Willow hurried home from the library, taking a risk and cutting through the edge of the park. It wasn't the smartest thing to do, but she always carried a cross and holy water. She had never meant to stay in the library past dusk, but time had slipped away from her as she had run more tests on her blood.
With a sigh of relief she saw the exit from the park just ahead of her. It would put her only two blocks from her house. As she moved faster, she couldn't stop herself from running into the body that suddenly appeared before her, blocking her path.
"What the fuck are you doing out this late alone?" Spike demanded harshly.
Willow stumbled backwards, dropping her book bag. Irrational anger flooded her and she raised her hand to hit him. Spike caught it easily, glowering at her. She struggled, steamed. "Let me go! You have no say over anything I do anymore."
"Do you really want to end up some idiot's meal?" he snapped back, flinging her hand away from him.
"Better than being your sex slave."
"Yeah, well you made yourself that, princess."
One minute they were yelling at each other, leaning in, their foreheads nearly touching, the next, a gun was shoved between them forcing them to stumble backwards.
"Gimme your money, your jewelry, now, now," the tall, lanky man demanded, his voice and hand shaking.
Willow went white and stared, eyes round, at the gun only a foot from her face.
Spike growled and let his face shift, not in the mood to deal with a potential mugger. "Put the fucking gun down, now."
Seeing his demonic face, the mugger screamed and the gun swung wildly from the girl to the monster. Just as Spike started to move in front of Willow and reach for the gun, the mugger fired, shot after shot, emptying the gun into Spike's chest.
Willow screamed as she watched Spike take nine shots in the chest at point blank range.
"What was that?" Buffy mumbled, pulling her mouth free of Angel's. He had her pressed up against an alley wall, a block from the park.
"Gunshots, screams, who the fuck cares," Angel growled, placing his hands on her shoulders to try to push her to her knees.
Distracted, Buffy batted his hands away, then heard the feminine scream. "It's coming from the park."
"Vampires don't use guns. You're a vampire slayer. Not your business," Angel argued, burying his mouth in her neck and sucking hungrily.
Finally Buffy managed to shove him away, then strode determinedly down the alley.
"Buffy, come back here."
"I just want to see what happened," she yelled over her shoulder as she hurried across the street.
Muttering under his breath, Angel followed her.
As if in slow motion, Willow watched Spike fall, crumpling to his knees, then onto his side. Blood oozed from the small holes in his chest and flowed from the larger ones in his back. The acrid scent of gunpowder made her nose twitch and her eyes flashed wildly up at the mugger.
He was waving the gun and staring at Spike, watching the demon slide away. "Monster, he's a fuckin' monster." Panicked, he turned and ran.
Willow didn't even watch him go. Her terror at being mugged fell away, replaced by her overwhelming concern for Spike. Dropping to her knees, she gently placed one hand on his chest, feeling the blood soak her palm. "Spike?" she whispered.
There was no response. His eyes were closed and his body was still. The only motion was the blood that continued to soak his clothes and the ground.
Willow felt her throat begin to close as the terror staggered her. Something was very wrong. Bullets weren't supposed to hurt vampires, well, not for very long. Brushing aside his over shirt, Willow looked at the pattern of holes on his white t-shirt.
They were all over his heart.
By the time she entered the park, Buffy was running. She didn't know why. She just had this really bad feeling. Rounding a corner, she saw a figure with red hair kneeling over a body. Fear choked her and she gasped.
Slowly, Willow turned and saw Buffy. Tears began to pour from her eyes and she sobbed wildly. "I don't know what's wrong with him."
She shifted enough for Buffy to catch a glimpse of peroxide blonde hair. Relief flooded her as she realized the body wasn't Xander or Giles or any other human male. Quickly she moved over to her friend and knelt down next to her.
"What happened, Willow?" she asked, while carefully examining the wounds in Spike's chest.
"We...we were arguing...yelling...what else is new... Then...this guy...he had a gun and wanted our money and Spike...morphed," her voice died away and she sobbed.
"Let me guess, the guy freaked and shot him." Buffy nibbled on her lower lip as she noted the pattern of the shots.
"Why won't he get up?"
"Will, it looks like all the bullets went into his heart," Buffy said gently.
"But...they're not wood."
Buffy shook her head, confused herself.
"Well, Willow, since when have you taken up shooting people?" a snide voice from behind them asked cheerfully.
Buffy groaned. She had totally forgotten about Angel. Willow panicked by freezing and beginning to hyperventilate.
Jumping to her feet, Buffy hurried to Angel and grabbed his arm, trying to tug him away. "Come on, lover, nothing to see here. Let's go back to my place." Looking up at the fury in his eyes, she slowly released him and stepped back.
"Stupid bitch. You think I can't recognize the scent of my own?" Shoving Buffy out of the way, he strode to Willow and yanked her to her feet, holding her on her tiptoes by the scruff of her neck. She squeaked.
