Whiskey Wishes

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"Give me another," Spike told the bartender, glaring at the human when it appeared like he was going to protest. He growled, his eyes flashing yellow as he snarled, "Fuck it, just give me the whole bottle."

Not too surprisingly, the human put the bottle in front of him before scurrying to the other side of the bar. There would be no speeches about drinking too much for him tonight. Instead, he had an entire bottle of whiskey and an empty glass. Spike poured himself another glass of the strong alcohol, having lost count of how many he'd had since arriving at the seedy bar a couple of hours before. He wanted to get drunk and that's exactly what he intended to do. He could never rid his mind of her image, of her smell, of her voice, but the alcohol tended to dull the ache he felt whenever he thought about her. He was so intent on his glass of whiskey that he didn't notice the stool next to him being pulled out or the person sitting down until his bottle was moved. He looked up with narrowed eyes, surprised to see Anya sitting there.

"You smell awful," she said with a wrinkled nose as she inhaled the scent of alcohol and tobacco that seemed to cover the vampire.

"Give me back my bottle," Spike demanded, not in the mood for company at all, and especially not from the annoying former vengeance demon.

"Looks like you've had enough," Anya said with an arched brow before she leaned over the bar and grabbed an empty glass. She poured herself a glass of whiskey before putting the bottle back, "but I don't really care how drunk you get, so enjoy."

"What are you doing here?" he asked, curiosity finally getting the better of him.

"I wanted to get drunk," Anya declared. "I saw you and thought I'd be friendly, come over and say hello."

"And share my bottle?" Spike finished with a roll of his blue eyes. He'd not seen the ex-demon since the wedding fiasco. He'd heard Red mention that she'd been to visit, but their paths just hadn't crossed. He glanced at her, seeing determination in her eyes before she shrugged.

"Not like you pay for it anyway," she grumbled before taking a drink. "So, what brought on the need for intoxication this time, Spikey?"

"I've got a chip in my head, I live on the Hellmouth, and my unlife pretty much sucks. Do I really need a particular excuse? And don't call me Spikey," he muttered as he took a lengthy drink, enjoying the feel of the whiskey as it slid down his throat. She damn well knew why he was getting drunk. She was the only one of the Scooby gang that had figured out his feelings, that had called him on them months ago out of a need to either satisfy her curiosity or to give him a warning not to hurt her friend. Didn't matter. Red was oblivious to how he felt, seeming to believe he still had his silly crush on Buffy or just was not aware that his eyes followed her constantly or how happy one smile from her could make him. That wasn't right either. She knew, just as he knew that she watched him with a sad longing in her pretty green eyes. He hated it, hated knowing that they'd never be able to be together, no matter how much he loved her or what she might feel for him. It just wasn't going to happen. He refilled his glass, his eyes sad as he took another drink.

"Just trying to be friendly," Anya said as her eyes moved swiftly over the vampire. She hadn't really been around any of the gang since Xander had called off the wedding, but she'd heard that Spike was spending most of his nights drinking and picking fights with demons. He was never so drunk that he didn't win a fight, but it was obvious that something must be bothering the vampire. She didn't really care all that much, having two specific reasons for having searched him out that particular night.

One was because she and Willow had had lunch earlier that day and the redhead that she called friend had seemed worried about the blond. She had known for months that Spike was in love with Willow, had warned the vampire not to hurt the redhead and had seen the look in his eyes, recognizing it as real emotion and not just lust or adoration. Spike really did love Willow, in a way that seemed to scare him into spending most of his time quietly watching the redhead or drinking to forget about wanting her. Why he didn't just make a move, since it was also obvious to her that Willow felt the same way, was just annoying. Both of them were so caught up in why a relationship between them could never work instead of focusing on the fact that they were losing out on a relationship that would be overflowing with love and loyalty and great sex. She'd come up with an idea, though, which brought her to the other reason she was sitting beside a drunken Spike in some smelly bar. Second was entirely selfish, though it would give Willow and Spike a chance at the happiness and love they both deserved, but it was something that she wasn't going to dwell on at the moment. Instead, she took another sip of the whiskey and worked out her plan.

"Friendly? Not bloody likely," Spike snorted, "Why are you here? What do you want, Anya?"

"What do I want?" Anya repeated, her eyes flashing with anger and annoyance as she said, "I want to not love Xander. I want to be myself again, without all those human feelings and morals. I want to leave this fucking town. I want my power and strength back. I want a lot of things, Spike, but, unfortunately, drinking bottle after bottle of whiskey isn't going to make me forget wanting them. How's it working for you?"

"I never forget," Spike muttered crossly, "no matter how much I drink, I still want...."

"Willow," Anya said the name, watching with satisfaction as the vampire's head spun quickly, eyes narrowing at her use of the redhead's name. She gave Spike a fake smile as she continued, "is the reason I'm here. She was worried about you, telling me you were fighting and drinking all the time. For some stupid reason, she actually cares if you go out and get yourself killed."


"She cares?" Spike didn't notice the slight smile that crossed his handsome face at Anya's words or the flash of awareness that entered his eyes as he thought about the redhead witch. It didn't matter how much she cared, though. She'd never be his, not in the way he wanted.

"Your glass is empty," Anya remarked as she refilled it for him, knowing it would be far easier to play Spike if he was completely inebriated. He was too intelligent to face when sober, easily seeing through any attempt she might have made. When Willow had mentioned him going out at night and getting drunk, well, it had seemed like the perfect opportunity.

You see, Anya had realized weeks ago that Spike was to blame for everything. It was all his fault and now she intended for him to be the one to fix it all. And, in doing so, she could give her only friend, a very special redhead witch, a chance at a loving relationship with someone that would love her the way she deserved. She knew she should feel guilty, but she'd justified everything to herself and honestly believed what she was doing was the right thing. Willow and Spike could never be happy here, could never have the relationship they wanted and deserved, not with Buffy and the others and the past always coming between them. But, when her plan worked, they could all be happy. She smiled as she answered Spike, "Yeah, Willow seems to like you, though I can't really understand why. I mean, you've tried to kill her several times and you were obsessed with her best friend and you're always mean to her, but she still likes you."

"Wasn't obsessed with Buffy," Spike denied weakly, knowing it was really pointless to argue. He'd believed himself to be in love with the slayer for nearly a year, only realizing after she was dead that he'd not really cared as much as he had thought. That summer following her death was when he'd spent so much time with Willow, taking care of Dawn and doing patrols and just being with the witch.

That's when he'd realized what love really was, when he'd understood that it had always been Red that he wanted, when he'd been confused and uncertain and didn't have any idea what to do about it. He'd realized that Willow was what always dragged him back to this town. The slayer had been an act, something to try to focus on because it didn't scare him and confuse him. His feelings for Willow were now acknowledged by both the man and the demon, had been present for years, and he was still no closer to having any idea what to do about them. Thinking back over Anya's words, he looked at her and said, "And I never tried to kill Red."

"That time in the dorm?" Anya reminded, watching as he frowned.

"Wasn't going to kill her," Spike remembered, "was going to turn her. Make her mine, but the damn implant prevented that from ever happening."

"Then what about that time in the warehouse? No implant then, Spikey," Anya smirked, watching as he took another drink. It was time.

"Wanted her then," Spike muttered, glaring at the glass of whiskey. "She smelled so good, was so brave, so caring. Should have forgotten Dru, killed the moron and kept my Red."

"Please," Anya snorted, "You were drunk off your ass from what I hear. Obsessed with that crazy bitch sire of yours. I doubt you even remember much of that night much less been able to keep Willow."

