Take Your Time
Willow froze just inside the doorway as the two laughing vampires turned their cocky grins on her, chasing away much of her own spirited strength. William, who had stepped back in order to make her enter first, had yet to see them.
"Go in, Pet," William instructed. "Angelus won't bite. Well, actually, he will, but..."
"Miss me, Pet?" Spike asked, taking a few steps toward her and opening his arms for a hug.
Hearing the new voice, William finally poked his head around the door. "Who the bloody hell is this?" he demanded.
Willow didn't even hear William's question. Her attention was fully consumed by the blonde vampire in front of her. "S--Spike," she stammered, not moving any closer to him. "I'd recognize that lying, selfish, conniving voice anywhere," she managed shakily, remembering her words from a previous meeting.
Spike smiled devilishly while inwardly hoping to every deity he could think of that she wouldn't say the wrong thing. "You flatter me, love."
As hard as she tried, Willow couldn't hold Spike's gaze. Her confusion as to his presence in the room and the coldness she saw in his face, cut her to the quick, and she had to turn away. Unintentionally, she looked straight at the smug Angelus. Realizing that looking at the darker vampire wasn't any easier, she admitted defeat and lowered her gaze to the floor.
Angelus observed the pain in his captive's eyes with great interest, not only when she looked at him, but also when she looked at Spike. William, meanwhile, was staring slack-jawed at the other vampire as he slowly entered the room. <He looks just like me! That bloody wanker stole my face!> He turned to Angelus, who was too busy watching Spike and Willow's interactions to notice his childe's bewilderment.
"Angelus!" William exclaimed, getting his sire's attention immediately. "You better tell me who this pillock is or I'll stake him, no matter how good looking he may be!"
Angelus gestured for William to lock the doors and come closer. He was loving every second of his childe's confusion, not to mention Willow's obvious distress. The air in the room was thick with tension, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
"William," he said, putting an arm lazily about his childe's shoulder, "I would like ya to meet yerself in about...um, how many years was it again, Spike?"
Spike tore his attention away from Willow and turned back to his sire and his former self. "A hundred or so," Spike said casually, strolling up to come face-to-face with William. "Hell, I'd forgotten just what a good-looking bloke I am!" he said with a broad grin, taking in every inch of William's perplexed appearance. "No wonder you can't keep your hands off me, Red," he teased cruelly. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Angelus's smile vanish, replaced by a look of jealousy. Behind him, Spike heard an angry, sharp intake of breath from Willow. <Damn, this is fun!>
"You're supposed to be me?" William snorted incredulously as he circled Spike. When he'd come full circle, William stopped and brought his face closer to the one that was almost a twin for his. He reached out, planning to touch the identical scar on Spike's eyebrow, but he was stopped by a shout from Willow.
"Don't touch him!" she wailed. Willow rushed forward, ready to throw herself between them if necessary. The redhead had been unable not to watch William and Spike's first meeting. <Sort of like a fire or a car wreck,> she'd first thought, trying to cheer herself up.
William looked at the distraught woman's face, then back to Spike. "What's she got her knickers in a knot about?"
Spike smiled again. Even his own voice was sexy. "Don't mind her. She has some theory that if we were to come in physical contact the whole soddin' world would come to an end...some blither about the same matter not being able to occupy the same space at the same time, or something like that." He rolled his eyes and made one of those all-encompassing 'Women! What the bloody hell are you going to do?' faces.
"It's true," Willow said, trying to shrug off his demeaning behavior. "Although you come from different times, the matter that makes you up is the same yet distinctive to you alone. According to the theory of..." When the matching faces of two annoyed vampires turned to her in impatience, she stopped her scientific rant. "Just don't touch...if you two think you can manage to keep your hands off of yourselves," she muttered, trying to find strength in sarcasm.
Angelus smiled in spite of himself at her audacity. She was so intriguing that the vampire found it difficult not to stare at her in front of the others. In all the years that he'd roamed the world, Angelus had never found a woman her equal. More beautiful perhaps, if one were to go purely by society's current vision of the perfect woman, but there was something about Rose that he thought outshined all the women that he'd known, both living and dead. He couldn't quite put his finger on exactly what it was that had kept her in his thoughts for over a century now--an impossible combination of innocence and passion, mystery and candor, youthful vitality and worldly maturity, perhaps. No, Angelus didn't know what it was precisely, but at least he now had the time to find out.
