Part Eleven

Giles limped toward the ice cream parlor, trying to concentrate on his "injuries" and not on the fact that that berk Kyle had his arm around Willow. Giles held his left arm close to his body as though cradling his shoulder.

He actually had to groan to get their attention.

Willow's eyes went wild as she shucked the damned boy and ran to his side. "Ruuuu---pert Giles! What happened to you?" she asked as she took him gently by his arm.

Giles smiled gamely and sighed painfully. "The puppies," he gasped.

Buffy came to his aid, taking the other arm and helping him to a chair. "Oh, God!"

"Are you all right?" Willow asked, her hands gently running over his bare shoulder.

Giles sharp intake of breath appeared to be pain, rather than the pleasurable shudder he always felt at Willow's touch.

"Oh, Giles. I'm sorry. I thought..." Buffy sputtered, her faced creased with remorse. "I didn't think. I just wanted a nice night with... But that's not important. I am so sorry."

Her face was contorted from guilt, and Giles felt a pang himself.

"Puppies did this?" Kyle asked incredulously.

Giles' guilt disappeared in a wave of disdain. He ignored the comment and turned to Buffy. "You and Finn had better go make sure there aren't any more---incidents."

"How many were there?" Riley said, his military training coming to the fore.

Giles shrugged and then seemed to remember his shoulder was supposed to be hurt and slumped back in his chair. Buffy was too busy looking at Riley, silently exchanging strategy to notice. But Willow did, and her eyes narrowed. Was he still...

"I... I c-can't be sure," Giles stuttered. "There were too... I-I... don't know."

"Don't worry, Giles," Buffy said. "We'll deal."

That clinched it for Willow. Giles was nothing if not incredibly observant. He'd never send Buffy into a dangerous situation without every bit of information available.

"You ready?" Buffy asked Riley. He nodded.

"Wills, you'll take care of Giles?" Buffy asked concerned.

Willow smiled. "I'll take care of him all right," she said with a smirk. 'And his blonde partner, too; wherever he's lurking,' she thought grimly.

"Good, I'll see you back at dorm later. Of course, later depends on the... puppies." She glanced at Kyle. "And things."

"We'll be fine, "Willow assured her. Buffy nodded and with one last forlorn look at Giles, she and Riley headed off for the park.

"Uhm," Kyle said uneasily. "I'm confused."

"No doubt," Giles muttered derisively.

"I'll explain it all to you later," Willow said sweetly without looking at Kyle. She then scowled at Giles. "After MISTER Giles goes home. You should run along home and take care of your, um, wounds. Puppy," the word dripped sarcasm, "bites could turn nasty."

'Uh oh, we're made,' thought Spike, watching from the bushes.

"Willow!" Giles spat.

"Yes?" she said sweetly as she sat back down and deliberately took hold of Kyle's hand. He gave her a short smile, before turning back to look at Giles, his brow wrinkled in confusion. Something was going on with these two, but he couldn't figure what.

Giles' eyes went dark. "If you're so concerned about my bites, you can come with me and help."

"Oh," she said, "I'm sure you'll do just fine without me. Tonight." Her tone was sharp. "After all, it's not like don't have someone at home who could help you."

"Willow," he growled.

"I do think you'd better go home, Mr. Giles," Kyle said a bit uncertainly.

"Oh, do you?" Giles answered, his eyes growing colder by the second.

"Y-yes, you seem awfully upset," the boy said shakily.

Giles grinned wickedly.

"Giles..." Willow said tightly. Giles seemed to forget that Willow didn't get angry often, but when she did - look out. He was completely focused in on what he considered the bete noir of this evening.

"You gonna make me?" Giles said mockingly to Kyle. Kyle flinched back, and Willow glared, once again, at Giles.

"W-what? No, I was just agreeing with... I--I mean... You... you're acting kinda..." He trailed off not sure what to do. He turned to Willow, pulling her close. "Is he... you know... like, not right? Maybe the puppies were rabid? I saw that once, on Dr. Quinn."

"What did you say?" Giles snapped - spoiling for a fight. "You think I'm crazy?" His eyes were wild. "Hmmm?"

In the bushes, Spike groaned. "Christ. What the hell does he think he's playing at?"

"You wanna piece of me?" Giles asked tauntingly.

"Ohhh," Spike smacked himself on the forehead. "And they say I'm the violent one! Humans - it's all about the hormones." He knew he had to do something, and fast.

"Giles," Willow ground out.

"There you are!" Spike said brightly, sprinting up to the trio.

"You!" Kyle said, springing to his feet and pulling Willow behind him.

Spike shrugged and smiled. "Oh, hello. The cinema, right? Sorry about that."

"Sorry about what?" Willow asked, trying to get out from behind Kyle.

"The theater. He's the reason I got kicked out," Kyle said angrily.

"I'm truly sorry," Spike said with a grin. "I was... well. Rupert," he said in scolding tone. "Have you been bothering this nice man?"

"Me?" Giles gasped. "What the--"

Spike patted his shoulder soothingly and turned back to Kyle. "I'm sorry. But he is a handful and well, my temper was short..." He shook his head and grinned sheepishly in apology.

"Oh," Kyle said. "You mean you're his... and he IS..." he gestured toward Giles. "I see," he added, nodding knowingly.

If she weren't still so mad at them both, Willow probably would have fallen on the floor laughing. Escaped mental patient, Rupert Giles, and his keeper Spike, the Vampire.

Spike smiled with a sweetness to beat the band. "There's a good lad."

Giles rolled his eyes and slumped down into his chair with a loud grunt.

Kyle flinched nervously.

Giles bared his teeth and growled.

"Stop that," Spike commanded and then leaned down to make sure Giles was following his meaning. "You've done enough for one night."

Giles sighed. He knew they were deep in it, but this idiot boy was grating on his nerves. "He's not so bad really," Spike said patting Giles dismissively. "What was all that about the puppies?" the young man asked uneasily.

"Oh, um... Well, once he was attacked while treating a poodle for dyspepsia... quite an ugly scene..." Spike shrugged helplessly, improvising wildly. "Left him a bit... nervous."

Willow couldn't help it - a small burst of laughter escaped her lips.

"Are you all right?" Kyle asked, his arm going around her shoulders and pulling her body close to his. Giles started to growl again. Spike fought to keep his game face off. "Oh, I'm fine, thank you," Willow said, managing to contain herself. She looked pointedly at Spike. "And I'm sure you will take care of Mr. Giles." She turned her glare on the Watcher. "Because if he doesn't, I will. I'll have to take care of them both." Each man heard the threat in her voice; only Kyle misunderstood it. "Good," Kyle said with a smile. "I guess I should take you home." "Perfect," Spike said, eager to get out of there with the least damage done. "Come along, Rupert." "Unless you'd like to get a drink or something?" Kyle amended. Giles jumped to his feet. "She bloody well-" Spike clamped a hand over the Watcher's mouth and tried to smile.

"Drinking problem," Spike explained brightly.

"Oh," Kyle said nodding his head, but not quite understanding. "He's got a lot of problems, huh?"

Giles' eyes were like fire as they bore into Kyle.

"You have *no* idea," said Spike, rolling his eyes.

Willow shook her head. "More are apparent every minute." She cast a quick glare at Giles before turning back to Kyle. "You said something about a... drink?"

Kyle grinned stupidly. "Yeah. Uhm, there's a full bar back at the frat house."

"No fucking --" Giles yelled.

Spike clamped his hand over Giles' mouth again and shrugged. "Tourettes," he offered. Hey, he was getting pretty good at this.

"The frat house sounds perfect!" Willow beamed.

Spike grinned painfully as he held onto Rupert. "Lovely," he ground out. "Just bloody lovely."

"Well, it was nice meeting you... uhm… I never did catch your name," Kyle said uneasily.


Kyle extended his hand. Spike shook it, but Kyle pulled back quickly. "Your hand's cold."

"Cold hands, warm heart," Spike said, looking at Willow.

"Goodnight, William," Willow said evenly, ignoring his overture, and then cast a disgusted look at Giles. "Mister Giles."

"Drive carefully," Spike said as they turned and disappeared up the street.

Both men watched Willow walk off with another man.

Giles grunted and turned to Spike. "Drive carefully?"

"Don't start Watcher. We wouldn't be in this mess if it weren't for you," Spike spat. "ME?"

"I've seen better acting in porn movies."

"You could have done better, I suppose?"

"In a heartbeat... or... At least I could have kept my head... 'You wanna piece of me?'" Spike shook his head in disdain. "Pathetic. All you had to do was tell them there was trouble in the park, but you couldn't leave it at that, could you?"

Giles tried to opened his mouth, but Spike just steamrolled on, "Noooo, you had to overplay it. Had to act like you'd just been let out of Bedlam. Humans!" He threw his hands up into the air and stalked away. Giles trailed behind, trying defend himself.

"H-he was touching her, how was I supposed to act?"

"Like an adult, not some hormonally over-driven adolescent. You acted..." he squished up his face in disgust. "Like Xander."

"There's no need to be insulting..." The sounds of the argument drifted into the air as the two men headed homewards.

Part Twelve

It was the middle of the afternoon before Willow showed up at the apartment, as she had classes that day. Unfortunately, it gave Giles enough time to reflect. Time to reflect on his actions. Time to reflect on Spike's actions. And time to reflect on Willow's actions. And where did all this reflection take him? To the realization that, as Spike insisted, they'd gone too far? No. That if only they had waited, it all would have come out fine? No. Of course not. Giles is an intelligent, compassionate, sympathetic man. Key word: man. Thus, by mid-afternoon, Giles had managed to talk himself into believing that this was all Willow's fault. After all...

If she had stood up to Buffy. Or if she hadn't so obviously enjoyed her date. Or if she had just left that boy at the theater. Or if she had the good sense to go with them at the ice cream parlor. 'If only she had been more reasonable. None of this would have happened,' he thought piously.

'Why did I get involved with these humans?' Spike thought, watching Giles pace and mutter to himself. 'They've ruined me. Here I am. Spike. Spike! The baddest. The baddest of the bad. Sitting here biting my nails over what one little girl is going to do to me. One incredibly beautiful, ANGRY little girl. And this idiot,' he shot a glare at Giles' roving form, 'this idiot is just going to make it worse. I can tell. Prat.'

So when she came in, Willow was confronted by one moderately apprehensive vampire and one slightly ticked off Englishman. She looked at them both coolly. Then she turned and locked the front door. This, the usual signal that wild monkey sex was about to follow, seemed somehow ominous to Spike. Giles ignored the gesture completely.

"Where the hell have you been?" he asked annoyed. "Your last class was over two hours ago."

Willow ignored his question and stood by the dining table. "Each of you grab a chair," she pointed at them and then the chairs, "And follow me." She headed right up the stairs. Spike, having at least 100 years more experience than the Watcher dealing with a brassed-off woman, grabbed a chair and followed Willow up the stairs.

"What? Willow, are you going to..." Giles asked confused.

"Grab a chair, shut your gob and let's go," Spike advised him tersely.

