Take Your Time

By Carrie


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Part 29C


Once again Willow found herself running down the early morning streets, tears streaming down her face. Having nowhere to go, she eventually stopped, exhausted, in the recessed doorway of an accounting firm and sank to the cold ground. <How could I have been so stupid to think that he'd changed or that he really cared about me in anyway!>

Willow allowed only a short time to cry and feel sorry for herself before pulling herself together. She would have years, decades in fact if her plan succeeded, to tear herself down over her most recent failures and mistakes, but for now she had to get out.

She waited several hours, hoping that Spike would fall asleep. She needed to get her things during the daylight hours so she'd be able to get away from him. If he caught her trying to leave at night, her escape would be much more difficult. She also spent the time taking care of the small matter of Mrs. Andrews. The last thing Willow wanted was for Ms. Andrews to show up later that week and end up bearing the brunt of Spike's anger.

It was shortly after noon when Willow tiptoed back into her own house, heading straight up the stairs. As she made her way to her own room, she noted with relief that Spike's door was closed. Quietly as possible, she stuffed a few things into a case, making sure not to forget her journals. If she weren't so angry and scared, Willow might have enjoyed the irony of the situation. How many years ago was it that she did this same exact thing--packing her bags quickly and quietly in hopes of escaping the blonde demon that had betrayed her? It was different this time though, and she knew it. The last betrayal hurt her, but this one would kill her, if she let it. But she was determined not to let it.

With one last glance around, Willow headed down the staircase. She had one more thing to find and then she would be rid of this place and the monster upstairs. Unfortunately, when she darted into the parlor, it was gone.

"Looking for something, Pet?" a sinister voice echoed through the house.

She scampered back into the hallway to find Spike at the top of the stairs, leaning casually on the banister. In his hands he held her guitar.

Willow's heart leapt as he strummed an eerie chord on her favorite possession.

"Very nice workmanship. I can see why the bloody thing means so much to you and how difficult it would be for you to leave it behind." The vampire played another chord without looking at the strings. He was challenging her to come and get it.

Willow remained rooted to her place. "Spike, it's mine. Give it to me, and I promise you won't see me again until it's time to end this torture."

The vampire clenched his jaw and strummed another minor chord. "*You* are mine. So what is yours is mine. Understand?"

Willow shook her head and ascended the first few steps. "No, Spike. I don't acknowledge that. You bit me, and that's all. You don't own me anymore than some other parasite that took my blood!"

Spike clucked in amusement. "One day, Pet, you'll understand, but for now there is nothing you can do about it. You're mine, always will be."

Willow gritted her teeth in an attempt not to rise to his bait. She just wanted her guitar and then to get as far away from the blonde demon as possible.

"Give me the guitar Spike or else--"

"Or else what?" he laughed. "You'll curse me with my soul?" Spike shook his head. "Ah, you thought I didn't know your silly little secret? That you spent years with the Rom in hopes of learning the spell so you could restore Angelus's soul?"

Willow blanched visibly but she took another step closer. Her eyes remained glued on the guitar.

"I knew you would figure it out. I gave you plenty of hints between the guitar and my other new talents. So, to answer your question, 'yes', unless you would like your soul back, you'll hand me that guitar right now!" she said firmly, hoping her nervousness wasn't as apparent as she feared.

"Can't do it, Red. If you knew how to restore souls, you would have done it ages ago. You don't know, do you? The Rom aren't a very trusting lot, are they? They don't like outsiders much, let alone share their magik. Bad bluff, Willow. I thought I taught you better than that."

"Spike, please..." she begged with tears in her eyes.

Spike chuckled darkly. "You lose, Pet." With his final word, Spike threw the guitar over the balcony with all of his strength.

Willow watched in horror as her beloved instrument hit the wooden floor below and splintered into dozens of pieces before her eyes, its last sound echoing through the house. She skittered down the steps, thinking of trying to gather the pieces in hopes that some artist may be able to reconstruct it for her, but Spike's voice reminded her that she was still in danger.

"That was fun!" Spike said jovially and began descending the steps.

Willow quickly started to back toward the door, her eyes darting between the ruins of her guitar and the gloating vampire.

"You'll regret that, Spike!"

"Ah, cheer up, Pet," he told her, sarcasm lacing his every word. "It's just a few more years now and then we can go home."

Willow let a smile of her own creep into her face. Apparently, he hadn't figured it all out after all. He won the hand, but she still had a plan to win the game.

"You'll have to find me first, Spike." She waited a beat, just long enough to watch his superior smile fade a bit and an uncertain look flash in his eyes before she turned and ran into the morning sun. ~~~~~~~

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