Kiss Me Deadly
Spike was asleep when Willow got to the cave. He looked so peaceful; and dead, lying there on his back, not breathing. Which, she told herself, he was.
She crept in, careful not to make any sound that would wake the vampire, and blanketed him with his coat. She was turning to leave when a hand closed around her ankle, causing her to yelp in surprise.
"Going somewhere?" Spike drawled, his piercing blue eyes staring up at her.
"Yeah, I, um, need to get back to the library before the moon rises," Willow nervously told him.
"So you believe me then," Spike stated, releasing her leg and sitting up.
Willow nodded. "I found my balcony doors ripped open and my clothes from yesterday were torn to shreds. When I got to school, Oz and I compared notes. He woke up naked in the woods too."
"Bet you're sorry you woke up with me instead of 'im." Spike leered at the blush that rose on Willow's cheeks.
"I don't know about that. It would have been so embarrassing if we'd woken up naked together with no memories."
"And it wasn't embarrassing waking up naked with me?" Spike quirked an eyebrow knowingly.
"Oh, it was. But that's not the same," Willow protested. "You're not my boyfriend. Plus, you were fully clothed when I woke up."
"Should think that'd be worse. I am a demon after all. Who knows what I could have done to your sweet, vulnerable body while you were unconscious."
Willow's eyes widened in shock; she hadn't thought about that. She felt her heart begin to race. "Y-you didn't do anything, did you?"
Spike let her panic for a few minutes, relishing her fear, his face a cold, blank slate. Finally, he let his lips quirk into a grin.
"Nah." Willow let out the breath she'd been holding. "Didn't have any time to."
"I-I should really be going," Willow stammered as she inched towards the opening of the cave. "It's getting late."
"Right. You've got to get to the library," Spike smirked. He pulled out a cigarette and lit it. "Tell me something… Your mate going to be there?"
"Of course," Willow crossed her arms over her chest defensively. "Giles is gonna lock us in the book cage so that we don't hurt anyone."
"Together?" Spike pressed.
"I think so. Why?" she asked, wishing he'd hurry up and get to the point.
"If you're so worried about seeing each other nekkid, what's going to happen in the morning? Better yet, what do you think is going to happen between two animals, trapped together in a cage, with their mate?"
Willow paled, realizing what he was implying. She turned and ran, making her way to the library as fast as her legs would carry her, Spike's laughter following her.
Bursting through the doors of the library, half an hour before moonrise, Willow blurted out, "We can't be locked up together."
Four surprised faces looked back at her as Willow tried to catch her breath.
"Yes, we weren't planning on it," Giles slowly agreed, gesturing towards the large cage on the wall next to his office.
"Oh. Well, good." Willow shuffled over to sit next to Oz.
"That was some entrance, Wills," Xander said, trying to lighten the awkward silence that had fallen since Willow's arrival. Not that it had been all that comfortable before she got there. He still wasn't sure how to act around Oz. After all, the musician had gone and turned his best friend into a monster.
"Yeah, sorry about that. I just kinda got to thinking. You know this girl's brain, always working. I was, uh, staring at my closet thinking of what to bring since it was likely that I'd wake up all naked again, when it occurred to me that Oz would be waking up all naked too. And while you're my boyfriend, I'm just not ready to see you naked, or for you to see me naked," Willow said turning to Oz. "Then I started worrying about what a boy animal and a girl animal would do all night locked up together in a cage and panic ensued. So, um, where'd the other cage come from?"
Pulling himself from thoughts of a naked Willow, Xander coughed and said, "Remember my Aunt Rita who works for the pound? Well, I told her that Jesse had found a wild dog that he insisted on keeping, but his mom wouldn't let him let it roam around while they were sleeping. She sold me that real cheap."
"You used Jesse's memory to get a cage?"
"I know, but it's the only thing I could think of. She wouldn't have believed it if I'd said it was for me 'cause she knows my parents would never let me have a dog. Yours either. I figured that she wouldn't remember that Jesse was dead, just that he was my friend."
"No, you did the right thing," Willow agreed. "Oh, no!"
"Willow?" Buffy questioned, speaking for the first time. She was having an even worse time dealing with this new development than Xander was. She was the Slayer after all. She should be killing monsters, not forming a halfway house for them.
"I was so anxious about the whole waking up naked with Oz thing that I forgot to bring a change of clothes with me," Willow groaned. Oz rubbed her back soothingly.
Relieved to have something productive to do, Buffy offered, "No problem. I can swing by your house during patrol and pick up some things for you. You can shower in the locker room before school."
"Willow, not to be the tiresome adult, but what did you tell your parents about where you'd be tonight?" Giles asked. "And you Oz?"
"Oh, they're out of town," Willow said.
"Late band practice. Crashing with Devon," Oz answered.
"Ah, very good." Giles glanced at the clock and regretfully said, "I believe the time is upon us. If you don't mind…" he gestured to the cages.
