By Melissa


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Part Two

He awoke to soft whimpers and a warm body pressed up against his own. Moving slowly so as not to wake her, he wrapped one arm around her shoulders and pulled her close, rumbling a soothing growl deep in his chest. The noise calmed her now as it had on other nights. He knew the dreams wouldn’t last long and when the day’s fears were done replaying in her mind, she’d once again roll away from him to her own side of the bed, never knowing that she’d sought him out for comfort.

Her sounds of distress easing, he loosened his hold on her. Such an amazing creature Willow Rosenburg had turned out to be, even for a human. When he’d been drafted into being the Slayer’s “vampire on the inside”, his contact, both verbal and physical, was centered solely on the Slayer. He’d seen the little witch, made some smart-assed joke about his kidnapping of her earlier that year, and then promptly dismissed her as beneath his notice. Now he knew what he’ missed in underestimating this woman-child.

She never complained, never raged at the humiliation she was put through or the pain he caused her. In the past sixteen days, he’d developed a healthy respect for her. Using her computer, she’d been the one to discover why Buffy and Giles had been taken. She was the one who suffered the bruises and the collar. Most astounding of all, she didn’t break; not when he hit her, not when he tormented her for the amusement of the others, not when he bit her. After all he did to her, that she would, even unconsciously, turn to him to chase away the nightmares stunned him. It was for that reason, that whatever bit of enjoyment he derived out of torturing her was soon swamped under the disgust that he was beginning to feel for himself. In his unlife he’d killed without hesitation or remorse. He’d tortured humans and demons alike when they had earned his wrath, but he’d never in all his years, tortured for the sake of torture. That had always been Angelus’ twisted gift. But to pull off this charade, he’d patterned his behavior after his grandsire’s relationship with Drusilla. If it had angered him then, it was beginning to repluse him now.

In so many ways, she reminded him of his beloved mad goddess. They shared the same child-like innocence, a subtle grace that others casually dismissed, a fire that burned deep. He’d also discovered a core of strength within Willow that Drusilla lacked. Like the Willow that was her namesake, she simply bowed low before the onslaught until you thought she would break, but then with the passing of the storm, she stood upright again, branches wind tousled, a few leaves stripped away, but still unbroken.

He let her go as she finally rolled out of his embrace. Turning over he closed his own eyes and drifted back into sleep.


A sound in the hallway beyond their door brought her to heart pounding wakefulness. She lay still for a minute but the noise that had awakened her wasn’t repeated. Heartbeat and breathing returning to normal, she rolled over only to be confronted with a pair of startling blue eyes regarding her intently. Sucking in a startled breath, she frowned in annoyance as he grinned at her.

“Do you have to do that?” she asked in exasperation.

He shrugged, “I’m a demon, we get our jollies in strange ways.”

Chuckling as she rolled her eyes, he got out of the bed. Curling back up on her pillow, Willow to the opportunity to drift back into a light doze as Spike took a shower and got dressed. He shook her awake before he left the room to bid her good-bye. As he left the room, Willow got up and began her morning routine. A routine that included a round of meditation where she sought the still place within herself that allowed her to do what she had to do to survive in this existence with Spike.

An hour later Spike was back carrying an apple and a pear. Tossing them one at a time to her, he gave her an apologetic smile. “Best I can do for the time being. They’re left over from what they’re feeding the Slayer and the Watcher.” Making a grimace of annoyance, he continued “Blake wants to show me off to the neighbors so we’re going out on a group hunt. I need you to stay here and find out the ways in and out of this place -- accessways, doors, windows, everything. Also, find out how many guards Blake’s leaving for the Slayer when he’s gone.”

Willow nodded her understanding as he talked, munching determinedly on her apple. The vampire clans they’d visited before they’d found Buffy and Giles hadn’t always had human food available. She’d discovered what going hungry felt like and now ate whenever she could.

“I’ll be back early from the hunt. Be ready to go out afterwards.”

He stopped suddenly but Willow caught the flick of his eyes to her throat. “Willow, I’m going to have to leave you unprotected here.”

