very nice. More people in Europe know about us - vamps, I mean. Know what we are, how to spot us - how to hurt us. Dru had been killing the town's prestigious citizens, government types - was right civic minded of her if ya ask me, that place is corrupt as can be." He shrugged. "They chased her into a barn, turned out they'd fitted the walls with bars so she couldn't break out. They - " his voice faltered. "When I found her, she'd been there a few days. Holy water, crosses, you name it, they'd used it on 'er. Anything that would torture but not kill 'er." Willow gasped.

"I think it was the holy water that done it. They made her drink it. Couple of sips every few minutes. Days of that. Her body's just… it's not right, not strong. And it's not healing. Should've but isn't."

"What does she need?" Willow asked, concerned.

"My theory is sire's blood. Sire's blood'll cure anything - anything I've seen yet 'cept for dusting."

"And Angel's her sire." Her eyes looked at Spike.


"Why is she-" Willow didn't know how to ask about Dru's sanity without sounding callous.

"Mad as a March hare?" Spike asked with a smile.

"Well, I wouldn't have put it that way."

"Angelus strikes again," he answered. "Dru was…"

"Psychic," Willow finished.

"Yeah, but they didn't call it that then. Didn't have a word for it really, but it scared people. Her family 'specially. Dru was real devout, good Catholic girl and Angelus ran into her in church one day. Convinced 'er she was evil," the disgust evident in his voice.

"Darla," he continued, "Well, Darla had this scheme going to rob a nob family of their riches - including a little emerald trinket that her Master had a yen for. Kept her pretty busy for a few months and Angelus, I guess he just had some time to kill. Darla never set eyes on 'er until after he'd turned her."

"And he'd made her crazy by then," Willow guessed.

"Right round the bend, yeah. Killed her family, made her watch, every day a little more torment, a little more supposed proof that she was meant for the Devil's work." Spike laughed. "Devil, my arse. Never met 'im myself, but I'll bet Angelus would've given him a run for 'is money."

"And now Angel won't help her?" Willow surmised.

"Don't reckon so, no. Not with him being all soulful. But I'll make him do it. He owes her that much. Owes her more."

"You haven't talked to him yet?"

"Had my hands kind of busy with you, Pet," he smiled at her.

Willow stood. "Well, go, Will!" she told him, pulling him to his feet. "Go find him, go talk to him, go… just go! Make him see he has to do this!"

Spike grinned at her. "Yes, dear." Then walked out into the night to hunt down his errant sire.

Chapter 11

The next few nights were spent much like the ones that came before. Spike would be taking care of Dru while Willow sat at the library and researched new demons or prophesies. When she would get home, Spike would fix her something to eat, then send her to bed. He'd wait until she got up for her middle-of-the-night-puking; then take care of her, send her back to bed and head out to search for his ever-elusive sire.

Angel had turned up at the library twice during that week, for the giving and/or taking of information. It killed Willow that Spike wouldn't allow her to say anything to him about Dru. He didn't want Angel knowing anything about his relationship with the girl. After thirteen days, she'd been about to say something anyway. She was waiting for Angel to arrive so she could give him a piece of her mind.

"Hey, Will, wanna come with?" Buffy asked as she slid a few extra stakes into her socks, sleeves and back pocket.

"Sure," Willow answered, thinking that maybe she'd run into Angel while on patrol.

A few hours later, the girls had seen no sign of any vampires at all, souled or otherwise. They'd been about to head home when Buffy spotted something she thought was suspicious.

"Stay here, Will, it might be a nest. Be back soon as I kill me some vamps," she got her slay on and took off at a run.

Willow held her stake tightly and looked for a place to sit.

"You know I can't do that!" she heard Angel shout. She walked over to the edge of the graveyard to the high stone wall that lined it. She climbed onto a headstone 'Will would kill me if he knew I was climbing up here! But he's not here, so there.'

She looked over the wall into the park on the other side and saw Angel standing there in fighting stance, looking daggers at Will.

"You owe her, you bloody bastard! You made her weak, you made her unable to care for herself," Spike growled back at him.

Angel sighed and relaxed his stance. "Spike, I love her, you know I do, she's my childe. But I have a soul now. If I cure her, she'll go back to torturing and killing and I can't let that happen. I fight against that now."

"She only does what you taught her to do, Angelus! She's always done what you told her to do. You left her - left US - a hundred bloody years ago and she's still doing only what her daddy would want her to do. A century, Sire! I've been loving her and caring her for a fuckin' CENTURY and all she's still doin' is waiting for you to come back." The pain was there in his voice, in his face, in his body language. It seemed as if his whole being were made of nothing but anger and pain and sorrow.

"He's right, Angel." Willow broke into the conversation from her perch on the other side of the wall. "She's yours, you made her, you made her what she is. She's your responsibility, not his. You say you're fighting for your redemption. Maybe this is it. Help her. Help make her well - in every way. Maybe she'll surprise you. Not every creature needs a soul in order to love."

Angel glared at Willow as of she had no right to have a say in this conversation. But he couldn't get past her words - or Spike's. He turned and left without saying a word to either of them.

