Disclaimer: See chapter 1.

PART 5

Three days. It'd been three days since he'd seen Willow, and, no matter what Giles and the others said, Spike didn't think she was 'just fine'. They wouldn't tell him where she was either, though he suspected she was at her parent's house. They were keeping as much information from him as possible, and he wasn't sure why.

What was he going to do, hire assassins to take them out, armed with the information that Xander was working late on Tuesday? Or send Harmony over to the Magic Box with her pathetic gang of misfits? If she were still in Sunnydale. Which, thankfully, she wasn't. And why did he care what they held back from him?

As he stood just inside the doorway to the training room, he asked himself that very thing. She was sitting cross-legged in the middle of the floor, looking despondent. Disappointingly, she was wearing clothes. A lot of them. Long sleeved baseball jersey, sweat pants... what, no hat? She looked ok, no obvious reasons as to why she hadn't been to the shop lately. Or on patrol. Or visiting him.

If he were honest with himself, he'd have to admit it was that last one that bugged him the most. He missed her visits. Missed patrolling with her. Just missed her. But, he wasn't being honest with himself, so he shoved that info to the back of his mind.

He was about to make himself known, when she opened her eyes and stared at the wall across from her, tears running down her cheeks. Now, what the hell did she have to cry about? Was this still about them sleeping together? Her guilt? If he'd known she was this unstable he wouldn't have seduced her.

That was a bald faced lie. He damn well would've done the exact same thing.

"What do you want, Spike?"

He looked up in surprise. She was still staring at the wall, hadn't moved. "Where'd you run off to the other night?" he asked, pushing away from the doorframe. "And these past few days?"

"After a vampire. I told you that. And, I've been sick. I'm sure Giles told you." Drawing her legs up to her chest, she turned her head to the side, and rested her head on her knees, watching him.

The sick thing still. It was a lie, he knew it was. So what was the real reasoning? "Sick how?"

"Flu or something," she said, shrugging lightly. "Just sick. It's a human thing."

Now she was taking barbs at him? That wasn't like her. Usually. The scent of blood wafted to him. He glanced away, thinking maybe that's what her problem was, her time of the month, but then he noticed the red line on her right sleeve. "You're bleeding," he said casually, gesturing to her wrist. Had she tried to kill herself? Unlikely.

She lifted her head, holding her arm straight out, looking at the stained cloth. A tiny shrug lifted her shoulders. "I cut myself."

Again with the lying. "I see that," was all he said.

She frowned, knowing he didn't believe her. "I was making dinner the other night," she insisted. "The knife slipped."

He nodded, gesturing to her other arm. "Must've been a really slippery knife." Another spot of red soaked through the cloth on her other sleeve.

She wrapped her arms around her legs again, not bothering to look down. "It was. Don't you have to patrol or something?"

He inhaled deeply and shrugged. "Nope. Big research session going on out there." Circling around her slowly, he kept his eyes trained on the top of her head, waiting for some kind of clue as to what he'd done wrong. It was pretty obvious he'd done something to brass her off. Otherwise, she wouldn't be avoiding him. "Buffy thinks there's a new demon in town. Half demon actually." Her heartbeat sped up dramatically, forcing a confused frown to his lips.

She climbed to her feet, groaning once or twice as she moved. "I should help them."

Ok, that wasn't the response he'd been looking for. An encore presentation of their sex session maybe, or something to pass the time, but not fear. "You're afraid of me?" he asked incredulously, glaring at her back as she walked into the shop. She didn't repsond. He scowled, following her. He was tempted to continue the one sided conversation in front of the others, but he preferred to keep his life how it was. Undead, not dust-in-the-wind dead.

Willow was standing by the counter, away from the others who were gathered around the table. She kept her arms folded, hiding the blood on her sleeves. He strolled casually into the shop, grabbed one of the chairs, and sat. They all ignored him, as he'd known they would. They'd been ingoring him since finding out Willow had stayed the night with him.

The conversation continued unabated, droning on and on, so he tuned them out, focusing his attention on Willow. She wasn't paying any attention either, her whole range of focus seemed to be the jar on the counter in front of her, but he knew by the stiffening of her body that she was indeed listening.

"I think it might be the demon Cordy saw in her vision," Buffy was saying, forcing his attention back on the conversation. "The gossip around the graveyards is that it wants me--well, Willow, in my body--for a ritual."

Xander tossed her a skeptical look. "There's graveyard gossip?" He dropped the chair he was sitting in to the floor.

