Rebound Ch. 09bybadgirl298©
Willow and Xander exhaled in relief as they leaned against the front door. They had just shut it behind Buffy, who was off to patrol. They had gotten her to agree to leave by convincing her that they needed some “sweaty fun time” together. Buffy was still suspicious, but she had been willing to let it go for the evening.
Willow looked at her tired best friend. “Thanks for you help.”
“No problem.” He gave her a lopsided grin. “ Just call me the ‘vampire wrangler.’”
“Speaking of. . .” She said and then she raced up the stairs to her room. She hoped she wouldn’t find two piles of dust in her closet. She was a little surprised that they hadn’t come out on their own. Willow swung open the closet door.
“Ohhh. . .Willow” Angel groaned, shielding his eyes with his hand from the light. “So bright.” He clutched an empty bottle of what was once wine in one hand, motioning for her to come closer with the other. She had pilfered two bottles of wine from her father’s wine cellar right after she’d broken up with Oz. She wanted the alcohol to dull the pain, but after drinking the first bottle, she had found that it just made her sick.
“Red, did Slutty leave?” Spike asked. His pulled his duster off of his head and threw it on the floor. Willow saw Spike’s empty flask lying beside it.
“Yes, Buffy left. “ She confirmed. Great. Two drunken vampires. Just what she needed.
Spike crawled out of the closet on his hands and knees and collapsed at her feet. He gave her a drunken but unholy grin as he ran a cool white hand up her leg. “Naked under there?”
This caught Angel’s interest. “You are?” He stood slowly, clutching the wall for support as he reached for her.
“Stop that!” Willow stepped back from Spike and pulled her robe tighter around her waist.
Xander walked in, he held his keys in his hand. “I just called my house, Wills. Anya is kinda mad at me, right now. I seriously hope Buffy didn’t go over there and blab to her. You don’t mind if I-“
”Go on, I’ll be fine Xander. I hope everything’s alright.” He hesitated as he looked at Spike and Angel. “They’ve been drinking so much, they’ll probably pass out soon. You don’t have to worry about me.”
Xander’s eyes rested briefly on Spike’s sprawled form. He thought about taking the vampire back home with him. Xander would never publicly admit this, but Spike was beginning to grow on him. He also knew that the blond vampire was protective of Willow. Spike was an unlikely bodyguard at best, but better than nothing. The idea of leaving Willow alone with Angel was unthinkable. “Call me if you need help, Wills!” She nodded, he kissed her cheek, and then left the room.
Angel tottered over and wrapped his arms around her. “Your hair is so. . .shiny.” He leaned on her heavily, swaying on his feet.
“Uh, Angel, why don’t you lie down?” She was afraid he would fall over.
Angel’s looked her over from head to toe and he smiled languidly. “Hmmm. Never did thank you for giving me back my soul.” He pushed her so that she fell unto the bed and then he staggered over to lay down on top of her. Willow managed to keep him from crushing her.
“No, Angel! We can’t do this!” The last thing she was to bring his soul back again after a visit from Angelus. That really would make this just the best night ever.
Spike was trying to pull himself off the floor by holding onto the bed. “I. . .save you. . .Red. Hold on.”
Angel buried his face in her neck, nuzzling her. “Smell so good.”
“Angel?” No response. “Angel?” Nothing. He had passed out. She slid out from beneath him, to see Spike on his knees beside the bed.
“Couldn’t save you. . .can’t get up.” He looked distraught. “ You okay?”
“No,” She said softly. She reached a hand out to touch the face of her would-be protector.
He closed his eyes, savoring her touch. “Good. Never want you. . . be hurt by him.”
Tears pricked her eyes. “I know.” She kneeled down and wrapped her arms around his waist, assisting him to his feet. “Come on, let’s get you in bed.”
“Whatcha gonna do with me when we get there?” Even drunk, Spike was oversexed. He leaned on her as they made slow progress to the other side of the bed. Once, there, he lay down heavily. “Bloody head hurts.” He closed his eyes, drifting into sleep rapidly. He didn’t even notice he fell asleep next to Angel.
Willow pulled all the shades in her room and turned off the lights. She paused at the door. “Goodnight.” She whispered to the sleeping vampires.
Angel rolled over in bed, his hand brushed against smooth skin. His head rested on a soft pillow, and he inhaled deeply. He’d know that scent anywhere. Willow. He was in Willow’s bed so he must still be dreaming. He blindly reached out again, trailing a fingertip over Willow’s supple skin.