"I remember it all," he glared at her, "every word she said, the way her eyes looked when she listened to me talk about Dru, the feel of her body as I rested against her, the smell of her arousal as I touched her even as she was telling me to stop, the look of fire in her eyes as she pushed me away. I could have had her that night, should have taken her away from here and made her mine. Left this town and showed her the world. An eternity with my Red instead of this hell I've called a life ever since."

"Personally, I wish you'd never come to Sunnydale for that spell," Anya said after taking a sip of her whiskey. "Never kidnapped Xander and Willow and left them to get caught by Cordelia so she'd end up making her stupid wish and ruining my life."

Spike downed the rest of his glass before refilling it, Anya's words echoing in his head. He licked his lips, thinking about it all, or as much as he could with a mind clouded by alcohol. He sighed, "Not me. I wish that I knew then what I know now and that I could just go back to that night and do it all over again."

A pleased and triumphant smile crossed Anya's face as she moved her hand to Spike's shoulder, her smile softening as she squeezed the shoulder of the vampire that she considered a friend, knowing there was no going back now, but also knowing this was what had to happen. She smiled as she leaned closer, whispering in his ear, "Done."


Spike was about to take another drink from his glass when he felt Anya's hand on his shoulder. Before he could ask her what she was doing, she was whispering in his ear. Done? What did she mean done? He opened his mouth to ask but found himself closing his eyes as a bright light surrounded him. He felt like he was falling then suddenly he landed on something hard. He opened his eyes, feeling a bit like that animal in the cartoons Niblet would watch. Which way did they go, George? Which way did they go? His hand moved to his head as he rubbed his face. The effect of the whiskey was gone. He was sober and angry. What had that dumb bitch done?

He opened his eyes again as he got to his feet, frowning as he tried to figure out where she had sent him. He looked around, his eyes widening in shock when he saw what was behind him. It was a bed, a bed that was very familiar. And laying on the bed were Willow and the moron. Spike closed his eyes and counted to ten before opening them again. They were still there. Unconscious and breathing steadily. Spike moved backwards, his eyes on Willow's face. When he felt the chair behind his knees, he sat down. He was back in the warehouse, back to that night when he'd come to Sunnydale seeking a love spell to get Drusilla back.

He thought about his conversation at the bar with Anya. Now sober, he was able to notice the things he'd missed. She'd been a demon. She'd played him, knowing exactly what to say to get him to make the wish she apparently had wanted him to make. He should have been pissed off at her taking advantage of him, of her deliberately baiting him into making a wish that ended up taking him back in time, but all he could feel was relief and gratitude. He didn't feel the implant, didn't feel the control that it had on him. A smile slowly spread across his handsome face as he got to his feet, his eyes moving to Chubs. Okay, so the moron had been rather thin back then, but Spike still liked to call him Chubs because it annoyed the hell out of the now plumper man. Spike thought of all the horrible ways he could torture the youth if he wanted, not cringing one time in pain induced by the chip. He considered simply snapping the kid's neck, but frowned as he remembered the years he'd spent around the group, realizing that he no longer really hated Xander. Disliked, yeah, but not enough to kill him. Besides, he was Red's best friend and Spike wouldn't want to do anything to hurt her.

His blue eyes moved away from Xander to focus on Willow. Cor, she was beautiful. Even then, she'd been ravishing. He moved around the bottom of the bed to sit beside her, his hand moving up to gently touch her face, needing to see if this was real or if he was just having an alcohol induced hallucination. He could feel her soft, warm flesh under his fingers and knew that this was real. Anya had granted his wish. He was being given a second chance, it would seem. Bloody hell, he didn't know what he'd done to deserve such an opportunity, but he was definitely not going to protest. He leaned forward, inhaling the sweet scent that he recognized as his Red. Apples and vanilla mixed with innocence and power. Pulling back, his eyes grew thoughtful as he realized what this meant.

He knew what the future held. He hadn't lost his memories of his universe or his future or whatever it had been he had lived during the last three years or so. He remembered it all. Red wasn't going to have her heart broken by that mangy mutt to whom she'd given her virginity. She wasn't going to get involved with the pasty face witch that had ended up breaking her heart when she'd run back home following Glory's mind scramble. She was going to be his and he was going to be hers. Her first and only. An eternity awaited them. But, first things first.

He had heard the stories of what happened at the warehouse after he left. He didn't intend to be disturbed. He wanted Willow, but he also wanted her to want him. Call it romantic or stupid, but he wasn't going to force her. This Willow didn't know him, she hadn't spent the last few years becoming his friend or spending time with him. This Willow was still the shy high school girl who lacked confidence. She hadn't yet learned her true natural powers of magic, she hadn't stepped out of the shadow of the slayer. She wasn't his Willow yet.

His Willow? She would never have been his Willow, not in that world. Even if Willow had wanted him, had loved him, it wouldn't have worked. There had been too many things, too much standing between them. He'd realized that, had seen a similar knowledge in her eyes on the rare occasions that their friendly talks had become more serious. Her home was Sunnydale, her life centered around helping Buffy and being a white hat. While he no longer wore a black hat, really, his was still gray at best. She'd have never allowed him to turn her, wouldn't have wanted to live forever if it meant leaving her friends and her home.

Spike shook his head slightly, knowing it was pointless to dwell on things that never would have been, especially in a world where everything was now possible. This Willow was the same as his Willow, she was just younger. She hadn't yet committed her entire life to helping Buffy, hadn't yet figured out who she was and what she wanted. He had changed a lot over the years, some due to the implant, some due to being part of the good fight to borrow a cliché, and some due to loving Willow. He liked some of those changes, enjoyed the maturity that he had found over the last couple of years. He had learned a lot, some good and some bad.

He didn't have the implant now, but felt no great need to go slaughter people just to see their blood run. He knew Buffy and his sire were around, remembering running into them during that other time. He needed to move Willow, needed to take her somewhere private where they would not be found. He wanted her to wake up, to talk to her, to look into her beautiful green eyes and see love and lust burning there for him. He didn't have that long before she'd wake up. He didn't want to scare her, he just wanted to be with her. He got to his feet, swinging her into his arms effortlessly as he started for the stairs. He knew where to take her, a slow smile crossing his face as he held her against him and became lost in thought as he left the warehouse.


Spike entered the underground tunnel and smiled. It hadn't changed at all. If he followed the path a few hundred feet, he'd come to the bedroom that he had shared with Harmony for those few horrible months. What the hell had he been thinking? He couldn't believe he'd needed a shag bad enough to get himself involved with that brainless bimbo for a one night stand much less an actual relationship of sorts. It wouldn't be happening now. Yet another reason to be grateful for having his wish granted. That world no longer existed. The one where he had shagged Harmony and fallen for the slayer, the world where he'd been caught by the Initiative and become part of the slayer's silly little gang. One wish had changed it all.

He hadn't forgotten that world, still remembered everything that had happened to him from that night he'd kidnapped Red and the moron for the spell all the way up until the night he was drunk at the bar with Anya. Memories that no longer really mattered. He had changed it all by taking Willow from the warehouse. That one action had completely altered the events of his life and actually the world around him. He had knowledge which gave him power. He entered the main area of the cave and saw the vampires laying around. He growled, his eyes flashing yellow when they started to rise as if to oppose his presence. He entered the bedroom of the cave, seeing the bed that he had found when he'd first come back to Sunnydale about a year from now. Gently, he laid Willow down, his hand moving across her cheek. Satisfied that she was going to be okay and would be probably be out for a bit longer, he took off his duster and tossed it on a chair before leaving the bedroom to face the vampires that were currently occupying his new temporary home.

"My name's Spike," he told them with a smirk as he leaned against the door. "Does anyone have any problems with my being here?"

"Spike? You helped the slayer," one vampire spoke up, recognizing the name.

