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The argument had stalemated--Angel all for killing Wesley and the other Watchers, Buffy for not doing that, Giles not knowing what to do. After an hour of debate that had gotten them nowhere, Angel had returned Buffy to her house and left her with a distracted kiss.

Exhausted both physically and emotionally, she'd fallen asleep relatively easily, only to dream.

~~~~~

There was sand beneath Buffy's feet, cold sand sliding between her toes as she walked barefoot across a dark arena. She could feel eyes on her, and, looking up, she saw dim figures in the stands. There was a scattering of torches high above them, the only light in the vast, dark space.

Those seated in the stands were human, but the creature in the arena with her wasn't.

Quickly she ran her hands over her body, searching for a weapon. She could feel the texture of the cloth change from cotton to silk to leather and back again, as her hands became more frantic. Finally, all she touched was bare skin, and she flinched.

No weapons. Naked. She was always naked without her weapons.

"You rely on them too much," a voice floated down from above her.

Buffy squinted into the darkness, trying to see who was speaking, and was suddenly knocked to the ground. As she struggled against a large body, a light flared.

And Angel's demonic face grinned down at her.

Screaming, she rolled them, then collapsed, Angel disappearing, the sand turning to soft grass. The moon rose full and heavy above her head, and she sat up, disoriented.

Willow strolled towards her, wrapped in what looked like a long piece of gold embroidered emerald silk. Her neck was bare of its collar, and blood oozed from two prominent bite marks.

"Where are we?"

Willow smiled sadly. "It's all coming to an end soon. You must make a choice."

"A choice between what?"

"Someone will die," Angel murmured from behind her, his arms wrapping around her waist.

Buffy turned awkwardly in his embrace. "I don't want anyone to die."

"Death comes to us all," Willow crooned.

"Will it be me?"

Drusilla wafted into view, dancing in the wildflowers. "A heart will die."

"Will it be me?" Buffy demanded.

"Only you know," Willow whispered, disappearing from sight.

Buffy felt the arms around her disappear until only Drusilla was left, coming ever closer. Warily, the Slayer rose to her feet. She was clothed again, but still weaponless.

"Weaponless, but helpless?" Drusilla shook her head, her hair flowing in slow motion over her shoulders. "The stake is only an extension of your true self. You are the weapon." Her voice began to rise, the dancing stopped and her eyes flashed golden. "You are our destruction."

Wind whipped through the meadow and sand blew into Buffy's face. Raising her arms protectively, she cried out as the grit stung her cheeks.

Finally the wind died down and she blinked open her eyes. She was in the arena again, but this time there was light. Ten feet in front of her stood a pole.

Bound to the pole was her mother.

Her very dead mother.

Sightless eyes stared accusingly, as blood dripped from the gaping wound in her chest. Her heart lay at her feet, mangled and torn. Crouched next to her, licking his fingers was Angel. Blood streaked his naked chest and although he was in human form, there was nothing of humanity on his face.

Wesley stepped out of the shadows and patted Angel on the head. "Now see the result of your willfulness? Your mother is dead because of you."

Heart pounding in her chest, horror filling her, Buffy could only whimper in denial.

"See what bedding a vampire will get you?"

"Stop," she begged pitifully, burying her face in her hands, tears soaking her palms.

Buffy could almost sense the change in scenery. Peeking through her fingers she found herself looking through a glass window at what looked like an operating room. Dropping her hands, she grasped a cool metal railing and watched white clad doctors moving about beneath her.

A door opened on the far side of the room and Wesley dragged a struggling, naked Willow inside. Alarmed, Buffy beat on the glass, but was helpless to watch as her friend was strapped face down to an operating table.

"We haven't had a live subject to test the bond on in a century."

Buffy spun around to find Wesley sitting behind her, fingers steepled at his chin.

"Fascinating town you have here."

Screaming the word 'no', Buffy felt her legs give out. As she crumpled, she felt herself hit hard ground. Her scream still ringing in her ears, she recognized Restfield Cemetery and her sister Slayer coming towards her.

"Bitchin' dream, huh 'B'?" Extending her hand, Faith pulled Buffy to her feet.

"Dream? How...you..."

Faith shrugged. "Slayer prophetic crap, I'm guessing. So, you're boinking a vamp. Kind of kinky there, 'B'."

Confused, Buffy could only shake her head. "What's true and what's false?"

"Dunno. It's your dream."

"Is it?"

For the first time, confusion flashed on the face of the dark- haired Slayer as well. "I see...crystals and death...or is that crystal meth?"

"Same difference."

The cemetery vanished, replaced by the empty Library. Faith picked up an ornate cross and examined it. "What would happen if I held this to Liam's skin?"

"The big bad wolf would eat you up," Drusilla whispered from nowhere.

Faith spun around, a stake in her hand. "No one's going to eat me."

"Maybe this is your test, too, Faith," Buffy murmured as dizziness assailed her. "Why can't they just let us be what we are?"

"Choices, Slayer, you face the lady or the tiger. Which will you choose?"

"Willow?" Buffy whispered.

"Then daddy must die," Drusilla mourned as the room went dark.

