New Orleans Nights

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Willow jumped when she heard the loud scream, her foot kicking her glass and spilling some of her soda onto the table. She looked up, her eyes wide as she watched Buffy doing a very strange dance of happiness. She exchanged a confused look with Dawn who was also watching the blonde dancing around.

"Yes! Yes! Yes!" Buffy said again, holding the phone to her ear as she wiggled her butt and jumped around.

"Okay...Now she's starting to scare me," Dawn whispered as she watched her sister's strange contortions while trying not to drop the phone.

"Isn't she talking to your Dad?" Willow asked, wondering what Mr. Summers could have possibly said to have created such a reaction in his eldest daughter.

"Definitely not a cause for celebration usually," Dawn said, shaking her head. "Maybe the slaying has finally gotten to her, made her crazy."

"You guys do realize that I can hear everything you're saying?" Buffy asked, pausing in her gleeful dance to glare at them.

"Uh oh, it's the 'glare'," Dawn said, the last word taking on an ominous tone as she winked at Willow.

"We're dead now," Willow said with a snort.

"Dad, I've got to go. I need to kill my kid sister and best friend right now. Thanks so much. I'll call you later to work out the details," Buffy said, hanging up and continuing to glare at them. She put her hands on her hips for added effect but only succeeded in making the girls laugh.

"Sorry Buff, but you look funny when you're trying for threatening," Willow said.

"Oh really? Why, then, do demons run and hide when they see me coming?" Buffy shot back, amusement flashing in her eyes as she saw Willow roll her eyes.

"Hello! Slayer!" Willow said, laughing. "I don't think they really look at you, or else they'd end up with a giggling fit. Oh, but hey, you could stake them easier!"

"Why do I put up with you?" Buffy asked, looking at the ceiling as she shook her head.

"Because, I put up with you so you owe me," Willow suggested.

"Oh, yeah, that's it," Buffy said, looking at her friend and sharing a smile.

"Hey, what made you do the dance of weirdness?" Dawn asked, remembering what had originally caused their laughter in the first place.

"I'm not gonna tell you now," Buffy said, smiling as she sat down.

"We won't beg," Willow said, studying her friend for any clues to what had caused Buffy's excitement.

"Speak for yourself," Dawn said, laughing. "I want to know what was so good that it caused my sister to dance around like an idiot."

"I did not dance like an idiot," Buffy defended, "I just did my own version of a happy dance."

"Why was that again?" Willow asked.

"Ha! Thought you'd get me to talk, didn't you?" Buffy said, smirking. "I'm not saying a word."

"Well, that's a first," an amused voice said from the doorway. "Can we have that in writing?"

"Spike, go away," Buffy said, shooting him a frown before looking back at her best friend and sister and resuming her smirking pose.

"Damn, I knew it couldn't last," Spike said with a depressed sigh, winking at a giggling Dawn as he sauntered into the room. "So, what are we not talking about?"


"We don't know," Willow said, glancing at him before looking at Buffy. "She won't talk."

He arched a brow as he said, "We have ways of making her talk."

Willow looked back at him, a slow smile crossing her lips as she nodded, agreeing, "Yeah, we do, don't we?"

Dawn laughed softly, knowing exactly what was being planned. Buffy should have known better than to go against the three of them. She always ended up losing. Dawn winked at Willow, letting her know that she was in support of their planned action.

"Fat chance," Buffy said, eyes narrowing as she watched Spike and Willow exchange a glance before looking at Dawn. She watched as Willow and Dawn got to their feet, realizing what they had planned by the evil little smiles on their faces. She got up and tried to get away, but didn't make it to the door before Spike's arms enclosed around her. Dawn and Willow grabbed her and began to tickle her, causing tears of laughter as she tried to break out of Spike's grasp. "Okay...okay. I give up. I'll talk!"

"That was too easy," Spike muttered, shaking his head as he loosened his grip and let her go. He caught Willow's eyes and smiled slightly, "If only the nasties knew that it just took a good tickle to get the Slayer to surrender......"

"I hate you!" Buffy said, glaring at them all before sitting back down. Remembering her conversation with her father, she smiled, "But I'll forgive you since I'm in such a good mood."

"What did Pops say to cause such elation?" Dawn asked, moving to sit on the sofa beside Willow. She noticed Spike sitting on the arm of the sofa, trying to act as if he couldn't care less what was being discussed. It amused her, his big bad act. After Buffy had died, it had just been her and Willow. Tara had gone back home after the funeral, and the others were dealing with Buffy's death in their own way. From the beginning, Spike would end up at their house, watching over them, sitting with them, just being there. They'd welcomed Spike, making him part of their family. They'd all become friends over those few months. After Buffy's return, Dawn had been worried that things would change. She knew that he had loved her sister. Luckily, in her opinion, the love he had felt seemed to have slid into a comfortable friendly type of emotion instead of the passionate feeling he had once had. Buffy had been relieved, and they'd all moved on with life. Spike still ended up at their house most nights, patrolling with Buffy and Willow, helping her with her homework, and pretty much just hanging out. He'd deny it, but she knew that he liked them, enjoyed being with them. But, she let him think that they all believed that he would rather be anywhere else.

Buffy smiled, "We, dear sister, are getting an early Christmas present."

"It's June. That's way early," Dawn said, leaning forward. "But, present! Hey! What is it?"

"A week in New Orleans, courtesy of the old man," Buffy said, laughing. "Can you believe it? An entire week! Willow, you're coming! Dad said I could bring a friend, and you're it!"

"I am?" Willow said with a smile. "Okay, no argument from me. I've never been to New Orleans."

"Me either. It's going to be so much fun! We can tour and eat and meet weird people!" Dawn said with a large smile.

"I'm going to call Giles and make sure he and the others can handle things for a week and then I'm supposed to call Dad back so he can make the arrangements," Buffy said.

"Wow, I can't believe this. You're Dad is so cool," Willow said, understanding why Buffy had been dancing. This was great news.

"He's a bloody idiot is what he is," Spike growled, glaring at them. "Forget it. You're not going."


Six eyes turned to glare at him, making him shift uncomfortably until he finally got to his feet, starting to pace as they continued to stare at him.

"Excuse me?" Buffy finally said.

"You're not going," Spike said, wishing they'd let him smoke in the house. He definitely needed nicotine.

"Says who?" Willow asked, watching his hands search his pockets. With a slight smile, she reminded, "You can't smoke in here, Spike."

"I know," he snarled at her, letting his hands drop.

"Why can't we go?" Dawn asked, giving Buffy a look to keep her sister quiet.

"Because, Niblet, New Orleans is a very dangerous place," he said slowly, giving her a look that suggested she was dumb for not knowing the answer. "There is no way I'm letting my birds prance around that city alone for a week."

"Your birds?" Buffy repeated, making a face but smiling slightly as she watched him. If you had told her a year before that she would count Spike among her closest friends, she'd have had a laughing fit. But, it was true. Since she had returned from the grave, and his little obsessive crush was over, they'd been able to just talk and had become unlikely friends. Now, his possessiveness amused her more than it infuriated her.

"Spike, we live on a Hellmouth. I sincerely doubt that New Orleans is more dangerous than Sunnydale," Willow pointed out.

"It's a different dangerous, pet," Spike said. "There are more vampires and beasties than here. True, they're more into enjoying life than destroying the world, but they're everywhere."

"Hey, enjoying life compared to world domination is good," Buffy said, seeing that he was worried about them. "I think we'd be okay for a week, Spike, but it's sweet that you're worried."

"Sweet?" he repeated. He ran a hand through his hair as he snarled, "I am *not* sweet!"

"Wait, I've got it!" Dawn suddenly said, giving them all a smile.

"What do you got?" Willow asked, reluctantly moving her eyes off of Spike's handsome face to look at her friend.

"Spike doesn't want us to go to New Orleans alone, which is understandable," Dawn said.

"You think we shouldn't go?" Buffy asked, staring at her sister as if she were from outer space.

"No, I want to go," Dawn said, smiling. "Spike can just go with us."


"What?" Spike's shout was heard over the others.

Dawn caught his eyes, "It's perfect. You can go with us, be our chaperone, of sorts. You can go out with us after dark, when it's probably the most dangerous anyway."

"No," Spike said, shaking his head. "There is no way I'm going off with you three."

"Why not?" Willow asked, smiling as she looked at him. "As Dawn said, it's the perfect solution."

"Ahem," Buffy cleared her throat, speaking up, "Are we really sure about this?"

"If Dad is letting you bring a friend, then I get to bring a friend," Dawn said, "and I choose to bring Spike. I know I'd feel safer wandering around at night with Spike looking out for us."

