author: Lucinda

rating: pg to pg 13

pairing: William( mortal pre-Spike)/Willow friendship mentions William's (unreturned) feelings for Cecily will contain some Spike/Dru, will become Willow/Spike

disclaimer: I do not own anyone you recognize.

distribution: Please ask first, unless I said you could have A Time for Change. Then, you can have this one also.

Note: This is something of an alternate sequel to A Time for Change. It's the story of William ( I know I shifted his age younger) and the new obsession in Spike's unlife, Willow, in the new timeline created when Willow was sent back in A Time for Change.

If you haven't read ATfC, what you need to know is this: it's 1933, William is alive, and meets Willow, who was flung back in time by Glory in BtVS5. They become friends....

William Exeter was nervous. He was about to read his latest poem, and he already knew that people wouldn't be impressed. It just didn't make sense, the words, the feelings that he wanted to capture burned so clearly in his mind, the emotions so intense, so vivid that he had to try to write them down. He never came close enough. What began in his mind as intense, breathtaking poetry of emotion ended up on paper as... well, it just wasn't that good. He knew it wasn't terribly good. He kept hoping to improve, and so he read his words in poetry discussion groups. He kept hoping that someday, someone would understand what he was striving for, could show him how to show the beauty of the written word.

Tonight, he had the latest of the many efforts of poetry inspired by the luminous beauty of Cecily, the most delicate and graceful flower of society. He hoped that someday, one of his poems would be worthy of her, worthy of being used to reveal to her his feelings. Until then, he would praise her virtues and beauty, without using her name.

He read his poetry, about the effulgent beauty of his love. He could hear a boy in the audience, saying that his poetry was bloody awful. The boy hadn't been very loud, and it didn't seem that to many people had heard him, but still... the words hurt. He had heard similar things before, but that didn't stop them from hurting.

After he had read his latest offering, he stepped down, trying to retreat into the crowd. He looked up, suddenly aware that there was a person standing in front of him. A woman in a gray dress. He looked at her, and blinked. She had brilliant red hair, pulled back into a knot at the back of her neck. Her skin was pale and clear, and her eyes were like leaves, a soft soothing green.

"I thought your poem was very passionate. You had a lot of feeling in it." She had spoken softly, her voice pleasant as birdsong in the morning.

"You know, I think that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said about my poetry." He tried to smile pleasantly at her, hoping to be polite to this kind woman.

"Your lady love doesn't like it? I thought any woman would be delighted to have someone writing her poems. Especially if their about her being as lovely as the heavens." Her eyes sparkled, and she seemed very nice.

"Ummm Actually, I haven't told her. She doesn't know how I feel about her. Ahh I'm William Exeter by the way." He offered her his hand somewhat belatedly, trying not to flush at his lapse in manners.

She took his hand in hers, smiling at him. Not a smile calculated to overwhelm, but rather a smile that understood. "I used to love someone from afar, once upon a time. It was... he didn't know. Everything I thought should tell him how I felt..he missed it. SO, I kind of understand where you are now. And I'm babbling at you now and I didn't even tell you my name yet, oh dear, umm I'm Willow Rosenberg." By the end of her words she was blushing, the color giving her cheeks a resemblance to roses in bloom.

He smiled a bit, feeling some of his nerves and tension drain away. If she babbled like that, and blushed so charmingly, surely she couldn't be mentally criticizing him to terribly? "Do you often attend poetry readings?

"I like poetry. I only came to London recently, so you wouldn't have seen me here before, but I used to listen to poetry readings when I had the chance at home. I lived in America, a small town called Sunnydale in California." She looked sad for a moment, her eyes darkening as her focus softened, as if wrestling with profoundly deep feelings, or troubled memories. "I didn't have nearly as much time for poetry as I would have liked when I lived there. But yours has a lot of feeling in it, I think I'd like to hear your next efforts."

She wanted to hear his poetry! William could feel something inside of him flutter, an unsettling and pleasant experience. They talked a little more, about small things. He learned that she was a private tutor, and her charge was Alex O'Connell. After she had waved a friendly goodbye, needing to take Alex home with her, he still found himself remembering her smile, the way her eyes had sparkled.

It seemed that he had a friend now.

End part 1.

William found himself meeting Willow occasionally. They would have lunch together, and talk about little things, or nothing. She would read his poetry sometimes, and she always found something to praise about it. She would also listen to him ramble on about Cecily, listening, and sometimes asking a question if something wasn't clear to her. She was a friend for him, one of a very few that he'd ever had. She never told him that he was foolish for writing poetry, or for loving Cecily.

She did say that if all he did was sit back on the side and watch Cecily, never telling her how he felt, he would never know her feelings.

Of course, she had then gone into this little rambling thing about how sometimes knowing how the other person felt could be quite painful, especially if how they felt was that they'd rather be kissing someone that they had always hated than have anything to do with you. It had been interesting to listen to. He suspected that it had to do with the person that she had loved from afar.

William also had to admit that there was logic in what she said. If he never spoke to Cecily about his feelings, then he wouldn't know how she felt. However, he was afraid to tell Cecily. Her family was more prosperous than his, and she was radiantly beautiful... what if she wanted someone better than him? He had voiced this fear to Willow, who had frowned slightly, and told him that he was a wonderful guy, and that he shouldn't insult himself because God only knew how many other people in the world would gladly insult him all on their own, and while he couldn't stop them, he could certainly chose not insult himself.

There was quite the temper under that red hair. He had promised her to never insult himself in her presence again. That had won him a smile, and a slight giggle. He had no idea how he had managed to find such a wonderful friend. Surely without her, his life would be darker.

Unfortunately, she would have to leave London soon. She was, after all, a tutor, hired to instruct Alex. His parents had decided to go to Egypt searching for some ruins, being archeologists. They had decided to take Alex with them, and where he went, Willow had to go. He had no idea how he would face things without her cheerful smiles and kind words. William knew that he would miss her terribly, and wondered how long it would be before he saw Willow again.

He had made great efforts for her farewell gift, writing her a poem comparing her friendship to the warmth of the sun. He knew that she would smile, offer her thanks for he gift. Hopefully, she would also like it. Hopefully, the poem wasn't quite as bad as some of his others.

Perhaps, while Willow was gone, he could try to talk too Cecily? Maybe gather the courage to tell her how he felt? Yes, that would be a good plan. After all, what was the worst that could happen?

End part 2.

William had watched as the boat Willow was on sailed away. He had an odd feeling, like there was something significant happening, something important... he just had no idea what it was. He shook off the odd feeling. Tonight, there was a party at the home of Cecily's family. He planned to go, to see her, and maybe talk to her. Maybe he could even tell her how he felt. Tonight, everything would change.