She nodded, grinning impudently, her black hair falling loose from the clip she had it in. "Uh-huh." She tucked it absently behind her ears.

Xander grinned like the idiot he was. "Well what do you know?"

"Everyone gossips, not just humans," Anya said from beside her boyfriend. "And vampires--"

"Can we please get back to the demon?" Giles said in exasperation. He closed the book he'd been reading, set it on top of a large pile on the floor, and grabbed another one. "What were they--" his head shot up, and pinned Buffy in place. "Why were you in the cemetery?"

All eyes turned to the former slayer, who was pretending to be oblivious. Spike snorted in amusement. Only Buffy could make Willow's face look that damn clueless. He looked to Willow, wanting to share his amusement with her, before remembering Willow was angry with him. And still occupied with the jar on the counter. Something was definitely wrong with her. He just wished he knew what it was. And why it bothered him so much.

"I-- um, I was just out for a walk," Buffy said slowly, reminding Spike of his own pathetic excuse for being in her front yard, spying on her.

"Someone's lying," he taunted, smirking at the glare Buffy sent him. It was a cute glare. Not at all threatening, like Buffy's face normally was. "You should hear her heart pounding," he told the others.

Again, she was the focus of everyone's attention. She shrugged helplessly, opened her mouth, shut it, then dropped her head to the table with a sigh. "I missed it," she mumbled into her arms.

"What?" That was a question from everyone but Spike, and Willow.

Buffy raised her head, looking embarrassed. "I missed it, ok? Being in them. I mean, heck, I've spent all my time in Sunnydale hanging around them, they're like... my home away from home."

"With dead bodies," Xander added, nodding in complete understanding.

Giles sighed in annoyance. "Buffy, not a week ago I berated Willow for acting carelessly in your body, and you turn around and do the same thing? At least she has your slayer strength and fighting skills, you have--"

"A crossbow, and great reflexes," she interrupted seriously. "How about a little faith in me? And as for Willow patrolling? I say more power to her." She stood up and joined Willow at the counter, slinging her arm across the smaller girl's shoulders.

Willow stiffened as soon as Buffy touched her, and forced a smile. "Power. To me. Right..." she mumbled, then suddenly pointed across the room to Giles and his big pile of tomes. "Book." Shrugging out from under Buffy's arm, Willow walked very slowly, very purposefully to Giles' chair and knelt down.

Buffy hopped up on the counter, having no idea that Willow's heart was racing like she'd run a marathon. No clue that Willow's whole body was shaking. Spike watched her sift through the books on the floor, noticing every book she almost dropped due to her shaking hands. When Giles pushed his chair away from the table, she jumped to her feet, covering her sudden movement by pretending to look through the books on the table.

No one had the slightest idea that anything was wrong with Willow. Only him. And he thought he might have figured out what that something was.

Guilt. She was feeling guilty for sleeping with him.

Enough to pretend to be sick for three days, and... and what? Cut herself? Not likely. She'd probably gone out patrolling alone again and gotten her ass kicked. And of course she wouldn't want anyone to know. Made perfect sense. Well too damn bad. She'd get no sympathy from him. He didn't regret anything, didn't feel at all guilty.

He'd started the seduction out of anger, and because she'd gotten him all worked up from their short training session. Being that close to her, and not being able to do anything... it was torture. She was just so... nice, and sweet. He'd wanted her. Still wanted her. Would have her again.

Willow flinched just the tiniest bit when Giles reached for a book, and brushed her sleeve with his hand. A quick look around assured her that no one had seen her sudden fear of Giles. She didn't look behind her at Spike, because she knew what she would see there, and she didn't want to see it.

He could damn well keep his anger and pity to himself.

Since the conversation seemed to be all about berating Buffy, Willow cleared her throat and brought it back to the new demon threat. It was possible the demon she was talking about was the one who-- it might be Frank. "Um, this demon?" she reminded them. "What is it? What does he want?"

"You," Buffy answered, shaking her head as she jumped down from the counter.

Willow shuddered in disgust, feeling sweaty hands on her stomach, lips on her thigh, fingers on her breasts. Oh, God. She spun away from the others, swallowing back the fear trying to take over, and came face to face with Spike. He was watching her as she'd known he would be. She calmed considerably, seeing Spike above her instead of Frank, feeling Spike's hands gently cradling her face, his lips on hers.

Buffy's name whispered in her ear.

