Willow paced the floor of her bedroom prison. She knew that somewhere under
the same gabled roof the two vampires were deciding her fate yet again.
<Probably doing more than that,> Willow silently mused. While there had
been more than a little sexual tension between the sire and his blonde
childe when they were all together, at the moment she could care less if
they were professing their undying love for one another. Her life, her
future, was in their hands, and she'd never been more confused in her whole
incredibly long and frustratingly complicated life.
In some ways she was elated. Why shouldn't she be? It looked like Spike
had arranged to get her out of there and just in time too, considering she
now 'belonged' to Angelus and was his to do with what he pleased. Or so the
Irish vampire thought, anyway. Of course, she had Spike to thank for that
added complication as well. Still, a part of her wanted to hug Spike
senseless for saving her from a fate that, for the most part, she didn't
want to imagine at his sire's hands. But the larger, angrier portion of the
exhausted woman desired nothing more than to strangle him, kick him, hit
him, stake him . . . every violent thing that her overactive imagination had
come up with over the past few years. Not that it would get her out of her
current situation, but Willow was willing to bet that for a brief moment it
would feel pretty damn good.
Wishing she had her guitar so she could lose herself in her music for just a
little while, Willow instead had to find some other way to occupy her mind.
Even as exhausted as she was, the argument with Spike had rejuvenated her
momentarily. She wasn't exactly sure why, but just letting herself say what
she was thinking, no matter how childish, was akin to a couple cups of
coffee. Unfortunately, the energy boost was more mental than physical, so
she found herself analyzing and reanalyzing everything that had been done
and said over the past few days. When she added to that the possible
consequences to the future, it only made the confusion increase and a dull
throbbing start behind her eyes.
It was in an attempt to clear her mind that Willow had first taken to pacing
and grumbling, and then to grumbling and pacing. She even took the time to
loosen her corset and other overly tight undergarments, trying to get more
comfortable. However, nothing could alleviate the aches and pains that come
with overexerting an already driven-to-the-limit body, and she had to stop.
Besides, it had done little to put her at ease.
Still on edge, she then took a seat at the large desk and explored it for
the first time. Willow was pleased to find several sheets of fine
stationary, as well as a quill and ink. Thankful for any way to help pass
the time, she began pouring out her thoughts onto paper. She started with
everything that had happened at the poker weekend. It seemed like a
lifetime ago that she had first stepped into Mr. Simpson's manor with
expectations of a profitable couple of days of card playing, when in fact
only a few days had passed. How quickly things change, she
thought--relatively speaking, of course. She went on to describe how she
felt to find herself seated across from Angelus at the table, her vivid
dreams that night, the carriage ride, and everything that had happened since
then. She held nothing back, not even the odd dream she'd had while
standing in front of the mirror. And for a few hours, Willow was able to
momentarily forget about the crossroads at which she was standing. That's
why when Spike burst through the door, Willow leapt out of her chair in
"Get your stuff! We're leaving!" he commanded without so much as a glance
at the redhead whose heart was hammering at top speed. Spike headed
straight for the wardrobe, grabbed her bag, and started shoving her clothes
Willow didn't move, except her jaw, which dropped open. "We're leaving?
Just like that?"
Spike continued his rough packing of her things without bothering to look at
her. "Are you deaf as well as dumb, Pet? Help me, or so help me, I'll
drain every last drop of your blood and shove your unconscious body into
this bleedin' bag and drag you out!"
Deciding that the details and her anger could wait until they were somewhere
else, anywhere else, Willow silently grabbed a few necessities and finished
packing. It required leaving her steamer trunk and most of the clothes that
Angelus had acquired for her, but she didn't care. She'd buy new ones that
were more suited to her taste. She looked around, making sure that she
hadn't missed anything, and spotted her recent writings on the desk. She
quickly snatched them up and folded them before adding the papers to her
bag. Inspecting the room once more, Willow didn't see anything else that
she wanted or needed. She didn't necessarily want to keep mementos of the
past few days.
