Slumber

TITLE: Slumber
AUTHOR: Kylia
DISCLAIMER: Nobody belongs to me, unfortunately. They
belong to Joss & Mutant Enemy, and a few other people I don't know.
RATING: NC-17
SPOILERS: Nothing Specific; Season 4 BtVS; Season 1 Angel;
CATEGORY: Willow/Spike; Willow/Angel
SUMMARY: Willow's attacked, things happen.
DISTRIBUTION: My site (http://www.sockiipress.org/~kyliasworld/), Anyone who has my fic, anyone else, ask, and you shall receive
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Spike has his bite back, but is still in Sunnydale.
AUTHOR'S NOTES 2: Okay this was originally posted in March 2000. It has *finally* been finished. A couple of things I want to mention to people.
This starts out at W/S, but there *is* W/A. There is *also* character death, both original and cannon, for those of you who need warnings about such things. Secondly, if you're a Tara fan, you might want to skip this.
There might be a sequel, but I'm not sure about that yet.
FEEDBACK: Please, my W/S & W/A muses have been in hibernation, they could use some coaxing. :)
DEDICATION: To everyone who emailed me asking about this, and especially Liz. :)

**********


Spike walked through the park after draining his evening meal. It felt good to be back, he mused. It had been several weeks since he'd had the implant removed, and he still found himself wandering the streets of Sunnydale. At first he was unsure why he remained on the Hellmouth, but the truth was he couldn't leave, not yet. He still hadn't claimed the witch. He wasn't in a position to make her his when he was at the mercy of the slayer and her pack, but now that he was back, he had every intention of taking the fiery red-head, and making her his for all time.

******

Willow was exhausted, and walked with a slowness that she knew was unwise. She had stayed late at Giles' researching the latest evil to come to Sunnydale. If she were being perfectly honest, she would admit that she had stayed hoping that she might run into Spike on patrol. He still hadn't left town, even though they'd had the implant removed. She wondered why. A small part of her hoped that it was because he would miss her, but even as she thought it, she knew that it was a ridiculous notion.

So absorbed in her own thoughts, she didn't hear her attacker approach until it was too late. She heard the faint rustle of leaves behind her, but when she turned around, she was met with a blow across her face, then nothing.

******

He didn't know what it was that had alerted him to the trouble. He didn't know if it was wisdom from somewhere deep inside him, or irrational paranoia, or just plain fear that gripped him to the soul he no longer possessed. Whatever it was, the feeling alerted Spike to the danger Willow was in. He ran, as fast as he could to her dorm, knowing all the while she wouldn't be there. After searching the campus and not finding her, Spike headed towards the Watcher's house, hoping that she would be there, but somehow knowing that she wasn't.

******

Willow awoke in a darkened room. It was cold, unbelievably cold. The silence was almost unbearable. The room radiated fear. She could almost feel the terror the room had witnessed.

As she tried to sit up, she realized her hands were bound, tied behind her back with heavy chain. Her feet were also tied together. She was unable to move, no matter how hard she tried to wriggle free. It was then she heard the deep chuckle.

Someone had entered the room. She wasn't sure when they had come, or if they had always been there. She couldn't make out any features; it was too dark.

"My, you are a lively one." The masculine voice spoke as she continued to fight against her bonds. "She told us you would be. She also said you had power. We shall see."

Before Willow had a chance to analyze his words, he seemed to vanish into a hazy cloud of smoke, burning her already tender eyes.

*****

It had taken Spike nearly twenty minutes to track down the slayer and convince her that Willow was in trouble. They didn't believe him. They thought he was over-reacting. He couldn't explain to them how he knew. *He* didn't even know how he knew.

Buffy had finally conceded that it wouldn't hurt to look. Unfortunately a search hadn't turned up any information. They had given up, convinced that Spike was imagining things and Willow was perfectly safe. Spike wasn't so easily swayed. However it was fast approaching daybreak, and he couldn't help her if he was a pile of dust.

******

Willow strained to open her eyes, although she wasn't sure why she should bother. The darkness never ceased. She couldn't even make out the shadows anymore. She didn't know how long she had been held captive. The days ran together. She figured it must be at least a couple of weeks. She had lost hope of ever being found. She wasn't even sure if she was in Sunnydale anymore. She didn't know if her friends had given up looking for her, or if they had even *tried* to find her. The darkness weighed on her spirits. In the beginning, she was so certain that Buffy would find her.

Her hope had been squashed when her captor had been revealed, Tara, her fellow Wiccan. That was a laugh. The girl had power, it was true, but she was not a follower of Wicca. Her power was derived from the black arts. She drained the power of others, fed off of it.

The magiks, which kept Willow bound in this hell, also had changed her somehow. She could feel it weaving its way through her body. She no longer knew who or what she was anymore. She felt the power coursing through her veins. She could sense things in the air around her. Life called to her from a distant place, but there was no life where she was, just an empty void.

****

Spike snarled menacingly at the small group. He couldn't believe these people. Willow had been missing for three weeks. Three weeks without hearing her voice, seeing her. Her friends believed she had left with her parents on a trip. That's what the blond witch had told them. She said that her parents had come home unexpectedly and invited Willow to join them on a vacation they were taking. The Slayer and her group believed Tara. Spike didn't. It just didn't make any sense. Willow, his Willow, would not have just left like that. Something had happened to her. Someone had taken her. Whoever it was would die a slow and painful death, of that, he was sure.

"Spike? Why are you still here? Shouldn't you be out doing whatever it is you do?" Buffy asked, not really wanting to know how he occupied his time.

"Bloody hell!" He growled as he stormed out of the watcher's apartment.

*****

Once the Vampire had gone, Tara looked around the room at each of the five faces, gauging their reactions to Spike's claims of Willow's danger. She smiled inwardly when she realized they hadn't believed him.

"Is he alright?" She asked timidly.

"Who? Deadboy, Jr.? Yeah, he just likes to growl and snarl a lot." Xander laughed. He turned to Giles. "You don't think that he might be right, do you?" He asked, not wanting to believe that Willow was in any danger.

"Well, I don't know. I don't think so." The watcher looked around the room, letting his eyes stop at Buffy. "When did you speak to her last?"

Buffy thought for a second, "About three days ago. She sounded fine to me. We didn't talk long, but she seemed happy."

"There we go, Willow's fine, now can we please move on?" Anya asked rolling her eyes.

"Yes, quite." Giles said as he started filling them in on the latest threat to enter Sunnydale.

Tara suppressed her desire to laugh out loud. This group was stupid. They had been easy to fool. Just by altering her voice, the group believed they had spoken with Willow.

It probably helped that it was Buffy who she spoke to most often. She didn't dare call the vampire. He would have known, she was certain. There was some sort of connection between Willow and Spike. Something Tara didn't even really grasp. It wasn't a bond formed in magic. Therefore it really didn't interest her. It only concerned her *if* he interfered before she had time to fully drain the young witch.

*****

Spike tore through the streets of Sunnydale in a blind rage, killing anything or anyone that dared to get in his way. His Willow was in danger. He could feel it.

Without realizing it, Spike found himself on the outskirts of the town near a section of abandoned buildings. The area was so run down and dilapidated even the vampires stayed away. As he walked closer into the area, a strange feeling came over him. Something was directing him, guiding him towards *something*. He followed, not understanding what it was that drove him, but knew that somehow it would help him find his witch.