Willow was watching the two Williams study each other, trying to figure out what Spike was doing there in the first place, when she sensed it. Wrinkling her brow in consternation, she reluctantly looked over at Angelus and found him looking at her as well. The strange thing was that for the first time, he wasn't studying her like she were a bug under a microscope or like he was plotting the easiest way to rip her heart to shreds, he was just.*looking* at her. No.that wasn't quite right either, he wasn't just looking at her.he was gazing at her in the way that a man looks at a woman.
She knew she should turn away, but she couldn't because it wasn't the vampire or the demon looking at her, it was the man. During the past couple of days, she had only seen brief flashes of the Angelus she remembered, but even if it were only a cruel trick, she found some strength in the human Angelus's eyes.Angel's eyes.
At the sound of William's voice, they were both ripped back to reality. Angelus's face hardened, and Willow's eyes fell back to the floor.
"So, you're me in about 100 years?" He pointed to the scar on Spike's jaw. "Then where did that beauty come from?" William asked skeptically.
"Just a token of Rose's love," Spike answered, raising a hand to rub the scar himself. "Won't heal properly because of the spell, I suppose."
William pursed his lips, studying it a while longer. "A bloody spell, eh? Well, it's not too horrible...gives you some character."
Spike raised an eyebrow in faint surprise then began patting his pockets for a cigarette. William began doing the same. Finding his first, he offered one to Spike, and the blonde vampire took it with a smile.
Deciding that if he was ever going to get his Rose alone he would have to interrupt the two vampires that seemed intent upon staring at themselves for all eternity, Angelus spoke up. "Apparently, me little witch here cast a spell in the future, hopin' ta come back and keep me from bein' sired by Darla. Isn't that right, me love?"
Willow glanced nervously from Angelus to Spike, wondering why the blonde demon had told his sire that, even if there was a smidgen of truth to it. She hated not knowing what Spike was up to, and his face revealed nothing. In fact, the blonde vampire only smiled at her and then pursed his lips for a moment. Realizing that Spike's lie sounded far more plausible than her did, not to mention the fact that Angelus would of course believe his own childe over her, Willow had to turn around under the weight of their stares.
Not seeing how she would benefit from telling Angelus the truth, Willow twisted her hands together in front of her. "I don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about," she said weakly, praying that Spike knew what he was doing.
Angelus approached her from behind and placed his cool hands on her trembling forearms, drawing her back to him. "Ya lied to me, my flower," he whispered in her ear, before sharply sinking one fang into her lobe for emphasis. He was not surprised when she only gasped against the pain and didn't cry out. He knew her self-control was considerable, despite her behavior in the carriage the night before. "Yer goin' ta have ta be punished, no matter how impressed I might be that ya were able ta fool me."
Spike had a harsh but outwardly invisible reaction to Angelus's biting Willow. Spike's demonic side had claimed her and did not take kindly to another taking her blood--or anything else for that matter--when it was rightfully his.
"You see," Spike blurted out a little more loudly than he'd planned, "Angelus caused a bit of a ruckus in the town where...Rose...lives. Since she and the Slayer couldn't seem to kill him the standard way, she came up with this little back in time spell...sort of a demonic 'What came first.the chicken or the egg?' thing to try and stop him."
"And you...I mean, *I*..." William started, trying to puzzle the whole thing out.
"And I had no other choice but to come along on her little trip, uninvited, and make sure that Darla and Angelus still found their way to each other," Spike offered in explanation.
William clenched his jaw as he continued to scrutinize Spike. "And the bloody spell did that to my hair?"
Spike groaned and shook his head before running his fingers through his cropped locks. "Trust me. It's all the rage in the future."
William made a snort of disgusted disagreement, yet the more he looked at his older self, the more he liked the lighter hair. It brought out his eyes and sharp features. <Damn, I get better looking every day,> William thought to himself. Finally becoming serious for a moment, William pondered everything that had been said, and it all began to make sense...Rose's bite marks, her behavior and comments.
