Summary: Nineteen years after leaving Sunnydale, Spike encounters a startlingly familiar young woman fighting vampires in the alleyways of London – a young woman who holds the key to both his past and his future.
The training continued for the next few weeks. Surprisingly, there was no word from Buffy. Of course Spike was sure that she had called Willow, just to touch base, as mothers so often do. But she hadn’t shown up on his doorstep, demanding answers, demanding anything. Spike refused to acknowledge any sense of disappointment. Obviously Buffy had better things to do with her time than track him down. Obviously she was too happy in her own life to care about revisiting the past. No, he wasn’t disappointed at all.
They had found a new cemetery to patrol; a newer one, with a lot more vamp activity. Spike had intensified Willow’s training, teaching her to fight multiple vamps at once, keeping her out until all hours of the morning. She complained a lot. Sometimes Spike found himself secretly admiring Giles for what he’d been able to accomplish with Buffy, now that he knew, firsthand, how hard it was to wrangle a teenage girl. And then, a second after that thought would cross his mind, he’d mentally flog himself for ever feeling anything close to admiration for the poncey watcher.
“So, how was that?” Willow asked, after she’d dusted off yet another fledgling. “Not bad, huh?”
“Not good either,” Spike replied from his perch on a nearby tombstone. “You’re still being sloppy. That one came too close to biting your pretty little neck, luv.”
Willow shrugged it off. “You told me to have fun with them. I was just trying to have fun. Give him a thrill before ending his poor, miserable life.”
“I said you should toy with them, not take them on a bleedin’ holiday.” Frustrated, Spike jumped off the tombstone and stalked toward her. “There are some risks it’s not worth taking. You got that?”
“Yeah,” she said quietly, like a petulant child, “I got that.”
“Good. Now let’s get back to work.”
For the next few hours they worked on basic drills. Then, at about 3a.m. they got their first real challenge of the night. A gang of vamps – seven in all – stumbled in from off the street. Apparently they’d been out carousing and thought it might be fun to do the cliché thing and haunt a cemetery at the devil’s hour. It was just the kind of challenge Willow needed to hone her skills.
They were a rough looking bunch, but nothing Spike couldn’t handle. He whispered a few last minute instructions to Willow as the vamps approached.
“Well, well, what do we have here?” the apparent leader of the gang asked. He looked pointedly at Spike. “Anyone ever tell you the Billy Idol look went out in the ‘80s.”
“Hey, I’ll have you know—“
“Billy Idol stole his look from Spike,” Willow interjected, as she brashly approached the vamp, tilting her head back defiantly to meet his gaze.
“Well, what do we have here?” the vamp countered, looking her up and down suggestively. “You might make a nice prize for my collection, little girl. I could use a new concubine.”
The other vamps laughed. All but the one female among them.
“And your head would look really good over my mantle. Too bad it will turn to dust the second I slice it off.”
“Ooh,” the sound came from several members of the crowd as they mocked her in unison.
“So you think you’re a tough one, do you?”
Willow raised the stake she’d been holding and nonchalantly held it to the vampire’s chest. “I do alright.”
Spike groaned inwardly. Just what the hell did she think she was doing? He had tried to teach her to be tough, to have confidence in herself, to toy with the vamps, but she was going too far. She wasn’t the Slayer. Over the past few weeks, Spike had learned that Willow had some extraordinary gifts. She was faster than the average human, and a lot more agile. But her strength and stamina were sometimes woefully ordinary. With him by her side, she’d do fine with these vamps, but she would have been dead on her own. He had to keep reminding himself that she wasn’t Buffy; just a reasonable facsimile thereof. She was no slayer. He had to stop treating her like one.
Spike inched closer to Willow. He couldn’t step in between her and the vamp, but he needed to be ready the moment trouble started. And it would start. There was no doubt about that.
“You like to live dangerously, don’t you girl?” the vamp asked. “How about I take care of that little problem right now?”
In a flash of movement, the vamp grabbed for the stake, but Willow was too quick for him. She pulled back and immediately took up a fighting stance. Spike was instantly beside her, ready to fight.
The vampires laughed.
“Hey Mack,” one of the underlings addressed the leader, “looks like they’re actually gonna try and fight. Stupid gits.”
A sly smile spread across Mack’s lips, making his vampire visage looks even more grotesque. “Just what I need. A good laugh. Come on guys. Let’s have some fun.”
And then the fighting started.
Spike knew that the other vamps recognized him as a vampire. It was easy for them to sniff out their own kind. But it didn’t make a difference. Even though he was clearly the bigger threat, their efforts were more clearly concentrated on Willow. Who were the stupid gits now? Spike wondered. Three vamps came at him, while the other four, including Mack, went for Willow.
Spike did his best to focus on his three opponents, while simultaneously trying to keep tabs on Willow. But it was difficult, if not impossible. For some reason, he was absolutely terrified that harm would come to the girl, and he couldn’t concentrate on the task at hand. He had a brief flash of memory, to a time when Buffy had made him swear to protect Dawn at all costs. Even though he had made no promises this time, it seemed even more imperative that he keep this girl alive. There was something about her. He knew he’d give his life just to keep to her safe.