He managed to find Cecily in the garden that evening. She was alone beside a hedge, possibly deep in thought. She was wearing a gown of amber silk, with some filmy gauzy bits and gold beading. She looked glorious.

"Cecily? I ahh I was hoping to have a moment of your time?" William had wanted to sound confident, smooth. Instead, his voice betrayed his nervousness.

She turned, surprised to see him, to have her solitude interrupted. "Hmm? Exeter, right? What did you want?"

He blinked a moment, his mind leaping over all sots of possible outcomes, from her flinging herself into his arms with declarations of her own love to shocked surprise. "I.. I wanted to give you this." He couldn't bring himself to tell her how he felt. He held out a paper, his latest poem about her written on it. If he couldn't speak the words, she could read what he had written.

Her expression slightly curious, she took the paper, bringing it near her body, unfolding it and reading the words. He watched her soft pink lips moving slightly as she scanned the words. She looked up at him, and could tell from his still nervous hopeful expression that the poem was his creation.

She crumpled the paper in her hand, one nail tearing the paper, unconcerned with the time involved in writing it. "You are beneath me, William Exeter. There is nothing between us and there never will be." She threw the crumpled page down on the ground, and walked away.

William watched her go, feeling his heart crumple inside as the poem had just done, both crushed by her actions. He knew how she felt now.

He got his coat, murmuring something to the footman before leaving. He had no idea what he had said, wasn't certain it mattered. His first thought was to talk to Willow. She would be able to help him find a way to survive this. But then, he remembered that Willow was gone, on a boat to Egypt. He couldn't talk to her, couldn't ask her how she survived knowing that her own beloved wanted nothing to do with her.

Somehow, he ended up in a pub, drinking mug after mug of something, hoping to numb the pain he felt. He just wanted all the pain to stop. He didn't even think it mattered what price there would be to end the pain, as long as it did stop. Eventually, his pockets having run out of the money for another mug of whatever he had been drinking, he left the building.

He barely noticed the group of people standing in the alley: A large man with dark hair, a lovely blond, and a dark haired woman. They watched him stumble past, his heart still in broken painful shards, and said something among themselves. He didn't pay them any attention, how could they make a difference?

He did look up a few moments later. He had nearly run into the dark haired woman in front of him. She had long dark hair, and an old fashioned green gown on. She looked entirely out of place in the alley. His mind spun feebly, wobbling as he tried to gather some idea why a lady would be in this dismal place.

"Can I help you, miss?" He tried to be polite. Mustn't forget ones manners...

"Poor broken pet. Did someone make you bleed and scream and hurt? Let me make it all better..." She cooed at him, her eyes seeming to grow larger as he gazed into them.

He could feel himself drowning in the pools of her eyes, the pain being pushed down for a moment. Dimly, he could hear his voice whisper, "make the pain go away?"

As if from a great distance, William felt something sharp in the side of his throat. He could almost feel her hands holding his arms, gripping with a strength her apparent frailty denied. Dimly, he thought that this should bother him. He could feel the world spinning and fading away around him, and the pain in his heart slowly faded.

Slightly distorted, as if listening from underwater, he heard the woman speak again. "Daddy, can I keep him? Pretty please?"

Everything went black, and he felt nothing.

End part 3.

William felt himself returning to consciousness. Something was different inside. The pain of Cecily's rejection was gone, leaving only rage and an odd sort of hollow feeling. He felt..strong and oddly hungry. He opened his eyes, finding himself in a nicely appointed bedroom, with a shelf of porcelain dolls to his left. Some of them had lost their eyes; others had gags or blindfolds on their faces. He knew that he was in a strange place, and things would be different.

The door opened, and he found himself looking at the woman with dark hair, the one that had been in the alley. Today, her gown was black, and she wore a slender black ribbon with a cameo at her throat.

"Ohh, goodie, you're awake. I shall have to tell Daddy. Don't worry, my pet, mummy will teach you everything you need to know to be strong." Her voice was filled with anticipation, and her eyes gleamed brightly.

"I...I feel like I should know you. But.. you were in the alley... who are you?" He felt as if the answers were there, just slightly out of reach. He felt something inside him yearning for the dark haired woman, like a flower for the sunlight.

"I'm your new mummy, your new princes. I'll make you forget all about the nasty yellow woman that made you all hurty inside. Come meet your new family." She held out he hand to him, and he found himself easily lifted from the bed.

He was introduced to Angelus and Darla. He vaguely remembered them both from the alley as well. There was the same feeling towards Angelus as there was towards Dru, as if he belonged with them. Darla made something inside of him pull away, as if afraid. Something seemed slightly off about the whole situation, but it wasn't until he passed a large, guilt edged mirror that he had anything he could point firmly to as wrong.

"Why don't I see myself in the mirror? I know I'm here, but.." He was confused, this made no sense. Something deep inside began screaming, a futile protest to what was to come. Angelus smiled slightly, an expression with very little humor in it, but he didn't reflect either.

"You don't reflect because vampires have no reflection. The why beyond that isn't important. Don't look quite so shocked. You're a vampire now. You exist under a whole different set of rules. Let's go out for dinner now." Angelus' words were arrogant, and carried a touch of impatience as well.

Vampire... a vampire. William's mind tried to understand this news as he followed his... what? captors? killers? family? as he followed the others out of the house, into the night air. He discovered that he could see everything clearly, and hear the smallest noise with ease.

That night, he killed a man. He tore his throat open, and drank the rich hot blood greedily, as if his very existence depended on it. Which, as it turned out was now the case. With blood, he could exist forever. He felt better after, no longer hungry, and most of that curious emptiness momentarily full of humming warm life.

That night, Dru took him as her own, introducing him not only to feeding and pain, but to carnal passion as well. Their bodies had come together, twisting and touching under the light of the stars in a frenzy of need and raw emotion. Everything changed that night.

Deep inside of William, a small part wept for the fact that surely Willow would only see a monster in him now. Let her keep her fond memories of William, she would be perhaps the only one that did. He had become someone else now. William had died, in his place stood Spike.

End part 4.

Spike knew that he could not keep his old life. William Exeter had died. Now, he had a new beginning, and he didn't have to be the shy poet and scholar anymore. He flung himself into his new existence, learning all about pain and passion, and the history of vampires. Rapidly, the family made a big and violent impact, making a wicked reputation in all the right circles.

Mortals, even those who had no idea what they truly were, gave them space, fearing the aura of danger that surrounded the group. Watchers cowered, and there was no council hunter that could harm them. They did no fear the Council of Watchers, nor the Slayers that were supposed to be the council's greatest weapon. Other vampires gave them respect, not only for the age and reputation of their bloodline, the order of Aurelius, but for the reputation they had earned as ruthless, bloody killers.

