Previous parts here:
Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five / Part Six / Part Seven / Part Eight / Part Nine / Part Ten
ETA: Since I first posted this I've made extensive revisions to the last couple of scenes, undoing some last-minute changes that I made as I wrote. This is now in accordance with my original draft and, I hope, an improvement. It's now 3,700 words.
Angel of the Morning
“Hello, may I come in?” It was an unfamiliar voice and it brought me slightly out of my state of shock.
“What are you doing here, Hallie?” Anya responded.
“Why, I’m here to offer my services, of course.” It was the demon girl who’d been one of Anya’s bridesmaids. The one Spike had known. Miss Underwood.
“I thought your field was neglected children?” Anya sounded puzzled and a bit suspicious.
“Strictly, yes, but I’m behind on my quota and I’m prepared to be flexible in the circumstances,” Hallie replied. She joined me in front of the laptop. “Your friend and your boyfriend have betrayed you, Willow. They deserve to be punished, don’t they? Don’t you think that they deserve some suitable reprisal visited upon them? Don’t you wish that they should suffer?”
I didn’t answer. Something about the scene on the monitor was beginning to register on me. The picture wasn’t great, 480 by 360 and around about 8 or 10 frames a second, but it was clear enough.
Spike wasn’t making love to Buffy the way he did to me. There wasn’t any touching and stroking and holding close. He was just reaching up to her breasts and squeezing them, no variation, no tenderness. There was no joy on his face. He hadn’t even taken off his jeans, and Buffy wasn’t even looking at him as she bounced up and down. I opened my mouth to speak.
“Don’t say ‘wish’!” Anya said urgently. “She’s a Vengeance Demon. As long as you don’t say the word she can’t do anything.”
“Stay out of this, Anyanka,” Hallie said. “I prefer the term ‘Justice Demon’, anyway. I just make sure that wrongdoers get what they deserve.”
“I don’t want vengeance,” I said. “Not right now. What I want is answers.” Then I remembered Xander’s words, and I looked across to Buffy’s weapons chest and saw that it was open, and I felt a cold shiver down my spine. “Xander’s gone to kill Spike! I have to stop him.”
I abandoned the computer and ran from the house. Xander might have lost weight during his honeymoon, but he still must have been carrying thirty surplus pounds, and just maybe I could catch him up before he got to Restfield; except then I saw the space where his car had been parked and despair filled me. I ran on anyway. His car might get a flat, he might run out of gas, he might do some talking before he did anything violent; I had to try. I charged across the road without even looking and raced along the sidewalk.
Suddenly Hallie was there, easily keeping pace with me. “There wouldn’t be any artistry in Spike simply being chopped up by Xander’s axe,” she said, to herself more than to me. “That wouldn’t be revenge for you, just Xander working out his own issues. I can get you there in time. Take my hand.”
“I’m not making a wish,” I told her. I knew about wishes, that way led to Vampire Willow roaming around in black leather and to other badnesses, but I took Hallie’s hand anyway. Everything blurred and shifted and we were at the gates of Restfield Cemetery. Xander’s car was there already, I’d have been way too late if Hallie hadn’t given me a ride, and I released her hand and ran as fast as I could across the grass.
I saw Xander ahead of me, striding purposefully towards the crypt, with the largest of Buffy’s axes resting on his shoulder. I yelled out to him “Xander! Wait up!”
Xander halted. “You want to watch me kill the bastard, Will?”
“There will be no killing,” I said firmly. “This is between me and Buffy and Spike.”
“He’s gone too far this time, Willow. I can’t let him get away with it.” He raised the axe and swung it back and forwards. “I warned you, Will. He got what he wanted from you and now he’s back to his sick obsession with Buffy. Somehow he’s managed to take advantage of her, get her while she’s depressed, and he’s – oh God, that horrible evil dead thing is touching her. It makes me sick to my stomach.”
“There are things you don’t know, Xan. Spike was going with Buffy months ago,” I told him. “She kept it a secret from everybody.”
Xander stared at me, disbelief plain on his face. “You’re lying.”
“She had a fight with him and beat him up really bad,” I went on. “Remember what he looked like at her birthday party? He broke it off with her then. The way Buffy sees it I stole Spike from her. Not that it was really like that, ‘cause I didn’t know they were together, but maybe I can see where she’s coming from.” I had a sudden attack of wishful thinking. “Hey, maybe the clip on the computer was an old file, ‘cause hey, video is probably about the only way the nerds get to see naked girls and sex and stuff, and maybe it was from January or whenever.” My attempt to fool myself didn’t work. The other clips seemed to have been live, in fact the feed from the campus had shown a clock and it had been showing the right time, and there had been an indicator showing ‘packets received’ and it had been clicking over. The crypt cam was a live feed too. I burst into tears. “This is all your fault, Xander. You made me have the fight with Spike and gave Buffy the chance to get back at me.”
