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Cordelia stopped the car and looked over at Willow. Her friend was trembling and sitting on her hip, leaning against the door, her eyes dull holes in her pasty face. Cursing under her breath, Cordelia got out of the car and circled to the other side. Opening the door, she carefully lifted Willow out. Willow hissed as the brunette's arm went around her waist, but leaned again her, uncertain she would be able to make it on her own.

Slowly the two girls walked across the lawn to Willow's French doors. Once inside, Cordelia let Willow sink onto the end of the bed, noticing that she sat barely on one hip, then turned on the light and headed for the bathroom. It took her a few minutes to find something to ease Willow's pain and on her return to the bedroom, she found the redhead trying to remove her shirt.

Dropping the supplies on the bed, Cordelia grabbed the hem of the shirt and together they got it off. There were ugly red stripes across Willow's breasts that would need tending, but Cordelia knew the worst welts were on Willow's bottom. Willow's shoes and skirt quickly joined the shirt on the floor and Cordelia helped her lay on her stomach on the bed.

Willow's back was covered in thin purpling welts from the cane. Glancing down, Cordelia saw that a few dots of blood marred Willow's panties. Carefully, she slid the panties off, gasping slightly at the sight of Willow's bottom. It was one large, purple bruise, with a cut across the curve which still oozed blood in places.

Finding some medicinal creme, Cordelia straddled Willow's thighs and opened the tube. "Do you know how incredibly pissed I am at you?" Her gentle touch as she smoothed on the cream, belied the angry tone of her voice.

Willow jerked slightly at each touch and squeezed her eyes shut at the throbbing pain, her muddled mind partially tuning out Cordelia's continued rant. After a while the cream began to help and Willow started to relax.

"Right, go to sleep. Maybe you'll dream up an excuse for your parents as to why you can't sit down for the next several days!"

"Cordy," Willow said softly. "I needed this...thank you."

"Don't you dare thank me, Willow Rosenburg. I thought it would be okay. I thought it would be no big thing, well, okay, a big enough thing that I didn't feel like I could do it myself, but I thought I could watch, but, damn it, you've made me care about you and I don't want to see you hurt unless I'm doing it and only then if it turns you on so much you fuck me senseless!"

Peeking through one heavy lidded eye, Willow gave her friend a small smile as Cordelia flailed her arms and continued on about whips and stupid demons and something about sex is sex. "Love you, too, Cordy," she murmured.

Cordelia stopped in mid rant and dropped to her knees next to Willow's head. "Oh, Willow. I wish we could go back to the way it was a couple weeks ago. We were just kids out having fun."

"I grew up," Willow replied, her lips drooping into a frown. "Life altering experiences will do that."

Gently Cordelia smoothed Willow's hair away from her face. "No more beatings like that, Willow; please promise me."

"I...didn't think that it would affect you..."

Bending down, Cordelia brushed her lips over Willow's forehead. "I love you, too, silly."

"...stay?" Willow's eyes closed in exhaustion.

"Try kicking me out," the brunette replied, trying to smile.


Friday, make that Saturday morning, and Buffy was out patrolling. She'd made sweeps of four of the twelve cemeteries in Sunnyhell three fledglings found rising, three new piles of dust blowing in the wind--and was just entering the park, when she saw a familiar blonde head rounding a corner.

"Oh goody," Buffy quipped. "My least favorite vampire."

"Slayer. Just the fight I was looking for." Spike stopped five feet from her, looking her over warily as she continued to maintain a casual pose. Casual...but oh so deadly. "I didn't think Angelus let you out past ten, little girl."

"He doesn't own me."

Spike just gave her a very evil look and Buffy squirmed slightly, frowning.

"Why aren't you home fucking your looney girlfriend?"

"Been there, done that, raised an appetite." He licked his lips suggestively.

Buffy sneered. "Why you would prefer that scrawny nutcase over Willow..."

Fury swept across Spike's face, but he quickly brought himself under control and narrowed his eyes. "One wonders why Angelus sometimes prefers the little bitch, too."

Buffy's eyebrows went up and she gave a short laugh. "Calling Dru a bitch now?"

That evil grin returned. "Nah, I was referring to my red haired whore."

That brought Buffy up short and she stared at her nemesis. "I thought you loved her," she said in a snide voice.

"'s a treacherous bitch."

"What have you done to Willow?" Buffy demanded, suddenly afraid. Spike's demeanor was too familiar...too reminiscent of the old Spike, the one who had liked to hit her a lot.