Everyone stood and pushed away from the table.
Oz pulled Willow into his arms, feeling her shaking slightly from nerves. "It's going to be okay. I'll be right across the room," he whispered for her ears only. She nodded against his shoulder, squeezing him tighter. Drawing back slightly, Oz kissed her reassuringly.
"Hey," Xander exclaimed, seeing the kiss. "That's what got you into this mess!"
Willow giggled as the kiss broke. With one last peck on his lips, she walked into the book cage and closed the door. She turned to see Oz secure in the other cage.
Trying not to think about what was about to happen she asked, "What about in the morning?"
Giles indicated the pile of towels and sheets. "We will be putting these up before dawn to allow you both some privacy."
"You didn't think I was going to leave you alone in here with dog-boy all night, did you?" Xander cajoled.
"Xander, you don't have to do that. It's probably going to be really boring for you," Willow said, silently grateful that her best friend wanted to be there for her.
Moving to stand right in front of Willow, Xander sincerely told her, "Hey, you're going through something big. Nothing could stop me from being here."
"Thank you, Xander," Willow said, a tear slipping down her cheek. Her eyes suddenly went wide and she gasped.
Xander, Giles and Buffy watched in a combination of fascination and horror as their friends began to grow fur, their features shifted, eyes bled to black, clothes fell in tatters. Soon, nothing remained of the humans they called 'friend', snarling wolves glared at them in their stead.
"Amazing," Giles uttered, the single word summing it up for all of them.
Spike left the cave as soon as there was enough shade to safely do so. The sun was setting, so he figured that by the time he reached the edge of the woods, it would be dark enough to make his way to the mansion. At least now he had a better idea of where he was, the diminishing light giving him clues as to which direction he should take.
His wheelchair was where he had hidden it in a bush outside his room. He reluctantly slid into it and wheeled himself through the doors. He paused, just inside the doorway, upon seeing Angelus fucking Drusilla on his bed.
"Might I ask what you bloody well think you're doing on my bed?" Spike growled.
Not losing his rhythm, Angelus replied. "I know it's been a while, rollerboy, but I'd think it's pretty obvious."
"We were waiting for you," Drusilla cooed, even as she moved against her sire. "But you were gone ever so long."
Ignoring the cries of completion coming from his bed, Spike made a mental note to burn the sheets. "Ran into a spot of trouble while I was hunting. Ended up getting too close to dawn. Had to take cover." He wasn't about to say that he had gotten lost and had had to spend the day in a cave.
"And what kind of trouble could you get into?" Angelus smirked, pulling his clothes back on.
"Actually, I ran into a werewolf," Spike said.
Drusilla bounced on the bed, unashamed of her nakedness. "Did you bring me a doggie?"
"Sorry, pet. Turned back into to a human."
"Still could have brought it home. Chained it up until the moon called to wake it up again," she pouted.
"So, what, you just came across it as it was changing back? That's hardly something to keep you out all day," Angelus said, bored already.
"Ah, but the interesting part was who the wolf turned out to be," Spike smirked.
"Was it someone yummy? Did you eat it?" Drusilla asked.
Angelus shuddered. "Werewolves in human form are rancid. Blood's tainted. Don't eat them if you can help it, princess. Besides, you'd just make it human again."
"What?" Spike asked in surprise, looking at Angelus. He'd never heard that before.
Angelus grinned at Spike's curiosity. His boy still had much to learn about being a vampire. "That's right, Spike my boy. Little known fact in the demon world: A vampire's saliva counteracts the werewolf virus in a human's blood."
"You're pulling my leg," Spike denied. That just seemed too easy.
"It's the honest to Hades truth," Angelus swore. "Found out myself by accident. Happened when I was a young thing, merely a decade old. Darla and I came across a werewolf in the English countryside. I was curious. I wrestled it into submission and knocked it out. We chained it up in the abandoned barn we were hiding out in. Come daylight, it turned into this ugly farmer. I'd worked up an appetite from subduing the thing, and seeing as how it looked human now, decided to have a snack of it. The thing swore I'd pay for biting it come moonrise, but I just laughed, reminding it that I had it chained up already."
"Let me guess," Spike interrupted. "The moon rose and nothing happened."
"Got it in one."
"And how do you know its cycle wasn't just over?" Spike pointed out.
"Because, that night, my boy, was the night of the actual full moon," Angelus said in triumph.
"Huh." Spike slouched back in his chair. "Well, I'll be damned."
"That was a lovely story, Daddy," Drusilla said. "Tell us another."
"What would you like to hear, Dru?" Angelus asked, making himself comfortable on the bed.
Spike tuned them out, thinking over everything Angelus had just told him. Apparently, he had the power to cure the slayer's little friend of her newfound lycanthropy. He wondered what he should do with this interesting bit of knowledge.