~~~~~

Two Slayers on opposite sides of town awoke screaming a denial to their empty rooms.

Buffy sobbed blindly into her pillow, the images of the dream washing over and coalescing into overwhelming fear.

Faith handled it a bit more calmly, rising from her bed on shaky legs to snag a bottle of beer from the toilet tank. Sitting cross-legged on the floor of the bathroom, she took several deep draws on the cheap beer, and tried to calm down.

Prophetic dreams were rare for her. This was the second one she'd had since coming to Sunnydale, and both had included the same cast of characters. She and Buffy, Willow and vampires. This one had been more detailed, showing her more--Buffy's mother, Wesley, Liam...

Liam...

Angel...

Eyes widening, Faith stared at the bottle in her hand, then chugged the contents.

It couldn't be true. Buffy, her sister Slayer, in so many ways her kindred spirit, couldn't be fucking a vampire, the same vampire who ruled this town's underworld. By all reports, Angelus was a vicious, violent, uncontrollable beast who had raped and murdered his way across Europe for a hundred and fifty years, and had been doing the same to Sunnydale for the last year.

How...how could Buffy...

Stomach roiling, Faith dived for the toilet, vomiting up the contents of her stomach at the thought of the delicate Slayer willingly sleeping with a demonically animated corpse.

*****

"Daddy's sad."

Sitting in the darkened Library, legs stretched in front of him, glass of twenty year old Scotch in one hand, Angel looked up at his beautiful, demented childe. Drusilla leaned against the door jamb, dressed in a nearly sheer scarlet gown.

As their eyes met, hers widened then narrowed. "All sad because of *her*. Because of the nasty Slayer."

"Dru."

At his snapping voice, she frowned even more and slithered into the room, whispering, "Another is already called. Let her die, my Angel. It is her destiny to die."

"No," he growled, slamming the glass down on the table and sloshing whisky over his hand.

"She is weakened." Drusilla began to sway, her eyes rolling in her head. "Strike now," she hissed. "Like a snake, like a shark. Eat her up. Destroy her before your love destroys you, black cancer, eating away at you, making you weak." Her voice rose in pitch with every word, and she raised trembling hands to her head. "The bad man comes to eat her for tea, her insides like strawberry jam and just as sweet."

Jumping to his feet, Angel grabbed her as she collapsed. "Stop it, Dru."

Leaning weakly against him, she began to giggle and sing, "Ring around a rosy, she all falls down and down and down..."

An unfamiliar emotion swelled in Angel and he tightened his grip, shaking her furiously in denial. "Stop it!"

"Your heart stinks of her and stinks of fear," she mumbled against his chest.

"I'm not afraid," he growled.

"Daddy lies."

With a louder growl, he flung her away from him and stormed out of the library to the sound of her insane giggles.

*****

The slamming open of the bedroom door awakened both Willow and Spike. At the sight of Angel looming in the doorway, Spike rolled, dragging the blanket over his lover's nudity, trying to shield her.

"Out, pup."

As Willow froze in terror, Spike swallowed visibly and sat up. "What can I do for you, Sire?"

"You can get the fuck out of this room right now, William," Angel replied snidely.

"No," Willow whimpered, unable to control her fearful reaction as the moment she had been dreading for months finally arrived.

"Do you want to kiss the dawn, boy?" Angel strode into the room.