Spike still hadn't looked directly at her, but when she appeared to be done,
he grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her out of the room.
"Spike?" she questioned, struggling to keep up with the vampire's lengthy
strides. "What's going on?"
"I suggest you shut your gob and make those little legs of yours move faster
before either Angelus or I change our mind!" he growled, increasing the
speed of his gait.
Willow opened her mouth to tell him just where he could shove his
suggestion, but she soon saw the soundness in his advice and promptly
silenced herself. She even did her best to pick up her pace a little bit,
which wasn't an easy task considering the heavy carpetbag she was lugging
with her. It wasn't until Willow almost tripped that Spike wordlessly
grabbed the bag out of her hand before continuing to drag her along.
Fortunately, there were no other vampires in the halls to hinder their
progress. Even the previously posted guards were nowhere to be found.
After practically flying down the stairs, they reached the front door.
Spike didn't hesitate to open it and step out into the night. Willow,
however, was a little more reluctant. Something made her stop in the
doorway and turn around.
He was there, just as she knew he'd be. Angelus was standing in the doorway
to the parlor, watching her. They stared at each other, neither moving.
Even though she knew that Angelus could change his mind at any second--every
moment she dawdled could lead to the torment she was trying to
escape--Willow couldn't make herself turn around and walk away. Not yet.
"Heard you're leaving us, Pet," a voice said from above, startling her
Willow's eyes darted up to see William at the top of the stairs.
"Well, I guess you and I'll be seeing each other again in about another
century," he continued. "I only hope that by then I can get Angelus here to
share you with me at least once before he kills you." His devilish
expression grew into a huge grin. "Better yet, maybe someday I'll be
calling you 'Mum'--one big happy but bloody family, right Red?"
"William . . ." Angelus growled. "Don't ya have somethin' else ta be
"Just saying my good-byes, Angelus, like the true gentleman that I am. I
didn't mean to ruin the mood," he teased.
Actually, ruining the mood a bit was exactly what William was trying to do,
for his sire's sake. The younger vampire knew it couldn't be easy for
Angelus to just let her go. And if making his sire a little irritated at
him could help in any way, then he'd willingly set himself up for a little
punishment. On the otherhand, William wasn't an idiot either, so he didn't
push too hard. He just wanted to remind Angelus that he wasn't, and never
would be, alone.
"Now, you two lovebirds behave," he added with a sly wink before
disappearing back into Drusilla's room.
With William's exit, Willow's gaze automatically slid back down to meet
Angelus's, and her breath caught. The look on Angelus's face was one she
hadn't seen on him before, yet it was very familiar. It was Spike's
'Drusilla expression'--at least that's what she'd labeled it long ago.
Anger born from ill-controlled frustration, jealousy, confusion, pain--all
the feelings that a master vampire should be above--were minced together and
shaped into one confusing look.
In the blink of an eye, it was gone. In its place stood the stoic, composed
Angelus that Willow knew from both her waking and sleeping hours. Instantly
she was telling herself that she'd been mistaken--that she couldn't have
seen that much emotion in Angelus. Not only was he incapable of it, she
wasn't capable of causing such a change in any man, living or dead, let
"I have a gift fer ya, Rose." Angelus's smooth brogue interrupted her
"Gift? No. I--I don't want a gift. I don't want anything you could give
Ignoring her objections, Angelus took a few slow steps closer, pinning her
in place with his eyes. "Ah, my love, but I insist." Angelus reached into
his waistcoat pocket and took out a small bundle, the simple movement
spurring Willow back into action.
Shaking her head, Willow backed away until she came up hard against the jamb
of the open door. Angelus stopped an arm's length away and held the gift
out to her. Not able to quell her intrinsic curiosity, the redhead cast a
quick glance at the item in his hand. Whatever it was, it was loosely
wrapped in a piece of shiny black cloth, tied with a blood red ribbon in a
simple but perfect bow. As she stared at Angelus's offering, Willow could
imagine all sorts of possibilities, very few of which were pleasant. For
some reason, the image of someone's still-beating heart kept coming to mind.