He didn’t have to explain any further. She’d learned first hand about vampire territorial instincts. With him gone, she’d need a fresh “reminder” to the others that she was taken property. He’d already bitten her at least a half-dozen times since they’d been together and he seemed to find it increasingly more distasteful. When her thoughts veered off into the stranger realms, she often wondered if his reluctance was because of her, if maybe her blood tasted bad.

Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, she reached for that calm place and when she had her lingering fears and doubts firmly under control she opened her eyes and stepped up close to him.

Wrapping her arms around him, she lay her head on his chest listening to the silence. “Do it.”

She came so trustingly to him. He’d called her an idiot in the library, back what seemed a hundred years ago. He no longer thought her an idiot but still considered her a trusting fool to place her life in his hands so easily. It didn’t matter that she’d tied his soul to her life, he could do a thousand things to hurt her. It was within his power to bring her to the very brink of death itself and not let her fall. But every time that thought came to him he saw the image of Drusilla. His beautiful black goddess crawling to him, dozens of vicious bites scattered across her pale body and bloody tear tracks staining the porcelain of her skin. She was his sire. He was her childe. It was her duty to protect him from the excesses of the demon Angelus but she couldn’t even protect herself. But she was his sire and he loved her so. Each time he’d gather her up and tend her wounds, feed her body and place himself in Angelus’ way until she was strong enough to be called back to him. Now, his Dru was his no longer. She no longer needed or wanted him to stand between her and death. Now Willow needed him. Enemy or not, he found himself stepping between her and what would do her harm. Maybe he was the one who was the fool.

Locking one arm around her waist he tilted her head to the side, baring her throat to him. Demon rising to the fore, he felt his canines extend, razor sharp. Pressing his lips against her, he inhaling the scent of her and the sweet blood that rushed just beneath her skin. His bite was hard and deep, piercing her fragile skin and releasing a flood of her hot blood into his mouth. Her taste overwhelmed him this time as it had each of the previous times. The heady sweetness of blood freely offered mixed with the underlying tang of adrenaline released by her nervousness. Overlaying it all was the taste of Willow -- fire, spirit and a dark desire buried deep in her blood.

With a growl he carefully withdrew his fangs a few minutes later. Broad sweeps of his tongue cleaned the wounds and washed away any traces of her blood. She was slumped against him, paler than she’d been before. He’d not taken much but the exhaustion and poor eating of the last weeks had taken their toll on her.

Gathering her up in his arms he moved to lay her gently down on the bed, memories of carrying Drusilla the same way flashing through his mind. Grabbing his duster he turned to leave, giving her one last glance as he licked the last trace of her from his lips, that odd taste of desire lingering still. One day he would ask her who she fantasized about when he held her and drank her blood. He’d find out what manner of man could bring forth the beginnings of passion while she was trapped in a demon’s arms. He’d wondered if her thoughts drifted to the wolf-boy or maybe even to Angel. Was desire for his grandsire yet another trait she shared with Drusilla? A longing for the Slayer’s Angel could well explain the forbidden taste to those suppressed desires. After all, a part of him insisted, Angel always won -- Drusilla and the Slayer -- why should Willow be any different. Growling softly at his turn of thought, he shut his mind to thoughts of Willow in his present and Drusilla in his past. This time he walked out the door without looking back.


She awoke an hour later, her head pounding and her mouth dry. Groaning, she sat up and ran an unsteady hand through her hair, shaking off the half-remembered dreams of Spike that always filled her sleep after he’d fed from her.

Figuring that those who were hunting were long gone, she got up to carefully apply her make-up, only she sought not to hide the bruises and dark circles under her eyes but to enhance them. Make-up done she deliberately chose a shirt that displayed her neck and the now angry red bite mark that rested right above her collar. It was tender to the touch but not overly painful.

Glancing into the hand mirror she used to apply her make-up, she make a face at her reflection. “Time to face the great outdoors.”