A slow, wicked grin crept over his face as he thought of what he could make her do in exchange for his bite.
"SPIKE!" Angelus bellowed, finally catching Spike's attention.
"What?" he snapped back.
"You never told us who it was playing wolf," Angelus reminded him.
"Oh, it was nobody," Spike lied. "No one you need to worry about."
Angelus went back to fawning over Dru, leaving Spike to plot out the best way to use his knowledge to his benefit.
The third night of the full moon came and went with little excitement. Xander and Giles once again kept watch over the restless, caged werewolves, trying not to jump at every rattle of the cages.
Despite Giles' insistence that there was no way to rid a person of lycanthropy once they had been bitten, Xander spent those nights eagerly reading through every book Giles had on the subject. He even went so far as to try looking things up online, but seemed to run into more fiction than fact. He didn't know how Willow sorted through all of the non-information to get to the real stuff.
He also spent a great deal of time those nights reflecting on his friendship with Willow. He still wasn't sure when she had stopped being his little Wills. Maybe it had slowly been happening ever since Jesse had died. Maybe it was when she and Oz had started dating.
He hated to admit it, but the musician was good for his friend. Well, aside from turning her into a werewolf. Trying to use Willow's reasoning that Oz didn't know he was a werewolf when he'd accidentally bitten her, Xander grudgingly forgave the other boy. Although, a small part of him would probably always hate the fact that Willow had been in a position to be bit.
Still, the redhead had seemed to come to life in the past month. She practically glowed from the attention the other boy had been paying to her.
Xander was forced to admit, to himself at least, that Cordelia's jealousy was slightly warranted. He may not have wanted to date Willow himself – and still didn't – but he also wasn't ready to watch her fall for someone else. Not when he'd been the object of her affections for so long.
Giles was very proud of the way that Willow and Oz had been handling the situation they now found themselves in. He found it remarkable that the teenagers had accepted their new status as werewolves so easily. At least, seemingly so.
While he hated the fact that it had to happen to either of his young charges, he was somewhat grateful that they didn't have to go through this alone. He had the impression that Oz would have dealt with his lycanthropy well enough on his own, but he wasn't so sure that Willow would have accepted it as quickly as she had if she hadn't had the young man to lean on.
The Watcher in him wanted to sit the teenagers down, separately and then together, and ask them about their experiences. He had a long list of questions he was dying to ask about what it felt like as they changed, if they remembered anything from while they were in wolf form, etc. He had managed to work a couple of questions in, but not nearly as many as he would have liked.
He supposed that he had plenty of time in which to ask them, though. While he understood Xander's relentlessness in searching for a "cure" for Willow (and Oz), he doubted the existence of one. Granted, werewolves were not strongly studied at the Watcher Academy, but he was certain he would have remembered having heard of a cure for lycanthropy.
Until then, he would help Willow and Oz to address any questions that they might have about their new lifestyle. And he would try to help Xander and Buffy accept the change in their friends' lives as well. Already, Xander was well on his way to acceptance, but Buffy…
Giles feared that it would take his slayer a long time to truly come to grips with what had happened to her best friend. He gave small thanks that Willow was merely a werewolf and had not been turned into a vampire. He didn't think that Buffy would be able to live with herself if that ever happened.
He would stress to her that Willow was still the same person that she had always been. There would be no great changes to her personality due to her lycanthropy. Her life would only be affected for three nights a month, not even days.
No, it just meant that Buffy would have to lock her best friend in a cage three nights in a row and watch her turn into a monster.
Giles sighed. He knew this last part would be difficult on them all. It had been heart-wrenching to watch the wolves take over the bodies of his charges these last two nights. Now there would be a lifetime of it.
Buffy aimlessly wandered through yet another cemetery. She couldn't stay in the library, not after being forced to watch her best friend turn into a beast.
She wouldn't admit it, except maybe to Giles – someday, but when she saw Willow as a werewolf, her first instinct had been to kill. Kill the beast, the monster, the dark thing in the shadow that threatened mankind. That was her job after all; she was the Slayer.
Buffy couldn't help wondering what awful thing would happen next. Would it be Xander? Would something go after him next? She'd already lost her boyfriend and her best friend. She tried to tell herself she wouldn't mind if Cordelia was the next target, but she couldn't bring herself to even joke about it silently. Whether she liked it or not, as Xander's girlfriend, the cheerleader was now a part of their group.
Spinning, Buffy staked the vampire that was trying to sneak up on her. She might be lost in her thoughts, but she could still hear when someone was stepping on every single twig that crossed their path. She wiped the dust off her coat as she listlessly continued on her way.
She was just starting to come to grips with the fact that the man she loved, the vampire with a soul who was her soulmate, was gone, most likely forever. Instead, she had to face off with the evil monster he had become – after making love to her. Her love had essentially killed the best thing in her life, replacing it with the worst thing she could imagine.