Spike and Willow looked at each other for a long moment until Buffy called Willow's name from the graveyard. Willow turned to tell Buffy she'd be right there and when she turned back he was gone.

Chapter 12

Two months later…

"Here ya go, Drusilla," Willow walked into the bedroom and handed her the goblet of warmed blood.

"Ah, my darling, you are so kind to princess. Where has our brave knight run off to?"

Willow sat by Dru's side and told her that Will had gone to feed and would be back soon.

"Why do you never call our Spike by his name?"

"I do," Willow giggled, "Just, ya know, not the 'Spike' name, cuz that's so…"

"What?" Dru asked.

"I don't know, too mean. 'Spike' sounds like a deranged sociopath and Will's not - " at Dru's giggle, Willow sighed. "Okay, he is, but he never is to me, ya know?"

"I know, my darling. Our William has always been the special one."

"Yeah," Willow sighed with a wistful smile on her lips.

Dru put out a hand to Willow's now very slightly bulged tummy. "You'll have to tell them soon, you know, my sweet little tree."

"I know," Willow said, laying her hand atop Drusilla's.

Willow walked into the library the next day after school. Cordy and Xander looked relaxed and comfortable teasing each other.

'I wonder when that happened' Willow thought. She was about to ask about Buffy and Giles when the two in question walked out of Giles office. Buffy looked like she was about to say something but then she saw Willow's face.

"What's wrong, Wills?"

"Could everybody, um, sit please?" She suddenly really wished she'd taken Will up on his offer to be here when she told them. But that would defeat the purpose of his leaving when he found out he was the father, so that plan wouldn't have worked.

Willow kept hoping everyone would break out into gales of questions so that she could delay this by having to settle them down, but they seemed to understand that something important was about to be said and had quieted on their own.

Willow sat at the end of the table. "I… I'm uh…" Buffy reached out and held Willow's hand. The gesture made all the difference. 'I can do this.'

"I'm pregnant."

Two blank and two angry stares looked back at her.

"I'll kill him," Buffy roared, standing.

Willow held on tight to the hand that held hers and pulled Buffy back down. Suddenly she didn't want them to think that way about Will. She didn't want them to think that he was the type of guy who would get her pregnant and then just abandon her.

"It's not his."

An apocalypse brought about by the Muppets wouldn't have caused more confused faces.

"You chea - I can't even bring myself to say it, its so ridiculous," Cordelia whispered.

"No, I didn't. But thank you - for not believing that I would."

It took the rest of the afternoon, but Willow came clean about Ryan, the why and what-fors. She told them about being terrified of telling them and meeting Will and his offer to help. She told them that she had only told them now because she was starting to show and they would know soon anyway.

They wanted to be angry at her for keeping this from them. They wanted to scream and shout that she should have had more faith in them. But it wouldn't do any good and besides, they all admitted only to themselves, she was probably right.

"What are you going to do?" Giles asked.

"I'm going to have it."

They all saw the determination on her face and knew they couldn't stop her.

"And I'm giving it up for adoption." She turned to Giles, "Could you help me with that, Giles?"

"Are you sure?" he had to ask.

"Some boats are meant to sail away," she told him, quoting Drusilla - although he didn't know that. It was very unlike something Willow would normally say, but he understood her perfectly.

"Of course I'll help."

"What about Will?" Xander asked. Even though she'd never said it, it was obvious that Willow was in love with him.

"He's leaving."

"What?" The gang couldn't believe it.

Tears fell as Willow went on. "He was never meant to stay. He's been here longer than he was supposed to. Besides…" here was the hard part. "He has a girlfriend. Long term." At their angry glares, she hastened to add, "She knows about this, has known about it all along - she's been very supportive." She didn't tell them she was also living in her parents' house with her and Will. They didn't even know Will lived there.

Buffy, Xander, Giles and Cordy - one and all felt a little ashamed that Willow had felt more comfortable confiding her secret to two strangers than to her friends. Life on the Hellmouth was hectic and strange and they knew that they all could have shown a little more courtesy and tolerance toward the others.

"When?" Buffy asked.


That night, when Buffy went on patrol, the others stayed behind to comfort Willow and discuss what help they could give her with the pregnancy. It was barely an hour later when Buffy came storming back into the library followed by an angry Angel. Angel was holding the hand of a delicate, beautiful woman in a diaphanous long, white dress.

"She's my responsibility, Buffy. I have to help her."

"She's a VAMPIRE!"

When Willow saw Angel dragging Dru by the hand, she ran over to her friend and pulled her out of Angel's grasp. She led her over to the counter and asked if she was all right.

No one seemed to notice them, the Buffy and Angel saga was still unfolding.

"She's insane, Buffy! Angelus made her that way! She kills because she thinks that's what I want her to do. Dru doesn't have the bloodlust, she never did! I'm not going to let you kill her! I've talked to her; she won't kill if I tell her to stop."

"And you believe her because -?"

"She's my childe, Buffy. She's MINE. She won't lie to me. All she's ever wanted to do, even before I turned her was to please me and please God."

Buffy harrumphed. "A vampire who believes in God?!"

"She was going to be a nun. She was… is special. She's my childe and my responsibility, Buffy!" He sighed. His voice calmed. "She's my redemption, Buffy, can't you see that?"