Growling, Angel tossed her aside, sending her stumbling into Buffy and both girls sprawling into the dirt of the path. Crouching over Spike, Angel shook his head slowly.
"I knew something was going on with him. Never would have guessed it was you, Willow."
Willow struggled to her feet and began to babble. "No, nothing going on, nothing. Ran into him here, mugger shot him, nothing else, I swear."
Demonic eyes boring into hers shut her up. "Obviously Spikey here can walk, or could before getting himself shot," he barked. "How long."
Shaking her head in terror, Willow squeezed her hands together. She had no clue what to do.
Buffy slipped her arm around Willow's waist, trying to comfort her.
Feeling herself growing a little stronger with the knowledge that Buffy was backing her up, Willow finally managed to respond. "I don't know."
Swinging around, Angel stalked over to them and grabbed Willow's chin, forcing her to look at him. Buffy protested and he placed one hand in the middle of her chest and shoved her onto her ass. "Stay put. Now, Willow," his voice took on a silky, deadly characteristic, "could he walk that first time I fucked you?"
"Yes," she whispered.
"So, that little story of him wheeling up to you and knocking you over the head, was just a little story?"
"That's not an answer. Maybe I'll get it out of your hide," he threatened.
"Leave her alone, Angel," Buffy blustered, rising to her feet.
His icy gaze swung on her and Buffy shivered. "And, you, my little whore, did you fuck him after all?"
"Wh--what...? No, of course not."
Angel's eyes narrowed as he tried to determine whether or not she was telling the truth. From behind him came a low groan and Willow began to struggle.
"He's coming to."
Angel snorted and shook her like a rag doll. "Not for long. Nine bullets in the heart, three still lodged there if the exit wounds can be trusted. That's a lot of damage."
A stricken look fell over Willow's face and pain replaced the terror. "It...it can kill him?" Her breath caught in her throat and she gagged, as the implications flooded her mind. If Spike died...Tears streamed down her cheeks and she wasn't sure for whom she was crying. If Spike died, so would she. The ramifications of the bond had never been so real.
"Huh?" Buffy asked, very confused. "They weren't wooden bullets.
"And you call yourself the Slayer," Angel derided her, finally letting Willow loose. She ran to Spike's side and pulled her shirt over her head, leaving her in a thin camisole. Trying to staunch the flow of blood, she sobbed his name over and over, determined to make him live...because she was not ready to die.
"Wooden stake to the heart, decapitation, sunlight, fire, that's the way I kill my vamps."
"Enough damage to the heart or removal from the body will do the job just as well," Angel snapped back, turning to watch Willow tenderly brushing the dirt from Spike's cheek as she pressed the shirt to his back. "Fuck...she's in love with him."
"Huh? No. It's not love, don't be silly," Buffy tried to cover for her friend.
"I want to know what the Hell has been going on behind my back and for how long and I want to know it now," he roared.
Spike's eyes flickered open and he groaned. "Shut up, you prick," he mumbled.
"Spike? Oh God, please don't die," Willow begged, more tears streaking her pale cheeks.
"Willow?" He tried to raise a hand to touch her, but didn't have the strength. "Fuck...hurts..."
"God isn't going to listen to you, girl," Angel said.
Swiveling her head to look at him, Willow saw the anger, the frustration, the need to know etched on his face and she trembled. Everything was going to come out now, and it was quite possible that he would try to kill them all for the secrets that they had kept for so long. None of that mattered at the moment. Only keeping Spike alive was important to Willow, and not only because she wanted to live. She didn't want a world without him. She didn't want to lose the chance to make everything right with him. "Help me," she begged.
Surprise joined the emotions on Angel's face and he laughed harshly. "Why? I should let him die and get rid of my only real competition."
Willow shook her head. What he said was true, but it didn't matter to her. Desperately she tried to think of some reason to make him want to help her save Spike. She could tell him about the bond, but she didn't think it would matter to him. She wasn't even sure he could help, but her research into blood bonds had enlightened her as to the possible healing attributes in a sire's blood. But, Angel would never help her out of charity, even to save his own childe.
Finally, something came to her and she swallowed hard, then blinked away the tears. Looking back down at Spike, into his pain-filled eyes, she realized how very much she loved him. Taking a deep breath, she raised her eyes to Angel. "I'll give myself freely to you. You can turn me now or wait till I mature--I know it's what you're going to try to do in the future. Help me save Spike, and I'll let you turn me whenever you want, willingly." It was the next to last thing Willow wanted, but she definitely didn't want to die, even if it meant becoming a vampire. To save Spike and to preserve her sanity, she'd do anything.
And, too many of her recent dreams had shown her as a vampire...
Intrigue replaced the anger on Angel's face as Spike feebly tried to growl and Buffy began to protest.
End Chapter 1