Everything was... as bloody and passionate as things were supposed to be, until Angelus and Darla caught a gypsy girl one night to play with and kill. Darla had planned to make the gypsy girl scream, claiming that the only thing better than the blood of someone that carried a hint of magic was blood laced with magic and fear. Angelus had smiled, always willing to cause pain where Darla chose, and his expression had held glee for the upcoming suffering of the poor girl. The fact that she had also been quite pretty was a bad thing for the gypsy, poor young Rosa Kalderash.

Dru had whimpered, saying that the stars spoke against it, saying that Mummy and Daddy would find a bad song.. that everything would change tonight. She had said that the moon would turn her face from them in shame if they took part in this, and the darkness would not bring them any peace. When Darla had only laughed at the warnings of the moon and stars, poor mad Dru had explained very earnestly that Miss Edith said that while the little flower was a naughty girl, who played with the magic lights, her granny would be very, very cross, and there would be no tea or cakes for any of them.

Spike wasn't certain if he believed Dru. Yes, she sometimes had visions of what cold be, but... How could a gypsy or even a clan of them turn the moon from them, so that the dark would bring no peace? Perhaps it would be better to be overly cautious, to simply take Dru away so that her whimpers and pleas wouldn't enrage Darla. He had taken her somewhere far away from the elder two that night, trying to distract her from her worries with every talent at his command. Blood, pain, sex... nothing worked for long, and by the early morning, she was on her knees, screaming at the stars not to take her daddy away from her.

Dru then listened intently for a few moments, and collapsed into a weeping heap on the floor. She shrieked denials, and clawed at her face, leaving gashes from her sharp nails, and the blood streamed down her face. She begged not to have to see, pleaded to make it stop. She pounded her fists against the floor, until her hands were bruised and splitting the skin open along the heel of her hands and the pads of her fingers, leaving bloody handprints over the floor. The blood that had fallen from her slashed face and the bloody handprints had left a chill over Spike's spine, as if he was seeing some terrible and powerful secret ritual. Something had broken inside of Dru, and those marks were the visible expression of that.

Spike did his best to calm her down. He managed to decipher through her tears and sobs that the 'nasty old witch' had cast a spell on Darla and Angelus, and Dru claimed that 'her daddy wasn't her daddy anymore, he didn't want his princess now'. The only part that made any sense was that the gypsy girl's family had been furious over her death. Somehow, they had cast a very big and powerful spell on Angelus, and it had changed things. What had been changed or how, Spike had little understanding. He knew that it had broken something inside of Dru, but he had no idea what cost there might be to the rest of the family.

He wouldn't have been able to imagine the effects that the spell would have on their wicked little family until later, and some things would take far longer than others, but he knew that things would never be the same. The delightful childhood of his vampire existence was over. That would be the last he saw of either Angelus or Darla for many long years.

End part 5.

They hadn't seen Angelus since the night that he and Darla had killed the gypsy girl. Darla had found them, saying that the gypsy clan had done something horrible to Angelus, and they had gone to try to persuade the gypsies to undo it, but... that had been a spectacular failure. Spike had ended up eating this guy that had tried to take advantage of Dru, Dru had given their fortune teller fits talking about the moon and stars, asking what songs they sang to her. Spike had no idea if the fortuneteller had any real ability or just worked her ways parting money from people who wanted her to have power. Darla seemed very edgy, very emotional, and unfortunately, she was still as high handed and demanding as ever.

After they had left the gypsy encampment, still having no idea where Angelus had gone, and knowing little more about what they had done to him, Darla had turned on them. She had shrieked at them like some sort of harpy, accusing the now frightened younger vampires of ruining her chances of ever having Angelus back the way things had been. She had hit them, her fists connecting with their bodies, sometimes solidly on bone, sometimes merely glancing off flesh. Spike had felt some of his ribs crack under her fists, and had felt a sharp snapping pain in his arm after another. Dru was whimpering and cowering, her partly healed face wide eyed with fear. Darla was shrieking furiously the whole time, and left them cowering together as she stormed off to find her childe herself.

"Mummy scares me now, my Spike. Can you help me go far away and hide from her?" Dru's voice was barely over a whisper, trembling like a leaf in the wind. Her cheek was purpling where Darla's fist had connected, and the slashes had reopened there, sending a few trickles of crimson blood over her bruised face.

"Yeah, luv. She's scaring me now as well. How about Venice?" Spike wasn't certain what had happened to Darla. She had always had a streak of cruelty, and selfishness, but.. this uncontrolled emotional shifting? It was new, and they had no idea how to deal with it. She was not pleasant to be around much of the time before, but... if she blamed them somehow for the loss of her childe and lover, what terrible things would happen in her company? No, best to go far away.

So, the pair of them fled, having only returned to their lair long enough to pack a few things, some clothing, money, a few weapons. Dru also packed a few of her dolls, but she left most of them behind, claiming that since they hadn't spoken against Grand mum's naughty games, they would no longer go with them. Dru had always referred to Darla as her mummy, but since she spoke to the dolls as if they were her children, Darla was their grand mum. They feared seeing Darla again, so travel, far from anywhere that she would go seemed very appealing to Spike. Dru no longer seemed to worry as much about where they would go.

Everything had changed over those two nights. Angelus had vanished. Darla had turned into an emotionally unstable abusive fiend, obsessed with finding Angelus. Dru had broken inside. Her madness had increased, and she could no longer deal normally with the world. Spike had to take care of her, protect her from reality. They were no longer lovers, but he still cared for her. She looked at him as her brave knight, the one who would keep her safe since the castle had fallen and her daddy had vanished. They had learned to keep a lower profile, to exist unnoticed by the watchers, without trouble from the local vampires.

But they kept traveling, never staying longer than a few years in any one place. Dru would sometimes say that the stars wanted her to go somewhere else, would send her searching for something. Spike didn't mind her mad quests for strange trinkets. He had found the traveling to be interesting. Occasionally, he would think about the past, both the time when his vampire family had been complete and before, when he had been William Exeter. He still remembered Willow, keeping her memory like a bright light in the dark of his mind. He could picture her in his mind, and occasionally wondered what had happened to her after that trip she had taken to Egypt. He hoped that she had found happiness.

He had once told her that he sometimes wanted to see the world beyond London. The memory of her twinkling green eyes and bright red hair gleaming in the sun that afternoon had stayed with him, as intense as when it had happened. She had smiled at him, and said that there was a whole fascinating world out there, and had said that if he wanted to travel hard enough, he would find a way. Somehow, he doubted that this was what she had meant. Oddly, he had found himself hoping that he wouldn't meet her again, fearing that she would see only a monster in him now.

