"Uh oh....is she going on about Valentine's Day again?"
"Yes" Buffy and Anya replied, rolling their eyes.
"What?" Willow demanded.
She saw the three of them glare at her.
"Fine. I may have been griping a little."
"A little? Will, you have a picture of Cupid on a dart board. You're obsessed." Buffy pointed out.
"I'm not that bad" Willow said.
"Willow, it's not even February yet. Are we going to have to hear this incesstant whining the whole time?" Anya asked.
"I don't whine. I merely said that I was tired of having this whole sappy romance crap shoved down my throat. I mean, they try to make you feel abnormal if you happen to be happy alone. If you don't have someone to buy you all those expensive gifts then you are a step up from fungus. I'm sick of it. I don't have to have someone to make me happy."
Buffy and Xander exchanged understanding glances. Willow hadn't dated since an earlier attempt with Oz back in their Junior year of high school. That had ended when he had gone to college in New York. Willow hadn't been too upset. She and the boy had only dated a few times, mostly settling for a friendship. They knew that Willow hated being the fifth wheel. Hated seeing them both in happy relationships. Valentine's day just pushed that single status home. Again, Buffy wished that Willow would agree to date one of Riley's friends. She knew her friend though. Willow kept it hidden, but she was a hopeless romantic. She wouldn't even accept a blind date. Buffy sometimes thought Willow actually believed in love at first sight and all those other myths. It definitely didn't help her situation when she had this image of the perfect man.
"Will, you'll find someone. Trust me." Xander said.
Willow rolled her eyes. "I don't need anyone. I hate Valentine's Day. Just another excuse for people to spend money on silly things. I can't wait until the fifteenth. All of this foolishness will be over."
They watched her get up and leave. "Well, someone is turning into my bitter great aunt Melba."
"Xander! Willow isn't bitter."
"Who was that that just left? I could have sworn it was Willow" Anya said pointedly. "Bitter old maid. She needs to get laid."
"Thank you Dr. Seuss." Buffy said. "She's just lonely. She'll be fine."
"Yeah. Well, I hope so. She sure could ruin the entire love and romance aspects of the holiday." Xander said standing. He reached for Anya's hand. "Got to go. We have plans."
"Sex." Anya volunteered.
Buffy laughed. "Leave. You two are terrible. No wonder Willow feels left out."
She got up, getting the discarded cups. She moved to the kitchen. She screamed, dropping the glasses.
"Damn it, Fang. You scared me." Buffy leaned down to pick up the broken glass.
"Some slayer sense you have there" Spike said smirking.
"I wasn't thinking about you" Buffy said.
"Thought the slayer was always suppose to be aware of her surroundings." Spike said, amused. He moved to help pick up the scattered glass. "So, what has Red's panties in a twist?"
Buffy glanced at him, seeing his blue eyes darting across the floor. She sat back on her heels and studied him.
"I don't think Willow's panties concern you."
"Not likely" he muttered.
Buffy's eyes lit up as she looked at him. "You want them to concern you?"
He looked at her sharply. "What?"
"You like Willow."
"What are you taking? I could use some of it."
"Admit it." She taunted, laughter in her voice. "You like her."
"What on earth are you talking about?"
"You acted interested. Spike, you can't fool me. You brought her up. You don't give a fuck about any of us. Yet, you asked what had her upset. I can't believe I never noticed."
"You're crazy" he said, standing. "Pick up your own damn mess."
"Wait. What if I help you get her?" Buffy asked, standing.
Spike turned and stared at her. "What?"
"Hurt her, and I stake you. If you can make her happy, I'd be willing to assist you in a campaign to win her affections. I can't believe I'm trying to set up my best friend and my worst enemy."
"You'd help me?" Spike repeated, not knowing what to believe.
Buffy sighed, "She needs someone. You aren't so bad, when you can't kill us. She likes you, though I doubt she's thought of you as a potential date."
"Way to lay on that confidence, slayer. Now I see what kept Peaches interested."
Buffy glared at him. "Fine. I was wrong. You don't want her. Forget I mentioned anything. Go back to your nice little spare room and your soap operas. I'll clean this up and then leave."
She turned and finished picking up the glass. She heard the words said softly.