*****

Willow felt the darkness surround her. The power coursing through her body sent a chill through her body. She felt the fever. Her body was on fire, but it was a cold fire, burning her from the inside out.

She briefly acknowledged noises coming from outside the chamber she where she was being held. They didn't matter. Her life was seeping out of her body, being drained away. She felt her mind start to shut down, and she lost herself to death.

*****

Cordelia sat up straight in bed, her head still pounding from the force of the vision. Her eyes were blurry from sleep and the memory of what she had seen. She stumbled out of the bed, still clutching her head. Scurrying to dress as quickly as possible, Cordelia tried to clear her head and think rationally. She failed. The memory of the images would be forever etched into her brain. She ran out of the apartment as fast as she could, hoping Angel would be home by now. It was still early, for him, but they didn't have any time to waste.

******

Spike was in a blind rage. The longer he thought about the danger he knew Willow was in, the angrier he got. He wanted nothing more than to gut her so called friends. However, doing that would not please his witch, and he wanted her to come to him willingly. Idly, he realized that they believed her to be safe because they had spoken to her, or so they thought. He wasn't sure why but he knew that whoever they had spoken to wasn't Willow. If that was true, then the blond witch who claimed that Willow had told her about her trip before she disappeared was lying.

All of these thoughts consumed him as we wound his way to an old abandoned building. As soon as he entered, he knew this was where he would find Willow. After a brief run in with several young fledglings, Spike made his way down a long staircase. It was dark. Even with his exceptional eyesight, it was hard to make out much more than shadows.

Once he reached the bottom, he found her. He sensed her more than saw her. She was hanging limply by her wrists from a couple of chains attached to the ceiling. Her body was battered. He could smell her blood. It was dried and stale.

Spike leapt forward, and snapped the chains with little difficulty, causing the young girl to fall into his arms. He cradled her against him as he checked to see if she was alive. She was still breathing, although barely. The hacker's heartbeat was so slow; it was almost undetectable. The thing he noticed first, however, was that she seemed to be glowing. A pale purple color seemed to surround her body. The weaker her breathing became the stronger the glow.

Spike realized that if he didn't do something soon, she would die. He laid her gently against him as he bent down to her dwindling pulse point. He sunk his fangs into her neck gently, and drained the last bit of life from her. When he withdrew from her, he bit into his own wrist to start the blood flow, and then brought it to her lips. He tilted her head back slightly, forcing more of the blood to go down her throat. After a couple of moments, Willow began to suckle the puncture marks, taking in as much of the thick liquid as she could.

When she had taken enough blood, Spike pulled his wrist away and lifted her into his arms. He carried her out of the building and brought her to the apartment he had been living in for the past six months.

As he laid her gently on his bed, Spike marveled at her beauty as he watched her skin pale ever so slightly. She was breathtaking, and she was *his*, for eternity.

*****

Tara sat with the small group researching a demon that had recently come to town. She fought the urge to laugh out loud at the ignorance of this group. They had fallen so easily into her trap. She had almost completed the change in Willow, and then she could drain her energy completely. Then Tara would have her power.

Tara turned her gaze to Anya and smiled softly. She would be next. Even though she was no longer a demon, she still possessed power, not nearly as much as the redheaded witch, but enough.

Tara was brought out of her thoughts as she felt something tugging at her. She felt something snap inside of her. It was as if somebody had shut off her connection to the witch. Tara reached out with her mind, and nearly screamed when she realized that Willow was no longer there. Tara couldn't feel the redhead anymore. The link had been severed. That could only mean one thing. The witch was dead.

*****

Willow's mind slowly came out of the fog. She didn't know where she was, but she could feel Spike. He was with her, somewhere. She opened her eyes carefully and was startled to find a pair of blues eyes staring at her intently. She broke her gaze from him and looked around the room. She recognized it as Spike's bedroom. She had been to his place a couple of times before the chip was removed. She had even cleaned him up after a nasty fight with some demons once, but the room looked different somehow. At first she wasn't sure why, but then realized the room hadn't changed, she had. She could see things that were never visible before, hear things that had previously gone unnoticed, and feel things that had gone undetected. She could sense the very essence of life.

"How you feeling, luv?" Spike asked smiling at her reaction to her new senses.

Willow turned to her sire and smiled. "Hungry."

******

Cordelia rushed into Angel's living room from the elevator *without* bothering to knock. It wasn't until she saw him standing just outside of the bathroom door wearing nothing but a pair of pants and towel-drying his wet hair, that she realized she should have knocked. She smiled up at him apologetically.

"Sorry." She turned around slightly, as if to leave, then remembered her vision, and began pacing the floor.

"Cordelia? What's wrong? Did you have another vision?" He asked walking over to the Seer.

Cordelia nodded. "You bet, and can I tell you *again* how unpleasant these vision things are? I mean, as if the pounding headaches weren't enough, they come complete with three dimensional visuals, not to mention the yummy smells."

Angel guided her over to the couch. "Why don't you sit down. Let me get you some water." Angel walked into his bedroom and pulled on a sweater before going into the kitchen for the bottled water he kept cold for just such an occasion.

"What did you see?" The vampire asked after he slid into the chair across from her.

Cordelia took a deep breath as she tried to make some sense of her vision. "It was Willow, only it wasn't." She gazed at her boss dropping her voice to a whisper. "I think she was a vampire."

"What?" Angel asked, not sure if he had heard her correctly. "Are you sure? Maybe it was the other Willow, the one from your wish?"

Cordelia frowned slightly at the memory of her wish and what it would have meant for Sunnydale. She shook her head. "No. I don't think so. She was different, not so skanky."

Angel chuckled at her use of adjectives. Then he thought about what that could mean. "Did she have a soul?" He asked cautiously, hoping that if Willow were turned, she would still retain some of her inner beauty.

Cordelia thought about the question carefully before answering. "I don't think so, not if you're any indication. Besides, I think I saw some sort of argument with Buffy." She said the last word quietly, unsure how he would react. Then she added, "Willow was *not* happy." She hesitated for a second before speaking. "If she were souled, they wouldn't be fighting, would they?" Cordelia watched as his features clouded over in thought.

She was surprised when he finally answered. "Was she staked?"

"Huh?" Cordelia asked, confused. The Seer was expecting his question to be about Buffy's safety, not whether or not the slayer had dusted Willow.

Ignoring her confusion, and his earlier question, Angel asked another. "What exactly did you see?"

Angel watched as the images she had seen played themselves out in her mind before she answered. "The images kept shifting and changing. First it showed Willow tied to the ceiling in some dungeon looking place, and then it showed Willow back at Giles house. She was angry, about what I can only guess. Then it shifted back to the dungeon place, but that time I don't think it was Willow that was hanging. I couldn't make out who it was though, and then it shifted again to Willow and some girl I've never seen before. Can I just say Eww? The girl was an awful mess. She looked like she had been torn apart, from the *inside* out." Cordelia made a face. "Does this make any sense to you? Because I'm just getting a general ick factor."

Angel stood up. "No, but the sooner I get to Sunnydale, the sooner I can figure out what's going on, and hopefully stop it."

"You mean we." Cordelia stated at she rose off of the couch.

****

Tara felt the loss of her victim and screamed inside her mind. She didn't understand. Willow should have been kept alive for a little while longer. She hadn't completed the change. Now whatever power the witch had, as well as all the energy and power she had used in changing her would have reverted back to Willow. Not that it would do her any good, at least not if she was dead, and that was the *only* explanation for the loss Tara felt. Only death could have severed the connection.

