Take Your Time
Willow half-heartedly searched her new room in vain, looking for a way out even though she knew it was doubtful that one existed. She was mainly searching for inspiration, hoping a plan would come to mind, but more than anything she was simply trying to keep herself occupied. There were too many things that she didn't want to think about.
When she'd awakened in the strange room earlier, it had taken Willow a few moments to get her bearings. Unfortunately, all the memories of her carriage ride with Angelus had come back to her in a stomach-clenching rush. "Oh, Willow." she'd moaned softly to herself. "What have you done? You practically threw yourself at him. Heck, you barely even struggled! And.and.Angelus gave you a chance to kill him and you didn't even make a dent in that conceited demon!" <When did I become so pathetic?> she'd speculated silently, rolling over to bury her face in the pillow. <Only a few short decades ago I was learning how to play the guitar and pick pockets with the Rom! I've gambled with old pirates and young thieves, and I explored every inch of Italy! Not to mention the fact that I learned a couple of self-defense moves while I was in Asia, and all of this in a time when women aren't even supposed to travel on their own! But now, because I keep letting my childish emotions get the best of me, I'm Angelus's prisoner. Not so smart now, am I? All this wonderful new knowledge isn't going to help me escape!>
With a groan, Willow pulled herself together. She couldn't afford to wallow in self-pity or embarrassment at the moment. Right now she needed to figure out how to get away from Angelus. Besides, if she succeeded in that, she'd have plenty of time to kick herself later.
Willow sighed and looked around her new quarters despairingly. The large bedroom in which she was being kept was as opulent, if not more so, than the one she'd just stayed in at Mr. Simms' country house. Rich velvets and brocades adorned the room, and everywhere she looked, dark woods and fine antiques met her eye. The artwork was exquisite, and she had to admit that someone, maybe even Angelus, had very good taste for the finer things--much better than her last host. But she wasn't here to admire the decorating, so instead she studied the room for what it really was...a prison...a thing to escape.
The room had only two windows, and they were behind the bed. When Willow threw open the heavy drapes that kept out every ray of light, she discovered that they were covered with wrought iron bars on the inside. Even if she could reach the very thick, opaque glass through the ornate bars, she doubted that she'd be able to break them.
"Maybe I'll just have to keep the curtains open day and night. I could sit right in the middle of the warm sunshine, and they wouldn't be able to get me!" she said with a hint of renewed hope, but her face soon fell when reality hit. "At least until it's *nighttime* and there is no sun! Duh, Willow!" she reminded herself sharply. She was also keenly aware that the tiny amount of self-defense that she'd learned wasn't going to be of much use in this situation. Sure, it was handy anytime a vampire, or a living man for that matter, caught her unaware because it surprised them, giving her the chance to escape or grab her stake. Unfortunately, in hand-to-hand combat, she still had almost no chance of winning. Realizing this, Willow began to look about for a weapon of any sort, but Angelus had obviously been a step ahead of her, again. <Still no fire poker or vase to smash anyone over the head with!>
Next she tried the doors...for the fifth time. The large one opposite the bed that obviously led to the hallway was still locked. There was also a locked door on a side wall, and she guessed that it led to another room, a sitting room perhaps. Across from that was the only unlocked door, and it opened to a private bathroom, complete with the most modern indoor plumbing for the time, including a large tub. All the fixtures looked as if they'd never been touched, let alone used, and Willow's heart fell as she realized what the sparkling new tub symbolized. Not only were they planning on her being a 'guest' for a very long time, but also if they brought her food--that was assuming they weren't going to starve her to death--she'd never have to leave the room. Angelus really had thought of everything.
When she opened the wardrobe it only got worse. As if being his prisoner wasn't bad enough, apparently Angelus planned to treat her like a toy as well. While her trunk and travel bag were there, all of her normal clothes were gone. He'd left her with only some of her more personal belongings. Willow realized how lucky it was that she'd decided not to bring her journal with her on the poker weekend because if Angelus had gotten his hands on that...Well, she didn't even want to think about those consequences. Nevertheless, even though all of her clothes were gone, she wasn't lacking in things to wear. The closet was full of dresses, appearing to somehow be the right size, but none of them very Willow or Rose-like. Granted, they were beautiful and obviously very expensive, but they were all more provocative that what she was used to wearing lately. It wasn't that she was opposed to showing her cleavage or that she was ashamed of her body. On the contrary, while she had been with the Rom she'd grown quite used to the peasant-style blouses that the women wore. The gypsy females were never shy about displaying an ample amount of bosom, but this.this was different. Back then she was trying to fit into the gypsy way of life, while now she was supposed to be a lady...not an over-dressed trollop. The clothes Angelus had chosen for her were not for everyday wear. Instead, the resembled more what one would wear to a fancy-dress ball or a very special evening on the town. Showing this much skin before nightfall was a big faux pas in Victorian society.
