Into the Night


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Chapter Two

Wesley grabbed Willow's arm and pulled her into his office, closing the door behind him. Willow looked put out.

"Sorry," he apologized after seeing her face. "It's just.we weren't expecting you."

The way he emphasized the 'you' made her nervous. "Who were you expecting? The Wicked Witch of the West?"

A knock sounded and before he had time to respond, a lackey walked in and asked for Mr. Wyndam-Price's signature on some documents. Another entered as that one left and Willow could do nothing but stare - not only at the surroundings, but also at the respect and position this one-time incompetent watcher now seemed to hold. She knew he worked with Angel. But this place, this office, and the status he obviously held here were a big change from the minor-league sidekick he'd once been.

After several minutes and several more interruptions, Wesley suggested, "Let's get you out of here before- Have you checked into a hotel yet?"

After Willow's answer in the negative, Wesley made a call and told someone to make arrangements for Miss Willow Rosenberg to stay in the corporate suite at The Langham Hotel. Willow was impressed.

"So I'm here on business for the company?" she asked as they got into the elevator.

"Not exactly," Wesley hedged. "Are your bags with Security?"

To Willow's impatience, Wesley wouldn't explain the situation but instead made several calls in the taxi, and they were only alone in Willow's suite for about three minutes before first Fred and then Gunn showed up. The accommodations weren't just a room; she had her own villa. Willow spent the time looking around at the lush apartment with its creamy yellow walls and French country furnishings. The living room led into a dining room that sat six and there was even a galley kitchen.

She had time enough to see that there were two bedrooms and two bathrooms, but she didn't have time to explore them before Fred and Gunn arrived.

Fred and Gunn and Wesley looked serious as they sat her down in a chair in the living room. They explained as briefly as possible about Spike's re-appearance and about their efforts to recorporealise him, leaving out only their recent discovery of a spell that might do the job.

After getting over her initial shock at the fact of Spike, she quickly regrouped, but they could all tell there was some underlying strain she wasn't talking about.

"So you want me to figure out a way to bring him back?"

"Not exactly," Gunn answered. "We sort of. already found a spell."

"You need me to perform the spell?" she asked.

"Kind of." It was Fred this time. "We need you to say the words and do this dance thing for the spell. At least, I think we need you."

Willow looked confused. She just looked at each one of them in turn, waiting for the explanation they seemed reluctant to give her.

Wesley tried this time. "Willow, there's no delicate way to ask this, so I'll just say it, shall I?"

Willow looked wary, but nodded.

"Are you in love with Spike?"

"What?" Her face looked shocked, but the blush that coloured her skin made the three others think they had hit the jackpot.

"We need someone who loves Spike to perform the spell. Someone who's in love with Spike."

"But I - well, there's Kennedy and - well okay, we're on a break right now - but she loves me. At least, I'm pretty sure she does, in her way, and -"

"But do you love Spike?" Fred asked, cutting through the babble. "We really need to know the truth about this, Willow. It's our only chance to save him."

Willow was quiet for a long time and while Wesley started to look doubtful the longer Willow held silent, Fred and Gunn looked more hopeful.

"I used to."

"You don't anymore?" Fred asked, looking crestfallen.

"I - I don't know. I - this is so hard." She gulped and stood, pacing the room several times before she wrung her hands and sat down again. After running her hands through her hair, she looked up in surprise, finally having put two and two together. "Is this why Dawn sent me here?"

Fred nodded.

"Great. And here I thought no one ever knew." She took a deep breath and blew it out and then started her story in a rush.

"I had a crush on him. A - a long time ago, before - well, before. When he came to my room at college and tried to kill me or rather, he said he wanted to turn me, but his heart wasn't in it."

Wesley started to interrupt, but Fred glared at him so he stayed mum.

Willow never stopped. "It's hard to explain. I know I shouldn't have felt what I felt and that he could never return it but. See, he was so sad when The Initiative put that thing in his brain. They had no right to do that! It made him helpless! How was he supposed to live? Why not just humanely stake him? No, they wanted to torture and control him. They were just cruel." She was getting worked up and she blew out a breath to calm down. "And then Harmony threw him out, the heartless bitch - sorry, but she was, and he had nowhere to go so he came to us. He told me once that he did that because I was nice to him in my dorm room that night. He came to us because of me! Later, he tried to stake himself, and I stopped him. I made him come with us so that I could keep an eye on him - and he started helping us that night. But he found out he could still fight demons. Maybe that had been The Initiative's plan all along? Do you think?"