“I’d really rather not enact a vengeance wish upon Anyanka’s husband,” Hallie put in from behind me. “Not unless he betrays her in some way, of course.”
Xander glanced at her briefly, frowning, and then turned back to me. “You don’t know what you’re saying, Will. All of this is the fault of that monster. Once he’s dust you’ll be able to see things clearly. God, how you and Buffy could stand to have that loathsome creature pawing you!” He shouldered the axe again and resumed his course towards Spike’s crypt.
“No, Xander, stop!” I pleaded, but he ignored me and marched onwards.
Xander kicked the door of the crypt open and stormed in. “You bastard!” he yelled. I was close behind him, trying to get the axe out of his hands, but he was real strong these days with all the construction work and he lifted me right off the ground without even breaking a sweat.
Buffy squealed and covered her boobies with her hands. At least they’d finished with the sex, and she had pulled on her panties and was standing beside a pile of clothes, and Spike had fastened up his zipper.
“Oh God,” Spike said heavily, sitting up on the sarcophagus. “Willow. Willow, I – oh Christ.”
“How could you?” I cried, and I meant it for both Spike and Buffy. “How could you?”
“How could you?” Xander echoed, but he was only speaking to Buffy. “That soulless dead thing, and you give yourself to him. I feel sick when I look at you.”
“He makes me feel,” Buffy said, looking at us with an oddly smug air about her. “All I have is Slaying, and work, and worrying about Dawn, and Spike was the only thing that gave me any pleasure.” She turned her back on us and picked up her bra from the floor.
“Spike, how could you?” I repeated.
“Oh, God, love, I never meant to hurt you,” he said, and his eyes were filled with pain. “I’m weak, is all. Couldn’t bloody resist. She came to me and I couldn’t say no. You weren’t there to give me strength.”
“So not going to be an issue any more,” Xander said determinedly, breaking my grasp on the axe and striding towards Spike.
“Xander! No!” I shrieked.
He hesitated. “You can’t still want me to spare him. You can’t. We’ve caught him in the act.”
“I still love him,” I said. “Please, Xander, this isn’t the answer.”
“Don’t deserve your love,” Spike muttered. “Might as well let him bloody kill me.”
Hallie had followed us into the crypt. “Wreak vengeance upon him,” she urged. “Make him feel what it’s like to have his heart torn out.”
“Hey, good idea,” Xander grinned. “I could go for that.”
“Sorry, only the injured party can wish for justice,” Hallie reminded him. “For Anyanka’s sake I’d better remind you that you’re not totally in the clear here. You might want to keep your mouth shut.”
“Huh?” Xander said, and then he caught my eyes and paled slightly. “I was only thinking of you, Will. Getting you away from that monster was for your own good.”
“If you’d just stood up to him,” Spike began, and then he lowered his eyes. “Not gonna make any excuses. I’m a bloody pathetic git. Isn’t anything you could get Cecily to do to me that I wouldn’t deserve.”
“Spike’s mine,” Buffy claimed. “Both of you leave him alone. The only thing you had going for you, Willow, was that you were willing to go public about your thing with Spike. When you wouldn’t face up to Xander you put yourself on the same level as me. Spike was mine before he was ever yours. My willing slave. You abandoned your right to him, and so I took him back.” She fastened up her bra as she spoke and then turned around to face us.
“Not your sodding property, Slayer,” Spike growled. “Not any more.”
“I never said anything about not wanting to be open about seeing you,” I protested to Spike. “I just wanted to give Xander the chance to keep living in the land of Denial, so that he could pretend to himself that everything was the cosy little way he wanted it to be, and keep his big nose out of things. Hey, I was really looking forward to telling Anya all about that thing you do with your tongue! I was proud to be with you.”
“That’s not the way she made it sound,” Spike muttered, eyes downcast once more.
I glared at Buffy. “What did you tell him?”
“Nothing that wasn’t true,” she said. “Maybe I missed a few things out of what I told him, but I didn’t tell him any lies.”
I could guess what she’d missed out. All the parts about how miserable I was without him. “Buffy, you really deserve to get every square inch of your ass kicked,” I told her.
“That could be arranged,” Hallie said eagerly. “Just wish it.”
“Stay out of this, Cecily,” Spike said. “Haven’t you done enough bloody damage?”
“No,” Hallie, or Cecily, said blithely. “It’s my job.”