"I haven't done anything to the bitch...yet." He grinned, flashing a hint of gleaming fang.

"Why are you angry at HER? She's done nothing to you..."

"She ripped out my heart and stomped on it," Spike yelled, then forced himself under control, his nostrils flaring and his eyes flashing, as he clenched his hands into fists.

Buffy tried to gentle her voice. "You cheated on her. That's all she could see it as, Spike. And, then, so many other things went wrong. You just have to let her have some time..."

"We have twenty one the most. No one ever said I had to wait that long."

Buffy pulled a stake from her back pocket and held it up so that he could see it. "You're not going anywhere near her in this mood." They both glared at each other for a minute, then something Spike had said a few minutes before came back to Buffy and she gave him a puzzled look. "What did you mean about Angel and Willow?"

Spike's eyes flared to life and his lip rose in a sneer. "So, she didn't tell you? Not surprising. Self preservation's something she's getting good at."

"Stop being cryptic guy!"

"Oh, you'll love this, Slayer. See, two nights ago, I rolled into Angelus' room to tell him and, well, I thought it was you, to shut the fuck up as he was about to pound the bed through the floor, only to find his head between Willow's legs and her screaming his name in pleasure."

The color drained from Buffy's face and she shook her head slowly. "'t, you have to be wrong. Willow wouldn't..."

"Oh, she would and she did, thoroughly, since I listened to the whole fucking thing going on above my head," Spike sneered.


Spike shrugged. "I don't really give a rat's ass why she chose to fuck the one person I hate more than anyone else on this bloody planet. She did it. She'll pay for it." He smacked his lips in angry anticipation.

"No...No." The second denial was a little stronger and Buffy took a deep breath. "I won't let her hurt her."

"She betrayed you, too, Slayer."

Swallowing hard at the sudden lump in her throat, Buffy continued, "Doesn't matter. She's human. You're a vamp. I'm the Slayer." She forced herself to straighten her spine and lift the stake.

Spike's eyes narrowed to slits and with a growl he launched himself at her. They went down in a snarling, grappling heap. Dust from the path rose around them as they rolled, neither one getting the upper hand.

Buffy lost the stake early in the battle and didn't try to reach for another. A tiny part of her remembered the need to keep him alive, but she was so furious at everyone and her anger was choking her. As she straddled his hips, she planted her fist in his throat, making his eyes roll back.

Keeping him alive, didn't mean she couldn't hurt him.

Spike backhanded her, knocking her to the side. He followed her over, banging her head into the ground, his hands on her shoulders. It would be so easy to move his hands inwards and circle her throat.

But...he didn't want to kill her.

What the fuck was wrong with him?

Growling, his demon emerged, only to find itself flipped over Buffy's head to land in a heap. Spike felt a rib break as her foot found his side, then she was on top of him again, hitting him over and over.

Through the ringing in his ears, he could hear her chanting one word.

"Bastard, bastard, bastard, bastard..." Sudden tears streamed down Buffy's face and she flung herself off Spike, stumbling to her feet. Swaying dizzily from the blows he had landed, Buffy kicked him hard in the groin, then turned and fled.

Groaning in agony, Spike cupped his injured genitals, rolling into a ball, his demon in full retreat. As the pain began to fade, he laughed harshly. Was no one allowed to take out their anger on the one deserving it?

Angelus hit Drusilla because he couldn't hit Buffy any more. He himself hit Willow when he really wanted to hit himself. Buffy hit him when she wanted to hit both Angelus and Willow, probably. And, now he was hitting Buffy because he didn't dare hit Willow.

If he hit her...he would most certainly kill her with one blow.

And, though a large, growling part of him wanted that, craved that, Buffy's kick in the balls had brought back a bit of his rational side...the part that was hopelessly in love with a treacherous, red haired whore.

He couldn't kill Willow...couldn't even hurt Willow...either would destroy him and truly set the demon free.

Sunnyhell really didn't need two Angelus' running around.

Picking himself up out of the dirt, wincing at the lingering pain in his body, Spike dusted himself off and headed home. He really wanted to see Willow and see if she was as miserable as he was, but that probably wasn't a good idea considering the mood he was in. The demon was still there, just waiting for her to anger him into releasing it.

As he turned down an alleyway, he saw a couple of teenage girls leave the back of the Burger King. Perfect. Fighting always made him hungry.

The horny part, Drusilla could take care of later.

End Chapter 1