In The Company of Wolves
Willow awoke in a strange bed.
This in itself was routine, but she couldn't remember going to bed.
<< I think I just forfeited my Good Conduct badge. >>
<< Oh, boy, am I ever not in Kansas any more. >>
She rechecked reality. She lay beside Spike in yet another motel room
Not that that really mattered much under the circumstances.
Moving as stealthily as possible, she slid out of bed. She glanced
Behind her, Spike opened his eyes. << No hysterics, good. No
Willow turned the shower on full hot, then slumped against the wall.
<< As if my life wasn't complicated enough. I knew what I was doing.
She soaped her whole body, then rinsed thoroughly.
<< And I enjoyed it. >>
She rinsed the dried blood out of her hair, lathered it, wincing as the
<< Have I always been this kind of person, and never knew it before?
She decided not to rewash her breasts, as this would be giving them
<< Buffy slept with a vampire. >>
She rinsed until her hair squeaked for mercy.
<< Nice try. Buffy slept with a reformed vampire. Do you think the
More lather, followed by an attempt at a spiky hairstyle using suds,
<< You're the sensible me. You aren't supposed to be noticing how
She rinsed the shampoo out of her hair, then absent-mindedly washed her
<< Oops. Exemption for very recent near-death experience? >> She
<< Okay. Recent near-death exemption. But that means I am NOT doing
She began to wash between her toes.
<< I wonder if you survive jilting a vampire? >>
She washed her hair again, just to make sure the blood was all gone.
<< And if not, does that mean that the near-death exemption comes back
Even a seriously broody witch turns pruny eventually. Willow turned
<< But if I go out there wrapped in a towel to get more clothes, he'll
A cool voice derailed her brood. "Witch... are you quite finished?"
<< Arrrgh. >>
She combed out her hair, carefully working around the knot holding her
Spike was lying on the bed fully dressed, hands behind his head and an
"Umm. I needed clean clothes. Which I don't have. Or I wouldn't be
"Had my hands full carrying you in." He smirked.
"Oh, no, I forgot my fish!" She started for the door, only to be
"You aren't dressed for it, pet."
She shook his hand off angrily. Unfortunately, that wasn't all she
Spike looked down at her, then burst out laughing. Willow looked up in
Spike assumed a sober face, although his lips twitched. "Of course
Clutching her towels and scarlet to the eyebrows, Willow fled, pursued
Not much later, Spike knocked on the bathroom door. When Willow,
Willow grabbed the clothes. "This isn't funny, Spike."
He dropped the hand and the smirk and looked at her. "No, it's bloody
He sniffed. "Coward."
Willow's mouth fell open. "WHAT?"
He shrugged. "Witch. You shagged me. Thoroughly. Willingly. Admit
<< How DARE he. >> "Well, it's not going to happen again!"
He arched an eyebrow. "I don't recall suggesting it."
"You..." Once again running short on epithets, Willow slammed the
The witch emerged from the bathroom in clean clothes, head high,
<< Fine. Play it that way if you like. >> "Ready to leave?"
She nodded. They walked to the car in silence. This time, he checked
The witch sat in stony silence. The road unrolled ahead, leading
Abandoning her sulk, the girl gasped, "Oh! I forgot my fish again!"
He waved her off. "I fed it. It's in the trunk, safe and sound. I do
She sniffed. "As if you cared."
"I'd hate to see you abandoning your principles because of a little
She tried to hit him. He deflected the blow and laughed. "Stick to
"Thank you so much," she spat. "What's yours, meanness?"
"Hmm." He cocked his head, pretending to think. "Evildoing? Mayhem?
The witch blushed crimson, dropped her eyes to her lap, and said
Another silence dragged on. He decided to wait her out.
And silence yet again.
Spike, never a patient vampire, got tired of waiting. He pulled the
"Look. I am not going to spend the next six months pretending that I
She opened her mouth to speak, then bit her lip instead.
He lowered his voice. "If you bite that lip again, I'm going to do it
She released the lip, turned an even deeper red, struggled for breath,
He gave her a come-hither look. "And enjoying it?"
She looked away. "I'm not going to talk about that either."
"You're very unlikely to embarrass me," he cooed.
She whipped her head back to glare at him. "Stop it. You know who's
"You seemed to be at the time..."
"STOP IT!" Her voice was cracking -- whether from rage or tears, he
She fumbled for the door handle; he grabbed her wrist. "You can't run
She looked at him bitterly. "No. But I would if I could. And I'd run
He tried to keep the fury out of his voice. "Don't you dare mention
She arched an eyebrow. "Lay off me, and I'll lay off her."
He froze. << That was deliberate. >>
After another long silence, he laughed mirthlessly. "Truce?"
She gave him a half-smile. "Truce." He reached past her and shut the
Willow looked out the window; the scenery looked familiar, although she
Spike shrugged. "Back to Montreal, I suppose. Seen one bit of
She lapsed back into silence.
The sky was still dark when Spike nosed the car back into its
He got her bag and handed it to her, then gave her the fish, still safe
When he got to the door, he sucked in needless breath. There were
He unlocked the well-oiled deadbolts, waited a moment, then kicked the
There was a cream envelope in the center of the table.
Spike picked up the envelope. It was addressed in a perfect Palmer
He stared at it. "Fuck."
He ripped open the envelope and yanked out the enclosure.
"Fuck. Fuck. Fuck."
Soft footsteps came up the stairs. "Four Weddings and a Funeral?"