Tara was running out of time, if she didn't gain more power soon, the blonde wouldn't have enough to go back to her own dimension. She smiled again as she looked towards Anya.

The group was separating for a divided patrol. If Tara could get the ex-demon alone, she could capture her without the others' knowing. The blonde didn't think she would need them anymore, but she was too close to leave anything to chance.

*****

"Spike?" Willow asked as she changed. Her old clothes had been shredded to near falling off by the time Spike had found her, not that she was interested in dressing in fluffy sweaters and overalls. They were part of the old Willow.

"Yes, luv?" Spike admired his red-haired beauty as she pulled on a pair of burgundy leather pants and a black velvet top. He had gone out and picked up some clothes for her while she slept. He thought he had chosen well. She looked exquisite.

"I feel strange, different, powerful. Is it always like this?" She asked as she turned towards her sire.

He chuckled at the awe lacing her voice. "Yes, and no. I think that whatever was done to you, changed you somehow." He watched as her mind thought over what he'd said.

Willow smiled and reached for his hand. The sun was setting and she was still hungry. "I think you're right. There was powerful magic, and I could feel it going through my body. She told me that it was to harness my power, so she could absorb it into herself, but I think that my death reversed the flow or something."

Spike nodded. Magic was not his strong suit, but he had spent enough time around the witch to know that it was hers. Another thought struck him as he led her out into the night. "Who was it? Who kidnapped you?"

Willow's eyes flashed gold as she remembered her captivity, her demon surging forth, begging for retribution. "Tara." She hissed.

"The witch? The stuttering one from the college?"

"Yes." Willow turned her still golden eyes towards Spike as they entered the park. "First we feed. Then she dies."

Spike grinned at the venom in her voice. His unlife was looking up.

*****

"Are you sure this is the right way?" Anya asked irritably, annoyed that Tara had convinced Buffy and Giles it would be better to separate her and Xander during tonight's patrol. The ex-demon had gotten stuck with the blond witch. There was something about the stuttering witch that was off. The ex-demon didn't really know the girl well enough to decide what it was exactly.

Anya started to turn towards Tara when she felt something hard smack into the back of the head, then everything went black.

*****

Willow giggled as she watched a young woman scream in terror. She had a firm grip on the woman's wrist. The harder the human struggled, the more delighted Willow became. It wasn't that the vampiress was enjoying the young woman's pain so much, it just seemed *so* far removed from anything Willow had ever planned or expected to do. Willow found the whole situation highly amusing. On a whim, the redhead let her human mask fall back into place, and let the young woman go. It took the girl a moment to realize she was no longer being held, and then she ran. Willow laughed and turned to face Spike who had been watching with amusement.

She shrugged. "I'm full."

They had been hunting for the better part of two hours. Willow had chosen difficult targets. She found the blood tasted better when she had to work for it.

Willow took a step closer to Spike, and then she collapsed on the ground. She felt this heavy fog in her mind, and a strange tugging sensation. It wasn't something she could really explain. It was just there. She opened her eyes, and found herself being cradled in Spike's arms.

He took her over to a nearby bench and set her down. "Willow, Luv, are you alright?"

Willow took a look at her surroundings. For a moment she was disoriented. She had thought, just for a second, that she was back in the dark room where she had been held the last three weeks of her mortal existence. "The witch, she's taken someone else." She turned her green eyes towards Spike. "Anya, she has Anya."

"Then we go and kill her." Spike pulled Willow to her feet.

"No, first we find Anya, then we kill the bitch. Painfully."

*****

Anya didn't know where she was. She had awakened to find herself chained from the ceiling of a dark room. She tried to jog her memory. The last thing she remembered was patrolling with Tara, and then being hit on the back of the head. In an instant, the ex-demon *knew* the girl was responsible. Anya didn't know why, but there had always been something about the blond witch that troubled her. Knowing that Tara was responsible for her current situation, Anya realized that everything Spike had tried to tell them about Willow's disappearance had been true, but if the redhead had been kidnapped too, where was she?

****

Buffy put her arm around Tara, trying to console her. She had found the young witch in the park, crying. Tara told the slayer that she had been separated from Anya, and now no one could find the ex-demon. The blonde witch sobbed aloud that she blamed herself, and that something must have happened to the ex-demon.

Buffy thought it was more likely that Anya had been distracted by something. She figured that before too long she would show up at Giles' to collect Xander. A violent pounding on the door brought the slayer out of her thoughts. She gasped when she saw Angel push his way past Giles' into the watcher's living room.

"Where's Willow?" He asked as his eyes swept over the room.

"Willow? Deadboy get with the program. Willow's been gone for three weeks." Xander snorted at Angel's lack of information.

"Where?" Angel ignored Xander's nickname, trying to process what the young man had said. If Willow had been gone for three weeks why was she in Cordelia's vision?

"She went with her parents on some vacation." Buffy told him as she tried to figure out his presence in Sunnydale.

"I don't think so." Everyone turned to Cordelia, who had entered the apartment just in time to hear Buffy's explanation. "Willow? Visiting her parents for three weeks? Delusional much?" Cordelia snorted. The Seer glanced around the room, finally letting her eyes rest on Tara. "Angel? That's the girl," she looked at her boss, "the one from my vision."

******

Willow wound her way through the darkened streets of Sunnydale. She didn't know what was directing her, but she could somehow sense Anya. The ex-demon was in pain, the same kind of pain Willow had endured before she died. Willow ran faster.

*****

Anya tried to stay conscious, but it was becoming increasingly difficult. There was some sort of magical energy engulfing her. It wasn't really strong, just enough to offset her own energies. She was about to lose the battle with consciousness when she heard someone enter. She tried to open her eyes, but her eyelids were too heavy.

Anya felt someone releasing her chains, and the ex-demon was gently placed on the ground. She noticed her rescuer's skin was cool to the touch before slipping into peaceful oblivion.

*****

"Where to? Take her to the watcher's, pet?" Spike asked as Willow handed him Anya's limp body.

Willow scowled, "No. I need to free her from the connection she has with Tara. Take her back to your place, I'm going to Giles'."

"No!" Spike shouted. "Not by yourself, you're not!"

Willow stopped. "What do you suggest? I don't want to leave Anya alone, and I can't free her until I've dealt with Tara." She placed a soft kiss on his cold lips. "Besides, I think I have a better chance of dealing with them if you're not with me."

"What have you planned for them?" Spike asked, knowing the anger and resentment she had built up over the past few weeks.

Willow felt her demon surge briefly as her eyes flashed golden. "Anya first, then I will deal with their betrayal."

*****

Angel turned towards Cordelia. He glanced at the unfamiliar blond girl sitting with Buffy, and then turned back to Cordelia. "Are you sure?"

Cordelia rolled her eyes. "Yes." The Seer approached the blond from her vision. "Who are you?"

"I, uh, I'm a friend of Willow's" Tara stuttered.

Cordelia and Angel shared a look. There was something not quite right about the girl, and if Cordelia's vision was any indication, she and Willow were anything but friends.

"Yes, well, maybe we should see if we can find Anya?" Giles broke the tense silence of the room.

Buffy stood up. "Yeah. I guess we could go and look for her." She turned to Xander. "Why don't you go check your place and see if she has shown up there."

