Past Imperfect, Future Uncertain


pairing: Spike/Willow
genre: romance
rating: mature adults
time frame: goes back and forth from s4 to 1880 England
summary: For the NHA Winter Prompt Challenge: 11. What if Spike's obsession had been with Willow, not Buffy?
author's note: I'm taking it one step further. What if William's obsession had been with Willow instead of Cecily? That will lead into the NHA prompt.


London, 1880

She'd tried to let him down easy, he'd give her that anyway. It didn't stop him from ripping the poems he'd written for her into shreds, but it did make the crying a little easier to bear.

He'd fallen in love with her almost at first sight. Her sweet smile had shown out through her eyes and he was smitten.

"Watch where you're going!"

Nasty rude man, bumping into him like that when all he wanted was to be alone. Alone forever, that's how he saw his life from now on. Alone, because the sweetest, most beautiful girl in the world had turned him down by making up some pathetic excuse of a story that she was a witch visiting from another time and that's why they couldn't be together.

Did she really expect him to believe that? She'd seemed genuine though, as if she honestly believed it herself. But she wasn't mad, anyone could tell that; so it had to be a hastily conceived lie, just to be rid of him.

How pitiful did it make him that someone would go to such lengths just to break his heart? If only he could have made her see – made her see the real him. The passionate man he was inside that his rubbish poems just didn't seem to convey. Maybe if he wrote her another poem… no, that would be a big mistake. What was the point? He was useless to her, useless to himself – Mother needed him, but he didn't feel as if that need was great enough to stop him from ending this bitter torment forever.

That sounded like a very good plan and he sat down in the alley to consider how he would do it.

Sunnydale, 1997

He thought he'd forgotten about her. Had put her far behind him and completely out of his mind and his life for the past one hundred and seventeen years, four months, one week and six days.

Obviously though, not that far and not completely out.

The girl dancing with the slayer could be her sister. Twins almost, but this girl is a few years younger than his Willow had been. And, by some odd coincidence, they have the same name. He'd heard the twit of a boy call her by Willow's name.

He remembers his Willow's story from all those years ago, that she was out of her time and place, that she had a mission, that she would have loved to be with him, but she had to go back. It was all drivel – wasn't it?

Yes, it had to be. No one could… but if she was a witch then…

No, no time for that now. He has Drusilla. He has to kill the slayer and kidnap Angelus in order to save Drusilla. Stick with the plan. She'd already broken his heart once, he didn't think he could stand it if she – or rather her doppelganger – did it again.

But he watches her. Watches her grow and come into her magic. Watches her become infatuated with the dog boy and Spike seethes with hatred for him even though this girl is not the one he loved. Just coincidences, that's all it is. Just a big, horrible coincidence.

Until the night he decides she has to die. This night, this fateful night, when he finds out she is who he knows she can't be.

Sunnydale, 2000

She knows she can't bring Oz back; she doesn't really want to. He'd left all on his own – no cosmic forces broke them apart, Oz did that all by himself. But if she can't be happy, maybe Buffy can. Maybe she can go back in time and find the gypsies who cursed Angelus. Explain to them, show them what he will become. Maybe they'd change the curse, take out the happiness clause. Or teach her enough about it that she could do it herself.

She sits at the party watching Riley clumsily try to win Buffy's affections, but she knows it will never work. Buffy will only have one true love in her life – one soul mate, destined to be together for all time and that is Angel. Sitting here, watching Buffy trying to avoid Riley, she decides that tonight is the night she'll try. Tonight – right now – she'll go back and stop the Happiness Clause from happening.

She runs back to her dorm and hastily grabs the herbs and book she'll need for the spell, being sure to take extra herbs so she can get home again when her mission is accomplished. She grabs a big, ugly brooch – one left to her in the will of a great–aunt she didn't even know she had until the woman died and left her "the family jewels". She was told they were real and selling the stones will – hopefully – give her the funds she'll need to pull off this charade.

She makes her circle of sand, lights the candles and gives homage to the goddess. She's ready to go – ready to give Buffy the happiness and love she herself will never know.

Spike opens the door to her dorm room just as she disappears.

London, 1880

This is her second stop. The first had her witnessing a derelict Angel saving a puppy from an oncoming car. She'd landed sometime in the 1920's from the looks of it. A few muttered words and now here she was. But where is here? And where's Angelus?

The book said nothing about time travel having a diverse effect on one's stomach, something she was going to write to the author about as soon as she got home. The first thing on her agenda is to fit in, so that she can then play detective and hunt down the man – or rather, vampire – that she's looking for.