Spike felt someone touch his arm and then one finger skim the length of it. He was curled on his side, facing the covered windows of Red’s room. He chuckled inwardly - naughty little witch, feeling him up while he slept. Well, he’d let her. He wondered how far she’d go. What a way to wake up!
Angel moved closer to the huddled figure on the bed. He still kept his eyes closed, convinced he was in the middle of one his dreams. He put his mouth against her ear. “I want you so much. Just let me-“
”ARRRRGHH!!” A very male voice bellowed. Angel opened his eyes to see a livid Spike.
“Keep your filthy hands to yourself, poof! What THE HELL were you trying to do to me?” He jumped off the bed and held up his hands as if to ward him off. “Never mind. I KNOW what you were trying to do.”
“Spike!” Angel exclaimed. “It isn’t what you think. I would never-“
”Damn straight. You will NEVER do that with me. EVER! Got it?” Spike rounded the bed and grabbed his duster from the floor to wrap around himself. “I’ve been violated!”
“I’m sorry, Spike.” Angel said through gritted teeth. “I thought you were Willow.”
Spike was over his initial shock, and enjoying Angel’s discomfort. “Oh, sure. . .like you haven’t thought about doing that to me.”
“Spike, I wasn’t trying to molest you.”
“ You’ve had your eye on me ever since I showed up in Sunnydale with my hair dyed blond. We all know you have a thing for blonds, poof. Hello? Slutty and Darla? I know I’m a handsome bloke, but you should at least try to control yourself.”
“Are you guys awake?” Came a shout from downstairs. Willow was awake.
Angel sent a beseeching look at Spike. He really didn’t want to explain this to Willow. “Let’s just keep this to ourselves.”
Spike’s smile was earnest. “Of course, Angel. I’ll keep your secret.”
“We’ll be right down, Willow.” Angel stalked out of the room. Spike was right on his heels, his hands behind his back, his fingers were crossed.
Willow sat at the kitchen table, munching on a bowl of cereal. “Good morning.” She said as the two vampires filed in. She gestured to four mugs that were set at two different places. “Coffee and heated blood. Dig in.”
“Like the cereal, Red?”
“You bought this?” She asked, lifting a spoonful. He nodded and she laughed. “I should have known.” It was Count Chocula cereal.
“Knew you’d like the tiny bats.” He said, then took a drink from one his mugs.
“Have you ever eaten it?” She asked before she took another bite.
“Nope. Can I have a taste? See if I like it?” She spooned up some and was about to hand the utensil to him when he opened his mouth wide. With a gamine grin, she spooned it into his mouth.
His hand closed around hers as she removed it. He looked into her eyes as he licked a droplet of milk from the spoon. “Simply mouth-watering.”
Willow managed a weak smile as she pulled her unsteady hand back. Was it suddenly hot in here?
Angel cleared his throat loudly. “Can I have a taste, too?”
“No, it belongs to me.”
Angel knew Spike wasn’t talking about the cereal. He leaned over to Willow. “I’m sorry, darling. I forgot to give you a good morning kiss.” His mouth seized hers in a lengthy kiss. They were both winded when they drew apart.
“Careful Red. You don’t know where he’s been.” Spike looked down as he swirled the coffee around in his mug and then took a sip. “After the dust buster incident, you might find some dust bunnies in there.” But Spike wasn’t done yet.
“What?” Willow stared at Angel. “Did you have some sort of accident while cleaning . . .?” Angel could only stare back in mute horror. Spike wouldn’t tell Willow. . .
“And I’m lucky you yelled when you did this morning. He was about to take advantage of me while I was sleeping!”
Oh yes, he would. Angel threw a hand over his eyes. He should have known better than to trust the blond demon’s word. “Spike, I thought you were going to keep that between us.” Angel growled, chagrined.
“Goddess!” Willow’s jaw dropped. She had read in some of Giles’ more ribald vampire research that the undead were often bisexual. But now she had proof! Giles would be fascinated - if she could find a way to tell him without revealing Angel’s identity and how she had found out.
“No! I thought you were . . .I mean, that he was . . .I was half asleep—He’s twisting everything around.” Angel clutched at her hand desperately.
“Now, Peaches. There’s absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. Be proud of your sexuality!” He patted Angel’s shoulder briefly. “Now, this is going to hurt because I know that I’m wildly attractive. . . must be that animal magnetism I give off. . .but I’m just not interested in you. Try to pick up the pieces and move on with your life.”
Angel reached over and grabbed Willow by the shoulders. “Darling, I woke up in your bed and I just assumed it was you lying next to me. I thought one of my dreams had come true.”