Turning her gaze to the others in the room, the slayer continued, "Riley, go check over by the university. Tara and I will check where they were separated. Angel, can you and Cordy check the cemetery?"

When Angel nodded and turned to leave, followed by Cordelia, Buffy looked at her watcher, "Giles, you stay here, in case Anya shows up."

"Sit, old Chap, sit, nice doggie, must think I'm a bleedin' bulldog", Giles muttered while walking into the kitchen for a third pot of tea. The watcher had a feeling it was going to be a long night.

*******

Angel stopped after his second sweep through the cemetery. The vampire turned towards Cordelia. "Something about this doesn't fit. Xander said Willow's been gone for three weeks. That doesn't sound right."

"No," Cordelia agreed, "and that story about her being with her parents, I don't buy it. I don't think she's spent three consecutive weeks with them since kindergarten." The ex-cheerleader started pacing in small circles around a group of tombstones. "But that leaves the question, if she isn't with them, where is she? Why would the gang be so quick to believe that Willow had gone with her *parents* of all people?"

Angel groaned. There seemed to be more questions than answers. He and Cordelia needed to find out what was going on quickly, before anything else happened. According to Cordelia's vision, Tara was going to die a gruesome death, and despite the bad vibe he got from the dull blonde, he had no wish to see the vision become reality unnecessarily. "Come on, let's go. Maybe Rupert has the answer to at least some of these questions."

*****

Willow approached Giles' front door. She had seen Buffy leave with Tara, and decided to find out where they were going. Apparently, they were looking for Anya. Willow noticed Tara successfully directed the slayer away from where Anya had been found. The redhead wondered how long it would take for them to give up on the ex-demon as they had her. Memories of the past three weeks came flooding back.

// Flashback//

Tara entered the darkened room where she had Willow chained. The girl had more strength and power than Tara had originally estimated. "You waste your time, hoping your friends will find you. They have forgotten you."

"You lie," Willow rasped, not wanting to believe that even Xander and Spike had given up on her, but fearing it was true.

"No, Willow, I speak the truth. No one has looked for you. No one cares. Except for the vampire, but he doesn't count. He can't save you. No one can."

Willow closed her eyes at the realization she wouldn't leave this hell alone. She couldn't even bring herself to hope Tara's words about Spike were true, that he was still looking for her. She willed her body to shut down. Just before she succumbed to exhaustion, Willow's eyes snapped open and looked coldly at Tara. "This isn't over, Tara. You may have my magic, but you don't have my power. You'll never have that. One day the magic you have stolen from those like me will be your undoing."

Willow lost consciousness as Tara's grip on her being tightened. "We shall see, witch. We shall see."

// End Flashback//

Willow cleared her head of the memories. She had been aware of so much, even in her unconscious state; she could sense everything around her. The magic that had flooded her system had changed her into what she was now.

Her demon was now being balanced with her spirit. The spirit tamed the demon and the demon strengthened the spirit. Together, she had the best of both worlds. She knew that she shouldn't blame her friends for the lies Tara had told, but she also knew that if they had truly known her, they never would have believed them. The fact that they *had* believed the tale Tara had spun hurt her, even now.

If it hadn't been for Tara's deception and kidnapping of Anya, Willow probably would have left Sunnydale and not given them another thought, but she had unfinished business with the blond witch. It was forcing her to deal with things she'd rather not.

Willow planted a smile on her face and knocked on Giles' door.

"Willow?" Giles' asked, surprised to see her standing on his porch.

"Hi, Giles. Can, I, uh, Can I come in?" She asked sweetly.

"Of course. Come on in, Willow." Giles stepped aside, allowing the vampire entrance into his house.

*****

Angel walked into the watcher's apartment, followed by Cordelia, and stopped cold. Willow was standing there, staring at him. Her green eyes bore into his. He was frozen in place. He could sense her.

"Angel? What is it?" Cordelia asked as she pushed past him. "Willow? Where have you been? We were concerned when we found out you'd been missing for three weeks." Cordelia emphasized the word 'missing' as she stared pointedly at Giles.

******

Willow turned her gaze to Cordelia and smiled when she saw the sincerity in the brunette's eyes. Then she turned back to the souled vampire, "Angel. You don't belong here."

"Neither do you." He took a step forward and spoke so low that only her vampire hearing could pick it up. "What happened? Who did this?"

Willow started to respond when the front door swung open again and Buffy entered, followed by the blonde witch. Tara gasped as she saw Willow standing near the door looking very much alive.

Willow smiled evilly, and turned to Angel. "She did."

*****

Spike was pacing around his apartment impatiently. Willow had been gone a long time, and he didn't like it. He knew she was still alive, or undead, because he could still sense her, but he didn't know what would happen when they found put she had been turned.

Spike heard Anya groan from her place on the couch and rushed over to her. "Shh, pet. It's okay. You're safe." He told her as he got her a glass of water.

"Spike?" Anya asked confused. She had been so sure that Tara was the one who had taken her, but now here was Spike. She took a small look around, and realized she was no longer hanging in that dark room, that she was lying on something soft. Her arms were sore from being hung up with the chains.

"How do you feel?" Spike asked. He kind of liked the chit. She was never afraid to say what she was thinking.

"Tired. There's magic. Some kind of power, it's like a heavy weight." She tried to explain.

Spike nodded his understanding. "I know. Willow's going to take care of it. She should be back soon."

"Willow?" Anya asked. She frowned as she looked up at the vampire. "You were right, weren't you, about her being in trouble?"

The blonde vampire didn't answer her. Instead, he stood up. "Will you be alright for a little while? I want to see what's keeping her."

"I'll be alright." Anya told him as she closed her eyes and fell asleep.

Spike grabbed his duster and headed towards the watcher's house.

*****

Tara stood still for a moment in complete shock. She was so certain Willow had died. She lost the connection. It had proven to be a confusing matter when Tara had discovered the redhead's body missing, but the broken chains confirmed a rescue attempt. Normally, that would have concerned the blonde, but since she had felt Willow die, Tara assumed her rescuer was too late.

But now, seeing Willow standing here, apparently alive, Tara wasn't so sure. She looked the redhead over carefully, and that's when the blonde witch sensed it. Willow was a vampire, a strong one. She had power, lots of power. Tara realized that when Willow had died the hacker had absorbed all of the energy and power Tara had lost, making the redhead more powerful than the average vampire. Tara saw the hateful look in her eyes, and realized that if she wasn't careful, Willow could destroy her. Tara backed up slightly and turned to Buffy with fear in her eyes. "She's a vampire." The blonde witch whispered.

Buffy looked incredulously at Willow. "Wills? What happened?"

Willow's eyes flashed gold as the redhead took a step forward, pushing Angel out of the way. "She happened." Willow's voice was laced with hate.

Buffy shook her head sadly. "No, no, it can't be."

Willow's gaze shifted from Tara to Buffy. She laughed. It wasn't a pleasant sound. "Give her to me, and I'll leave you alone."

Buffy tried to regain her composure as she stepped in front of Tara. "No. Leave her alone. She is your friend. We all are."

Willow took another step forward as Angel reached out and grabbed her wrist firmly. "Willow, don't do this." The souled vampire pleaded.