"I don't see why I--"

"Grab a chair and get up here." She smiled grimly. "If you ever want to see me again."

"Pick up the damn chair," rapped out Spike. He hoped Giles wasn't going to blow it for the both of them. Giles shrugged and grabbed a chair.

When Giles got to the bedroom, Spike was putting the chair where Willow indicated. Willow looked at Giles and pointed to a spot right next to it, apparently for the chair he had in his hands. He looked at her warily. She had on her resolve face. It was the most resolved resolve face he'd ever seen. Willow looked at them both and said, "Strip." Spike did so immediately - Giles again lagging behind.

'Ohhh,' though Giles, his confidence, among other things, rising, 'She's gonna try to make up for last night.' He immediately got a cocky grin on his face and stripped more quickly.

"Sit," she said when both were done. Going to Giles first, Willow knelt behind the chair and opened her shoulder bag. Before he could figure out what was going on, he felt cool metal on his wrists and heard a firm snick. She had handcuffed his arms behind the chair.

"What the devil, do you..." he started, when with equal quickness she tied both of his ankles to the legs of the chair with leather straps. He was immobile. He was naked and immobile in one of his dining room chairs.

"Willow, what the hell do you think you're doing?" Giles asked indignantly. Spike didn't even ask when she got up and came over to him. His hands went behind the chair, and he put his feet up against the legs of the chair. In just a few moments, he was bound as well.

Spike had realized right off that this was going to be a payback for the two of them being, what was that American phrase Xander always used, oh yes, complete dorks last night. The only question was, would it be a punishment he'd enjoy or not?

Admittedly, his temper had gotten the better of him at the restaurant and cinema. But the amusing thing to Spike was that he'd managed to control it better than the Watcher. He was slowly beginning to learn that when it came to Willow, the Watcher had a lot less control than he liked to think.

When she had both of them tied up, she went to the bed and sat down on the edge. For a long moment she simply looked at them both.

"Willow, I'm not sure what you think--" Giles started.

"Shut up, Ripper," Spike warned.

Giles subsided into silence, a frown on his face.

"Last night," said Willow, "Was a complete and utter fiasco. And do you know why?" Spike raised an eyebrow, but Giles started to open his mouth. "That was a rhetorical question, Rupert." He closed his mouth again. "It was a fiasco because neither of you have any patience. If you had just had a little patience, I could have gone on the stupid date. I could have dealt with Kyle and then I could have finished the evening with you two."

Willow glared at them both. "If either of you had been thinking with this," she tapped the side of her head, "instead of those," she pointed to the relevant male anatomy. "You wouldn't be in trouble now."

Spike got a sly grin; he readily admitted that it wasn't his brain that went into overdrive last night. As for the genius watcher... Always thinking, ha! That didn't half make him laugh. Willow + sex = bananas for brains in the case of Rupert Giles.

Giles was reluctantly coming to the conclusion that she was right about what part of his anatomy had been in control. 'Damn,' he thought. 'Spike was right. I hate it when that happens.'

"So, you are going to learn patience. The hard way." She ran her hands over her torso, "This is what you wanted. Well, this is what you *don't* get when you act like that." Willow toed off her shoes.

"You two seem to like to play games. So we're going to play one now. My game, my rules, and here are the rules." She took off her socks.

"You can only speak when I say you can. If you say something without permission, one more day without me." She took off her top.

"Keep your eyes open and on me. If you close your eyes, one more day without me." She removed her skirt.

"You have to pay attention. If I feel that you didn't learn your lesson, we'll just have to do this again. Tomorrow." She removed her bra. She didn't have to worry at the moment about where their eyes were.

"And it'll be one more day without me." She removed her panties and stood before them naked.

"You say this is not punishment!?" burst out Spike. "This is gonna be torture."

"That's kind of the point," agreed Willow. "If you don't play nice, you don't get to play at all. And remember, no talking."

Willow opened her bag, stood, and pulled out a bottle of massage oil. She poured some carefully into her hand and began to slowly rubbing her palms together, warming the oil. Sensually, she rubbed it into her arms and hands. Then she moved to her shoulders. She turned and twisted and reached over her shoulders. Then she poured out more and worked on her legs. Over and around her feet and through her toes. Up her calf, into the back of the knee, all over her thighs. The two men were mesmerized. She massaged oil allover her bottom and the small of her back. Up and around her soft, smooth belly. She poured out some more and sitting down on the edge of the bed, facing them, began to massage her breasts.

"Oh yeah," she suddenly spoke. "I forgot the last rule. If you come before I say you can... that's one more day, each." She raised an eyebrow at them, and they both nodded furiously.

She then began rubbing, manipulating, kneading and slowly, slowly her nipples began to peak. She started to concentrate on them. Taking a deep breath, her eyes half-closed, brushing circles over her tight little buds. She teased them to hardness, and one hand started to creep across her stomach to her damp curls. She drew her fingers lightly on her skin, shivering as goose bumps were raised.

She grinned as she heard both men groan, their erections already straining.

She finally reached the apex of her thighs. Slowly lowering her hand, she stroked herself once lightly. Her mouth opened more, and she started to breathe harder. Both men were also breathing rather hoarsely at this point. Then she began rubbing herself up and down incredibly slowly. Her other hand continued to stroke her breasts, moving from one to the other.

After a few moments, she opened her eyes fully and making sure they both were looking clearly probed her and then plunged a finger in. She groaned softly, as did both men. She then brought her glistening finger out. Dripping with her own juices, she looked at her finger. She looked at the two of them. With a feral smile, she brought her finger to her lips, and delicately, daintily licked the finger clean.

Both Spike and Giles found themselves so tight and hard it was everything they could do not to come right then. Giles started to close his eyes.

"Ah, ah, ah," chided Willow. "Are you closing your eyes, Rupert? That would be one day." His eyes popped open.

She shook her head and Giles groaned. "Aren't you in control of yourself? Aren't you always telling me that" an adult," her tone was quite sarcastic, "is always in control? Look at Spike, he's doing all right." Giles snarled.

Spike's eyes got savage, and his game face came out. "You're killing me, and you know it."

"Tsk-tsk, Spike. One day for you, too." She laughed.

Their cocks were straining upwards, pre-cum glistening on the tips. Eyes dilated, focused solely on Willow's hand as it made its way back to her cleft. She slid her finger back in and maneuvering her thumb over her clit, she began to rock her hand on her center. After a few moments, she pushed in her second finger. Pressing and stroking her thumb over her nubbin she worked it in circles. "Mmmm, that feels so good," she sighed.

Then she removed her hand and got up from the bed. Swaying her hips, she slowly walked over to Giles. His eyes were shining with passion. She grinned down at him, admiring his straining erection. "Mmmm," she purred as she reached out almost touching him. His cock surged toward her hand and she grinned slyly. "Want to touch me?"

"Yes," he rasped.

Willow arched an eyebrow and moved closer. She leaned over Giles and placed her mouth barely an inch away from Giles' ear. Giles' breath came faster the closer she came. "If only you'd behaved, Rupert," she cooed. Straightening, she reached out and ran her fingers tantalizingly along his thigh, stopping just short of his hip. She loved the way he responded even to her simplest touch.

Slowly, she straddled his thigh, careful not to touch him.

"Willow," Spike growled.

"Spike. When will you learn?" she admonished. "Another day."

Giles would have grinned at Spike's loss, but he couldn't take his eyes of Willow's body, so close and yet untouchable. Her skin shining with the oils, hovering just above him.

Willow turned back to the Watcher, and he met her eyes.

She reached out her hand again, barely touching his stomach, Giles gasped. Her nimble fingers ran up his chest and neck, finally dipping into his mouth. He eagerly took her finger, suckling it, tasting her arousal. Far too soon, Willow took back her finger and grinned, slowly slipping it back inside her. Her soft moan was drowned out by Giles' loud groan.

Spike could barely contain himself. He could feel his muscles constricting, his hands clenching as he fought down the desire to break his bonds and throw her against the wall and take her savagely.

Willow continued to rub her sex, still standing just above Giles' leg. "Mmmm," she moaned with a small smile. "Feels soooo good." She grinned and removed her hand, her eyes boring into his.

With agonizing slowness, she lowered herself down, finally her wet center touching the heated skin of his thigh.

"Oh, God," he rasped.

"Another day, Rupert," she said casually. At this point he was barely conscious, he'd deal with the consequences later, all he wanted was to feel her.

In a slow, sensual rhythm, Willow rubbed her wet sex along the length of his thigh. Giles groaned, his face twisted in agonized pleasure.

Willow moaned at the feel of his coarse hairs and taut muscles rubbing along her. Her own arousal made the movements slick, and she quickened her pace.

Feeling her own orgasm nearing and knowing he simply couldn't take any more, Willow pulled away from Giles. The poor Watcher was panting with the effort it took to maintain his control.

She grinned and walked casually over Spike.

"Poor dear, is it painful?" she cooed.

"Bloody right it is," he ground out.

She sighed and knelt down in front of him, her face inches from his erection. She smiled and leaned down nearly to the floor, and licked his calf. Spike let out a long breath. Slowly, she licked her way up his leg, lingering on the inside of his knee. She moved to the other leg and ran her warm tongue along his inner thigh, sensing the throbbing of his cock, the tautening of his muscles.

Willow pulled away and gazed up into his glazed eyes. She leaned forward and blew a gentle warm breath across the burning skin of his erection. He threw his head back and gritted his teeth.

"Unnhhh," Giles grunted as he clenched his jaw. She'd better release them soon or he was going to go mad.

Willow smiled to herself and moved just that much closer to Spike's beautiful cock. She let another hot breath escape her lips and caress the silky skin.

"Gggghhh," he rasped. It was nearly too much to bear. She opened her mouth wide, letting it hover just above the engorged head, her warm breath continuing to play over his cock. With each pass he surged toward her, vainly trying to touch her. With a grin, Willow licked a long wet swath up the length of his erection before pulling away.

You don't fool around with an ex-sorcerer and a vampire without learning something about how to torture men with your body! Willow sat back and grinned at her two men. Their eyes were black withed, their cocks aching for her touch, but they hadn't come. They were straining against their instincts, trying to please her. Good, maybe they were learning.

Spike's eyes went wide as he barely managed not to come. Willow knew she had to end this soon or his demon would win the battle and stealing a glance at Giles... perhaps his demons, too.

With a wicked grin, she stood and walked back over the bed. She met their eyes in turn and began to massage her aching breasts again, the nipples hard peaks. She let out soft whimpers as one hand strayed down between her legs. She teased herself, brushing against the sensitive clit, and pinching her nipples.

With a shuddering moan, she plunged a finger deep inside herself and rubbed her clit furiously. She gasped for air as her muscles began to constrict. She released her breast and pinched her clit, pushing herself over the edge. "Come with me!" she cried.

Both men grunted in unison. Spike's head fell forward as his orgasm surged through him. Giles threw his head back as he felt the rush of release.

"Ohhhh," she sighed as the pulsing spasms began to subside, the waves became a gentle caress.