"If I die, she'll die," Spike replied bravely.

"And if I turn her first?"

Willow's breath caught in her throat and the thumping of her heart filled her ears. Blindly reaching forward, she clutched at Spike's shoulders and pressed herself against his back.

"Don't leave me," she begged.

Angel leaned down, sneering softly, "I'd let you stay, Spike, but you'd undoubtedly cause a ruckus and spoil my mood."

"Take your anger out on me," Spike replied through gritted teeth.

"But you take it too well." Angel patted his childe's cool cheek and smirked as a muscle jumped beneath his fingers.

"Are you...are you going to turn her?"

"Someday. Maybe today. Maybe not." Angel wrapped his fingers around Spike's arm and yanked the younger vampire from the bed, flinging him across the room where he crashed against the wall next to the door. "Out now," Angel ordered, his voice icy and hard.

Painfully, Spike picked himself up off the floor. Unable to look at the bed and its weeping occupant, he shuffled out the door, pulling it shut behind him.

Grinning, Angel turned back to Willow and watched as with shaking hands she dragged the blanket over her breasts. Tears ran in rivers down her cheeks and she sobbed bitterly.

"Such a pretty sight," he crooned, reaching for her.

*****

As the sun rose, Buffy brought herself under control and headed for the shower. She needed to get clean and calm, and then she needed to talk to her mother.

It was time her mother knew the truth before it brought about her death.

*****

Clean, but tired, Buffy made her way down the stairs. She wasn't looking forward to the confrontation with her mother, but knew it was way past time. As she stepped off the last step, she heard her mother's voice coming from the kitchen.

"If it's that important, I'll go wake her," Joyce said.

"It is, thank you."

At the sound of another voice--a very familiar voice--Buffy's eyes widened and she hurried down the hallway, nearly running into her mother.

"Buffy," Joyce smiled. "I was about to go wake you up. Your friend says that Willow needs to see you ASAP; something about a science project due Monday?"

Eyes widening even farther, Buffy nodded wordlessly and peered past her mother.

Spike stood in the middle of the kitchen, hands clenched at his sides, horror in his eyes. Buffy knew him well enough to realize he was barely keeping his demonic nature in check.

And that meant something had happened to Willow.

Panic filling her, Buffy slid her feet into a pair of tennis shoes and grabbed her coat. "Yeah, emergency. Science project." Her eyes never left Spike.

"Surely it could have waited until later in the morning," Joyce protested with a sigh, already giving up on what she had hoped would be a nice, calm Saturday morning spent discussing college choices.

"Guess not, mom. I'll be back later." Buffy grabbed Spike's arm and dragged him towards the door, silently thanking god that it was overcast.

"It was nice to meet you, William," Joyce called after them.

"Goodbye, Mrs. Summers," Spike managed to mutter as he dashed behind the Slayer to the alley where he'd parked his car.

Buffy was already in the passenger seat, drumming her fingers nervously on her knees as he flung himself behind the wheel, a tendril of smoke coming from one ear.

"What happened?" she demanded, the fear inside her growing as he started the car and peeled out of the alley.

"Angelus." It was all Spike could get out as tears filled his eyes and he pushed the accelerator to the floor.

"What did he do? Spike, what did he do?" Buffy yelled, hanging onto the strap above the door as he turned a corner on two wheels.

"I don't know, I don't know. He...Fuck! We should never have gone to the mansion. We've been tempting fate and now he's..." Spike choked off the rest, his fingers tightening on the wheel.

In the face of his terror, Buffy tried to calm her own. Reaching out, she gently stroked his leather covered arm. "Would you know if...Would you feel it through the bond?" Inside, she screamed against the pain and fear, but she forced herself to think rationally.

"I think so," he muttered. "But, just because she's still alive doesn't mean... I'll kill him." He pounded on the steering wheel in fury. "I don't care if I have to die for it, I'll rip him apart with my bare hands." The hatred in his voice was palpable.

Buffy felt tears fill her eyes from fear of what might be happening to her dearest friend, but also because Willow was so lucky to have someone love her to such an extreme.

"What happened, Spike?" she tried again.