"Niblet, I appreciate the offer, but I'm not going on your little trip," Spike said, making a face. "I can think of few things that would be as miserable, in fact."

"Well, if you don't want to go, fine," Dawn said, frowning as she realized that it hurt that he didn't want to go with them. She sighed, "But, you can stop whining about us going, then."

"You should go," Willow said softly, catching his eyes and giving him a slight smile, "It won't be nearly as much fun without you, Spike."

"Yeah, well," he glanced from Dawn back to Willow, frowning as he saw the disappointment in the younger girl's eyes. Looking into Willow's eyes, he felt himself relaxing. With a shrug, he said, "Fine, I'll go. Can't very well let you girls go alone, can I?"

"Really?" Dawn beamed. She looked at Buffy who was smiling though she looked less than thrilled. "Chin up, big Sis. We're going to New Orleans for an entire week! Call Giles so we can call Dad back. We don't want to wait too long or he might change his mind."

Spike listened to their chattering and shook his head, asking, "What have I gotten myself into?"


"With Spike?"

Willow kept the smile from her face as she nodded, repeating for the fourth time, "Yes, with Spike."

"Our Spike?" Xander said, his statement one of disbelief and surprise.

"Our Spike," Willow said patiently.

"Are you serious?" Xander asked, looking at Willow as if she had suggested flying to the moon for lunch.

"Would you quit asking that?" Willow asked, laughing as Xander shook his head.

"No," he said before reluctantly giving in and joining her in laughter. "Sorry, it's just rather surprising."

"Dawn wanted him to go with us," Willow smiled as she took a sip of her soda.

"I always knew there was something wrong with that girl," Xander said with a laugh as he dodged a pillow she tossed at him.

"When are you all leaving?" Anya asked as she placed the box of pizza on the table. She'd had to pay the delivery driver and was afraid she might have missed something.

"In a couple of weeks," Willow said, watching with amusement as Xander opened the pizza box and grabbed two slices, devouring half a slice in one gulp. "Giles okayed it so Buffy's father is making the arrangements."

"So, an entire week in New Orleans all expenses paid?" Anya whistled. "That's gonna cost him a pretty penny."

"Isn't it?" Willow whispered, wide eyed. "He must be spending thousands! He's even giving Buffy and Dawn a thousand dollars each for spending money."

"All I can say is you are lucky," Xander said, giving her a mock glare. "Running off to have fun and leaving us here in Sunnyhell. Some friend!"

"Oh, and who will be leaving us here for TWO weeks next month?" Willow asked sweetly, reminding him of the cruise that he and Anya had planned for July.

"Yeah, well, that's next month," he said before stuffing more pizza into his mouth.

"Don't listen to him," Anya said, "I, for one, think you all deserve a vacation from this place. And, furthermore, I'm relieved that Spike will be there to keep an eye on you."

"Yeah, but who will keep an eye on him?" Xander asked between mouthfuls of food. "That's what worries me."

"You don't have to worry," Willow said with a smile after she finished chewing her bite of pizza. "Spike might be whining about going, but I think he's nearly as excited as the rest of us."

"Besides that," Anya said with a smile, "as much as he'd deny it, he cares about them. He'll make sure they have fun without getting into trouble."

"Yeah, you're right," Xander said, not able to argue that the blond vampire had become a friend to all of them over the last couple of years. With a smile, he grabbed two more slices of pizza before leaning back and saying, "You do know that many, many souvenirs are in order, don't you?"

Willow just laughed as she continued eating her pizza, listening as Anya began to talk about her long day at the store and the many stupid people she had dealt with before closing.


Buffy laid on the bed, her chin on her hands as she watched Willow typing on her computer. "Have you found anything good?"

"I've found a couple of possibilities," Willow said, smiling at her friend. "Nothing has jumped out at me yet, though."

"I'm so glad that Dad is letting us make the arrangements," Buffy said as she turned to lay on her back, looking at the ceiling. "Have I mentioned today how thrilled I am that his therapist made him feel guilty for not being in our lives the last few years, thus leading him to buy his way out?"

"Not today," Willow laughed, having heard that same statement from the blonde every day since Buffy had learned why her Dad had suddenly become so generous. It seemed that Hank Summers had begun therapy and decided that he hadn't paid enough attention to his daughters. Instead of coming to Sunnydale to spend time with them or having them come visit him, he'd given Buffy enough money for the trip to New Orleans. Buffy was very happy with his choice of repayment.

"Sorry, I'm just so glad to be getting away from here for a few days," Buffy smiled, "we're going to have so much fun! I'm so glad Dad is letting you go with us. It's New Orleans, Willow!"

"I know, Buffy," Willow said with a laugh as she continued to click on various links. "I've been researching hotel sites for hours, after all."

"You can show me some enthusiasm, girl," Buffy said, turning back onto her stomach. "An entire week in a fun place with me and Dawn."

"Don't forget Spike," Willow said with a smile, knowing her best friend was doing her best to indeed forget the blond vampire.

"As if I could," Buffy frowned. "I could kill Dawn for inviting the bleached blunder with us."

"Don't kill Dawn. Your Dad might renege on the trip offer," Willow said with a smile, her interest caught by the site she had found.

"You know what I meant," Buffy groaned, sticking her tongue out at Willow's back.

"One day your face is going to freeze that way," Willow warned.

"I hate when you do that," Buffy rolled her eyes. "Fine, I won't kill Dawn. And I will not let Spike's going with us ruin the trip."

"That's very mature of you," Willow said, rereading the description of the hotel.

"I try," Buffy said sweetly, watching as Willow turned her chair to face her. "What is it?"

"I've found it!" Willow said with a large smile. She gestured at the computer, "It's perfect, *and* they have a vacancy for the week we'll be there. I checked that first, of course."


"You've found one?" Buffy sat up quickly, moving the empty chair beside Willow's. "Let me see!"

"Look at this," Willow went back to the front page, showing Buffy the view of the hotel.

"The Hotel Saint Martine," Buffy read, glancing at Willow. "It's gorgeous."

"Isn't it?" Willow clicked on a link. "It's on Dumaine, near Royal. It shows on this map that it's a little over a block from Bourbon Street, so it's close to the action but not so close it's noisy. The room I was looking at was this one."

"Wow," Buffy said, eyes widening as she looked at the room. "That's gorgeous."

"It's a suite," Willow pointed out. "Two bedrooms, one with two queen size beds and another with a king size. There's a living room and a balcony overlooking the courtyard. From the layout shown, the king size room is interior, which means no windows."

"Which means Spike gets the king size," Buffy said with a smile. "You thought of everything, Will. It looks great. Now for the bad part. How much does it cost?"

"Actually, that's a good part," Willow said. "Since we're going in June, and it's going to be horrible weather, the price is rather low. Also, since we're staying an entire week, we can get a special discount. It will be about $850 with the tax added. No more than nine hundred, for the entire week."

"That's it? Dad estimated twelve hundred. That means more money for us to spend on other things," Buffy said excitedly. "We might actually be able to cover most of your costs, too."

"Buffy, you're already taking care of the hotel and air fare," Willow said with a smile as she clicked on the reservation button. "Do you want to confirm?"

"Hell yeah," Buffy said, watching as Willow typed in her father's credit card number. Their plane tickets had already been ordered a few hours before, leaving Sunnydale with enough time to arrive in New Orleans several hours before dusk. With Spike as a traveling partner, they'd had to be cautious concerning flight times. Luckily, Willow was great with the computer and had everything arranged easily.

"All right. We're confirmed," Willow said with a smile. "Can you believe it? In less than two weeks, we're going to be in New Orleans!"

"No, I still can't believe it," Buffy said. "We need to figure out what we're going to do. A week is a long time."

"It will go fast," Willow said knowingly. "Dawn wants to go on some tours, but I don't really have anything specific that I must do."

"Me either," Buffy said. "Tours sound cool. And some shopping. Definitely shopping."

"We *will* be flying, Buffy. That's going to limit some of the buying," Willow reminded.

"No, it isn't," Buffy beamed. "I've already thought of that. I'm just going to ship everything here before we go. I'll be able to buy whatever I want."

"That actually sounds like a good idea," Willow said.

"Don't sound so amazed," Buffy said with a laugh.

"What's amazing?" Dawn asked as she entered Willow's room, flopping on the bed that Buffy had previously vacated.

"Your sister had a good idea," Willow said, laughing as Buffy hit her arm.

"That is remarkable," Dawn said, asking, "So, did you find our room?"

"Yes, we did," Willow smiled, clicking on the site again. "Come see."

"Oh, how neat," Dawn smiled at them both, "I can't wait until we leave!"


