Opening Theme "Spellbound Concerto" by Miklos Rosza Play

Romance Palace...

PG-13...

Summary: Season seven tale...William/Spike returns with atonement-seeking Will firmly
in the saddle and romance on the menu...

Clip:
"Ummn...You still are a vampire, right?..." Buffy eyed him...

I mean...Not that that would be a good thing...Just protectionwise and all...It might not be so
bad...

"Yeah...And still getting sex advice from ole Dr. Spike..." William frowned at her...

"Great...I mean...That you can help me and protect yourself...Helpin' me in the fight against
evil...That sort of thing..." she looked at him innocently...

Is this gonna be a great year or what, she thought happily...

Cicely always was a forward girl...he thought...

***

Suggested Theme...Secret Garden

Part I...

She'll let you in her house
If you come knockin' late at night ...

***
"Ow...!!!" yelped the short slender blonde man in black trousers and short black jacket as he
struggled with the secured boards blocking the entrance of his former favorite Sunnydale
crypt...

Flashlight beams darted in his direction...

"You!!!..." A guard called, giving a blast on his whistle...A couple more quickly appearing
in the distance...Little after hours for the cemetery...

Oh great...Oh bloody hell damn great...

Damn, damn, damn...Now they get security conscious...Years of wandering in and out of
here, free as a bird...And now...

But then why should I have expected any less after this summer...he thought...

"Hold it!!!...Stay where you are, there!!!...This is private property, friend...No trespassing..."
the nearest guard shouted...

"Yes, yes..." William put his hands up as the guards ran to him...

"Don't give us any trouble, young fellow..." an older guard addressed him firmly...

Spike gave a wan, faint bellow from within...In my day...My glorious day...Even with the
chip we could've gotten out of this...

I'm over from England...Just looking for the old family crypt, mate...William explained
lamely to the guard looking most in charge...

Summers is going to kick us around like a wet...Spike groused deep within...

"Searching for my roots and all that..." William continued...

The truth at that...he thought, looking at the guards' faces...

***

To knock or not to knock...He'd passed the Summers' house for the fifth time...

Well...He couldn't just wander around till daylight...

And it was highly unlikely that any former underworld associates would consider taking him
in...Unless it were to first mock then kill him for sport at the first opportunity...

Not that he hadn't handled things well in the inevitable skirmishes during the return from
Africa and the trip across country...With an eager, if deeply buried Spike ready and willing
to offer any needed advice and instruction...

Still...They'd sense his new nature...And both he and Spike were just too exhausted to spend
the rest of the night and next day fighting off challengers...

Perhaps...If Buffy left on Patrol...Or he could confirm that she had...He could try the Nibs...
Sweet and kind-hearted thing that she was...

Always hoping and providing that she hadn't heard about...the little Incident...

Oh...Bollocks!...Spike cried from within...

Hell the worst of it was...even we didn't intend it to go so far...the demon groused faintly...

And why is that...? William asked, in effect, himself...

Yeah, yeah, yeah...the demon's voice faded...

Love's a funny thing, bro...William teased himself...

Spike was silent...At last...

What...you leaving?...No guts to face our girls...? William chuckled inwardly...

Sod off, poof...the demon faded out...

He waited about half an hour longer...no Buffy emerging...And it was past her Patrol time...

Well...No time like the present...

He braced himself, tried to assume a Spikean demeanor, and cautiously knocked...
***

"Holy...!?..." Dawn stared at him...

"Nibs..." he nodded pleasantly...

Might I?...

"What the hell happened to you?..." she eyed the scars on his forehead, face, and hands...

Where's your...Slayer...coat?...she asked, staring...

Spike surged up for one more jab...

I told you...I told you, see...he groused to himself...Everyone loves the coat...It's part of the
aura...The Spike...Even the Nibs here loves it...

It was time it was returned, brother...William noted to himself firmly...

"Dawn...? It's nice to see you..."

Yeah?...she eyed him...

Buffy home?...

Patrol...she said curtly...

"Manners, my girl...Old friend on front step...Young lady invites said old friend in for tea and
cookies..." he smiled at her...

"I don't invite guys who try to rape my sister into our house..." Dawn replied...Folding her
arms across her chest...

"Who's there?..." Clem called from the living room...

Spike?...Hey...Spike!!!...he cried joyfully...

"We missed you, big guy!..."

Clem...he smiled pleasantly...Nodding at the dog-eared demon...

"New baby-sitter?..." he grinned at Dawn...Who gave a sour look...

"I do not need a "baby-sitter"...This..." she paused...

Is an assignment...

I'm rehabilitating him...Helping him learn to interact with humans...