He took a deep breath, expelling it in a harsh groan, then wiped furiously at the tears on his cheeks before answering. "I don't know what set him off. All I know is that about thirty minutes ago, he stormed into my room and threw me out, leaving Willow alone with him. I begged him not to turn her. He didn't say he would. He didn't say he wouldn't, either."

"He's had plenty of time to rape her," he whispered, his voice as empty and desolate as his countenance.

*****

Willow managed to avoid Angel's first grab, surrendering the sheet and her modesty for a chance to escape. Dashing across the floor she nearly made it to the door before he pounced, driving her forward into the hard wood. His hand cradled her face, protecting it, but her chest banged hard, driving the breath from her.

As she gasped harshly, he pressed her into the wood, his arms going around her waist and grinding her against him.

Willow cringed at the feel of his leather encased erection sliding over her back.

"Please," she moaned, tears flooding down her cheeks.

"I seem to recall certain promises made, pretty Willow," Angel murmured, his lips close to her ear. She shuddered and tried to wriggle free, but he held her tighter. "Anytime, anywhere, without a fight."

"That was...that was turning me," she managed to stammer out. "Not this."

"But, this may *be* turning you, Willow, and you promised not to fight any of it, including this. Turning is so much more pleasurable at the moment of orgasm. You won't even mind."

"I'll mind. And, so will you. I'll never be the vampire you want," she promised blindly, her heart thudding painfully in her chest.

Slowly Angel turned her, still pressing her to the door, his hands pinning hers to the unyielding wood. His eyes roamed down her shaking body, his mouth turning up into a sensuous smile at the sight of her little pink nipples hard, but not from desire.

"So lovely." Catching both her hands in one of his, he moved his other down her side, lightly touching her flushed skin and feeling her shiver in fear. One finger brushed across a nipple, and he delighted in her moan.

Her terror was intoxicating, but other smells were interfering with that delicious aroma.

Angel frowned and stepped back, releasing her.

"You reek of my childe."

Grabbing her elbow, Angel pulled her towards the bathroom. Willow struggled the entire way, finally beating at his back and shoulders until he lifted her in his arms.

"Put me down," she wailed, squirming so much he nearly dropped her.

As he flipped the light switch, illuminating the large, white bathroom, one of her hands hit his cheek, her fingernails gouging into his skin.

Angel growled, his demon bursting free, and Willow screamed, going limp in his arms. Setting her on her feet, he shoved her into the shower and turned on the water. She stumbled over the sill and fell against the far wall, shaking like a leaf.

"Bathe his seed from you and then come to my bed," he ordered harshly, his golden eyes boring into her.

Willow cowered beneath the hot spray of water and shook her head weakly.

One hand shot out and caught the leather collar at her neck, snapping her head towards him. "You shame him by denying me. In publically bonding to him, you gave me the rights of a sire. For your disobedience, I should take you downstairs, beat you to within an inch of your life, then stand back and watch my minions take you."

"No, please." Willow's fingers pulled at his hand, trying to free the collar from his tight grip. She could feel the leather bruising her neck, and winced in pain.

Angel let his demon slide away, and murmured in a coaxing voice, "Have our times together been so horrible, Willow? You enjoy sex. You certainly enjoy sex with my childe. It's quite obvious from the cries of pleasure I hear coming from these rooms." His hand slipped from the collar, his fingers caressing faded scars on her throat.

"I love him," she choked out.

"And Dru?"

"That's different."

"Why? Because she's a female? We are all family, Willow, and I am the sire. I am the master. I don't want to hurt you. I just want you."

Uncaring of the hot spray hitting his silk covered arm, Angel leaned in closer. "If you don't do as I say, it reflects very poorly on Spike. If he can't control his human mate, how can he control other vampires? You don't want him to face more challenges, do you?"

Despair flooded Willow and she sank back against the shower wall, one hand rubbing listlessly at her sore neck. Defeated, she dropped her eyes to the floor and mumbled, "No."

Smirking, Angel stepped back and closed the shower door. "Five minutes, lover."

Fresh tears filled Willow's eyes as she reached for the soap.

*****

In the Library of the old mansion, Drusilla lay on the Oriental rug before the fireplace, watching the flames dance amongst the charred wood and blackened stone. She was eavesdropping.