Willow turned to Angel, anger lighting her eyes. "You don't belong here, Angel. Leave. This doesn't concern you." She turned back to Buffy. "I have no friends. Apparently I never did." She turned to Tara, "Isn't that what you told me?"

Buffy started to protest but was stopped by Angel. "Buffy, maybe you had better go." He turned to the Slayer. "Now." His voice softened, "Don't worry. I'll deal with this."

Buffy nodded reluctantly but turned to leave. She stopped and faced Willow again. "I'm sorry."

As Buffy pulled Tara outside with her, she heard Willow's voice. "This isn't over. She will be mine!"

******

Angel watched as Buffy left, breathing an unnecessary sigh of relief. The souled vampire turned back to Willow. She was absolutely stunning. He had never seen anyone so magnificent, alive or dead.

"Willow? What happened?" He asked her, dreading the answer.

Before Willow could answer Spike stormed into the apartment. "Peaches." Spike growled.

"Spike. You did this!" Angel snarled. He stalked towards his childe and picked him up around the throat. His eyes flashed golden as he threw Spike against the wall.

Before Angel could do anything more, the brunette vampire was thrown across the room with a force beyond his own, hitting his head on a cabinet as he slid into the kitchen.

Willow walked over to the fallen vampire and snarled menacingly. "Leave my mate alone."

"Alright, why don't we all just chill." Cordelia's voice broke the tense silence of the room.

Willow turned to face the brunette Seer, the redhead's face shifting back into human features. Willow smiled. "Cordy. It's good to see you." The redhead turned back to Angel and sighed needlessly, her eyes reflecting the sadness she shouldn't be able to feel. "Angel. This doesn't concern you. I don't want to have to tell you again."

"He turned you. I should stake him for that alone!"

"Don't presume you know what happened. You don't." She snapped. She motioned towards the doorway. "She killed me. He just made sure I didn't stay that way." She took a deep unneeded breath to calm her temper. "If you want answers, you'll have to find them on your own."

Willow headed towards the door, but stopped and turned towards Giles who had been rooted in place during the entire exchange. "I'm not after Buffy. I just want Tara. But if she gets in the way" She looked Giles in the eyes. "I'm not evil. I'm nothing like the Vampire Willow you met last year, but trust me when I tell you, I will have my revenge. Whether Tara is the only one to pay or not is entirely up to you." Willow took Spike's offered hand and they disappeared into the night.

"Boy, that was the best fun, ever." Cordelia broke the tense silence.

Angel turned to Giles. "What can you tell me about Tara?"

******

Buffy was in a daze as she walked Tara home. She couldn't believe it. Willow was a vampire. She was evil. The slayer couldn't seem to get her mind around that one point. How long had Willow been a vampire? Buffy thought back to all of the telephone conversations she had had with Willow since the redhead had left for her family vacation. The slayer had only spoken to Willow three times, and each time, the witch had seemed distant, strange. Buffy had written it off as stress from spending to much 'quality' time with her parents, but now the slayer wasn't so sure. Buffy turned to Tara. "Are you alright?" She asked as they approached Tara's dorm.

Tara nodded. "Yeah, I um, I think, I just need to get some sleep."

"Okay." The slayer looked at the blonde witch carefully, trying to see if she really was all right. "You know, that wasn't really Willow. She isn't Willow anymore. She's just a demon in Willow's body." Buffy tried to explain.

Tara nodded. "I know. It's just so hard, you know. To see her like that."

"I know." Buffy agreed as she walked away, not knowing what to do. The slayer didn't think she could stake her best friend. She wasn't strong enough.

******

Tara watched through the window as Buffy walked away. The blonde witch had to get back to the warehouse and move Anya before it was too late. Tara knew it was dangerous to be walking around at night, with Willow roaming the streets, but she couldn't afford to have someone find Anya.

******

Spike watched Willow as she drained the life out of a college student too stupid to stay indoors after dark.

She dropped his body to the ground and turned around. "Come." She placed her hand in his as they walked to the abandoned warehouse where they had found Anya.

"He won't give up, you know that." Spike's tone was quiet bus serious. "He'll try to take you away from me."

Willow smiled as she took his cold hand in her own. "It won't matter."

Spike stopped and pulled her to him. He bent town and placed a kiss against her lips. She opened her mouth to allow his tongue entrance. The kiss soon turned passionate as their tongues dueled for dominance.

Willow reluctantly pulled away. "I love you." She kissed him once more on the lips. "Nothing they can do will change that."

"I love you too, Red." Spike re-clasped his hand in hers as they continued walking. After a moment, he turned to look at her, "They'll try and curse you, like the poof."

Willow chuckled. "It won't work." When she saw his skeptical look, she elaborated. "They can't restore a soul I never lost."

******

Giles sighed heavily as he dropped onto his sofa. Angel and Cordelia had just left. The watcher had told them what he knew about Tara, but didn't know anything that would explain why Willow would want to kill the blonde witch. The British watcher supposed it was just a reaction from the demon, which now shared her body.

He found himself wondering how long Willow had been a vampire. Spike had turned her, obviously, but when? It must have been recently, judging from the blond vampire's insistence that Willow had been in trouble. Had he been right? Were they partly responsible for Willow's fate, by their refusal to listen to Spike's concerns?

The watcher didn't have any answers, only more questions. And the biggest question of all was what to do. Could they kill her? He didn't think so.

"We'll curse her!" Buffy stormed into Giles' apartment all excited. "You can do it, right?"

Giles' looked at his Slayer carefully, "Yes, I can, but Buffy, if she has killed, you can't imagine the pain and the guilt she'll feel once her soul is restored."

"It's better than allowing her to kill *more* innocent people, and Giles, I don't think I can stake her." Buffy looked imploringly at her watcher.

"Alright. We'll curse her."

*****

"Angel? Are you alright?" Cordelia asked softly as the pair headed towards the motel.

Angel was silent for a long moment. Cordelia didn't think he was going to answer. Then he spoke. "Something more is going on here." The brunette vampire turned towards his friend. "I don't know how to explain it, but there is something different about her."

"You mean aside from the fact that she's a soulless killer?" Cordelia asked.

"Is she?" Angel questioned. "I know she isn't the same Willow we knew, but is she a killer? I'm not so sure."

"Well, she was nothing like the one we met last year, that's for sure. So, what now?"

"Well, I want to know why Willow's after the girl. I also want to talk to her. See if you can find out where Spike is living. I'll see what I can find out from Willie."

"Right." Cordelia pulled out her key and entered the motel room as Angel headed towards Willy's bar.

******

Giles gathered the supplies carefully, preparing the ritual to restore Willow's soul. He still had doubts about what it would do to her, if she had indeed killed, but Buffy had been right. They could not allow her to kill innocent people. Restoring her soul was the only option. He only hoped it wasn't too late.


He sat in the circle and centered himself. When he was confident in his ability to concentrate, Giles began to chant softly.

*****

Willow and Spike entered the warehouse and waited. Tara would be there soon. She felt a tremor of anticipation go through her at the thought of the fate that awaited the blonde witch.

*****

Tara entered the warehouse cautiously. The blonde witch needed to get to Anya before someone found the ex-demon. She would have to drain Anya's power quickly and dispose of her body before anyone suspected anything.

******

Willow hid in the shadows of the darkened room as Tara entered. The redhead smiled to herself as she watched her lover come up behind her betrayer and wrap his hands firmly around the dull blonde's throat, squeezing slightly. Tara fell into unconsciousness as Willow giggled.