By the time they got their eyes open again, Willow was on her feet and heading for the bathroom. Soon there was the sound of splashing water. They both slowly regained control of their breathing. Willow emerged from the bathroom and started getting dressed again.

"All right. Have you both learned your lesson?" They both nodded quickly. Too quickly.

"Yes, yes," said Giles impatiently. "Will you please untie us now?"

"Yeah," added Spike. "We'd like to get cleaned up."

"Nooooo, I don't think so," she said regretfully. "You still seem a bit, mmm, impatient. I think you need to sit here for a little while and work on that patience thing." She finished slipping on her shoes and slung her bag over her shoulder.

"Hey!" Spike yelped again. "You can't leave us like this!" Willow smirked as she looked at the two men in her life. Naked. Tied to chairs. She kinda liked 'em like this.

"Actually, I can. Decide whether you ever want to go through this again, hmmmm. Decide if you *ever* want to get near me again." She looked at them sternly. "I'll be back." She walked down the stairs.

"Willow!" yelled Giles.

"Will-llow!" echoed Spike.

"Patience," they heard float up the stairs as the front door opened and then closed firmly.

"How long is she going to leave us like this!" exclaimed Giles.

"I don't know that, but I do know one thing. This is all your fault!" accused Spike.


"Yeah, you. I told you last night..."

"Oh don't start about last night. I was wrong, okay. I admit it. I let my jealousy get the better of my good sense." Spike stared at Giles in astonishment. The Watcher - admitting he was wrong! It was, it was a "dear diary" moment.

Giles continued, "I keep thinking, wondering why she'd be with us. A old man and," with a twisted smile at Spike, "a dead man."

"Well, I think we have a slight advantage over the rest of the guys in her life. They're prats. We're a couple of, you know, real bad asses."

"Yeah, a couple of real bad asses tied to chairs, naked."

"There is that." Silence fell as the two men contemplated how they got into this mess.

"I wonder how long she's planning on being gone." Giles broke the silence

"I don't know," answered Spike.

"You know," Giles said with a speculative look at Spike. "You're strong enough, really. You could just break the chair and be free."

"Um, One - If she left us like this, I'm thinking we should be like this when she gets back and Two - You're gonna let me start breaking your furniture?"


"Who's that?" said Giles nervously.

"I don't know. Why do you keep asking me?" responded Spike, petulantly. "How the hell would I know? Maybe Willow forgot..." but before he could finish the sentence, they both heard the sound of the door opening, followed shortly by the sound that made both of them freeze.

"Gii-iiillles," sang out Buffy.

"No, no-no-no," Spike groaned. Giles glared him into silence.

"Giles, are you here?" They heard the sound of movement downstairs. Giles closed his eyes and began praying to any god he could remember. 'Please do not let her come upstairs. Please do not let her come upstairs.'

"Are you upstairs?" Buffy called out, her voice getting louder.


Part Thirteen

Spike just stared at the stairs in calculation. If she came up here... and found them like this... what were the chances of his survival? Somewhere between slim and pile of dust. His brain worked frantically. The naked thing - they could explain that, right? Think - think - think... Aha! Sex demon!

"Sex demon," he hissed urgently to Giles.

"What?" Giles whispered.

"Sex demon, we can say--"

"For Christ's sake, shut your bleedin' gob," Giles growled.

"Giles? Where is he?" They heard Buffy mutter to herself. "Didn't he tell me to meet him here this afternoon?"

Spike turned to glare at Giles, who could only smile feebly and shrug his shoulders. 'I forgot,' he mouthed to Spike. He continued mouthing, 'It was a week ago - who knew she'd remember?' Spike shook his head. He hadn't gotten anything beyond "It was." 'What?' he mouthed back.

Giles started again more slowly, 'It - was - a - week - '

Spike just rolled his eyes. 'Who cares!?' he mouthed in a mock shout.

"Giles?" With dismay, they realized Buffy was coming closer to the stairs. Just as both men heard the creak on the stairs, there came the blissful sound of the front door opening again.

"Buffy!" shouted Willow.

"Agh!" shouted Buffy in response. "Jeez, Wills. Give me a heart attack."

"What are you doing!?" said Willow in an only slightly moderated tone.

"Looking for Giles," she responded. The guys heard the stairs creak again. "Do you think he's up..."

"NO!" shouted Willow again. "I mean, no. He'd have heard you by now. Heard us. You and me - us. That us, not-- not that there would be any other us," she babbled.

"Yeah," said Buffy with a confused frown. "What are you doing here anyway?"

"Nothing! I mean, of course, I was doing something," Willow said quickly with a nearly hysterical giggle and began to blush, remembering just what something she had been doing. "But I'm done now. Not doing anything now. Nope. Nothing being done here."

"I wonder what happened to him?" asked Buffy.

"Probably just got tied up," Willow said and then let out with another panicked laugh.

Buffy frowned. "You okay, Willow? You're acting kind weird. You didn't have any coffee did you?"

Willow nodded frantically. "Coffee. I did! They-they said it was decaf. But I'm thinking now. It-it wasn't... Decaf. Not decaf at all," she finished hopefully.

Buffy sighed. "What are we gonna do with you?"

Willow smiled weakly. The question was what *they* going to do *to* her. She never thought Buffy would drop by unexpectedly. Oh, Goddess. What if she'd found them! Like *that*! She blushed again.

"If you find Giles," Buffy said. "Tell him I was here, and he wasn't. You're my witness. Let it be on his head," Buffy said haughtily and then frowned a bit. "Whatever it is."

Willow's smile gained a little strength as the Slayer headed for the door.

"You wanna Bronze it tonight?" Buffy asked. "Riley and I are gonna Slay n' Play."

"Thanks, but... I-I've got stuff," Willow answered.

"Okey-doke. Smell ya later," Buffy said as she exited.

Willow let out a long breath, peered through the peephole, and watched Buffy walk down the path.

Once she was sure she was gone, Willow re-locked the door and sprinted up the steps and into the bedroom.

Spike gasped. "Thank God," he said in relief, once he realized it was Willow.

"Damnit Willow," Giles moaned. "Do you have any idea what this little game of yours almost cost us?"

"I'm so sorry," Willow said as she quickly set about untying her lovers. "I had no idea she was coming over. I swear, I never would have left."

"My entire unlife flashed before my eyes when I heard her come in," Spike said as she released him. "Not half bad really," he added with a cocky grin.

Willow smiled ruefully and touched his cheek.

"Willow," Giles said meaningfully.

"Sorry," Willow said ducking her head nervously. She moved to Giles and untied his wrist. "I had no idea, Rupert."

"But *he* did," Spike said as he stretched. Willow cocked her head to the side. "He invited her... old addlepated sod forgot."

"I did not forget!" Giles snapped and turned to Willow, but the sad look in her eyes melted him immediately. "All right, I did forget, but I was somewhat distracted." He gave her a rueful grin.

"I know. I'm sorry," Willow said sadly, her voice beginning to quaver. "This is all my fault. I was just going to be gone for a few minutes. When I think..." she trailed of her lip trembling.

"Oh, nicely done," Spike ground out as he glared at the Watcher. He lifted Willow to her feet and held her in a loose embrace. "S'alright, pet. No harm done."

"But what if she'd found you. Like that?" she wailed pointing to the chairs as her tears came.

"There, there," Spike cooed as he held her close and cast a pointed stare at Giles. "I'm the sorry one, pet.... ask anybody," he added with a grin.

Willow tried to smile, but couldn't seem to manage it. Her eyes were filled with sadness.

Rupert winced. He had forgotten what a keen sense of responsibility she had for everything. Willow was always the one to take the blame, whether it was her fault or not. Just to let the ones she cared about off the hook.

"Willow, honey, don't cry," Giles said quickly. "It... It was entirely our fault. I-If I, um, if we hadn't behaved so immaturely none of this would have happened."

Willow lifted her head from Spike's shoulder and looked at him hopefully.

"And if I hadn't forgotten about my appointment with Buffy... Really, this is all my fault." Giles smiled and pulled her into his arms. "Shhh, no reason to cry, love."

"Hey!" Spike said as she left his embrace.

Giles kissed her cheek and tenderly wiped away her tears. "Oh, sweetheart. I'm sorry."

"I'm s-sorry too," Willow said softly.

Giles bent his head down and caught her in a gentle kiss. The feel of her soft lips on his pushed everything away, and he felt the familiar stirrings of arousal. Instinctively, he deepened the kiss.

"I said I was sorry first!" Spike cried. He watched with growing jealousy and, well other things were growing, too. "Isn't he supposed to be being punished?" he asked stepping closer.

Willow and Giles apparently didn't hear him.

Spike reached out and pulled them apart. "He's on double secret sex probation or something, isn't he? Two days without a tumble?"

Giles growled at Spike and tried to pull Willow back against his body. "Starts tomorrow," Giles murmured as he nibbled on Willow's neck.

"Mmmm, Rupert," Willow sighed. Giles' mouth was making it so hard to concentrate.

Spike pulled Willow back into his own arms. "He's sorry. You're sorry. But damn it... I was sorry first!" He swung Willow around so that his back was to Giles.

"That's true," Willow agreed, as Spike ran his hands sensually up and down her arms.

Spike grinned and pressed his newfound advantage. "And the Watcher broke the rules, so he doesn't get to touch you for two days." He leered theatrically at her and bent for a kiss, "So you'll just have to make do with me."

"I know I sa---" Willow started as Spike's cool tongue in her mouth muffled her words and drove all coherent thought from her brain.

Giles nearly stamped his foot in frustration. He'd been the one to take the blame, why wasn't he getting the reward? He reached for Willow but Spike, never once breaking the kiss, managed to twist her out of his reach.

"Hey!" Giles exclaimed.

Spike raised his head slightly and grinned, "You were the bad boy, now bugger off."

"That punishment doesn't start until tomorrow," Giles stated.

"Just how to do you figure that, mate?" asked Spike. "She said if you talk, nothing for 24 hours, and you talked. She said don't close your eyes or nothing for 24 hours, and you closed your eyes. That's two days with nothing. So, go downstairs like a good little Watcher and research something, why don't you?" Spike made a brushing off gesture with his hand.

Giles grabbed it and managed to turn Spike towards him.

"The no-touching starts tomorrow." Giles frowned at Spike.

"Oh don't be daft," retorted Spike. "She said 24 hours without her." By now, Spike had let go of Willow to argue this face to face with his nemesis. Willow sat on the bed trying to stifle her giggles.

"Starting tomorrow." Giles reiterated.

"Starting today! Where do you keep getting this starting tomorrow stuff?"

"She said 24 hours."


"So that's tomorrow."

"Gawd, no! And you're supposed to be the smart one. That's 24 hours *from* today."

"It's 24 hours *after* today."

"FROM today. It's starts *today*."

"Okay fine, it starts today," Giles said. Spike grinned. "However *you*," Giles poked Spike in the chest, "also talked. You talked twice. So you're on probation as well."

"Am not!"

"Are too!"

"Am NOT!" Spike threw his hands up in the air in exasperation. After briefly glaring at each other, they both turned towards the bed and started to whine in unison.

"Will-l-l...." they trailed off.