"And what's with all the red?" she whined. Unfortunately, she had little choice since the dress she'd worn on the trip was dusty and wrinkled, and to her dismay, it now had a large rip up the seam, similar to the one Angelus had put in her other dress. Putting off the inevitable, Willow slammed the door shut, blocking her view of the clothes she was expected to wear, and plopped back down on the bed.
Looking about sullenly, she had to admit that it was truly a beautiful room, but Willow couldn't enjoy it. She was completely aware of what Angelus was up to, or at least she hoped she'd figured out his plan. He was trying to make her comfortable and relaxed so that when she let her guard down, he could swoop in and be his usual evil self. Torture was still torture, no matter how lush the settings or grand the costumes. In fact, she almost wished she'd been thrown in a cell or a dungeon instead. The niceties only made her more uneasy. <Which is probably also part of his plan,> she reminded herself. <No matter what, he wins. If I get comfortable, he'll enjoy taking that away from me, and if I worry about what he's up to, he'll take pleasure in my frustration!>
She sighed again and then made a decision. Really, she had no choice. She could get dressed and play along for now in hopes that a means of escape would present itself, or she could sit there in her smelly and torn dress until he forced her to change clothes. And she didn't even want to think of how he might go about doing that! So, after a quick bath, Willow chose the least distasteful dress. It was a wine-colored silk, worn off the shoulders and made to be tight fitting around the middle so that it would show all of her assets to their greatest advantage. She was grateful for one thing, however, as she stared at the garments--the matching hoop petticoats, or crinolines, were not as wide as many she'd seen. It took practice to sit down in the narrowest of the hoop skirts, but some of the more recent styles were so wide that the wearer could scarcely fit through the average doorway. Normally, Willow wore the simplest designs she could--sacrificing style for comfort and classic clothing that required the least amount of fuss to put on. On some occasions, she would even stay in her dressing gown all day when she wasn't going out or expecting company.
"What I wouldn't give for a pair of jeans and sneakers!" she lamented as she stared at the finery. "Even the styles of 50 years ago were better than this," Willow continued, fondly remembering the short Empire period in which women were corsetless and the gowns much lighter and loose fitting. Fashions in Victorian England seemed to change faster than they did in Sunnydale High School.
Deciding she'd better get started, Willow easily slipped on the chemise and then shimmied into the corset. After all these years, she was getting pretty good at doing it up all by herself, but it helped that she didn't wear it as tight as most other women of the time. The dreaded hoop petticoat followed that uncomfortable item. Then she put on the embroidery-trimmed over-petticoat before finally wiggling into the expensive, double-flounced gown itself. Willow griped the whole time she was putting the intricate ensemble on, allowing the grumbling to take her mind off of her impending meeting with Angelus. It took her awhile to get all the buttons fastened, but eventually, after slipping into some handed-beaded slippers, she was fully dressed.
Her hair was another matter. Fashion dictated that during the day women were to wear bonnets or hats of one variety or another when in public. Otherwise, it was usually worn up or at least pinned back with ringlets about the face and neck, but she didn't really give two hoots about fashion at the moment. Sitting at the dressing table covered, Willow quickly combed out the drying tangles. She twisted and then pinned only a small section of hair back on each side, just enough so it wouldn't hang in her face and annoy her. The rest she brushed forward so that it fell to the front, allowing her some degree of coverage along her neck and chest. It wasn't fashionable but it was comfortable and quick. She only wished she could find her cross to wear, not that it would help, but unfortunately it had mysteriously vanished the night Angelus had appeared in her room.
Annoyed for having to put so much effort into her appearance considering what was likely to happen to her, Willow voraciously started inspecting the room again. She was so busy examining every nook and cranny, she wasn't aware of William when he unlocked and opened the door behind her.
Unnoticed, William watched her scurry about the room that he'd had only a fortnight to prepare for her. In fact, they'd barely made it on time. It was a good thing that he and his sire had turned quite a few laborers over the years. As a result, beneath their own roof dwelled all the carpenters, masons and plumbers that they'd required to get the job done. Angelus had insisted that Rose's room, which had been created from two smaller rarely used bedrooms and a tiny sitting room, have an attached private bath with all the modern conveniences. Angelus's instructions had also made provisions for a small, private library for Rose. His only offered explanation was that his Rose was an intelligent woman who liked to read. Unfortunately that room wasn't quite ready yet. The carpenter had only finished the shelves the day before, and the books still needed to be put on the shelves. When that was done, hopefully later than night, Angelus would check it one final time to make sure there was nothing in the room that his Rose could use to aid in an escape. To William, it all seemed like a lot of trouble for someone Angelus just wanted to torment until she lost her 'intelligent mind', but William gave his sire the benefit of the doubt. Angelus always knew what he was doing.