Before any of them could answer, she went on. They obviously weren't used to Willow in full babble mode. "Anyway, he had a purpose again, you know? But all he saw was Buffy. And I had Tara to take care of because she went, well, she got mind-sucked, I'll explain that later. And he was so good to her! She wasn't all there, she almost set him on fire, and he was so good to her. Then Buffy died and he was just so crushed. We thought he was going to dust himself that summer - but he didn't. He'd promised Buffy he'd take care of Dawn and he did. He was there for her every day. For all of us - for me. And I had Tara back. I loved Tara, I really did."

Tears were falling now.

"But there was still Spike, in the back of my heart. Ever since. well, you don't need to know that. But Spike showed us that summer that he's really a good person inside. He took Buffy's place - killed the demons - took care of Dawn, anything we needed him for - anything I needed him for. Or Tara. Or Dawn." Something occurred to her and she revised, "Not Xander, but then Xander didn't ask him for anything. But we needed Buffy back - we'll always need Buffy - plus we thought she was in a hell dimension so I brought her back. I didn't tell Spike what we were doing - I should have told him. Turns out she was in Heaven, but that's another long story where I don't come out looking so good. Spike was there for us - for me - that summer. He got to me. Wormed his way in. I'd - I'd had a crush on him before - but, seeing him like that, seeing how he really is under the bluster and the leather. but then he died." She seemed to have forgotten that he wasn't dead, not in the final sense. "Tara was gone, Spike was gone. And all my friends scattered to places around the globe. All I had was Kennedy, but she was something to hold on to, so I. I'm not coming off so good again, am I?"

Fred stood and gave her a quick hug. "We understand, Willow. Go on."

Willow thought for a moment and then her eyes became unfocused, as if she were no longer seeing the grand hotel suite that she was standing in.

"Buffy said he - he turned to ash right in front of her. Died to save us and Buffy acted like he - like he owed us or something. He didn't have to do that - he didn't have to die." She cleared her throat and tried to hold back the tears but they kept coming, as she was lost in her remembrance. "He let me in that night in my dorm room, the night he wanted to turn me - bring me back to be like him, he said -" She couldn't go on, the tears were falling too heavily now, remembering all that she had lost. All that might have been.

Fred got some tissues and held them out for Willow, who took them gratefully.

Wesley finally spoke, sounding interested. "You say he wanted to turn you. Are you sure?"

Willow nodded. "Yes, very sure. He said he was going to bring me back - to be like him."

"As a minion?"

"I - I don't know. I don't think so. Something in his voice made me think. It doesn't matter what I thought."

"But I think it does," Wesley said, brightening. "You see, William the Bloody has never made a childe. Not one. So if he chose you - if he wanted you for the only childe he'd ever have made - that would mean a great deal, don't you see?"

"Maybe because I was the Slayer's friend? His enemy?"

"He's had enemies before. He's killed two slayers that we know of. He's never made a childe out of any of them. But that's beside the point. If you love him, really love him - we need to be sure - then you can work the spell that will save him."

Willow suddenly remembered that he wasn't ash anymore; that he was a ghost at Wolfram and Hart. She wiped her face with the tissues and forced herself to focus on the problem at hand.

"But how?" she asked. "How did he get from the crater to here? How did he become a ghost? How is that possible?"

"We don't know." Fred fielded these questions. "We've researched - we checked the envelope he arrived in-"

"Envelope?" Willow asked.

"He arrived, or rather a necklace arrived," Wesley explained, "in an envelope addressed to Angel. We were talking one evening in Angel's office and he opened the envelope as he spoke and the necklace dropped out. It was quite heavy. A moment later there was a swirl of, well, ash, I suppose, and suddenly Spike appeared in Angel's office."

Willow looked around, not sure what to say. A mysterious envelope? How did the necklace get out of the crater? Why? And how did Dawn know about her and Spike? All very good questions that was going to investigate. Later.

"What time is it?" she asked. "I haven't eaten yet today and I-"

"Do you like tacos?" Fred asked with a smile.

They took her to lunch at Fred's favourite taco place over on Rosemont, near the old Hyperion.