Willow was lying provocatively on the bed. Her clothing had been discarded, and the only thing she was wearing was an engaging grin.

"Enough with the arguing," she said. "We all made some mistakes in the last day or two." She bit her lip slightly and glanced demurely down. "I forgive you both if you forgive me?" She glanced back up, with a shy spark in her eyes. The two men nodded at each other and then at her.

"Forgiven," said Giles as he sat on the bed and kissed her gently.

"Forgiven," said Spike who trailed a cool hand up Willow's thigh.

"Good," Willow said as she reached out to the two men she loved.


Lying there in the afterglow, Willow luxuriated in the embrace of her lovers. Rupert was sleepily rubbing his thumb across the back of her hand, while Spike was nuzzling on her neck in a way that, considering who he was, should have been deeply disturbing but instead just made her feel like purring.

It had turned into a perfect afternoon. Giles and Spike had apologized for their behavior last night... in oh so many imaginative ways. She, in turn, had apologized for leaving them like that... equally imaginatively.

Willow stretched slightly and sighed. She wished they could lie like this forever. Willow giggled. Giles cracked open an eye at her.

"Was that you or me?" he asked huskily. She giggled gently again.

"I don't know. Maybe it was Spike?"

"Not me - I ate earlier," he answered the implied question and decided that Willow's shoulder looked as appetizing as her neck and started nibbling there.

"Okay, that was definitely you, my dear," said Giles with a laugh in his voice. "Sounds like you need some food." Giles started to gather himself together. Willow's grip on his chest tightened.

"Oh don't get up. I like us like this. It's so nice and ... cozy," she protested.

"Cozy," Spike agreed, burrowing in a little closer.

Willow's stomach rumbled again. Very loudly. Giles and Spike started to laugh.

"Cozy or not, Red, you obviously need food," Spike said.

"Ohhh, but I don't want to move," Willow moaned.

"You don't have to. I'll make you something to eat," Spike said as he got up and rooted around for his jeans.

Giles made the supreme effort and also sat up. "I'll make the tea."

"Why do you rot your insides with that stuff?" Spike asked, tossing Giles his pants.

"Asks the man who can barely wait 30 seconds to heat up his pig's blood," Giles retorted.

Willow sighed happily and murmured, "Don't go. Not yet?"

Both men complied with a grin and lay back down; their hands quickly finding soft warm skin to caress.

"Mmmm," Willow purred. "Did you know that I love you?"

There was a momentary pause in the room. Willow suddenly looked self-conscious and glanced quickly at Giles, who rose up on an elbow. Spike's hand froze in mid-stroke.

Taking a small gulp, she restated, "I mean, um, I... um, love you guys the way anybody would love guys who... you know. I didn't mean love-love... that would be really, like way over the... not that I don't love you.. I mean... Oh, God," she finished finally realizing she was just digging herself a deeper hole.

Giles watched Willow babble, her blush spreading furiously over her face.

"Willow," he cut her off. He took her hand in his and looked deeply into her eyes and saw all her uncertainty and self-doubt. "I'm sorry."

"Sorry?" she said her heart beginning to break.

Giles kissed her hand. "Sorry I ever gave you reason to doubt how I feel."

"Oh," Willow gasped, her heart filling with hope.

"I love you, too," Giles said softly. "I love-love you. I wouldn't be here with you if I didn't." A smile broke over her face that made his heart sing.

"Really?" she questioned in a small voice.

"Really," he said giving her tender kiss. "Besides," he grinned at her, "Do you think I could put up with him for anything less than real love?" She smiled sweetly in reply, and they both looked over at Spike, who had gotten out of bed during their exchange and was practically dressed.

Giles raised an inquiring eyebrow, and Willow bit her lip expectantly. He gave them a cool stare. "What?" he asked. Giles eyes narrowed. Willow smiled a bit sadly. "I love Willow, Spike," stated Giles.

"I'm not deaf - I heard."

"And..." asked Giles leadingly. Willow put out a hand to stop him but Giles ignored her.

"And what?" asked Spike stonily.

"And Willow said she loves you, you prat. Say something."

"Thanks," said Spike with a cocky smile. "I am damn good, aren't I?"

Giles got up off the bed and stood there, glaring. "Is that it? Is that all you have to say?"

"Pretty much. Now I'm going to go make some dinner."

"The hell you are! I can't believe you," exclaimed Giles. "I know you like to play the big bad vampire, but this is Willow--"

"Play the..." Spike yelled but was overridden by Giles.

"I've always thought you were many things, Spike, but I never thought you were a coward," Giles spat.

"Coward?" Spike growled.

"A coward," Giles said coolly. "You know you care for her, why don't you have the stones to admit it?"

"Stones? I've go..." Spike took a hard breath, "Look, the sex is great. Okay? Some of the best, in fact. But that's all it is to me. Sex. Love, hah! I'm a vampire, remember? Just because I can't rip your throat out," Spike said stepping menacingly forward. "Doesn't mean I love you. Hell, I'd suck you both dry if I could. Next best thing to a good kill is good sex... I take what I can get."

"You're pathetic," Giles hissed.

Spike laughed cruelly. "Pathetic? A vampire loving humans.... Now, that's pathetic!"

Giles was taken aback by the sudden ferocity of Spike's shout.

"Spike..." started Willow. "It's..." but he turned his white-hot glare on her.

"I am a vampire. Never forget that. We don't fall in love with humans. I don't care about you or him. I can't!" He caught Willow's hurt expression and grunted. "I'm out of here," he shouted and stormed out of the room and down the stairs. There was a loud bang as the front door slammed.

Giles scowled down the stairs for a moment, seething that Spike would say those things and hurt Willow. The pain in her eyes was cutting him like a knife. He was torn between wanting to race after Spike and thrash him or holding his dear sweet Willow and thanking the heavens that damned soulless demon was out of their lives.

"Willow..." he started.

"It's all right, Giles," she said with a soft sad smile. "He *is* a vampire. I'm having a hard time coping with the fact that I care for *him*. I can't expect him to do any better." She started getting dressed.

Giles frowned and shook his head. "I'm sure he cares for you, but..."

Willow reached out and touched Giles' cheek. "And I care for him," she said plainly.

Giles' frown deepened. "I know."

Willow tilted his chin up and kissed him tenderly. "Which is why I have to go talk to him."

"Willow... As much as I know he cares for you. He may not be able to change," Giles said sadly.

"I know," she said with a rueful smile. "But I have to give him the chance."

Giles sighed heavily and shook his head. "You are amazing. It's no wonder I love you."

Willow blushed and leaned over to kiss his cheek.

"Perhaps he'll listen to us," Giles said as he started to dress.

"I think I should go alone, Rupert," Willow said as she laced up her sneakers. "Willow-" Giles started to protest.

"This is going to be hard enough. With you there..." she trailed off.

Giles frowned, but nodded. "All right, but be careful out there. It'll be dark soon."

"Don't worry, Rupert. Buffy's patrolling, Riley's patrolling, and I've got my stuff," she showed him the spray bottle of holy water in her purse. "I promise I'll be careful." She stepped to the doorway, but before she even put a foot over the threshold, Giles swung her into his arms and kissed her deeply.

"Just remember who said he loved you first," he whispered when he finally broke the kiss. She giggled lightly.

"I will," she said with a grin.

Giles regretfully watched her walk away. He wanted to follow her, but the lessons of patience and trust were still fresh in his mind. He had to trust her on this, and he had to have patience.

He sighed in frustration, closing the door. 'Why is this so hard?' he thought to himself. 'After all a secret affair between an ex-watcher, a witch and a vampire should be easy!' he chuckled ruefully to himself, heading to the kitchen for that tea.


"Hi, Spike," Willow said softly.

"Soddin' hell, what does a vampire have to do to get some peace around here?" Spike asked pettishly, scowling at Willow from his perch on top of the crypt.

"Um, not always go to the same spot to brood?" she replied.

"I'm not broodin'," he stated firmly. "I'm, I'm ...."

"Pouting?" she teased gently, trying to gauge his mood now.

"I'm not pouting!" he exclaimed huffily, jumping down and then pointedly turning his back on Willow and walking away.

"Really?" she said, following, "Cuz you've got that pooched out lower lip thing going on." She reared back when he whirled back to her suddenly.

"I do not!" he denied vehemently.

"Well, you do actually, but I think it's cute."

"Cute!" Spike demanded, affronted all over again. "I am NOT cute. I am a vampire. Vampires are NOT cute. Cute..." he muttered walking off again. "Bloody beanie babies are cute. Vampires are, are, are..."

"Dangerous," supplied Willow.

"Right, dangerous and bad and, and, and..." he trailed off again.

"Wild?" Willow offered.

"Wild, yeah," Spike said with a sneer.

"Sexy?" Willow said with a smile.

"Sexy? Dead right, sexy," Spike said with pride.

"Dead sexy. Dead and sexy," Willow said with grin.

In spite of himself, Spike finally smiled at the redheaded witch. Why was it so hard to stay angry with her around?

"So, you're dangerous and wild and sexy," Willow said more seriously. Spike preened at her words. "Is it any wonder I love you? And is it any wonder that I want you to love me, too?" He frowned again.

"Willow, I..." he started, shaking his head and moving away from her.

"But I know you don't feel things the same way. I do know that, Spike," she reassured him with a grave look. "But..." she trailed off.

"But?" he questioned, not sure he was going to like this conversation.

"But, in your own way, you do care for me a little, don't you?" She suddenly looked unsure of herself.

"In my own way..." pondered Spike out loud. He looked at the woman he had been with for two months. He thought back to the sex, which was great, but he also remembered other times.

Times when he'd watch her sleeping. Or reading. Or just being with him. Being with *them*. Then there was the way she made him laugh. And how hard he'd try to make *her* laugh. With her around, he even liked that damn Watcher sometimes, which was a terrifying thought in its own way.

Willow stared back at him, solemnly waiting with only a hint of something in her eyes that might have been hope.

"In my own way..." he repeated more firmly, "Well, in my own way, I suppose I - I - I like you," he finally conceded. Willow let out a breath she didn't even know she'd been holding. Her smile lit up her face. "I mean, you're okay. For a human," he quickly added.

"Oh, well, as a human, I thank you," Willow said pertly. "So, think you want to go home with this human?"

"I know something I want to do with this human," he said, striding to stand in front of her. "But I can't put up with that bloody Watcher tonight. I don't want him glaring at me and putting me off my stride."

"No problem. Come back to the dorm with me," said Willow.

"Right, cuz the damn Slayer likes me so much. You want to spend the night cleaning dust out of the sheets?" Spike asked.

"No," she giggled. "Buffy's going to Riley's after patrol tonight and from the lingerie she put on, I don't think she's coming back tonight."

"Please," Spike said in disgust. "I may be a demon, but there are some things, even I find disturbing." They walked out of the cemetery, hand in hand.


Denise was trying to research her Sociology term paper, "Changing Social Patterns in the Interpersonal Relationships of the 21st Century", when she heard Willow's distinctive giggle through her partially open door. Then the murmur of a man's voice, with an *English* accent.