"My Spike, the stars are singing to me again. They say we've spent enough time in Brazil, and it's time to go away from here. The little fairies don't like us anymore." Dru's voice crooned slightly, rising in pitch towards the end, and she ended up humming a little song as she swayed slightly, holding Miss Edith firmly to her.

Spike looked at her, translating her words as he watched her. He had never figured out if she actually got some message from somewhere telling her to move or simply grew bored with a place. The little fairies she mentioned were the mosquitoes, great huge bloodthirsty bugs that lived in the area. In Spike's opinion, they liked them all to well, and hadn't figured out that the only blood-drinking involving vampires was supposed to be the vampires drinking, not a swarm of bugs feeding on the vampires. She was saying it was time to go, and he had no objection to that idea in the least. "Dru? Princess, is there somewhere in particular that we should go now, or just away from here?"

She suddenly smiled, and the expression made her look almost sane for a moment. " We need to go north, to the Mouth. Our daddy went there, even if he isn't our daddy anymore. We need to save our not daddy from the nasty blonde girl like taffy. She would do bad things to him if she can." Suddenly, Dru paused, and lifted her doll up as if listening to whispered words. "Oh! Miss Edith says you have to go, your tree is there, all fire and green eyes..."

Spike sat up as if he'd been stung. "My tree... what are you? I guess we have to pack out things then. How far is this Mouth anyhow, and will I know it when we get close to it?"

Dru simply smiled, pleased to see that Miss Edith was right. Spike still remembered his tree, someone from long ago when he had still had such pain in his warm heart. She didn't understand how his tree could be in the place where her not-daddy was when she had found her Spike so many years ago, but Miss Edith had said the tree was there. Miss Edith would never lie about something so important. "We have to go north, and towards the ocean. Your tree is in the same place as our not-daddy, they both hide over the Mouth. We will feel it when we get closer. Let's hurry, I can't wait to meet your tree, and I can save Daddy from the sticky taffy."

They spent the rest of the day packing. Boxes of books, clothing, most of which belonged to Dru, her dolls and trinkets, and a few odds and ends were all packed away into the small trailer attached to the back of Spike's car. As soon as the sun had set, they began their trip north, to find the Mouth. Going to find their not-daddy and Spike's tree.

End part 6.

The trip felt very long. They had crossed several borders, and had managed to make their way into America. Dru was directing them more west now, and Spike could feel the faintest hint of the blood link between himself and Angelus. He was in that direction, west and north-ish. He found himself driving faster, impatient now to find this place, this Mouth and get settled. He had a feeling, somewhere between hope and fear, that the tree Dru had mentioned was Willow.

After many more hours of driving, he began to sense something else. He had no idea what it was, but he could feel it, something out there pulling at him, like a magnet pulled a steel needle. It was something powerful, and dark, and it made his teeth itch. Whatever this something was, it felt like Angelus was in the same area. They were now approaching a town, some little place called Sunnydale.

"Dru? Do you feel that something? Makes my teeth itch... what is it? Did Miss Edith warn you about anything up ahead?" He was getting a feeling that this Sunnydale would be their next home, and it had secrets. He didn't think they were good secrets.

Dru giggled, pleased that Spike could feel it. "Of course, silly. It's the mouth that you feel, all dark whispers about pain and blood and death... puts a dark shadow over the whole little town, and most of the people never know until.. " She snapped her teach closed with an audible click. "We have to be careful. The taffy girl lives here, and she's very violent. She'd hurt us if she found us. Our not-daddy and the tree are over the mouth as well. The mouth wanted to swallow up all the pretty flowers and the birds, but it got something caught in its throat and can't spit it out or eat anything up, so it just seethes there. You will have to be careful with your little tree as well. She won't know that you only want to play nice games with her."

Spike wasn't quite certain what to think about all of Dru's words. The something he felt was the Mouth she had been talking about, but what was it the mouth of? The taffy girl... could she be a Slayer? As for Dru's words about his tree, he had no idea what that could mean. He'd have to go explore the town a bit and find out.

They ended up settling in an abandoned factory. Dru was quite happy with the place, and began unpacking the boxes immediately, fretting a bit about where to put everything. Spike told her to stay inside and be careful, and went out to explore the town. If he were going to be staying in this Sunnydale, it would be best to have a better idea where things were.

He walked, learning that here were a number of abandoned factories, some of which had been claimed as lairs for assorted demons or packs of vampires. There was also a large warehouse area near the docks, implying that there was still a reasonable amount of water shipping going on in this town, even if it looked like the manufacturing had fallen away with the passing of years. A good number of the warehouses were being used as lairs as well. He wasn't the only one that had felt the pull of this town.

There were also a lot of cemeteries for a town this size. Not a lot of little cemeteries instead of one or two big ones, but almost a dozen large cemeteries, all showing signs of plentiful recent burials. They also were very impressive cemeteries, full of ornate headstones and imposing mausoleums as well as the more simple headstones found in most cemeteries. As he was meandering, thinking about the implications of so many new graves, he heard the sound of a female voice approaching.

He slipped into a nearby mausoleum and watched. There was a blonde in a short skirt and knee high boots wearing a close fitting pale shirt, talking about how much work a teacher was assigning, and how difficult it would be to find the time to do it all. He felt a deep-seated dislike of her immediately. There was another figure, a girl in a pair of jeans and a green striped shirt walking with her, listening to the blonde's words. There was a new risen minion trying to sneak up on the girls.

As he watched, the blond turned around, kicking the minion away with a strength impossible for a normal human. The minion hit a headstone, and staggered to his feet growling. Blondie punched him a few more times before she produced a wooden stake and plunged it into the minion's chest, reducing him to dust. Red had stayed back, watching the whole thing not with fear or surprise, but with caution. Red didn't want to get caught in the middle of the fight.

Minion dispatched, the two girls continued their walk, eventually being close enough that he could see their faces. Blondie was apparently named Buffy, and had hazel eyes and wore plentiful makeup, looking very much the modern fashionable teen. She looked about sixteen or seventeen, and moved with confidence. Red sounded like they were in the same classes, but she didn't dress anywhere near the same. He clothing looked comfortable, and a bit concealing, as if she wanted to hide form the world. As they passed the building, he got a good look at her, and the world turned at an angle for him.

It was Willow.

Granted, she didn't have nearly the poise or confidence that he remembered his Willow having, but she also only looked about sixteen. Somehow, this was his Willow, only younger. How she could be the same Willow down to the pattern of freckles, yet younger than when he had met her decades before was a complete mystery, but it was unmistakably her. Willow, and from the slightly wistful sound when she had asked how Buffy juggled all the guys she was attracting, Willow didn't have anyone special in her life.

