Take Your Time

By Carrie

See Part 1 for Disclaimer

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Part 25 A&B


When Spike came strolling through his door, he found Willow awake, dressed, and sitting at his table.

"Spike, um, hi", she stuttered as he continued into the room. He looked like he was in a foul mood, and she knew he wouldn't like it, but they had to talk. "Spike, we ne--"

"We need to talk. Right, Pet?" The obviously distracted vampire finished her sentence before practically throwing a platter of food down in front of her. "First, you need to eat."

Willow pushed the plate aside to look quizzically at the vampire as he paced the floor in front of her. <Well, at least he seems to be back to himself and forgot about our little chocolate discussion! But this won't go well if he's grumpy either,> she reminded herself. That's when it occurred to her to try and lighten his mood a little.

"What? No, 'That's the problem with this relationship, Pet...too much bloody talking, not enough shagging'?" Willow quipped happily, doing a fairly good imitation of Spike's accent and suggestive leer.

Spike turned to watch her little display, but his face remained expressionless despite her attempts to goad him. He wasn't in the mood to play, but he could prove that he had been paying attention too.

"My turn." Spike's face suddenly softened and he looked at his hands and began twisting his fingers. "'Spike,'" he said, in a flustered high-pitched squeak, "'er, I've been thinking, *again*, and this whole, um, thing between us is confusing and as much as I would love, to, um, explore the boundaries of our relationship a little further, because you are the sexiest demon I know, and everything, I think we should just be friends...'"

Willow watched, slack jawed, as Spike mimicked her voice and her mannerisms, right down to pretending to tuck a piece of hair behind his ears.

"I don't really look and sound like that, do I?" she squeaked defensively, then felt her cheeks begin to burn as she realized just how good his imitation truly was.

Although the vampire was pleased with his performance, he knew they didn't have much time. He had to tell her what had happened, as well as what he'd decided--she needed to leave town as soon as bloody possible.

"Now that we've gotten our dose of teenage angst out of the way, I have some news, and--"

"No," she interrupted, getting to her feet. "In fact, that wasn't quite what I was going to say."

"Really?" Spike was intrigued now and took a seat across from her at the table. All things considered, he figured that another couple of minutes of Willow banter couldn't hurt anything. "Oh, by all means, then. Do tell," he said sardonically.

Willow fought the urge to stick her tongue out at him and instead took a long, deep breath before beginning. "What I was going to say was that I need to go. I need to leave London...immediately. Tonight even." Not waiting for the surprised vampire to interrupt, she plowed on. "Angelus will be looking for me, and, well..." Willow had been trying her best not to behave exactly like his previous caricature of her, but she gave in. "Spike, this relationship of ours is confusing, and if we stay together, like this, we are just asking for trouble. I mean, here I am, a virgin, living right under your nose. Obviously you haven't exactly gone on a killing-free diet, but you *have* cut down which makes me too big of a temptation for you." Seeing that Spike was about to interrupt, she blurted the rest out. "And look at me! I'm a 74-year-old virgin, and, let's face it, you aren't exactly chopped liver. How am I supposed to be with you and not want to *be* with you? I'm only human after all. We both want something that only the other can give right now...something that we can't have. So, for the good of both of us, I need to leave for a while. At least until we know that Angelus has forgotten about me again and then maybe a little time will help get us over this little hump in our friendship."

When she finished, she flopped down on the coach, exhausted, and already inwardly kicking herself. <Oh, no! Why did I have to use the word 'hump'?> When she looked at Spike, she held her breath, waiting for his reaction. He stood up and slowly stalked towards her.

"Let me see if I have this straight," Spike started, obviously still a little surprised by her speech. "You're leaving because you're afraid *you* might take advantage of *me*?" he asked incredulously as he came to a halt in front of her.

Willow nodded her head and looked up to hold his gaze with her own. She continued to hold it even as he leaned down to place his hands on the sofa on either side of her head.

She swallowed hard as he drew himself closer. "It's for your own good," she told him breathlessly.

The vampire stopped to hover mere inches from Willow's blushing face. His eyes focused squarely on her quivering lips. "Don't you trust me?" he insinuated, surprising himself by the huskiness of his own voice.

Willow watched Spike's eyes sparkle dangerously as he waited for her answer. "Um, well, it's not so much that I don't trust you as that I don't trust myself, Spike," she stammered. "I'm afraid that one of these days, maybe even the next time you do this..." She tried to indicate the space between them with her hands,".invade my space like you love to do, I may not pull away like the good girl that I am. I mean, I know that this is all just a game to you...make the virgin blush, let's see her get all worked up, but one of these times I will call your bluff, Spike. What would we do then?" Willow noticed that the small gap between their lips was even smaller now. While speaking, she had moved closer to him, and her eyes were now firmly fixed on his tightly clenched mouth.