"Wrong answer," Spike moved forward quickly, his fist entering the vampire's chest. He laughed as he wiped the dust off and looked at the others, "Anyone else?"

"No. No problems at all," voices rang out.

"Good," Spike moved to take a seat, his blue eyes on the door to the bedroom. "I'm not planning on staying here for long. Just visiting the area. Had to get my girl and take care of a few things. I don't want anyone to know I'm back. Is that understood?"

"Yes, Master," the minions nodded in understanding, not having any desire to end up in a pile of dust like their companion. There were no doubts to them that they were looking a vampire that was stronger than any they'd ever met. He radiated power and intelligence, most of them had heard stories about Spike or even known him when he'd been in town a year before. There was something different about him, something they couldn't explain but they could feel it. He was calm and controlled, a smile on his face that dared any of them to object. They might be minions, but they weren't stupid. They knew how to survive and right now their survival depended on obeying Spike and making sure they did not cross him during his short visit to Sunnydale. None of them even dared asked why he had brought a human to their lair, a human that smelled of untapped power and innocence and the slayer. Instead, they just looked at him, waiting for his next order.

"No one goes near that room," Spike warned, his eyes yellow as he looked at each of the minions, wanting to make sure they understood the seriousness of his words. When he was confident that they understood and didn't plan on disturbing Willow, he smiled, "I want you two to get some equipment for me."

"Equipment?" one of the vampires Spike had pointed at was curious. "What sort of equipment, master?"

"Digging," Spike said, "You see, I left something in that wall when I left here last year. I want it back. You are going to find it for me. It's a ring, a real beauty. I know where's it at so it shouldn't take you guys long to get it out for me."

"Of course, master," the minions exchanged glances, not sure why he would have buried a ring in the walls of the cave but knowing not to question the powerful blond vampire.

"Leave now. Go hunt," Spike dismissed them, a pleased smile crossing his face as he moved his hand over the wall of the cave. The gem of Amara would finally be his. He knew the exact location and wouldn't be stupid enough to lose it this time. It was too bad that he didn't have any plans of destroying the slayer and her stupid little friends because it would so easy to kill them all. His eyes looked into the bedroom, seeing Willow on the bed still unconscious. He couldn't kill Buffy and the others, no matter how tempting the idea. It would make Willow unhappy. Besides that, he really didn't want to see them dead anymore. They'd saved his life several times throughout the last years, become friends in a way. No, he wouldn't kill them. In fact, he was planning on helping them.

He turned his thoughts away from the slayer and her friends to concentrate on the redhead that was sleeping in his bed. He'd have to kiss Anya if he ever saw her again. Sure, she'd been sneaky and manipulative by setting him up to make the wish, but he could forgive her. He'd been given a second chance. He'd get the ring and the power of true immortality that came with it. He could play hero and save the slayer and her friends. The most important thing, though, was Willow. He was going to be able to have a relationship with Willow. In this world, there would be nothing to stand between them being together. He still loved her with every fiber of his being, his feelings for her something that he and his demon agreed on. He'd have her in his life, in his heart, in his bed, for eternity. He entered the bedroom and shut the door behind him. He kicked off his boots before laying on the bed beside her, a soft smile on his face as he looked at her. She was so young, still innocent and so very beautiful. He watched her as he thought about the wish and how his world had changed and what his plans for the future would be. She moved slightly, blue eyes watching her carefully. She'd be waking up soon.


She was floating on clouds. Those were the first thoughts that occurred to Willow Rosenberg as she slowly became conscious. Soft and fluffy clouds that were rather comfortable. She moved, a soft sigh escaping her lips as she felt the clouds move with her. Why was she floating? The question caused a small frown as she tried to remember. She'd been in the lab with Xander trying to find a way to stop them from wanting those secret smoochies. It wasn't that kissing Xander was a bad thing. He had very nice lips and was a far better kisser than Oz, who tended to be a bit sloppy and wet with his kisses, but it wasn't exactly how she had imagined. The reason she wanted to stop their stolen kisses and the flirty game that they had started playing wasn't because it hadn't turned out the way she'd always thought it would, but because Xander loved Cordelia and she was dating Oz. She loved Xander, but not in the same way that she had loved him even a year ago. It was a comforting kind of love that existed between two people that had been best friends for more than a decade. She hadn't wanted to lose that friendship so she'd decided to do something to stop their stolen kisses.

That's the last thing she could remember. Standing there with Xander in the classroom. How did she go from standing in a class at school to floating on soft clouds? She slowly began to wake up even more, suddenly remembering what had happened. Spike! Her eyes flashed open and she found herself staring at the top of what appeared to be a cave. A cave? Fear and worry and concern ran through her as she moved to sit up. She felt a hand on her shoulder and moved her head to look at the hand. It was a nice hand with long, capable fingers. She frowned as she realized that it was not a nice hand because it was keeping her down. Her green eyes moved over a pale white arm that wasn't overly muscular but seemed to contain more strength than she could begin to understand. Her eyes continued moving past the length of the arm to broad shoulders and further up until she was looking into blue eyes that were looking at her with several emotions, all of which confused her and made the entire situation even more weird.

"Not so fast, pet," Spike spoke softly, not wanting to scare her. He had seen the fear flash in her pretty green eyes when she'd realized that he was the one sitting next to her, but the fear was fading, replaced by curiosity. She was still nervous, still a bit scared, but her natural curiosity seemed to be overriding the other emotions. He was relieved, if he were being completely honest, to see that she was the same Willow that he loved. He'd been scared that she would be different, that this was too good to be true. He didn't know what he had done to deserve such a reward, a chance at having Willow in his life and loving her and being loved without the obstacles that had prohibited any chance at happiness in the other place, but he wasn't about to question anything. There were some differences, which he had expected, but her soul was the same. She was the girl that he loved.

Any doubts he might have had concerning the wish and his new unlimited future were gone as soon as their eyes met. This time there would be nothing to keep them from being together. She could love him as she did in the world that had been that was no more, a soft smile crossing Spike's face as he realized how ridiculous his thoughts sounded. A world that had been that was no more? He sounded like the damn watcher with the overly dramatic words to describe the place that he had just recently left. It really didn't matter what he called it. A memory, a nightmare, a possible future that was luckily no more, or perhaps a chance to find Willow and realize what love really felt like so that he could be given this second chance to do things right...Whatever he wanted to call it, it no longer existed.

He had changed things from the moment he had taken Willow out of the warehouse. Hell, he'd changed things from the moment he had made that wish and been returned to his past with all of his memories and emotions still intact. He loved Willow, and now just needed to let her have a chance to fall in love with him. He looked into her eyes, watching as she studied him carefully before glancing at her arm where he was holding her gently before looking back at him with a puzzled expression on her beautiful face. His lips twisted into a small smile as he explained, "You've got a nasty bump on your head, luv. If you sit up quickly, you'll feel much worse than if you take it slow."

Willow wanted to ask him why he cared if she sat up fast and felt bad. It was his fault she had the bump on her head, after all. Instead, she remained silent, trying to figure out what was happening. She'd been with Xander and then Spike had come in saying something about a spell before everything had gone dark. Why had he taken her if he wanted a spell done? She was a novice, at best, her only real success being the resouling of Angelus, and she still wasn't really sure where all that power had come from. Other than that, she hadn't had that much experience except when she was helping Giles.

Okay, so that a bit of a lie. She'd been studying magics with Jenny before the teacher had been killed and the entire experience with the soul thing had caused her to spend quite a bit of her free time reading and researching and learning what she could. She still had a lot to learn, but she was getting pretty good at floating branches when patrolling with Buffy and for doing minor little spells, mostly for relaxation. Somehow, she didn't think Spike wanted her to float any twigs or pencils and he definitely seemed relaxed already, so what did he want with her? And where was Xander now? Had he been killed and left in the classroom? She glanced around the room as much as possible from her position, seeing no signs of Xander. Her eyes widened with panic as she realized that her best friend since they were age six was probably dead somewhere, killed by the gorgeous vampire that was beside her.

