In The Company of Wolves

By Jonquil

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Willow awoke in a strange bed.

This in itself was routine, but she couldn't remember going to bed.
She racked her brains, then stopped cold when she remembered... what
she did remember.

<< 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
bed. He was sleeping naked, as usual; she was fully dressed.

Not that that really mattered much under the circumstances.

Moving as stealthily as possible, she slid out of bed. She glanced
back; Spike was apparently still dead to the world. << Not going
there. >> She ran to the bathroom.


Behind her, Spike opened his eyes. << No hysterics, good. No
reproaches, also good. Fleeing in terror, not good at all. Match
remains scoreless. Likely to remain so, worse luck. >>


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.
I knew exactly what I was doing. And I did it anyway. >>

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
soap hit her cut, washed the remaining blood off her forehead, then
worked soap all the way around the hairline to her neck.

<< Have I always been this kind of person, and never knew it before?
Am I going to start wearing tight leather and talking about puppies any
moment? >>

She decided not to rewash her breasts, as this would be giving them
entirely the wrong message.

<< 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
gorgeous bleached guy in the next room qualifies? >>

More lather, followed by an attempt at a spiky hairstyle using suds,
hastily rethought into a Bride of Frankenstein arrangement.

<< You're the sensible me. You aren't supposed to be noticing how
distractingly good-looking he is.>>

She rinsed the shampoo out of her hair, then absent-mindedly washed her
neck again.

<< Oops. Exemption for very recent near-death experience? >> She
scrubbed thoroughly under her fingernails.

<< Okay. Recent near-death exemption. But that means I am NOT doing
it again. Because he is a vampire, and he kills people for fun. >>

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
into play? >>

Even a seriously broody witch turns pruny eventually. Willow turned
off the shower, stepped out, dried herself, then froze. In her haste
to get out of the bedroom, she'd forgotten to pick up clean clothes.
The clothes she'd removed had been on her for two days straight, thanks
to Spike's latest clerkicide, and furthermore were marinated in her own

<< But if I go out there wrapped in a towel to get more clothes, he'll
think it's an invitation. Maybe I'll just stay in here forever. >>

A cool voice derailed her brood. "Witch... are you quite finished?"

<< Arrrgh. >>

She combed out her hair, carefully working around the knot holding her
scalp together, wrapped her hips in one towel and her torso in a
second, then peered out the door.

Spike was lying on the bed fully dressed, hands behind his head and an
evil glint in his eye. When he saw her, he snorted. "Luv, it's a good
hundred miles to the nearest Turkish bath."

"Umm. I needed clean clothes. Which I don't have. Or I wouldn't be
wearing towels. " She looked around. "Where's my bag?"

"Had my hands full carrying you in." He smirked.

"Oh, no, I forgot my fish!" She started for the door, only to be
stopped by Spike's hand on her wrist.

"You aren't dressed for it, pet."

She shook his hand off angrily. Unfortunately, that wasn't all she
shook off. As Willow grabbed desperately for southbound towels, her
wet feet slipped and skidded out from under her, and she landed hard on
the floor. With the towels, unfortunately, beneath her.

Spike looked down at her, then burst out laughing. Willow looked up in
outrage. "It isn't funny!" She began scrabbling her way back into the

Spike assumed a sober face, although his lips twitched. "Of course
not." He reached down, pulled her to her feet by one arm, and swatted
her on the flank. "Off to the bathroom with you and your modesty.
I'll have your maid ring with clean clothes presently."

Clutching her towels and scarlet to the eyebrows, Willow fled, pursued
by chuckles.

Not much later, Spike knocked on the bathroom door. When Willow,
hastily re-toweled, opened it, he was holding the green minidress in
his left hand. His head was thrown back, and he'd draped the back of
his right hand over his eyes in a pose straight out of Victorian
melodrama. He was smirking.

Willow grabbed the clothes. "This isn't funny, Spike."