"I'm sure if we put our heads together, Willow, we would come up with something to do."

Willow waited for the telltale smirk to show that he was joking, but it never came. Instead, they both seemed frozen with indecision. She was about to fall back on babbling her way out of the situation. Somehow, she wanted to find a way to tell Spike that she couldn't bear to lose him because he was all that she had in this world. Furthermore, that however pitiful and silly it might sound, he was her only connection to her real life. Yes, she wanted to tell him all those things, or she could put her mouth to use in a different way and kiss the vampire within an inch of his unlife. However, before she could put her feelings into words or her lips on his, Spike suddenly rose and put some much-needed distance between them

"You shouldn't trust me, Willow. I saw the other me tonight, and I realized just what a lecherous sod I really was, er, am. But it doesn't matter," Spike told her resignedly. "I also saw that pillock of a sire of mine in a pub tonight, asking about you. He's already got half the vampire population of this bloody town searching for Rose."

The sexual-tension-filled moment was quickly forgotten. Willow's heart sank when she realized just how right she was about Angelus looking for her.

"I'll leave tonight...hopefully there's a stagecoach to Dover so I can catch the next ferry over," she mumbled, staring at her trembling hands.

Spike watched his companion. She had a far away look in her eyes, and he knew that she was contemplating the long years ahead of her. He squatted on the floor in front of her so that they were eye-to-eye but kept a respectable, safe distance. "I have to stay here," he informed her plainly, but his eyes showed that he wasn't particularly happy abut it. "If we changed things...changed this past...I have no bloody way of knowing what he's going to do next. And you know we did...we really mucked things up this time! If I lose track of him now, Angelus may bugger off somewhere and we may never find them again."

Willow was touched by his reluctance to leave her alone again, but she had also come to the same conclusion about Spike not being able to accompany her.

"I understand, Spike."

"Not that I am particularly chuffed with the thought of you being on your own again, Willow. You didn't do too brilliantly last time, did you?"

Willow looked down at her hands again and fiddled with her fingers. She wanted to tell him how she felt about him...how in spite of his deceit in the past, she now thought of him as a true friend. She had tempted him so many times but he had always done the right thing. He had taken care of her when she needed help despite her attempts to shove him away, and had done his best to make her see the truth about herself and Angelus. Maybe the friendship wasn't the same as the one she had once had with Xander, and it probably never could be, but she thought it was pretty good considering the circumstances. One thing was for certain, though. She was going to miss his company.

"That was different," she explained, speaking about the years following her abrupt departure from Galway. "I felt betrayed, then, and never so alone. But it's different now...." She looked at the vampire and smiled, hoping that somehow it would convey everything that she couldn't put into words.

When Willow smiled at him, Spike felt a stirring deep within. While he wouldn't allow himself to think about what that feeling meant, he did answer in kind.

She went on. "I'll be okay," she assured him. "Although," she added with a sigh, "I can't say I'm really looking forward to it. I mean, I don't know how you long-life demon types do this! So much time, but you can't really settle anywhere because people will notice that you aren't aging. Makes it a little hard to develop any relationships."

Spike chuckled as he got back onto his feet. "What you need is a hobby."

"You mean, besides finding some guy to neck with?" she teased.

The vampire lifted an eyebrow. "Are you planning on finding some strapping young lad who can't get it up to meet your needs?"

"Maybe," she answered noncommittally.

Spike once again began pacing the floor nervously. "You should go to France then...bloody Frenchmen are all talk anyway."

Willow wrinkled her nose. "I was thinking of going Italian...or Spanish..."

Spike stopped in front of her, turning a serious face to hers. "Wait another few years until you go to Spain, love. The Peninsular War is still going on...not a nice place to be for a bit longer."

"Italian it is, then!" Willow announced to the vampire who had returned to wearing a path on the floor. "Besides, all the history there should keep me entertained for a while."

"Sounds like a plan, love," he answered absent-mindedly.

"It's a start anyway," Willow said with a shrug, keeping her other plans to herself for now.



Willow's gaze traveled about the room, studying it for the last time.

"Um, do you think you can stay away from my pub, The King's Cross?" Willow asked him after several minutes, breaking the silence. "I was thinking of telling them that you and I were going to give it another go as man and wife, but in another town somewhere. You know, fresh start and all."

The vampire finally stopped pacing. "I think I can force myself to stay away, but whatever you do, don't bloody well tell them where you're going...don't even make up a specific lie. If Angelus tracks them down, and they mention that you're on your way to America, it's possible Angelus would follow. Last thing we need is Angelus getting to the States a century too soon."

Nodding in agreement, Willow closed her eyes and let her head rest again the couch. There was so much to consider. "Fine..." she told him wearily, not bothering to open her eyes. "I'll just say we're going to travel around Britain for a while...that should be vague enough."