"No, thank you," she protested meekly.
Seeing that he had her attention, Angelus slowly unwrapped the piece of
ebony silk until she could see what lay within it. She couldn't have been
more wrong. The fabric didn't hide a bloody piece of human anatomy or even
some type of warning, thinly disguised as a gift. It was her cross--the one
she'd bought in Galway for protection after Angelus had been turned, the one
that had gone missing from her room at Mr. Simpson's country house. Willow
made no move to take it, but she couldn't hide her surprise at the odd
"You--you're giving me a cross? My cross. Why?"
Angelus's dark expression didn't change. "I need . . . *want* ya ta stay
safe until we're together again. I be figurin', between Spike's protection
and yer cross, ya should make it safely home. Of course, it might come in
handy if Spike should happen ta misbehave. As ya said before, vampires
aren't the most trustworthy creatures of the night, now are they?" he asked
grimly as he carefully undid the clasp and held the necklace up to her.
"No . . . thank you," Willow repeated, albeit reluctantly because she really
did want her cross back.
"Ya aren't leavin' without it, Rose," Angelus insisted with a slight smile
for her continued stubbornness. "So ya might as well stop playin' the
martyr and let me put it on ya now. Otherwise, I'll call Spike or Lambert
in here ta hold ya still fer me while I place it around yer delicate little
"I'll put it on myself, thank you." Willow reached out to grab the piece of
jewelry, but Angelus held it close, out of her reach.
"That's not what I said, now was it, me little flower? Guess I'll ask Spike
ta come back and hold ya."
"No!" Willow yelped as Angelus signaled to his childe who was watching
everything from a short distance down the road. "Don't call him. I mean,
you don't need Spike's assistance. You . . . you can put it on me . . . if
Reluctantly, the redhead turned until her back was to Angelus. Facing the
open door, she saw Spike stalking back toward them with a less-than-amused
look on his pale face. Angelus, chuckling at her submission, motioned to
Spike with a wave of his hand that he wasn't needed.
"Ya forgot ta say please, Rose. Now remember, I expect ya ta mind yer
manners." There was a pause before he added, "And obey Spike as ya would
Even from where Spike had stopped at the bottom of the porch steps, the grin
that formed on his face at Angelus's words was unmistakable. Willow gritted
her teeth. As much as she hated to play his little game, she was only a few
steps from freedom. She told herself she could swallow her pride . . . yet
Again . . . if it meant being free from both of them.
"Yes, Angelus," she told him solemnly. "I'll obey him as if he were
"And . . ." Angelus whispered in her ear.
Turning her head just enough to meet his sable eyes over her shoulder, she
prudently added, "Thank you for the kind gift, Angelus. Please, would you
help me put it on?"
His mouth lowered, hovering achingly close to hers before twisting into a
jeer. "That's a good lass."
Quickly looking away from his mocking yet handsome face, Willow had to take
a deep breath to calm herself. She was so busy trying not to tremble from
his closeness that she was oblivious to the slight quiver in Angelus's hands
as he slipped the heavy chain with its ornate cross around her neck. After
having worn it almost every day for nearly a century, it had become a part
of her, and she'd missed it sorely. Willow welcomed its cool, familiar
weight on the heated flesh over her hammering heart. She touched the symbol
fondly, taking comfort in its familiar corners and curves.
Angelus's normally nimble fingers fumbled with the tiny clasp at the back of
her slender neck. It was hard to focus when he could feel her warm, tender
flesh next to his own skin. When the small latch was secure, his hands
lingered of their own accord. Masterfully, he began massaging her taut
muscles, kneading them into submission.
Willow didn't fight Angelus's soothing manipulations. As his fingers
explored the exposed lines of her shoulders and neck, she let some of her
tension drain away, all the time telling herself that she was simply playing
along to hasten her escape. It was the sensation of his skin warming
against hers and his thumbs tenderly tracing her hairline and collarbone
that was mesmerizing. Her eyes were already half-closed when she suddenly
remembered precisely where she was and the very real danger she was still
Alarmed and a little ashamed, Willow tried to move away, but Angelus resumed
his hold on the necklace, denying her a quick escape. Slowly, he pulled her
back against him, using the links of silver like a leash.