"Apparently slayer blood is needed for the ritual... which I haven't a clue about." Buffy frowned, apparently trying to remember something. A second later, her face cleared. "He needs pure blood. Or blood of the pure." She shrugged, shaking her head. "Something like that."

Spike laughed suddenly, startling Willow, and angering Buffy. His amused eyes fixed on Buffy, smirk firmly in place. "Guess he'll have to go somewhere else for that last part."

Buffy glared at him, but, for once, took the higher road by ignoring him. Hey, cool, no hitting. Of course, she'd probably break her hand if she tried. Still, Willow was heartened. Maybe Spike was too. She snuck a look at him, and once again found his eyes on her. Why wasn't he watching Buffy? It was her he wanted. Her he lusted after, and loved.

But it was Willow's body the woman he loved was encased in. He couldn't stand to look at her. She should be glad.

"What makes you think this is Cordelia's demon?" Xander asked. "And does this mean we're through with the research? Can't tell you how sick I am of it," he muttered, leaning back in his chair again.

"Angel said it was a green-eyed monster, right?" Buffy inquired. "And, putting aside the whole metaphor angle, this guy fits. Apparently he's got green... symbols or something on his arms and chest, has green eyes, and is gunning for me." She paused for a split second before remembering. "I mean Willow."

Willow closed the book she was idly flipping through, and faced the gang. "He's dead."

Giles removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Please tell me you didn't face him alone, Willow." His tone was weary. His manner exhausted.

She shrugged, hoping she looked suitably sheepish. "Kinda." The truth would never pass her lips, her guilt and shame would never be known. Later, she'd make up more lies to explain away the cuts on her body if need be, but for now she just needed to admit to having killed a demon on her own. "I was in the cemetery, and I heard whistling," she said, making it up as she went along.

Spike sitting up straighter grabbed her attention, but she ignored him in favor of smiling at her friends.

Anya shrugged and stood. "Then we can go? The shop is closed, and we had plans. Dinner plans," she specified, pulling Xander to his feet.

"Mmm-hmm," Giles said distractedly, gathering up the books to be locked up behind the counter. "Yes." He carried the books to the counter, nearly toppling the enormous pile before setting it down. "Anya, don't forget to be here early tomorrow, for inven--"

"Inventory. I know. Bye," she chirped, dragging a suddenly not-so-happy Xander along with her.

"Will? We still gonna do the magick thing?" Buffy asked. "You know, teach me to control it?"

Willow smiled. "Of course. Wouldn't want you turning anyone into frogs," she teased, remembering her and Spike's conversation the night Angel got to town. She could feel Spike's eyes on her back as she spoke, and she was tempted to yell at him, or... something, to get him to quit. What did he want from her?

"Great," Buffy enthused. "I was hoping you'd come back to the house, move back in. We could have a girl's night in, since Dawn's staying with Tara tonight, and--"

"What?" Willow asked in surprise. "Tara... have you seen her?" She looked down at her hands, twisting the sleeve of her shirt so that the blood stains didn't show. "She, well, since we switched bodies and stuff, she hasn't exactly been... here. With me."

Buffy shook her head sympathetically. "No, she called, and talked to Dawn. I haven't seen her either."

Willow fought the sadness threatening to overwhelm her. So what if Tara didn't want to be around her anymore. And so what if Spike did for all the wrong reasons. Who was she to complain? "You know what?" she said suddenly. "Giles is pretty good with magick too. He can help you with those control exercises. Because, I have to go home and... be alone. Bye." She went through the door to the training room, not giving them time to stop her.

Slamming through her bedroom door, she mentally yelled at herself. She hated this. Hated being like this. But she couldn't seem to fight the despair and pain that was constantly trying to drag her under. Her life was no longer her own. Literally. She had no control over anything, and what little control she felt she did have, she was losing.

And Tara was leaving her. It was pretty official.

Though she was upset and hurt, she couldn't have been more relieved. Just the thought of anyone touching her was appalling to her. Dropping onto her bed, she sighed and rubbed her temples. Another headache was coming on. Eyes closed, she laid back, curling up on her side.

She was just drifting off to sleep when she felt the bed dip down, and a hand smooth her hair back. Warmth spread from her temple to the rest of her body. "Thanks, Darren." Her headache disappeared. Now she could think some more. Yay.

"You're welcome," Darren said. She could almost hear the smile in his voice. "Pleasant dreams."

"Dreams?" she repeated, sighing. "I'd prefer not to dream." Rolling onto her back, she stared up at the ceiling. "I'm either plagued by nightmares, or have nice, pleasant dreams of stuff I can't have anymore."