Gorgeous? Where had that thought come from? She was a horrible person, she realized. Xander was dead and she was lusting after the demon that had killed him. She didn't bother to remind herself that she had been lusting after Spike since she'd first seen him the year before. And she definitely didn't remind herself about the sexual dreams that had begun following that initial sighting of the sarcastic and sexy blond vampire. She would concentrate on the fact that Xander was missing, presumably dead, and that she was now laying in Spike's bed. Oh God, that was so not the thing to concentrate on, she realized, as a wave of desire rushed over her at the knowledge that she'd been kidnapped by Spike and was now completely at his mercy, the subject of many a naughty fantasy that would cause her to wake up all sweaty and achy and aroused. Goodness, this cave was pretty darn warm, she decided as she looked at anything except the handsome man sitting next to her. She wanted to know where Xander was, if he was okay, and what Spike wanted with her.

"He's still alive," Spike said quietly, knowing who she was looking for when she'd first looked away from him to glance around the room. He watched her face closely, his blue eyes curious as he noted the flush in her cheeks and the way her breathing had changed as she'd become lost in thought. Surprisingly, he could smell the intoxicating scent of her arousal as she looked at the wall. She was scared and worried and curious, but she was also aroused. Had she been aroused the other time and he'd just been too drunk to notice? So much wasted time. He pushed those thoughts out of his head to concentrate on Willow, knowing it was pointless to continue to think about that other world that no longer existed. He'd remember what he needed to remember, but there was no use giving it that much thought since it was no longer going to happen. There would be no wasted time in this world. He loved Willow and he knew that, given a chance, she would love him.

"Wh...where is he?" Willow asked, her green eyes moving from the cover that she had been studying so intently to look into blue eyes that confused her.

"The boy is fine. Your silly little friends have probably already found him by now," Spike said, his eyes looking into hers, seeing the questions that she wanted to ask as well as seeing the confusion.

"Okay," Willow said softly, surprised that she believed him. But, she did. She trusted Spike, knew that he was telling her the truth. Xander was okay, he was alive and the others had probably already rescued him. She wondered if they would rescue her as quickly, doubting that it would be that simple. Spike had wanted her to do some spell and had obviously hid them well enough that they would not be disturbed until he'd had her finished the task. She kept her eyes on his, frowning as she tried to place something that was nagging at her mind. She studied him silently for several minutes, wishing she understood what was happening. Finally, she asked, "Why am I here?"


"It's a tad complicated, pet," Spike said in response to her question. He'd expected it, had been contemplating various ways to answer it, and still didn't know exactly what to tell her. Somehow he didn't think the truth was an option. He could see her reaction if he explained that he'd been sent here from a future that was no longer going to happen because he loved her and they didn't have a chance at being together in that other place but here they could be together forever.

She'd probably think he was a rambling drunk and would most likely be frightened by the intensity of his feelings for her. At this point in their lives, they'd only seen each other during battles, never had a conversation, and she had no idea who he was and what he was really like. He wasn't the most patient man in the world, wasn't very good at remaining still for extended periods of time, was accustomed to hearing Xander refer to him as the first vampire with ADHD, yet he could have sat on the bed beside Willow simply looking into her beautiful eyes and being that close to her for hours. His feelings for her had matured him in many ways, had changed him and made him appreciate the small things that he'd never noticed before, had helped him learn how to care, had taught him to not be afraid of his emotions. His thoughts were interrupted by her soft voice.

"You're different," Willow said quietly, a puzzled expression on her face as she watched him. She couldn't explain it, but she knew that something had happened. She saw his eyes widen slightly in surprise, rather proud of herself for figuring out that something wasn't the same. She'd managed to ignore the attraction that she felt for the gorgeous, yes he was gorgeous even if he was an evil vampire, blond that was sitting beside her on this bed who knew where and concentrate on what was happening. She watched Spike's face, wondering what he was thinking.

She didn't understand it, but she wasn't scared of him. When he'd stumbled into the lab at school, drunk and ranting about spells, she'd been scared. She remembered feeling fear before the darkness. Now, though, when she should have been scared to death, she wasn't. As strange as it sounded, she felt safe, protected, loved. Oh God, where did that one come from? She knew it was stupid, but it was true. When he looked at her, he was looking at her like a man in love and lust. She hadn't missed the flash of desire, her body making sure she noticed that darkening in his eyes when she'd licked her lips, making the damn room even more warm and her thoughts even more confused. Willow knew it sounded crazy, knew it was completely ridiculous an idea that Spike somehow loved her or wanted her in ways that made her tummy tingle, but she knew she wasn't imagining that look. She sighed softly, wondering if he'd be honest and tell her what was happening but knowing that she needed to ask, "What happened?"

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you, luv," Spike said softly, a slight smile on his lips. She'd always been the smart one, able to see things that no one else could. She was perceptive and intelligent and curious and stubborn as hell, which meant that she wouldn't let the matter drop until she had answers that satisfied her. He hadn't counted on her being so curious. He'd figured she'd be scared and upset and that it would take a while to get her to be comfortable enough to relax. Trust his Red to keep him on his toes and realize that something was different.

"At the school, you were pretty...intoxicated," Willow said slowly, her mind busy thinking of things that could have happened in such a short time to cause his behavior to be so different, as well as to cause her to not be worried about him killing her for asking so many questions.

"I was drunk off me arse, Red," Spike laughed softly, remembering very well what he had been like before he'd been brought back. He'd been drunk, his entire mind concentrated on a love spell to get Drusilla back when he'd found Willow and Xander at the lab. He'd not even noticed how soft her body was as he'd carried her or how wonderful she smelled or just how beautiful she was until they'd been talking at the warehouse. And then he'd nearly forgotten Dru and taken Red as his, claimed her and shagged her and kept her. He hadn't, though, instead leaving to find Dru and starting the chain of events that had led him back to Sunnydale and the past few years that had been the worst of his unlife, becoming friends and falling for Willow the only real bright spot.

"You're not now," Willow said thoughtfully, "you're sober and alert. I don't understand this. Why am I here? Why are you looking at me like that? Why do I feel like I've known you forever when I look into your eyes? Oh, um, I didn't mean to ask that last question so please just ignore it. I'm just confused and I'm hungry and my head hurts and none of this makes sense! I hate when things don't make sense, when I don't understand everything. I like to understand. Knowledge is very important to me, an important part of my life. I just feel weird not having any idea why I'm feeling what I'm feeling and why I feel safe when I'm with an evil vampire that spent most of last year trying to kill us and who took me from school and I just don't understand..."

"Shhh, Willow," Spike said as an affectionate smile crossed his face. He loved listening to her ramble, always admiring how fast her thoughts moved and how smart she was. Now, he was thinking about what she had said, very pleased to hear that she was feeling safe around him and that he was confusing her in ways that made her see him as something other than the arrogant vampire that had tried to kill her the previous year. He didn't understand why she would feel as if she'd known him, knowing only that it was a feeling he, himself, often had, and that she had mentioned it after Buffy had died in the other place.