Willow looked out the window of the plane, still finding it difficult to believe that she was on her way to New Orleans. Not only was she flying, something she had only done once when she was a child, but she was taking her first vacation in more years than she cared to count. The days had passed quickly since hearing from Mr. Summers and the actual departure of their flight. She was thankful that they hadn't had very long to wait. With only a few weeks, her patience had not been tested. She settled back in her seat, wishing for a moment that the sky outside was not dark so that she could see the land below. It was a thought that she didn't entertain long, knowing that daylight would have prevented Spike from accompanying them. That, in itself, would have made the trip not quite so entertaining for her. She knew that Buffy wasn't very happy that the vampire was acting as their overprotective chaperone, while Dawn was thrilled to share the experience with him. She glanced sideways, studying the profile of the object of her thoughts. His eyes were closed, but she knew that he wasn't asleep. She didn't know how she knew, his chest not moving either way, but she knew he was pretending. She even had a very good idea why. She was his seat mate. He didn't want to talk to her, so he was faking.

She still wasn't sure how she had ended up sitting beside the blond. It had been arranged, so she had thought, for Buffy to sit with her and for Dawn to sit with Spike. But, as they were boarding the plane, Dawn had insisted on sitting with her big sister, giving Willow puppy dog eyes and begging, claiming that she wanted to spend time with the slayer before landing in New Orleans. Willow hadn't been able to argue or protest, knowing that she would eventually cave anyway. Also, she hadn't wanted to raise any questions as to why she would object to sitting beside Spike. So, she had ended up beside the silent vampire who seemed to rather put on an act than speak to her. The trip, so far, hadn't started off very well.

She sighed as she looked back out the window, wishing she had someone to talk to. She wasn't usually a very chatty person, but she was so excited about the trip that she wanted someone to share in her enthusiasm. She could see Buffy and Dawn sitting two rows up and over, their heads bent towards each other as they talked quietly. What was terrible was that they had only been in the air for half an hour. There were still a few more hours left before they would arrive. She sighed again, wondering if she should try to take a short nap. They'd be arriving in New Orleans in the early morning hours, having enough time to reach their hotel before dawn, even with flight delays. She'd taken problems into consideration with the arrival time needing to be way before the sun rose. She had a book that she could be reading, but didn't find that idea very pleasing, so it remained in her purse unopened. She picked up the magazine that Dawn had given her to read, flicking through the pages with a look of boredom on her pretty face. She glanced up and caught Buffy looking at her. Her friend smiled and waved then made a funny face that caused Willow to smile before turning back to talk to Dawn. The smile faded as she sighed again.

"Would you stop that?"

Willow glanced at Spike, watching as he slowly opened one blue eye, giving her an annoyed look. She flushed, having suspected his ruse, but finding it rather irritating that she had been right. She gave him what she hoped was a glare and asked, "Stop what?"

"All the sighing and moving and fidgeting," he said with a look of impatience as both eyes opened to look at her.

"Why don't you go back to *sleep* and you won't have to listen," she said sweetly, though her eyes were narrowed.

He stared at her for a minute, realizing first that she was aware that he had not been sleeping and second that she was annoyed that he had been ignoring her. He frowned as he looked away from her, wishing that he had been seated by anyone other than the redhead. He'd have taken crying babies, sweaty men, gabby old women...anyone would have been better than Willow. It wasn't that he disliked the redhead. On the contrary, he liked her. Liked her? He snorted in disgust, knowing that those words did nothing to describe the plethora of emotions that overtook him when he thought of Willow. Wanted, needed, craved....those were more accurate descriptions if he were completely honest. He had thought himself in love with Buffy for a time, the emotions he felt then paling in comparison to the feelings the redhead had caused in him. With Buffy, it had been lust and admiration. Willow, though, gave him trust, friendship, intelligent conversation, curiosity, honesty, respect, and so many other things he didn't deserve. And the lust was there. Boy was it there. Even now, the sweet scent of her shampoo and lotion mixed with the unique scent of her was surrounding him, arousing him, enticing him, taunting him. He had done something terribly stupid. He'd gotten over Buffy only to fall in love with someone even more unattainable, someone that he knew without a doubt was too good for him, someone that considered him a good friend. Someone that was now looking at him with fire in her eyes, daring him to admit that he hadn't been asleep. He was going to kill Dawn, he decided. She was supposed to be sitting next to him. He'd discussed the seating arrangements before they had even received the tickets. He'd known how difficult it would be to sit beside Willow and sitting beside Buffy had never been an option, so Dawn had been the logical choice. Then, when they were getting on the damn plane, the silly little brat had announced that she was sitting with Buffy, having the gall to give him a smile when she announced his impending torture.

"Spike?" Willow's anger faded as she watched the scowl on his face deepen, knowing from hours of studying him covertly that he was lost in thought.

He glanced at her, giving her a slight smile as he said, "Sorry, pet. Wandered a bit. What did you say?"

"Nothing important," she said quietly, moving to look back out the window, allowing him the chance to fake sleep again.

He knew he should leave it alone, knew that he should have closed his eyes and gone back to his fantasies, using every slight motion of the plane as an excuse to bump her leg or arm. He looked to where Dawn was sitting, knowing that he couldn't even be very mad at the teen. She had no idea that he hadn't wanted to sit with Willow, and she definitely had no idea why he would have been against the seating arrangement. And, in a way, he had been given a chance to be his redhead for a few hours without interruptions from the slaying brood. Here he was wasting such an opportunity, pretending to be asleep instead of enjoying listening to her soft voice and seeing her special smiles. He'd been a bloody idiot. He looked back at Willow, asking, "What do you see down there, Red?"

Willow looked at him in surprise, a smile crossing her face as she realized that he was seriously asking, not just making conversation. She began to talk, answering his questions and laughing at his responses, leaning back in the seat as a small smile remained on her face, her eyes softening as she looked at him. You see, somewhere over the past few weeks, months, years, she'd had to admit something to herself. She'd finally accepted the fact that she was in love with Spike.


"What's happening now?"

"I'm trying to see," Buffy said, pausing to glare at Dawn before looking back at the mirror in her compact.

"I'm not waiting," Dawn decided, moving to stretch over Buffy's lap and glance back. With a smile of triumph, she sat back, "They're talking!"

"Really?" Buffy finally closed the mirror, taking a second to look back. She looked at Dawn, "She's laughing."

"See?" Dawn gloated, waiting for the inevitable.

"It doesn't mean anything," Buffy said, rolling her eyes. "Willow laughs a lot. She's a happy girl."

"Just admit that I'm right, Buffy," Dawn said, taking special glee in knowing her sister would admit defeat soon.

"I still think you're crazy," Buffy said somewhat more weakly than previously. She was still reeling from the conversation that she and her sister had been having, wondering if somehow Dawn had seen something that she hadn't. When they had first boarded the plane, and Dawn had insisted on sitting beside her, Buffy had been surprised. She'd assumed that she and Willow would sit together, having planned on passing the time of the flight talking to her best friend. Needless to say, sitting next to her sister hadn't sounded nearly as fun. Then, shortly after take off, Dawn had looked at her and announced in a very confident tone that Willow and Spike were in love, and that it was their responsibility as their best friends to make sure they got together. Buffy had been floored at Dawn's words, unable to even fathom the idea of Willow and Spike in love much less together in a relationship. She'd looked back at her friend, seeing that Spike was sleeping and her friend was reading a magazine. She'd given Dawn a look and said that the teen must be wrong. It had been then that Dawn had presented her a case, a very thorough case, complete with examples. It seemed that Dawn had begun to suspect Spike of having a crush on Willow a few weeks before, had decided to watch him and see if she was right. What she had learned was that Spike did have feelings for the redhead and that the feelings were returned. Buffy still believed that the idea was the working of a teenager's romantic beliefs in love, and not based on any concrete facts.

She just couldn't believe that she wouldn't have figured out that Willow was in love. She was the redhead's best friend, after all. It was annoying to think that her kid sister would have seen something that she herself hadn't. She'd been fair, listening to Dawn's belief with a somewhat open mind. Admittedly, she had seen some of the things that Dawn had seen, but she'd never have thought they meant anything other than the fact that Willow considered Spike a good friend. As she had been listening, she'd taken another glance at her friend, noticing that Spike was awake and the two were talking. It was then, watching her best friend's face, seeing the smile and look in her eyes, evident even from the distance of two rows away, that Buffy had seen the truth. Willow was in love with Spike. Or at least, in deep, deep like. Not that she had admitted that knowledge to Dawn, not wanting to give her sister the satisfaction of being right.

"No, you don't," Dawn said patiently. "You just don't want to admit you're wrong. Willow's happy with him, Buffy. I've seen it for months, in both of them. True, it took me a while to realize what it meant, but you can't deny it. Just admit it so we can move on to the next stage."