"Why can't you have them?" He stood up, moving away from her as he always did. He knew she didn't like to be touched. It was only when he was healing her headaches that he touched her. Never any other time.

"I'm living someone else's life, so whatever I want is out of the question until I find out for sure that I'm stuck like this forever." Left unsaid was the part where she didn't want any of the things she'd been dreaming about. Tara, Spike, Oz. These were just images her mind was taunting her with. Showing her things she no longer wanted, but should need. Should crave... with every fiber of her being.

His blue eyes focused on her face as he scoffed at her. Rudely. "Liar."

"Stop reading my mind," she said angrily. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she glared at the Wish demon. "You know, you could help in figuring out how to send you back to... wherever you come from."

He shrugged, walking past her to the french doors. "I told you, I don't want to go back. I won't help you send me back, and I won't help you figure out how to do it." He pushed the door open, and stepped outside.

She stood up, sighing heavily. Three nights of the same argument... it got old real quick. "Fine. Whatever. I'm going on patrol."

Darren sighed equally as heavily, and nodded. "Get your weapons, I'll take you."

She grabbed her bag of weapons, and stood in the middle of the room, waiting to be zapped to one of the cemeteries. Seconds later, she was standing amidst headstones and trees. To her right were sounds of fighting, so, ignoring Darren, she headed that way, pulling her new favorite weapon from the bag. The crossbow.

The vampire was a short, blue-haired punk rocker type. She had a man pinned against a tree, and was apparently having a grand time. She drank greedily from his neck, holding him to the tree with a tight grip on his jaw. Willow quietly loaded and aimed the crossbow. If she was careful, she could hit the vampire without fighting.

The man was losing his struggle, and his life, as Willow waited for a good shot.

"He's dying," Darren said, stating the obvious.

He was right, though she didn't really want to admit that. The victim started to sag, and Willow realized there wasn't anymore time to wait.

"Hey," she called loudly, waiting for the vampire to drop the man and turn toward her. Amazingly enough, she did. And started stalking toward her. Willow's punning was off lately, so she didn't even bother. She raised the crossbow a little higher, and let the bolt fly. It hit the vampire in the chest, directly in the heart.

Punk rock girl went poof, and Willow mentally sighed in relief. She felt no satisfaction, no thrill, no anything, except relief. The man on the ground looked dead, but she could see his chest moving.

"Darren, can you zap him to the hospital or something?" Without waiting for an answer, she headed to the left, listening closely. More noises up ahead. More vampires to kill.



Buffy watched Willow leave, wanting to go after her, but not doing so. It was pretty obvious that she wanted to be alone.

"Where did Willow go?" Giles asked, coming up beside her. "Wasn't she supposed to help you with the control exercises?"

"Yeah, but she wasn't feeling well," Buffy lied. "She went home. So I guess you get the job." Spike was staring at the door like he'd missed something, looking a lot like Buffy herself had only seconds before. "Spike?"

His head turned toward her, his eyes regarded her with a question, but she could tell his attention was elsewhere. Out-the-door-wearing-her-body elsewhere. And why was that, exactly? Three days ago, Buffy wouldn't have thought anything of it, but now? Suspicion was rearing its ugly head.

"You want something, Slayer, or did you suddenly develop Tourrette's Syndrome?" He smirked at her, but it was a pathetic attempt... something was bothering him, and suspicion was there again, yelling Willow's name.

"Speaking of suddenly developing things, can I talk to you for a second?" Without waiting for an answer, she grabbed his arm and pulled him toward the training room. "Be right back, Giles."

Once in the training room, Spike stared down at her hand on his arm. "If you wanted a touching session, all you had to do was ask." He moved closer to her, ignoring her attempt to step out of reach. His hand grabbed hers, surprising her with the speed with which he moved. She sighed, pulling out of his grasp, surprised when he let her go with a shrug, and even walked a few feet away. "Whatever."

"What's the deal with you and Willow?" she asked, deciding the direct approach was best.

"First of all," he told her, his voice taut, "if there was any kind of deal between us, it would be none of your business. Second of all, there's no deal between us." He rolled his shoulders back, and stretched his neck a few times. "And third of all, what's wrong with her?"

"With who? With Willow?" At his nod, she shook her head with a shrug. "Nothing. Well, except that she's been saddled with my life, my responsibilities, and possibly my early death. And Tara left her." She paused to think, looking into the air in exaggerated thought. Snapping her fingers loudly, she swung her arm in an 'aw shucks' way. "A vampire attacked her the other night. Bit her, bruised her up pretty good. Oh, and she just got over the flu. But, really, other than that, she's just peachy. Why do you ask?"