*****

Tara opened her eyes and found herself bound and gagged. She looked around the room and recognized it as the same place she had kept Anya, but she didn't see Anya anywhere. Tara tried to speak, but the gag muffled her words.

"Tara, Tara. Whatever shall we do with you?" Willow asked with an evil glint in her eye.

*****

Giles felt the power take him over. He briefly wondered if this was what Willow had felt when she restored Angel's soul. The watcher looked cautiously over to the Orb of Theseluh as he continued to chant.

******

Willow felt a wave of power flow through her. She cocked her head as she tried to place the feeling. She started to giggle when she recognized it.

"Luv? What is it?" Spike asked.

She turned to him and smiled. "The watcher, he is trying to restore my soul" She turned to Tara, her face shifting into that of the demon, "but it won't work, will it?" She laughed at the glazed look of fear in the blonde witch's eyes.

*****

Angel left Willie's with little information. The bartender couldn't tell him where Spike lived, or much of anything else. The souled vampire had heard some rumors about some suspicious behavior in one of the warehouses at the edge of town. It was a long shot, but the only lead the Irish vampire had, so he headed over in that direction, hoping that he could find Willow before the redhead did something she would regret.

*****

Giles breathed deeply as he stepped out of the circle. The watcher turned to his Slayer who was watching nervously. "It's done."

Buffy jumped up, "I'll go find her!"

The slayer started to head towards the door when Giles' voice stopped her. "Maybe that isn't the wisest course of action." The watcher counseled her. "She's gonna be confused, maybe you should let her come to you."

Buffy nodded reluctantly. "Okay. I guess you're right." She looked at him sadly. "I'm gonna go home, and go to bed."

Giles watched with a heavy heart as Buffy left his apartment and went home.

******

Willow felt her demon surge forth, strengthened by the power she now possessed. The redhead had felt the force of the watcher's spell flowing through her. It had possessed her briefly, giving her more strength, and feeding off her anger. The vampiress smiled evilly as she looked at the blond girl, bound and gagged.

Willow approached menacingly. "You will die a slow, and painful death. Are you ready?" Willow's demon delighted in the fear she saw in the girls' eyes as the blonde shook her head vigorously. "That's too bad."

Willow reached inside herself and centered her power, felt her mind reach out, and grasp onto Tara. The redhead held Tara's soul in a death grip, squeezing the life-force right out of the blonde witch, watching in amusement as the girl buckled in pain.

*****

Angel entered the warehouse, and had to keep his demon in check watching Willow looming over the blond girl. Her face was contorted in pain.

"Willow. Stop this!" he implored.

Spike snarled. "Stay out of this!"

Willow stopped her assault on the witch and turned her golden eyes to face her lover's sire. "Angel." Her voice was hard. "Leave. What part of 'this is none of your business' don't you understand?" Weariness had crept into her voice.

"I don't know what she did, but it isn't worth this this torture." The Irish vampire tried to reason with the redhead, knowing that his efforts were in vain.

Willow waved him off and returned her attention to Tara. Turning her head slightly, she spoke over her shoulder. "Leave or stay, if you wish. It changes nothing." Willow summoned all her power and drew every last ounce of power out of the witch. She felt herself being drawn into the hollow shell of the girl's body. Once at the very center of the blonde witch's being, Willow's control snapped.

*****

There was a fire. It was building deep inside. Her insides felt like they had been lit aflame. The pain was unbearable. Tara felt the urge to scream, but suppressed it. Then she exploded. Every cell in her body erupted in a fury of pain and misery. Her body soon followed, separating into pieces that no one would ever be able to recognize as belonging to a human being.

Her last thought was of the red-haired witch. The witch Tara had destroyed, and in so doing so, unleashed the power of hell itself.

*****

Willow collapsed onto the floor exhausted. Spike gingerly picked her up and carried her out of the building stopping once to address his sire. "She's mine. You will never have her."

After they had left, Angel turned his gaze to the broken body of the blonde witch, and then back to the space his childe and Willow had just vacated. "Never." The Irish vampire whispered to himself, wondering if that was true.

******

Anya awoke from her dream-filled haze and realized that the magic had been lifted. The ex-demon could no longer feel the heavy tugging at her body. Anya opened her eyes, and found herself staring into Willow's green eyes.

"Feel better?" Willow asked, pleased that she could save Anya before it had been too late.

Anya nodded, still unable to speak.

"Good." Willow stood up. "We're leaving." She looked at Anya with compassion in her eyes. "You'll explain it to them, won't you?"

"Yes." Anya rasped out, her voice unsteady. "Thank you." She whispered.

Willow bent down and kissed the ex-demon on the cheek. "We'll be in touch." The redhead left the room. Several minutes later Anya heard the front door open and close. The ex-demon knew that she wouldn't see them again. The vampire couple had done what they said they would, and now it was time to move on.

*****

"Where to, pet?" Spike asked as they headed towards the car.

Willow smiled. "Anywhere but here."

******

Angel watched in sadness as Spike and Willow left Sunnydale. The elder vampire had lost her, but knew that they would meet again. Angel feared that he would never have what he wanted most at that moment an eternity with her.

*****

Porto Alegre, Brazil 2073

Drusilla walked briskly into the night. She would miss Brazil, but the stars had told her it was time to return, to Spike. They told her what had to be done, what *she* had to do. Drusilla felt into the small bag she carried and gripped the stake firmly. Soon, it would be over.

*****

Drusilla watched the vampire couple with mild interest. They moved as one, hunting, feeding, and loving. Willow was his equal in ways Drusilla never was. They were everything she and Spike had not been. He was happy, and that saddened the dark-haired vampiress, not that he was happy, but that Drusilla would have to destroy that happiness. The stars had told the insane vampiress what needed to be done. Now, she only had to do it.

*****

Spike turned when he heard a noise in the garden. Willow had left nearly an hour ago, and he didn't expect her back until nearly dawn. They never had visitors. Most folks fancied their lives too much to visit the vampire couple in their home.

Spike saw the woman standing in the garden, but couldn't believe it was his former love. It had been over seventy years since she had left him, seventy years since she had torn out his unbeating heart, seventy years since he had fallen in love with Willow, seventy years since Drusilla ceased to plague his thoughts, and now, here she was. "Dru?"

Drusilla smiled. She looked around the garden, filled with nightblooming flowers, and stone sculptures. "It's beautiful, Spikey. Did she do this?"

Spike didn't have to ask whom she was referring to. He nodded. "Yes."

Drusilla came forward and enveloped him in a hug. She squeezed him tightly. He returned the act with equal force. Drusilla gripped the stake tightly and positioned the deadly weapon at his back. Just before she plunged it through his heart, she whispered the two words she meant more than any others, "I'm Sorry."

*****

Spike heard the words just as he felt the wood pierce his heart. He looked into her grey-blue eyes, and saw the truth there. She was sorry. He didn't know why she had killed him, and probably never would. His last thoughts before turning to dust were of his Willow and how he hoped she would find what she needed to go on into the night without him.

****

Drusilla wiped a blood tear from her pale face as Spike turned to dust. She dropped the stake on the ground amongst his ashes and ran out of the garden. Her task was complete. Soon, Willow would be coming for her.

*****

Willow walked through the cool night air leisurely, enjoying the stillness of the night. It wasn't very often that she went hunting alone, but tonight she felt the need to hunt solo, so Spike had stayed home.