"Poor little Willow," she crooned softly, her fingers tracing the patterns in the rug. "Fear only makes Daddy happy."

A frown crossed her delicate features as worry grew. She wasn't certain she had done the right thing.

"I didn't plan it, no, no, but is it good or bad?"

She rolled onto her stomach, pillowing her head on her crossed arms, murmuring, "Spike will be so unhappy." As she imagined his sorrow, she also could picture him displeased, and she smiled. "Maybe he'll punish me." A trill of laughter burst from her, only to be cut off as Willow's scream reached the vampiress' sensitive ears.

"Don't fight him, Willow. Oh please don't make him angry at you."

"Soon we'll be a happy family..."

*****

With a final sob, Willow turned off the shower and stiffened her spine. She was determined not to cry anymore, to accept this and do it. It wasn't like she hadn't done it before...with him...

Swallowing convulsively, Willow clenched her hands into fists and stepped from the shower. She quickly dried off, not looking in the mirror Spike had hung for her use. She couldn't bear to see her own fear reflected back at her.

Steeling herself, she entered the bedroom.

Angel was gone.

It took her a moment to realize what his earlier emphasis meant. He wanted her in his bed. He wanted her to come to him.

Like a slave summoned to her master.

Or a whore to a client.

Willow began to shake from head to toe and her stomach knotted. As she stood in the middle of the room, unable to move, she realized the five minutes must have passed.

How long would he wait?

And what would he do to her if she kept him waiting too long?

The memory of bleeding lash marks on Drusilla's back galvanized Willow. She grabbed a black robe from one of the bedposts and wrapped it around herself, tying it tightly closed, then took a determined step towards the door.

Ignoring the screams in her mind, violently tamping down the fear that threatened to make her collapse, Willow left Spike's room and walked across the hall to Angel's.

With a shaky hand, she opened the door and closed it behind her, then crossed the darkened sitting room to the open bedroom door.

"Seven and a half minutes, Willow." The combination of teasing and menace in Angel's voice hit her like a sledgehammer to the stomach, but she continued across the room and stepped through the door.

Reclining nude on his side on the massive bed and cradling his head in one hand, Angel smirked up at her. "Should I punish you for tardiness? Add to the bruises on your ass? You like pain, little girl?"

Willow couldn't have answered if she had wanted--her tongue was as knotted as her stomach--but she was able to untie the robe and slip it down her arms, baring her pale body to his hungry gaze.

Angel's eyes narrowed and the blood in his body rushed to his groin, swelling his cock. "You've put on curves in the last year. I approve."

A flash of irrational anger hit Willow and she blurted out, "I didn't do it for your benefit," wanting to slap the smug look off his face.

Swinging his legs over the side of the bed, Angel rose to his feet and snagged her arm, yanking her against his hard body. "It's amazing what fucking will do to a girl." His free hand brushed wet hair from her cheek, his fingers stroking the fine lines of her face. "Where once was a pale and colorless mouse, now is a vibrant and beautiful woman..."

Surprised at the compliment, Willow frowned up at him, and he gave her back what was about as close to a genuine smile as she had ever seen him give anyone but Buffy.

"What? Do you think I'm doing this only out of anger? Or a need for revenge or just because I'm pissed off? Do you think I only want you because you love Spike?"

"All of the above?" she squeaked a bit breathlessly as his thumb brushed delicately over the sensitive spot behind her ear.

"We are family, Willow. Whether you like it or not, even without your promise to me, you became mine when you bonded with my childe."

"It was an accident." Her hands, caught between their bodies, formed fists against his chest, but she didn't hit him, only remained still, waiting to see what he wanted from her.

"It doesn't matter." Lowering his head, Angel placed a soft kiss on that spot behind her ear. A shiver of pleasure went through Willow and she whimpered almost soundlessly. "Your body knows, it's only your mind that fights the truth." Another kiss landed, and his tongue swept up the lobe. "I should have done this months ago..."

"Why didn't you?" popped from her mouth, startling them both.

Angel pulled back slightly and gazed down at her, a puzzled frown on his face. "Too much hassle," he finally grumbled. "Dealing with Spike's whining and..."

"Buffy?" she asked perceptively, then cringed, waiting for his response.