It wasn't fair, she decided. Life as a slayer was difficult. She should be allowed to have some degree of normality with her friends. She didn't want to admit that she could understand why most slayers weren't allowed to have friends and family – a life. If you had no one to care about, you couldn't be hurt when they were gone, or worse, turned into one of the things you were sworn to destroy.
Buffy could almost hear Giles' voice in her head insisting that Willow and Oz were not gone. Yes, they would still be her friends, most of the time, but it was those three nights a month that would always remind the blonde that they weren't human anymore.
And she didn't know if she would ever be able to accept that.
The moon waned and began to wax again, another month coming full cycle.
Willow and Oz didn't know whether or not to celebrate their one month anniversary of being werewolves. They joked about it with their friends, trying not to acknowledge the slight frown that would cross Buffy's face whenever Willow talked about her werewolf status.
"We could have hats and balloons, oh, and finger food," Willow excitedly suggested, in response to the idea of a party for the afternoon of the night before the full moon.
"Yeah, but then you'd have a taste for them," Xander pointed out. "And no one's fingers are going anywhere near your mouth, young lady."
"You can nibble on my finger," Oz whispered in her ear, causing Willow to giggle and blush.
"Cut that out," Cordelia chided the wolflings. The two got way too much into the PDA the closer they got to the full moon. It was cute, but in a way-too-much-information kind of way.
Clearing her throat, Willow changed the subject. "So, um, where's Giles? He's not here guarding the books."
"Oh, he had this thing to do today," Buffy said. "The Sunnydale Museum of Natural History wanted his opinion on some artifact they found. He went to check it out yesterday and went back with books today. He said something about figuring out what it says before opening it."
"And he didn't take us?" Willow pouted, the idea of helping to discover some archeological find exciting.
Xander reached over to pat her hand. "We all know how you like digging things up, but if this is a paying job," he paused for Buffy to nod that it was, "it would be unprofessional for us to tag along."
"Plus, it would be boring," Cordelia added.
"For you maybe," the redhead continued to pout.
"Giles didn't even really know what it was before he left," Buffy offered in support. "He was just giddy that he got to go do something museum-ish for a while. And Giles is kinda freaky when he gets giddy."
Giles came through the library doors half an hour later, definitely not giddy.
"You're back soon," Buffy commented.
"The guard was dead and the artifact is missing," he informed the group. "Vampires."
"Angelus?" Buffy asked.
"Most likely, yes," Giles agreed.
"Do you know what it was?" Willow asked.
"I cannot be certain yet, but from what I have been able to ascertain, I believe that it is the tomb of Acathla."
"It's a big rock," Spike drawled. "I can't wait to tell my friends. They don't have a rock this big."
"Spike, my boy, you never did learn your history," Angelus informed him.
"Let's have a lesson, then."
Spike listened with a bored expression on his face as Angelus gave him the history of Acathla. Two of the minions pulled the stone lid off the tomb and he tried not to cringe at the ugly statue staring back at him with a sword piercing its chest.
Spike was certain of one thing as he watched his sire and grandsire take maniacal pleasure from the idea of the world ending: The soul had made Angelus completely stark raving mad. Sure, Angelus had always been a sick bastard, but he'd never shown psychotic tendencies like this before.
He didn't blame Drusilla for going along with this hare-brained scheme – she had always been crazy and blindly followed Angelus' suggestions. She wouldn't see the insanity of ending the world. She only cared that it made her Daddy happy to do so.
He needed to put a stop to this. He wasn't about to allow Angelus to ruin his life, again, by taking away his source of food. What did he think they were going to eat when all of the people were sucked into hell?
Spike grinned, hoping Angelus would assume it was in response to his fanatical ramblings. He had just the ace up his sleeve to pull this off. As soon as night fell, he had a slayer to visit.
That night, Spike tracked the Slayer as she did her nightly patrol through the cemeteries. He took a demonic glee in the fact that she was distracted, most likely by what would be happening to her little friend for the next three nights after tonight.
He watched her dust a fledgling before announcing his presence with a tap to her shoulder. He received a punch to the jaw for his efforts.
"Hey, now, wait just one minute," Spike exclaimed, holding his hands up in a surrendering gesture. "I'm just here to talk," he added when Buffy pulled a stake from inside her coat.
"Talk? We're enemies, we don't talk," Buffy reminded him.
"If you'd rather receive a sound thrashing, I'd be happy to oblige, but if you want to stop Angelus, we should talk."
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about your ex, pet. I'm talking about putting him in the bloody ground," Spike answered in a serious tone.
Chuckling as she lowered her stake, Buffy said, "This has got to be the lamest trick you guys have ever thought up." She shook her head in disbelief as she found herself asking, "What do you want?"
"I told you, I want to stop Angel." He snickered at the irony. "I want to save the world."