He moved his hand up to her face, brushing his fingers over her cheek as he looked into her eyes, seeing that she was surprised that he knew her name. He felt her warm flesh under his fingers, resisting the urge to lean over and kiss her senseless, knowing that he wouldn't stop at just kissing. He'd wanted her for years, had loved her longer than he'd realized, his feelings for her surprising him when he no longer had to hide them or control them. When he kissed her, he wanted to see love in her green eyes, not curiosity and confusion. He wanted her to want him to kiss her, wanted her to want him as much as he wanted her, wanted her to realize that he loved her and wanted her to love him. Call it the romantic in him, but he knew that it would take time, that he would have to have more patience than he'd ever had, but that it would be worth it. When he looked into her eyes and saw that she understood, that she felt the same way, only then would he kiss her, and she would be his forever. He ran his tongue over his lips, counting to ten slowly before he said, "Soon, you'll understand and then everything will be as it should."


"As it should?" Willow repeated, trying not to concentrate on the feeling of Spike's fingers on her face. Who was she kidding? She couldn't think of anything else, except maybe how close his face was and how nice his lips looked and how intense his eyes were as they watched her. If she moved just a little, her lips could be touching his. Her eyes widened at that thought, her breathing ragged as she cursed her all too vivid imagination. What was happening to her? Sure, she was attracted to Spike. What female wouldn't be? But there was a big difference between being attracted to someone and what she was feeling right now. The logical part of her mind knew that this was weird, knew that it was wrong to be sitting here, kidnapped and held by a master vampire, and being more interested in how kissable his lips looked and how his smile made her feel things she'd never felt before and how his eyes made her feel desirable and safe all at the same time. She'd hoped for some answers, but all she'd got was cryptic sayings that sounded like they should have been spoken by Angel, instead of the bleached blond vampire that had kidnapped her.

"Always thinking," Spike muttered, his lips twisting into a soft smile as he brushed her hair away from her cheek.

"This doesn't make any sense," Willow sighed. He was talking as if he knew her, but they'd never really met. He was looking at her as if he cared about her, as if he wanted her, but it surely hadn't been very long that she was unconscious, which meant it hadn't been long ago that he was drunk and demanding her to do a spell before knocking her out. How did he go from unaware to caring?

"Sometimes things don't make sense, Willow," Spike said thoughtfully, knowing it was pointless to try to divert her attention. In all the years he'd known her, even before they'd become friends, he'd watched her. He knew that she was determined and stubborn and wouldn't accept vague responses from him without ending up with even more questions.

"I like for things to make sense," Willow said with a frown, "and how do you know my name? I know you because you tried killing us, but I don't remember ever stopping in the middle of one of those battles and introducing myself. I don't think I'd forget something like that."

"I know a lot about you, Red," Spike said with a slight smile, watching as she rolled her eyes. He liked her like this, curious and beautiful and brave, his little spitfire. He remembered her early comments, asking, "Are you hungry?"

"Hungry?" Willow almost groaned, knowing that he was changing the subject. He makes a statement like that, I know a lot about you with that cute smile and that flirty look in his eyes, and now he's talking about being hungry. Oh God, a part of her knew exactly what she was hungry for, her eyes moving to look at his lips before she got that naughty part of her mind under control. She'd never realized just how sexual her thoughts could be until she'd woken up in bed with Spike beside her. A wave of heat washed over her at that thought, her mind taking it into an all-together different direction from what it had really been. She was saved from having to try to form words and put them together into a sentence to respond to him when her tummy growled.

Spike smiled when he heard her stomach growl, the smile slightly strained as he kept himself from thinking about the sweet scent of arousal and the way she'd looked at his lips when he'd asked if she was hungry. She had no idea that the innocent gesture had caused such a reaction, didn't have any idea just how much control it was taking him to not push her back against the bed, kiss her and sink deep inside her tight warmth. He was such a romantic sap, wanting her to want him and love him before he claimed her, but he wasn't going to rush this. He'd been given a second chance and wasn't about to fuck it up because he couldn't control himself. He watched her smile sheepishly, saying, "I'll take that as a yes. Give me a minute and I'll send someone to get you something."

"You could just let me go get something myself," Willow suggested because she knew it was expected to make some effort to escape once you've been kidnapped. It didn't really bother her that her words sounded hollow, even to herself. It didn't bother her that she had no interest in being let go yet, that she wanted to talk to Spike and find out what was going on, that she didn't want to leave him.

Spike watched her face, asking, "Do you want me to let you go, luv?"

Willow's eyes widened as she said, "You'd let me go? Just like that?"

"If it made you happy, yes, I would," Spike said honestly, knowing from the look in her eyes that he didn't have to worry about her going anywhere. She was intrigued and curious and didn't seem to have any desire to leave.

"I uh well, um," Willow didn't really know what to say. She knew what she should say, it's been fun, thanks for the chat, see ya later. That would be the smart, logical thing to do. She'd leave and go find Xander and make sure he was okay and then tell Buffy that Spike hadn't done anything to hurt her, had, in fact, been a complete gentleman and didn't need to be staked. But, she didn't want to do the smart thing for once. It didn't feel right, leaving before she had any answers, before she knew why Spike was different and why he could sit there and say that he'd let her go if it made her happy and have a sincere look in his eyes that she didn't doubt at all. Her eyes moved away from his, looking at his chest as she tried to think of what to say. Her eyes narrowed when she saw that he was wearing a navy blue T-shirt, knowing that he'd been wearing his usual outfit of that black shirt and the flannel looking shirt over it and his duster when he'd been at the school. She'd never seen him wearing anything else, not that she'd seen him all that often. But, she'd heard from Buffy, too, that Spike seemed to own only one outfit. A navy blue shirt was not part of that outfit. Her eyes looked back into his as she asked, "Why did you change shirts?"

"Red, do you want me to send someone for some food?" Spike asked as he tried to cover his smile. She'd avoided giving him an answer, instead asking a question that caught him by surprise, but indicating that she had no desire to leave yet.

"I am kinda hungry," Willow confessed, watching as he nodded, his lips curving into a smile that caused tingles in her tummy. She kept her eyes on him as he got up and walked to the door, making her wonder if she was crazy for not asking to leave when she'd been given a chance. Her eyes moved over him, paying particular attention to his denim clad ass before moving away before her thoughts went into that naughty area again.

Spike opened the door, looking out and finding the first minion that he saw. He pointed, "You, go to Stan's and get me a cheeseburger with tomatoes and no onions or pickles, an order of French fries, and a chocolate shake. Actually, make that two shakes. Be sure to bring plenty of ketchup back. You've got a half hour before I start to get impatient."

"Yes, master," the minion jumped up and nearly ran out the door, not wanting to end up dead for taking too long. Somehow, he knew that Spike would not be a happy vampire if he was kept waiting.

Spike shut the door and looked back at Willow, who was watching him with surprised eyes. He locked the door and walked back to the bed, "Your food should be here soon."

"How did you know that I don't like onions or pickles on my burger?" Willow asked softly, wondering if any of this would ever make sense. Xander didn't even remember she didn't like onions, and they'd known each other since they were six.

"I told you, luv, I know a lot about you," Spike shrugged as he sat down, giving her an innocent smile and seeing that she wasn't satisfied at all with his answer.

"How do you know a lot about me?" Willow asked, not resisting the urge to groan this time, "Why won't you explain it to me? I want to know, I want to understand what's happening. Talk to me, Spike. Please?"


It was the please that did it. Spike knew that he was going to have to talk to her, that he was going to have to figure out exactly what to say without revealing every detail. He didn't want to lie to her, but he decided that vague resemblance to the truth wasn't lying so he was okay. He knew that a relationship could not be built on lies, knew that she deserved as much of the truth as he could reveal without sounding crazy or foolish. He looked into her green eyes, confessing, "I don't even know where to begin, luv."

"Why not at the beginning? That's always a good place," Willow suggested with an encouraging smile. She was very glad that her friends couldn't see her right now and that they had no idea she'd turned away a chance to leave so that she could sit and talk to Spike. She felt a bit guilty for her choice, knowing that they must be worried if they'd realized that she was gone. They were probably searching for her, scared and angry, and here she was sitting on a rather comfy bed with Spike's hand resting on top of hers, listening to him talk with that accent that always managed to make her knees weak even when he was using it to threaten them, and watching his face and his eyes without worrying about being caught staring.