Spike was half way out the back door by the time she finished her sarcastic tirade. He stopped in the doorway, and turned back to her. "So, I'm glad you decided to add to her troubles with the hair. That's a nice way to twist the knife in a little further."

"I didn't--" but he was already gone, the door slamming shut behind him. Buffy sighed heavily, something she tended to do a lot whenever Spike was around.

Giles came through the doorway from the shop, carrying candles and stinky herbs. She held back a whiny moan, wishing her life were her own again. Then she wouldn't need to learn how to control the magick simmering inside her with the aid of smelly herbs, and the less than fun Giles.



Spike crossed the street to his cemetery, ignoring the urge to turn around and check on Willow. She was an adult, she could damn well take care of herself. And it wasn't his fault she'd had a lot of bad things happen to her. He wasn't her boyfriend, wasn't her lover, or anyone who had any kind of claim on her.

But he did care about her. Against his will.

Still, what was he supposed to do? Obsess over her like he did with Buffy? No, definitely didn't want to go that route again. Dru and Buffy were enough obsessions for a century. So, he would go home, maybe get drunk, read a book. Watch T.V., something like that. But first, he'd take care of some vampires and nasties wandering around the cemtery.

Violence was a great thing. Oh, and making the world safe for the wonderful humans.

Sigh.

It'd be nice to once again be able to hurt humans. Humans that weren't Willow, Buffy, or Dawn. Anya was ok too, she hadn't really done anything to make him want to kill her. Xander and Giles were still iffy. Come to think of it, Buffy was still iffy as well. He did want to hurt her, like he'd told Willow, but he didn't think he could bring himself to do it. Not seriously. Maybe hit her a few times, give back everything she'd given him in the past two years. Throw her around a bit.

"Nice fantasy you got going there, Spike. It'll never happen." Groaning miserably at the truth in his own words, he took off running, hoping to chance upon something evil to fight. Luck was with him. "Oh, look," he drawled, walking up to the two vamps snacking on a teenager. "The dumb feeding the dumb."

Two vamped out faces looked up from the kid's neck, snarling and growling, trying to be manly and evil. It was pretty pathetic really. He rolled his eyes, and sighed.

"Drop the kid, and let's have a go." They snarled some more, and shared a grin. Was that supposed to be malevolant? he wondered with a snicker. "Well?" he urged, motioning them forward with his fingers.

More snarling and growling, and finally they dropped the poor kid to the ground. He moaned in pain and agony, half dead. Spike pulled a stake out of his duster pocket and waited. One stayed back while the other leapt at him.

Spike swung his fist at the vamp's face while he was still mid-air. The vamp stopped his flight with a sudden jerk, and fell at Spike's feet. "Hey, guy..." he knelt beside the vampire, holding his stake to the vamp's chest. "Here's a tip." The vampire actually leaned forward, listening for Spike's words of wisdom. Spike shoved the stake into his heart, watching him explode into dust. Holding the stake up, he rubbed his thumb against the sharp point of the stake. "Get it?" he asked the other vampire. "Here's a tip? Point? The point of the story is the tip was the tip of my stake..." the vampire continued to stare at him in confusion. "Christ, you're dense."

"I'm gone," the vamp corrected, and took off running.

Spike took off after him with a grin. "All right. Now we're talking."

Two hours later, dusty and dirty, Spike shoved his crypt door open and stepped inside. Hearing a heartbeat, he looked around his candle lit crypt. "Come out, come out, whatever you are."

Willow stood up on the other side of his bed, her duffle bag in hand. "I just came for my stuff." She looked caught, as if she hadn't been expecting to run into him.

Pushing the door shut behind him, he leaned back against it. Now was a good time to talk. "Where you staying?" he asked, trying to figure out the best way to ask, 'Hey, what the hell is your problem?' without actually saying, 'Hey, what the hell is your problem?'.

She carried her bag to his chair, shoving clothes into it. "I'm moving back in with Buffy. My parents come back tonight, and though I'm pretty sure I could say that I dyed my hair blonde and pass myself off as me..." she shrugged, going back to the spot she'd just left. She bent down and picked up another bag.

On her way past him again, he grabbed her arm, wanting her to hold still and talk to him. Face to face, no lies, no packing, no friends waiting in the other room. "Stop for a second," he told her in exasperation.

