The diner was quite empty. Willow and Spike sat in a corner booth where Willow absently twirled a straw in her chocolate milkshake and Spike helped himself to her fries. Her burger sat on the plate half eaten.
“Come on, pet,” Spike encouraged, “You need to eat somethin’.”
Willow sighed, pressing thumb and forefinger against her closed eyelids. “What did I do? Why would I do something like this to myself?”
“I’m sure you didn’t mean to.” It was easier for Spike to be sympathetic towards her botched spell this time around when it had benefited him. “Any idea at all what you could ‘ave been tryin’ to do?”
“It’s so frustrating, Spike, knowing the answers are right here in my head and not having access to them.” She gave a spare shake of her head and then her eyes lifted to his.
“Spike, am I one of those completely stupid people? You know, the kind who insists on doing something even when they’re useless at it?”
“What? No. Course not. Why would you think that?”
She let out another sigh and spread her hands wide. “Well, I’m clearly no good at magic to have managed to do this to myself. I thought maybe I’m one of those stubborn fools who thinks they’ll show everyone how wrong they are and ends up just proving everyone’s point; that they can’t actually do whatever it is they think they can do. I thought maybe I’m like that with magic.”
“Pet, if you didn’t whip out the mojo we’d all be pushin’ up daisies by now. You’ve saved us an’ you’ve saved the world an’ you’ll go on doin’ just that once you get your memories back. You should be proud of yourself.”
Reaching across the table Spike covered Willow’s hand with his own, smiling at her when she curled her fingers around his, seemingly content to sit there like that with him.
“Do you think the spell I cast had something to do with your chip?”
“I doubt it.” As soon as he saw her forehead wrinkle Spike knew he’d made an error. This Willow loved him so much he knew she wouldn’t be able to comprehend a world in which she didn’t love him and wanted his chip to remain intact. “But you never know,” he added quickly. “Maybe.”
Lifting her burger one handed Willow bit into it, chewing slowly. She swallowed. “Once I’ve finished here we’d better go and help Angel, hadn’t we? I made this mess, I should help to clear it up. I can’t expect everyone else to do the research for me.”
Spike stifled a groan at the thought of spending his evening cooped up with Angel and researching. He wanted to go out and try out his newly deactivated chip. Still, he smiled at her. It was good to see the real Willow starting to shine through a little bit.
“Sounds like a plan.”
He cocked an eyebrow at the way she drew out his name. “Hum? After a favour are we?”
Her lips twitched. “Probably the biggest favour I could ask.”
“Would you mind too much if we just stayed here for a day or two? I feel more comfortable here than I do in Sunnydale. We know my memories aren’t just going to come back on their own, so nothing there is going to help me remember, and I hate the way Buffy and Xander and Tara keep looking at me, like they lost their best friend.”
“They did,” Spike said simply.
Willow shrugged. “Maybe. But they make me uncomfortable and you know as well as I do that they won’t stay away, they won’t keep their distance. I can tell by the way they look at me.”
Her request meant he was stuck with Angel in his face for a bit longer, but it could end up benefiting him. He’d get to hunt and feed without a slayer around and his absence from Sunnydale, leaving Buffy with only inadequate humans to back her up, might make her realise how much of an asset he was and how much she really relied on him.
She wiped her mouth with a paper napkin as she waited anxiously for his response.
“Guess we could stay for a bit,” he allowed.
Willow beamed and Spike felt his agreement had been worth it for that look alone. She finished her drink and got to her feet. “Thank you, Spike.”
Fishing a few bills out of his pocket Spike tossed them on the table. “Anythin’ for my girl.”
She tucked herself into his side, her arm wrapped loosely around his waist as they left the diner. It was the same sort of natural familiar action as when she had put her feet in his lap only last night. Spike let his arm loop around her shoulders giving her a gentle squeeze. It was kinda nice really.
Although he didn’t mind Willow’s company, and it was pleasant having her look at him like he was her whole world; Spike was still itching to go out into the night and let the demon run free. He had been caged for so long. Too long.
When they reached the hotel he stopped at the gate. “You go on in, I won’t be long.”
“Where are you going?”
The inflection of fright in her tone was easily detectable to a demon of Spike’s experience. “Won’t be long. If I ‘ave to live with Angel, even for another hour, I’m gonna need reinforcements to dull the mind -numbing boredom an’ self-righteous sanctimonious crap he’s bound to start spoutin’.” He grinned at her confused expression. “Gonna need alcohol, love. The good stuff.”
Willow rolled her eyes and nodded. “Shall I come with you?”
“Be quicker on my own,” Spike said. She looked a little disappointed and Spike found his hand curling around her neck as he pressed a soft kiss to her forehead. “Be back before you know it.”
The kiss seemed to appease her and Spike watched her enter the safety of the hotel before he turned away, his blood thrilling as he made his way into the heart of the city looking for his first real meal in what felt like a century.
Spike found he was moving quickly and it wasn’t just the burning need to hunt and bite and kill; he didn’t want to leave Willow on her own for too long. He owed her a little, not just for the chip but for being there for him twice when he was at his lowest. Spike knew he had an odd sense of loyalty about him but it didn’t bother him. Out of everyone he knew, Willow deserved his help and his loyalty and he was going to give her both.
Spike was out longer than he had anticipated. The thrill of stalking his prey too much to resist. The delicious moment of sinking his fangs into his victim’s throat something he simply couldn’t abandon too soon.
He did remember to grab himself a nice bottle of whiskey. Keeping up appearances and all that. Besides, he hadn’t lied to Willow, he really did need the good stuff if he was going to have to deal with Angel.
A spring in his step, Spike returned to the hotel and practically skipped up the steps into the foyer. Unlife was good again.
He sauntered into the foyer, whiskey bottle swinging from his fingers, cigarette dangling from his lips. He noticed two new people, a tall black man and thin waif-like girl with long dark hair, but he couldn’t see Willow or the mighty brooding one.
It wasn’t until he was half-way across the room and he glanced out of the glass doors leading to the garden that Spike saw her. Willow was sitting on the back steps with Angel.
He was moving quickly, legs eating up the floor. He reached the doors to find Angel had Willow’s hand in his own and he was looking at her with an earnest I’m-the good -guy-and-I’ll-fix-all-your-problems expression.
Spike’s fingers clenched around the bottle so tightly the glass gave and shattered in his hand, shards of glass slicing his skin and whiskey dribbling over the floor.