'All right!' she thought, 'That Willow gets all the luck.' Denise walked to the door to take a peek at the girl she most wanted to emulate. Peering through she could see Willow in the embrace of someone. Someone who *wasn't* Buffy's dad!

'Oh my god! Another one? First that musician, then her roommate's dad, then that cute Kappa guy and now a new one!' Denise sighed with envy. In her freshman year, *she* was barely keeping up with all the schoolwork. Willow was maintaining a 4.0 average AND dating, like, four guys. Could she be any cooler?

'How does she keep track of everything?' Denise thought admiringly. 'I mean, like, does she use a Palm Pilot, or what?' She craned her head a little further out the door to check out this new stud of Willow's.

Just then, they broke their embrace long enough for Willow to unlock her door. Denise nearly gasped out loud in shock. It was... it was... oh my god, it was her roommate's father's boyfriend!

She was sleeping with her roommate's father AND, if the way that blond guy's hands were roaming was any indication, Buffy's father's boyfriend.

This was beyond Melrose; they were totally into Days of Our Lives territory here!

Willow's door closed with the audible thump of someone being pushed back onto it and the noises of randy sex getting started. Denise slowly returned to her desk.

With a sigh, she crumpled her papers and tossed them into the wastebasket. She stared at the blank page for a minute before she titled her new paper - "Sex - How Can I Get Me Some?"

She giggled and crumpled the paper. She brushed invisible eraser doodles from the fresh page and bit her lower lip.

Maybe "Sex and the Single Freshman"? No, too Cosmo. How about, "Soap Opera Sex - It Isn't ALL Fiction"? No, her prof had already yelled at someone for using TV as a reference.

Um, let's try "The Sociologic Implications of Dating Four Men at Once"? Close, but still not quite it. "Sex and the New Millennium: Going Out With A Bang". No....

Wait, she had it... "Multiple Sex Partners in the Year 2000 - A Case Study". Ohhh, perfect. It sounded way professional, and she could come up with a cool questionnaire, maybe pick up some pointers too.

This was going to get her an A, for sure!

Part Fourteen

"I don't see why *I* have to go patrolling," Spike whined. "There's a rugger match on the telly that I want to see. Isn't this a gig for Buffy and her Slayerettes?"

"We patrol in pairs, Spike," Buffy said impatiently. "We've been over this, like, three times. I go with Riley, Xander goes with Anya and *you* go with Willow. That way we always have backup."

"But..." Spike started again.

"Enough!" cut in Giles. "You will patrol with Willow. You want to eat - you help patrol. Besides," he said in a more cutting tone, "I've far too much research to do, so television's out of the question anyway."

Spike growled in anger but grabbed his coat and followed the gang out the door. He muttered something under his breath, but Buffy chose not to hear it.

"You okay with this?" Buffy asked her best friend as they all headed out together.

"It's fine," nodded Willow. "I don't mind patrolling. Anything to get out of the dorm right now."

"Yeah, I noticed. What is up with Denise?"

"I don't know, but it's beginning to freak me out. Everywhere I go, there she is. I'm wondering if it's hellmouthy."

"Naw," interjected Spike with a leer, "she's just got the hots for you, pet."

"Are you sure you don't want to switch with someone?" Buffy asked Willow. "Although, come to think of it, you're the only one who could actually patrol with him and not kill him."

"Oh, it's okay," Willow said calmly. "He grumbles and all, but I feel better knowing he's there. He was helpful last week, with those three vampires. I had to stand there and watch him beat them to a pulp first before I could get in any staking, but that's not much different than patrolling with you," she teased.

"Hey!" Buffy protested, "I'm not that bad." She appealed to the rest of the group. "Am I?" Everyone maintained a discreet silence. Except for Anya, of course.

"Oh please," Anya said, "Xander told me about the time he interrupted you and Riley *finally* reaching climax... At first, I thought you were Tantric, but then you're Buffy... you don't even know what that word means ... so then I decided all the Slaying made you frigid..."

"What?" Buffy screeched. Anya ignored the interruption.

"Especially after Xander said he saw you and soldier boy..." she trailed off, but only for a moment. "Well, the way he described it didn't sound very satisfying."

"Anya," Xander sputtered.

Anya ignored him. "Look, I'm only saying maybe you should orgasm after every patrol, that way you wouldn't have all that pent up energy. Well, that's what we do and it works for us." She patted Xander on the arm. "Right honey?"

Buffy glared at Xander. They were *so* going to have a long talk. "I like my energy pent up," Buffy hissed.

"Whatever," Anya said, rolling her eyes.

"You're pent?" Riley asked in concern, until Buffy shot him a dagger-eyed look.

"We are not having this conversation!" she said through clenched teeth.

"For once I agree with the Slayer," Spike said with disgust. "Come on, Red. Anything's better than this."

Willow tried to keep from giggling and said brightly, "We'll take the East Side."

"Anywhere but here," Spike growled. Willow eyes shone with suppressed laughter but she grabbed Spike's arm. Buffy looked about two seconds away from slaying something, and Spike was always a tempting target for her.

"Be nice," Willow said in a warning voice. "Or I'll use the moves Riley's been showing me on *you*." They headed off into the night.

"Well, I just don't get it, okay? What's the big deal?" Anya said to Xander.

"The big deal is not embarrassing my friends," Xander replied firmly. Anya rolled her eyes.

"Fine. I don't understand why orgasms or in Buffy's case, lack of same, is embarrassing," she waved her hands at him. Anya then turned to Buffy and recited in a monotone, "I'm sorry I embarrassed you by mentioning that Riley's obviously not that good at orgasms."

"Anya!" screeched Xander, as Riley turned pink and wished that the Hellmouth really would open up and swallow him whole.

"What?" she asked bewildered. "I apologized. You're never satisfied are you?" She got a sly look on her face, "Um, cuz if you're not, we could go back to your apartment and get the to the orgasm first and..." Xander clapped a hand over her mouth.

"Enough." Without looking either Buffy or Riley in the face, Xander said, "We'll take the North Side. See you, well, never would be too soon to get over this, but back at Giles' later." He dragged Anya off, lecturing the whole way and trying to keep Anya's hands off the relevant pieces of his anatomy.

"Um," Riley cleared his throat. Buffy managed to raise her eyes to the level of his knees. "Well, that was embarrassing in the way the Titanic had a small leak."

Buffy nodded in agreement. "I thought I was used to Anya by now, but I don't think I can ever look any of them in the face again," she said. "I don't think I can ever look *anybody* in the face again."

"That's gonna make slaying a tad difficult," Riley said. "Er, about being pent... Um, if you had any prob..."

"Gah, gah," Buffy waived her hands frantically in the air. "This is so not something I want to talk about on patrol." She started heading for the West Side.

Riley looked stricken as he fell into step with her. "Does that mean we *do* have something to talk about?"

"Oh, noooo, everything's, um, fine with, er, in that, um, place." Buffy didn't know how she was managing it but she was sure her face was actually getting redder. "It's that I kinda want to keep the Slaying and..." she struggled for the right word.

"Laying?" he suggested with a grin.

"Slaying and Laying... Riley!"

"I'm sorry."

She glared at him. "Let's go kill something. I've suddenly got all this pent up energy." Without another word, she stalked off.

Riley swallowed hard. This was going to be just heaps of fun.


Spike pulled back from the deep kiss to allow Willow to breathe. He had her backed up against a crypt, and she had her hands in naughty places.

"If these are the 'moves' you've been learning from Riley," he whispered in her ear while one hand caressed her breast, "I think I need to have a chat with that boy."

Willow giggled slightly and then gasped with pleasure when he nibbled on her ear and played his cool fingertips across her overheated nipple. "OOOHhhh, I was j-j-just teasing. He's b-b-been teaching me some d-defensive, oh, oh yes, yes --- I mean NO."

"Whattaya mean, no?" he asked grouchily. "My turn, right? You've been alone with the damn Watcher for the last three days. He gets you alone - I get you alone."

Willow tried to push his hands away and regain control of her senses. "Right, right. But *after* - Okay? After?" He managed to get an arm around her waist again. "We're supposed to be patrolling," she said.

"Don't wanna," he muttered, trying to get another kiss, but this time, Willow ducked and slid out of his embrace.

"Yeah, well, that's to bad mister," she said, straightening her clothes. "After patrolling, then alone time." She danced away from him with a wicked smile on her lips. "First dinner, and then dessert."

Spike leaned against the tree and pouted. She frowned at him. "And speaking of patrol, do you have to be such a pain?"

"Well, yes," he shrugged, realizing that it was going to be a while before he could get some more slap and tickle. Really, the redhead had a far too overdeveloped sense of responsibility. He was going to have to work on that some more. "It wouldn't be at all suspicious if I suddenly started volunteering to spend time alone with you. Oh, oh," he mocked, "p-p-please let me go out and help you fight evil and kill the bad guys."

"Okay," Willow allowed, "Point taken. I do wish we didn't always have to hide what we're doing."

"It is the way it is, pet," he said.

Willow nodded sadly, and she and Spike headed out into the cemetery to continue the patrol. Once they got through this one, they had only one more and then they could head in for the night. Spike mentally rubbed his hands together in anticipation.

"But now, it's just, well, difficult and frustrating. I wish we could just..." she trailed off.

"What?" asked Spike sarcastically, "Tell the Slayer that you're shagging her Watcher, who's like her dad, AND her worst enemy? That'll go over a treat. Just give me about a week's warning before you do it. I hear Quebec's lovely this time of year."

"Well, yeah, only I was kind of hoping that she wouldn't..." Willow started.

"Hang on, Red," Spike commanded, throwing up a hand. Willow obediently stopped. She'd learned to trust his instincts and vampiric senses during these patrols. She looked at him inquiringly as he swung his head slowly from side to side.

"Stay here, I think I heard something. I'll be right back," Spike said and then he moved off silently through the shrubbery.

'One day, I've got to get him to show me how to do that,' Willow thought. 'I wonder if it's a vamp thing- Angel could go all ninja like that, too.' She shivered slightly in the cool night air. She kept a careful watch around her and made sure her hand was on her holy water spray. Suddenly she heard something in the bushes to her left.

"Spike?" she called out quietly and then thought, 'No wait, he doesn't make noise like that.' She pulled out her bottle of holy water and backed away from the noise. She had taken only two steps when she was suddenly grabbed from behind.

"Gotcha!" she heard behind her and letting instincts take over, she ducked and swung to her right, bringing the bottle up and spraying it into the face of the man holding her. Only, instead of screaming and letting her go, he yelled, "Hey, you stupid bitch, what the hell do you think you're doing?" He grabbed her by both arms and shook her like a rag doll. She couldn't believe she'd been jumped by a human.

"Bitch!" he cried, his voice slurred from alcohol. "I'll show you what I do to bitches like you!" He let go of an arm and Willow took advantage to scream, sharp and loud. "Shut up!" he bellowed and then backhanded her across the face.

Her head snapped back, and she swung around in his hold. Taking advantage of her spin, he flung her to the ground, where her head connected with a partially soil-covered grave marker.