Its easy to steal a dress and some petticoats off a clothesline and then she heads for the jeweler's, to sell one or two of the stones from the brooch. Oh, she hopes her mother was telling the truth when she said they were real diamonds and opals.

The man behind the counter looks up with a smile when she enters, but he's busy helping another man. A nervous sort, he seems, stammering about wanting to buy something special for his mother's birthday.

"Are – are you sure this is of the finest quality? Mother adores emeralds and yet it's so hard to find ones of decent –"

He breaks off when the jeweler reassures him that the ring will indeed, be perfect for his mother's special day.

She smiles, thinking that its sweet to see a grown man so caring of his mother's happiness. The man seems to sense her presence and he turns then to look at her. Willow, trying to look friendly but not too friendly, smiles quickly until she recognizes those eyes. Spike's eyes, looking back at her from this sweet human man.

The room grows fuzzy and then everything fades to black.

Sunnydale, 2000

The white room and the lab coats now forgotten, memories come flooding back to Spike. Memories of a redheaded vixen who stole his heart when he was human. A beautiful woman with unfashionably short hair and a smile that could light the world.


His Willow.

This Willow.

He'd come here tonight to kill her. Had come back to Sunnydale to kill her. He couldn't stand the constant reminder of what he'd lost. Even in Brazil with Dru, all he'd been able to think about was her – this imposter wearing the face of his beloved. And Dru knew it too. Accused him of being half the vamp he'd been before seeing her.

He supposed that was true. Memories of her brought memories of the man he'd once been. The sniveling sap who'd written her bad poetry and followed her around like a lost puppy.

But tonight, when he'd seen her disappear, he knew. Knew where she was going and why. Knew exactly what lay ahead for her. Knew he was about to show her just what a git he'd once been. Knew he was about to fall in love with her – all over again.

Only this time, it would be Spike who lost his heart, not William. He didn't know when she'd be back, but when she came, he'd be ready for her.

London, 1880

She wakes to find a glass of water being brought to her lips and finds that she is still in the jewelry shop, a strange woman cradling her head and telling her to drink. She does.

The man, that man with Spike's eyes is pacing and flustered, trying to find out if anyone knows who this mystery woman is, so that he can go get her family to come and care for her. He seems very upset and concerned.

When at last the woman asks her name, she's coherent enough to give the name she'd settled on back in Sunnydale. The name of the English relatives on her mother's side, the ones who had passed the "family jewels" down through the generations.

"My name? Willow. Willow Underwood."

The man gasps and smiles; it seems his neighbors, the Addams' have cousins named Underwood. He wants to know if she's related to Mrs. Addams, who was an Underwood before she married.

"Oh," Willow says, thinking quickly, "I – I'm not – I don't think I'm related to them."

"You don't think – you're not sure? You did hit your head rather hard when you fell. Perhaps you –" offers the jeweler.

"I'm from America," Willow explains. "I just – that is to say – I don't know if they're expecting me. I just arrived and –"

The jeweler, a Mr. Richard Farnsworth by name, dispatches someone to see if Mrs. Addams could possibly come and help identify her wayward relative.

Amid stammers and babblings that Willow would prefer not to disturb her cousin, a tall, matronly but kind–looking woman appears and says that yes, her cousin's daughter from America is expected, although not for another month.

"But no matter," she offers, "Come with me, dear and we'll get you all settled, shall we?"

Sunnydale, 2000

Spike sits on Willow's bed as the memories come flooding back. Willow – Mrs. Addams cousin from America, the girl with the enigmatic shine in her eyes – the girl he fell in love with all those years ago.

Willow Underwood – Willow Rosenberg – one and the same.

He leaves, running from the room, knowing he'll be unable to stand the look in her eyes when she reappears. She'll know. Know about him – about William.

As he closes the door behind him, Willow reappears in her room. Only minutes in this time period, but forever in her mind. 'Everything', she realizes, 'everything is changed.'

She hadn't found Angelus, she hadn't changed the curse. But she'd fallen in love – real love – with a human man who no longer existed. A warm and wonderful man with Spike's blue eyes.

Emotionally exhausted, she falls on her bed and cries herself to sleep.

London, 1880

"Yes, William, please do come in," Willow hears her hostess say from the hall. Spike – William – is back. 'Breathe,' she tells herself, 'just breathe.' He's human here, he can't hurt her, doesn't look as if he could hurt a fly.

Its been three days since her arrival and she's no closer to finding Angelus. But then, she's not permitted to leave the house on her own, only with a chaperone, most usually her despicable "cousin" Cecily – the girl whose capacity for gossip makes her worthy of a forked tongue. Maybe Willow could just – no, that would be cruel, no matter how much Cecily deserves it.