"Okay. You remember you're a vampire, right?" Buffy asked, feeling like she'd stepped into an alternate universe. First Willow became a werewolf and now Spike wanted to play nice.
"We like to talk big, vampires do. 'I'm going to destroy the world.' That's just tough guy talk. Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood," Spike pulled out a cigarette and lit up. "Truth is, I like this world. You've got… dog racing, Manchester United. And you've got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It's all right here." He paused to take a drag off his fag. "But then someone comes along with a vision. With a real… passion for destruction. Angel could pull it off. Goodbye, Piccadilly. Farewell, Leicester Bloody Square. You know what I'm saying?"
"Okay, fine," Buffy said with a nod. "You're not down with Angel. Why would you ever come to me?"
Spike sighed, hating to sound like a ponce, but knowing the truth would more likely get Buffy's cooperation. "I want Dru back. I want it like it was before he came back. The way she acts around him…"
"You're pathetic," Buffy interrupted. "The whole earth may be sucked into Hell, and you want my help 'cause your girlfriend's a big ho? Well, let me take this opportunity to not care."
Buffy turned to leave, wondering why she even bothered to listen to the bleached idiot.
"I can't fight them both alone," he called after her. "And neither can you."
Buffy paused, knowing he was right, but unwilling to admit it. "And why should I believe that you'll help me?"
"Because I can help your little friend with her problem," Spike said, playing his trump card. "You know, the little redhead with the monthly problem of turning into a wolf."
Buffy spun around to face Spike again, barely restraining herself from punching the knowing smirk off his face.
"What do you know about Willow?" she demanded coldly.
"What, she didn't tell you I'm the one who found her in the woods last month?" Spike asked, feigning shock. "How did you think she knew what had happened to her?"
Buffy's face paled slightly. "That was you?"
"That it was," Spike confirmed.
"What is it that you think you can do for her? She's a werewolf, Oz too. There's no cure for that."
"Isn't there?" Spike countered, raising his scarred eyebrow to imply that there was, and he knew what it was.
Buffy's eyes momentarily lit up with hope, until she remembered who she was talking to. "You're lying."
"But what if I'm not?" Spike asked.
"What is it?" Buffy demanded.
"Not here," Spike said.
"Fine. We can talk at the library. Willow and Giles should be there researching this whole Acathla thing. She may as well be there for this."
Silently, the two enemies turned in the direction of the high school. They walked shoulder to shoulder, not wanting the other to attack from behind on the way. Luckily, it was a short trip, the uncomfortable silence wearing on both their nerves.
When they entered the library, it was to find Willow and Giles huddled together at the table, excitedly discussing what was on the paper between them.
"Buffy, you'll never guess what I found!" Willow excitedly told her friend when she saw her come in. She was halfway across the room when she saw Spike enter behind Buffy and immediately fell quiet.
"What is it?" Buffy asked, not having seen her friend this excited since before the last full moon.
"Um, it can wait," Willow said, glancing at Spike.
"Buffy?" Giles asked, coming to stand next to Willow. "Is there a reason you brought William the Bloody with you?"
"Just Spike," he corrected, not liking the feeling that he was a fly under a microscope. He kept reminding himself that he was doing this to get Dru away from Angelus.
"Y-yes, o-of course," Giles stuttered. "Again, why are you here?"
"He wants to make a deal," Buffy answered.
"A deal? What kind of deal could he possibly want to make with us?"
"I want to stop Angelus. Get Dru away from him," Spike succinctly answered.
"Why should we believe you?"
Spike rolled his eyes, finding it annoying to keep repeating himself.
"Because I can make Red's little problem go away," Spike said.
Willow gasped, meeting the vampire's piercing blue eyes. "Really?" she whispered.
"Why would you want to do that?" Giles asked, sounding doubtful. "And more importantly, how do you propose to do that? From the research that we've done, we have not been able to find any mention of a way to cure lycanthropy."
"Doubt my method would be in your books," Spike said.
"Why didn't you help me last month?" Willow asked.
"Didn't know then. Only found out later when I got home."
"But it's been a month," Willow pointed out.
"Didn't have a reason to before now. Why should I go helping you when I get nothing in return?"
"Because it would have been the right thing to do!" Willow exclaimed.
"Demon," Spike retorted.
"Again, I ask: How do you propose to cure Willow and Oz?" Giles pressed.
"By bitin' her o' course," Spike said, as if it were the most natural answer in the world.
"B-b-biting?" Giles stuttered, taking a step back.
"Here's something for your Watcher's Diaries," Spike gloated. "A vampire's saliva counteracts a werewolf's. I bite your girl here, no more wolf."
Giles and Willow wore matching wide-eyed, slack-jawed expressions at Spike's pronouncement.
"How can we know you're telling the truth?" Giles finally managed to ask.
Spike shrugged. "Can't until I do it, can you? It's not like I have written documentation."
