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etana.gif (2825 bytes)etana.gif (2825 bytes)Take Your Time etana.gif (2825 bytes)etana.gif (2825 bytes)

By Carrie

DISCLAIMER: Most of the characters are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No copyright infringement intended. A few minor characters of my own making will show up now and then. < > indicate thoughts and/or feelings

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Part One

Willow sat in the library, staring at the computer screen but not really paying attention to the information it displayed. She was supposed to be doing some research, as usual, and trying to find anything that may hint as to the whereabouts of either Buffy or Angel. Instead she was doing mental battle with herself, embarrassment tinged with shame versus her conscience. Not a fair fight really, but her embarrassment had managed to prolong its inevitable loss by several days.

Willow sighed, not that Giles noticed, and he was the only other person there. Xander was late, as usual, Oz was on his family's annual vacation to Tahoe, and Cordelia had an appointment at the salon. So for now, it was just Willow and Giles. < I might as well get this over with before Xander gets here. >

"I wish Buffy would hurry up and come back," Willow said out loud. "I'm afraid I haven't quite got the hang of this slaying thing yet."

Giles looked up from where he was standing reading a dog-eared volume of demonology. "I think you are doing exceptionally well, Willow. Considering you're not an actual slayer and all. Why? What makes you say that?"

Willow chewed on her lower lip, trying to decide the best way to tell the Watcher. Finally, she suddenly blurted out "I'm sorry Giles. I know I should have told you this earlier, but I didn't want you to be disappointed in me, because of Buffy and everything . . ."

"Willow?" Giles interrupted her confused attempt at a confession and sat in the chair across from her. "Tell me what?"

"Tell *who* what?" Xander chimed in as he strolled through the swinging doors of the library. "What did I miss?"

"Well, one night last week," Willow began sheepishly. "When I was on patrol, I dropped by the old mansion, where you know, all the vortex hell-suckage stuff happened. Because I keep hoping that maybe Buffy or Angel might show up there, and. . . ."

"You saw Buffy?" Xander demanded. "Where is she?"

"No, Xander, not Buffy. Will you please let me finish?"

When Xander nodded disappointedly, she continued, "No, I saw, um, Spike."

"Spike? Really?" Giles said matter-of-factly. "How interesting-- all my sources claimed he had left town with Drusilla after. . ." Giles' tone quickly changed when he finally realized what she had done. "Wait a moment, you mean you went there alone?"

"Well, kinda. I mean-- *yes*, I did." Willow replied, staring at the table.

"I don't think that was a very good idea Willow. You never know who may show up there." Then remembering that someone had already shown up, and it was the original point of the conversation, Giles quickly stammered on. "Like Spike, for instance."

"Yeah Will, what if Angel had been there?"

Willow's eyes met Xander's. "Angel? That would be a, a good thing-- you know, Angel and Buffy and all."

Xander was practically screaming inside. < Why is everyone always so worried about Angel? I will be damn glad if I never see that pasty-faced vampire again. *Damn glad!* > "Obviously your idea of a good thing is a little different from mine. Remember," Xander lectured. "Angel, plus no soul, equals *bad* thing, Willow."

"Xander is right," Giles said with concern, then recognizing who he had agreed with, he quickly added "for a change. We have no way of knowing if you were successful in restoring his soul."

Willow jumped up, frustrated. "Giles. Xander. I *know* it worked. Not *know* like I have actual proof *know*, but I felt it." She was tired of trying to convince them that her second attempt at soul restoration was a success, and she had long given up on trying to convince Xander that their Angel could not be held responsible for the demon's actions.

She was pacing the floor now, annoyed with the constant interruptions. < Just let me finish before I change my mind. > "May I finish?" Willow stopped pacing long enough to send Giles a pleading look. "Spike, remember?"

She took their distracted grunts as permission and continued. "Anyway, I snuck in trying to be 'stealth-girl', just in case, and to make a long story short, there was Spike, very drunk, and about to kill himself." Willow added quickly, "But I stopped him."

"You what?" Giles and Xander shrieked in unison.