"Next stage?" Buffy looked at Dawn pointedly. "What next stage?"

"Well, see, after Dad called and set up this trip, I did some thinking," Dawn said.

"Uh oh," Buffy said, closing her eyes briefly as she shook her head. "Why does that idea give me the wiggins?"

"Shut up," Dawn said before continuing, "for some reason, neither one of them wants to admit what they feel. I mean, Spike's a vampire so that might explain him, and I guess Willow's been hurt in the past and is scared of taking the chance, but they belong together. They're my two best friends, and they should be happy. I can so see them being happy together. And, well, I decided that this trip is the perfect way for them to become closer and maybe actually be honest about what they're feeling."

"That's it. No more afternoon talk shows for you, little girl," Buffy decided, looking at her sister with a slight smile. Not only had Dawn seen something she had been completely oblivious to, but her sister had been proactive, trying to figure out a way to help their friends. She really hated having to respect Dawn. And she really hated what she was about to do, but she knew she had to, for Willow's sake. "Fine, you're right. Willow may actually, for some ungodly reason that only she would understand, have feelings for Spike. What's your plan?"

"I don't think we should really interfere too much, just try to make sure that they had time together whenever possible. You know, like having them sit together on the plane and things like that," Dawn said excitedly. Since she had decided to play matchmaker and enlist her sister's help, the trip had become even more anticipated than before. "And you will notice that I haven't once said, told you so, told you so!"

"Dawn," Buffy warned.

"Okay, sorry. Couldn't resist," Dawn smiled. "Anyway, we can't let them know that we know until they tell us because they might get weird and completely mess it all up. It's better if we just sort of stay quiet and help them whenever we see the opportunity."

"Like you did tonight?" Buffy said, nodding. "I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about my best friend falling in love with a vampire that doesn't have a soul, has tried to kill us repeatedly in the past, and is still on my list of the not so sure I trust him."

"Your feelings don't matter, Miss Center of the Universe, or so you think," Dawn said as she rolled her eyes, rubbing her arm when Buffy hit her. She smiled, saying seriously, "Buffy, this is about Willow. If she loves him, there must be something good there. Besides, he's become a friend over the last year. Even you can admit that."

"Yeah, whatever," Buffy said, having done enough admitting over the last few minutes to last all night. "Okay, I'll help."

Dawn smiled as she settled back in her chair, deciding, "This is going to be the best trip ever."


Willow looked around the New Orleans Airport, her green eyes taking in every detail. It wasn't very crowded, the early morning, predawn hour assuring the silence. In fact, their plane seemed to have been the only one to land in the last half hour. She glanced at Buffy, smiling as she saw her best friend struggling with her suitcase. She, herself, had packed light, fitting her belongings into a normal suitcase as well as a carry on. Buffy, on the other hand, seemed to have brought along her entire closet. A large suitcase, nearly as big as the petite slayer, along with a small suitcase plus her carry on. Willow hated to think what the blonde would take for a long trip, visualizing stack upon stack of suitcases.

"What's so funny, pet?" Spike asked as he caught sight of his redhead smiling. Wait. His? Since when did she become his? He frowned as he wondered when she *hadn't* been his. After he had stopped ignoring her, they had spent the remainder of the flight talking. She'd made him laugh, her soft voice calming him and his demon as they'd flown across the country. Now, she was watching the slayer with amusement, and he found himself wanting to know what she was thinking. Her mind, her intelligence, it was one of the many reasons he was attracted to her. He'd have never expected such wit and sarcasm from her, but she seemed to delight in surprising him.

"Buffy," Willow smiled at him, pointing out the slayer.

"Yeah, she is rather funny," he said with an easy smile and snicker that caused her to smack his chest. "Ow, what's that for luv? I was just agreeing with ya."

"You were making fun of my best friend, Spike," she pointed out sweetly, knowing full well he had been priming for a joke at Buffy's expense. "I was merely smiling because of the amount of luggage she brought."

"Looks like she's going on a year long trek across the world," he muttered, his hand rubbing his chest where she had hit him. It hadn't hurt, merely surprised him. He liked the idea that she was comfortable enough around him to play, that she treated him like she treated her good friends. That was always the first step, he guessed. Become her friend before he became her lover. He shook his head, not needing those particular thoughts in his head at the moment. Not when she was standing there with that cute little smile and those pretty green eyes shining with excitement and amusement and her face flush from the heat of the supposedly air conditioned airport, and....he abruptly moved past her, giving a surprised slayer a glare as he took the heavy bag from her struggling hands. "I'll get it," he said gruffly, turning before she could protest.

"All righty then," Buffy said with a surprised look at Willow. The redhead just shrugged before reaching for her own bag.

"I guess he's in a hurry to get to the hotel," Willow suggested, wondering what had changed Spike in those few minutes. Deciding that she was probably better off not trying to understand the blond vampire, she looked at Dawn, "Do you need any help, sweetie?"

"Unlike my sister, I didn't empty out my entire bedroom closet," Dawn said sweetly, laughing as Buffy glared at her. Her eyes moved to find Spike standing near the entrance of the airport, his unreadable blue eyes flickering from Willow to the floor and back again. A thoughtful expression crossed her youthful face as she began to smile. It looked like things were already starting to get interesting.

"Whatever," Buffy rolled her eyes as she smiled, "I left a couple of things at home. I did not take the *entire* closet, so there."

"Spike, how can you have fit all of your stuff into that small bag?" Dawn asked as they approached the handsome vampire.

"He's a guy," Buffy said, "guys always pack light. It's like some rule or something."

Spike arched a brow at the slayer's words, deciding that he wasn't about to admit that he only owned a few changes of clothes so it hadn't been difficult to pack for the trip, instead letting her explanation answer for him. "Yeah, niblet. We men don't need all those fancy paints you chits use, or all that junk for your faces and such. Give us a change of clothes and we're set for days."

"So that's why you smell," Willow said with an innocent smile though her eyes were flashing with amusement as he turned to look at her.

His eyes narrowed at her statement, a growl escaping his lips as he huskily demanded, "Take it back, Red. I do *not* smell. Chubs, maybe. Smells like chocolate all the time."

"You've been smelling Xander?" Buffy said, laughing, "Dare I ask why, Spikey?"

"Shut up, you silly cow," Spike glared as the slayer ruined the moment he was having with Willow. Her smile had faded when he'd growled at her and he could have sworn he'd smelled the soft scent of arousal. Trust the big mouth slayer to fuck it up. He looked out the glass doors, wondering how he was going to make it through this little trip with his sanity intact. He finally said, "We'd better get going. I've only got a couple hours before sunrise."

"Yeah, Buffy. Mooooove," Dawn said with a giggle as her sister stuck her tongue out at her.

"Right now, Spike, the idea of you seeing the sunrise doesn't sound half bad," Buffy pointed as her sister continued to moo at her.

"Love you too, slayer," he said with a smirk as Dawn made animal sounds. His eyes caught on Willow before he looked away, "Let's go, girls."

Willow licked her lips as she ran a hand through her hair, watching as her friends left the airport to go in search of a cab. She followed behind them, wondering if Spike had felt what she had felt. And, if so, she wondered how she was going to make it through this vacation without attacking him. Give me strength, she muttered as she rejoined her friends at the taxi.


"It's so quiet," Willow said as she peered out the window. She was sitting in the back seat beside Spike who was stuck in the middle of her and Dawn. Buffy was sitting up front beside the taxi driver.

"It *is* nearly four in the morning, Willow," Buffy reminded with a smile as she looked at the sleeping city.

"How far until the hotel, Mr. Cab Driver sir?" Dawn asked, leaning in front of Spike to speak to the driver.

"The Saint Martine is maybe ten more minutes, little one," the driver said with a smile, "and call me Hal."

"Cool," Dawn said, beaming at Willow. "Ten more minutes."

"I heard him," Willow said with a smile. She glanced at Spike and saw that the blond vampire was staring straight ahead, not seeming to care at all that they were finally in New Orleans. She frowned, deciding that he wasn't going to ruin her trip.

"Oh, oh, oh," Buffy turned back to look at Willow. "We're near the French Quarter, or, as they call it here, the Vieux Carre."

"I'm proud of you, Buffy. You can read," Willow said as Buffy stuck her tongue out at her.

"Spike, have you ever been here before?" Dawn asked, noticing how quiet the vampire was being.

"Yes," he said shortly, his fingers digging into his leg as Willow moved again, brushing against him. The car was too small, way too small. Every time she moved, her scent would wash over him and she'd touch him. Even the most casual touch from her could make him hard, so, needless to say, he was counting the minutes until he was out of this car. Next time, he was taking the front seat.