She could be his, if he could work things right. He'd have to talk to her away from the blond that had to be the Slayer, and he'd have to be patient, but... to have Willow for his very own? He could be patient.

Who cared if the Slayer couldn't make up her mind between Owen, Scott, or some guy named Angel? What sort of guy called himself Angel anyhow?

End part 7.

Spike was in a very happy mood after that night's efforts. He had done some basic exploring of the town, and he'd seen the tree, his Willow. Fate or some other power had given him a second chance to know her. This time, fancy clothing and golden curls wouldn't blind him. This time, he would be able to give her the attention that she deserved. Nothing stood in his way, well, maybe a few minor problems. He was still a vampire, and it seemed that she had become friends with a Slayer. Other than those minor troubles, nothing stood in his way.

He considered carefully what he should do, how to approach Willow. She was younger this time, and he could tell that she was shy and lacked the self confidence that she would one day have. The direct vampire approach or finding her alone and carrying her off for a night of passionate sex wouldn't be the best method at all, though it did provide some interesting mental images to ponder.... No, he would have to start with something non threatening.

He wasn't any good at non-threatening.

In simple fact, he'd spent a good many years carefully learning how to BE threatening, until the impression of danger radiated from him constantly. He'd also done a good deal to earn that impression of danger, and that certainly counted for a lot in some circles. He didn't think those were the same circles that Willow moved in. No, he couldn't picture Willow in a demon club, arguing with a groups of vampires, or screaming at some of the concerts he'd attended.

What he needed was something low key, non-threatening. Oh, it would probably help if the Slayer weren't there. She might sense him, and then things would get ugly... bad for courting it was. Frowning in thought, he remembered a few scattered bits of conversations from his mortal years. 'I used to listen to poetry readings when I had the chance at home. ' She had said. So, if he could find a place that did poetry reading in this town, he might see her there. If she saw him listening to poetry, that should help establish a non-threatening impression for her. He winced slightly, remembering all the many faults that he hadn't liked abut himself as William. Hopefully, he could do this without regressing entirely to who he used to be.

Dru was humming, smiling at the words Miss Edith had whispered into her ear moments ago. Spike had found his little tree, and now he just had to find her away from the dragon. He would have to use his old armor to do it, and think quickly. The dragon in this town was a nasty beast, all yellow hair and sweet words, taking her not daddy and hurting him all the time. Best get rid of her, best save her not-daddy from the dragon before she ate up his soul. "My Spike, what do you think a soul would taste like? Would it be all sweet like sugar"

He turned in his pacing, looking at Dru as she stood between the quiet hulks of two large machines. Miss Edith was in her arms, and the two were wearing matching dark blue gowns." Souls? Dru, I... what would eat a soul?" He was completely startled by her question. Did she meant here was some thing out there eating souls, or was it a metaphor, some symbol from one of her visions? "Maybe it would depend on the soul? Some nice sweet chit would taste better than a nasty old man, don't you think? Dru, sweet, why do you ask about how souls taste? Maybe they taste just like those little bits of chocolate, the ones with the little m's on them?"

Dru giggled, thinking about chocolate covered souls. "Do you really think they might? Did you bring me any of the little m's? They go so well with tea. Miss Edith and her friends Mary and Jane like them so much... No, silly, it's the dragon. She's a nasty beast, guards both my not-daddy and the little tree. We have to get not-daddy away from him before her little games make his soul fly away like a little bird... Why do my birds always die, Spikey?"

Spike sat on a crate, sighing unnecessarily. He rubbed his temple, wondering just how he'd ended up taking care of Dru again, before deciding that was a pointless line of thought. "They always die because you forget to feed them, Dru. Here's your chocolates, hope they go well with the Earl Grey." He tossed her a bag of the candies, the large size, a whole pound of them. The bag rattled when she caught it. " You say she guards not-daddy and the little tree... bloody hell, the dragon's the Slayer. Wait, Dru, what's this about not-daddy having a soul?"

End part 8.

Spike had found a little coffee shop that had poetry readings every Tuesday and Thursday. It seemed like a promising place to try to find Willow, and he could even go more or less as he was. He planned to drop in and look for her there, and as a bonus; he didn't think the slayer would be at something like that. He didn't even have to write any poetry himself, just listen to other people's efforts.

Eventually, Thursday came, and he sauntered into the coffee house for the poetry. Glancing around, he could see that his clothing didn't stick out too much, since he had left his beloved leather duster at the factory. That wouldn't have blended at all. It was actually a bit crowded, and he thought it might be a bit difficult finding a seat. Especially since he didn't want to go to the extreme of vamping out to make someone leave, trying to be low key and non-threatening. He moved between the crowded tables and booths towards the back of the building, hoping that she would be here.

Fortune smiled, there in the corner she sat, in a little wire chair at a tiny table. She was wearing jeans again, and this fluffy sweater. Nobody was sitting with her, and the one at her table seemed to be the only empty seat in the small building. He smiled a bit, thinking that this could be quite good for him, as long as he didn't scare her accidentally. He moved over, sauntering towards her table.

"Hey, red. Looks like this is the only empty seat in the house, mind if I sit here?" He tried to look less threatening, and grinned at her in what he hoped was a charming fashion.

She looked up, and her eyes widened when she saw him. She started to blush, and her whole face became this delightful pink color. "Ahh... umm... yeah, go ahead..." She gestured at the chair while she stammered, indicating that if he wanted, he could have it.

Grinning, he pulled the chair out slightly, turning it so that the back was towards the area where the people read their poetry and sat down, folding his arms over the back of the chair. "Thanks Red."

She blushed even more, and murmured something that he assumed was a statement that he was welcome to the chair, although he couldn't quite make out the words. She was very definitely shy, even had trouble talking to people. This might take a while.

While Spike was trying to get closer to Willow, Dru had her own plan. She wanted to find her not-Daddy, find him and make sure he didn't fall prey to the dragon. She was wandering through Sunnydale, looking for him. Eventually, as she wandered through a park, she saw him. He was wearing a pair of dark slacks, and a dark gray shirt, and he'd cut his soft brown curls away. He looked as handsome as ever.

"Hello, my Angel. You went away from us, left us alone with your naughty mummy. Why did you leave us all alone? The moon went dark with grief and the stars wept... All my flowers died when my Daddy left us." She looked at him as she spoke, her voice soft, almost musical.

Angel looked up at her, seeing her there in a long pale gown, watching him. Her eyes were bright, and her words made little sense. "Dru..." His voice was a whisper of shocked recognition.