She's heard nothing of vampire attacks or strange disappearances from the girl. Only rumors and innuendo and outright cruel gossip about all of their friends and neighbors, William Pratt included.

Cecily seems to loathe him above all others but Willow feels obliged to stand up for the sweet man she saw in the jewelry store. This seems to fuel the girl's animosity even more and makes William a constant target of ridicule for Cecily.

Luckily, at this moment, Cecily isn't here, she's out shopping for a dress for a party the Addams' are going to be hosting to introduce their cousin from America.


Her softly whispered name rouses her from her thoughts and she smiles warmly at the man before her; a sweet, caring man with an easy smile and intense blue eyes. There is nothing cold about those eyes now, none of the callous cruelty she's seen in her own time.

"Hello, William."

She moves over on the settee, giving him room to sit next to her, but he chooses a chair across from her as a small blush colours his cheeks. Who would have believed that Spike was once shy with women?

Its almost hard to believe this is the same man. With his sandy curls and round glasses, he is barely recognizable as the manipulative killer he will become.

"I –" he stammers and Willow smiles, he's just so adorable this way. "I hope you're getting on quite well."

"Very well, thank you. Cousin Amelia has been very kind to me."

Small talk seems to be William's forte and he eventually gets around to the reason for his visit. He was wondering if he could escort her for a walk around the park.

Sunnydale, 2000

He's going to starve. They did something to him inside that lab. He can't feed, can't eat, can't bite. He can't kill. But all that seems to take a backseat to the fact that the slayer's little witchy friend is the girl he once loved. He wants to kill her for the humiliation he feels.

But he can't.

He's lost, unsure of what to do now. Until an idea forms. Whatever this is, they'll want to know about it. Want to research and investigate – isn't that what they do, the bloody Scooby gang?

It will give him a chance to get close to her. Close enough to see if what he fears is true.

London, 1880

It's the fifth day in a row he's come to walk with her in the park, but only the second time they've been able to walk without Cecily's constant sneering presence.

They've learned to ignore her, but Willow welcomes her absence just the same.

William is… William is wonderful – and everything Oz wasn't. Sensitive and talkative and unsure of himself. Every day they walk and every day she sees what Spike once was. She wonders if this man still hides inside of Spike. He is intelligent and kind, and everything – in different circumstances – she would want in a mate.

He talks often of his mother, something that Willow finds delightful but is a constant annoyance to Cecily. She's beginning to suspect that that's why he does it.

This man still has Spike's sense of humour, as well as his natural, unaffected charm and insight into the people around him.

Day after day they walk and talk, day after day she feels closer to this sweet man. Maybe this is how it is supposed to be. Maybe she's here for a purpose other than Angelus. Maybe she's supposed to see…

Maybe. And as day after day she finds nothing to help her with Angel's curse, she begins to wonder if Fate didn't have something else entirely in mind when she landed here.

Sunnydale, 2000

She wakes to find a note from Buffy reminding her to buy peas for the dinner at Giles' house today. It all feels so… normal. But she's not normal, not anymore. No, she may have been normal yesterday, but today she knows too much, has seen too much, has left her heart a hundred years away.

For yesterday – was it just yesterday? – she broke William's heart and confessed who and what she really was, although she had no doubt that he didn't believe her from the crestfallen look on his face.

Yesterday – and a hundred years ago – she lost the love of the best man she ever knew.

She gets dressed as if sleepwalking and goes to grocery store as she was directed and buys the peas. Still sleepwalking, she makes her way to Giles' apartment, lost in her own thoughts and memories. Memories she can't share with anyone because they're too personal – too private – to even admit to.

Does Spike remember any of this – is this even the same William or did some kind of dimensional shift change time? Is Spike even Spike? Did her going back through time change that?

As much as she can't bear to even think about the Spike they fought two years ago, she has to know if he still exists. As long as he's out there in the world – even if he's not with her – as long as he exists – somewhere…

She's just about got the courage up to ask Buffy and Giles about the Spike she remembers from before she left when a hurried knock sounds at Giles' door.

London, 1880

"I – I've composed a poem. Would you like to hear it?"

He seems so sweet and desperate for her approval that she can't help but nod.

"It – its probably not any good. But please, I do offer this with my sincerest admiration, Miss Underwood."

She smiles. "Willow – please call me Willow." She says this every time, and he always agrees but then he continues to call her Miss Underwood.