She did. Stopped in her tracks, and dropped the bag at her feet. She tried, none too gently, to pull her wrist free, but Spike wasn't about to let go so she could run off again.

"D--" was as far as she got in her protest.

He slapped his hand over her mouth, gently, no force to it. "Don't say 'don't'," he told her. "I swear if I hear that one more time from Buffy's lips, I'm going to..." he threw her wrist away from him, and moved away from the door. "Forget it. Go. Just... get out."

She grabbed her bags without a word and heaved them to the door. Spike watched her go, not intending to stop her at all. Even as his feet was carrying him over to her, he didn't intend to stop her. He realized, as he grabbed her wrist, that he and his intentions had seperate ideas.

Both bags once again dropped to the cement floor, and she yanked at her arm. "Can't even stand it when I touch you now?" he asked angrily. "Well too damn bad." He took a step closer, grinning when she took two steps back.

"Spike, don't--"

"Ah-ah," he warned. "I wouldn't use that word if I were you." He wouldn't do anything to hurt her, but with all that fear pouring off of her, she obviously didn't know that.

Backed up against the wall, she had nowhere left to go. He didn't stop advancing, he kept going until he was pressed against her. She looked about ready to scream. Gazing deep into her eyes, he leaned forward, prepared to kiss her into submission when she kneed him between the legs, shoved him away from her, and ran to the other side of the crypt.

"What the bloody hell was that for?" he growled, sinking to his knees in pain. He resisted the urge to gasp in air, and settled for vamping out to glare at her. "I've got this eff'in chip in my cranium. I can't hurt you. Son of a bitch," he groaned in anger and pain, pushing himself to his feet.

She paced a few times, glancing over at him apologetically. "I tried to tell you not to touch me."

"Yeah, well." His anger wasn't abated in the least. "You should've tried harder. And what's with the sudden aversion to me anyway?" This went beyond guilt, he hoped. Otherwise, she had some serious problems going on in that mind of hers.

She stopped pacing and turned to face him. "You? It's not you. It's..." she took a deep breath and shook her head. "Nevermind. I have to go. Buffy threatened to come after me if I didn't make it quick." She attempted a chuckle, but it came out sounding pretty damned pathetic.

Smelling blood again, he stalked over to her, a little painfully, and yanked her sleeve up. His jaw clenched when he saw the horizontal cuts lining her arm. Pushing her other sleeve up more gently, he stared in complete non-surprise when he saw the equally cut flesh there. And then it hit him. He'd had his suspicions back at the shop. When talking about the half demon, she'd gone all still and quiet. More so than she'd been before.

"The whistling, green-eyed, half demon," he guessed.

She shrugged uncomfortably, and slid the sleeves of her shirt back down. "It doesn't matter. He's dead." Her eyes fell to the floor where they stayed planted.

He moved away, giving her room. "So you keep saying. But what did it want? What was the ritual for? Did it finish the ritual?"

She looked about ready to bolt again, but didn't. She stood straighter, raised her eyes to his and took a deep breath. "He wanted to raise a demon, that's what these were for," she gestured to her arms, "blood. For the ritual." Crossing her arms over her chest, she moved over to his chair and sat on the arm. "Ok?"

Well, yeah, he had been satisfied with her answer. Until she asked if he was. That generally meant there was more. "He carved you up in the cemetery?" Spike shook his head, knowing the answer even as he asked the question. "No. He wouldn't be that stupid. And obviously, he took his time. So, where did he take you, how did you escape, and how did you kill him? Oh, and what of the ritual?"

"Fine," she sighed, sliding off the arm of the chair to sit the right way. "I was sitting on a headstone, thinking, and I guess I wasn't paying attention because I didn't hear him, or see him, didn't sense him at all until he hit me over the head." Her hand reached back to rub her shoulder tiredly. "Just before I passed out, I heard him whistling."

Spike circled the chair until he was in front of her. "I heard him," he said absently. "I was on my way to--" yeah, that's smart, let her know he'd gone chasing after her, that'd make him look less like a pansy. Clearing his throat to cover his derisive snort, he took out a cigarette and lit it. "Doesn't matter. Heard whistling, in this cemetery, over by the south gate, didn't fancy a demon run-in just then, so I went the other way." He rolled his eyes at himself, and scoffed. "Got a demon anyway. Angel."

Her big gray-blue eyes were fixed on him, all wide and stunned looking. "You were there? You heard him? And you knew he was a demon?" she asked angrily.

