Part one was Here
Angel of the Morning
The movie was totally awesome. A bit confusing, sometimes, and a little too slow in some bits, but still awesome. The twist near the end blew me away; although it brought back a few bad memories as well for me, and I think for Spike too.
Anyway, when the credits started rolling it hit me that I was all snuggled up with Spike and he had his arm round me. I didn’t hurry to pull away, ‘cause it felt nice; it was good to have someone hold me again. I’d missed it. And, you know, it struck me that I’d missed the way a guy holds you, since Oz left; snugglies with Tara were great, fantastic, but not the same. Different kind of good.
There were a few people at the movie that I knew; none of the Scoobies, but people from school. On the way out Spike got a few steps ahead of me and Jenna Vorwerk, who I had a couple of classes with, came up close and said “Who’s the hot guy?”
Hey, far too much to explain, and so I just said “My friend Spike.”
I guess she’d seen me snuggling with him, ‘cause she hissed “I thought you were, you know, gay?”
I hesitated before replying. I mean, yeah, gay, but it had been nice snuggling with a guy again, and if I kept on with the gay-saying then there wouldn’t be any chance of making Tara jealous. I wagged my hand from side to side. “Sorta,” I said.
Jenna’s eyes went very wide and her mouth went round. “Ooh,” she said. “Hey, we’re going to the Bronze. Coming with? We could have a talk.”
Well, she’d obviously caught what I meant by swinging my hand both ways, but she also obviously thought I had something a bit more interesting to talk about than a bit of snuggling in the movies. The Bronze sounded good anyway. I wasn’t feeling all that eager to go home and then sit around waiting for Buffy to come back from work, ‘cause there were things to say to Buffy and I wasn’t looking forward to saying them. “I’ll ask Spike,” I told Jenna.
“Ask me what, love?” Spike had heard me, and he stopped and waited for us to catch up. Jenna was looking very interested; guess she didn’t know that Spike didn’t necessarily mean anything when he called a girl ‘love’.
“Jenna wants to know if we’re going to the Bronze,” I told him. “How about it?”
He looked surprised for a moment, and I suddenly felt worried in case he said something that would make me look like a fool in front of Jenna, but then he tilted his head to the side and gave me a smile that I guess would be best described as ‘smoldering’. “Yeah, the Bronze sounds a right nice way to finish the evening, pet.”
Jenna flicked a quick glance at her guy Joel, and then back at Spike, and then at me. Was that expression on her face envy? Yes! Yay, go me! Okay, it was a cheat really, ‘cause me and Spike weren’t really on a proper date, but I could still feel gloaty if I wanted. So sue me.
- - - - -
So, we went to the Bronze with Jenna and Joel. First time in ages that I’d gone there without the other Scoobies. Well, apart from when Amy took me to the Bronze and to Rack’s, but that was all with the magic and the badness and not really something I wanted to remember. This was just normal stuff, just like being with Xander and Anya or Buffy only without them being there, and without being able to talk quite as freely. Which was oddly of the good, ‘cause, who needs to hear Xander calling Spike ‘Evil Dead’ all the time? To Joel and Jenna he was just a guy, and hey, the talking was pretty much fun.
They liked Spike. Why not? He knows stuff, he has that whole bad-boy charm thing, he was being pretty funny, and with the vampire thing not an issue there was no reason for them not to. I thought it would be awkward when they asked what he did, but he just said he had Green Card problems and they left it at that.
When I thought about it I could see that he really did have Green Card problems. He can’t hunt, can’t steal, so he pretty much has to live by human rules, but he can’t prove he has a right to work in the USA ‘cause really he hasn’t. It struck me that money must be pretty tight for Spike; we hadn’t paid him for helping us out for quite a while. He can’t just go out and get a job. Besides the Green Card thing there’s the bursting into flames in sunlight thing, kinda rules out most of the things that illegals get hired for, and the chip means he can’t do anything that might need him to hit people, like maybe a nightclub bouncer. Spike’s pretty much got the short end of the stick, can’t blame him for hustling pool ‘cause what else is he gonna do?
Not that I really thought about it all that much right there and then. We talked about the film; Spike and Joel talked about the martial arts and about the guy who played Mani, who was more of a martial arts guy than an actor according to them; me and Jenna talked about the guy too, but more about the hotness of him than about the martial arts. We talked about a whole lot of other stuff as well, and we had some laughs.