What would be interesting though would be Darla's reaction when she came back in a little over a week. After all, it was her house that Angelus was renovating without permission. Fortunately, Darla's personal quarters were much larger and far more luxurious than those made especially for Angelus's captive, so that shouldn't cause a fuss.
Darla had come by the estate only a few years earlier after paying 'special' attention to an older wealthy man. After estranging him from what little family he'd had, she'd promised him eternal life in exchange for all of his worldly possessions, including the huge and relatively new mansion that was now their home. Within days of the will being finalized, he'd died of a heart attack while Darla sat back and watched. She'd never intended on turning him, but the man didn't realize that until it was too late. The end result was that Darla and her extended demonic family now legally owned a secluded London mansion that suited their special needs perfectly.
William smirked to himself. Yes, Darla's reaction to the whole Rose situation should prove very interesting indeed, and he couldn't help wondering if she'd be jealous of the redhead. <Bloody hell.even I'm a little bit jealous of Rose since she's all Angelus has bloody talked about for weeks.decades, really,> he admitted. Then he remembered what had happened only a few hours ago.
When Angelus had put Rose into his arms earlier, telling him to take care of her, William had carried her into the house and to the room they'd finished for her only a couple of hours earlier. Just as he'd been about to place her on the bed, Willow had stirred restlessly in his arms.
"Don't worry, love," William had hushed sarcastically. "You're home. This is where you belong now."
Then the most curious thing had happened. Her lids fluttered open only for a moment to look at him. When their eyes met, she smiled softly, whispering, "I knew you wouldn't forget me..." before they closed again and she seemingly snuggled closer.
At the time, he'd just chalked it up to the ramblings of one of Angelus's playthings. Their minds were always so fragile that they rarely made sense after a few days in his sire's presence. That thought disappointed William though. He'd been hoping that this one would offer Angelus, and of course his favorite childe, the challenge they'd been counting on. Now he couldn't help wondering why it was that had Angelus become so totally obsessed with her. Sure, she was a pretty lass, especially for one that was over 100 years old, but he'd seen women who were more beautiful. Obviously there was more to her than met the eye, and he was looking forward to finding out exactly what that was.
"Lose something, Pet?" he finally asked, revealing his presence.
Luckily, Willow had been expecting to see William sooner or later. That was just the way things seemed to go in her life now. She took a quick glance at the door and noted him casually leaning against the doorjamb. He was no longer wearing the military uniform she'd seen in him two times before but was instead dressed in the same manner as Angelus and any other man of the time. Plain, dark trousers and a white shirt, with the only real color coming from the richly embroidered vest that peeked out beneath his frock coat. Plus, he was wearing Spike's familiar smirk. As a result, if not for his dark hair, Willow could have easily mistaken him for Spike.
Forcing herself not to stare at the vampire, she tried to pretend as if he were just another one of Angelus's lackeys as she answered his question. "Only my ever-loosening grasp on reality," she mumbled caustically, continuing to cast her eyes about the room. "What do you want?"
"Unfortunately, what I want isn't important right now. Angelus is asking for you. Says he has a surprise for you...for both of us, actually. So, shall we?" he leered, yet offered her his arm like a true gentleman of the time.
Willow shuddered at the kind of surprise that Angelus might have in store for her. Apparently, it was time for her torture to begin.
"I'd be eternally grateful if you would be so kind as to tell him that I don't really like surprises," she said a little too sweetly, trying to stall for time.
"Don't think so, Pet," William snickered. "Besides, the surprise is half the fun. Now, do you want to be dragged out of here by your hair, or do you want to walk down the hall like the proper lady that you are?"
"Fine," she grumbled under her breath, then brushed past her escort and walked out into the hall to wait for him. "After you, Sir," Willow said, with a mocking curtsy. "Since I have no idea where we're going," she added, trying to make it sound like an offhanded remark.
Disappointed that there would be no hair pulling, William ignored her display, turned left, and headed off down the long hallway without another look at her. He didn't need to see her to know that she was following him as instructed. At one point, they passed a tall, brass candleholder that sat on the floor.
"Don't even think about it, love," he warned her without turning around.
Willow's hand, which had made only the slightest movement toward what she'd thought was the perfect makeshift weapon, fell back to her side. Neither's steps had faltered.
After a few turns, Willow was already wondering if she'd be able to find her own way out on her own, when they came to a large, intricately decorated vase, resting on a hall table. Again, just as Willow thought to reach out, grab it, and smash it over his head, William's voice put those notions to rest.
"I'd think twice about that if I were you. All that shattered glass flying about, you're likely to get a nasty cut in the process. Next thing you now, a dozen hungry vampires will descend on you like bees to honey, and I won't be able to do a thing to help you," he told her indifferently, never stopping his forward momentum.
Willow felt the panic begin to rise again, her feet getting more leaden with each step that brought her closer to Angelus.
