Willow tried to look nonchalant as she walked through the high school corridors. She didn’t know if they’d assume she was a teacher or a student, as long as she seemed to belong. She found the entrance to the basement, and headed down the stairs.
It took longer to find him than last time. Xander had said the walls seemed to move. She could believe it. Nothing looked familiar.
She found him laying walnut shells across the top of a stored desk. He seemed very intent on what he was doing.
“Spike?” she called.
“My father gave me these tin soldiers.” He was drawing straight lines in the dust across the desk. “I’m getting them ready for battle.”
“Can I talk to you, Spike?”
He turned slowly and looked at her. “Sure, Red. Come into my office.” He sat on the ground, back to the wall, and she joined him.
“I don’t think it’s good for you, living down here.” When he didn’t respond, she added, “Have you been eating? Aren’t you hungry?”
“Mickey D’s. Mickey Mouse. All the same.” He bent his head. “I don’t know.”
Willow sucked in her breath. “I brought you some blood.”
Spike looked at her. “Don’t see the bags. In your pocket?”
“Not exactly.” She extended her forearm. “In here.”
He jumped back, cringing. “No, no, no. Can’t hurt the girl. No Red. Go away.”
“Why not?” she asked. “You wanted to bite me before. And I’m letting you. So, if I let you, the chip won’t fire, will it? Come on. I’m so tired.”
“Won’t bite. Won’t kill.” He tilted his head and looked at her. “Why?”
She wrapped her arms around her knees and shut her eyes. “I thought I could deal. Coming back. But it’s so hard. Dawn can help with the computers, now. I can’t do magic. I could, but I’m afraid. I want to be of use to someone.” She held out her wrist again. “So, here.”
“Tara.” He said softly. “She died. I heard.”
Tears welled up in Willow’s eyes. “I’ve been trying so hard. But I miss her so much. I had such a horrible dream last night. We were together, and she exploded. Just exploded. Blood everywhere. I can’t take it.”
“I see blood everywhere.” He sighed. “Buffy died. I went on. Don’t give up.”
“But I did such terrible things. Evil things.”
“I’m an evil thing.”
Willow looked at him, scrutinizing his expression. “I don’t think so. Not anymore. You’ve changed.”
“Don’t want to be bad. Could use a friend.”
She snuggled beside him. “So could I.” She grimaced. “You need a shower, you know that?”
“So they say.” His eyes filled with tears. “I’m unclean.”
“Not so much. Nothing a little soap and water wouldn’t cure.” She patted his hand. “We’ll deal with that later.”
They sat together in the dark.