"Someone's a growly bear," Buffy said, glancing back at the blond. Overall, he had been nearly pleasant since they had left Sunnydale. Now, he was practically snapping at Dawn. She studied him, trying to figure out the problem. She felt the car move as they exited the interstate, watching as Willow bumped against Spike. Her eyes widened as she watched his eyes narrow, his hands holding onto his legs. Her eyes moved up from his jeans, seeing the rather large bulge he was trying to hide and almost smiled. She understood the problem with sudden clarity. Damn it if Dawn wasn't right. Little brat was too smart for her own good. Buffy turned her head back to look out the window, watching the dark buildings as they started to slow down.

"Do you know the hotel we're staying in?" Dawn asked Spike.

"No," he answered, for the first time fighting the urge to rip Dawn's head off.

"Dawn, leave him alone," Willow said softly. "He's probably tired and hungry, as we all are."

"It doesn't excuse him from being a grouchy jerk," Dawn said, frowning as she looked out the window. "Hal, what should we be sure to do when we're here?"

"Well, how long are you staying?" Hal asked, keeping his voice calm. It wasn't every day he had a vampire as a passenger, but, in New Orleans, it did happen sometimes. Needless to say, it was rather unnerving when he had helped the pretty girls with their bags and gotten in to find that their male companion didn't appear in his mirror. When the redhead had mentioned the guy being hungry, he had to confess that his heart had beaten a bit faster.

"A week," Dawn said. "And call me Dawn."

"Hmm. A week. I think you'll have enough time to see everything," Hal said. "A ghost tour is a must. They have some good groups that give those every night. I personally like the Haunted History tour best, but they're all pretty decent. If you have time, you might rent a car and check out some plantations. My wife and I try to do that every few months. The zoo is nice. Oh, and you should definitely take a riverboat cruise somewhere. And your guy friend might get a kick out of a vampire tour. That should keep you busy for several days."

"A vampire tour?" Willow looked at the driver and felt herself smiling as she he looked back at her in the mirror and winked. She realized then that New Orleans was going to be one interesting city.


Before Spike could respond to the driver's remarks, the cab was stopping.

"Here we are. The Hotel Saint Martine," Hal opened the door and went to the trunk.

"Wow," Buffy said as she got out, looking at the hotel. "This is better than the pictures." The building was old but very well kept. Huge windows with intricate designs welcomed observers to look inside. Buffy saw a gorgeous staircase and lots of fancy looking antique furniture. "I don't think I'll touch anything, just in case."

"Look at the chandelier," Willow said, her eyes taking in the crystal light fixture. "I bet it cost more than my car."

"It's just a bunch of old junk," Spike muttered, glad to be out of the car. "I 'm taking a walk, need a smoke."

The three girls watched him walk away, deciding that he could take care of himself. "I hope he gets some sleep. If he's that rude tomorrow, I may start playing with holy water," Dawn said.

"Oh, leave him alone," Buffy said with a knowing smirk. "I think he needed some air." She watched as Willow went to help Hal with the bags and whispered to her sister, "or a very cold shower."

"What?" Dawn's eyes widened as she demanded, "What do you know?"

"Uh uh," Buffy smiled. "I'm not saying a word."

"What are you guys whispering about?" Willow asked as she looked at her friends. "That innocence act doesn't fool me."

"We were just wondering how much money that chair cost," Buffy said, pointing to an expensive looking chair.

"Probably a couple thousand," Willow guessed. "Now, pick up some bags. Most of them are yours."

"Yes, ma'am," Buffy said, having to smile as she noticed that Willow had picked up Spike's bag along with her own.

"Willow, why don't you go register while we get the bags. Here is Dad's credit card," Buffy handed over the Visa her father had sent to her just days before their trip.

"Okay," Willow took the card and opened the door to the lobby. She entered the building, surprised by how cold it was. She would have assumed this early in the morning that it would have been warmer. Outside, it was sticky hot, even though it was nearly dawn. She could see why they didn't have pay such high prices if it was even warmer during the day.

"May I help you?"

Willow looked up and smiled at the sleepy eyed woman that had greeted her. She read the name tag and said, "Yes, Robin. I'm Willow Rosenberg. I have a reservation."

"Of course," Robin looked up the file. "Here you are. A deluxe suite facing the courtyard. Would you like to use the credit card you used to hold the reservation?"

"Actually, no, I have a different one," Willow handed over Hank Summer's visa. "My best friend's father. He spoke to your manager the other day, I believe."

"Yes, I see the note here," Robin made a copy of the card and finished the paperwork. "How many keys do you need?"

"Can we have four?" Willow asked.

"I can probably do that," Robin said with a smile at the pretty redhead. "Here you go. It's room 313. If you have any needs, be sure to ring the front desk. Enjoy your stay, Miss. Rosenberg."

"Thanks," Willow smiled as she turned to face Buffy and Dawn. "I've got the keys. Should we wait for Spike?"

"I'm here," Spike said as he entered the lobby, taking his bag from Willow as well as her own. "Where's the room, pet?"

"Follow me," Willow said as she started up the stairs, finding that Spike could easily give her a headache.


"Wait, isn't 13 unlucky?" Dawn asked as she looked at the gold numbers on the door.

"It's 313," Buffy said, rolling her eyes, "not 13."

"That could means it three hundred times more unlucky," Dawn protested with a frown.

"I've always found 13 to be my luckiest number," Willow said with a smile as she slid the plastic card into the lock, watching as the red light turned green.

"Really? Well, then, it's my lucky number too," Dawn decided as she shared a smile with her friend.

"It's my lucky number too," Buffy mimicked behind her as they entered the suite. The slayer stopped talking as her eyes widened. The room was fantastic. She couldn't even think of words to describe her feelings at the moment.

"Finally, the slayer's struck speechless. Praise the Gods," Spike said as he moved to put the bags near the sofa. He looked around, noticing that the room was nice. He'd stayed in better, but not for many years. Angelus had always liked to travel first class, Spike never really caring about the trappings as long as the bed was comfy and there was plenty of food available. He glanced at Willow, adding a warm and willing redhead to his list of criteria for good traveling.

"How much did you say this room was costing Dad?" Dawn asked, thinking that it looked more like an apartment than a hotel room.

"Less than you'd think," Willow responded, a bit amazed at the space surrounding them. She'd known it would be lovely, having seen the pictures, but hadn't quite expected such lavish furnishings and just plain space. She moved to sit on the sofa, moaning in joy as she settled back, glad to be off the plane and off her feet, "This feels great. Come sit down, Dawny. It's heavenly."

Spike almost dropped the bags at the look of sheer pleasure that crossed her face. All that just from sitting on a cushion. What would she look like when he was entering her, claiming her, possessing her? He groaned, wondering again how he was going to make it through a week without slipping up and letting her know what he was feeling. Back in Sunnydale, he could play the friend part because he could always escape if things got a bit hard, his eyes glancing down automatically as he shifted, glad that her eyes were closed and she had no idea how aroused she could make him with just one moan. He looked around the room, large as it was, realizing one important thing. Here, there was no escape. He was going to be with her nearly ever waking moment. Torture. Sweet, excruciating torture. He had to get away, to collect himself, to close his eyes and touch himself and pretend she could ever look at him with passion and love burning in those brilliant green eyes. He growled softly, before turning to glare at the slayer, asking sharply, "Where am I sleeping, Slayer?"

"And we have more growling," Buffy said with amusement, deciding that this was going to be one fun trip. Not only would she be visiting a city she had always wanted to see, but she and Dawn could also use their knowledge to torment Spike and maybe help Willow. Though, she still wasn't too sure about her thoughts on the entire Willow and Spike relationship. While she could admit that there was definitely interest from both parties, interest of the toss you to the ground and fuck you into exhaustion kind, she felt that it might be too hasty to assume that extreme lust meant happily ever after. She shrugged as she pointed past Spike, "You're getting the interior room which I guess is that one."

He nodded as he moved towards the other room, "I'll put your bag in your room, Red."

"Oh, wait, didn't we tell you?" Dawn asked from the sofa where she had been sitting beside Willow. She felt her friend open her eyes and look at her.

"Tell him what, Dawn?" Willow asked in confusion.

Dawn smiled innocently as she prepared herself for the outcry that would surely follow her words, "You're going to have to share with Spike. I hope that isn't a problem."


"What?" Two voices rang out sharply following the teenager's words.

Willow looked at Spike, shock clearing in her green eyes before she turned to glare at Dawn. "This isn't funny, Dawn. Quit playing around. Spike, just leave my bag. I can get it later."