"We're almost there, Pet. I know you must be dying for your surprise. I know I would be...*dying*...if I were you," his sardonic voice wafted back to her.
Willow spotted a chair in the hallway and faltered, but before she could take more than a step toward it, William was upon her, grabbing her by the forearms and pushing her back against the wall. His hands slid up her arms to her wrists and pinned them above her head.
"Stubborn thing, aren't you?" he asked, leaning his full weight against her wrists. "Not too fond of following instructions, are we?"
As William's demon came to the forefront, Willow tried not to let the memories of her last day with Spike flood back to her, but it was difficult. The future version of him had held her the same way that time, pinning her against the wall of her own home. She didn't struggle this time though, partly because she refused to give him the satisfaction but also because the dress she was wearing didn't really allow for it.
"If I were you, Rose, I'd play nice with me. From what Angelus had told me about his plans for you, we're going to be around each other for a bloody long time. And, of course, my sire and I share everything," he warned, his eyes flashing with a familiar hunger.
"I wouldn't be so sure of that," she informed him bravely. "In fact, go ahead and bite me...we'll see what Angelus has to say about that!"
William grinned lasciviously, unable to resist a challenge. "Don't mind if I do, Rose." He lowered his eager mouth to her throat, waiting to hear her whimper or beg him to stop, but it never came. Even when he licked at her pulse point and grazed her delicate skin with his blunt teeth, she didn't give in to fear. With a supernatural effort, he stopped himself, but it wasn't easy. While Angelus would most likely share her after a while, William knew she was special to him, and he doubted that even he would be forgiven for daring to mark her.
The dark vampire pulled away to penetrate her eyes with his own. He shifted his grip, easily holding her two wrists captive with only one of his hands, allowing the other to slowly fall until he was running a finger along her collarbone.
"Aren't you afraid of me, little virgin?" he asked huskily, and Willow felt an icy-cold stab of pain at all the similarities between William and Spike.
Willow clenched her jaw, unconsciously mocking the man in front of her. "No, I'm not. I know you better than you know yourself. Nothing you do can surprise me."
A smirk grew on the vampire's face. He was starting to now see the inner fire that kept Angelus so enthralled with her. She was cocky, and he liked that. Once again, William had to remind himself that Rose was Angelus's. His sire had marked her ages ago, which caused a slight twinge of envy in the younger vampire. At that moment he could think of nothing better than dragging her, kicking and screaming, back to his room so that he could teach her the proper way to behave. <Soon,> he reminded himself. <When Angelus grows bored, he'll allow me to indulge myself.if she survives that long, that is.>
"I'm really looking forward to watching Angelus teach you your place, Pet. After all, everyone works better with an audience."
Just as William was about to release her, he let his eyes drift over her one last time. That was when he noted it--a faded scar on her neck. It looked so familiar that he had to look at it again.
He abruptly pulled back and grabbed hold of her chin, forcing her to look at him. "That mark...who gave it to you?"
Willow stared at the vampire defiantly. <You wouldn't believe me if I told you...> "That's none of your business, is it? Hadn't we better get going? It isn't good to keep Daddy waiting, is it?" she sniped.
Ignoring her words, William touched the scar that looked like one of his, as if making sure that it was really there and he wasn't just seeing things. Then he let go of her abruptly, letting his human visage slip back into place.
"Angelus will get it out of you, Pet," he advised, then started back down the hall. "But I think before he's done you'll wish you'd just told me." <Crikey, she's a spirited one! Hope Angelus knows what he's getting himself in to. We may be better off with that religious nutter he met at the church a while back. At least she wouldn't give him so much bloody trouble!> he mused as he brought Rose closer to Angelus. Nevertheless, he didn't believe his own thoughts for a moment. Deep down, he agreed with his sire--the more spirited they were, the longer the amusement would last. And much like his sire, William couldn't wait for the fun to start. He only hoped Angelus really would share her one day.
Willow followed weakly behind William as he led her down a staircase and across the marble floor. It was impossible for her not to notice the two large vampires that were blocking the front door. With a sinking heart, she realized there was no way she could 'muscle' past those two brutes. From the no-nonsense looks they were giving her, it was apparent that they'd already been given instructions about her. <Doesn't look like I'll be walking out the front door anytime soon since I doubt that I could flip one of them over my shoulder...let alone hurt them,> she thought morosely.
Finally stopping before a set of double doors that led off of the foyer, William opened them with a flourish and gestured for her to enter. Willow took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. Unfortunately, before she could even exhale some of her tension away, her feet were already in motion. What she saw within the room, though, forced Willow's breath out in a coarse hiss, and she was as close to fainting as she thought she'd ever been in her whole life. Angelus she was expecting to see, in all of his arrogant glory, but not Spike, and especially not the two of them chatting amiably like old school chums. That was the last thing she'd counted on.