She smiled at his whisper of recognition. "Oh, goody, you remember your princess." She walked over, placing one hand on his arm, running it slowly up to his shoulder. "Did you miss me after you ran away? Did you miss all the fun we used to have? Did you miss your family, my daddy who isn't?"

Angel stood here, trembling very slightly. "Dru... I'm sorry, for... I'm sorry."

Looking slightly puzzled, Dru looked at him. "My Angel, why are you all sad? Spikey and I came here, I wanted to find you before it's too late." She leaned in close to him, her next words whispered so that only he would hear them. "I didn't want to let the dragon eat up your bright shiny soul..."

Angel closed his eyes at her words. After a few moments of silence, he opened them again, looking into Dru's eyes when he spoke. "You should probably go, Dru. I'm sure Spike misses you, and Sunnydale isn't... it's not safe."

She smiled, and clapped her hands excitedly. "Oh, you do still care about your princess! No, Spikey's my knight dark armor, he takes care of me but his heart isn't mine, I only borrowed it for a while. He's off looking for the one he really wants. I'll go home like a good girl for now, but we will meet again, my Angel."

Neither Angel nor Dru seemed to notice the blond crouched in the bushes. From her hiding place, Buffy wondered who the strange woman was, and why she had been talking to Angel. She hadn't liked the way she'd touched him either.

End part 9.

While Buffy patrolled, hunting the cemeteries for newly risen fledgling vampires, or unlucky minions, she fumed and tried to figure out who the strange woman in the pale dress was. The woman had been talking to Angel, her Angel. She'd touched him, looked like she knew him very well. As if she knew his body, knew the muscles of his arms. Who was this woman? How did she know Angel, and what did she want?

Buffy was definitely jealous.

Angel was hers, or at least, they were sort of... well, they were... they had this thing. She thought he was gorgeous, and he kept showing up with these cryptic warnings of danger, and he was soo gorgeous. Who wouldn't want him? She knew that Cordelia did, although Angel hadn't shown any interest in the dark haired cheerleader. Buffy had been glad of that, hoping it meant that she could have him for herself. If he wasn't as interested as she was, why did he keep watching her, his eyes following her every move whenever they were in the same place?

Buffy was choosing to ignore the fact that while she and Angel did have the whole cryptic thing going, there was also Owen, the shy poet from school, and Scott, the confident, really cute, new guy, both of whom seemed interested in her. They were both cute, in different, teenage guy sort of ways, but not like Angel, who had the gorgeous older man thing going as well.

Yes, she would eventually have to choose just one guy. Yes, there were problems with each possible choice. Angel was a vampire, they couldn't go for afternoon picnics, or walks on the sunny beach, no adorable little children. Owen just seemed so quiet, how could she let him get involved with her, with her world? Scott... Scott was a nice guy, didn't he deserve better than a girl that might have to call off a date for emergency slayage?

Meanwhile, Spike and Willow were at the poetry reading. Willow was watching the aspiring poets, occasionally looking thoughtful, once in a while wincing at some of the poems. She also kept sneaking little glances at the man seated at the table with her. He was... breathtakingly handsome, and he had this air of danger about him. Not quite what she'd expected from someone attending a poetry reading. His hair had obviously been bleached to that particular pale blond. There were defined muscles under his clothing; Willow could see hints of them through his clothing.

That thought made her blush, and she looked away, not wanting to be caught staring at him. Yes, he was clearly gorgeous in a bad and dangerous sort of way, from his bleached hair to his sparkling blue eyes to his sort of hidden muscles... well, he just looked impressive all over. Not only that, but he had this confidence, this air of mystery and power... Willow shook her head slightly. She hadn't come here to stare at strange guys with a sexy accent and a sexy scar over his eyebrow...

Who was she kidding? She was staring, or sort of staring, maybe trying not to stare? at him. She didn't even know his name, but, oh she would definitely remember him. Even if a guy like him wouldn't want anything to do with someone like her, she would clearly remember him. Guys didn't like Willow; they only talked to her if they needed something, like help with their homework. This guy was definitely old enough to be out of school. There would be nothing that she could possibly offer... With a slight frown, Willow realized that she didn't even know his name.

That brought the little threads of fantasy that a little hopeful portion of her mind had been spinning to a halt. She didn't know his name. He hadn't introduced himself, although she wasn't certain she could have spoken if he had, she didn't know anything about him other than he was gorgeous. And bleached his hair. Had a sexy British accent, but not like the accent that Giles had...

For all she knew, he could be well, he hadn't worn a wedding ring, so he probably wasn't married. Still, he probably had a girlfriend, or girlfriends, or who knows, this was California, maybe he had a boyfriend? Probably unlikely that he had a boyfriend, but... there would almost certainly be a someone. Even if, by some coincidence, he was uninvolved at the moment, that didn't mean she had a chance. He was this dangerous attractive older guy, and she was just this shy teenager. The whole idea was extremely unlikely.

She firmly told herself to listen to the poetry instead of have impossible fantasies about the sexy guy with the blue eyes that she didn't even know the name of. There would be plenty of time for fantasies later, like when she went to bed, or the next time Buffy was complaining about having to many guys in her life. Yeah, he was definitely the sort of guy you could fantasize about.

End part 10.

Angel was troubled. Dru was here in Sunnydale, and she had said that Spike was with here as well. The last remains of his family from his evil nights, here in Sunnydale for some strange purpose. He'd already had to kill Darla, his sire and longtime lover. He didn't know if he could bear to have to kill his children as well. Dru... he'd driven her insane, tortured and killed her family, made her a monster like he had been. She'd wanted to be a nun, but he'd destroyed that possibility for her.

As for Spike... he could remember the broken hearted young man they'd found staggering in an alley. The young man had clearly been from a good, if not wealthy family, and had later shown that he was a well-educated man. He had been a decent, if shy person, and they'd killed him, made him into a ruthless killer. What made it worse in Angel's mind was that it had all been done so that Dru would have a playmate. In his own dark and twisted way, Angelus had cared for them both.

He hoped desperately that he wouldn't have to fight them. They were all the family he had left... He had cared for them then, and he still did. He hadn't seen either of them since the night Darla had brought him a gypsy girl. He had been cursed with his soul, and fled into the night to wallow in guilt and despair. Suddenly, Angel stopped, a thought crossing his mind. How had Dru known about his soul?

While Angel was brooding about his blood stained past, Spike was watching Willow. Granted that he was pretending to be here to listen to the poetry, and he was actually hearing a goodly portion of the poetry and murmured commentary due to his vampire hearing, but that wasn't why he was really here. He was here because Willow was here. She was lovely, and he could see all the expressions crossing her face.