Willow took the time afforded by William's analysis of the twisted timeline to move away from Angelus and sit down in the nearest chair. It felt as if her legs would give way beneath her any second, and she didn't want to faint in front of the three vampires. To her dismay, Angelus followed to stand behind her chair, casually leaning on the back of it and stroking her hair occasionally as if she were a child or a pet. Willow tried hard not to grimace or shy away from his touch, wanting to appear as if she hardly noticed his attentions. It was difficult, though, considering all she really wanted to do was slap his hand away. <Calm down and breathe, Willow,> she reminded herself.
William took a long drag from his cigarette, looking at Willow and Angelus before turning back to Spike. "What.didn't you want to sire yourself?" William asked with a laugh before sitting on the arm of the sofa.
Willow smothered a smile at the fleeting look of chagrin that passed over Spike's pale features. She remembered very well how he'd considered doing just that very thing when they'd first arrived in Galway a century too soon.
"Sire myself? How bloody thick do you think I am?" Spike answered, looking incredibly insulted at the question.
"So, how long will we have the pleasure of my own company?" William continued.
"As soon as I know that you, Angelus, and Drusilla are all fine and dandy again; Rose and I will be on our merry little way."
Angelus fielded that question. He stepped out from behind the leather wing chair only to perch on its arm next to his Rose, resting his hand on Willow's bare shoulder. "Apparently, the three of us make a great team, William."
"Really?" William lifted an eyebrow in surprise, but he couldn't say he was displeased at the thought of having the beautiful brunette as a new member of the family. He and his sire had spent many an enjoyable evening tormenting the poor girl, and it would be a shame to see all of their hard work go to waste.
Spike spoke up. "William, she makes a brilliant vampire...beautiful, cunning, deadly. I'll have you know, she'll bag herself a slayer in the future."
William laughed in delighted surprise. "You're joking, right? She's off her rocker, mate!"
A ghost of a smile appeared on Spike's face as he thought about his vampiric lover. "That's one of the things you two will learn to like the most about her, and her visions save your asses more times than I can count!" he added, trying not to let his desperation show. He had to convince Angelus to change her and soon, but the very fact that he was trying to fan Angelus's interest in Drusilla was painful beyond measure. This was not that way it was supposed to happen.
Spike finally allowed himself to look at Willow again--the woman he blamed for this new torture that he had to endure. As he saw her sitting so close to his sire, putting up with his attentions without the slightest bit of protest, Spike felt a surge of anger. Although somewhere deep within the desperate vampire he knew Willow had little choice, it was far easier for Spike to put his grand plan's most recent failure squarely on her shoulders. If she'd only managed to stay out of Angelus's way, Drusilla would already have been sired and Angelus would be ashes.
At that same time, Angelus was studying Spike. It was obvious how his childe felt about the odd girl he'd had met in the confessional, but Angelus wasn't about to change his plans just to play matchmaker. The blonde vampire also appeared a bit territorial over his Rose, but Angelus wasn't worried about that either. Spike was his childe, after all.
Angelus spoke up, watching his Spike's reaction carefully. "We won't be needin' Drusilla anymore. We have you and Rose now. She can tell us anythin' we need ta be knowin' about the future, can't she?"
Willow grimaced and shifted uncomfortably in her seat while her future was being discussed as if she weren't even in the room. She'd remained sitting quietly while they'd discussed Drusilla's future, glad to be temporarily forgotten about. In fact, when Spike had mentioned that they would be leaving as soon as Drusilla was turned, she'd even allowed herself to believe that maybe Spike knew what he was doing after all--that he had some sort of plan. It was also plainly evident that Spike was trying to channel Angelus's attention back to Drusilla. If he was successful, Willow could see how it might just be possible for her to get out of the situation relatively unharmed. So she found herself once again having to trust Spike, no matter how difficult it was for her to place even an ounce of faith in him.
<Bloody hell...> Spike thought when Angelus spoke the words that basically dismissed their need for Drusilla. Spike had almost been hoping that it wouldn't come to this, but he saw no way around it.
Spike stood up straight and stubbed out his cigarette. "You can't have her Angelus. Rose is mine," he said firmly, fixing Angelus with a no-nonsense glare. "I marked her first, so next time, ask permission to touch her."
Angelus's smile faded at the tone in his childe's voice. He slid off the chair and approached him with deliberate steps. "Ah, but ya seem ta be forgettin' somethin', my childe. I claim the Rights of the Sire. She's mine fer the askin'. Actually, I don't even have ta ask. I can just take her, and I have every intention of doin' so!" he informed his blonde childe in no uncertain terms.