Willow smiled as she watched a couple making out on a bench nearby. If she hadn't been so exhausted, she would have had a little fun with them at their expense. She giggled at the thought. The smile died on her lips as she felt something being ripped from her body. It was a pain like nothing she had ever felt since being turned. Spike, something had happened to Spike. The redhead ran at a frightening speed back to the house. When she entered and found it empty, she knew her mate was gone. She walked out to the garden, howled in rage as she saw the dropped stake among a pile of ashes, Spike's ashes.

In an instant she knew who had done it. She didn't know how or why she knew, but the knowledge was there just the same. Her anger doubled at the knowledge of who his killer had been. Willow went into the house and quickly packed a bag. It was time to go, to return home, and to avenge the death of her mate.

****

Willow was filled with rage, a primal kind of hatred that radiated throughout her undead body, feelings she had not felt in nearly seventy years. Her demon howled at the loss of its mate. Willow knew Spike's killer had fled, but there was no place on heaven or earth Drusilla could hide. She would find her; it was only a matter of time.

Willow closed the front door to the house she had shared with Spike for the last time. She would not be coming back. It was no longer home. She no longer had a home. She was alone, truly alone.

She and Spike had separated themselves from everything they had known. Everyone they had known. It had been seventy years since they had left Sunnydale, and the past behind. In that time they had only seen Angel three times, and now, here she was, going back, to the States, to the past, to Angel.

****

Willow smiled to herself as she took in the New Orleans night air. There was something about Louisiana at Mardi Gras. She could feel the excitement in the air. It was palpable. She looked around the busy streets, remembering the last time she had been here. It had been well over half a century ago. She had still been young then, or at least younger. Willow steeled herself as the memories came flooding back, snarling as she blocked out the pain.

The redhead spotted a young man walking briskly away from the crowd and followed him. He turned down a small street and headed towards some stairs. The man hadn't reached the second step when he was hauled backwards and thrown against a nearby wall. Willow didn't hesitate as she sunk her fangs into his neck. She sucked his life's blood out of him as if it would be her last meal. When she was finished she dropped the body to the ground, and continued on her journey towards her destination.

*****

Willow walked up the winding steps with a purpose. The redhead smiled when she saw the 'Welcome' hidden in the window's etching. It was a sign to all those like her, allowing them entrance. She pushed the heavy wooden door open and looked around the room. It was decorated in blacks and dark blues, and had a frequent amount of iron furniture. She chuckled to herself at how little had changed. The times may have, but the man hadn't.

She felt him before she saw him. He was close, probably in the next room. She sat down on the edge of the mahogany desk, and waited.

*****

Angel heard the door open and close, and silently cursed the holiday. Every year during Mardi Gras, people would come wandering in, lost, and most often drunk. He often thought about leaving town during this time, but he knew he wouldn't, couldn't leave. He was needed here, and that above all kept him from walking into the sun.

On this particular night, he was more depressed than usual. Spike had died. He didn't know how, or why, or even if Willow still lived. He only knew that his connection to his favorite childe had been severed. Only death could accomplish that.

He was about to tell the intruder to go away, when he felt it. A vaguely familiar power tugging on him. He walked into the outer office, and nearly collapsed from shock. "Willow?" He asked, not really sure if he could believe what his eyes were seeing.

Willow turned to face Angel, her green eyes betraying nothing. "Angel." She stood from her place at the desk and took a step closer to the older vampire. "Where is she?" Willow's words were calm, but Angel could feel a rage radiating off of her.

"Who?" He asked, wondering what had led Willow to him, after all these years, and desperately trying to find a way to keep her with him.

Willow turned around and looked out the single window. The moon shone brightly in the sky. "She killed him." The redhead spoke quietly, sounding far away. Willow turned her face, so that her green eyes bore into his brown. "Did you even know he was dead?"

Angel broke her gaze. "Yes. I felt it."

"I thought you might." Willow turned back to the window.

"Willow, why are you here?"

Willow turned sharply, her eyes flashing golden. The redhead was about to answer when the front door was pushed open. Willow turned her attention to the newcomer and snarled. She launched herself at Drusilla, flinging the raven-haired vampiress to the ground. Drusilla didn't fight back, taking the full brunt of Willow's hatred.

It took Angel a minute to realize what was happening. Once his mind had processed the events, he launched himself at the two vampires, separating them. He soon realized it wasn't his insane childe he needed to subdue, but Willow. He gripped the redhead's wrists firmly, pulling her away from Drusilla.

Willow growled fiercely, but allowed Angel to take her to the opposite side of the room.

Angel looked back at Drusilla, who had a sad expression on her face. It was at that moment when he realized what had happened. He let go of Willow and turned to Drusilla. "You staked Spike? Why?"

Drusilla looked at her sire for a moment, and then tilted her head as if listening to something no one else could hear. "It was meant to be. It was time for him to go." She turned her gaze to Willow. "I *am* sorry."

Willow pushed her way past Angel. "Sorry? You're sorry? My mate is dead, dusted by someone he trusted, loved, and you're *sorry*?" She took another step closer to Drusilla. "You aren't but you will be."

Everything seemed to move in slow motion. Angel watched with fear and fascination as Willow moved swiftly. She grabbed a sword, which hung on the wall behind Drusilla.

"I should draw your death out make you feel an eternity of pain." She brought the weapon up quickly and decapitated Drusilla as she spoke. "But he wouldn't have wanted that." A single, blood red tear fell from Willow's face as Drusilla exploded into dust.

*****

"Do you feel better?" Angel's words broke the silence.

Willow looked up at him, her green eyes boring into brown. She was trying to determine the meaning behind his words. She could find none. "No. Should I?" she asked him as she turned around.

Angel watched her closely, as if he was trying to see inside her soul. It had been so long since he had seen her. The decades had passed slowly, too slowly. He took a step closer to her. "Willow, I'm sorry." He placed a hand on her shoulder. It was meant as a comforting gesture, but Willow looked up at him with an expression akin to complete and utter confusion.

It was a long moment before she spoke. "Are you?" Her words were so quietly spoken, and filled with such sadness, that it took a moment for Angel to register their meaning.

"What?"

"I said, are you sorry?"

Angel stared incredulously at her. "How can you even ask that. He was my childe, my favorite childe. You may not have known what that meant seventy years ago, but you do now."

Willow turned around slowly, her eyebrows arched at him slightly. "You presume to know me. You don't." She moved away from him and headed towards the door.

"You do have childer of your own." It was a statement, not a question. Willow stopped, but didn't turn around.

"You've kept tabs on us?" She asked.

"Yes."

Willow spun around, her green eyes turning to gold. "Then you know what happened to my childer. You know how they were butchered, in our home, like the animals *she* believed us to be." She spat the words, relieving the pain.

"I also know what you did to her, how she died." Angel spoke softly, his dark eyes clouding over slightly at the memory.

Willow laughed. It was a hallow sound. "You disgust me. She murdered your great-grandchilder, and yet you weep for her." She took another step closer to him, slapping him hard across the face. "You have forgotten what you are. I have not!" She turned around and stormed out of the office.

She was nearly halfway down the stairs when she felt his cool fingers grip her wrist forcefully. He pulled her body against his. "You are not like them, Willow. You know it, as well as I."

She turned her head slightly, "I'm not like you either." She whispered the words.