There wasn’t really any answer to that. “I don’t want any vengeance wreaked on anyone,” I said. “Hey, I still have enough magic that I could get pretty wreaky myself if it came to it. But it wouldn’t help any.”
“Willow,” Buffy said, her tone completely different from how it had been earlier, “I am sorry. I really didn’t mean for you to get hurt. I just wanted my itch scratched and I didn’t stop to think about how it would affect you. I never thought you’d find out.” She frowned. “How did you find out, anyway?”
“I should have gotten you the Rabbit Vibrator for your birthday after all, shouldn’t I?” I said, a touch of cattiness sneaking into my tone.
“Yeah, Slayer, that’s all I sodding well am to you, innit?” Spike chimed in. “Bloody idiot that I am, letting you use me for a shag, just a scratching post for your itch. Willow was making love to me. Hell of a difference. God, I’m a total pillock not to see it.”
“Shut up, Spike,” Buffy said. “How did you find out, Xander?”
Xander didn’t answer directly. He glanced around the crypt, went to stand beside a skull on a high shelf, and looked towards the sarcophagus. “Waddya think, Will?”
“That seems about right to me,” I agreed.
Xander reached up, pulled down the skull, and hurled it at the wall of the crypt. It shattered and fragments flew everywhere. The webcam that had been hidden within bounced across the floor shedding parts as it went. “You’ve been starring in Sunnydale’s own little version of ‘The Truman Show’,” he told Buffy. “Your little session of ‘Intercourse With The Vampire’ was prime-time viewing for Warren and his little pals. Whaddya think about that, huh?”
The birds had flown by the time we worked out where their new hideout was and Buffy made it over there. This time they hadn’t made an orderly retreat; they’d left a PC behind, and a few CD-ROMs, and a whole lot of stuff on paper. Buffy brought it all back to her house and we went through it trying to work out what they were up to, and what they would be doing next.
That was one whole lot of fun, not. You could say things were a bit strained between me and Buffy but that would be a pretty dumb way of putting it. It was all with the Cold War again, and we were all stiff and polite to each other, but there was no chattiness. It hurt. Buffy had been my best girl friend ever since her first day at Sunnydale High, when she’d chosen me over Cordelia, and I would never forget that. It wasn’t like I’d never done anything to hurt her, either.
Forgiving her wasn’t going to be easy but I was going to do it. Was I going to forgive Spike?
We spent a big chunk of Saturday going through the Three Stooges’ stuff. There were some saved files that were video clips from the webcams, and some of them were pretty embarrassing because they were Spike and Buffy screwing, but they were all old stuff and there weren’t any featuring me. We’d always done it downstairs, there hadn’t been a camera down there, and the worst that they could have seen on the webcam from the upstairs would have been Spike taking off my bra. There wasn’t anything like that, anyway, and I was pretty pleased; although I guess I was just a little miffed that they hadn’t thought that a shot of my boobies was worth saving.
There were files on the discs that were encrypted, and I could cope with that no problem, but the info in them was encoded as well and the key had me beat. I buried myself in the work, putting the whole Spike situation to one side, ‘cause I really didn’t want to deal with it right now until my hurting eased off a bit, but I didn’t get anywhere.
We took a break when it got dark. Buffy went out on patrol; she swore to me before she went that she wouldn’t go anywhere near Spike, and I believed her. Fact is I was pretty sure that if she did try anything with Spike now he’d hold out.
I hadn’t seen Tara since the whole spy camera thing went down, and I hadn’t told her about what had happened, and I forgot all about having told her to make sure that she was in the Bronze that night.
I hadn’t gotten around to having a shower yet, and I’d gotten pretty sweaty with all the running around the day before, and I had the beginnings of a headache, and I decided to have a bath so that I could lie and soak in the warm water and let it soothe some of my cares away.
I left the bathroom door open as I ran the water. I turned off the taps, went to close the door, and there he was. He’d taken off his coat and was leaning against the door wearing a shirt that I’d bought him.
“I’m sorry,” he said softly. “I didn’t mean to hurt you. Know I can’t make it up to you, but I just want you to know that.”
“I do know that,” I told him. “But you did hurt me. You betrayed my trust.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t have trusted me,” he said, sounding bitter. “’m not a good man, Willow.”
“You were trying. You were getting there.” I gave him a little smile. “It’s not all your fault, Spike. You were right, I should have stood up to Xander more.”
“Not gonna have you blaming yourself,” he said. “I let you down, pet.”
“Yeah, well, we were supposed to be helping each other stay on track,” I said. “Guess we went a bit astray on that, huh? We’ll have to try harder in future. We started out by leaning on each other, right? We can’t do that if we aren’t together.”
“You’re going to forgive me?” he said. “Don’t bloody deserve it.”