"The beginning?" Spike repeated slowly, a slight smile crossing his face when he saw her get lost in her thoughts. He nodded, deciding that she was right. It was a good place to start. He said, "Well, you see, I had a dream...a vision, if you will."

"Like Drusilla?" Willow asked, having heard from Angel about Drusilla's visions from the stars, about how the insane vampire received premonitions and things. Was that what Spike meant? He'd had a premonition? A premonition that told him what she liked on her cheeseburger? She didn't understand, her lips twisting into a slight scowl as she tried to figure out what Spike was saying as well as what he *wasn't * saying.

"I guess you could say that," he said thoughtfully, deciding that this was definitely the best way to try to describe what had happened. He'd forget to mention that part about the wish that had given him this second chance or about the reasons why they hadn't been together, but he could use it to explain why he happened to know so much about her and the others. He continued, "But it was more like a dream, a vivid dream that seemed very real. I didn't even realize I was dreaming until I woke up."

"And this dream happened to tell you that I like tomatoes and don't like onions or pickles?" Willow asked with a bit of suspicion in her voice. While she knew all about premonitions and dreams that foretold future events, Buffy having received several of those during their friendship, she found it a bit weird that Spike had received one involving her when they'd never even met.

"That and a whole lot more," Spike said with a slight smile, finding it amusing that she was still focused on how he knew what she liked on her hamburger rather than questioning anything else he had dreamed. He'd known that telling her it had been a dream was the right choice. He remembered hearing about visions that Buffy had had shortly after arriving in Sunnydale about the Master and how the slayer had made sure her friends had paid attention to any dreams after that in case they might be premonitions. He'd figured it was a believable way to explain how he knew what he knew and it wasn't exactly a lie. Though, the reality that he had lived was more of a nightmare than a dream. He shrugged, saying, "I figured it was just a dream until I saw you. Then, well, I remembered it all. I don't know why I saw everything that I did, but maybe the powers that be decided to reward me for helping the slayer save the world a few yea...months ago. Months, cause it's only been a few months since all that happened. Right, yeah, anyway, all I know is that being with you feels right and that you're supposed to be part of my life, my future. I might not understand it, but I know it's meant to be."

Before Willow could respond to his words, there was a knock on the door. She was glad for the interruption because she really needed time to think. She was finding this entire situation completely unbelievable. Spike was gorgeous, smart and had nearly defeated Buffy less than a year ago. True, he had helped save the world, but it had been more of a selfish thing to save Drusilla and get rid of Angelus, whom he hated. She didn't really see the Powers that Be rewarding him for that act, but who knows? Maybe the Powers decided he'd suffered enough after putting up with Drusilla for over a century and had given him that dream as something to get him to move on with his life. What she was finding hard to believe was that she was the one he was supposed to move on to. She had seen the sincerity in his eyes, though, when he'd spoken such romantic words about her being part of his life and his future. And she felt a feeling of contentment being with him, a feeling that was similar to what he had described. He was supposed to be part of her life. She didn't understand it, knew it was unbelievable, had no idea what it meant, but she couldn't deny feeling as if her life was finally complete when he touched her face, when his eyes looked into hers, when he was with her. She was so lost in thought that she didn't pay attention to the conversation Spike was having with the delivery minion.

"Here is the food, Master," the minion handed over the drink carrier and the bag of food. "Did you need anything else?"

"Yes, go by Willie's and get me a couple of bags of blood. I hate bagging it, but I don't want to leave my girl alone right now so it will have to do. Be discreet. I don't want the slayer finding me. I'm not ready to have a chat with her or my daft grandsire just yet. Oh, and tell the others to start digging in the wall I showed them, but to be quiet about it. My girl and I are trying to have a conversation and I don't want to be interrupted," Spike said after giving it some thought.

"Yes, Master. I'll go get your food right now," the minion replied as he backed away from the vampire that scared him.

"Thanks," Spike said with a smile before he shut the door, locking it before he turned to face Willow. She was lost in thought, which wasn't too surprising. He'd been honest with her, well as honest as he could be under the circumstances, and now she was trying to deal with the fact that he had admitted that he wanted to be with her, that he wanted a future with her. He'd not planned to tell her that quite so soon, but the words had come out when he'd looked into her pretty green eyes and he'd not been able to take them back, not that he really wanted to. It was rather nice having his intentions known, and not having to hide his desire and his love for her. He sat on the bed, placing the sack of food beside her as he said, "Have some dinner, pet. We can finish our discussion after you eat."


They were silent as Willow ate, Spike giving her time to think over what he had told her and to come up with more questions for him. He had no doubts that she'd start asking a ton of questions when she was finished with her burger. He'd spent years with his Willow, knew how curious and intelligent she was, liked how she always asked questions and wanted answers. She didn't just accept things, always wanting to know why and how, learning from even the worst experiences. It was one of the things that he loved most about her. He watched as the young redhead finished her burger and neatly put her trash back into the sack. After she had cleaned up the papers, green eyes glanced at him before looking away. He frowned, not liking how uncomfortable and uncertain she seemed around him.

His Willow was always relaxed around him. Even when he'd been in her dorm room that night fully intending on turning her and keeping her with him forever, she hadn't been scared of him. She'd had the initial moment of fear, true, but then she'd been calm and careful, ending up consoling him because he couldn't turn her. Later on, after he'd realized that he loved her, he thought back to the moment when she'd been comforting him in her dorm, so much pain and loneliness in her eyes after the wolf's desertion that she ignored in order to help a vampire that was meaning to kill her. It was then, looking into her eyes and remembering that night at the warehouse and how she'd looked and smelled and the bravery she'd had, even then, that he'd realized she was special.

It had taken a couple more years to finally acknowledge that his feelings went beyond admiration or respect, that he actually cared about her and loved her, but it had been that moment that he'd had the realization somewhere in the corners of his mind. Even during his ridiculous crush on Buffy, which had more about possession and control than about real affection, he'd still watched Willow. A part of him had always seemed to know that she belonged with him, that he was hers. A wistful look entered his blue eyes as he thought about his Willow, about the first time he'd looked into her eyes and realized that she cared about him. That had been several months before, yet they'd never spoken of it. She'd been helping Buffy adjust to being alive again, taking care of Dawn and the perpetually sullen slayer, trying to keep everything together for her friends without worrying about herself and her own needs and wants. She was so busy loving everyone else that she wouldn't allow herself to be loved, at least not by him.

"What are you thinking about?" a soft, hesitant voice spoke up.

Spike was pulled from his memories, his blue eyes focusing on the younger version of his thoughts. He shook his head slightly, a slight smile crossing his lips as he replied somewhat honestly, "I was thinking about this girl that I love."

"Oh," Willow studied the blond vampire, noticing the undeniable look of love and affection that entered his eyes when he thought about that girl. She assumed it must be Drusilla, but he hadn't mentioned the brunette vampire's name so she wasn't too sure. She sighed softly, wishing someone would look like that when they were thinking about her. She pulled her knees up and rested her chin on them, a soft smile crossing her face as she decided to forget for the time being that Spike was a bad evil vampire that had kidnapped her and just ask some of the questions she was thinking about, "Tell me about her."