She did her survey of the place first, avoiding the common room and her two friends. She wasn’t ready to face them quite yet. So step by slow step she inched down the corridors and explored the open rooms, noting doors and unblocked windows. She even discovered a skylight in what looked to have been an office at one time.

In her explorations she met two other vampires, a woman who cuffed her hard on her shoulder as she passed, slamming Willow into the wall, and a man who simply growled threateningly at her as she hugged the wall while he passed.

It took an hour to completely explore the place to her satisfaction. Now she only had to gather up the courage to enter the main room. It was funny in its own sad way. She’d gone through so much to find Buffy and Giles and then when it came down to it, she couldn’t even enter the room where they were. Spike was right, she decided, she was an idiot. But it was the remembered sound of Spike derisive laughter that spurned her forward in the end.

But even stubborn pride couldn’t stop the sob that welled up inside her the moment she looked at her friends. Giles was sporting a black eye that hadn’t been there the night before and Buffy had a defeated look about her that scared Willow more than anything she’d seen so far. Her heart longed to call out their names in recognition but the three heavy set guards that stood silently around the room made her keep her peace.

It didn’t take much acting to put the trace of fear in her movements. Her jerky progress across the room was followed by five sets of eyes. Two held compassion and anger, the other three were yellow-gold with a hunger that made her skin crawl.

Spying a roll on the table she slid her eyes in her friends’ direction. It was obviously left over from their feeding, like the pear and apple Spike had brought her earlier. Darting nervous glances at the guards she grabbed at the roll and took it to a far corner where she sat down to eat it slowly. She knew that from the outside she looked like pitiful scavenger, a broken shell of what she had been. But inside, she was dancing as she chewed the bread. Her act was being bought by the guards and they dismissed her as harmless. Harmless was good. Harmless let her at least be close to Buffy and Giles while she studied the room under lowered lashes. She only wished she could talk to her friends.


She wasn’t sure how long she sat there before the sound of voices came from the short hallway leading outside. She had no problem picking out Spike’s distinctive tones. Knowing what was coming, she braced herself. This was going to be harder than the other times, knowing her friends were watching.

The minute Spike stepped into the room and caught sight of her he headed in her direction. Across the room, Buffy and Giles both started struggling against their chains to the amusement of the vampires filing into the room.

Spike just grinned and reached down to grasp the dangling leash. Wrapping it once around his fist, he pulled her upright, snapping her up against his hard chest.

“Miss me, pet?” he crooned.

“Y-Yes, Master.” Her voice subservient and terrified.

Spike chuckled. “Liar.”

Shifting to the demon’s face he tilted her head and ran his tongue across the bite mark he’d left earlier, grinning at the shiver that traveled her frame.

“Come on, pet, time for your evening walk.”

Tossing a wink at the grinning Blake, Spike lead her out into the night. He removed the leash as soon as they were well away from the lair, stuffing its length into one of his coat pockets as he gave the leather duster to her.

Willow raised an eyebrow in inquiry as she took the coat from him.

“Put the coat on, Willow, and cover up the collar. You’re bordering on anemia and you need some decent food, especially if we’re going to get your bothersome friends out.”

“What do you mean I’m anemic?” she asked in confusion. Her answer came to her as she asked the question. “You can tell that? Just from tasting my blood?” At his nod of confirmation she screwed up her nose in disgust. “Ewww, that is so . . . ewww.”

Her disgust didn’t last long though as Spike lead her to a restaurant and ordered her a steak and Willow proceeded to stuff her face while Spike watched her eat.

Leaning back against her seat, she rubbed at her stomach. “Oh goddess, that was good.”

“I can’t believe you think my eating habits are disgusting.”

“Spike, you kill and eat *people.* I mean, it’d be bad enough if you were just . . you know . . . eating the people without the killing part. But it’s the killing, . . . well, . . . that, and the rampaging and the general murder and mayhem and stuff, that kind of makes you one of the bad guys.”

He snorted in amusement. “You aren’t starting that up again, are you? I’ve told, luv, half the fun of being a demon is the whole ‘killing-without-remorse-just-because-we-can’ part.”