"Mine," he whispered with fierce possessiveness. "Tell me ya know that,
Rose. Before I let ya walk away from me, tell me that yer mine."
Willow's heart fell and she stiffened against the vampire's touch. She knew
it had been too easy. Apparently, Angelus had one more mind game to play.
Looking out the door, longing for escape, she noticed Spike watching them
both from the bottom of the porch steps. Even in the dark she could see him
clenching his jaw in impatience at her delay.
"No, I--I don't belong to anyone . . ." Willow said weakly. The reminder
was mainly meant for the vampires, but she needed to hear it as well. "I
don't care about your ritual. People don't own people," she managed a
little more forcefully this time, not noticing Spike's face cloud with
"Yer still so young," Angelus laughed, using his grip on her shoulders to
turn Willow to face him. Sliding a hand from her shoulder down her arm,
Angelus intertwined his fingers through hers. "What's a weddin' ring then,
Rose?" he snickered, lifting their clasped hands to study the ring on her
left hand. "It's just a symbol of ownership, no different than me mark that
ya bear upon yer lovely throat."
"No! There's more to it than that," Willow interjected as she tried to
wrench her hand free. The last thing she wanted to hear was Angelus's
thoughts on the sanctity of marriage, but his grip was firm.
"Marriage is nothin' more than makin' a claim, showin' the world that ya
belong ta someone else, Rose," he continued, easily keeping hold of her
ringed hand despite her struggles.
Willow couldn't help herself from being drawn into the debate. "But at
least in marriage, it's a two-way street. You promise yourself to each
other. The couple *belongs* to each other, but they don't *own* each
other!" she blurted out. <Great, Willow. Now it sounds like you want to
own *him*. But . . . if I'm his, does that mean he's mine?>
Her mouth opened, the question poised on her lips, but she already knew the
No. Angelus, in all his various incarnations, was never hers and never
would be. He would always belong to someone else . . . whether it be Darla,
William or Buffy . . . but never Willow, or Rose, for that matter. <Bloody
hell . . .> she silently cursed to herself. <Why am I even thinking about
Spike . . . this is all his fault!>
Seeing her confusion, Angelus's twisted smirk turned into a throaty chuckle.
"If it's that important ta ya, Rose, when we're together in yer time I'll
marry ya . . . *then* I'll torture ya ta death. Consider it me weddin'
present ta ya."
Willow winced, much to Angelus's delight, and he continued. "Say it, Rose.
If ya want ta go home, tell me what I want ta
hear . . . what ya know ta be true."
"I'm yours, Angelus," she finally conceded, somehow managing to look into
his eyes as she spoke. "Forever." Unfortunately, the fingers she held
crossed at her side, hidden in the folds of her gown, did nothing to lessen
the humiliation she felt at her words.
With her admission, his possessive grip on her tightened, becoming more
painful than sensual. It only reinforced his equally hardened voice. "Yer
mine, Rose . . . now and forever . . . My mark upon ya is more bindin' than
any ring that ya could ever wear, fer it goes beyond life. Yer death, when
I finally allow it, will bring us even closer together."
Willow couldn't break free from his hungry gaze, let alone form a coherent
thought. With agonizing slowness, Angelus gently drew her to him once
"Remember . . . this is just a delay, my love," Angelus murmured against her
throat, his lips and tongue lightly skimming the quickened pulse point.
"Nothin' will change but the settin'," he finished huskily.
And then he let her go.
The spell was broken. Willow paled at his words of warning as her fear
roared back to life, stealing the air from the room. He was right. Nothing
had changed. Spike had still 'given' her to Angelus, so all she'd done was
gain time . . . time to imagine what his plans would be . . . time for him
to perfect his plans of exquisite torment. <What was it that Angelus once
said to Giles? They hadn't even invented chainsaws yet . . . .> Shaking
her head to clear her mind of the new horrors, she backed out the door,
turned, and ran as fast as she could.