He dropped the hand and the smirk and looked at her. "No, it's bloody
ridiculous. I've seen every inch of that pretty body, so there's very
little point in your hiding it now. As far as I know, there's no such
thing as retroactive virginity, not that it would apply in this case."


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
bathroom door in his face. << I need some really, really mean words.
Words that I'm not supposed to know. Words that would shock him. And
show him how mad I am. Where's my bloody dictionary? >>


The witch emerged from the bathroom in clean clothes, head high,
avoiding his gaze.

<< Fine. Play it that way if you like. >> "Ready to leave?"

She nodded. They walked to the car in silence. This time, he checked
out at the front desk.

The witch sat in stony silence. The road unrolled ahead, leading
nowhere of interest.


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
hope you recycled your dirty clothes?"

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
conversation, luv. That's your long suit."

"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.

More silence.

And silence yet again.

Spike, never a patient vampire, got tired of waiting. He pulled the
car over, cut the engine, and turned to the girl. She shivered, but
kept her eyes averted. He grabbed her chin, lifted it, and held it.
Eventually, she lifted resentful green eyes to meet his.

"Look. I am not going to spend the next six months pretending that I
didn't shag you, or that I didn't enjoy it, or that I don't have every
intention of doing it again." He released her chin. "That's your
little fantasy world, fine. I frankly find it boring. But drop the
bashful virgin schoolgirl act. It doesn't suit you, and I don't buy

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
for you."

She released the lip, turned an even deeper red, struggled for breath,
and found it. "Fine. I'm not pretending we didn't do what we did. I
am not going to do it again. And I really, really don't want to talk
about it."

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
embarrassed, and you know why, and you're enjoying it. I'm not."

"You seemed to be at the time..."

"STOP IT!" Her voice was cracking -- whether from rage or tears, he
couldn't guess.

She fumbled for the door handle; he grabbed her wrist. "You can't run
away from this."

She looked at him bitterly. "No. But I would if I could. And I'd run
away from you if I could. And I'm not a bit surprised that Drusilla

He tried to keep the fury out of his voice. "Don't you dare mention
that name."

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
door again, then started the engine.


Willow looked out the window; the scenery looked familiar, although she
couldn't quite place it. "Where are we going, anyway? Have you gotten

Spike shrugged. "Back to Montreal, I suppose. Seen one bit of
farmland, seen them all. Can't say I've much appetite for corn-fed
yokels anyway."

She lapsed back into silence.


The sky was still dark when Spike nosed the car back into its
accustomed parking space. He turned to the redhead. "Home again."
She winced. << Well, my home, anyway. >>

He got her bag and handed it to her, then gave her the fish, still safe
in its watery world. They trudged up the stairs without speaking.

When he got to the door, he sucked in needless breath. There were
fresh footmarks in the dust. Somebody either very stupid or completely
uninterested in stealth had entered the apartment. The locks seemed
untouched, which meant nothing. He pushed the girl down several stairs
and whispered "Wait!" in a tone that did not admit argument.

He unlocked the well-oiled deadbolts, waited a moment, then kicked the
door open. The apartment was empty. He checked carefully for traps,
but found none.

There was a cream envelope in the center of the table.




Spike picked up the envelope. It was addressed in a perfect Palmer
hand to

Mlle. Willow

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
was holding an invitation.

The Master of Montreal

commands your presence


at ten o' clock



"What's wrong?"

"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
argue with Spike in this mood. He left, locking the door.


When Spike returned, he sat down beside the girl on the bed. She
closed the book she'd been reading -- or pretending to; he noticed that
she didn't bother keeping her place -- and looked at him, puzzled.

"What's the problem? Don't tell me you can't say 'No', because I've
heard it. Often."

"It's not an invitation, pet. Not one I can decline, at any rate. More
of a command."

She shrugged. "So? How much trouble can we get into at a dance?"

Spike scowled. "That question demonstrates why you shouldn't be
allowed within a hundred miles of this. It's a solstice dance. For

She raised an eyebrow, intrigued in spite of herself. "You celebrate
the shortest night of the year?"