Faced with her sudden fury, he grew angry himself. Everything turned out all right in the end, so what was her problem already? "Yeah. Like I said, I wasn't in the mood for a fight."

Her hands tightened on the chair arms, turning the knuckles white. "Did it ever occur to you that someone might be in trouble? That someone could use your help?" Her voice was getting louder with each word, and he was convinced she was about to launch herself at him at any second. "No, it didn't, because you're Mr. Bad Ass Vampire. Mr. I don't care about anything or anyone if it doesn't have something to do with me directly. Mr.--"

Spike threw his cigarette to the floor and leaned down, getting in her face. His hands covered hers, refusing her attempts to free them. "Mr. out looking for you and not wanting to be waylaid by a demon," he snarled. "This isn't all about those little cuts on your arms, so spit it out. I'm tired of trying to get a straight answer out of you. What the hell happened that night?"

Her angry eyes lifted to his, daring him to look away. "He chained me to a bed and-- raised the demon. By giving me all these nice little reminders of our time together."

She was lying. She'd been about to tell him something, but then stopped. Why? What was so horrible that she didn't want him to know?

"He raised the demon, and it killed him. Can I go now?" she asked, moving around him.

He hated to keep asking this, but... "Where's the demon, Willow?" What if this wasn't Willow at all? What if this was the demon?

In the process of picking up her bags, she straightened up slowly, keeping her back to him. "He freed me," she said softly, begging him with her voice to leave the matter alone.

She was just avoiding the question. She hadn't answered a damn thing. "I said, where the hell is he?" Tired of glaring at her back, he yanked on her arm, spinning her around.

"Spike, please." Her eyes were pleading with him now. "Leave it alone. I can't do this now. Please. I just want to go home."

Seeing the pain and hurt on her face, he wanted to leave her alone, wanted to soothe her, and ease her pain... wanted to, but couldn't. Especially if he was right, and this wasn't Willow. "Sorry, babe, not gonna happen. Now, either you tell me where the demon is," he tightened his hand on her arm, "or I figure out if my theory is right by planting a fist in your face." He shrugged expansively. "Your choice."

Her eyes widened, and she tried to pull away. "You'll only hurt yourself. Trust me when I say you don't want to know what happened, ok? Please, just--"

He shook his head in mock sadness, convinced this wasn't Willow. "I warned you." He drew his fist back, ready to hit her--it--whatever, but she just stood there, unmoving. Dropping his fist, he sighed. "Last chance."

"Frank," she said quietly, never once taking her eyes from his. "His name was Frank. I woke up in chains." She frowned, sliding her arm away from his grip. "I don't know where he took me, all I saw was the bedroom, so..." she shrugged, backing away a foot, and then another.

He let her. She wasn't getting by him if she decided to flee, so there was no harm in it. "And?" He crossed his arms over his chest, listening.

She sighed, and looked away. Then she turned away. "I tried to break the chains, but I couldn't. I wasn't strong enough." She paced a couple of times, passing him only at a distance. "I should've been able to break them. I'm the Slayer now. I should've been able to."

Spike took out a cigarette and lit it, listening to her self deprecating tirade for all of ten seconds. Impatient, he'd always been. "But you didn't. So how did you escape?"

She quit pacing, busying herself with pulling her sleeves down, and straightening the hem of her shirt. "He moved me. To the bed. He chained me there, and--" she swallowed, and sucked in a breath, trying again. "He-- he was-- I-- Darren. His name is Darren." She lowered her eyes to her fingernails, which she was currently picking at.

"Wait, wait, wait. Who's Darren? I thought you said his name was Frank?" What was this? Subterfusion? Lies? She was acting weirder than he'd ever seen her, and boy had he seen her act weird. But why?

"Darren is the demon Frank raised," she explained quietly. "He's a Wish demon. He grants wishes."

Spike nodded, and sucked his teeth. "Yeah, I kind of guessed that on my own. So where is he?" Probably in another country by now.

She ducked her head again, staring at her damn nails. "He's around. I-- I don't know where he goes when he's not here. He kind of pops in and out."

"Willow? Make sense," he ordered. He was so far beyond annoyed right now.

"Leave her alone," a voice said from behind them. They both spun around, facing the demon that had appeared there.

Spike growled and started forward, intent on making this demon his tenth kill of the night, but Willow ran past him and stood in front of the guy. "What are you doing?" he asked incredulously.

She held one hand out toward him, halting him, while her other hand held the demon behind her. "This is Darren," she explained. "You can't kill him, I mean it, Spike. He's a good guy. He saved me."