Angelus watched her run away. Considering what he was, having a woman run
away from him wasn't that unusual of an occurrence. What was unusual,
though, was how much pain he felt with every step that took Rose away from
him. He loathed having to let her go. It wasn't fair. Angelus had waited
so damn long, finding her and then losing her again. She just kept slipping
through his fingers. Worse yet, this time he was *letting* her go when all
he really wanted was to carry through with his claim as was his right--bite
her, drain her, hurt her in ways that he hadn't even thought of yet . . .
Kiss her, touch her, taste her, take her, and make her whimper and call out
his name from pleasure instead of pain. Make her need him so much that
she'd die without him.
Make her *want* to die for him.
Instead, he was sending her away and into Spike's care. The last thing he
wanted was Spike's help, especially if that required him touching his Rose
in anyway. It was bad enough that he had to wait more than another century
to finally have her, but to have to release his prize into Spike's hands was
far from reassuring, considering their past history. If he thought even for
a moment that Spike actually had any real feelings or desire for Rose,
Angelus never would have considered letting them go together. But Spike
only had eyes for Drusilla, and that suited him just fine.
Angelus caught Spike's gaze one last time, holding it until the blonde
vampire finally hurried to follow Willow. A slight smile tugged at the
corners of Angelus's lips as he remembered the last few hours he'd spent
alone with his blonde childe. Not that he could really forget, since he
still ached pleasurably from the bruises and bite marks that covered his
body. Being the eldest, Spike had certain rights to which Angelus rarely
had to submit. He'd fought it at first, much to Spike's delight, but in the
end Angelus surrendered completely. With a guttural growl of frustration at
losing both Rose and Spike at the same time, Angelus slammed the front door
closed before taking the stairs to William's room three at a time.
Willow flew down the steps, rushing past Spike and down the dark street.
She paid little attention to where she was going, just turning at the first
corner she came across. Her only thoughts were of putting some distance
between herself and Angelus. Willow didn't realize Spike had been following
her until she slowed to catch her breath and her bearings, and he stepped
out of the shadows.
"So, now that you've had your tearful good-byes, are you ready to go home,
love?" Spike asked grimly.
Willow came to an abrupt stop. Spike's sudden appearance and dark words did
nothing to quell her panic. She shook her head and started backing away.
"No, way! Uh-uh! If you think I'm going back now just so I can be a
plaything for the short-haired, leather-panted version of Angelus, you're
dead wrong!" Willow informed him.
"You're half right, Red," Spike smirked as he lunged for her, pulling her
close before she could get more then three steps away or make a grab for her
cross. "We're going back to Galway so we can end this bloody nuisance of a
spell once in for all!" he said very loudly, causing Willow to flinch.
"No!" she struggled against him, "not before I can find the cu--"
Her words were quickly cut off as Spike clamped a hand over her mouth, which
she promptly bit.
"Bloody hell, Red!" he hissed softly, shaking his throbbing hand. "I'm
for making this look good, but I'd prefer not to be trailing blood through
all of London!"
"What?" she exclaimed, still fighting him.
"I don't think we're being followed yet, but you can bet your corset we will
be. Keep your voice down and just play along for now."
"No!" Willow told the vampire angrily. She didn't have the slightest idea
what he was talking about and at that point, she didn't care. "I'm not
going anywhere with you! I hate you . . . more than anything . . . more
frogs. . . more than--"
"More than Angelus?" Spike interrupted.
"Why? Is it a contest?" she retorted in a tone that easily echoed the
coldness in Spike's voice. "Sorry, but you'll have to settle for a tie."
"Fine, Pet," he said sharply, letting her go. "Yet again, I welcome your
hatred of me." Spike turned and began strolling away. "I just thought you
might want to find your little Rom mates and see about a certain curse," he
added over his shoulder, just loud enough for the wide-eyed redhead to hear.
"But if you'd rather hold grudges, well . . ."
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