She turned back to him, "What?"
Spike glared at her. "Fine. Help me. BUT, I'm setting a limit. If I don't have her by Valentine's Day, you drop the whole thing and no one, I repeat NO ONE, knows about this."
She smiled. "It's a deal."
She offered her hand which he reluctantly took. They shook hands before he jerked his away, turning away from her.
Willow closed the book and sighed. She really needed to quit reading these cheezy romances. She moved, sitting up on her bed. Buffy was out with Riley again. Willow didn't fault her friend happiness. She was glad that Buffy was happy. Riley was a good guy. They were meeting Xander and Anya. Willow had to smile when she thought of that unlikely couple. They were good together. Anya was better for Xander than Cordelia had been. Willow just wished that they were a little less public with their displays of affection. Nothing was worse than to be alone with two lovey dovey couples.
They had, as usual, asked Willow to go out with them. Again, she had declined. She wasn't in the mood to be around happy couples. Most of the time she didn't mind. The closer it got to Valentine's day though, the more irritable she was becoming. There was nothing more likely to drive your singleness home than a holiday meant for couples. Every store had so much red and pink covering the shelves she thought a bottle of pepto bismal had exploded. It was nauseating.
Willow knew she was full of it. She also knew that Buffy and Xander could see through her protests. It wasn't that she wasn't happy. She was. She loved school. She had great friends. She had purpose by helping Buffy fight evil. She was lonely though. It was worse since Buffy had found herself a boyfriend. Now, Willow was the only single one in the group. Hell, even Giles had a lady friend. They all just reminded her of how single she truly was.
They all tried. Boy, did they try. Almost to the point where it was annoying. She didn't need the constant reminder from them that she was alone. She knew. Every day she wondered if she'd ever find anyone that would make her happy. She couldn't wait until she was an 'us' and a 'we'.
Buffy said she was too picky. She wasn't. She had dated Oz for several months. Probably still would have been if he hadn't gone away to college before her Senior year. He actually seemed to like her. She still heard from him. He'd met a nice girl that understood his monthly problem. Willow had even spoken to Emma over the phone. She frowned. Damn, even those two were a happy couple. She almost wished that Angel hadn't left. At least he was in worse shape than she was. He could never have the one he loved. Of course, she was glad that he was gone. She wasn't cruel. She would never want a friend to suffer that way. Besides, if he were around, Buffy would be unhappy. She wasn't so selfish that she wanted everyone to be single like her.
A vision of a bleach blond man came to her mind. Spike. The only other single person she knew. Of course, he loved Drusilla. She couldn't really count him. She tried to ignore the usual tingly feelings that Spike brought to her. Since he was the only other non couple person in the group, they often teamed up in patrol or research missions. They had become friends, strangely enough. She was the only one that had accepted his reluctant participation without reserve. Xander treated him better than Angel, the two often teasing each other. Anya could care less. Buffy was still untrusting. Giles just tolerated him. Willow had actually befriended him. She watched as the picture on the television flickered to something different. She watched it unknowingly.
None of the guys she'd met affected her the way that Spike did. For some reason, he just set her on fire. He made her laugh. Made her feel alive. Made her feel more lonely. He also made her ache. She had dreamed of him for the last few months. She made sure that no one would ever guess her secret crush on the vampire. She figured it would fade with time. It wasn't a major part of her life. Just like having a slight crush on a teacher or the popular guy at school. It was different than her love for Xander had been. She now recognized that her feelings for Xander stemmed from friendship and affection. They would never have worked together as a couple. Despite their mistaken smoochies, the chemistry wasn't there. She was glad that they had tried, despite the consequences. It had made her grow up in a lot of ways. She had had to forget the silly dreams of her adolescence. Of course, the two of them had grown apart since that incident. She missed her friend.
She heard a knock on the door and opened her mouth. Remembering, she stood and moved to the door.
"Yes?" she said, opening it. Startled, she saw no one.
She moved into the hallway, looking in both directions. She frowned, her eyes falling to the box at her feet. She picked it up and carried it inside. She sat on her bed, eyeing the package. She saw the tag and read it.
Be Mine, Valentine.