‘Course, they wanted to know what kind of name was ‘Spike’, and the whole banging railroad spikes through people’s heads explanation would have given them a serious attack of the wiggins, but Spike had an easy answer. There’s this old British guy who did radio and TV shows and movies, called Spike Milligan, and Spike said he picked up the nickname at college from being a fan. He was pretty convincing, I would have believed it myself if hadn’t known different, but the dumb ‘Ying Tong Ying Tong’ song that he started singing was just so not funny these days. We laughed anyway. And then I danced with Spike. He’s a real good dancer and, okay, I dance pretty much like a spazz, but it was still fun.
- - - - -
We didn’t stay late ‘cause I wanted to get home to see Buffy. Well, not so much that I wanted to, more it was something I had to do. If we were going to have a confrontation the best time for it was tonight, while Dawn was away, and so I had to get it over with even though I felt like putting it off until another time. Maybe 2007.
Anyway, we called it a night, and Spike walked me home, and we talked a bit more. “Have to do something about getting you a helmet if we’re going to do this again, love,” Spike said, “then you can ride with me on the bike.”
That sounded pretty definitely like Spike was thinking of this being more than just a one-off and, hey, that was cool with me. It kinda gave me the warm fuzzies, in fact. “Yeah, that would be cool,” I said. “Hey, what happened to the car you used to have?”
“Had to sell it, didn’t I?” Spike’s lips went tight and his eyebrows came down. “That git Warren needed dosh to get parts for the Bot. Held out even when I threatened him, said he just couldn’t do it without a few thousand dollars, and that was the only way I could lay my hands on the sodding cash.”
So, that explained a lot. But it wasn’t important right now, and I knew Spike didn’t like talking about the Bot, and so I changed the subject. “Hey, what did you think of Jenna and Joel?” I asked.
He didn’t reply directly. Instead he shook his head, rolled his eyes, and his mouth twisted in a wry little smile. “I’m totally buggered, y’know. Right royally screwed.”
I probed for clarification with a typically piercing and articulate question. “Huh?”
“Bloody like them, don’t I? How’s a decent self-respecting vampire supposed to cope when he goes round liking humans? If I ever get this sodding chip out of my head I still won’t bloody be able to eat anyone. Can’t think of you lot as Happy Meals any more, which is fair enough, but it’s extending out to sodding everybody.” He was giving me a sort of smirk that looked kind of, I don’t know, rueful maybe? Only amused too, maybe even happy.
“Spike,” I asked him, “what would you do if you got the chip out? I mean, really?”
He stopped smirking, and frowned. “Obvious, innit?” he said, and he hunched up his shoulders and looked away from me. “I could be the Big Bad again. Eat everybody, carnage all round, usual vampire thing, right?”
“I don’t believe you,” I told him. “You wouldn’t hurt us. Not Buffy, not Dawn, not me.” ‘Cause, it kind of hit me. This past week or so, when I’d been hanging out with Spike and Dawn, had been kind of nice. I hadn’t been thinking about the magic abuse, Tara having left me hadn’t been hurting as much as it had before, and I’d been sleeping much better. I had a feeling that it had been pretty much the same for Spike too.
“Course I would,” he said, but he didn’t sound terribly convincing. “Evil, soulless, thing.”
“That’s getting stale, Spike,” I said. “Try singing another song.”
“As you wish,” he said, and the smirk came back. He drew in a deep breath and started singing. “If I didn’t have this chip, oh if I didn’t have this chip, my fangs I’d be showing, and the blood it would be flowing, if I didn’t have this chip.”
I started to giggle. I spent a few seconds trying to come up with something myself, about ‘if I didn’t have this magic’, but I couldn’t think of anything and so I crooked my arm and stuck it out towards him. He slipped his arm through mine, and we tried to dance along the road like Dorothy and the Tin Man, only I knocked my foot against his and tripped and I would have fallen on my face if Spike hadn’t held on and kept me upright.
“You all right, pet?” Spike asked, and he sounded all deep voiced and concerned, and his eyebrow did this quirky upward thing, and I had an attack of the warm fuzzies.
“Yeah,” I said. “I’m just pretty much Miss Bad Coordination 2002 tonight, huh?”
“Think Judy Garland had a bit more time to rehearse, Red,” he said, and gave me the smirk again, and he wasn’t in any hurry to let me go, and the warm fuzzies brought up reinforcements and maybe even siege towers.
“Yeah,” I agreed, “and so did the Tin Woodsman. Maybe we’d better just walk along the Yellow Brick Road.” So we did, and we still had our arms linked together all the way back to 1630 Revello.
We stopped outside the house and Spike cocked his head to one side. “Won’t come in with you, love,” he said. “Slayer’s home.” He slipped his arm out of mine and bent slightly towards me, like he was going to kiss me goodnight. Maybe it was just ‘cause it was it was kinda the expected thing, or maybe it was ‘cause he really wanted to kiss me, I didn’t know, but either way the warm fuzzies made a serious attack on the walls with scaling ladders and catapults and even a few war elephants. He paused, and I wasn’t sure if he was going to go through with it, and so I grabbed hold of him and made with the smoochies.