“But you don’t *have* to kill people,” she countered. The argument was a long standing one, played out now, more for a diversion than either really trying to change the other’s opinion. “I mean, okay, I’ll give you the thrill of the hunt and all that but can’t you just bite them and leave them alive.”

“Where would be the fun in that? Besides, death gives its own special flavor.”

“Gross, Spike. I could have lived a very long time without that piece of knowledge.”

“Face it, luv, we’re just going to have to agree to disagree on this one.”

They each fell silent as the waitress came to clean the table and brought Willow a cup of coffee.

Studying the chipped porcelain cup, Willow ran one finger along the handle, waiting until the waitress had moved several tables away. “So, what’s the plan?” she finally asked, the teasing tone from a few minutes before gone from her voice.

Spike silently acknowledged her desire to get back to business. “Not a good one, I can tell you that,” he replied with a forced sigh. “If there wasn’t the potential for so much power to be gained, I’d just bloody well challenge Blake and be done with it. But that won’t happen because the whole blasted group will benefit from the Ritual. If I challenge one, I’ll end up challenging them all. Blake, one or two of the others I could take, but not all of ‘em at once.”

She lifted the cup in front of her and sipped at her coffee, savoring its long absent bitter-sweetness. “But you have a plan,” she said between sips.

“Less of a plan, more of a bar brawl. I’m going to let the other nearby clans know what Blake’s up to.”

She saw immediately where that would lead. “They’ll, in turn, want to seize Buffy and Giles for their own.”

“Exactly. Vampires aren’t exactly shy about killing their own if it’ll further their own goals. The other clans should come out in force.”

She looked at him in a kind of awed horror. “It’ll be a bloodbath.”

He grimaced, “I’m thinking a little more dusty actually, but you’ve got the idea. The confusion alone should be enough for you to free the Slayer and Watcher and get them out of there.”

There was no hiding the concern in her voice, “What about you?”

He didn’t like this part. It put her in too much danger and any danger to her, meant ultimately a danger to him and getting his accursed soul back. That was something he had no desire to see happen. “Willow, when the attack starts, they’ll ignore the Slayer and Watcher, because they don’t want them harmed, but you . . .” he didn’t finish the sentence but trailed off into silence.

Slowly the picture he was drawing coalesced in her mind. It was be a free-for-all, vampire fighting vampire for the ultimate prize of the Slayer and the Watcher. She’d be the lone human in the group and the only thing standing between her and death would be Spike, who didn’t want to be there in the first place, fighting for her life and his own.

“Oh Goddess.”


Part Three

The door to their room swung open with more than the usual violence as Spike stormed into the room screaming what she'd quickly learned was his favorite curse. "Fuckin' Hell!"

Looking up from her laptop, Willow arched a brow at the extremely irate vampire. "Bad day at the office?" she said with a laugh.

Spike swung to pin her with a glare that at one time would have had her cowering and babbling apologies. Now she simply scowled back at him.

Ignoring her quip, he growled, "I'm going to enjoy driving a stake through the heart of that annoying little twit."

Hitting the send button on her e-mail to Oz that he and Xander she was still safe, she closed her laptop. Turning on the bed, she gave Spike her full attention. "Tell me."

"Blake," he hissed. "Wanker doesn't trust me. Not that I blame him, really, ‘cause I'm not exactly the trustworthy sort, and all, but he's putting a real crimp in our plan."

‘Our plan.’ Such simple words but they gave her a warm glow of acceptance. She wondered if he even realized how much he’d begun to include her. ‘Our plan’ was a far cry from the early days when he could barely look at her without snarling in disgust.

Unable to hold in her grin, she watched him stomp around the room. "You were going to make the rounds to the other clans in the area when the sun went down tonight."

"Right. Only Blakey-boy won't bloody well leave me alone. If I try to go out alone, he insists on going with me, or he sends someone to tail me. Can't bloody well lose the tail without it looking suspicious, `cause why in the hell would I want to lose a tail unless I was up to something rotten."