"You lot celebrate the nights getting shorter. We like the nights
getting longer."

The witch returned to the main point. "So what's the problem? You've
taken me to vampfests before."

Spike pursed his lips. If he told her the full truth, she'd be too
terrified to play her part. If he told her part of the truth, she
might give offense unknowingly... or knowingly, following his lessons.
He steered between the shoals and the whirlpool.

"Montreal is an old city, luv. Some of the trad vampires are even
older. This do is for the trads. They don't allow much slack for
younger vampires, and none at all for mortals. Offend the wrong trad,
and the consequences are ... nasty." << That's putting it mildly. In
fact, you're dead before you know what you did wrong. If he's feeling
merciful. >>

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
as if you're being called before the throne of God." << Because it
just might happen, if you aren't careful. >>

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
a list.

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
pace the floor.


To Willow's surprise, Spike fussed over her clothes like a nervous
mother. << Actually, he's paying more attention than Mom ever did. >>
They strode from boutique to boutique, never finding something that met
his requirements. One frock was too sexy, another too demure, a third
made her look too mortal.

After the latest saleswoman left with an armful of rejected gowns,
Willow turned to Spike in disgust.

"We have a problem, Spike. I AM a mortal. I can't fake being a
vampire." << Well, I can, but not for long, and I don't particularly
want to. >>

He gave her a cool stare. "If you want to stay mortal, you won't be
too obvious about it."

Just when Willow was getting so frustrated she was considering pulling
out her stake, the saleswoman returned with one last dress that had
been laid aside but never picked up. It was a strapless black silk
taffeta ballgown, tight to the waist, then billowing to full skirts.

Spike approved. "The less color, the better."

Although Spike didn't solicit her opinion, Willow liked the dress, too.
The bodice did expose the top of her nearly-faded bruises, but neither
the saleswoman nor Spike commented. << She probably thinks I'm his
mistress. Ick. >>

Spike turned back to the saleswoman. "She'll need high-heeled dancing
slippers. Do you have anything suitable?"

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."
Willow sighed and turned back to the three-way mirror. She twirled
experimentally. << Wow. Full skirts are fun! >>

She heard Spike's voice behind her. "Witch?"

"Yes?" << I will never get used to this no-reflection thing. >> She
stopped and watched the skirt wrap around her legs.

"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
sounded slightly irritated.

Willow turned to face the vampire and looked him up and down. "Since
when has Mr. 'Sid Vicious lives!' called that dancing?"

His jaw was tight. "I don't. Others do. There won't be any
slamdancing, thanks very much. Bloody hell. Right, we'll pick up some
tapes and I'll have to teach you."

<< He's turning into Miss Manners. What has gotten into the man? >>

The saleswoman returned with several pairs of shoes. One black satin
pair met both Spike's requirements (height) and Willow's (walkability).
The saleswoman pinned the hem to match the new shoes and promised to
have the dress ready to be picked up the next day. The saleswoman
suggested an assortment of underpinnings for the dress; Willow blushed
crimson, but acquiesced. They paid for their purchases, then left,
Willow, as usual, holding the bag.

Spike barreled on to a music store, where he picked out a small boom
box and an assortment of Strauss, Lehar, and English country dance

Willow frowned and put a hand to his forehead. "Are you sure you're
feeling well?"

He slapped her hand away. "That isn't funny. As from now, no more
jokes. They could prove fatal."

Willow's frown deepened. "What has come over you?"

He glared at her but did not reply. Willow, wondering, followed him as
he paid and left the store.

When they were outside, he grabbed her wrist and spun her to face him.
"This isn't a game. If you crack smart to the wrong person, you could
die for it."

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,
witch. It means that anybody who harms you answers to me. Some blokes
don't give a toss about that." He handed her the bag of CDs and began
walking; she followed.