"She's not playing, Willow," Buffy said, making a face as she looked at her best friend and tried not to laugh. Oh yeah, there was definitely something there. "I thought I mentioned it before we left. We decided it would be more comfortable for one of us to share with Spike, since he has that huge king size bed and there are only two doubles in the other room. We want to be comfortable, don't we?"

"Well, yes, but I can't sleep with Spike!" Willow squeaked, wishing that the floor would just open up and swallow her. No, not her. It could swallow Buffy and Dawn who were looking at her as if she were trying to ruin their vacation. She couldn't sleep in the same bed with Spike. There was no way. Knowing he was right there, smelling him, feeling his presence, hearing him....It had been difficult enough to sit next to him on the plane without letting him see the desire. She wouldn't be able to keep control when she was asleep. Who knew what could happen? Visions flitted through her mind, most involving nudity and biting and moaning and God, it was hot in this room.

"I can share his room," Dawn suggested sweetly, her eyes on the quiet vampire. Since she had spoken, Spike hadn't said a word. He seemed to be frozen in shock, or maybe he was just trying to figure a way out. That wouldn't be good, she decided. She and Buffy had spent over an hour deciding the perfect way to force their friends into even closer quarters. This had to work.

"You are not sharing his room," Buffy protested. She looked at Willow, saying, "I'm really sorry, Willow, but it sort of has to be you. I'm definitely not doing it and there is no way that I'm letting Dawn. It isn't really that big of a deal, is it? I mean, the bed is so huge you won't even realize that you aren't alone. Besides, you two are great friends. It shouldn't be such a huge thing." Without realizing it, the slayer's eyes darted over the front of Spike's jeans as she corrected that statement mentally. It very well could be a very huge thing if bulges were any indication.

"I can sleep on the couch," Willow said finally, understanding why Buffy and Dawn couldn't share his room, but knowing that she couldn't either.

"That wouldn't be comfortable, Willow," Dawn said, shaking her head. She gave her lower lip a tremble as she looked at her redhead red, "I want everyone to be comfortable and enjoy this vacation...."

"God," Willow sighed as she saw that Dawn looked like she was going to cry. She looked finally at Spike, finding his blue eyes on her. They were, as usual, cold and unreadable. She couldn't tell what he was thinking, hating him for just standing there and letting her be the bad guy. He couldn't possibly want to share his room with her, yet you wouldn't know it by the quiet way he was standing there listening. "Spike, what do you think?"

Spike arched his brow, having watched and listened to the entire exchange. Something was up. Dawn and Buffy were playing some sort of game. What, he wasn't entirely sure. All he knew was that their excuse to get Willow out of their room was lame, at best. They were playing the redhead, though, knowing exactly what to say to get her to do what they wanted. And, it appeared, what they wanted was for Willow to share a room with him. He gave Willow a shrug, trying his best not to appear to enthusiastic about the idea of her sharing his room. He'd thought being in the same suite with her would be torture, sharing his room with her was going to be downright painful. But, it would give him time to learn more about her, to be with her without sharing her with the slayer and Dawn. He might be able to woo her, to seduce her, to make her see beyond the demon to the man that was completely devoted to her. It couldn't have worked better if he'd planned it, and he definitely wasn't one to foolishly ignore an advantage. "Shouldn't be a problem, pet. Big room, big bed. Don't see why we can't share."

Willow frowned at his words, having been sure he'd have backed her up. Well, she couldn't very well protest anymore without either causing Buffy to become suspicious or without hurting Spike's feelings. She was stuck. She stood up, moving towards the first door on the left as she vowed that she was going to get Dawn and Buffy back for this. Fairly, neither girl knew of her feelings for Spike, but she still owed them. She picked up her bag and looked at her friends, "If you don't mind, I'm kinda tired. I think I'm going to call it a night, well, day since it is nearly dawn."

"I'll get that, luv," Spike said, taking her bag as he moved past her, opening the door to their room. Their room. The thought made him smile slightly as he let walk by. With a nod at the slayer and Dawn, he said, "Night, girls," before he followed Willow into the room and shut the door.

"We did it," Dawn whispered triumphantly as she got up and grabbed her bag. She covered a yawn as she said, "Let's get some sleep. I need some energy before we start looking around town."

Buffy followed her sister into the room, falling to the bed without even changing her clothes. She was exhausted and it wasn't long before light snoring filled the room as the sisters drifted off to sleep.


The room was as nice as the living room. Fancy furniture that looked like antiques and pretty colors mixed to create a relaxing feel. Willow's green eyes swept over the bedroom, focusing finally on the dominating feature of the room. The bed was huge. It was made out of dark wood, though Willow had no idea what kind, and it was in the style of the old fashioned kind of beds she'd seen in movies. She thought the term might have been four poster, but she wasn't an expert on furniture so she really didn't know if that was right or not. All she knew was that it had four intricately designed posts on each of the corners and a piece of wood that was at the top. The wood on top had material hanging from it and twisting around the posts. It was the kind of bed that created all sorts of naughty fantasies. And she was sharing it with Spike.

"Where do you want your bag, luv?" Spike asked as he set his bag down beside the bed.

"Anywhere is fine," Willow said as she dragged her eyes away from the bed to look at Spike. She watched as he put her bag down beside his and took off his coat. Green eyes moved over his body, taking in every detail.

Spike could feel her eyes on him, knew she was looking at him. He tossed his duster on the chair before moving to sit on the end of the bed. His eyes looked into hers as he smiled, "Mattress is nice and comfy, pet."

"That's good," she said as she watched him bounce a few times before laying back to rest on his elbows. She looked down and picked up her bag, feeling as if she had a huge neon sign above her head that told him she wanted him and was having naughty thoughts about him. Not good, Willow, she scolded herself mentally. They'd only been in the room for a few minutes and she was already thinking about climbing on top of him and kissing him and riding him until they both collapsed from exhaustion. Bad, bad, bad, she repeated as she tried her best to keep her thoughts all platonic and safe. It didn't really help that he was sprawled out on the bed with that sexy smirk on his lips talking about the bed being comfy. She could have sworn she'd seen a flash of awareness in his blue eyes but it was probably just wishful thinking because there was no way that Spike wanted her in that way and she really just needed to get a grip and stop talking to herself like some lust driven crazy girl.

"What side do you want, Red?" Spike asked, blue eyes watching her fumble around with her bag as she tried to avoid looking at him. He'd seen desire in her eyes when she'd looked at him sitting on the bed, could smell the soft scent of her arousal. A pleased smile crossed his handsome face as he realized that he was the reason she was turned on and flustered.

"Side?" she dragged her mind away from the naked Spike images that were flashing in her head to look at him. She hadn't been listening to him, in all honesty, and had no idea what he was talking about.

"Do you sleep on the left or the right?" he asked with a smile.

"Oh, um, well, it doesn't really matter. I don't have a preference really," she said.

"I'll take the right, then," he decided as he sat up.

"I'm going to go change and then try to get some sleep. It's been such a long day," Willow said as she opened her suitcase and pulled out her sleeping clothes. In all of her fantasies about sharing a bed with Spike, she'd always imagined herself in a sexy nightgown or naughty lingerie, not that any of her clothing remained on for very long during those dreams. Instead of something sexy and seductive, she had her old T-shirt and boxers to wear to sleep.

"Yeah, it has," Spike agreed before he pulled off his T-shirt. He tossed the shirt near the chair where his coat was, kicking off his boots before standing up.

"You can go ahead and turn off the light if you want," Willow said as she stood up, her green eyes widening when she was confronted by the sight of a half naked Spike. God, he was beautiful. She'd seen him without his shirt on before, after patrols when she'd tended to cuts and bumps, but there had always been people around to distract her from enjoying the view. Now, though, she was alone with him, able to take in every detail. Her eyes trailed from his neck, past his chest, pausing on his nipples that appeared to have been affected by the air conditioning in the room, moving across his flat stomach, down to the scattering of brown hair that disappeared into the top of his jeans. She licked her lips as she moved her eyes back up, not able to ignore the arousal she was feeling at the moment. Realizing that she was openly ogling him and that he was sure to get a bit suspicious if she started drooling at his feet, she reluctantly looked away. She walked towards the bathroom, doing her best not to take one last lusty stare.

"Red," Spike called out her name as she walked past him, glad she hadn't looked lower and noticed that prominent erection that was pushing against his jeans. He was hard and aching and all she'd done was look at him. How the hell was he supposed to stay in control when they were sharing a bed? Sure, it seemed that she did want him, but he wanted more than just great sex. He wanted her to love him as well as desire him.

"Yeah, Spike?" she said as she looked at him, proud of herself for keeping her eyes on his.

He smiled at her as he said, "I just wanted to warn you, luv. I sleep nude."

