Take Your Time

By Carrie


DISCLAIMER: Most of the characters are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No copyright infringement intended. A few minor characters of my own making will show up now and then. < > indicate thoughts and/or feelings

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Part Six

Willow sat on the cliffs for hours, watching the ships come and go, and she wondered if any of them were heading for America. For a moment she entertained the idea of buying passage to America and just forgetting the events of the past week, but the thought was dismissed as quickly as it came.< You are here Willow. You are going to be here for a while, and you are just going to have to tough it out! >

Willow didn't notice that she had lost complete track of time until the sun began to set. "Better get back before someone gets worried about me," Willow announced to the first stars of the evening. Then it occurred to her that no one would be alarmed. < Who would worry? Spike? Doubtful! > "Well, they will probably miss you though Thistle," she said softly to the dapple-grey mare she had ridden there on.

After her confrontation with Angelus this morning, Willow had inquired about any scenic walks around the bay and had been offered use of the horse by Caroline. It had been years since she had last been on one, but she had been promised that Thistle was quite calm in nature, despite her name. With a last tremendous sigh she scrambled on the horse again and headed back to town.

She stood outside the inn for a moment, reluctant to be around people again, but she took a deep breath and threw open the door. To her surprise she immediately saw Spike sitting at the bar talking with several other patrons, as well as Mr. and Mrs.Fitzsimmons. He looked up when she came in and quickly plastered a look of relief on his face.

"There's my Rose," he said in a sugary-sweet tone, getting up to stand in front of her. Spike pulled her into his arms and whispered softly into her ear, "Where the hell have you been?" Then louder, for the benefit of the audience, "I missed you, peaches and was beginning to worry!"

Willow did her best to approximate a loving hug to Spike. "Sorry," she stammered, all too aware of the feeling of Spike's body against hers. "It was such a beautiful ride I lost track of time. Sorry to make you worry."

"That's all right, my pet, I know how your *little* mind wanders. I am starved, so why don't we grab a *bite* while we are here," he snickered.

"Um okay," she mumbled as Spike pulled her to a table. He sat down then yanked her onto his lap. Willow was forced to put her arms around his neck to keep from falling backwards. < Okay Willow, you can make it through this. Just forget he is a vampire. Or, pretend you are vampire. No! *Bad* idea! Just try to act like you don't hate him for now! >

"Isn't this cozy, Mrs. Smith?" he teased her, his lips only inches from hers.

Willow was getting aggravated from his attempts to embarrass her, so she tried to turn the tables on him. She brought her mouth even closer. "Why weren't you this attentive last night, my love?" she teased loudly, making sure everyone in the pub could hear. She turned and looked at the men that he was talking to before, "Last night all he wanted was sleep!" she laughed, then turned back to Spike before placing a feather-like kiss on his jaw. Willow's actions surprised herself almost as much as they did Spike, but she loved the hoots and jeers that they elicited from the male patrons.

But he was up to the challenge and wasn't going to be outdone. "That's because you have been wearing me out, princess," the vampire said over the laughter, and then he addressed the amused patrons. "She barely lets me leave the room, you know. I'm like a prisoner! She's insatiable!"

Willow began to blush as all the men's eyes turned to her, and she gave Spike a dirty look while fighting the urge to bury her face in his shoulder out of embarrassment.

"Truce?" he asked with a half smile. When Willow nodded her agreement, he went on. "Good, I've got some news, but first I am really hungry! Caroline," he shouted to the innkeeper's wife. "We will both take some of that delicious lamb you were talking about."

"Hungry? Since when do you eat things that don't put up a fight?"

"No demon in his right mind would pass up the chance for roast lamb with mint sauce." < Learn something new every day! > Willow shifted uncomfortably on the vampire's lap, but his arms were still firmly around her waist. "Spi-, um, William," she asked quietly. "Can I get off your lap now?"

"No. Since we are going to be here awhile, we need to act like a normal, loving, living couple, no matter how much it makes my stomach churn."

"And this is normal? I don't see anyone else sitting on somebody's lap. You're just drawing attention to us."

"Are you sure? Dru used to sit on my lap all the time." Willow tried to suppress a laugh. "Okay," she said slowly. "But you said a *normal, living* couple!"

Spike clenched his jaw and studied her face for a moment. He couldn't figure her out. One moment she was like a scared child, then the next she was a sexy woman with a mind of her own, and now she was beginning to show a sense of humor too. "Good point," he said finally, allowing her to disengage herself.

Willow took the seat next to him. "So, what's your news?" she asked nervously, hoping he had come to the same conclusion regarding Angel's future that she had.

"I have decided to let *him* live."

"You have?"

"Yes!" He said through gritted teeth.

Willow couldn't contain her excitement and threw herself back into his arms, hugging him. "Thank you!"

"I am not doing this for you, you know," the vampire told her pointedly. "Or for that sappy Irishman. It's for Dru, and what you said just happened to make sense. "

"I know," Willow said self-consciously, pulling away from him. "Thank you anyway."

"But, there is one condition. We need a different place to live until we leave in a couple of months. In fact, I have been speaking with a few of the locals here and have already made arrangements to let us a cozy little cottage a few blocks away. We move in tomorrow."

Willow was speechless. She had figured sooner or later they would need to move out of the inn, but was surprised at how quickly Spike had taken care of it.

The innkeeper's wife set a couple of heaping platters of lamb and vegetables before them. "I am glad to hear you will be gettin' yer own place. A young married couple needs their privacy, although I'll miss ya Rose. I hope ya will stop by every now and then for a cuppa."

"Of course I will Caroline," Willow told the older woman warmly. She had become like a foster mother to Willow, and the girl would miss her as well.

Willow tried to eat but was too excited to actually taste the food. < Spike agreed. I can't believe it. I can save Angel! > Meanwhile, Spike devoured his meal like a man possessed.


Angelus watched from outside the tavern, standing in the darkness and unseen to those inside. He had only wanted to make sure that she was all right and had returned safely from her ride. He knew she was upset after their talk this morning and had watched as she rode unsteadily away.

From where he stood, Angelus couldn't make out her husband's features except his unusual, short blonde hair, but there was no mistaking the hug he gave her when she strolled in or the intimacy of their relationship as she sat upon his lap. He watched as Willow's face broke into a huge grin and she hugged the other man deeply, and he felt a strange twinge of jealousy that this odd man could make her so happy. Finally, he couldn't watch anymore and he turned and headed for home, confused about his growing feelings for this woman.


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