Willow looked sideways at Spike, who had assumed his favorite
expressionless expression. He didn't give away weakness if he had any
alternative. He must really be worried. Anything that worried Spike
was not good at all. And was well past worrisome for her. She

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 -
a French goose. I haven't even been to Paris yet." She was struck by
an idea. "Did you have a grave in England? Did you visit it? After
you weren't dead any more, I mean? Well, I guess you were dead, but

Spike cut her off, face bleak again. "Keep that sort of thought to
yourself from here on. Don't ask personal questions. Don't ask
questions, period."

He sped up before she had a chance to reply. << Oh, great, more
contradictory rules. I am so not letting him get away with this.
But.... let's try giving him what he says he wants. >> She caught up
with the vampire, then matched his stride, saying nothing.

Sure enough, after a very few minutes, he turned to her in disgust and
snarled "Stop sulking!" She smiled sweetly and said "I'm not sulking."
And that was all.

They reached a cafe and Willow followed Spike inside. After the
waitress took their orders, Willow smiled at Spike, but kept her peace.

As she'd expected, it wasn't hard to outwait him. After a very few
minutes of silence, Spike turned and spat, "What the HELL is it with

Willow looked at him innocently. "Why, nothing. I'm not asking
questions. I'm not making jokes. In fact, I'm speaking when I'm spoken
to. That's what you wanted, right?"

He glared at her, then buried his face in his hands. "What did I do to
deserve this?"

Willow grinned. "Kidnapped a helpless female."

He lifted his head and gave her a genuine smile. "You are about as
helpless as a barracuda. A fluffy pink barracuda."

Willow looked down at her vampire-imposed wardrobe. "Nope. No fluffy.
No pink. And no pointy teeth, either. Oops. Not that I want any,
because I certainly don't."

He grinned, then turned serious. "So, would you care to explain why
I'm getting the silent treatment?"

She looked at him. "You spent all the time since we left Sunnydale
teaching me to stand up for myself and be pushy. Now all of a sudden
you want pushover-Willow back. I'm not sure I do. It seemed simpler
just to shut up."

Spike sighed, or made the equivalent noise for a vampire. "What I
want, and what will get you through the Solstice dance unharmed, are
completely different issues. If you're rude to a trad there, you'll
die -- and that's the best-case scenario. If you mouth off to me, I'll
have to punish you, and it would make what happened at Rafe's look like
a Maypole dance. Best break bad habits now, before they cost you
something you don't want to lose."

Willow frowned. "I really don't understand why you're going, then.
You don't like these people. They don't like you. Why not phone in
sick, or whatever the vampire equivalent is?"

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." <<
I think Spike's afraid. Weird. Scary. Very, very scary. >>

He snorted. "You may find yourself stopping permanently."

"Spike, I know I should be afraid. Trust me, I am. But, based on
everything you've said, walking in there vibrating from fear isn't a
brilliant idea either. Want to try working with me instead of trying
to play me like a puppet?"

Half under his breath, he muttered, "Damned twentieth-century women.
Should have stuck to proper ladies who did what they were told."

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
busied herself with eating. She had a forkful of food halfway to her
mouth when a soft voice behind her said "Hello, Spike." She forced
herself not to turn around and looked at Spike's face instead. It was
impassive. << Uh-oh. >> She hastily dropped her eyes to her lap.

"Hello, Claude." Spike's voice, like his face, was carefully

"Don't bother getting up." Willow felt a hand on her shoulder and
forced herself not to look. "I see you still have your ill-mannered
little playmate."

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
interest in his distinguished visitors. How wise of you to choose Chez
Liane, incidentally; I'm sure she will look charming in black."

Spike's eyes blazed, but he replied only "Thank you."

The hand on her shoulder squeezed. "What's the matter, little one?
Cat got your tongue?"

Willow whispered, "I only speak when spoken to," eyes still downcast.

"Very good. Perhaps she's salvageable after all, Spike. We'll look
forward to seeing you. Don't disappoint us." The hand released her

Willow let out a long slow breath. She looked at Spike's face. He was
obviously struggling with his temper. It was a good time to say
nothing, so Willow did just that.


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