"Good." Spike walked over to the doorway and leaned in the door jam, staring into the practically empty warehouse. He couldn't say that he was looking forward to the next few decades himself. Following Angelus around and trying not to be seen got pretty old, fast. <Not much longer though. Another 50 or so years, and you can see Drusilla again, and this will all be over.> "Well, it looks like we have everything figured out. Now we just have to wait for the sun to rise in a few hours. In the meantime, eat something," the vampire dictated without bothering to turn around.

Willow opened her eyes and focused hungrily on the plate piled high with cheese, bread, cold meats and veggies that still sat untouched on the table. With a sigh, she left the soft comfort of the sofa to sit at the table. She had long ago given up trying to stay strictly kosher. Not because it was impossible since there were plenty of Jews in London and therefore plenty of places to shop and eat without breaking any dietary laws. But, this whole experience, as well as those from her days living on a Hellmouth, had dampened her beliefs. Besides, it wasn't like she started celebrating Christmas or anything. She just didn't allow herself to feel guilt over her religious lapses. She had enough to worry about, and when this was all over, she was going to have a long talk with her Rabbi. She did, however, pass on the ham, preferring to tuck into the other items voraciously.

Spike did not move from the doorway the entire time she ate, instead staring past the damp floors of the warehouse below. Finally, sensing that she had stopped eating, he turned to find her just pushing the food around on her plate. As there were still a few hours until sunrise, Spike retrieved a deck of cards and tossed them on the table before taking the seat across from her.

Willow's demeanor relaxed as she busied herself shuffling and dealing the cards, then she finally broke the silence. "Spike, you know all that time I was alone, I never saw anyone play poker. When I tried to find a game to watch or just sit in on so I wouldn't forget how to play, no one had even heard of it. They play something called Bragg instead."

Spike rearranged the cards in his hand. "That's because it hasn't been invented yet," he informed her plainly, not bothering to look up from his hand.

The redhead stared at the cards she held like they were a demonic force in their own right, then let them fall from her hands. "What?"

Setting his cards neatly down on the table, the vampire got comfortable in his seat, knowing that she wouldn't let the subject go easily. "Look, love, it's simple, really. Poker wasn't invented until the 1830's in America...New Orleans, I think. Then it takes a few years before it catches on here, and--"

"But...but..." she interrupted, feeling incredibly stupid that none of this had even occurred to her before. "If...it hasn't been invented yet, where did the cards come from?" she asked incredulously.

"I brought an antique pack with me, although I didn't really need to. The Bragg deck is very similar," he replied smugly. "Oh, come on, love! You think I'd pass up an opportunity to be one of the first, and therefore the best, players in all of Great Britain? Not bloody likely."

"But you said you played in Galway!"

Spike rolled his eyes. "I did. I taught a few of the blokes in town how to play and took all of their money. You didn't expect me to get a real job, did you?"

"No...I guess not. It's just that, well...oh, never mind," she said sheepishly.

"What?" When Willow couldn't look at him and started biting on her lower lip, Spike turned serious. It almost looked as if she was about to burst into tears. "Willow...spit it out already," he growled softly.

The pained expression on Willow's face was actually due to her trying to restrain her laughter, not her tears. "Let me see if I got this straight..."she started. With more than a hint of flippancy in her tone, she began ticking items off on her fingers. "You threatened me, kidnapped me, forced me to dress like something out of a Dickens' novel, cast a spell that hurled us back through time breaking every law of physics and nature known to man...all of this *without* actually having any idea how you were going to bring about this new 'perfect world order' you had envisioned, yet you remembered to bring along a deck of cards?" Willow couldn't help it. She started laughing and was unable to stop even as tears started streaming down her face.

Spike's jaw tightened. "I had a bloody plan, Red. A brilliant, bloody plan if I do say so myself!" he growled loudly this time, her laughter annoying him more and more with each passing second. "But someone had to play the good fairy, didn't she? Some little witch decided to take us back 100 years too far!" Spike continued to grumble a while longer, most of it under his breath and none of it very complimentary.

Willow covered her face with her hands. The redhead was trying to gain a handle on her amusement, which wasn't easy when it just made Spike even angrier. That, in turn, only made her laugh harder, of course

"Look, are we going to play cards or not?" he asked sharply, smacking his hand on the table.

"I guess we better," Willow said with tear-brightened eyes when she could finally manage to stop giggling. "After all, I would hate to ruin your 'bloody, brilliant plan' to change the world with a deck of cards!" Willow didn't laugh this time, but she did grin broadly and even winked at him. Once again, she was reminded that she didn't have to take this whole time-travel thing so seriously.

Spike shook his head in exasperation, but even he couldn't stop a smile from sneaking onto his face. "Then ante up, my little virgin." *****

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