Xander quickly strolled over to Willow and puts his hands on her shoulders, peering intently at her. "Willow, please tell me that you mean you *stopped* him from wasting good beer or from doing a very bad Billy Idol impersonation. But *please* don't tell me that you stopped him from dusting himself, thereby losing our chance to rid the world of "Mr. 'ello love, aren't I irresistible because of my bloody accent even though I'm a blood sucking pale-faced twit?" < He tried his best British accent for the last part, with moderate success. > "Ya know, I bet he isn't even really British. He's probably from Cleveland!"

"A slight case of accent-envy Xander?" Willow asked softly, not able to look him straight in the face.

Xander let her go, sighing, "Why Willow?"

Willow felt tears of guilt welling up inside her. "I don't know. He, uh, he just looked so sad, like a lost puppy, and you know how I feel about puppies. And he was crying. Before I realized what I was doing, and before he even knew that I was there, I had grabbed the stake out of his hand."

"Please continue Willow," Giles said calmly. "Don't leave anything out this time."

Willow took a deep breath and told them in detail how shocked Spike had looked when she had intervened, yet still incredibly sad. In his drunken state, first he laughed uncontrollably and then rambled on for several minutes about how Dru had killed herself shortly after they had left Sunnydale. Her shaky mental status wasn't able to take losing Angel again, nor could she forgive Spike for the role he played in Angel's demise. He finally finished by saying he couldn't be without her.

"So, I having nothing left and want to end this. Your act of kindness is wasted on me love." His words were slurred but deadly serious. "Now, do us both a favor and drive that stake into my heart," he said.

"Then he just stood there," Willow recollected. "With his eyes closed. Waiting."

She couldn't do it. "Uh, Spike?"

His eyes sprung open, impatience beginning to show. "*What* is it?"

"I don't think I can, unless, it's like self-defense, or something."

Willow told them how he laughed at that, hard. < For a suicidal vampire, he sure laughs a lot. > "Let me get this straight," he said. "Are you asking me to try to kill you, so that you can then kill me, which is all I bloody-well want in the first place?"

Willow just bit her lower lip and nodded.

"Fine pet, if that is what it will take to get you to finish this." Spike let out a low growl and started staggering toward Willow, his hands raised in front of his face with fingers bent in what Willow could only assume was an attempt to look menacing.

Willow had to suppress a giggle at his stereotypical vampire approach. < All he needs is a cape. >

But before he had taken three steps, he tripped over his own feet and landed flat on his back.

"He passed out, and I left," Willow finished hurriedly, hoping that they couldn't tell she was lying.

"So, that's it Willow?" Giles asked, cleaning his glasses for the third time. When she nodded yes, he continued, "Well, that wasn't so bad. I can see no reason why you were reluctant to tell me about that. Killing doesn't come naturally to most people Willow. Even when the intended victim is already, in a manner of speaking, dead."

"Why do I have a feeling we are all going to regret this?" Xander whined, sitting down and purposely banging his head on the table. "Ow . . . table . . . head . . . pain!"

"I am really sorry," Willow sighed, slipping back into her vacant chair.

Giles put his glasses back on and looked at Willow. It was so unfair for her to have to feel guilty for just being herself, a caring person. < Hurry back Buffy. Trying to ease her guilt a little, Giles patted Willow's hand. > "Don't worry Willow. I doubt any direct harm will come of this. But, for future reference, it might pay for you to put a little less, uh . . . compassion into your slaying, if possible."

"Okay Giles, I'll try," Willow said sadly.


Later that night, after she had spoken to Oz long distance for over an hour, Willow wondered about the sudden strong urge she had felt to lie at the library earlier that day. At the time, alarm bells were going off in her head, warning her not to tell the complete truth. She remembered with a sense of foreboding the words she had said to Spike before he lost consciousness.

In actuality, Spike had looked up from the floor where he had landed, to find Willow standing over him, with an almost mother-like look of concern. "Spike, I am not going to stake you. Drusilla is gone, and unless you can change the past or bring her back from the dead, or uh, undead, you will just have to learn to deal. < Oh my God! Why did I say that, he probably *can* bring her back from the dead. >

Spike had drifted off then, and Willow hoped that he hadn't even heard her, or better yet that he wouldn't remember the whole encounter. She had no idea that before Spike fell into a deep drunken sleep, one coherent thought suddenly rang in his mind. < Of course, why the hell didn't I think of that before! >


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