"Tell you about her?" Spike repeated, slowly nodding as he made himself comfortable, deciding that he'd answer her request. He smiled softly as he thought about his Willow, "Don't really know where to start, luv. She's absolutely beautiful, would take my breath away if I had to breathe. She's so bloody smart, always asking questions and learning and her mind works so fast. She's ravishing when she's in the middle of working out some problem or puzzle, intense and passionate and stubborn as Hell. She's strong and powerful and determined. She doesn't put up with any of my shit, calling me on it and making me feel like I'm part of something. One smile from her can make the worst day seem like heaven. She smells so good, and her eyes are able to see inside me, into the soul that I once had. I dunno, she's just so special and being around her just makes me feel, ya know?"

"Is it...um, is it Drusilla?" Willow asked carefully, watching as he snorted and shook his head in denial.

"Not likely, pet. Don't get me wrong, I love my sire and always will have a place in my heart for her, but she's not nearly as special as my girl," Spike said, studying the teenager as he thought about, well, her. His Willow, that is. Even though he knew they were one and the same, there were differences. Not just age, but experience and depth. This girl hadn't lived life yet, was still innocent and sweet, had no idea she possessed powerful magic skills, didn't even begin to know who she was yet. His Willow, well, she'd loved and lost and dealt with life, he'd watched her mature, watched her come into her own with the magic stuff. She still had that innocence despite everything she'd lived through, but it was now mixed with an inner strength and character that made her the woman he loved.

"She sounds wonderful," Willow said truthfully, having never expected to hear such passionate emotions from a vampire. This girl that he loved was so lucky, she decided.

"That she is, pet," Spike frowned as he looked away from Willow, his eyes flashing with various emotions as he became lost in thought. Finally, he moved from the chair, awareness in his blue eyes as he finally faced Willow. This wasn't right. Sure, he knew that this was Willow, the Willow that he had kidnapped all those years before, but she wasn't *his* Willow. He could very well fall in love with this Willow, but it wasn't the same thing. He couldn't understand it, knew that he had been given the perfect chance to go back and to have everything he had ever wanted, and he'd embraced the idea at first, loving the possibilities. Now, though, he realized that it wasn't enough.

It wasn't that he didn't love Willow, even now looking at this youthful version and feeling the same lust and affection, but it wasn't the same. He wanted his Willow, the beautiful redhead that had bravely held the group together following Joyce's death, that had taken care of Niblet after Buffy had died, that had gone to such great lengths to bring back the slayer, that looked at him with awareness and love in her eyes. He couldn't change things, no matter how badly he wanted to, no matter how easy it would be to just keep her with him and protect her from the pain and hurt of life. He couldn't do that to her, couldn't take away everything that had shaped her into the beautiful, caring, compassionate, stubborn, intelligent redhead that he had loved for years. With a flash of sadness in his blue eyes that was soon replaced by resolve, he gave the pretty redhead a smile and said, "Come on, luv. It's time we got you home."


"Give me another," Spike told the bartender, a wry smile crossing his handsome face as he felt the slight bit of déjà vu. It was only a few hours ago in an entirely different world that he had made a similar request for alcohol, the reason remaining the same. Willow. He sighed as he took the bottle of whiskey the bartender put in front of him, moving to sit at a table in the darkest corners of the bar. He wanted to get lost tonight, having no idea what he was going to do. He looked at his left hand, seeing the ring that the minions had found just as he'd been ready to leave the cave.

He'd slipped it on his finger before walking Willow home, leaving the confused teen at her door with a brief kiss on her forehead and a promise from her that she'd be careful. She'd smiled a familiar smile, one that was often directed at Dawn, and told him to take care of himself and that she hoped everything worked out with the woman he loved. She'd then gone inside, probably to call her silly little friends to make sure they were okay.

She'd definitely have a story to tell them, that was for sure. A drunk Spike rambling on about destiny and how they belonged together and how he knew what she liked on her hamburgers and then how he'd suddenly started talking about a woman that he loved that wasn't Drusilla and then everything had changed. He still couldn't believe he'd let Willow go, that he'd gotten distracted by thoughts of his Willow and managed to even fuck up his second chance with her. He frowned at the table, having no idea what to do now. He'd had it all for a few seconds, Willow at his side, the ring on his finger, the minions ready to obey his next order, but it hadn't been what he wanted.

He had fully intended to take advantage of the situation, seduce Willow into loving him, help the slayer out with some of his knowledge of the future, have a right fun time destroying the blasted initiative, and then just spend time with his redhead. He knew he should be counting his lucky stars that his wish had been granted, that he'd been given this opportunity, but all he could think about was losing his Willow and any chance he might have had to be with her. All of it meant nothing if it meant losing his Willow. He'd have been more than happy to be back in his world with the damn implant and having to work with the slayer if it meant having her back in his life. He took a drink, sighing as he realized just how badly he'd fucked everything up.

"You look awful," a soft voice said as the chair opposite him was pulled out.

"What are you doing here?" he asked, blue eyes suddenly narrowing as he looked at the demon that had sat down.

"I should be asking you that question," Anya responded, noticing that Spike looked even worse than he had when he'd made the wish. She sighed, grimacing as she looked at the table, muttering, "Sorry for tricking you like that."

"I'm the one that made the wish, it's my fault," he replied, knowing that she'd egged him into it, but the wish had been one that he'd made often.

"If it makes you feel any better, it didn't help," Anya said, accepting the bottle that he offered her.

"What didn't help?" he asked, more thankful than he'd ever admit that she was there. She was familiar and a friend, someone that knew that this world wasn't the way things should be.

"Making the wish, coming back here, trying to change things," she shrugged as she gave him a wry smile, "I still love Xander. Being back here, before I became human, it doesn't change anything. I went to the warehouse tonight because I needed to see him. He's not my Xander, even if he really is."

"I know what you mean," Spike said softly, having had his suspicions that Anya had deliberately gone about having him make his wish for entirely selfish purposes, knowing that she'd been hurting over losing Chubs and the wedding not happening, so he wasn't at all surprised for her to admit that she'd gone to see the boy.

"Willow?" she asked, arching a brow as she nodded in understanding, "That's why you're here instead of doing all the taking and claiming you were going on about."

"Maybe if I hadn't kept the memories, if I didn't remember what it was like for her to smile at me and love me, then I could have just shagged her something fierce and claimed her. The wish was a mistake," he finally muttered, his lips twisting into a frown.

"You know, I had to bend the rules to even be able to grant it, because scorned women are my specialty, and I went to so much trouble planning and thinking it all out," Anya admitted, "and it was for nothing. It didn't change anything. No, that's not true. I don't even have a little of my Xander here. He doesn't know me, has no idea what he made me feel for so many years, doesn't know he broke my heart and hurt me by not wanting me enough to marry me. He'd just some silly high school senior who is dating a cheerleader and worrying about fighting the latest evil. I mean nothing to him."

"To borrow a cliché, you have to be careful what you wish for," Spike said as he looked at the candle on the table. "I was so busy running from what I felt for Red, intent on making both of us miserable by not trying to make it work, believing that there was no way she'd willingly choose to be with me, and now I'll never know."

"Spike," Anya spoke softly, her eyes meeting his, "I can't stay here. It's hard enough being in our world without Xander, I can't be here where he doesn't even know my name."

"What can we do?" he asked, arching a brow as he waited for the answer, hope flaring in his blue eyes as he wondered if they could go back to the real world and chalk this experience up as a nightmare.

"This is my power center," she whispered as she placed the necklace in the middle of the table. She didn't know if she could do this, go back to the pain and grief of being a human, but she was responsible for this and had to make amends to Spike. She really had wanted him and Willow to have a chance at happiness, but it wasn't going to happen in this world. Maybe now, in their world, he would have the courage to act on his feelings and she would learn to deal with losing Xander. A determined _expression entered her eyes as she looked at Spike and calmly said, "Destroy it."