Spike ignored her. "Fuck."
Willow closed the door behind her and turned on the light. "What is
He still ignored her. "Fuck. "
Willow walked up and stood tip-toe to peek over Spike's shoulder. He
The Master of Montreal
commands your presence
at ten o' clock
"Shut up, witch." He thrust the invitation into his pocket.
Willow walked to the bed and picked up a book. She knew better than to
When Spike returned, he sat down beside the girl on the bed. She
"What's the problem? Don't tell me you can't say 'No', because I've
"It's not an invitation, pet. Not one I can decline, at any rate. More
She shrugged. "So? How much trouble can we get into at a dance?"
Spike scowled. "That question demonstrates why you shouldn't be
She raised an eyebrow, intrigued in spite of herself. "You celebrate
"You lot celebrate the nights getting shorter. We like the nights
The witch returned to the main point. "So what's the problem? You've
Spike pursed his lips. If he told her the full truth, she'd be too
"Montreal is an old city, luv. Some of the trad vampires are even
She shrugged again. "Okay. So I put on my best vampire manners. No
Spike winced. "Forget everything I've told you about my lot. Behave
Willow looked at him, puzzled. "Fine. We show up, we dance, we leave."
He growled, "First, we shop. Bloody hell."
She gasped. "Tonight? It must be nearly dawn, and I'm ready to drop."
"First thing tomorrow, then." He walked to the table and began making
Willow changed into her sleep shirt, brushed her teeth, and lay down to
Spike did not. After he thought she had fallen asleep, he began to
To Willow's surprise, Spike fussed over her clothes like a nervous
After the latest saleswoman left with an armful of rejected gowns,
"We have a problem, Spike. I AM a mortal. I can't fake being a
He gave her a cool stare. "If you want to stay mortal, you won't be
Just when Willow was getting so frustrated she was considering pulling
Spike approved. "The less color, the better."
Although Spike didn't solicit her opinion, Willow liked the dress, too.
Spike turned back to the saleswoman. "She'll need high-heeled dancing
The saleswoman nodded and scurried off to fetch them.
Willow turned to Spike. "Do I HAVE to? Remember the Stilettos of
He looked grim. "Yes. You need every inch of height you can steal."
She heard Spike's voice behind her. "Witch?"
"Yes?" << I will never get used to this no-reflection thing. >>
"Can you dance?"
She shrugged, "Well, I'm no Buffy, but I do okay."
"No, I mean can you waltz? Schottische? Minuet?" Spike's voice
Willow turned to face the vampire and looked him up and down. "Since
His jaw was tight. "I don't. Others do. There won't be any
<< He's turning into Miss Manners. What has gotten into the man? >>
The saleswoman returned with several pairs of shoes. One black satin
Spike barreled on to a music store, where he picked out a small boom
Willow frowned and put a hand to his forehead. "Are you sure you're
He slapped her hand away. "That isn't funny. As from now, no more
Willow's frown deepened. "What has come over you?"
He glared at her but did not reply. Willow, wondering, followed him as
When they were outside, he grabbed her wrist and spun her to face him.
Willow's free hand flew to her throat. "But the necklace..."
He rolled his eyes. "It's not a bloody 'Get Out of Jail Free' card,
Willow looked sideways at Spike, who had assumed his favorite
He smirked. "Cold?"
She curled her lip. "Goose walked over my grave."
He raised his eyebrows. "I trust it's not a Canada goose."
She shook her head, red hair flying. "Nope, absolutely not. It's a -
Spike cut her off, face bleak again. "Keep that sort of thought to
He sped up before she had a chance to reply. << Oh, great, more
Sure enough, after a very few minutes, he turned to her in disgust and
They reached a cafe and Willow followed Spike inside. After the
As she'd expected, it wasn't hard to outwait him. After a very few
Willow looked at him innocently. "Why, nothing. I'm not asking
He glared at her, then buried his face in his hands. "What did I do to
Willow grinned. "Kidnapped a helpless female."
He lifted his head and gave her a genuine smile. "You are about as
Willow looked down at her vampire-imposed wardrobe. "Nope. No fluffy.
He grinned, then turned serious. "So, would you care to explain why
She looked at him. "You spent all the time since we left Sunnydale
Spike sighed, or made the equivalent noise for a vampire. "What I
Willow frowned. "I really don't understand why you're going, then.
His hand crashed on to the table. "Stop asking so bloody many
"I'm sorry. I've been curious all my life, and it's hard to stop." <<
He snorted. "You may find yourself stopping permanently."
"Spike, I know I should be afraid. Trust me, I am. But, based on
Half under his breath, he muttered, "Damned twentieth-century women.
She smiled. "I'm sure the dance will be full of them. Pick one."
He reached out and stroked her cheek. "I'm suited."
Willow froze. << Oh, my God. >>
The waitress arrived with Willow's meal and Spike's drink; Willow
"Hello, Claude." Spike's voice, like his face, was carefully
"Don't bother getting up." Willow felt a hand on her shoulder and
Spike ground out, "I take it I have you to thank for the invitation?"
The soft voice replied, "Not at all. The Master always takes an
Spike's eyes blazed, but he replied only "Thank you."
The hand on her shoulder squeezed. "What's the matter, little one?
Willow whispered, "I only speak when spoken to," eyes still downcast.
"Very good. Perhaps she's salvageable after all, Spike. We'll look
Willow let out a long slow breath. She looked at Spike's face. He was