"And, in exchange, you simply want a get out of jail free card for you and your lover?" Giles clarified.
Giles looked to Buffy. "What do you think of all of this?"
"I think he'd say anything to get Dru away from Angelus," Buffy said. Then, with a sigh, she admitted, "But he also seems sincere in wanting to stop Angelus. I'm not saying we can trust him, but I think he's telling the truth about Willow."
Giles processed Buffy's evaluation of the situation and found himself agreeing with her. He nodded.
"How is it that you propose to stop Angelus from opening Acathla?" Buffy asked.
"Isn't that your department?" Spike shrugged.
Willow tentatively spoke up. "I think that we may have found a way." She moved back to the table and the others followed her. Picking up the piece of paper she and Giles had been looking at, she handed it to Buffy.
With a nervous glance at Spike, she said, "This afternoon I found a disc that had fallen between Ms. Calendar's desk and the file cabinet. Looks like she was trying to replicate the original curse, to restore Angel's soul. It looks like it might have worked."
"You think this will work?" Buffy asked, tears of hope shining in her eyes. She might get Angel back! She'd nearly given up all hope that she'd ever have him back.
"I do," Willow confidently said.
Giles couldn't help adding, "It certainly points the way. However, the ritual itself requires a greater knowledge of the black arts than I can claim."
"Well," Willow admitted, "I've been going through her files and, and researching the black arts, for fun, or educational fun, and I may be able to work this."
Sounding very concerned, Giles said, "W-Willow… channeling… such potent magicks through yourself, it could open a door that you may not be able to close."
Stepping up to her friend, Buffy said, "I don't want you putting yourself in any danger, Will."
"And I don't want danger. Big 'no' to the danger, but I may be the best person to do this," Willow insisted.
Spike's laughter reminded the Scoobies that he was still in the room.
"Find this funny, do you?" Buffy bristled.
"Yeah," Spike laughed. "I find it right hilarious that Angelus is going to get locked back in his cage by this little slip of a girl."
"Y-you aren't going to try to stop us from giving him back his soul?" Willow asked in surprise. She'd fully expected Spike to rip the curse to shreds so that they couldn't do this.
"Are you kidding?" he asked, humor still lacing his voice. "That wanker has been nothing but a thorn in my side since he returned. The soul made him mad, livin' with it for nearly a century. I'd much rather have that pathetic, soulful Angel running around than the psychotic sod who's stolen my Princess."
Willow and Buffy stood there blinking in disbelief, hardly believing their ears. Willow was going to be just a regular girl again and Buffy was going to get her boyfriend back.
"So how do we want to do this? The sooner the better, I'd imagine. Don't want him to figure out how to awaken Acathla before this gets done," Spike reminded them.
Coming back to the situation at hand, Giles agreed. "Yes, it would probably be best if we take care of Angelus first. Then Spike, you can… help Willow and Oz, and be on your merry way. We wouldn't want the bite to weaken Willow too much before the spell is performed."
"Uh, what's this about an Oz?" Spike took a step forward. "I said I'd help the girl, not her lover."
"What?" Willow exclaimed. "Why not?"
"I kinda like you," Spike admitted. "You've got fire. Plus, you're going to be the one to rid the world of Angelus. I couldn't care less about your beau."
"B-but…" Willow stuttered.
"Come, Willow," Giles interrupted. "Let us get prepared for the ritual. We may not have much time." In a whisper he added, "And perhaps we can change his mind when the time comes."
"Buffy, can you call Oz and Xander? They should know what's going on," Willow said as she moved to help Giles gather the ingredients they would need.
"Of course," Buffy agreed. Turning to Spike she said, "Why don't you make yourself comfortable. Don't want you going to warn him about what's going to happen."
"Wouldn't dream of it," Spike smirked. He wandered over to the bookshelves and picked a volume on demonology at random, then settled at the table to enjoy the show.
An hour later they were ready to begin the ritual. Xander and Oz had arrived twenty minutes ago and had been brought up to speed. The boys both expressed their concerns over Willow performing such a powerful spell, each in their own way. They received the news of Willow being cured of her lycanthropy much the same way.
Pulling Oz aside, Willow told him, "I won't go through with it unless he does us both."
Oz shook his head. "I can't let you do that."
"It's not up to you," Willow argued. "I'm not going to make you be a werewolf all by yourself!"
"Will, it's my fault this happened to you. I can deal," Oz tried to reassure her.
"It was an accident!" Willow exclaimed. "I can live with the consequences, same as you."
"Not if you don't have to," Oz insisted.
"Aww, a lovers' spat," Spike snickered as he approached the couple, having grown bored with reading.
"Shut up, Spike," Willow snapped. "It's your fault we're arguing."
"And it's right fun to watch, too," Spike acknowledged.