She kept sneaking glances at him when she thought he wasn't looking. He didn't know what she was thinking, but... she kept looking back, and a few times she was blushing when she looked away. He guessed that at the very least, she thought he looked interesting, and she was probably trying to figure him out. She hadn't talked to him, but she hadn't tried to retreat, hadn't gone away from him. She sat there, listening to poetry and sneaking looks at him. He managed not to wince at the current poet, some hopeful guy called Owen, with a poem about a sunshine girl. Reminded him a bit much about the man he used to be.

"He's not completely terrible. He's got it really bad for my friend... Not sure if he's told her yet, but he has all these feelings for her. I know he wrote that poem for her. And, umm quiet now."

Willow's soft voice brought him out of his mental comparison of this Owen and William. She had spoken to him, even if it was apparently in defense of the poet. Had his expression really been that unhappy? Hmmm... he was missing the important point here. She'd spoken to him. That had to be a good sign, if she spoke to him even a little, he could work with that.

"He just reminds me a bit much of this bloke I used to... know. He had a thing for this woman, wrote poetry about her, did the whole admiring from afar thing. He finally got up the nerve to let her know how he felt, and the bi... and she broke his heart. Brought up unhappy memories is all." He didn't want her to be worried that he didn't like being here. He offered a hasty explanation, editing the facts just a bit.

He watched as her eyes widened a bit, clearly thinking about how the poor, heartbroken poet must have felt. She looked interested, and sympathetic. She clearly showed the same generous kind nature that he had so adored in the Willow that he'd met so many years ago. He could also tell that she knew he had very bad opinion of the woman that had broken his... remember, his 'friend's heart.

"Ohhh.. that must have devastated him. Poor guy... holding his heart out to her only to see it crushed... I hope you were a good friend and helped him try to get over it? Ummm..." Willow had looked at him, her expressive eyes full of sympathy for his unfortunate friend. Then, after she'd asked if he'd helped his friend get over it, she seemed to remember that she was shy, and had crimsoned, and looked very intently at the edge of the table.

Oh, things were looking very promising.

End part 11.

Eventually, the poetry session had ended, and the crowd of people started crowding out the doors. Willow simply sat in her chair, waiting. She knew better than to try to push her way through the crowd to get to the exit any time soon. Besides, it was rather nice to sit here with the really attractive guy that she'd probably never see again. Once she left... or he left, depending on how impatient he was, she would probably not see him again. She wanted to savor his company as long as she could, pretending deep inside that he was sitting here with her because he wanted to, not just because all the other chairs were taken.

Eventually, the crowd thinned enough that she had no excuse to linger at the table any longer. Willow carefully stood up, wishing that her legs hadn't fallen asleep at the chair. She smiled tentatively at the guy, hoping that he hadn't just been nice out of boredom. "I guess... umm the poetry's over, I should really be going. It's been... umm it was good to meet you."

Blushing a bright red, Willow ducked her head, and practically scurried away, certain that he would know that she had been having her little fantasies about him, imagining that they had planned to meet, like a date. Imagining that he wanted her. Oh, he would certainly laugh at her if he had any idea of her thoughts, which was why she didn't intend for him to ever find out.

She left the coffee house, intending to just go home. Her parents were away, something about a conference that her mother wanted to attend, and her father wanting a 'romantic getaway'. She shuddered slightly at the thought. It wasn't that she hated her parents, but... one of the last things that she ever wanted to think about was the idea of her parents being romantic and passionate and eeewww. It was enough for her to know in the abstract that it had happened at least once.

Spike watched her leave, her eyes showing so many things. She'd been thinking things she didn't want him to know about again, he could tell from her embarrassed blushing. She was interested, but she didn't have any confidence in herself. She probably couldn't think of any reason why he'd want anything to do with her. To give her the credit she was due, if he was just a mortal guy like he appeared to be, he probably wouldn't notice her charms. He wouldn't appreciate the light of intelligence and curiosity in her eyes, wouldn't know how rare her compassion was. For this, it was better that he wasn't the mortal he seemed to be.

He knew how confident she could be. He remembered the capable woman she had become. He intended to help her become that capable, that confident. She would be his, his beautiful, capable beloved. Spike would make certain that she knew how appreciated she was, how wonderful and delightful he found her. He could take his time with this, act with a patience he seldom showed. Willow was well worth the wait.

He followed her, staying hidden in the shadows. He wanted to make certain that she made it safely to where ever it was she was going. He followed her as she made her way to a moderate sized two-story house, frowning slightly when he saw that the house was all dark. Not even the porch light was on. Wasn't there anyone waiting for her to come home? Nobody that cared if she made her trip safely or where she had been?

Spike had a number of things to ponder on his trip back to the factory. He had seen Willow walking with the slayer through the cemetery the other day. She had gone home to a dark house tonight. He hoped that the slayer wasn't the only person who cared about his Red. She deserved friends, and a caring family, and so much happiness in her life. It was almost looking like having a ruthless vampire interested in her was the best thing in her life right now.

Spike shook his head, thinking that if he kept dwelling on the shortcomings of those around Willow, he would only get himself depressed. Maybe Dru'd had a better night than he had? He could ask her, and then he wouldn't have to wonder what sort of parents just ignored the fact that their lovely teenage daughter had been out until after midnight.

End part 12.

Willow had dreamed pleasantly of her mystery man. Well, he wasn't hers, but... she had dreamed of him, the man that had sat and listened to poetry with her. They'd been really nice dreams, and the memory had helped her through the day at school. No matter how much Cordelia and her flock of minions insulted her, she had still dreamed of the man with the amazing blue eyes. Despite the fact that Xander had been grilling her on would Buffy like this or that, she had dreamed of a handsome dangerous man that had wanted her, in the dreams at least.

She'd been pulled out a bit by the distracted look on Buffy's face in history class. It was the look of something weird had happened, and she was bothered by it. So, Willow had passed her a note, asking what was wrong. Buffy had passed it back with words of a dark haired woman talking to Angel. Further question marks had gotten the information that the woman had been pretty, wearing a long pale gown. She might have been a vampire.

So, after school had ended for the day, Willow found herself in the library, searching through books with Buffy, tying to find a reference to the dark haired woman. Willow managed to get a book out of Giles locked section. It was a history of Angelus, years of observations of him and his family. Carefully, Willow began turning the pages, not really reading the information, just glancing over, looking for any information, like pictures of his former family.

She thought that if the dark haired maybe vampiress had sought out Angel, there had to be a reason for it. She had to have a specific reason to look for him, and Willow thought the most logical explanation would be a past history together. She turned the pages, and found a picture, a dark haired woman in an old fashioned dress. There was a name under it, Drusilla.