Spike shook his head. "No. You seem to be forgetting the Rights of the Elder, Angelus. I'm older than you by a hell of a lot of years now. Plus, if it weren't for me, you'd be long dead and buried. The chit is mine."
The two stared at each other in the middle of the room, and Willow held her breath, strangely relieved that Spike was fighting for 'ownership' of her.
Seeing the truth in Spike's claim, Angelus was the first to back down. He turned back to look at Willow. "I acknowledge yer rights, Spike," he said darkly, but what Willow saw in Angelus's eyes was anything but surrender.
"I'll trade ya fer her," Angelus added quickly. "Ya can have Drusilla. Ya can be her sire. And since *I* marked *her* first, I'll release all me claims on her, if ya do the same on Rose."
The room was deathly quiet for a moment.
"What?" Spike exclaimed, breaking the silence. He was completely thrown for a loop by this new development. It was something he'd never expected. For Angelus to *offer* sireship of Drusilla to him was more than he'd ever hoped for. It had always been a last choice for Spike. He'd told himself that he'd only sire her if absolutely necessary. Not only for fear of changing the past and future too much, but also because he knew sooner or later he'd have to leave her to return to his own time. Otherwise, there would be two of him running around the 19th century. Besides, William needed the chance to fall in love with her the same way he had. But this.for Angelus to just give Drusilla to him.that changed things a bit.
Speechless, Spike looked at William for support. From the look on his face, it was obvious that his younger self was pleased with the opportunity. Angelus, meanwhile, had not taken his eyes from Willow's, and she found herself unable to look away. There was no sign of forfeiture in the dark, fathomless orbs that were negotiating for her future.
"Ya heard me," he snapped at the vampire behind him. "Is it a deal?"
"Yes," Spike answered, his voice shaking with emotion. "Wait...no! I can't be her sire, Angelus," he backpedaled, having gathered his wits. Although the offer was tremendous, he knew he'd still only have the same problems in the end. There would be two Williams, or Spikes, and sooner or later he'd have to leave her, just like Angelus had. That wasn't acceptable.
Angelus was on the verge of losing his temper. "Then let William do it! Same thing in the end," he grunted.
That choice was even better and solved many of Spike's problems. The chance to be Drusilla's sire, to break all ties that his Dark Goddess had to Angelus, and to never again have to hear her call him Daddy or compare him to his sire was an opportunity too good to pass up.
"No," Spike said with great effort. "I was not her bloody sire the first time around, Angelus! You were, and that's the way it has to be," he ground out, still not believing that he was passing up such an offer.
"Are you daft, mate?" William demanded. "Do you know what you're saying? She could be ours alone...to be her sire...to have that kind of control over her. You must have wanted that before." William had not sired a true childe at this point, and since he seemed destined to be involved with the woman anyway, he preferred to have some authority over her. Besides, Angelus would be occupied with Rose now, and William wanted someone as well.
"Give us some bloody credit, William!" Spike growled. "As you very well know, the sire-childe relationship is different...it's a forced bond. What Dru and I had, well...what you and she *will* have is different. If you sire her, nothing will be the same!"
"Fine!" Angelus snarled, finally prying his eyes away from the trembling redhead. "William, take Goldilocks here and go get Drusilla from the convent as soon as the sun sets! Bring her here, I'll sire her, and then she's yers. I'll relinquish all rights to her and give her to ya in exchange fer the witch. Now, is that deal ta yer likin' or not?" Angelus may have phrased it as an offer, but the three vampires knew it was one that Spike couldn't refuse.
Willow couldn't contain herself any longer and jumped to her feet. This was it...the moment of truth. She stood just behind Angelus, staring at Spike beseechingly over his shoulder. <Don't do it, Spike. Just get us out of here and we can fix everything...please, Spike. Don't listen to him!> she begged with her eyes.