“Simple then,” she said, “we just need an excuse for you to stay in and you can go out the window in here. The boards shouldn’t be too hard to pry away from the window.”

“Not simple, luv.” Walking over to the bed, he motioned her to move over and sat down beside her. “There’s just not a hell of a whole lot that would keep me in my room all night along.”

Reaching up she rubbed her hand against her collar, making the small padlock jingle. "What if you were . . .you know, discipling me for something?"

He shook his head no. "They'd buy that for an hour or two, but not all night. Not to the extent where I wouldn't go out hunting."

She pressed the issue, sure that a big scene was the way to distract the others. “So we make a big production out of it . . .drama, tears, blood. Give them all sometime to gossip about.” With every word she could feel Spike tensing up beside her.

She glanced over at him curiously. It seemed perfectly logical to her. Granted, it probably wouldn’t be much fun for her but he’d become pretty good at making it look like she was getting a lot worse “punishment” than she really was. She didn’t understand why he’d be so relunctant to put on another show. “”Spike, I don’t see . . .”

He cut her off abruptly, making her jerk back in surprise at her tone. “No.”

Seeing her startled expression, he ran a hand up through his hair before starting over. “Willow, the kind of scene they would expect would be . . . extreme. You could be seriously hurt.” Looking away from her, staring at something only he could see, he added. “You," he stopped and started again. "Mortals are so fragile.”

She shivered at his words. “Yeah, guess you wouldn’t want your soul in jeopardy like that.”

He turned a strange look in her direction and started to say something only to stop before the words left him. Turning back away from her he finally said, “Sure, luv. Can’t put my soul in danger.”

“But what if we . . .”

"No." His refusal was immediate and firm; his face set in lines of absolute resolve.

So that's what I look like when I do the resolve face, she thought. Pretty impressive. But his resolve was about to come head to head with hers. He needed to get out. Buffy and Giles’ lives depended on it. She thought herself remarkably calm once that decision was made. It was simple. She was going to get her friends free. One stubborn vampire wasn't going to stand in her way. Ater everything else she’d endured, how bad could it really be. It wasn’t like he’d really hurt her.

She knew what she had to do. A part of her that was quietly having hysterics intoned in the back on her mind . . . *Tonight on Mutual Of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, Willow Rosenburg will go one on one in the wild with a vampire. It'll be an exiting show tonight, folks.* Ignoring the internal babbling, she calmly set about putting away her computer while Spike sat on the bed and scowled. In a way, it was a relief to be taking some kind of action. During the hunt for Buffy and Giles, Spike had actually done most of the work. She'd simply been window dressing. The occasional bruise, cut, or bite being just something she had to endure while she was paraded around in front of them. Once the other vampires were over her presence, she simply faded into the wood work, regulated to a status beneath their notice. Well, she was about to be noticed in a big way.

Stashing her computer in its hiding place she went to run a brush through her hair. Bending over she retied the laces on the black boots she wore. She'd grown fond of those boots Spike had made her wear. She'd initially hated the clothing changes he forced on her when they started this; the black jeans and tight black tops. But the clothes fit the illusion they'd created. Staring down at the scuffed toes of her boots she wondered when the illusion had started to blend with reality. She'd discovered something about herself these last couple of weeks. She liked the sense of power in those boots. She’d developed a taste for the danger and the intrigue of their game. She liked being able to indulge her somewhat offbeat black sense of humor. And if these things she'd discovered about herself were not exactly the best she had to offer, they were a part of her. A part she owed to Spike.


"Yeah, luv?"

"I want you know something. I-I want to know I like you . . . a-as a person . . . or a demon . . . or whatever. You don’t treat me like I'm stupid. You laugh at my jokes. Even the strange ones that no one else ever seems to get. You talk to me like I'm an equal and . . well, other stuff too. But mostly, I want you to know that even if you are an evil demon and . . and a vampire and you only keep me alive because you have to because of the whole soul thing . . " she trailed off as she finally paused for breath in her ramble. "Well," she began again, "I just want you to know that I like you. Just for being you."