She tried to get up and run away, but everything was getting dark, and her head felt like it was going to split open. As she was losing consciousness, she heard him mutter, "Walking alone at night, you're just asking for it, baby. And I'm the man to give it to you."

Willow struggled to stand, but the world kept spinning until finally everything went black.


Spike had found the faint trace of a vampire's scent, but it hadn't taken him long to realize that it was days old. It was overlaid by something else though, rank human, if he was any judge. And that was a newer scent. He was trying to decide whether to follow it or not when he heard Willow's scream.

A jolt of adrenaline shot through his system, and he tore back in the direction he'd come. He'd never heard her scream in all their patrols, even when she'd faced those three vampires by herself - what could make her...

He burst through the bushes and skidded to a halt in horror. There on the ground was Willow, HIS Willow.

And on top of her, touching her, was the human who belonged to the rank smell. He didn't remember that he couldn't hurt humans, all he knew was that this thing had made his Willow scream and now he dared to put his filthy hands on her! Spike morphed into game face, ready to kill.

He lunged forward and pulled the man off her. And then it came, the blinding pain. It crushed his skull and ran through his body like fire all along his nerves. Every joint blossomed with pain, and he doubled over grabbing his head, trying to push the searing pain away.

"What the fuck?" the man growled, as he regained his balance. He quickly noticed that Spike was struggling and he grinned wickedly. "The skirt's mine. Piss off."

Spike tried to lunge forward again, but the pain was too intense.

The man stepped back and snorted. "So this is a Vampire?" he said with a cruel laugh. "Go back to your coffin, I've got a lesson to give." The man reached down and ripped Willow's shirt.

"D-don't touch h-her," Spike panted as he stood on shaky legs and moved to stop the attack.

The man just sneered and raised his fist. Spike saw the blow coming but couldn't get enough control to evade it. He was knocked back, and the guy rose up, grinned and then kicked Spike in the ribs. "Bloodsucker," he laughed derisively, "the girl's mine. Go get your dinner somewhere else."

He turned back to Willow's unconscious body and pulled the belt from his pants. "Time for your lesson, baby."

Spike could barely get enough breath to groan, but at that sound, the sound of leather clearing belt buckles, his eyes snapped open. His vision was down to pinpoints, but it was enough. He staggered back to his feet and then lunged at the guy. He tackled him to the ground and then began punching him and punching him. The blows rained down, through the agony, through the torture he felt. None of it mattered.

He could barely see now. That didn't matter either. He could feel where the bastard was. He could feel his feeble struggles growing weaker. Red-hot wires were running through his brain, making every blow reverberate through his body. He felt pain like he'd never known, suffering beyond belief, and none of it mattered.

Sight was gone, hearing was gone, everything was gone except the pain and the fury. He knew he couldn't hold out much longer and with one heroic effort, he grabbed the guy's neck and twisted it violently. SNAP.

Spike roared in pain as the implant gave one final pulse, pushing him beyond endurance and into oblivion. He fell, losing consciousness before he even hit the ground.


He didn't know how long he was out, he only knew that when he finally regained consciousness, the pain was blessedly gone. He could breathe without fear, and he opened his eyes and stared at the night for a moment. Then in a rush, it all came back and he yelled out, "Willow!" He stumbled to his feet and found her not far away.

Dropping to his knees, he quickly checked her for injuries. Her shirt was torn, and her chest was slightly scratched. She had a huge purplish bruise on one cheek and a large knot on the back of her head.

Spike gathered her up in his arms and cradled her to him. "Willow, Willow, Willow," he crooned to her, rocking her back and forth. "He's gone, it's all right, he's gone. Come on, baby, wake up, wake up."

Slowly, she began to rouse. Her eyes fluttered open, but they didn't seem to be able focus.


She moaned, and her eyes fell closed again.

'Damn it,' he though through the tears, 'What the hell do I... Giles! The Watcher will know what to do!'

He stood up, Willow still clasped in his arms and headed back to the place and the person he now thought of as home, to the only one he trusted with Willow.



Giles ran to the door and flung it open, but the sight that greeted him was the last thing he expected and just about his worst nightmare come true. Spike, looking the worse for something, was cradling an obviously unconscious Willow in his arms.

"Good God," Giles exclaimed. "What happened?" Spike ignored him, stepping over the threshold and heading up the stairs.

"Spike, wait!" Giles yelled, running into the bathroom for the first aid kit and then heading up to the bedroom after him. "What the hell is going on? What happened to her?"

"I-I don't know," Spike said in a low voice. He stood aside to let Giles work on her. "I heard a noise and went to investigate. But t-th-then I heard a scream. And I knew it was Willow."

Giles tried to keep his hands steady. He needed all his self-control to take care of the woman he loved and not cause her any more pain. But seeing Willow's injuries made him want to rage and shout. But that wouldn't help her now. Instead, he carefully cleaned the abrasion on the back of her skull.

"So I ran to w-where she was," Spike said. He was also trying to maintain control. He wanted to gather her up in his arms again and never let her go. But he knew that Giles was doing what was best for her now. He just needed to tell Giles what had happened. He could see the Watcher keeping a lid on his emotions. 'How does the bastard do that?' he thought.

"And there was this, this..." he paused to take a deep breath and Giles interrupted.

"A vampire? A demon? What did this?" he asked his eyes gleaming.

"A human," spat Spike. "A damned, stinking, drunk human with an oh-so-wonderful soul. He grabbed her and he hit her and then he, he, he was going to..." Spike growled and turned from the bed as images from the cemetery blazed across his mind once more. He stalked around the room, his anger and energy like electricity surging through his veins.

"A human?" whispered Giles, gazing down at Willow. "A *man* did this?"

Spike merely grunted.

Giles closed his eyes briefly and then asked, with a shaking voice, "D-did h-he..." He couldn't finish.

"No," Spike bit out. Taking a hard breath, he turned back and stared at Willow. "When I saw him, I wanted to kill the bastard and then... then... that damn chip in my head went off!"

"How did she..." Giles started to ask, but the question died in his throat as he saw an expression he'd never seen on the vampire's face - tenderness.

"Is she going to be all right?" Spike asked quietly, his voice tight with emotion.

"Did she regain consciousness at all?" Giles asked as he pried open her eyelids. Her pupils seemed normal.

"J-just for second, but then she..." Spike said, his jaw clenching. "C-can't you wake her up?"

"I'm not sure if I--"

"Damn it Watcher. Fix her!"


"Quit talking about it, and DO something!" Spike raged. "You always want to talk about everything. Just DO something!"

Giles was about to yell at Spike, but when he saw the look in the vampire's eyes, he swallowed his anger. He might not be able to say it, but Spike loved her. Spike lifted his eyes from Willow and met the Watcher's stare. In the briefest of moments, a lifetime of understanding passed between the two men.

Giles gazed down at Willow and felt rather helpless. "Well, with my vast experience at this sort of thing," Giles said wryly, "I think she'll be fine. This," he traced the rapidly discoloring mark on her face, "will be painful, but the bump on her head is not too bad. We'll let her sleep for a little while longer, but if she doesn't come around by herself soon, then we'll get her to the hospital."

Giles held Willow's hand in his, he needed to feel the warmth of her skin, the beat of her pulse. "So, go ahead. What happened after the chip went off?"

"I went berserk, that's what happened. I tried to get to her but he just brushed me off, I could barely stand up. Then he, he, he touched her," Spike said with loathing, resuming his furious pacing again.

Giles' jaw set, and his eyes bore into the vampire.

"I don't know how I did it, but I did. I got up and I went over and then I beat the shit out him. It didn't matter that it hurt; he was touching her. Her!" Spike exclaimed in awe.

Giles nodded in understanding and tightened his grip on Willow's hand.

"The pain was, was... unimaginable," Spike ground. "But he was still moving. That meant he could hurt her again. And I, I wasn't thinking - I was somewhere... I don't know, but I knew I had to stop him. So I did." Spike paused and then he said coldly, "So I broke his neck. Then I passed out. Damn this bloody chip."

"But he didn't touch her," asked Giles, "I mean, he..." Giles struggled to give life to the words as he looked at her torn blouse. "He was---"

"No, I got there just as he was starting to, to... you know. Anyway, when I came to, the pain was gone, and Willow was like this. Are you sure she's going to be all right?" he asked plaintively. "Shouldn't we be doing something?"

"Nothing to do," Giles said gently.

Almost on cue, Willow moaned and began to stir. Her color was coming back to normal, and her lashes were fluttering.

"S-s-spike?" she whispered, eyes not quite open.

"I'm here, love," he replied, as he sat down on the edge of the bed and took up her hand.

"It's all right, darling," Giles added, soothing her hand in his.

"R-rupert? Where am I? I was in the cemetery and, and..." she trailed off, as her eyes came fully open and she saw the two men staring down at her. "And now I'm home?"

"It's all right. You're all right. He didn't touch you. Spike stopped him," Giles said reassuringly.

"Not as well as I should have," Spike murmured, brushing his fingertips across her swollen cheek. "I shouldn't have left you alone."

"That's all right.... I'm fine... Okay, I have a headache and my cheek is ...ouch... But I'm okay. Honest." Willow squeezed her hands in theirs. She was safe now. With both of them here, she knew she was safe.

She tried to sit up and winced as her head felt like a lead balloon. "Ohhhh," she groaned.

"Easy, pet," Spike said tenderly. "You just rest, all right?"

Willow smiled, but it her face was pinched with pain. "I'm all right," she said weakly. "But I... I think I'll just lie down for a while."

She closed her eyes, and the men watched her in silence for a moment.

"This is all my fault," Giles said as he stood and stalked across the room. "I should never have let her go out patrolling."

"She wasn't exactly alone," Spike bit out.

"I know, I'm sorry." Giles sighed. "Thank you," he said extending his hand. "Thank you for saving her."

Spike glared at the hand, but shook it. "Didn't do it for you," he grumbled.

Giles smiled wanly. "Regardless. Thank you."

Grudgingly, Spike nodded and then glanced back at Willow.

"I thought I lost her," Spike said in an agonized whisper. Giles put his hand on Spike's back and swallowed the tears in his throat. He couldn't bear the thought of losing Willow either.

"She's not going anywhere," Giles said softly.


A little while later, the front door swung open and Buffy bounded through, followed quickly by the rest of the Scooby gang.

"Giles," she sang out. "We've got a problem. Are Willow and..." she trailed off, spotting the vampire sitting on the stairs to the upper level, doing an excellent imitation of Rodin's "The Thinker".

"Oh, you guys are back? Great. Where's Giles?" she asked.

Spike jerked a head upstairs. "Where's Willow?" Xander asked, not seeing her anywhere. Spike jerked his head upstairs again.

"What are they doing up there?" asked Anya slyly.

"He's finishing cleaning the cuts and putting stuff on the scrapes she got," Spike said stiffly.

"What?! Willow got hurt? Is she okay?" everyone asked all at once. Buffy started for the stairs, but Spike didn't move.

"Yeah, she's okay now. The Watcher says it was only a minor concussion."