Spike's looked from Angelus to Willow. He walked closer to the beautiful redhead, drinking in the sight of her in the flattering gown and luxuriating in the sound of her quickening heart and rapid breaths. He reached out to drag his finger along her collarbone like he had done countless times before, ending at his mark of ownership. The blonde vampire smiled at her, receiving a weak smile in return. Spike could sense Angelus's growing anger with his delay, but he was enjoying every moment of his torment. It wasn't often that he had the chance to create such a reaction in his sire, so he stretched it out as long as he could. Spike then ran his finger up the other side of her collarbone, stopping abruptly at a nearly healed wound that he hadn't noticed before but recognized well as being left by Angelus's passionate bite. It only made his decision that much easier.
Reluctantly ending the sensation of her heated skin beneath his cooler flesh, he started to search his pockets. This time he found his own hand-rolled cigarettes, lit one, and then took a deep drag before slowly and deliberately blowing the smoke directly in Willow's face.
Willow didn't look away even as her eyes began to water under the assault, but she did slowly begin to shake her head as his decision began to become clear. "No.no.Spike.no." she pleaded, barely above a whisper.
Ignoring her, Spike turned his attention to Angelus, whose patience was growing thin. "It's a deal, Angelus. William and I will wander over to the abbey as soon as the sun sets. When I have my Dru, you can have Rose." He stepped away without a second glance at Willow and walked to his twin. "Now, since my old room is taken by you, I assume, show me where a demon can get some bloody sleep," he said coolly, following the widely grinning William out the door.
Willow sank to her knees right on the spot. She couldn't believe that Spike was going to abandon her like this. What's more, Willow couldn't believe that she'd even thought for a moment that he wouldn't. Angelus had just offered him everything he'd ever wanted--Drusilla, no strings attached--and he didn't even have to kill his sire in the process. So what if that doomed her to long and painful life, or death, with Angelus?
Spike's voice echoed down the hallway, each syllable causing tiny pinpricks of anguish to her soul..."For the minions' sake, I guess we'd better say that I'm a long-lost brother or something. Oh, and call me Spike, mate. It'll be less confusing that way."
"Spike?" she heard William question.
"Yeah, Dru thought it up a couple of years from now. It's a funny story actually..." and then his words faded away to Willow's ears, either due to distance or the sound of her own sobs.
Angelus looked down at the crying woman with surprise. "I didn't know William had it in him," he said softly to himself. His childe had never taken much of an interest in breaking women's' hearts before. He'd always been more of a love-em and eat-em kind of vampire up to this point. Angelus couldn't help being proud of his childe. He truly had followed in his sire's footsteps.
Staring at her a moment longer, Angelus tried to decide which direction to take this. He could try to comfort her, show her a more compassionate side by playing the good vampire against Spike's bad vampire only to destroy her later when she found out that he truly was worse than Spike could ever be. Or he could continue with the original plan...make her want him, demon and all. So many wonderful choices and so much time ahead of them. Unfortunately, it would all have to wait until after the ritual when she was officially his.
"Follow me," he said abruptly then started for the door.
Willow looked up to watch Angelus swagger out of the room. She wiped her tears away and got to her feet, but she didn't follow his command. She wasn't going to make this easy for him, no matter how much worse it would make it on her.
Sensing that she wasn't following, he turned. "Rose, me love, ya best be rememberin' where ya are. Now, ya aren't in a position ta be defyin' me, are ya?"
Willow crossed her arms about herself. "Spike is still my...master," she spat out reluctantly, clutching at straws. "I don't have to obey you." Willow awaited his wrath, bracing herself for yelling, grabbing and possible biting. She was almost disappointed when Angelus just started laughing.
He looked at her with a genuine--although a still truly evil--grin on his face. "I told ya once, Rose, that ya will beg fer my attentions one day, and ya will. Now, either follow me as I show ya back ta yer room or ya can wander about this place on yer own. There are guards posted at the only exits, knowin' that they are dust if ya escape. There also be about twenty other vampires milling about the place. Now, I told them not ta be touchin' ya, but they aren't the brightest demons in the world." With a last smirk for her stubbornness, he left.
Willow held her ground for what felt like an eternity, but in all reality it was only about 15 seconds. She darted out the door, spotted Angelus on the staircase, and hurried to follow him.
To Willow's surprise and enormous relief, Angelus did just that and only that. He escorted her back to her room, telling her that he would come for her when William and Spike were back with Drusilla. That said, he then shut and locked the door behind him.
Willow numbly removed the dress and corset, collapsing on the bed in only her chemise. Then, for the first time in decades, cried herself to sleep. ****