She rolled her eyes. It had to be Buffy. Trust the slayer to try to make her feel wanted. She laughed, removing the tag. She unwrapped the box, wondering what Buffy had gotten her. She looked inside the box, her eyes widening. She removed a crystal paperweight that was shaped like a swan. She picked it up in her hand, running her fingers over the smooth surface. The bird was a bit bigger than her palm. It was beautiful. She couldn't imagine how much Buffy had paid for it. Willow put it on her night table. Her eyes fell on the tag. Be mine. The thought came to her. What if it wasn't Buffy?
Buffy came into the room. She saw Willow on her laptop and sighed. That was too common a sight. Her eyes fell to the box and paper by the trash. She fought a smile. Spike had sent something. It still amazed her that Spike of all people had a crush on Willow. She and the vampire had spent over an hour discussing her friend. It had been strange for her to actually enjoy his company.
She knew that he was sincere in his feelings for Willow. She never would have agreed to help him if she had any doubts. It was nice to think that someone wanted her friend. She had thought about the situation through out the evening. She honestly believed that Willow also had some hidden feelings for Spike. But, because she wasn't sure, she and Spike had decided that a subtle approach was necessary. Thus, Spike had become a secret admirer. She had no idea what he was planning on sending Willow. He wouldn't tell her. He said she would find out when Willow did. It would make her surprise more realistic. She changed into her sweats and a t-shirt before turning to her friend.
"Hey Will. Whatcha doin'?"
"Just surfing. How is Riley?"
"He's good. We had dinner then just walked around campus talking. It isn't your birthday. What did you get?"
Willow turned. Buffy looked curious. Willow frowned, "I thought you sent it to me...you and the gang. You didn't?"
"No. Wasn't there a card?"
"Not signed" Willow said, handing over the card. She watched Buffy read. Buffy looked up.
"What was it?" She asked.
Willow moved to the bed, and reached for the swan. She showed Buffy. She saw the blonde's eyes widen as she looked at it.
"This is beautiful. Crystal isn't it? Damn, this cost some money."
"I know. You're sure that you and the others didn't get it?"
Buffy gave her the swan back and laughed, "Willow, we love you. But we don't love you that much. That had to cost more than two hundred dollars. Why a swan?"
Willow shrugged, "I don't know. Maybe who ever it is thought it was pretty. I can't think of anyone who could have sent it."
"Well, aren't you intrigued?" Buffy demanded. "I mean, you receive this beautiful swan and a note that asks you to be someone's valentine. I'd be dying wanting to know who liked me that much."
Willow rolled her eyes. "Of course I'm curious. I honestly assumed that it was just you guys. I guess I'll have to wait and see what happens. Oh my god.....someone likes me!"
Buffy smiled at the look of surprise and happiness in her friend's eyes. Spike had chosen wisely in his first gift. It would be fun to wait and see what happened. Willow at least was interested. That was the most important thing. Spike couldn't woo her if she didn't care. Buffy really hoped that he was able to succeed before Valentine's day. She also hoped that she was right in her intuition about Willow and her feelings for Spike. She would hate if this all blew up and Willow was hurt. No, she was right. Willow did like Spike. After his campaign was finished, she might even be in love with him. Only time would tell. Willow asked for details of her and Riley's date. Buffy started talking about her evening as Willow listened attentively.
"What the hell is that?" Anya asked looking at the stuffed creature suspiciously.
"Hey, don't insult him." Willow said, covering its ears.
Buffy glanced at Spike who was trying to act ignorant. It was day four of his campaign. Things were going well so far. Each day Willow had found something from her admirer. Buffy had been surprised by the gifts. First had been the crystal swan. After that had been a beautiful antique cameo that had a willow tree stenciled on the back. Following the cameo had been a dozen rose shaped candles that were scented. Then, this morning, they had found the bear.
Willow ran her fingers over the little horns on the bear's head. She smiled at Xander who had joined Anya.
Xander glanced at the doll and rolled his eyes. He cast a look at Spike and caught Buffy doing the same. Who did they think they were kidding besides Willow? He had known as soon as he'd seen the swan that the blond vampire was Willow's mystery man. He could remember the animated conversation those two had had weeks ago about the children's book The Ugly Duckling. Ending it with Willow saying how she loved the beautiful swan the duck turned into. He couldn't believe someone as smart as Willow couldn't have a clue.