Not that it was exactly Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr rolling around in the surf in ‘From Here to Eternity’ material, wasn’t George Peppard and Audrey Hepburn in ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ either, I mean, no surf or rain for a start, and it only lasted about five seconds; but we did open our mouths, and our tongues touched, and it was definitely smoochies not just a peck. My heart was pounding a bit when it finished, but Spike’s wasn’t, ‘cause, hey, vampire, no heartbeat. “Goodnight, Spike,” I said.
“G’night, Red,” he said. “See you.” And he melted off into the night and I went into the house to face Buffy.
- - - - -
She’d been back long enough to have showered, which was of the good, ‘cause second-hand DoubleMeat aroma really not on my list of favorite things. Thinking about that, and Spike’s silly song, made me space out for a few seconds and come up with ‘DoubleMeat smells clinging to Buffy’s clothes, these are things that I don’t want in my nose’, and I choked back a giggle.
“Hey, Willow,” Buffy greeted me. “You seem pretty chipper tonight. Where’ve you been?” She gave me a pretty hard stare, maybe she thought I’d been back to Rack’s.
“The movies,” I told her, “and then I went on to the Bronze. I saw ‘Brotherhood of the Wolf’, and it was pretty cool. I had a good time. Shame you had to work.”
“The movies and the Bronze?” She frowned. “By yourself?” She was still giving me that hard stare. I guessed she was worried that I’d been mixing with Amy again, ‘cause that had led to major badness last time.
“No, I went with Spike,” I said.
“With Spike?” she echoed. She looked pretty stunned; her mouth opened real wide and round and her eyebrows went up so high that if she’d been taller they’d have needed oxygen masks.
“Yeah,” I said, making it sound no big deal. “We met up with Jenna from Psych class in the movie, you know her, and her guy Joel who does Chemical Engineering, and we went to the Bronze with them.”
“You went to the movies with Spike?” She didn’t seem to have really come to grips with that concept.
“Well, yeah, that’s what I said. He was feeling pretty down, I thought he could do with cheering up, and hey, we had a good time.”
“But he’s a soulless evil killer!”
“You trusted him to take Dawn to the hospital,” I pointed out. “He hasn’t done anything evil for a long time, Buffy. Maybe we should start cutting him some slack and treating him like a friend.”
“Tara said he’d done a lot of good,” Buffy muttered, more to herself than to me.
“Well, he has,” I agreed. Something struck me as a little odd; the last time I’d seen Tara she’d seemed to be pretty much down on Spike. “When was that? At the party?”
“No, a few days before that,” Buffy said, and she avoided my eyes. “I was telling her something about Spike and she spoke up for him.”
Well, I’d been planning on calling Buffy over the Spike in the alley thing, and this seemed to be as good an opening as any. “That would be the night you beat on Spike and left him too hurt to move, would it? Is that what you were telling Tara?” If it was then that was another reason for me to be mad at Buffy, ‘cause hello, best friend here, should be me that gets the confessions.
Buffy might have looked pretty shocked when I told her that I’d gone to the movies with Spike, but she went for a new record now. All big eyes and mouth in a perfect circle. “How – how do you – did he tell you?” Her mouth tightened up as she got the words out, and by the time she’d finished her mouth shut in a tight line and she was looking one whole lot more angry than startled.
“No, he didn’t tell me. I found him that morning, Clem was just getting him out of the alley, and I helped get Spike home before the sun rose and dusted him. I spent the next couple of days looking after him ‘cause he was a total mess. He never said a thing about it being you. Just said it was humans. Until tonight I remembered something he kept saying and something you said at the party and I put a few pieces together, and I kinda tricked the rest out of him. That was why he was so down, and why I took him to the movies.” I took a deep breath. “Why’d you do it, Buffy? I mean, if he’d done something dangerous you’d have staked him, and that would have been okay, but he hadn’t. I don’t see how he deserved what you did to him. It was just, well, ugly.”
“He was getting in my face. Trying to stop me doing what was right. He just can’t understand,” she said, and she was looking down at her shoes as if they were really interesting. “He said for me to put it all on him, so I did. It’s not like he matters. He’s dead inside. He can’t feel anything real. He’s evil. He doesn’t have a soul.”
“Does a dog have a soul?”
Her forehead went all wrinkly. “I don’t know. What’s that got to do with it?”