"Buffy? I found someone that kinda fits your description: dark hair, pretty. Can you come over here and see if this is her?"

Looking over Willow's shoulder, the blonde Slayer nodded. "Yea, that's her. Who is she? Why was she hanging all over Angel?"

Willow frowned slightly at the possessive tone in Buffy's voice. She didn't know that there was actually something going on between Buffy and Angel. "Her name's Drusilla. According to this, she's a childe of Angelus, and has some psychic abilities including clairvoyance, precognition, and she can hypnotize people if they look into her eyes."

"Right, psychic vampire chic. If I find her, I can slay her." Buffy looked particularly annoyed. She then smiled a bit. "Oh! I have a coffee date with Scott! You can pick up these books, right?" With barely a pause, and certainly no time for Willow to answer, the Slayer beamed. "You're the best, Wills!"

The slayer nearly skipped out of the library, leaving Willow to survey the scattered books with dismay. There were over a dozen of them. Speaking to the empty library, willow sighed. "Right, no problem at all." On an impulse, she kept the book about Angelus and his family to read through later.

Spike spent his time considering how to woo his Willow. He'd never needed to court people as a vampire, and he'd been a dismal failure at that sort of thing as a mortal, hadn't he? Hmm... Willow had seemed to think the whole writing poetry for your lady thing was romantic. Maybe if he... NO! He shuddered at the thought. He wouldn't go down that path again. No more writing bad poems for a woman. There had to be something else he could try.

Thinking intently on the matter, he remembered the more successful courting he'd seen in his mortal days. Sunlit walks in the park - out of the question for him. While he could do moonlight walks, he didn't think someone as shy as Willow seemed to be would be willing to go walking at night with somebody she'd just met. Flowers... well, maybe he could give her flowers. That normally went over well, flowers and pretty trinkets, and hmmm what had Dru always sworn by for a woman? Chocolate. Right, he could give her flowers, and work his way up to chocolates and trinkets.

He'd also listen to her, watch her to see what caught her fancy. It would be good for her to be the one someone listened to for a change. She deserved to have someone in her life. He intended to be that someone. Flowers, chocolates, and his eternal devotion. What more could a woman ask for?

He went to see how things had gone for Dru. She'd gone out seeking her Angel several more times. Maybe if he listened to her efforts, it would give him something else to worry about besides his own. Maybe she could tell him about this soul business while he was there.

End part 13.

Angel spent the weekend nights trying to find the place where Dru and Spike were staying. They had to have a lair in the Sunnydale area, and if he could find it, it might help him know what was going on, why they had come here. There had to be a plan, it couldn't have simply been coincidence that had brought them here, to the Hellmouth, where he had been helping the Slayer, helping Buffy fight danger.

To his frustration, he hadn't found their lair, but he'd run into Drusilla again. They'd spoke a bit, and she'd warned him to beware the dragon, saying that it wanted to eat up his soul. She seemed deeper into herself, less in touch with the normal world than he remembered her being. He wasn't certain what she meant by this talk of a dragon, but perhaps he'd best ask Giles to help him look into the matter just in case.

The weekend passed quickly for Willow, and without anything of particular interest happening beyond her repeated dreams about the man at the poetry reading. She made a mental note to herself to be sure to make it to the Tuesday reading in case he came back, and to try to wear something pretty. Then, she settled onto her bed to daydream about him for a bit, to replay in her head everything about him.

Monday was a typical day at school. Xander was still trying to figure out how to convince Buffy to go out with him. Cordelia was her normal self. Owen gave Buffy a book of poetry to read in an effort to gain more of her attention. Buffy was still all bent out of shape because she had seen Dru again over the weekend, but she hadn't been able to get close enough to try to slay her. It was easy to see that Buffy was jealous. Not only had Buffy seen Dru, she hadn't seen Angel at all over the weekend.

Giles asked her to stay after school, it seemed there was something with the computer he wanted her to help with. Willow thought he probably meant demony research, and didn't want to say so in front of other people. She showed up after school, wandering into the library. Angel was there, talking to Giles in the shadows of his office. The new thing to research must be what brought Angel here, was it a prophecy? Evil nasty thing?

"Giles, Angel... umm hi. You wanted me to help with some research?" She wasn't certain what she could do, but maybe once she found out what the matter was, she could help.

Giles was the first to reply. "Ahh... it seems that someone said something that concerned Angel a great deal. Can you look up dragons on the computer, possibly with a cross reference to eating souls?"

Willow could feel her eyes go wide at Giles words. "Eating a soul? Is that even possible... are there really things out there that can do that?" She moved to the computer and began researching. Every so often, she'd glance over, and she could see Giles and Angel looking through books. Things continued this way for several hours.

"Umm, guys? I'm not finding anything dragony that's supposed to eat or remove souls. Angel, where did you hear this whatever you heard? Maybe it's not a dragon, like the animal, but maybe something using a dragon emblem or something? Maybe someone calling themself Dragon?"

Giles took his glasses of and cleaned them, obviously considering her words. "You may have a point. Dragons have long been used and emblems or symbols of power in many societies around the globe, it's quite possible that the dragon in question could be an insignia."

Angel looked very quiet, and finally spoke. "I heard it from Drusilla. She's... she was one of the favored childer of Angelus, and she has... gifts. She's also a bit insane. The dragon could be a metaphor for someone, and not even the actual danger. She said she her doll told her to come here before the dragon could eat my shiny soul."

Willow thought about that. She knew that Dru was in the area, she'd helped Buffy look her up. "Angel? Maybe the dragon isn't the only metaphor in her words. What if... well, you said that the gypsies gave you back your soul, that that was why you were one of the good guys. Could the dragon eating your soul be a warning that something could beak the soul spell, and you'd be... umm soul-less again?"

Both men looked startled at the idea, and Angel looked pained. Possibly at the idea of losing his soul, possibly at the reminder of why he'd been cursed with it to begin with. Willow could tell that he was brooding again. Giles looked horrified at the thought. Neither of them said that her idea was impossible.

"That's as good a possibility as any other. Dru's not quite all there, and she seems a bit farther from normal than she used to be. I could always try to get her to tell me more if I run into her again." Angel looked worried, and he had every reason to be.

If there was some dangerous creature that would eat his soul, that would have to be painful. If it was some sorcerer or demon called dragon, or using a dragon seal that would do something to his soul, again it would probably hurt and possibly kill him. If it was his soul leaving... maybe Willow had better read that book about Angelus soon.

She sighed. Maybe she wouldn't be able to go to that poetry reading tomorrow after all. And she'd been hoping to see blond and dangerous again. Sometimes, life just wasn't fair.

End part 14.