"As you like." He lifts a small journal and begins to read, "My love will withstand the test of time. My heart will hold you – forever mine. Your smile surrounds me; your eyes envelop me. Your life and mine – timelessly entwined." He pauses and looks up and catches her eyes.

It's only been ten days – how could he possibly feel that strongly about her – or she about him.

But its happened. In just ten days with this man, she has fallen irrevocably in love with him. But she can't – can't stay, can't get his hopes up, can't break his heart the way she's going to when she has to leave.

"It's lovely, William, really," she says with a smile and then tries to break it to him gently. "Who is it about? Maybe that sweet blond girl who always bats her eyelashes at you in the park when we walk?"

"No! No, it's – it's about…" but he can't bring himself to tell her. "…someone else." He rises to leave before he begins to cry in front of her.

"Will I see you at the party tonight?" she asks, hoping for one more chance to see him before she goes. And she has to go – right now, as soon as possible. Before she decides that she might not be able to go at all.

"Yes, of course. I will be here – please save me a dance?"

She smiles and it lights up the room. "It will be my pleasure," she assures him.

Sunnydale, 2000

She shouldn't be surprised that he's turned up here at Giles' apartment, but she is. And it almost breaks her apart. She can't take this yet, not now, maybe not ever. All she can think about is a sweet and shy man with dark blond curls and a smile that melted her heart.

As Giles and Buffy question him and tie him into a chair she's sure he could break if he wanted to, he keeps his eyes on her – as if he knows where she's been and what she's done. But how could he? Unless…

The intimacy in his eyes is too much for here to bear and she heads to the bathroom. He can smell her tears. He wants to follow her, but he can't. He has to convince the watcher he's harmless if he wants to stay here – and he does want to. Very badly. He has to know if its her, if she felt like he did, if she still feels the way he still does.

For him its been a hundred years; for her, it was yesterday.

He still remembers every word though, every action. Every touch of her hand and every blink of her eyes.

London, 1880

He sees her slip out the back door and he goes out another door and meets her in the garden.

"Are you quite well, Miss Underwood?"

She's so lost in her thoughts that she doesn't realize at first that he's talking to her.

All she can think about is what a mistake this was – coming back through time. Since his poetry this afternoon, she hasn't thought of Angel or Buffy even once. All she thinks about is him – and how he looks at her, how he speaks to her.

As if she were beautiful. As if the sun rose and set in her eyes. As if… as if he loved her more than he loved anything else. The scary part of that is that she thinks he may see something quite similar in her eyes.

"Miss Underwood?" He touches her shoulder and she jumps, and, out of habit – reaching for the stake that is usually hidden in her clothes. But then, these aren't her clothes – this isn't her time. William isn't a vampire.

She doesn't belong here. Not anymore. The tears fall as she turns to him.

Sunnydale, 2000

She made it through dinner unscathed. She made it back to the dorm with Buffy without once letting him look into her eyes, without letting him know she knows that he knows. He has to.

She was never aware of Spike the way she is now. She can feel every glance on her skin, feel the restlessness of him in her heart. She lies in bed all night, half expecting him to appear before her, demanding that she hold silent about what he used to be.

She knows he wouldn't want anyone to know, even though what he was is what made her fall in love with him. She'd never tell anyone, and he should know that about her. He should know everything about her.

London, 1880


"What's wrong, Willow? Please tell me, you know I will hold any confidences as sacred. Can you tell me what's wrong?"

Willow turns and looks at the full moon. Up until recently she knew the date of every full moon. But Oz is a hundred years away and sweet William stands here before her, patiently waiting for an answer.

"William, I can't – I can't love you." At his devastated expression, she quickly continues, "It's not that I don't want to. You would be so easy to love. But I – I don't belong here."

"But you can – you can…"

"No, William, listen to me. I – I don't know how to say this so I'll just say it and get it out there and you'll think I'm crazy but it's true, William, I swear its true."

"Of course I'll believe you!"

"I'm from a different time, William. I'm from the future. I came back to change something, something for a friend. I wanted her to have a chance to be with her soul mate." She turns away from him and whispers, "But I never expected to find mine."

"That's not possible."

"It is. It is possible. Not for normal people perhaps, but I'm not a normal person. I'm a witch, William. I can do magic. My best friend is a vampire slayer and I'm a witch and I used to date a werewolf. Please believe me, William, I swear its true."

His face drops and he seems to be inspecting the stone pathway.

"If you don't love me, all you had to do was tell me. I won't force my presence on you any further."

He turns and walks away, obviously crying, obviously heartbroken. This is too much, she's changed things she never meant to. It's time to go back.