Awww. “It’s one of your dreams to wake up next to me?” She gave him a hug. Angel shot Spike a triumphant grin over her shoulder. Building on his momentum, he said. “I’m so sorry our date was ruined last night. I feel bad asking you this, but can you skip classes today? We could spend the whole day together.”
She pulled back to look at him. She knew that she shouldn’t miss class, but she just couldn’t resist the look on his face. “Yes, I think that would be fun. I could run over to the market and get something good for dinner-“
”I was thinking that we could go to my hotel room. You could drive my car with me covered up in the backseat. Then, I could order room service for you. We could have some ALONE time.”
“Absolutely not, Peaches!” Spike bellowed.
“I didn’t ask you, Spike.” Angel growled.
Spike turned to look meaningfully at Willow. “He’s already talking about the back seat, luv. That’s not a good sign! The next thing you know . . .BOOM! It’s the road trip from Hell with Angelus.”
“I think’s it’s a very good idea.” Willow said. She ruffled Angel’s hair and then went off upstairs to change.
Angel gave Spike a victorious smile. He picked up the apron which lay haphazardly across the back of a chair and tossed it at Spike. “Why don’t you put this on and make yourself useful by doing the dishes, my boy?”
Spike pulled the apron off his head and threw it back in Angel’s face. “I’ve a better idea of where to put this. Why don’t you stuff it up your-“
Spike knocked on Willow’s bedroom door. “Can I come in, luv?”
“Yes, I’m completely covered up.”
“Now that’s a bloody shame.” He entered the room and took the hairbrush from her hands. “Don’t go with him, luv.”
“I don’t trust him.” He smoothed the brush through her locks one time. “He doesn’t know how to take care with a girl.”
“Are you sure you’re not just trying to win our little bet?” She joked.
He looked hurt for a moment, then continued brushing out her hair. It wasn’t just about the bet. He was falling for Willow and he didn’t want her to fall in love with his sire. Occasionally, he would brace his hand against her skull to prevent pulling her hair when he untangled it. He finally said. “You’re only going to get hurt. He’ll make you fall for him and you’re so caring and sensitive that he’ll-“
She turned to look at him. “So you’re saying that I’m weak? Or I’m not his type?”
“No. You’re exactly his type.” The words hit with precise impact. “More so than Buffy. You can take care of yourself and the whole world besides. Your Xander’s companion, Buffy’s therapist, Giles’s assistant. You’re exactly what everyone needs. But beyond that, you don’t hog the spotlight like that little blond twit. You don’t need special titles or destiny or training. You do what you can because that’s who you are.” He paused to cup her face and look into her eyes. “And. You. Never. Expect. Anything. Back.”
A tear slipped down her face. She studied his face for artifice, for cunning. She found understanding. Not empathy, sympathy, or pity. Just understanding. “Go ahead, luv. Go with him.” He kissed the tips of his fingers and wiped the tears away. “See for yourself.”
“That’s it? No refusals?”
“If you’d like to take the time to convince me . . .” Spike offered with a carnal smile. He was serious once more. “However, I’d like to make two requests.”
“Since today is his, tonight is mine.”
“Done.” She smiled. “And two?”
“From now on you keep our mornings just us.”
“Agreed.” She kissed him on the cheek and then on the mouth. It was a kiss that held passion and comfort. “See you tonight.” She walked out of the room and made it to the bottom of the stairs before what he said struck her. How many more mornings does he think we’ll have?
Willow held the drawing in her trembling hand. The portrait was a close-up on her sleeping face. “It’s b-beautiful, Angel.”
Angel sat in one of the overstuffed chairs, his knowing eyes watched the play of emotions across her face. “Willow,” he said softly. “I drew that picture. Not Angelus. It was done yesterday.”
“Oh. I’m so sorry. It’s just the last time I saw one of these-“
”I was trying to kill you.” His eyes were hooded, concealing the guilt and grief that tore through him. Would his past ever set him free?
“Not you. Angelus did all those things.”Willow said.
“Willow, I’m sure you realize that on a rational level. But, sometimes. . . sometimes when you look at me, you see him don’t you?”
“The same face. . .” She said helplessly.
“But not the same person.” He pulled her down to sit facing him. He took her hands in his and placed them on his knee. “I’m so sorry for-“
”Shhh.” She said, placing a fingertip to his mouth. “You have nothing to be sorry for. Angelus tried to kill me once. But you saved me, you saved all of us so many times.”