Spike reached over and took her hand, giving her a smile as he squeezed her hand. "Thank you," he whispered before he brought his fist down on the necklace. There was a bright, blinding light and then suddenly he was back at the bar. He looked at Anya, knew instantly that she was human again, asked, "Am I supposed to remember? I didn't think I was supposed to remember."

"It varies," she shrugged, looking around and seeing the familiar faces that indicated that they were back home. With a satisfied smile, she stood, "I'm going to go see Xander. He's wanted to talk to me for weeks and I was too hurt to listen. Now, though, I think I'm ready."

"I'll walk you," he said as he stood, giving her a resolved smile as he added, "on my way over to see Red. It's time she and I had a talk."


Anya stood outside of Xander's door for several minutes after Spike walked away to go to see Willow. She took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. She didn't know if she could do this. Hell, she didn't even really know what *this* was! Talking to Xander, hearing him tell her that there were no second chances, that she'd fucked up and had lost any possibility of a reconciliation. She wouldn't be surprised if he refused to even speak to her. It would serve her right, in a way. She'd refused to listen to him the numerous times he'd tried to talk to her, never answering the phone when he called, turning away from him when they'd run into each other. She'd become a demon again hoping that she'd stop feeling the pain of losing him. It hadn't worked. Even as a demon, she loved him. She hated it! Hated being human, hated all these emotions, hated that she loved him after he hurt her so badly.

She'd thought that going back would fix it all. She could help Willow and Spike get together and she could remember what it felt like to be a demon that didn't love. It had just been a mistake. A big mistake. Spike had been unhappy, she'd been unhappy, and nothing had worked out the way she'd planned. She guessed it hadn't been all bad, if she were honest. She'd figured out that her feelings for Xander weren't going to just go away. She'd also willingly traded her powers for the chance to come back and be human again and try to see if he could forgive her. She looked at the ceiling and counted to ten, hoping that Spike wasn't this unprepared for his talk with Willow. She really did want those two to get together, able to see that they belonged together in a way that would make them both much happier than being apart.

She counted past ten, deciding that maybe she'd be ready to talk to Xander when she reached a hundred. Or maybe when she reached a hundred thousand. She hated this weird feeling in her stomach, something akin to fear. She kept imagining all the horrible outcomes of her visit, each one ending up with Xander slamming the door in her face and her slinking away to be alone for the rest of her mortal life. Anya, stop this, she scolded herself. She wasn't a coward. She was brave and strong and could face Xander and apologize. She could do it. She had to do it. She was up to thirty-six and no closer to convincing herself that she had the courage to face whatever happened once she knocked. Xander hated her. He should hate her. She'd been mean and ignored him and never given him a chance to even try to explain, so caught up in her own feelings of inadequacy and hurt that she'd lashed out at him, never listening to him. She looked at the door, moving her hand over the smooth surface, tracing the number to the apartment that she had only recently vacated. This had been her home, her first real home. Sure, she had an apartment after she'd become human, but it had never seemed like home. Xander was home.

"Are you planning on knocking or do you just enjoy feeling up my door?" a soft voice spoke from beside her.

"Aack!" Anya jumped and turned to glare at the person who scared her, her eyes widening as she saw Xander watching her closely. "Xander! Gods, you scared me!"

"Sorry," he muttered, moving past her to unlock his door. He was trying to play the nonchalant guy, acting as if he wasn't dying to know why she was at their apartment and why she had been staring at the door for at least five minutes, trying to pretend that he didn't want to just pull her into his arms and kiss her and tell her how stupid he was and beg her to give him another chance. He glanced at her, "Are you coming in?"

"Um, well, sure," she said as she walked inside, her eyes moving over the interior of the apartment. He hadn't changed anything, she noticed, everything looking as it had when she'd left. He'd even kept the empty spaces that had remained when she'd taken her stuff. She nervously played with the belt loop of her jeans, no closer to knowing what to say than she had been when she'd arrived at the apartment.

"You want anything to drink?" Xander asked, playing the perfect host, his dark eyes not betraying any of his numerous emotions at the moment.

"No, I'm fine," she said, looking anywhere but at him. If she looked at him, she didn't know if she could get through this. She'd end up saying the wrong thing and making it all worse.

"Anya, why are you here?" Xander finally asked as he sat down, running a hand over his face as he hoped she wasn't there to argue anymore. There had been enough of that since he'd called off the wedding to last several lifetimes.

"I," she looked up then, seeing the defeated look on his face, the sadness in his eyes, noticing how tired and unhappy he looked, wondering if she looked the same way. She sighed softly as all her fancy speeches fled her mind and she simply said, "I love you, Xander."

"What?" Xander's eyes widened as he looked at her, wondering if he'd heard her say she loved him or if it was just wishful thinking on his part.

"I tried not to!" Anya defended, "I tried to hate you. You broke my heart when you called off the wedding. I mean, I know we might not have been ready, but you never talked to me about it! You just decided and that was that. If you'd tried talking to me, I might have agreed with you! I don't know if I was ready to be married, either. It was the next logical step. Humans date, they fall in love, they share a home, then they get married and have children and grow old together. I tried to hate you for making me feel, I don't know, unwanted. But, nothing made it go away! I became a demon again, but I wasn't the same! You were always there, in my mind and my heart and my life is so empty without you in it! I hate you for making me love you!"

"You were never unwanted, Anya," Xander said softly, "I love you. I was just scared and it wasn't time to get married. It was too soon. I never meant to hurt you. You should hate me."

"I should, but I don't," she whispered as she looked at him. "I need you, Xander. I can't do this human thing alone."

"You're human again?" he asked quietly, his eyes hopeful as he wondered if she was saying what he thought she was saying.

"I don't really think I ever stopped being human," she admitted softly, knowing that she'd not at all been the demon she should have been, granting sweet wishes instead of doing any serious damage. "I came here tonight to tell you that I miss you, that I still love you, that I hope maybe we can try again."

"God, Anya, I love you so much," Xander whispered as he stood and moved towards her, pulling her into his arms and hugging her as tightly as he possibly could. Pulling back, he blinked away tears as he smiled, "A second chance sounds wonderful."

"You're crying," she said as she moved her hand over his cheek, her eyes brimming with tears as she said, "I thought leaking was for sad things."

"Tears of happiness," Xander said as he moved his thumb over a tear that had escaped her eyes, "and you're crying, too."

"I am?" Anya slowly smiled, "I guess I'm really happy then. I love you, Xander."

"And I love you, Anya," he leaned down and gently kissed her. He didn't know what had caused her to come to him and he didn't really care, only caring that he had another chance with the woman that had stolen his heart. This time he wouldn't fuck it all up, he vowed, knowing that his life really wasn't anything without Anya beside him.

"I hope that Spike's talk with Willow is this successful," she smiled.

"Spike's talk with Willow?" Xander frowned, not understanding how she'd jumped from their loving each other to thinking about Spike and Willow.

She nodded, "He and I had a lengthy discussion tonight. That's the reason I'm here. I realized how much I loved you and decided to take a chance on telling you, hoping you could forgive me for how horrible I was and that maybe we could start over. He walked me here on his way to see Willow."

"He's finally gonna tell her how he feels," Xander understood, smiling as he said, "she loves him, ya know? I have a feeling their talk will be pretty successful. Now, can we quit talking about them and concentrate on us?"

"Us," Anya repeated, smiling, "I like that. Can I stay here tonight? I miss waking up in your arms."

"I miss waking up with you in my arms," Xander confessed, not admitting that he hadn't washed the pillow she'd last used because it still smelled of her and that he couldn't get to sleep at night without holding it against him.

"Let's go to bed," Anya said quietly, leaning up to brush her lips against his, the kiss deepening as they moved towards the bedroom. Finally, her life felt complete and she was happy again.


End of Part 11