"Did you see what did it?" asked Riley. "Because we came acr..."

"We found this dead guy," Buffy interrupted. "He'd been beaten up a little, and his neck was broken. That's the minus. The plus is - all his blood was there and no missing organs. So I was wondering if we've got us a new demon or what."

"Or what," replied Spike.

"What?" asked Buffy.

"OR what," said Spike again.

"Or what - what?" Buffy wrinkled her brow and frowned at Spike. Why did he always have to be deliberately provoking?

"I'm answering your bloody question, you nit," snarled Spike as Buffy bristled at the insult. "There's no new demon. There's just me."

"What do you mean, just you?" asked Riley in a cold tone, after the moment of silence greeted Spike's announcement.

"I mean I killed that bastard." More blank silence emanated from the group below him.

"But, but, how?" asked Xander squeakily, the first to find his voice.

"Broke his damn neck."

"We got that. We saw that. I think he means how did you break his neck?" said Anya patiently.

"I took his bloody head in one hand and his shoulder in..." started Spike.

"Thank you, Spike!" Buffy exclaimed. "We know the mechanics. But you've got that chip," she looked at Riley for confirmation and he nodded, "So you're not supposed to be able to do that anymore."

"Not without a brain aneurysm," agreed Riley.

"Well, I don't doubt I got me one of those, it was damn painful let me tell you." Xander found himself edging behind Buffy. Spike able to kill again - it didn't bear thinking on. He'd only survived him the last time by sheer luck.

"But why, why now?" Anya asked the question before Buffy could figure out how to say it. Riley tensed for the answer.

Spike just shrugged and looked away.

Buffy glared at him, but wanted to see Willow. There would be time for questions later. Shoving past Spike, she ran up the stairs. Xander wasn't far behind.

The cry "Willow! Oh my god!" was heard by those below followed by a babble of voices. Anya rolled her eyes.

Riley just stared at Spike who went back to his Rodin pose and stared at nothing in particular. He seemed to be deep in thought.

Riley could guess what he was thinking. Spike had just managed to break through a level of pain feedback that was supposed to be unbreakable. What did it mean? How had he done it? The most important question was, could he do it again?

Riley stepped away from Spike and sat at the dining room table. Riley had some deep thinking of his own to do. This was not good.

Part Fifteen

Willow's headache was much better by the next day. But she didn't tell them that. Oh no, it was a lot more fun to be coddled, and both Giles and Spike seemed to be in a competition to see who could out-coddle her.

Giles wanted to bring her a breakfast of tea, orange juice, a boiled egg, porridge, English muffins and honey. Spike thought coffee, apple juice, scrambled eggs, bacon and toast with jam was the way to go.

She managed to stop giggling long enough to settle the argument that sprang up about Jewish dietary laws dealing with pork products to get a breakfast that comprised tea, apple juice, scrambled eggs, bacon, English muffins and jam. She had waaaay too much to eat, and Giles and Spike each felt they'd come out on top of that.

Then the entertainment really began.

'Would she like to read a magazine?' asked Giles. This was scoffed at by Spike who challenged Giles to find a magazine published AFTER 1996 anywhere in the apartment. Spike offered The Sunnydale Times. 'Too much bad news,' was Giles' response and he countered with, 'How about a book? 'What kind?' asked Spike? 'Um...' 'Mystery?' asked Spike. 'Watcher Diary?' offered Giles 'or maybe one of the Grimoires?' Spike thought he had it - 'School Book? So you can study?' Between the two of them, Willow was awash in paper. She could barely see the bedspread.

After looking at her sitting there for a moment, they had a rare moment of agreement that she shouldn't be straining her eyes reading anyway, not with a head injury. The papers were swept off the bed, and the litany started again.

Giles brought her Walkman and some of his jazz tapes. Spike brought up the classical stuff - 'that jazz is too hard to follow'. Giles then brought up the CD player, set with Eric Clampton and Cream - 'better yet' he said. Spike grabbed the Annie Vega CD from Willow's backpack - 'her favorite'.

Giles glared at him for a moment before a gleam appeared in his eye. While Spike was putting the CD in, Giles went back downstairs and a few minutes later, came back up. With the TV in his arms. It was strategically placed on the dresser and once plugged in, Giles stood triumphant next to it. After one look at the TV and the clock next to it, Spike forgot the CD player, and possibly Willow. He lunged for the set and crowed, "Montel" while turning to his favorite morning show.

Giles wilted. He looked to Willow for sympathy, but she was giggling too hard to be of any use.

He plopped down next to her and complained, "You're no help." This only made her laugh harder. She was roundly shushed by Spike.

"I'm trying to watch telly," Spike hissed.

Giles rolled his eyes, and Willow had to bury her face in his chest to cover her laughter. That he didn't mind so much. Giles held her shaking body, glad that between the two of them, consciously or not, he and Spike had got her laughing again.

Last night, she was so scared. And trying so hard not to show it. But she refused to let either of them leave the bed. She clung to them both. So Giles had put away his own fear and anger to comfort her. Spike had done the same. The three of them lay there, intertwined; Giles and Spike soothing Willow with their presence and their touch. And in helping Willow past her fear, the two men helped themselves. Finally, they'd all fallen asleep.

But Willow's eyes were still shadowed when the morning came. And after their first argument (tea vs. coffee) led to the second argument (apple vs. orange juice), that led to Willow smiling at them and gently scolding. The left side of her face was multi-colored and had to hurt. But she *was* smiling. And her eyes seemed clearer.

So, admittedly it was a bit beneath a man of his years and maturity, but Giles found himself arguing with Spike over everything. They more they argued, the more she smiled. Spike caught on quickly, and he started the argument over whether Willow could eat bacon or not. Giles threw in evidence of her cheeseburger habit just to get Spike going even more about Orthodox vs. Conservative.

He had been amazed to discover what a fountain of useless facts Spike had at his disposal. Even more amazed to find that Spike would get so bent that other people didn't know what he considered to be "common knowledge".

So Giles was quite pleased with their charade and its effect on Willow. The shadows were all gone, and she was happy again. And if she was happy, he was happy.

He was comfortably ensconced on the bed with Willow snuggled into his arms. Now, if Spike would just quit yelling at the TV, life could be perfect. He sighed in contentment.

Willow smiled against his chest again. It was so sweet how they would be silly for her. She sometimes thought that this aspect of Giles' personality, his ability to be silly when he felt really comfortable, was one of the things she had loved finding out about best of all. When being the Watcher, he was always so in control and serious. This funny side to him had been a revelation and a delight.

Equally fun to discover had been Spike's sense of humor. It was amazing how dry it could be. He could reduce her to giggles in minutes, and Giles would struggle manfully not to give in to the laughter she could see in his eyes. As in this morning, she just knew that Spike would deliberately go off on some subject just to see if he could finally get Giles to laugh. He was always so smug when he managed it.

'How did I end up like this? How did I end up with these two men?' she thought. 'Not that I mind it.' She snuggled into Giles' arms some more and nearly purred with contentment when he began stroking her hair. Spike's head was resting against her thigh as he watched his show.

'Who would have thought we could actually be comfortable together? The three of us? When Spike's not trying to prove how bad he is - he's great to be around.' She ran a hand through his hair in a brief caress. 'And Giles...' she looked up at him and smiled. He was watching the TV show, too, though he'd die rather than admit that he liked the same sort of shows as Spike did. 'So sweet, so sexy and so much easier to be with than I could ever have imagined. Now if I could only figure out a way for us to not have to sneak around...' She sighed.

Giles looked down at the woman in his arms when she sighed. Her eyes were shadowed again. "You all right, love?" he asked quietly. She smiled up at him.

"Um-hum," she nodded. "Wellll, a little bit thirsty?" she hinted. Giles sighed the sigh of those much put upon - still hamming it up a bit.

"Very well. Tea?" He got up off the bed and headed for the stairs. Spike called out, "Gimme a blood, right?" without taking his gaze off the screen. Giles rolled his eyes at Willow again, who laughed at the look. Spike swatted lazily at her leg.

"Quit moving," he said. "It makes the telly all jiggly. Pillows are supposed to keep still." Willow flicked a finger at his ear and picked up the closest piece of reading material. 'Oohhhh, comics. All right!'


As Giles was waiting for the kettle to boil and the blood to heat, he heard the door open. Looking up, he saw a stern-faced Riley and Buffy enter his apartment.

Riley glanced quickly around and before Giles could ask what was wrong, he made the sign for silence.

He and Buffy came quickly into the kitchen and Buffy asked, in a low tone, "Where's Spike?" At that moment, a burst of applause was heard from Giles' bedroom above, and Giles motioned in that direction.

"He's up there watching TV with Willow." There was hooting and more applause from the TV, and Giles sighed. "Some ghastly day-time TV show. How he can watch that tripe..." he trailed off at the look of shock on Riley's face.

"How can you leave him up there with her alone?" demanded the young man.

"W-what do you mean?" Giles asked in confusion.

"After what he did last night," said Buffy. "How could you leave Willow with him?"

Giles stared at her with growing unease. 'Last night?' he thought. 'What do they know about last night?'

"Last night..." he started, only to be interrupted by Riley.

"After he managed to harm a human, how could you leave him up there with her? He could kill her! We have to get her out of there now!"

Giles felt the wheels of his mind churning wildly. This was completely unexpected. He hadn't even thought about the repercussions of Spike's actions last night on the others. His own thoughts had stopped on the sheer relief that Willow was relatively unharmed. It had never occurred to him that Spike would harm Willow.

He reached out and snagged Riley's arm to stop him from charging up the stairs. He *knew* that Spike would never harm Willow. His thoughts slowed down a little. Maybe his instincts were wrong. Spike was a vampire. But he *did* love Willow. Didn't he? Riley wriggled impatiently in Giles' grip. "Let me go," he said. "We have to take out Spike!"

"R-r-riley," Giles stuttered, holding on harder, trying desperately to think. Even if it were possible, an attack on Spike in front of Willow was the last thing Giles wanted. She'd been traumatized enough.

"It's fine. No, really, Willow's fine," he said in the face of Riley's disbelief. "Buffy," he turned to her. "Do you really think I'd leave her up there if I had the slightest inkling that he'd do her any harm?"

Buffy nodded reluctantly and forced Riley back a bit.

"But he killed someone!" said Riley, intensely. "Do you know what that could mean?"

"Yeah," said Buffy. "Riley did a little covert research - The Initiative has never had anyone... er, creature," with a look at Riley, "...get past this device. Once the pain reaches certain a level, either they pass out or they stop trying. The fact that Spike didn't do either..."

"But he did!" exclaimed Giles.

"What?! But how could he-" Buffy began.

"He did pass out. I know he didn't say anything to either of you, but he did talk to Willow and me last night," Giles spoke rapidly. He could tell from the look in Riley's eye, the tone in his voice and the constant straying of his hand to his weapon that he was about two seconds away from doing some major damage to the blond. And Giles didn't take the time to examine why stopping him was so important. He tried to explain what happened in a way they would comprehend.