Browns knit together Spike tried to follow her rambling speech.

Seeing his confusion she laughed softly. "And Spike, I want you to know that I understand you'll just be doing what you have to."

Before he could puzzle through that one, she swung on him. The open palm of her hand connected with his face, her nails dragging sharply across the skin of his cheek. The crack of her hand against his cheek numbed her fingers and stunned him, his eyes flying wide in shock. Time seemed to slow down for her then as she saw a single drop of dark red blood bead up on one of the deep scratches. In that frozen moment, she was the only thing that seemed to move at normal speed as she whirled on her heel and took off for the door, the pounding of her boot heels sounding almost like heavy rolls of thunder to her ears. She was halfway down the hall before she heard the roar behind her.


With a single word he released the spell around her and time snapped back into its proper flow around her. Strangely enough the thought that circled in her head as she rounded the corner into the common room was a memory of herself as a little girl. Her mother had been telling her to never, ever, run from an angry animal. It only made them see you as food and chase after you, she remembered with startling clarity. Bursting into the main room, she wondered what her mother would have thought about running from demons.

He was furious. Her fleeing form calling up the feelings of the hunt within him. In that sudden blaze of anger, the mortal veneer of the man burned away to the baser emotions of the demon.

Mere steps behind her he saw her barrel into a female vampire, her shoulder slamming hard into the other woman, knocking her back in surprise. Willow never paused in her headlong dash for the outside door, going down with the vampire and rolling with the impact, coming up to her feet in a graceful roll while the vampiress struggled to her feet beneath Willow.

Spike lunged for Willow.

Part Four

"Willow!" With a single word he released the spell around her and time snapped back into its proper flow.

Strangely enough the thought that circled in her head as she rounded the corner into the common room was a memory of herself as a little girl. Her mother had been telling her to never, ever, run from an angry animal. It only made them see you as food and chase after you, she remembered with startling clarity. Bursting into the main room, she wondered what her mother would have thought about running from demons. He was furious, her fleeing form calling up the feelings of the hunt within him. In that sudden blaze of anger, the mortal veneer burned away to the baser emotions of the demon.

Mere steps behind her he saw her barrel into a female vampire, her shoulder slamming hard into the other woman, knocking her back in surprise. Willow never paused in her headlong dash for the outside door, going down with the vampire and rolling with the impact, coming up to her feet in a graceful roll while the vampiress struggled to her feet beneath Willow. Her tumble, however, cost her precious seconds and allowed Spike to catch up with her fleeing form. Lunging forward he caught her across her shoulders, his weight driving her to her knees before him. But now his own momentum worked against him as the force of his leap carried him past her falling body, his own legs tangling in her flailing limbs.

They both went down heavily, a cry of mixed pain and surprise being torn from Willow's throat. Even as he realized he was falling with her, the urge to protect her rose up in him. Wrapping his arm around her, he pulled her falling body in close to his, twisting in mid-air to land heavily on his shoulder so as not to crush her beneath him. They both lay stunned on the concrete for a moment. Then with a growl of disbelief he felt her pull herself from his arms.

Only demon-enhanced reflexes stopped the heavy boot heel she swung around in his direction. Grabbing her foot he twisted hard, forcing her to roll across the floor or risk having her ankle snapped. Still, he felt ligaments twist and tear under his fingers, heard her cry out as pain shot up her leg. Willow's cry only served to wind the demon's anger tighter.

She'd challenged him and his authority in front of witnesses, witnesses that were even now gathering in a tight ring around them, waiting with amused and hungry eyes to see what he would do with this lowly human who had presumed to defy his authority. If it had been any other human the transaction would have warranted death. Spike knew the gathering vampires were expecting to see her blood flow, rich and thick, but he retained just enough presence of mind to remember that his soul was tied to her life. A hold that was tenuous at best as conflicting desires tore at him.

Her attack and flight had called up the demon's killer instincts, yet her very vulnerability stirred the old protective urges that had developed from protecting Drusilla for over a hundred years. Hurt her. Protect her. He didn't know what he was doing anymore. Only one thing was clear to him. She'd left him little choice in the way he was going to have to punish her. She'd started this insanity, but the demon was looking forward to finishing it.