Oz moved to place himself between Willow and the vampire. "Why don't you go amuse yourself somewhere else until you're needed," Oz suggested, sarcasm lacing his voice.
"Because this is so much more fun."
"Um, Willow, we're ready for you," Giles called from the table.
Stepping around the vampire, Oz led Willow over to where the ingredients for the spell were set up.
"You might want to go wait in the lounge," Giles suggested to Spike. "I don't know what will happen if you're in the same room when the spell is being performed."
"Good idea, that," Spike agreed. "Wouldn't want to find myself all soul-having when this little experiment is over."
"I'll just go and keep an eye on him," Buffy said, picking up one of the stakes she'd been sharpening. "Make sure he doesn't run off."
"Excellent idea," Giles agreed, watching the vampire and the slayer exit the room.
Willow climbed onto the table and sat cross-legged; before her sat the Orb of Thesula within a sacred circle, surrounded by candles, bones and stones. Willow cast some stones, then looked up at Giles and nodded.
Giles read from the book before him, "Quod perditum est, invenietur."
Oz swirled incense into the air as Xander watched.
"'Not dead nor not of the living. Spirits of the interregnum I call… Let him know the pain of humanity, gods. Reach your wizened hands to me. Give me the sword…" Willow intoned.
At the mansion…
"I've waited long enough. It's Spike's loss. The world can end without him," Angelus snapped. "Bring him," he called to the minions at the back of the hall.
A man, barefoot and bare-chested with his hands tied behind his back, was dragged before the statue of Acathla.
Moving towards the young man, Angelus spoke, "I will drink… the blood will wash in me, over me, and I will be cleansed. I will be worthy to free Acathla. Bear witness…" he looked at Drusilla, "as I ascend… as I become." He morphed into his demonic face.
Willow began to feel the strain of the spell weighing on her. She paused, breathing hard, stumbling over the words. "Gods, bind him. Cast his heart from the… evil… realm."
"Willow?" Oz whispered, worried about the strain showing on Willow's face.
Suddenly, Willow's head snapped back and she looked up, her eyes wide. Again, her head snapped, this time to stare at the orb. When she spoke again, it was in fluent Rumanian, as if possessed.
"Te implor, Doamne, nu ignora aceasta rugaminte."
"Is this a good thing?" Xander asked Giles.
"Nici mort, nici al fiintei... Lasa orbita sa fie vasul care-i va transporta, sufletul la el."
Angelus lifted the young man by his hair, exposing his neck. With a roar, he bit down, hard and fast. After a deep drink, Angelus dropped the man, swiping his hand through the blood as he fell to the floor, dead.
"Everything that I am, everything that I have done, has led me here," he said as he slowly approached the sword that kept Acathla dormant.
Oz, Giles and Xander watched helplessly as Willow continued to chant in Rumanian. They did not know if they should try to stop her or leave her be and hope that whatever was possessing her would complete the spell correctly.
"Asa sa fie! Asa sa fie! Acum! Acum!"
The Orb glowed brightly as the last word was spoken, then went dark. Willow relaxed and blinked, looking around at the nervous faces of the men surrounding her.
Angelus was about to grasp the sword when he fell to his knees, apparently in pain.
"No!" he shouted. "Not again. Not now!"
His body froze from the pain and a bright light emanated from his eyes.
"Daddy," Drusilla called, rushing to his side, dropping to her knees before him. "What's wrong? What's happening?"
Angel blinked, looking around him confused. His eyes settled on Drusilla, not processing that the concerned look she was wearing was for him. He scrambled back, seeing he was surrounded by vampires. Getting to his feet, he looked for an exit. Seeing the garden doors were open, he rushed through them and out into the night.
"What?" Willow asked, not liking the looks of concern on her friends' faces.
"What happened, Willow?" Xander asked.
"I don't know. Did it work? It felt like it worked. I felt… something… go through me."
"Something went through you all right," Oz agreed.
"Willow, part way through the ritual you began to speak fluent Rumanian," Giles informed her.
"I did?" Willow asked, wide-eyed. "Cool."
"It worked," Spike whooped, crashing through the library doors.
"How do you know?" Xander asked.
"I can feel it. Dru's out of her mind with worry. Only thing I can think of that would cause her to let me feel that is if something happened to her precious Daddy. Let's get this over with so I can collect her and get out of this sodding town."
Spike took a step towards Willow, who was now standing next to Oz. Buffy blocked his path before he could get there.
"And Oz?" the slayer reminded Spike.
"Look, no offense, I'm sure you're a decent bloke, but I'm in kind of a rush and only have time to bite one of you."
"No, it's okay," Oz said, squeezing Willow's hand.
"Oz…" Willow started to protest.
"No," Oz cut her off. "You get to be normal again. You take this chance. If Angel sticks around, we can get him to take care of me, okay?"
"Then I'll wait, Angel can do me too," Willow suggested, drawing a chuckle from Spike.