Darren, for his part, was looking threateningly toward Spike. "Are you all right? Do you want me to kill him for you?"

Willow turned around, facing Darren. "No. Absolutely not, got it? Spike isn't a bad guy anymore." She frowned and sighed heavily. "He's one of us sort of."

Darren nodded, taking her word for it. "He's the vampire?" he asked, raising his eyebrow as if far from impressed with Spike.

"Yes," Willow answered, "this is Spike. Spike... meet Darren." She stepped back, leaving them alone to stare each other down.

Spike nodded at Darren, not at all impressed. Short, blonde, goody-goody looking. Annoying. Was this guy--demon--the reason Willow was so distant lately? He didn't look like much. A bit overprotective, but who wasn't when Willow was involved? She had that effect on most people.

Darren raised his hand as if to shake hands, but dropped it when Spike raised an incredulous eyebrow at him. He shrugged, and turned away, walking over to Willow. "Do you want me to take you home?"

She shook her head with a sigh. "I'm moving back in with--" She stopped mid-sentence when Spike grabbed Darren and threw him back against the wall, holding him there with a hand to his neck. She tried to pry his arm loose, but Spike wasn't letting go. "What the hell are you doing?" she shouted. "Let him go."

Spike shook his head grimly. "Whatever you think happened, didn't. Nothing, since meeting this guy really happened." He tilted Darren's head to the side, showing Willow a tattoo on the back of his neck. "See that? Means he's a fear demon of some kind. Feeds off fear."

Willow frowned uncertainly, looking from him to Darren. "That's not true. It did happen. I-- I felt it. Can still feel it," she muttered, pacing away from him.

Spike suddenly had an idea what had happened to her. What she thought had happened. "Tell her, you bastard," he instructed Darren.

Darren shook his head, looking frightened and worried. "Don't believe him, Willow. Frank did do those things to you. The vampire's just trying to--"

"Shut up," Spike ground out, slamming Darren's head against the stone wall. For her part, Willow looked like she wanted to believe him, but couldn't. Thinking desperately, Spike tried to remember some of the signs of being fed off of by a fear demon. "Headaches... have you been getting bad headaches lately?"

"Yes," Willow said in surprise. "Ever since..." her jaw tightened and she strode over to the suddenly scaly black demon with green sigils on his arms and chest. His bright green eyes watched Willow with amusement. "Frank," she whispered, coming to a halt. Her whole body started shaking with fear, and pain.

"Ah, now don't look like that," Darren said regretfully, "you're a sweet one. Very tasty. I've had a lot of fun feeding off of your fear."

Spike punched him in the face. His fury needed an outlet, and it looked like he'd get one. Beating the demon who'd hurt Willow so badly would be great fun. He punched him again, grinning when Darren's nose broke, and started to bleed.

"That's why I couldn't find out how to send you back..." Willow said softly, "and why you wouldn't help me find a way." Her back straightened a tiny bit, some of the defeated manner of her posture leaving her as she glared at the demon. "How do we kill him?" she asked, her eyes never leaving Darren's face.

Spike shrugged, then snapped Darren's neck, letting his body fall to the floor. "Guess we'll just have to go through all the tried and trues, 'til we find one that works."

Willow nodded slowly. "If we don't figure it out after a few painful tries, let's take him to the magic shop, tie him up and figure it out there. But first," she went over to her duffel bag and unzipped it, pulling out a stake, "I think a stake to the heart is a good place to start." Her eyes were hard, her mouth twisted in a furious frown as she approached the body on the floor.

Spike stood by, watching as Willow, with great relish, staked Darren. They both moved back slightly when he suddenly turned into green goo and disappeared into the floor, leaving behind nothing more than a dark, wet stain that was rapidly disappearing as well.

Willow stood up, refusing his hand. "That was unsatisfying." she sighed and went over to her bags by the door. "Thank you," she said softly, turning to face him.

He hated to see her so... beaten. Thinking to help, he reminded her, "It didn't happen. He didn't really--"

"Yes, he did," she told him. "It's all still a part of me, as if it really happened. So, in that way, it did happen."

He didn't understand what she was talking about. "They're just memories. False memories. He planted them there to feed off of your fear." She should be relived and all better now. Even grateful that she wasn't actually raped. Why was she still acting as if it had occurred?

"I've gotta go. Buffy's waiting for me." She picked up her bags and left, shutting the door behind her.

Spike started after her, but decided to give her some time. She'd get over it.