Standing up slowly, he watched her from under lowered lashes as she tried to crawl away from him. A faint, chill smile curled the corners of his mouth, showing just the ivory tips of his fangs. It was the smile of the tiger when it sees prey within reach.

Willow stared into hot yellow eyes and for the first time felt real fear course through her. She watched his nostrils flare as he caught the heady scent of her terror. Swallowing hard, she pushed back with her uninjured foot, scooting herself a little further from him and towards the presumed safety of the wall.

Spike simply watched her, never moving as she inched further away from him. With a single wave of his hand, he parted the ring of vampires at her back, letting her through their ranks. He knew she was seeking the safety of the wall, putting non-threatening stone at her back. He let his smile widen in appreciation. Such a smart little human she was; to bad it wouldn't do her any good.

As her back hit the wall, he took his first step towards her. She was scared, and yet, he could still read defiance in her eyes. Squatting before her he reached out to trace her jaw with the tip of one finger.

"You should have run a little faster, Pet," he rumbled, his voice low and menacing.

Willow tried to speak, tried to say something to disarm the situation but her mind had gone blank with the first touch of his hand on her cheek. He'd touched her before. Touched her a thousand times since they'd been together, but nothing had ever felt like this and she couldn't suppress the shiver that ran the length of her body.

At the touch of her soft skin, his features shifted back to human, the demon's fearsome visage hidden once more beneath the guise of humanity. The others in the room stood at his back and wouldn't be able to see this lapse in his control. He saw Willow's eyes widen as his human features returned. She gave him a tremulous smile and he hated himself for what he was about to do . . . for this was an old trick he'd watched Angelus pull on his beautiful Drusilla time and time again. And just like his sire, Willow fell for it.

Thinking her ordeal was over, she leaned forward and raised her own hand, not enough to touch him but close enough so that he could feel the heat from her skin.

"Spike?" The word came out softly, a hesitant plea that spoke of understanding and human compassion and things he couldn't afford to acknowledge.

His own hand came up before she even had time to brace herself, the slap knocking her head back against the wall behind her.

"Master," he snarled, demon mask firmly back in place. "You will address me as Master."

Shooting his hands out, quicksilver cobra strikes, he grasped her shoulders tight and pulled her up to him, standing as he did so. Digging his fingers painfully into her arms, he shook her. Tears welled up in her eyes as he repeatedly knocked her back against the wall.

"You think to placate me with tears? It is way too early for tears, pet. Trust me, tears will be much more useful . . . later."

He pressed the length of his body up against her, more intimate now than when they'd lain together in their bed. Pulled up tight against him she was his to do with as he pleased. Mindful only of their avid audience that waited at his back like a back of vultures, he lowered his face to hers and kissed her.

For Willow it was like time stopped. She'd known what as going to happen. Or at least she'd thought she known. She'd been ready for cuts and bruises, for pain. That she could have handled.

She was unprepared for his kiss. It was unlike any kiss she'd ever shared with Xander or Oz. Rough and demanding, it bruised in its heated anger. It was a kiss meant to punish. He pulled back just enough he let her pull in a stunned breath before he descended on her again. The second kiss was even harder, pushing her head back until she connected solidly with the wall. She felt the sting of pain as sharp fangs ripped the delicate flesh of her lips. The copper taste of her own blood sent her reeling. This time he snapped his head back. Eyes blazing, he lifted her in the air; vampire strength holding her aloft against the wall with indifferent ease.

Feet no longer touching the floor, she hung completely helpless in his grasp, eye to eye with something she wasn't quite sure was her Spike anymore.

"You will submit to me," was growled out through clenched teeth. The words echoed through the chamber, pulling in the others who watched the unfolding drama. Then right before his lips claimed hers for a third time, he whispered for her alone, "Need me." His demand this time was clear. He sought entrance to her mouth, and bewildered and confused, she opened her lips to his questing tongue.

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