In the silent moment that followed, Xander suddenly noticed that Willow was hugging the insane vampire in question and was about to ask about it when Will came charging into the room.

"Thank hell! Dru, where do you think you were going?"

To say the rest of the room was in shock was an understatement.

"Your boyfriend's girlfriend is a vampire?" Cordelia asked Willow. This was just too much and the brain functions had just about shut down.

But Angel got it - finally, it all made sense. He rounded on Willow, "You're perfect boyfriend is SPIKE?!"

"Um, yes?"

Noise erupted from everywhere. Buffy was screaming at Willow and Angel. Spike was glaring at Dru and growling that Angel had made his lack of intentions more than clear and he had no right to confuse Drusilla by dragging her off for a chitchat. Xander had run to Willow's side and tried to pull her away from Dru but Drusilla wouldn't let go and Willow didn't seem to want to leave Dru on her own either. Cordy was asking Giles if vampires were polygamous. Giles was trying to get his slayer to calm down. Willow looked like she was trying to become smaller by the second so that no one would notice she was there.

When she started to look a little green, Spike ran to her side and lifted her into his arms. He carried her over to the table and sat her down on it, rubbing her back and shoulders and asking if she felt better. A little air was what she needed, did she want him to take her home?

The room had gotten quiet, but the two of them didn't notice. It was just Will and Will and that's all that existed for either of them for the two minutes it took for Willow to return to normal color.

"How could you, Willow?" Buffy said quietly and with complete malice. "How could you do it? I'm the slayer, I kill vampires! Yet you went behind my back, behind all our backs." Xander and Cordelia's eyes held the same contempt that Buffy's did. "You brought him in here, you let us think he was… I almost invited him into my home once, Wills, do you remember that? You brought an evil, soulless killer into our midst and you didn't -"


Everyone's eyes turned to Spike.

"She didn't know, you daft bint! Not at first. And when she finally was told, she knew I wouldn't - Did I ever threaten you? Did I ever try to hurt you or your white hats in any way? Hell, I haven't killed a soddin' human in months because she didn't want me to - " he let that sentence drop before he looked like a complete ponce. But it was probably too late for that.

"All she ever did was love you. You and the moron and the cheerleader and the watcher. She cared more about you and what you thought of her than she did about herself. We did all of this - she did all of this - because she was afraid she'd lose your love if you knew the truth. I don't know how you were raised you fuckin' bitch, but where I come from, that says a whole lot more about you than it does about her. All of you! You spend all your time so busy looking for evil that you forget about what's good. What's pure. Isn't that what you do all this for? To make a place where that goodness can grow and flourish?" He pointed to Willow.

"There's your goodness. There's your purity. And your selfish bitching and moaning isn't helping her. She made a mistake! Tell me you've never made one! Tell me she's wrong! Tell me that if she had come to you three months ago and told you that she'd gotten knocked up by some git who took advantage of her that you'd have held out your arms and loved her unconditionally. That you wouldn't have made her feel like - I don't even want to know. I've known her for three months and she's changed my whole world. You've known her for years and you can't even see her!"

His anger was subsiding. This was a lost cause. He rubbed a hand through his hair. He smelled Willow's tears.

"All she's ever wanted to do was love you and have you love her in return. And she's so easy to love." He turned to Willow. "If you ever need me, Luv, you know where to find me."

No one moved to stop him as he walked out of the library, taking Drusilla with him. After a glance at Buffy and a whispered goodbye, Angel followed them.

Chapter 13

Six and a half months later…

"I'm fine, Buffy, really. All I want to do is sleep."

"Can I get you anything before we go?" Giles asked her. "More tea perhaps?"

Willow smiled at him, at all of them; Giles, Buffy, Xander and Cordy. "You guys have been… more than wonderful, really. But I'm just… tired. Giving him up was… can I just be alone now, please?"

Her friends understood and with a last hug from Xander, they filed out of Willow's bedroom. When the front door closed, the basement door opened.

Willow was almost asleep when he crawled into bed with her.

"Mmmm, Will," she murmured, half-asleep.

"'lo, Luv." He kissed her cheek, not wanting to disturb her, but he hadn't seen her in three days, since before she had the baby, and now that she was home, he couldn't stay away.

"I got rid of them quick as I could," she was almost asleep now.

"I know, Luv. I know."

He held her and ran a hand through her hair and softly lulled her to sleep with his voice. He waited until her heartbeat was even and her body relaxed into a heavy sleep.

"…and Dru says she's got our bedroom ready for us, just as soon as you're able. Angelus can't wait to see you, Luv. If Dru hadn't shagged that soddin' soul out of 'im, he'd 'ave staked me for this."

He snuggled down next to her and as he did, his demon visage slipped into place.

"I love you, Will."

With infinite care for her beautiful skin, he slipped his fangs into her jugular, careful to make her last permanent scar as delicate as possible.

When her heartbeat was almost inaudible, he ripped a tear across his neck and held her mouth over it, encouraging her to drink deep, to take all she wanted.

"You'll be perfect, my childe. Strong and beautiful. And at my side forever."

The End