"Oh," she whispered, her eyes moving to his lips as he said the word nude in such a way that caused tingles in all sorts of places. "Thanks for telling me," she stuttered as her face flushed, wondering how she was going to sleep in that bed of sin with a very naked Spike without giving in to her love and desire for him. Give me strength, she begged mentally as she took a few deep breaths. Finally, she looked away and stumbled into the bathroom, closing the door and sighing. Maybe she'd take a shower before going to sleep. A nice cold shower.


Willow splashed cold water on her face, taking several relaxing deep breaths as she washed her face. She was doing her best not to concentrate on the fact that there was a naked vampire laying in a bed that seemed to be made for sin only a few feet away from her. She also was trying not to remember that said vampire had been the star of her fantasies for longer than she wanted to admit. Unfortunately, her best just wasn't good enough. All she could think about was Spike. Spike laying on that bed. Naked Spike laying on that bed. She groaned softly as she splashed more cold water on her overheated skin.

She looked in the mirror, not at all surprised to see the flush to her normally pale skin. Just thinking about Spike naked had a tendency to make her hot, as well as tingly and aroused. Knowing that he was right behind the closed door, well, hot didn't even begin to describe what her body was feeling. This wasn't good. Not good at all. How was she supposed to hide her reaction from him? Hello, vampire! She knew about vampire's heightened sense of smell, knew that he had to know that she had been aroused from looking at his bare chest. What the heck would he be smelling if she happened to catch a glimpse of his naked body? Her eyes widened as she realized that she was really, seriously, honestly going to be sharing a bed with Spike. Naked Spike sleeping right beside her. Maybe sleeping on the couch wasn't such a bad idea, after all. It had been pretty comfortable.

No, that wasn't the solution. She'd just have to explain to Buffy and Dawn and even Spike why she'd not wanted to share the bed with him and that would probably be more embarrassing than Spike knowing that she found him arousing. He was gorgeous and had been around for over a century so he was probably very accustomed to women finding him visually stimulating. He might know that she thought he was attractive, but he didn't have any idea just how deep her feelings for him really ran. He didn't know that she had fallen in love with him over the last couple of years.

She could deal with him having the knowledge that she was turned on by him. Even Buffy had had to admit that he was good looking and had a great ass, so Willow wasn't too worried about his reaction to the news that she had admired the view of his naked chest. Knowing Spike, he'd either accept it and forget about it or he'd use her reaction to tease her a bit. It wasn't like he felt the same way about her. She sighed, glancing down and making a face. Yeah, she could really see him finding her arousing when she was wearing a faded T-shirt and a pair of boxers. Of course, it wouldn't matter if she followed his example and slept naked. He didn't see her like that, in the sexy and romantic way. She was just Willow, his little witchy friend. He'd never given her any indication during all the months that they had gotten close and become such good friends that he saw her any other way. There had been no lusty glances or sincere flirting or anything.

Even in the bedroom, when it had been obvious to, oh, anyone with eyes perhaps, that she was affected by him in a non-platonic way, he'd ignored it and acted like nothing was happening at all. She'd been struggling for breath and practically drooling at his feet and he could have very well patted her on the head and told her to get some sleep with his attitude. True, she was probably lucky that he hadn't started laughing at her or teasing her about her desire. Spike loved to tease. She groaned again as she closed her eyes, all too vividly coming up with situations in which Spike's teasing would be more than welcome. She felt her nipples tighten as she rubbed her legs together, trying to alleviate a little of the tension.

This wasn't fair, she decided crossly. The other room had queen sized beds, not the doubles Buffy had whined about. There was plenty of room for two people in a queen. She should have been in the next room, already sleeping soundly, instead of sitting on the toilet in the bathroom and fantasizing about the yummy, naked vampire that she was sharing that sinful bed with. Tomorrow, she'd pull Buffy to the side and have a little chat with her friend. She'd let the slayer know that she wasn't comfortable sharing a bed with Spike, friends or not. She couldn't let Buffy know why she was having problems dealing with the whole sharing thing, but maybe she could think of a good reason before their talk. Hopefully, this would be the only night she'd have to share a bed with Spike.

She was taking a long time in the bathroom for two reasons. One was that she was busy thinking and trying to get her lusty thoughts under control before she went back into the bedroom. The other reason was that she hoping he would be asleep and well covered up by the time she left the bathroom. If the light was off and he was covered by the blanket, well, it would much easier on her to get into bed and go to sleep. She sighed as she ran a hand over her face, wishing she could believe that she'd be able to just lay down and go to sleep. Somehow, she didn't think it would be quite that easy. How was she supposed to drift off to sleep, no matter how tired and worn out she was from traveling, when the man she loved and wanted so very much was sleeping beside her without any clothes covering his luscious body?


Self control was highly over rated, she decided with a scowl. Not that she would have wanted to jeopardize their friendship for a wild shag, her relationship with Spike meaning a lot to her. Heck, it wasn't like Spike wanted to wildly shag her anyway. Again, her thoughts drifted into the other room. For a few brief seconds, she thought she might have seen desire in his eyes, a thoughtful expression crossing her pretty face. Had he found her reaction to him arousing? Could she be wrong in thinking that he didn't want her and that he only thought of her as a friend? She laughed softly, deciding that she'd been thinking too much. She needed to go back into the bedroom, having already spent way too much time just sitting in the bathroom. She'd talk to Buffy tomorrow, give her best friend some excuse as to why she couldn't share a room with Spike during their week in New Orleans, and then she wouldn't have to lock herself in the bathroom every night to get her hormones under control before she could go to sleep.

It was all Spike's fault, she concluded. If he wasn't so damn sexy and arousing and gorgeous and he didn't sleep naked, well, she could have controlled her desire. Maybe. The whole sleeping naked thing was what really threw her for a loop. It was too tempting, him laying beside her with that glorious body uncovered. If he'd been wearing flannel pajamas, she didn't think she'd have had such a reaction to sharing a bed with him. But, no, that would too easy. Instead, he had to take off his shirt and have a body of a God and then casually mention that he slept naked. She was a very strong person and had a lot of self-control, but the idea of sleeping beside a naked Spike was just too much for her. Her body had gone into hyper-drive, her nipples hardening, wetness gathering between her thighs just thinking about him being close enough to touch, breathing becoming difficult as the arousal had spread over her body. Even now, after splashing cold water on her face and doing her best to get so caught up in thinking that the desire would fade, she was so aroused that she didn't know what to do.

Okay, that wasn't entirely true. She knew exactly what to do, drawing her bottom lip into her mouth as she looked at the door and grew thoughtful. Could she really do *that* when he was sleeping in the next room? She rubbed her thighs together again, deciding that it might be the only way to release her tension and allow her to go in there and get some sleep. She could be quiet, having practice at muffling her noises after sharing a house with Buffy and Dawn. It definitely wouldn't do for her friends to hear her playing with herself while fantasizing about Spike. Her lips twisted into a sensual smile as she closed her eyes, all too easily bringing to mind Spike's half-naked body. Her left hand moved underneath her T-shirt to squeeze her breast. She twisted her nipple, whimpering at the contact.

Her right hand moved over her flat stomach until she reached the waistband of her boxers. She pushed the boxers and panties down before moving her hand back to her stomach. Slowly, she moved her hand lower until her fingers brushed at the juncture between her legs. God, she was soaking wet. Thinking about Spike always did that to her, made her wet and aching for something she couldn't have. She decided that it wasn't really the time to play. Not only was the toilet a rather uncomfortable place to be sitting while doing what she was doing, but she was past the point of wanting to go slowly and play. She just wanted to cum. She adjusted her position on the toilet, debating for a second if she'd be better off just laying on the tile floor before deciding that it wasn't worth the trouble of moving. She knew that it wouldn't take her very long to find release, her body aroused beyond belief.

Willow continued to squeeze her breast as she pushed a finger inside her tight warmth. She moaned softly as she began to move the finger, adding another as her head fell back. She imagined that it was Spike touching her like this, that sexy smirk on his lips as he pushed his fingers into her, getting her ready to accept him. Her breathing became more ragged as she moved her fingers and the fantasy became more vivid. She could see him standing in front of her, his body naked, his cock hard and ready. She pushed down against his fingers as his eyes kept hers captive. She could hear him whispering her name, asking her to cum for him like a good little pet, his right hand stroking his erection as his left continued to drive her to release.