“I’m just saying, not having a soul doesn’t make it right to beat on him. If anyone had beat a dog like that and I saw it I’d be pretty mad about it and, Buffy, I’m maybe not your biggest fan right at this minute. What you did was wrong, Buffy. Didn’t Tara tell you that?”
“That’s not what I was telling Tara about,” Buffy said. She didn’t explain further right away but I looked straight at her until she cracked. “I don’t register on his chip any more. He can hit me.”
Well, there was a time when that would have been a big shock, and major wigging would have been the order of the day, but these days not so much. I just couldn’t believe that Spike would do anything to really hurt Buffy, and if she meant that the chip had stopped working altogether I still wasn’t that wigged. Like I’d told Spike, I didn’t think he’d hurt any of us; except that maybe Xander might get popped on the nose if he shot his mouth off too much. “Well, if he can hit you back, he must have chosen not to,” I said. “I saw his knuckles, there wasn’t a mark on them, and I didn’t notice much in the way of bruises on you the next day. Spike looked pretty much like he did after Glory had finished with him. What happened? Did he hit you when he was trying to stop you turning yourself in?”
She lifted up her hands and waved them around. “It’s, um, complicated. It wasn’t that night. I’ve known he can hit me for a long time now. Before Christmas. Around the time there was that robbery with the freeze ray.”
“And you didn’t think to mention it to anyone else?”
“I told Tara. And it’s just me it doesn’t work on.” She stuck out her bottom lip. “He said I must have come back wrong. I’d asked Tara to check it out, find out if there was something wrong with me.”
Well, thinking about it, that was about the time I’d un-ratted Amy and gone to Rack’s and been all big with the magic addiction thing, I guess I could see why she hadn’t come to me. “Okay, yeah, he said a nasty thing, worth a punch on the nose maybe. Not a beating like you gave him. And, Buffy, if that’s why you did it, it sure took you a long time to get mad.” I stopped for a second and thought. “Or were you trying for suicide by vampire? Trying to get him mad enough to fight you for real?”
“No!” she said, but she didn’t look at me as she said it, and I thought I might have been at least a bit right there. “It’s complicated. He was there and he was meddling and trying to stop me and I hit him and I just kinda lost it and hit him again and again.”
“And he just let you?”
“Yeah, he did.” Buffy shook her head. “Willow, it’s not like he matters. He’s evil and soulless.”
“That’s no excuse for being cruel to him, Buff. We’re supposed to be the good guys, we should act like it.” I was pretty much in a glass house with a stone in my hand there, and I knew it, and so I went on quickly to pre-empt any comment from Buffy. “I’ve been doing some pretty bad things lately, I know, but I’m getting a handle on it, and one reason is the time I’ve been spending with Spike. Hey, when I set off for the movies with Spike I actually got there and watched the movie. No diversions to bad places, which is better than I managed when it was just me. And, you know what, Buffy? I really don’t think Spike’s big with the evil any more.”
Buffy bit her lip and frowned. “I thought you’d be totally wigged about him being able to hit me.”
“Yeah, except that you’re the one who’s been doing the hitting.” I frowned back at her. “The thing about the chip not working, you were wanting Tara to find out why, is that right? Did she come up with anything?”
“She said it was an effect of the spell to bring me back, sort of a molecular sunburn, I didn’t really understand; but she said there isn’t anything wrong with me, and that’s the important thing.”
“Yeah.” I yawned, and realized that I was pretty much ready for bed. The confrontation with Buffy hadn’t gone quite the way I’d expected, and I wasn’t sure how much was resolved, but we weren’t shouting at each other, and I’d gotten my point across that Buffy had been wrong to beat on Spike, and I decided to call it quits. “Look, Buff, I’m off to bed now, okay? See you tomorrow.”
Buffy looked like she was only too happy to drop the conversation, and she said goodnight, and I went upstairs to bed.
I lay awake for a while thinking. If Tara had known about Spike being able to hit Buffy maybe that was why she’d been snippy with him at the party? No, that didn’t fit, it must have been because of her thinking there was something between Spike and me, like I’d thought in the first place. Was there something between Spike and me for real now? I had to admit I’d enjoyed the evening, and I’d enjoyed the kiss, but that wasn’t really what you would call a thing, was it? Not when we were both in love with other people, even though I’d treated Tara so badly that she’d walked out on me, and Buffy had treated Spike pretty badly too. Which reminded me, I’d meant to insist that Buffy apologize to him, and I hadn’t gotten around to that bit. I’d have to bring it up another time.
I must have fallen asleep round about that point. I slept right the way through the night, and I dreamed about ‘Brotherhood of the Wolf’, only with Spike as Gregoire de Fronsac instead of the French actor. And with me getting smoochies from both Mani and Spike.