“Do you trust me?”
“Yes.” And no. Willow added silently. She looked at the drawing again. “The way you show the light and shadows in the work. You’re very talented.”
He smiled. “You like it?”
“Oh, yes. No one’s ever drawn me before! The way you see me. . .I feel almost beautiful.” She ducked her head.
“That’s because you are beautiful.” He indicated the bed. “Let me show you how beautiful you really are.”
“Angel, I don’t think we-“
He chuckled. “That’s not what I was suggesting, darling.” His voice was raspy. Not that he wouldn’t love to touch every inch of her. But he couldn’t listen to his body, this was Willow. She could only be his friend, he shouldn’t hope for more. “ I want to draw you, show you how my eyes see you. Just lay on the bed, sweetheart.”
She bit her lip and walked to Angel’s big bed. “How should I pose?”
Angel considered this a moment. “Lay on your side. That’s right, up on your elbow.” He walked over and handed her a pillow. “And relax. Don’t try to force an expression.” He took his sketching pad from the bureau drawer and sat back down in his chair.
“Angel, did you ever have Buffy pose for you?” For some reason, she needed to know.
“No, I never asked her.” He said softly. He worked furiously, she could hear the pencil scratching the paper. Occasionally, he would glance up and then grin at her.
When he was finished, he brought the drawing to her. She took it carefully from him. “Angel, I love it!” He had captured her more whimsical side. She had a slight smile on her lips and her eyes were dancing with some unknown mischief. She resembled a playful fairy.
“I do too.” He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “I’d like for you to have it.” She turned up her face to speak to him but stopped when she noticed his expression. His eyes settled on her mouth and promptly turned to smoke. He was lost. He lowered his mouth to hers. This kiss had nothing to do with the bet. Spike wasn’t here to observe, there were no excuses.
She pulled her mouth from his and said raggedly. “This is getting out of hand. I never intended-“
”I know. Me either.” He pulled her hand against his chest and pressed it to where his heartbeat should have been. “But it may be too late to stop now. And I’m not sure I want to stop.”
“I don’t think we should see each other again.” Willow said.
“Is that what you really want?”
“No, but it is the right thing to do-“
”Right for who?”
”Leave her out of this. This is about you. About me. Don’t you think we deserve some sort of chance?”
“But we could never be together.”
“No, Buffy and I could never be together. “ He grasped her arms and pulled her closer so he could look her in the eye. “Willow, Buffy and I . . .it was a relationship doomed from the start. A vampire and a vampire slayer? It was never meant to last. I am ashamed to say this. . .but I think that it was based on our sexual attraction to each other. And maybe her status as the slayer. Even my need for redemption. I loved her, but I wasn’t in love with her. And when the physical aspect was taken away. . .there was nothing left. Maybe there wasn’t much there to begin with.”
Willow read between the lines. He had used Buffy. Perhaps unwittingly? Willow closed her eyes. Did Angel and Angelus have more in common than she had thought? His tormented face swam into her vision. No, those two were nothing alike. She couldn’t believe that his treatment of Buffy was a conscious decision. And as for Angelus. . . all the misdeeds he had perpetrated on them didn’t count. Angel wasn’t responsible for that demon’s actions. “What are you saying exactly?”she said finally.
“I’m saying that I could fall for you.” He brushed his lips against hers. “And as frightening as that prospect is, I would rather be sent back to hell, then miss this chance.”
Willow took in a shuddering breath, her earlier conversation with Spike was coming back to her. Did he want someone to take care of him? Did she even mind doing that? He pulled her close, cradling her against his chest. “Tell me you don’t want to.”
“I can’t!” His lips came down on hers with an almost crushing force. His fingers curled into her hair. When he broke the kiss, he was in full vamp face. Angel shut his eyes, ready for her revulsion. None came. He opened his eyes, a tear ran down his cheek. She kissed it and moved her lips to the ridges that stood out on his forehead. “I accept you, Angel. Every part of you.” It was true. She embraced the angel as well as the demon.
His mouth descended again.“Willow, my Willow.”
Willow watched Angel pull away from her house. He had been a little angry that she had refused to spend the evening with him. But she had promised Spike and was firm in her denial.
She wrapped her arms around herself and walked up the driveway slowly. Her feelings for Angel were more muddled than ever, she thought she might be in love with him. They had spent a wonderful day together, touching and kissing. But never daring to do more than that. Angel had read aloud to her from a book of Byron’s poetry and they had shared a meal together. Neither of them spoke of the bet, or of Buffy, or Spike.