He growled wordlessly, his eyes darkening with anger, which made her pale in another burst of fear. As his hands cupped her bottom, grinding her against his erection, Willow squeaked and pressed her fists harder against his chest.

Effortlessly, Angel picked her up and tossed her onto the bed, following her down and pinning her to the mattress. As he hovered over her, straddling her trembling legs, he sneered, "She is nothing to me."

"Liar," Willow whispered before she could stop herself.

Angel caught her chin before she could roll her head, forcing her to look at him. "What did you say?"

"She means something to you or you would have killed her long ago."

"Do you *want* to die, Willow?" he asked, amazed at her daring.

"No, but I'm tired of tiptoeing around you." A sudden, surprising anger flowed through her, driving away the fear, and she reached up and shoved at his shoulders. "You're just a big bully."

Laughter burst from Angel, and he sat back on his heels. Willow looked up at him hesitantly, raising up on her elbows, trying to judge his sudden change of mood.

"You are amazing. You'll make an excellent vampiress."

"Can't I just make an amazing human?"

He continued to laugh.

*****

From the covered garage, Spike sprinted across the lawn, ignoring the tendrils of smoke rising from the jacket over his head. Buffy was on his heels as they charged into the mansion and straight up the stairs. Flinging open the door to his room, Spike growled helplessly.

Buffy pushed past him, then spun around, desperately demanding, "Where are they?"

Stilling, Spike closed his eyes and extended his other senses.

He could hear his sire laughing and agony squeezed his chest. "Angel's room," he managed to gasp out before staggering across the hall.

Again, Buffy pushed past him, her mind racing with possibilities, each one worse than the one before. Running into Angel's bedroom, she came to a screeching halt at the sight of her lover crouched over her best friend on that big bed.

The laughter faded quickly and Angel sighed heavily. "Good morning, lover."

"Get off her," Buffy choked out, hatred strangling her.

Hearing Buffy's voice, Willow tried to scramble from beneath Angel, and managed to free one leg to kick at him.

Rolling his eyes, Angel grabbed her foot and kissed it, then slid from the bed to face the Slayer.

Buffy's face reflected every conflicted emotion she felt. Willow was alive, so there was intense relief, but there was also a hint of jealousy. There was something between Angel and Willow that Buffy couldn't compete with.

And that brought a deep sorrow.

But, mostly, she felt anger and hatred and all of it was focused on the dark vampire who stood nonchalantly nude in front of her, still aroused.

"You're interrupting, Buff, though you're welcome to join us..."

"I should kill you," she threatened, her voice dark and low.

Angel smirked. "Yes, why don't you do that, lover. You've done so well in the past." He briefly glanced past the furious blonde girl to see the stricken countenance of his childe in the doorway. "I take it I have you to thank for her appearance, Spike."

Spike swallowed hard, his gaze boring into Willow as she sat naked on the end of the bed, her knees tucked up to her chin, her arms wrapped around her calves. As she shifted restlessly, the clean scent of soap and Willow wafted towards him, and he felt himself relax slightly.

Only to stiffen again at the next words from his sire. "What? Did you think I'd let *her* stop me from claiming what's mine, Spikey? You ran to the Slayer for nothing, boy."

"You do this, Angel, and it's over between us," Buffy threatened. "Even if I have to leave town to get away from you, it's over." Her voice began to rise with her fury. "I've put up with so much shit from you. You obviously care nothing for me, yet I've let you beat me and fuck me and hurt me. I've let you take my best friend, my dearest friend, from me, and you've done it for kicks. You don't even hurt me to *hurt* me. You son of a bitch."

He caught her hand before it could connect with his cheek, and growled, his voice low, "Don't push this, Buffy."

"Why? What the fuck do I care? *Why* should I care what you want? You don't care what I want," she scoffed, pulling her hand free. Glancing briefly down, she wrapped her hand around his erection, squeezing until he growled again. "This is what you care about. *This* is what you think with, after all. You want to fuck, and you're bored with Dru and Spike and your minions, so you turn to Willow."

"No more," she swore, twisting his cock in his hand, until he grabbed her shoulders and shook her.

"Let go, bitch!"

"Make me," she grinned with sadistic glee.