"What's it play?" he asked, looking at the stuffed bear. It had little devil's horns on its head. He saw her push the hand and heard the song Burning Love start coming from the bear's moving lips. He had to laugh at it. "I would have imagined Devil in Disguise myself."
"I love it" Willow said beaming. "I now have my very own little devil."
Xander smirked at Spike, "What's that line from that witch movie with Jack Nicholson? Just a horny little devil? Uh huh..."
Spike glanced at the slayer and saw her staring at Xander open mouthed. Damn it. She hadn't told the moron. Was he just that transparent in his feelings for the redhead?
"Xander!" Willow smacked his arm. "You and that gutter mind. Oh lord, I'm going to be late. Buffy, would you take Dev back to the dorm?"
"Of course. Wouldn't want the thing bear napped would we?" She waited until Willow had left before adding, "Of course, a battery thief may happen by."
Xander laughed and looked at Spike, "A singing bear? You've got it bad...."
"Space case. Earth to Willow."
Willow looked at him, a small smile on her face. "Been watching the sci-fi channel too much Spike. I'll have to tell Giles to get rid of that cable."
"You leave my cable alone, witch. Sides, I only watch the discovery channel."
"Didn't know they played your soaps on there..."
"What-ever. My tele preference is not under question. What has you so dreamy?" he said, disgust in his voice.
"My valentine. He's wonderful."
Spike felt a bolt of jealousy. Damn, he was envious of himself.
"You don't know him pet."
"Yes I do." Willow said softly, "I have to since he knows me. Besides, I can picture him in my mind based on the notes and gifts."
"Bloody wanker. Probably looks like a troll."
Willow smiled, "I doubt it. Anyway, that is not important."
"So you say before you see him."
Willow rolled her eyes. "Do you think it's possible to fall in love with someone you don't know?"
"Wrong person to ask luv. That's a girly question."
"I love him" she said smiling softly. "He's caring and gentle and sweet and he knows how I think and he makes me feel for the first time ever...."
"Probably a homicidal maniac" he remarked, trying to forget her words. She didn't know who she was talking about.
"I'd love him anyway." She said softly. "He knows my soul."
"Enough of this bletchy romance. I need to get off me arse and find the slayer."
Willow watched him go, a smile on her face. "I do love you Spike" she said softly.
Spike didn't know what to do. Willow was falling for his secret admirer gag, but he didn't think she'd like finding out it was him all along. It was now the day before Valentine's. The stupid slayer kept threatening to tell her if he didn't. He knew he had to do it.
Pathetic. A master vampire scared of telling a beanpole human that he fancies her. He hated rejection though. Had enough of that with Dru. Now he couldn't even torture her into liking him back. What if she ran away in disgust?
Willow was dying. Why the hell hadn't he come forward yet? Did he really think he was fooling her? She's known after the swan. It hadn't hit her until she had found out it wasn't Buffy. Then, she'd remembered everything. Each gift came from some conversation they had had. Even Dev, her singing bear with the missing batteries. She knew Buffy had grown tired of hearing it all the time.
She was fed up. She stood and walked across Giles' living room. "Spike?"
"Yeah pet?" he glanced at her.
Looking into those blue eyes she faltered. Could she do it? Remembering the feelings he had brought out in her, she knew that she could. She leaned over and kissed him. He seemed surprised before his hands came up and went behind her. She felt his hand in her hair, pulling her onto his lap. She was melting at his touch. His tongue entered her mouth as her hands roamed over his hard chest.
Buffy glanced at Xander and grinned. "You thought she was stupid? Damn boy. Willow knows everything."
"I know. Too bad Spike didn't." He laughed softly as they turned away from the kissing couple.
Willow pulled away slowly. Passion filled her eyes. "Yes" she said softly.
"What?" Spike asked, surprise in his eyes.
"I'll be yours, valentine."
Spike realized then that she had known. He remembered her words about loving even a homicidal maniac. He smiled as he brought her mouth back to hers. This would be one good Valentine's day.