"Okay... now, I have officially seen everything."
Spike lifted an eyebrow, shifting in the seat of the powerful, purring machine. "Wanna go for a ride, Red?"
"Oh... what the heck." Willow threw a lock of hair over her shoulder, grabbing the armrest of the massive riding lawnmower and letting out a little squeal as Spike reached down and lifted her and her backpack up into his lap. "So this is what you do in the daytime? Mow stuff?"
Spike leaned forward to yell in her ear over the roar of the engine. "Mow stuff, take out vamp nests if I find 'em, look for signs demons are lurkin' about. What are you doin' in the graveyard on a Saturday afternoon?"
"Looking for you!" Willow hollered back, screeching and grabbing Spike by the bicep as he whipped the mower around a corner.
"Wantin' a chat?"
"Right then. Home we go."
Spike dropped into one of the plastic lawn chairs that made up his Dumpster Chic kitchen set, popping the top off his beer against the edge of the rickety card table. "Have at it, Red."
"Well, first off... I brought you a present. Sort of a good-faith thing."
Spike's mouth curled in pleasant surprise. "For me? Serious?"
"Well yeah..." Willow dug into her bookbag, pulling out a small, worn yellow book. "I found this at the used bookstore yesterday, and I thought... hey, I bet I know someone who would like this..."
"The Dracula Cookbook of Blood?" Spike read off the cover, eyebrow soaring.
"All the recipes are for, y'know... blood stuff. And not just blood pudding, either... all kinds of stuff. And I know you're drinking animal blood, like Angel is, and Angel said it didn't taste nearly as good as human blood, and this book has all kinds of herbs and, y'know, stuff you add to make it yummier..."
Spike had flipped the book open, examining the index. "'Abandon hope, all ye who Entree here'?"
"Well... yeah, it's kinda heavy on the cheese, but I thought..."
"That's sweet as hell of you, Red." Spike closed the book, setting it down on the table, shaking his head. "Scoobies givin' me prezzies."
"Did we not? Give you presents before?"
"Wasn't terribly popular, pet. Did a lot of rotten before I started doin' good, and unlike Angelus, you lot were around to watch my hat change color. Never really trusted me."
"Oh." Willow digested this for a moment. "But you're good now, right?"
Spike took a swallow of beer. "Tryin' to be."
"Giles said... he said that in the future, I'm a witch."
"I... kinda read between the lines that I was maybe not such of a white one?"
Spike tilted his head, regarding her solemnly. "That bother you?"
"Well, I..." Willow rolled her soda can between her hands. "I kinda... do you ever, y'know, daydream? Or I guess vampires, with the sleeping-in-the-day thing, I mean, you don't do that but most of them do, uh, I guess they night-dream, or just dream, or... anyway, fantasize, I guess, when you're riding in the car or eating lunch by yourself or... and your mind kinda goes off, and you get these ideas and dreams and hopes that play out in a cool story-thing and..."
"Yeah, love," Spike interrupted gently. "I do."
"Well... that was always kinda... y'know... one of mine? Like, top two on daydream rotation, If I Had Magical Powers. And I'd, y'know, be able to be really good at stuff... like, perfect, and I wouldn't have to worry that I was always doing everything wrong... change the way I looked, y'know, so I'd be even prettier than Cordelia..."
"Cordelia?" Spike scoffed. "You're comparin' yourself to the cheerleader?"
"Well... she's gorgeous! And popular, and her clothes are all match-y, and Xander's always making fun of her but I think he secretly kinda likes her... and anyway, if he didn't, there's always Buffy, Buffy, Buffy..."
"Wanna hear somethin' evil I did, pet?"
"Is it really scary?"
He tongued his teeth. "Just a bit."
"Um... okay. Sure. Tell me."
"Came back to town, right? In a bit of a bad state. Had already met you lot before, yeah? Lookin' for the prettiest, sweetest young thing I could find to sink my teeth into. Coulda picked anyone in Sunnydale... an' I went for you."
Willow's eyes were huge with disbelief. "Me?"
"Yep. Remembered you, I did." Spike leaned forward conspiratorially. "You wanna know somethin' else? Main reason your Cordelia left town?"
"Boyfriend cheated on her..." Spike paused for dramatic effect, "... With you. Couldn't bloody well resist you. And Red? No mojo involved. In fact... only spell you did was one tryin' to get him off you."
"I... but..." Emotions warred over Willow's face. "I... cheating... involvement, bad... but... Cordelia's boyfriend? Whoa... who... who was the boyfriend?"
"Give you a little hint, pet. Starts with 'X'," Spike smirked.
Willow's voice jumped an octave. "Xander?"
"Couldn't keep his hands off you," Spike sighed innocently. "Well... until you dumped him."
"I... but I wouldn't... I wouldn't dump Xander... he's Xander, and..."
"What can I say, love? You had another fella you liked better. Harris? Not what you really wanted, in the end. Always stayed best mates, though."
"Wow," Willow whispered, staring at her hands.
"Never really needed the mojo, Red. Everythin' good ever came to you, you got on your own merit. Not sayin' your spells weren't bloody useful in fights..."
"But, wait. So I didn't go all, y'know, crazy and start changing everything so life was perfect?"
"Sometimes, yeah. Rupert tell you my trainin' suggestion?"
"That's why I wanted to come see you."
"Think it'd be good for you. Rupert knows the dark side of magic, pet; he's been there, done that, an' gotten the charmin' tattoo. He can..."
"Giles has a tattoo?" Willow shrieked.
"Damn, Red," Spike groaned, wriggling his finger in his ear. "Got that volume out of you over Rupert's little bit o' ink, bloody well not tellin' you the gay thing yet."
"Gay? Who's gay? Is it Xander?"
"Nope..." Spike drawled. "But I'll be sure to tell him he was your first guess."
"No, no! Don't do that, please, Spike, you're... okay, you're kidding me," Willow realized, relaxing. "But you're not going to tell me? You're just going to leave me in big gay suspense? Is it Giles?"
"Half the fun in life's the surprises, pet. Already ruinin' most of them."
"Aw, c'mon. I think I've guessed a lot of them already."
"I have too!"
"I know that you marry Joyce," Willow said smugly.
Spike spat beer all over the card table. "Bloody -- what?"
"Ha, ha. Told you."
Spike continued to stare, jaw agape.
"And you wanna hear a secret? Since you told me the Xander thing and all. You'll either think it's funny or gross or maybe both."
Spike nodded, mopping himself up with a paper towel.
"Buffy? So not admitting it, right... but I think she's totally jealous."
"Oh god... did I gross you out? I totally grossed you out, didn't I? I didn't mean to make you feel all Humbert Humberty..."
"Again with the not admitting, but between the lines? So totally yeah."
"Even though she's all up some brood boy?"
Willow toyed with her straw, grinning impishly. "Even though."
"Well," Spike said slowly. "Isn't that... neat."