Sunnydale, 2000

He lies awake in the watcher's bathtub, thinking about what he remembers of her.


He remembers their walks in the park and he was just astounded at a woman who spoke her mind and was intelligent and challenged him. She didn't practice feminine wiles; everything about her was open and honest – how could he not fall in love with her?

He remembers her smile when he read her some of his poetry and he remembers the shine in her eyes the day he told her he loved her with that poem. He remembers thinking how extraordinary it was to find a woman who could love him back with the same intensity of passion that he felt in his heart.

The last day, right before that last night. The night she told him the truth and he didn't believe her.

The night he died – body and soul.

She knew it would happen eventually. She'd have to face him, or at least be alone with him.

Darn Spollenverxk demons. If they hadn't come to town, they wouldn't all have needed to patrol and she wouldn't have gotten paired with Spike.

She still couldn't believe that he was willingly working with them. Okay, yes, he liked to hit things and demons were the only things he could hit but you'd think he'd find another way. He had even settled into a nice cozy crypt here in Restfield, according to Giles.

"You went back, didn't you?"

She wanted to feign ignorance but she wasn't that good a liar.


"Do you –"

"Stop," she said before he could go on.

He wasn't going to let her brush him off. "Stop? How can I stop? You love me, Willow. You love me and I love y–"

"I love William. You aren't William."

"You think not?"

He stopped and whirled around, getting right in her face, grabbing her upper arms and holding her still. "Tell me you don't love me."

"I don't–"

His mouth was on hers before she had a chance to draw breath and it was making her feel things she thought were long gone. Things that couldn't be – not now. His arms moved around her and pulled her in close.

"Tell me you're feeling nothing, Red. Tell me my kiss doesn't make you want – doesn't make you need."

She couldn't even look at him because he was right.

"William – I mean Spike – this is too confusing. You're confusing me. I don't know what I feel for you. Yes, okay, we have chemistry. But is that enough? A couple of days ago you wanted me dead."

"Enough? Hell no, its not enough. We have – we could have – everything, Red. I wanted to kill you because I wasn't sure you were the one I loved – until I saw you leave and then I knew. Knew exactly who you were and where you were going. I still want that, Willow. Still want you. We could have passion and love and poetry and all the things William wanted to give you. I know you want it, Willow. I know you do because I want it too."

"Spike, I – " she didn't know how to answer that. It was like he was looking inside her and telling her what he saw. She pulled back, out of his arms, away from him and said, "You're partially right. I am in love with William. William the human man. You aren't him, you're what killed him."

With that, tearing staining her cheeks, she walked away and left him standing there.

She found a bouquet of wildflowers outside her dorm room door the next morning. She somehow knew they were from him, William used to pick wildflowers all the time. What was he trying to do? Convince her he isn't a monster? That William – the William of the love poems and sweet words was there inside him?

She put them in a small vase and hurried over to Giles apartment. They were still researching the Initiative and they had a lot of work to do today. When she arrived, she wasn't surprised to see that everyone else was late. As she unpacked her computer she asked – as casually as she could, "Giles, do vampires retain their human emotions when they – you know – get bitten?"

Giles, not thinking this an odd question from his ever–inquisitive charge answered her. "Oh yes. They have the memories of the person they used to be and that, in fact, will determine the personality of the vampire. That's why some vampires are masters and some are minions – strength of personality and will. Take Angel for example–"

Not wanting to get on another side–track, Willow interrupted. "What about Spike?"

Giles turned and faced her. "Well now, William the Bloody is a very good example of the exception that proves the rule. He was very tender to his paramour, Drusilla, and yet he was – is – as ruthless a killer as there is. I imagine in life he was quite the same. Maybe a robber baron or something equally as ruthless. We know that – "

As he talked on, Willow couldn't help but picture the man he had been. Nothing like what Giles was describing at all. Just soft and tender and well–spoken and intelligent. The perfect man, almost. Well, perfect for her. Giles voice intruded on her thoughts.

"– because of Drusilla. We know she was turned by Angelus and retained her psychic abilities even after death as it were. But by then, Angelus had driven her insane and so her visions became jumbled, she was never able to describe the visions in any way anyone could understand. Drusilla might, perhaps, be the reason Spike is so in touch with his human side. She could have –"

Her mind took over again as he spoke. 'in touch with his human side'. 'In touch' that's all. Not human, not capable of human emotion, just a reasonable facsimile. He had all of William's memories – that's why he thought he was in love with her. He had the memories of William's love, that's all it is. That's all it could be, or at least, all she was prepared to deal with.

Choose your ending:

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