“Giles said something about forgiveness once. ‘It’s not done because people deserve it; it’s done because people need it’. And, hey, I’ve been miserable without you. I don’t see the sense in going on being miserable just ‘cause you’ve done something wrong.” His hang-dog expression was beginning to turn into a smile, but I didn’t want him to get off too easy. “I’m not ready to forgive you yet, Spike. Maybe in a little while. We need to talk.”
“Could talk while I soap your back, love?” he suggested. He tipped his head to one side and gave me a smoldering look, his tongue sliding across the edges of his teeth in a way that sent a wave of heat through my belly, and I nearly melted but managed – just – to hold out.
“You’re going to have to miss out on that tonight,” I told him. “Count it as part of your punishment. We’ll talk after my bath, okay?”
“Fair enough,” Spike said, his face falling. “Think I’ll kill the time with a fag – a ciggie, that is.”
I had a sudden impulse to send him to Buffy’s room for his cigarette, but filling her bedroom with stale cigarette smoke was far too petty a vengeance. If I was going to get my own back on Buffy it would have to be in some manner that would really hurt, although not in any permanent or life-threatening way. I had a card up my sleeve for that eventuality. Anyway, the cigarette thing? Not appropriate. “Go out on the porch, Spike. If you finish before you hear me pull the plug, you put the coffee pot on, okay?”
“Sure thing, love,” Spike beamed. “Bloody love you, y’know, Red? Right useless wanker I am, not treating you like you deserve.”
“If you’d stuck to being a wanker you wouldn’t be in this mess,” I told him. His eyebrows shot up; I don’t think he’d realized that I knew what the expression meant.
“Bloody right there, pet,” he grinned. “Could have given the sci-fi tosspots a good show, me and my left hand, and no harm done. ‘Cept to impressionable dork minds.”
I laughed. “My bath-water will get cold. Go on out, Spike. See you later.”
“’Kay. Love you,” he said, and was gone.
The hot water soothed and calmed me, washing away most of the hurt. The little conversation with Spike had made me feel a whole lot better, too. I’d regained a lot of my trust in him; he did love me, I was sure of it, and I couldn’t imagine him doing me wrong with anyone else apart from Buffy and, just maybe, Drusilla. At least he hadn’t lied to me, all the way along he’d been open about still being in love with Buffy, and I could see how he couldn’t resist her. Giles had said he was obsessed with her; it looked as if the Watcher had been completely right about the vampire.
I lay, and thought about things, and decided not to rush the bath to be with Spike. Let him wait for me, it would serve him right.
And then all of a sudden the door burst open and Xander was there.
I screamed and covered myself with my hands, although there were plenty of soap suds, and he probably hadn’t seen all that much. “Get out get out!” I shrieked, channeling Dawnie.
“What the –” Xander gasped. He was brandishing Spike’s coat in his hands as if he was holding it up to the jury in a Perry Mason movie. “Uh, sorry, sorry. I thought Spike was here. I was scared he was doing something.”
There was a thunder of feet on the stairs. “What the fuck are you doing, Harris?” Spike roared. “Get away from my girl! She’s in the sodding bath, you git!”
“You get away from her!” Xander yelled back at Spike. “She’s not your girl, and you’re delusional if you think otherwise.”
“Both of you behave yourselves!” I snapped. “Nobody decides whose girl I am but me. Xander, what part of ‘get out get out’ didn’t you understand?”
“Tell him to back off!” Xander yelped, sounding alarmed, almost scared. I peered out through the door, leaning as far over as I could without flashing various bits of me that Spike had seen but that Xander hadn’t since we were eight, and could just see past Xander enough to spot that Spike was in game face.”
“Drop it, Spike,” I told him. “Thanks, but I don’t need rescuing. Xander’s just being an intrusive jerk, but he doesn’t mean any harm.”
“Sorry, Willow,” Xander said. “Sorry, Spike.” To my amazement he sounded pretty sincere.
“That’s okay, mate,” Spike said, a grumble in his tone but nothing worse. “Sorry about flashing the fangs.”
“Go away, both of you,” I urged them.
“Sorry, but, uh, it’s important, Will,” Xander said. There was an edge to his voice that really caught my attention for the first time since he’d burst through the door, something in his tone that carried an urgency greater than my desire not to show him my boobies. I looked at him sharply and noticed what I had been too distracted to see before. Bruises on his face, and dried blood crusted around his nostrils. He’d been in an accident or, more likely, in a fight. “There was some trouble at the Bronze. Tara – she was hurt, Will. She’s in the hospital.”
The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the writers of the original episodes, and the TV and production companies responsible for the original television shows. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ©2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer trademark is used without express permission from Fox.