They gave her time to adjust to the idea of performing the spell by asking about the others from Sunnydale, but Willow seemed painfully uninformed.

"Xander's in Madagascar, I think - or he was the last I heard from him, which was quite a few months ago. Buffy's in Rome - Dawn's in The American School there, so she must be staying close, I would think. Giles is trying to rebuild the Watcher's Council but the last I heard, he'd only found three other watchers still alive."

Fred asked the indelicate question. "You don't keep in touch with them anymore?"

Willow shrugged. "It's more the other way around. I - I used some, well, some very strong magics for the Slayer Spell. Tapped into something that - watch this." With just a thought, her hair tuned pale blonde and back again in the blink of an eye. She smiled. "It's all good magic," she assured them. "I can feel it and it's part of me now. It turned when I did the spell. The red is just a glamour, but I'm used to it, so. But I think I scared the others - and, well, Kennedy. She moved out a couple of months ago - we were living in Brazil. But there seemed no point to my being there if I wasn't helping the slayer, so I came back and I've been helping out at the Hellmouth in Cleveland - without them knowing, of course. Faith isn't my favourite person and I don't think she likes me very much, or, at all, really. I have a computer job at the blood bank there - keeps me informed on when blood goes missing. They use it for rituals as well as - but I guess you guys already know all that, huh?" She shrugged. "Dawn's the only one who has even tried to keep in touch. We email at least once a week. I didn't tell her where I was, but she emailed me saying you had an emergency and so - here I am."

She seemed heartbroken, as well she should, thought Fred, if all her friends had abandoned her because she'd had to use strong magic to save the world. It wasn't fair. And it sounded as if she'd lost her way. Maybe they could find a place for her here after she'd helped with Spike. She'd talk to Angel about it. Just as soon as they felt it was safe to tell Angel that Willow was here.

"So, where's this spell you found?" Willow asked.

"Back at Wolfram and Hart," Wesley informed her. "The books can't leave the building but I should have made a copy and brought it with me. It was just such a surprise seeing you this morning. Dawn never said what she was going to do; she only told us that she'd work on getting hold of Bu - or rather, someone who loved Spike."

"About that." Willow rubbed her palms on her thighs nervously. "Does Spike know? About the spell or - or about me?"

"No," Fred said, shaking her head to emphasize the point. "We didn't want to get his hopes up - we didn't know if we'd even find someone who - well, who was in love with Spike. So we didn't tell him anything about it."

"Good," Willow said, resolute. "Because that's one of my conditions for performing the spell - or rather two. Spike doesn't know. Doesn't know what the spell entails and doesn't know it's me performing it."

"But it's Spike. You know, Mr. Butt-In-Wherever-He-Likes. And because he's a ghost he can sneak up on you, even when you're in the john," Gunn said, as if it were a sore point. "He's gonna want to know every detail about the spell before we perform it on him."

"Then don't tell him."

"Don't. you must be crazy, girl."

"No," Fred said, agreeing with Willow - anything to get Spike corporeal again. She'd work on the other details later. "We know he wants to be, so it's not like we're doing anything he doesn't want us to. We aren't going behind his back, we're - we're - we're giving him a gift anonymously."

"We need to explain your presence here somehow," Wesley said, reasonably.

"No, we don't. I'll just do the spell and get out of town without anyone knowing I was here - and that includes Angel. When Spike suddenly gets his body back, there are going to be questions involving me if I was here during it."

"It's going to take some time to get the ingredients," Wesley informed them. "I think we used up the good graces of the senior partners getting the power for our last attempt. We're going to have to use other means to get what we need. And that could take some time."

"How much time?"

"A few days, at least."

"Then I'll hole up in the hotel for a few days. Would that be all right? I'd like to have time to study the spell."

"If you don't want anyone to know you're here, then I can't take you back to the office with me," Wes said, thinking of a Plan B.

"You could come to Wolfram and Hart's Halloween party tomorrow night," Fred suggested. "You could use a glamour spell, or something - to disguise yourself," she explained, when Willow looked confused. "Since you don't want anyone to know you're here. But come to the party. Lorne keeps saying it's going to be great. And you could get a look at Wolfram and Hart. Get the lay of the land. And Wesley could bring you into his office during the party and get you a copy of the spell."

Willow couldn't resist that smile and nodded.