Watching silently, Willow smiled slightly to herself, and looked at Spike. Instead of an answering smile, he gave her a look of sorrow and fear, and it wiped the spark of joy from her.

Slowly she uncurled her body and rose to her feet, then took the step necessary to bring her to Buffy. She caught the blonde girl's wrist and shook her head.

"No."

Buffy stared at Willow as if she'd suddenly grown two heads, but her hand fell away from Angel, who gasped in pain.

Recovering quickly, he growled in anger and reached for Buffy, only to find Willow between them, turning to face him, her face as calm as her voice.

"It doesn't matter why he's doing this," she addressed Buffy, though her eyes met Angel's, "It's his right."

"I don't accept that," Buffy blurted out.

"Willow's right, Slayer," Spike added bleakly, running a tired hand over his aching yet empty chest. "I shouldn't have gone to fetch you."

Buffy spun on him, shocked. "You'll just let him do this?"

"I don't have a choice."

"Good boy," Angel said, smirking again.

Disgusted with the younger vampire's shift in attitude, Buffy turned her back on him and glared past her best friend to her lover. "It doesn't matter. I'm here now, and if you do this, I'm out of here for good, *lover*."

That wiped the sneer off Angel's face. "Don't threaten me."

"Or what? You'll beat me up? You'll rape Willow? Gee, been there, doing that!"

"Buffy, stop," Willow whispered, her heart in her throat.

"I can't believe you're going along with this, Will."

"Me either," the redhead murmured, then looked up into the dark eyes of her lover's sire. "I don't want to."

Buffy started to protest, then shut her mouth, feeling suddenly helpless and exhausted.

Spike turned to leave, unable to watch his sire touching Willow.

Angel glowered at Willow, then Buffy, then growled and stomped over to the dresser. Picking up a pack of cigarettes, he lit one, and said, "Well, now *I'm* not in the mood."

Relief flooded Willow, as Buffy raised confused eyes to him.

"I don't get it."

"Out, all of you," Angel ordered, waving to the door with his cigarette.

Not wanting Buffy to push the reasons behind Angel's sudden change of heart, Spike snagged her arm and steered her to the door. "Let's get you out of here, Slayer, before some minion stumbles across you."

Grabbing her robe, Willow ran after them, wrapping the silk around herself. At the door to the bedroom, she hesitantly turned and looked back at Angel.

He appeared to be brooding, but he shot her such a look of anger and frustration, that she fled after Spike, her heart pounding in her chest.

Drusilla stood in the doorway to Spike's room, holding Willow's clothes, a sad smile on her face. Grabbing them, Willow mumbled a goodbye as Spike took her arm in his free hand and propelled her towards the steps, Buffy leading the way.

As Buffy dashed into the sun that had broken from the clouds while they had been inside, Willow hung back, gazing up at her lover.

"I love you, Willow," Spike murmured, brushing her lips with his before pushing her out the door.

"I love you, too," she got out, before the heavy door slammed shut, blocking out the deadly sunshine.

Turning on the front stoop, suddenly at a loss, Willow watched Buffy pace.

"Get dressed. Let's get out of here."

"Buffy..."

The blonde shook her head, then stopped pacing, a hesitant smile on her face. "He does care, doesn't he?"

"Do you want that?"

The smile fled, confusion filling Buffy's eyes, before she dropped them to the gravel path. "I don't know..."

Concerned and confused, Willow pulled on her clothes and stuffed her feet into her shoes, then folded her robe over her arm. She doubted she'd be coming back to the mansion anytime soon, so she might as well take it with her.

"Did he hurt you?" Buffy finally asked.

Willow shook her head and hugged her friend. "No. I'm fine. I...I'm not even sure if he would have gone through with it."

"Why do you think that?"

Shrugging, the redhead pulled back and took Buffy's hand for the long walk home. "I don't know. Just a feeling." Their joined hands swung a bit as they walked.

As they reached the end of the long driveway and turned out of the gates, both girls stumbled to a stop.

A smirk on her face, her body clothed in leather, Faith leaned against the stone wall surrounding the mansion.

"So, you spend a lot of time in the master vampire's lair, B?"

Willow and Buffy stopped breathing as panic filled them.

End Trials: Lambs to the Slaughter