Running on autopilot, his mind focused on Willow, Spike took out two of the vamps. As the dust settled, he focused his attention on the third one; a scruffy, scrawny thing that he knew would pose no threat at all. Spike raised his stake and got set to pounce, when a blood-chilling scream rent the air.
The scrawny vamp was instantly forgotten. Spike turned to see the remaining demons all clustered together on the other side of the cemetery.
He took off at a run, reaching the group only a few seconds later. Three of them were pinning Willow against a tree, while Mack was slowly sucking her dry.
A blind rage overcame Spike. His body started to move of its own accord and he had absolutely no conscious control over his actions. One by one, the vamp underlings disappeared before his eyes in identical clouds of dust, until only Mack remained.
Mack must have sensed that his pack had been decimated, because as soon as the last minion had disappeared, he pulled his fangs out of Willow’s neck and looked at Spike, laughter in his eyes. “Just give me a minute to finish with her, and I’ll be right with you.”
Spike couldn’t even be bothered with a witty retort. Instead, a deep, guttural roar escaped his throat and he charged at the other vampire.
Mack let Willow go and she slid bonelessly to the ground. Spike wanted to stop and pick her up, but he couldn’t. Kill first, save later, was all he could think.
Spike didn’t give Mack time to reach for a weapon. He didn’t even give him a chance to properly defend himself. He simply started beating him senseless, until his face was so bruised and bloodied that he was unrecognizable as vampire or man.
As the beating intensified, Mack started to choke up blood. Willow’s blood. It was more than Spike could take. His rage reached a fever pitch and without a second thoughtm he drove his stake through Mack’s heart and the vampire exploded in a cloud of thick grey dust.
Without even taking a moment to recuperate, Spike sunk down onto his knees and scooped Willow up in his arms. She was barely breathing and her pulse was alarmingly faint. Her skin was cold and dangerously pale and Spike knew she had lost far too much blood. The only good news was that she wasn’t yet dead and she hadn’t been turned. But if he didn’t get her some help soon, it was going to be little consolation.
Spike rose from the ground, gently cradling Willow in his arms. Her wound wasn’t bleeding, thank the Powers, but then vamp bites rarely did. He needed to get her to a hospital as quickly as possible. A blood transfusion was probably the only thing that was going to save her life.
As he walked out of the cemetery, Spike’s mind raced with worry and rage. He was terrified, something he had rarely ever been in his un-life. If Willow died, Buffy would never forgive him. On the other hand, Spike couldn’t help but hold Buffy partially responsible for this. If she had trained the girl properly, instead of trying to shelter her from the truth, this never would have happened. If Willow died, he didn’t know how he could ever forgive Buffy. Or himself.
It took less than five minutes for Spike to reach the nearest hospital. He had lived in London long enough, over the years, to know the place like the back of his hand. He rushed Willow into the emergency room and demanded that she be admitted at once.
She had been taken right in, but the triage nurse had had a lot of questions for Spike. He made up a false name and a story about having found her passed out in the bathroom at a club. He claimed not to know her and disappeared from the hospital as quickly as he could, ignoring the nurse’s instructions to wait until the police arrived. He knew Willow would be fine on her own. She was in good hands now, and no doubt, someone would be calling her mother shortly, to let her know what had happened.
As Spike meandered down the street, aimlessly wandering about the city with no place in particular to go, he couldn’t help but think about Buffy. What would happen when she found out? Of course he had no idea what scenario the police or the hospital would come up with to explain Willow’s condition, but as soon as Buffy saw the bite marks, she’d know. She’d know that Willow had been attacked by a vampire.
“Bloody hell.” Spike stopped in his tracks, a cold flush breaking out all over his body. Would she think it was him? Would she automatically think he’d been feeding again, preying on her daughter for blood? That self-righteous bitch! He wasn’t the only one culpable here. Buffy was just as guilty. Who the hell did she think she was, anyway? She was the one who had neglected Willow’s training. At least he had taken the time to show her how to defend herself. Alright, so it had failed miserably. But at least he had tried.
It was in that instant that Spike decided to call Buffy and giver he a piece of his mind.
Before he could stop himself, driven by self-righteous indignation, Spike pulled out his cell phone and started punching the keys. Halfway through dialing, he realized that he was dialing a number that was nineteen years old. What were the chances that it still belonged to Buffy? Like everyone else on the planet, she probably didn’t have a landline anymore, just a mobile. Was there even a point in trying?
Spike spent a full minute staring at the incomplete collection of numbers he had typed into his phone, the rage slowly draining out of him. He wanted to scream at her, to tell her it was all her fault. But he couldn’t. Her daughter was dying. He couldn’t add to her pain now; not just to make himself feel better. He loved her too much for that. She needed comfort, not blame. He’d leave her be for now. It was the best thing he could do for her.
Spike cancelled out the number he’d been dialing and slid the phone back into the pocket of his duster. He lit a cigarette, just to have something to do, and walked off into the night.