*****

Angel watched Willow sleep. It had not been a restful night, for either vampire. Willow's sleep was filled with nightmares. He could feel the fear and rage coming off her in waves. She never woke. She would move slightly in her sleep, even gasping every once in a while, before her body stilled once again.

He watched her, wishing he could help still her dreams, warm her undead heart. A day hadn't gone by where he didn't wonder about her, where she and Spike were, if she still lived, what kind of creature she had become, or if he would ever see her again.

He had almost gone after the redhead twice before, once when the news of Buffy's death had reached him, and once when Cordelia and Wesley had left. The first time, he couldn't bring himself to see her, to see what kind of monster she had become, and the second he was just a coward. He was afraid, of her not wanting to see him, of him having no place in their lives. So, he had stayed, done what was necessary. He had helped a lot of people, but he hadn't loved anyone as much as he loved her.

He didn't know when it had happened. Whether it was before he moved to Los Angeles or during the time before she was changed. His biggest fear after her 'death' was that she had changed, truly changed, and become like the vampire they had met during her senior year of high school. Despite that fear, some part of him was pleased, happy to know she would live, long after the others were gone.

When he had heard of Buffy's death, that fear gripped him again. He heard of what she had done, and was saddened to learn that she was nothing more than a monster, a creature who killed without remorse, without feeling.

He had been wrong. She was none of those things. She felt things deeply, but she also understood what she was. She reveled in it. Something Angel envied about her. He had seen them once, briefly, in Italy. She was a magnificent creature, a vampire with the strength and power to balance her soul and demon, something he had never been able to master. For him, one always controlled the other.

That short visit only reminded Angel of something he could never have, something he longed for with every fiber of his being, *her*, his Willow. He had despised Spike for having her, and had said something he shouldn't have. When they left Milan that day, Angel knew he would never see them again.

And he hadn't, not together, instead she had come, filled with rage, and a desire for vengeance, to kill his last remaining childe. Now he was alone. They both were. He only hoped he could convince her to stay. He didn't think he could survive if she left him again.

*****

Willow awoke suddenly. He was there, watching her. She could feel him. She kept her eyes closed as she thought about the enigma that was Angel. She hated to admit it to herself, but she had missed him. He was family. He was all she had left.

Spike had told her once, before the massacre, that if he ever met the Slayer's stake, she should go to Angel, he would take care of her. She wondered if that was still true. So much had happened. She wasn't the same person he had known. She wasn't even the same vampire who had left Sunnydale all those years ago. She had grown stronger, wiser, and deadlier.

Could he accept all that she was, when he couldn't even accept himself? She didn't think so. Could she accept his life? She wasn't sure, too much time had passed, too much had changed.

Willow opened her eyes to find him staring down at her. Neither moved for a long time. The air was silent around them.

"Will you stay?" Angel asked, with only the slightest hint of hope.

"Will you have me?" She countered, allowing the smallest of smiles to quirk on her lips.

*****

Willow woke early, the sun still high in the sky. This knowledge was more from some inborn awareness than from conscious thought. She moved silently through the small room that she guessed had originally been intended as a living room. However she seriously doubted Angel spent much time actually using it for 'living'. Aside from the fact that technically they were both dead, Angel seemed to relish in punishing himself for his existence, both past and present.

Walking through the apartment housed beneath Angel's office, she gazed about, trying to find out just what sort of vampire Angel was these days. Had he changed in all their years apart? She knew she must have.

She saw the emptiness in the small rooms. The complete lack of anything, except weaponry, and the occasional photograph of friends long since gone. It made her remember her own past, her own family and friends, now dead to her.

"You're up." Angel's quiet voice sounded from behind her.

Willow wasn't surprised, hearing him moving around. She nodded in answer to his question. "I haven't slept well since in awhile." She wasn't really sure why she was hesitant to discuss what had happened to Spike. Maybe she didn't think Angel was the person to talk to, not as if there *was* anyone else. Or maybe, she just wasn't ready to discuss it yet.

She turned around and faced him. They stared at one another for several long minutes before Willow broke the gaze and turned her eyes to the room. "I can't live like this. I don't know how you can."

It took Angel several seconds to realize what Willow had just said. An eternity of silence as Willow waited. "You'll stay?" The words were softly spoken, the older vampire barely daring to hope.

Willow smiled, and it was similar to the smile Angel remembered from decades past. But this one was different, in small ways. Her eyes, still a mesmerizing green, when not showing her demonic visage, held a kind of wisdom the human Willow had never shown.

The Willow he had known, back in Sunnydale had always been wise, in her own way. She had an old soul, but she was untouched by evil on the most fundamental level. She saw it, fought it, even understood it to a point, but this Willow, the one before him, had experienced evil, *been* evil. She was *still* evil, in some ways.

Unlike himself, her human soul resided inside her *with* her demon. They existed together, almost in harmony. Angel wasn't sure how that was possible. How a vampire, with demon intact, could exist with their human soul. While he could admit to not knowing how this was possible, he was very interested in seeing it for himself. in getting to know this Willow, in learning the differences between this Willow, and the one he had known.

****

"I can't change who I am." Angel spoke with the knowledge that that at least was the truth. How many times had he, in fact, tried to change who he was?

"No." Willow allowed. "But neither can I." She walked the short distance across the room. Lifting a hand to Angel's cheek she spoke. "I am a vampire. I have been one for longer than I was a human. I am what *she* made me. I am a creature of the night, like you. Unlike you, however, I have learned to understand the difference between killing for killing's sake, and killing because it is necessary." She turned away from him. "You lock yourself up in this place, denying who and what you are, and maybe that works for you. Maybe it's the only way you can sleep days. Maybe it's the existence that you think you deserve, but it isn't my existence. It isn't the way I have lived all these years, and it isn't the way I want to live *now*." She stopped for a second as her eyes swept over the room once again. "I will stay, but I won't be something I'm not." Willow looked up and met Angel's dark eyes, her lips turning up slightly in another tiny smile. "But maybe there's someplace between your world and mine. Maybe we can meet halfway."

Angel smiled at that, taking a step closer to her. "Halfway." He pulled her into his body. "I think I can do that." His lips descended on hers before he could even think about his action. Surprisingly, Willow's cool lips opened under his, snaking her tongue out to meet with his. They kissed for several minutes, solidifying whatever agreement they had just come to.

When Willow finally pulled away, she stepped backwards and cast another glance around the room, her eyes finally settling on a small painting of Angelus and Spike, over a century old. "He loved you, you know." She spoke quietly, her own emotions struggling to come forth. "He never blamed you for what happened." She continued.

"Tell me about him?" Angel asked knowing how much Spike had changed since he had truly known him.

Willow shook her head, more in an effort to will away her thoughts than to deny Angel's request. "Maybe someday." She looked at the clock briefly, checking the time, although she instinctively knew the sun had set.

"I'm going out." Willow left the room without waiting for an acknowledgement, knowing that if whatever she and Angel had could even continue long enough to build on, he had to leave her to her own devices, and trust what she would and wouldn't not do.

Angel nodded, more to himself than to Willow. He realized that she was right. He couldn't change her. Couldn't force her to feed from a bag like he did, to even try would push her to leave, and he didn't want that.

He and Willow were two completely different people, similar in some ways, but complete opposites in others, and that was okay. That was something he could handle.

Maybe they could learn from each other.

*****

The End