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The rolling blackouts were wearing down everyone in Sunnydale. Everyone except Willow Rosenberg that is. To her the dark was like a comfortable blanket allowing her the deepest sleep she’d ever known. And with both Angel and Buffy missing, a good night’s sleep was a boon. Two months of Taekwondo training had done little to help in her slaying endeavors, but her instructor said she was the fastest learner he’d ever taught. And as the street lights went out, and she climbed into bed, she smiled to herself. Before her head hit the pillow, fingers drummed against her french doors.

“Crap.” Assuming it was Xander, she threw the door open and asked, “What?” in irritation. But it wasn’t Xander. Standing on her balcony was none other than Spike. His hair was black now, and his clothes were different, black tape around his hands and pleather trousers, no red shirt and no duster. Her breath caught, and she froze.

“Not inviting me in?” he asked with an eyebrow up. When the corners of his mouth lifted, she knew true fear. But then he walked into her room without an invitation and the world fuzzed out. “That’s fine with me, since your parents were so kind as to extend me one last night before they left for… was it France?”

As Spike continued to step in, Willow stepped backward, words caught in her throat. When she backed into her bed, her knees went out and she landed on the mattress. “What do you want?” the words came out strangled.

“Word got to me that the slayer wasn’t on the hellmouth and neither was Angel. And you being part of the in crowd so to speak, I figured you could clue me in on what happened.” He bumped her knees apart with his knee and leaned over her until she was pressed against her bed and he needed to prop himself up with his elbows. His face dropped to her neck, and he inhaled her scent. “You smell like strawberries, you know that?”

Tears streamed down her temples into her hair as she remained frozen in place. When his tongue ran up her neck, she cringed and scrambled out from under him. “There will be none of that.”

Spike collapsed on her bed as he turned on his side. Head propped up, he smiled at her truly amused. “Let’s get this straight. You belong to me now. You are no longer your concern, and your only worry should be about how to please me. Got that?”

She’d gone the wrong way off the bed and was stuck in a corner, away from any exit. Willow fidgeted as she tried to find a way out. The deep shadows and streaming moonlight through her window cast Spike in high contrast, making his normally attractive countenance sharp and frightening. When he poured off the bed and onto his feet, the light caught the wetness of his eye and it looked like a glint off black glass. He wasn’t in vamp face and somehow she knew she’d be less scared if he were all ridged out.

His approach was deliberate and again she backed away until her back was against her dresser and still empty fish tank. Spike’s fingers curled under her chin until her eyes met his. “I asked you a question. Are you going to answer it?” When she couldn’t form words he repeated himself. “Do you understand that you belong to me?”

“Yes,” she whispered as more tears spilled over and her chin quivered.

“Do you understand that you are no longer your concern?”

“Yes.”

“What is your concern?”

Willow swallowed the lump in her throat. “Your happiness.”

“Superb.” His hands smoothed down her long hair and pushed it behind her ears. “Now start by telling me what happened to the slayer and paingel.”

She sniffed and tried to look down but he wouldn’t allow it. “Buffy, uh, she ran away because Angel was sent to hell, I think.”

“And who’s been keeping the demon population in check?” His thumb rubbed her bottom lip.

“We’ve been trying, but…”

“... but you can’t keep up without the slayer?” Spike nodded with her. “What if I told you that you belonging to me would be in exchange for me to keep the demons in check and the hellmouth closed?”

Her trembling stopped. She watched him bite his bottom lip and then searched for hints of deception on his face. Not that she was the best judge, but he didn’t appear to be lying to her. “That sounds fair.”

“Good. Now that we have that deal in place, let’s talk about some more specific things.” His hands fell from her face and he took her hand and led her over to the bed. When they were seated next to each other, he covered both her hands with his. “I got the impression that your parents are never home.”

“Uh huh.” She shook his hands off and rubbed her eyes that still burned from her tears.

“So you already raise yourself.”

“Yeah.” Her fingers twitched when he laced his through them.

“I have my eye on a house on the other side of town, it’s on the large side. There are two wings and one would be all yours to do with as you please. The other would belong to both of us. And I think between the two of us, we can get your parents’ seal of approval and avoid things like social service. You are the smart one aren’t you?” His smile was that of pride.

She nodded and took a deep breath. “Could you, you know, not rape me?”

“Don’t give me a reason to, and you’ve got it. We’ll even go slow, if that helps.”

With a sigh of relief, she nodded again. “It does.” Her thoughts were on Oz now. What would she tell him? Or Xander? Or Giles? Maybe she could keep this secret. “Can I still go to school and hang out with my friends?”

“Yes, but no lovers other than me or I’m with you. It’s not cheating if I’m with you.”

“Okay.” She nodded and bit the inside of her cheek. Something inside her relaxed as this deal sunk in. The hellmouth would be protected, and the cost was small. She was just Willow, and not even remotely important.