Oz shook his head. "Spike's here. Let's get you over with."
"Right then," Spike said, slipping into game face. "Let's have us a snack and be on our way."
Willow looked at Oz questioningly one more time, and after his reassuring nod, stepped up to Spike. She reached around and pulled all of her hair over one shoulder, tilting her head to the side as she bared her neck.
Spike licked his lips before sinking his fangs into Willow's flawless skin. Everyone seemed to hold their breath as they were forced to watch the macabre scene before them. Spike took one long draught before pulling back, a grimace detectable on his face.
"Ugh, the blighter was right," Spike hissed, wiping his mouth.
"You okay?" Oz asked, cleaning the dripping wound on his girlfriend's neck.
"Yeah. I mean it hurt, but he didn't take much," Willow said, leaning a bit into Oz.
"So, that's it?" Buffy asked, "Willow's not going to go all wolfy tomorrow?"
"Shouldn't," Spike confirmed. "Won't know for sure 'till then. But from what Angelus described, I should have taken enough to rid her of her beast."
"Thank you," Willow said quietly.
"You're welcome," Spike replied just as softly. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to see to a girl." With a swish of his coat, Spike left the library.
"I suppose I should go and see if Angel's okay," Buffy ventured.
"Do be careful," Giles warned. "If he's still at the mansion, there will be other vampires about."
"I know, I'll be careful. I just need to see for myself if it worked," Buffy said.
Willow reached out and squeezed her friend's hand. "It did."
Buffy gave a small smile of thanks before leaving to find out for herself.
"What now?" Xander asked the remaining Scooby members.
"I don't know about you, but I'm kinda tired. I think I'm gonna head home," Willow said.
"Of course," Giles agreed. "You've had a busy evening. Xander and I can clean up. You did a marvelous job, tonight. And you were very brave."
"Come on, I'll drive you," Oz said, taking Willow's hand and leading her out of the library.
As the doors closed they could hear Xander's protest of, "Why do I get stuck with clean up duty?"
Spike entered the mansion to find complete chaos. The minions were standing about, not knowing what to do with themselves, there was a dead man in the middle of the room, Acathla stood silent in front of the fireplace, while Drusilla lay crying in front of him.
Angelus was nowhere to be seen.
Walking confidently into the room, he bellowed, "What the hell is going on here?"
Upon hearing her childe's voice, Drusilla called out to him, "Spike. He's gone, the Angel-beast has come and stolen him away."
"What do you mean, Princess?" Spike asked with false concern, lifting her to her feet.
"The light came and drove my daddy away," Dru muttered. "Can't fly away, can't fly away, locked in a cage."
Spike smiled into her hair. "Where is he now?"
"The night called to him, scared little rabbit."
"Why don't we go look for him then?" Spike suggested. "We can drive around until we find him, yeah?"
Dru nodded against his shoulder, allowing him to lead her away. Spike wouldn't tell her until they were well away from this town that they weren't going back.
Buffy was several blocks from the mansion when she heard something off to the side of the road. A quick evaluation of her senses told her it was a vampire. Pulling a stake from her coat, Buffy silently approached the noisy vamp.
Pulling back a branch, she gasped. "Angel?"
Angel sat huddled against a tree, looking lost and confused. He looked up when he heard his name called. "Buffy?"
"What's going on?" Angel asked. "Where are we? I-I can't remember."
Buffy looked into his eyes, seeing the familiar warmth she knew meant his soul was present.
"It worked," she whispered in awe.
Stepping forward, Buffy fell into Angel's embrace.
"I… I feel like I haven't seen you in months," Angel said, holding her close. Buffy returned his hug, relishing the feel of being in his arms again, still having a hard time believing that it was true.
"I know," Buffy agreed, not able to explain what had happened yet. There would be time enough for that later.
Oz pulled the van up in front of Willow's dark house. He cut the engine and turned to face his girlfriend.
"How's the neck?" he asked.
"Still kinda hurts, but I think the bleeding finally stopped," Willow answered. "Oz, I'm sorry."
"We've been over this," he protested. "It's for the best."
"But why should you have to be a werewolf when I don't?" Willow asked.
"I'm the one who was bit first."
"I know, but still…"
"It's done," Oz reminded her. "No use debating this now. Besides, I'm better suited to the whole 'lone wolf' mentality."
"Lone? What about me?" Willow asked.
"I didn't mean it like that." Oz traced a finger down the side of Willow's face. His voice turned wistful. "You're so beautiful."
Oz leaned across the short distance between their seats to kiss Willow. She eagerly returned his kiss, deepening it when she felt his tongue seek entrance to her mouth.
"I'm not going anywhere," he promised when they pulled apart, both breathing heavily.
"I'm going to hold you to that, mister," Willow said, stealing another kiss. "Just, no more kissing in the halls."
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Copyright© August 2005