"I realize that it's hard for you to understand, but in his own way, he likes Willow. He thinks of us, now, as the clan, the family, if you will, that he lost with the placement of the chip. He may not like us much, but we, well," he paused for the right words, "belong to him. So when that man attacked Willow, he reacted to help her. As he would any member of his clan."

Buffy was relaxing and nodding. This she could understand. But Riley didn't relax. None of this made him feel any better. Any reason to get past the conditioning was one reason too many.

Giles continued in his pedantic mode, "I believe, from what he could remember, that it was as he was passing out from the pain that he managed to snap the man's neck. This is no walk in the park for him." Giles sighed. "The memory of the pain is still quite searing. I just don't believe he could just casually harm someone as he did before. It was a special circumstance. He was under a great deal of provocation."

Buffy heaved a great sigh of relief. "So Willow's not in danger? Everything's okay?"

"Yes," said Giles just as Riley said, "No."

Both Buffy and Giles looked at Riley. Buffy in concern; Giles in barely concealed anger.

"What do you mean no? I just told you..." started Giles.

"You just said that you don't 'believe' he could hurt someone now. But you don't *know* that for sure. Neither do I. And if there's any chance at all, we have to do something." Riley paced a few steps away and then turned and addressed them both. "I don't pretend that I've ever been really comfortable around Spike. I've never understood why you gave him shelter in the first place. Buffy has never been able to explain it to me."

Buffy now looked uncomfortable. Riley kept talking in the clipped, military style that set Giles' teeth on edge.

"But fine, he was harmless. You had your reasons for ignoring all the people he'd hurt and killed in the past. Fine."

Giles tensed. He didn't like being lectured by this boy, who had never really done more than "play soldier". Riley never had looked on the people he was fighting as, well, people. They were merely things to be eliminated. And while it certainly did make for an easier world - a black and white one - it was a pity Giles and Buffy and the rest of the Scooby Gang had to live in the real world - the world of greys.

Riley continued, "But he's not harmless now. By his own words, he HAS harmed a human."

"A would-be rapist," interjected Giles in his coldest voice.

"Perhaps," Riley waved that away, "but still human." Giles' eyes narrowed at Riley's casual dismissal of the attack on Willow. Riley spoke again, "And if he did it once, whatever the provocation, he could do it again. And you can't let that go."

Buffy nodded reluctantly. "I agree," she said. Giles looked stricken by this. "Spike is a vampire, and if there's any chance he could go back to killing humans again... Giles, we have to stop him."

Giles opened and closed his mouth a few times. What could he say to Buffy? It's all right. He's in a committed relationship with Willow and myself? Willow loves him and he loves Willow? He'd never hurt Willow? He'll never hurt a human again? Giles wasn't sure that last one was true. Spike kept claiming he'd harm them if he had the chance. Giles had been discounting it for a while as breast-beating but maybe it was true. Did Giles dare take that chance? And even if he did.... Again, what could he say that would convince these two? He ran his fingers through his hair in frustration and looked up towards the stairs. And coming down them was Willow, looking very solemn.

"Willow?" he asked.

"You don't have to worry about Spike hurting me," she said flatly.

"Oh good," said Riley. "Did you dust him?" Buffy punched him lightly in the arm as Willow glared at him.

"No," she snapped. "You stopped trying to be discreet several minutes ago. We could both hear every word of your conversation. Rather than hang around waiting to see when and how you decided to execute him, Spike chose to leave."

"Leave!?" yelped Riley. He ran to the front door and flung it open. The sunlight blazed through. "How?" he demanded, turning back to Willow.

"He took a blanket, wrapped it over his head, jumped out the window, and took off," replied Willow, crossing her arms.

"Which way?" asked Riley.

"I don't know," responded Willow. "I was too stunned to move. And even if I did, I certainly wouldn't tell you!" She stepped forward two paces and started punching her finger into Riley's chest. "Spike may be a vampire (poke) but he (poke) saved my life last night (poke). He's helped us take out over10 (poke) vampires. That's five more than you (poke, poke)."

Buffy was torn between laughing at Riley's expression and trying to explain to comfort Willow. Buffy had tried to tell Riley that charging in was not the way to go, but would the soldier in him listen? NO.

Willow continued railing on Riley. "He was reforming! Giles and I were working on him. But no, you had to come stick your nose in and now everything's ruined," Willow stormed. She stopped, chest heaving with emotion. She didn't know whether anger or despair was uppermost in her feelings.

She found herself replaying the moment when Spike's head had suddenly turned in the direction of downstairs. He'd gotten up and turned down the TV.

Now she could hear the conversation, too. She could hear Giles losing the argument because he couldn't use the real reasons why Spike wasn't a danger to them. And like Spike, she could hear the sudden uncertainty in Giles voice as the argument continued. She'd looked at him quickly, and had been surprised to see an approving look on Spike's face. She'd reached out to him but he'd turned away, grabbed the nearest blanket and simply opened the window and jumped out. No word to her, nothing. Just gone.

Willow shivered slightly and Buffy took her by the arm and led her to the couch. Buffy gently touched the side of Willow's face and said, "I know you're grateful to him, Willow. But we have to remember what he really is."

Willow looked at Buffy and said quietly, "I've never forgotten what he really is."

Riley looked grimly at the two girls for a moment and then turned his gaze to Giles, who was looking back accusingly.

"And now he's loose?" Riley muttered, as he went for Giles' phone.

"Which he wouldn't have been if you hadn't come in here all gung-ho!" ground out Giles as he moved forward and laid his hand over the phone. "There are other ways of dealing with this than shoot first and ask questions later." The two men glared at one another.

Finally, Riley let go of the phone and grunted. "I don't understand you at all," he said.

Giles merely glared back. "No, you don't."


They had just finished a mass patrol and were walking back to Giles' apartment. Riley had gone home after the last sweep; there was still far too much tension between him and Willow and Giles. It had been two days since Spike had disappeared, and Willow was still upset.

The others were giving her space. Not sure why she was so upset. But Giles knew it was concern over where Spike was and how he was surviving.

Giles admitted to a bit of concern himself. After two days of hard thought, he still wasn't sure if he could completely trust Spike. His head said no. But his heart said yes. He didn't want to feel this way about someone he'd been brought up to regard as his mortal enemy - but three months in a relationship with someone, whether you wanted them in it or not, makes a difference.

"So, he's really gone?" asked Xander. "Really, really gone?"

"Yes," sighed Buffy for the tenth time. "Really gone. Why is this such the happy with you?"

"No more dumb-guy jokes? No more smart-mouthed Billy Idol wannabe? No more swilling of blood when I'm trying to eat? Where is there not the happy?"

"Oh I think I'm gonna miss him," interjected Anya. Xander looked horrified, and Willow smiled wanly.

"Why?" asked Buffy quizzically.

"It's an ex-demon thing. He's the only one of you who didn't get all, em, oogey when I talked about the good old days. He's the only one of you who seemed to like my stories," she said plaintively. "I listen to your boring old stories all the time - the least you could do is reciprocate."

"Honey," said Xander patiently, "Our stories are about how we saved the world from being sucked into hell. Your stories are about how you removed some guy's intestines and then made them into a belt. You have to see that..."

"Xander," she squealed, throwing her arms around his neck and giving him a hug, "You *were* listening to me!" She kissed him enthusiastically. Buffy rolled her eyes at Giles.

Willow kept walking. She ignored the sound of Xander's crowing and Anya's carping. She just couldn't get the image of Spike being hunted by the Initiative out of her mind. What would they do when they captured him? She couldn't delude herself that it would be "if" they captured him. They'd seen enough of the Initiative to know that when they put the full force out there, they always "got their demon". She bit her lip and shivered slightly.

"You should be wearing a coat," came a voice out of the shadows.

"Spike!" she swung around, a look of joy on her face. The others stopped short, and Xander groaned, "Oh no -I thought you said he was gone!" Buffy took a step forward.

"Oh, back off Slayer. I've just come to say good-bye."

"G-g-good-bye?" questioned Giles, and Willow's face fell.

"Yeah. You don't think I'm stupid enough to hang around here with these gits out to get me, do ya?" Spike sneered. "I got better things to do than play dodge-ems with those prats."

"So why are you still here, Spike?" asked Buffy.

"To tell you I was leaving, so's you can call the commandos off," he replied.

"Right, and this isn't some sort of con, where you say you're leaving, but you're really sticking around?" Xander butted in.

Willow's face lit up with hope. "No," said Spike shortly. "I'm leaving. There's no good reason to stay here." Willow's face fell. Spike looked briefly at Giles and then back to Willow. "I'll only get hurt if I stay. It's no good. No good at all." Buffy frowned at the meaningful tone of voice, but Giles nodded quietly to himself.

"We'll miss you, Spike," Willow said quietly.

"Speak for yourself," muttered Xander. Spike shot the boy a look of disdain.

"Right, that's it then. I'm leaving. You know I'm leaving. 'Nuf said," Spike stated. He gave them all one last look. Xander was grinning, Anya looked - well, like Anya always looked, bored, Buffy was grim, Giles looked concerned, and Willow looked like she was holding back tears. He never could stand to watch her cry. He spun on his heel and took two steps away.

Then, suddenly he turned back and took three quick steps forward. "Bugger it," he nearly shouted and swept Willow into his arms and kissed her fiercely. She clung to him for a second. Buffy, Xander and Anya were stunned into immobility. Giles tried not to grin.

Spike broke the kiss harshly and pushed Willow away. "You take care of yourself," he said in a stern whisper, turned and walked into the shadows. In a moment, he was gone. Willow stood there staring after him, with the rest of the group ranged behind her.

"Well, Willow," said Buffy dryly. "Is there something you want to tell us?" Willow shook herself and came back to earth with a thump.

"U-uh, uh, ugh," she finally got out. She wiped her mouth with her sleeve. "Ugh, Spike lips. Ptah," she made as if she was spitting as she turned. She tried to arrange her features into an expression of disgust. Giles tried even harder not to laugh. She was really so terribly unconvincing.

"Why did he kiss you!?" cried Xander.

"Yeah," echoed Anya, "Why YOU?" Xander frowned at her for the emphasis on the YOU in that statement.

"I don't know," she replied. "Probably just to freak us all out so we wouldn't go after him or something."

"No doubt," agreed Giles wryly. "And it seems to have worked. Let's get back to my apartment. We can call Riley from there." Buffy still was giving very suspicious looks at Willow's red face, but she walked on with the rest of them. After a moment, Giles slowed down a bit, and Willow fell into step beside him.

"That was a very plausible performance," he said sotto voce. He mimicked her tone, "'Spike lips, ptah.' Oscar-worthy, really," he teased gently.

Willow sniffed slightly and said, "Oh, you think you'd have done better? Just think how you'd explain it if YOU had been the one closest to him when he left."

Giles chuffed a silent laugh and then looked stricken. Gods, Willow was right. Spike would have kissed him in front of everyone. Willow was torn between laughter and tears and decided that, for now, laughter was best. Her chuckle drifted across the night air and somewhere in the distance a blond vampire smiled.


Send Feedback

Back to The Eileen's Stories