Willow felt it nearing, knew it wasn't much longer. She brushed her thumb over her clit, finding the right spot and biting down hard on her lip as her world exploded. She mumbled Spike's name as she came. She rode out her orgasm, whimpering and groaning as she felt her body finally calming down. The redhead removed her hand from her shirt, using it to push her hair away from her sweaty face. Reluctantly, she opened her eyes, the fantasy fading and leaving her to stare at the bathroom wall. She felt better, the tension reduced greatly. She moved her hand from between her legs and then stood up. She ran her fingers along her lips, wishing it were Spike's fingers instead of her own. Shaking her head, she pulled herself back to reality and went to the sink. She washed her hands and dried them. She then used toilet paper to clean herself, wiping up the juices of her release that had dripped down her thighs. Once she was dry, she pulled her panties and boxers on.

She looked in the mirror, a smile on her lips as she let out a deep breath. Much better now, she decided. She still found the idea of naked Spike very arousing, but now she could control the lust. She washed her face again, having gotten rather sweaty during her act of self-gratification. Once she was finished, she tossed the towel over the shower rail. She turned off the bathroom light before opening the door. Thankfully, she was greeted by a dark room. She walked into the bedroom, making her way slowly to the bed. Spike had mentioned sleeping on the right side, she remembered, so she made her way to the left side. The covers were pulled down for her, something that made her smile. She got into bed, pulling the covers up and making herself comfortable. It wasn't long before the exhaustion of the day caught up with her. Soon, she was sleeping peacefully.

As soon as he heard her even breathing, Spike got out of bed. He made his way into the bathroom, shutting the door before turning on the light. The smell of her surrounded him, causing him to groan as his cock throbbed. He had heard her, listened to her whimpers and moans and groans, knowing all too well what his redhead had been doing in the bathroom. He'd stroked himself as he'd listened to her, stopping right before he came, not wanting to get his seed on the covers. He'd heard her cum, could have sworn he'd heard his name, nearly coming himself thinking that she'd been playing with herself while thinking about him. He hadn't thought she was ever going to get into bed and go to sleep, his cock aching for release that couldn't be granted until he was in the bathroom.

He began stroking himself as his blue eyes narrowed, knowing it wouldn't take long. The entire room smelled of her release, her scent so sweet and intoxicating. He wished he'd seen her cum, easily imagining her face as she had her orgasm. His strokes became faster as his hand moved to rest on the sink. He thought about touching her, of being the one that had caused her release, of tasting her and claiming her and making her his. His hand was moving unbelievably fast, tightening around his cock, causing him to groan. It wasn't long before he grunted, his seed spilling onto the bathroom floor. He stroked his cock several more times, letting himself enjoy the sensation and fantasy just a bit longer. Once he was completely spent, his blue eyes opened, a soft smile crossing his handsome face. While it wasn't as nearly as enjoyable as it would have been sharing it with his Red, it had been enough to get his arousal under control. He grabbed a towel and wiped up the mess, tossing the wet towel back onto the shower rail. Now, he could sleep, he decided. He turned the light off and made his way back into the bedroom. Quietly, he crawled into bed beside Willow, moving closer to her. It wasn't long before he drifted off to sleep.


Willow woke up slowly, snuggling against the blanket that was covering her. Her legs and back were cold, the blanket not doing a very good job of protecting her from the drafty room. She felt something shift behind her, an arm tightening around her stomach and pulling her back. Green eyes flew open as she realized that there wasn't supposed to be an arm around her stomach. She then became aware of the hard body behind her, the cool body that was the reason her back and legs were chilled.

Spike was behind her, snuggled against her, his legs tangled with hers. She wasn't sure how she was going to get out of his embrace without waking him, knowing that she needed to move. This wasn't good at all. Waking up in his arms had felt unbelievable, her sleep being the most restful she'd had in years, and she wanted nothing more than to just close her eyes and go back to sleep and snuggle back against him and pretend that she hadn't ever woken up.

"What time is it?" a sleepy voice spoke from behind her.

"I uh can't see the clock," Willow said softly, feeling Spike move his legs but his arm remained across her tummy. Guess she didn't have to worry anymore about what to do since he apparently was awake.

Spike had woken up when he felt her move, not at all surprised to find her in his arms. It was where she belonged, after all, and he'd naturally gravitated towards her warmth during the night. He was glad that he'd been able to move his erection away from her before she'd felt it pressing against her butt. He knew that it would have been embarrassing for her as well as him if she'd known just how arousing it had been to wake up with her body against his and her smell surrounding him. He glanced at the clock, telling her, "Looks like it's nine twenty five, according to this clock."

"Still pretty early then," Willow said as she covered a yawn. She was following his lead, acting as if there was nothing at all unusual about waking up in Spike's arms, keeping things friendly and non-hysterical. Oh God, he was naked! She had been curled up against a naked Spike, his naked body against hers, his naked everything touching her during their sleep. A wave of heat spread over her at this realization, causing her face to flush as well as her nipples to tighten against the cotton of her shirt.

"Slayer and Niblet are still sleeping," Spike said as he turned back to face her, noticing the change in her breathing and the rapid beating of her heart. He reluctantly moved his arm from around her waist, watching her relax a little as she scooted to the edge of the bed. He frowned, his eyes flashing as he realized that she hadn't enjoyed waking up in his arms, that she didn't feel the same things for him that he felt for her. He was about to apologize, not wanting their friendship fucked up because he hadn't been able to stay away from her during his sleep, when he smelled it. The soft scent of her arousal. His lips twisted into a slow smile as he realized that he might be completely wrong, that she had enjoyed sleeping against him and *that* was the reason for the tension and her need to get away from him. He decided to test this new theory, asking, "How did you sleep last night, pet?"

"Very well," Willow said truthfully, eyes panicked when she felt the bed move, knowing that she couldn't scoot anymore or she'd end up on the floor.

"Me too," he said as he stretched, his words sincere. He'd slept for hours, snuggled against her warm body, dreaming of being with her without barriers of clothes, waking up with her in his arms. He'd have to say it had been the best night he'd had in years. He sat up, leaning against a pillow as he kept the blanket around his waist.

"I guess I'll take a shower," Willow said as she got out of bed, her eyes daring to look at him. Mistake. Big mistake. He was sitting up with that glorious chest in complete view. His hair was mussed and tousled from sleep, curly and just begging to be touched. His eyes were even bluer than normal, sleepy but alert, his lips curled into a soft smile that caused even more tingles in places she shouldn't be tingling this early in the morning. Quickly, she looked away, not wanting to get caught drooling or, worse, giving in to the urge to just give that blanket one big pull and see everything that it was concealing.

"Still pretty early for me, luv. I might try to go back to sleep, can't really do anything but sleep or watch telly until dusk anyway," he muttered, hating that he was going to be stuck alone at the hotel while she and the other two went off and had fun without him. Glory, she was beautiful first thing in the morning. Flushed cheeks, eyes sparkling with desire, sleep mussed hair framing her pretty face. She was so bloody cute, trying not to look at him, trying to pretend that she wasn't aroused by him, doing her best to pretend that she was unaffected by him.

His lips curved into a smile, knowing there was no way at all to deny that she wanted him, that she was attracted to him. He'd known that before, but never failed to enjoy causing a reaction in his Red. And now, well, he had to wonder if it was only just attraction. Maybe she did feel more, want more. If she'd only quit running away, quit denying what she felt and wanted, then he'd know, then he'd be able to find out if she could ever love him. Desire was good and all, and he did want to shag her something fierce, but he wanted more than just physical pleasure. He wanted her love and devotion and lust and pretty much everything.

"Sure," Willow said as she gathered clothes for the day and retreated into the bathroom. She didn't look back at Spike for fear she'd just give up and crawl across the bed and kiss him senseless at the same time she got rid of the cover and, her face was flushed by this point as she sighed, knowing it was pointless to continue such fantasies. She'd planned to make up some excuse as to why she couldn't share a bed with him, but was now having second thoughts. She'd loved waking up in his arms, feeling him against her, and selfishly wanted to enjoy as many mornings of waking up that way as she could when she had the chance. He didn't seem to mind, being the one that had moved onto her side of the bed and snuggled against her in the first place. He'd said he slept well, had been reluctant to let go of her, maybe it meant something. Yeah, like she was a warm body and he was cold so he'd snuggled, the pessimistic part of her mind argued.

Unfortunately, the argument was a good one and easily believable so any romantic notions that he might want her or be interested in her quickly faded as Willow got ready for her shower. She stepped under the spray, closing her eyes, a vision of him sitting on the bed coming to her mind. She'd slept beside naked Spike, woken up in his arms, his body against hers. Willow sighed softly as she turned the cold water up and began to wash, doing her best to rid her mind of images and feelings of naked Spike and instead think about the fact that they were finally in New Orleans and today they would be able to start exploring the city. She smiled as she thought of how much fun they'd have, hoping that Buffy and Dawn were awake by the time her shower finished, deciding that she'd just wake them up if they were still sleeping, wondering if tomorrow she'd again wake up in Spike's arms.


End of Part 18