Clem had been smiling happily but now looked puzzled and sniffed...

Oops...William thought...

Well...Secret has to get out sometime...

Unless it's just the lack of a good wash...

"Hey...?...You aren't Spike...Who?..." Clem looked a hair nervous...

Slayer had instructed him very carefully as to Dawn protection...

With a full outline of his fate should he be lax in his new duties...

Dawn stared...Not Spike?...

Clem sniffed again and sighed...Oh...

Another one of those redemption things...

"You're that soul of his...The one always hanging around...?"

What....? Dawn stared blankly...

William, right?...Clem extended a paw...

Say...Is that still Spike in there?...

What...? Dawn continued to stare...

"There is a story, Nibs..." William smiled at her...

***

Romance Palace...

PG-13...

Season seven tale...William/Spike returns with atonement-seeking Will firmly in
the saddle and romance on the menu...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Josh Whedon, Mutant
Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Part II...

***
Souled?...Human-souled?...William...Dawn thought, still trying to recover...

Unbelievable...

Still after this last year...?

Of course...This could be a trick...A trap...

A "grab Dawn and blackmail Buffy into sex and/or death" trap...she thought,
eyeing William...Now sitting on the couch, looking quite at home and
comfortable, cuppa in lap...

Even kinda pooped...Poor guy...Musta been a long trip...And all those scars...

Geesch...Should get him some ointment and bandages...

She looked at Clem who was watching William in some wonder...In between
slurping his cocoa...

He had vouched for Will's soul...But he could be lying...

It could be a plot...Clem might even be the mastermind...she eyed him...

Like that Chancellor Palpatine in the Star Wars movies, pretending to be a nice
guy, then...

And even Yoda was fooled...

Well...she smiled at Clem who asked if she wanted something...

Nah...

But, even if the story was true...She was dead...Well, at least when Buffy
found out she'd let William in solely on his and Clem's say-so...

But how could she pass up the chance to hear the whole thing in
detail...Something Buf would never forego herself...And never allow her to stay
and hear, however much she might be willing now to let her see a little of the
family business...

Of course...A leetle disappointing as to the reason...

No noble soulquest...Although...If Clem was right about William's previous
"hanging around"...Maybe Spike had been seeking more than he knew...

You couldn't've told her we did it for love?...Or at least I
did...Moron...Spike groused to William from the depths...

Buf would've fallen for that like a ton of bricks...She'd be on us
tonight...You stupid...

We did do it for love...William replied silently...But it's up to Buffy to see
that for herself...

Along with everything else...

You're not even gonna tell her, are you?...About "everything else"...? Jesus,
did you ever even have sex? Spike groused inwardly...If you did, it sure
wasn't memorable...

You know we did...And you remember as well as I do...William smiled...The demon
backed down, growling...

"Spike?..." Dawn paused...Watching Will blanking for a second, a wan smile on
his exhausted face...

"Ummn...Sorry...William?"

He blinked at her...God, he looks awful...Pale...

"Hmmn...Nibs?...Sorry...Spike still likes to shoot his mouth off on
occasion...I'm still adjusting to the distraction..."

"He really is in there?...With you?..." Dawn stared in wonder...

Afraid so...Will nodded...But, hey...There's a counterpart demon for every
human on this planet...Mine just happens to be closer than most...

Hmmn...Dawn looked behind her, half-expecting to see her own demon grinning at
her...Well, maybe people artificially made from interdimensional energy keys
don't have demonic counterparts...

On the other hand...

"Anne..." Will eyed her...

Huh?...

"Spike says Buffy's...And therefore, your...Counterpart in hell is
named...Anne..."

Nice name...Dawn noted...

"A preety vicious lady according to him...He's quite taken with her..."

Oh...

But how...

"Demons keep in touch with the home base..." William smiled...

"Then...Buffy...He never really..."

Hey!...Spike grumbled within...

"No, no...He did, very much...As much as he was able to, Niblett..." William
smiled...

Does!...Spike growled...I'm still here, mate...Lets not stick me in the ground
just yet...

Within a demon's capacity...William continued...

Hmmn...Well...

"Tell him..." Dawn paused... "If all this is really true..."

William nodded...A lot to accept, I know...his look saying...

"Thanks...For trying I mean...And for being there when Buffy needed him..."

Not that I'm letting him off the rape thing...she noted firmly...

Well...William eyed her...We sort of worked together over the last year,
courtesy of the chip...

Hey!...Another internal grouse...

But he did try...As much as he was able...he added hastily...

"Will?..." Dawn eyed him...

You really were around?...All this time...I mean since...

1880?...Yeah...he nodded...But not much I could do under the circumstances
except watch and try to encourage my little maniac "brother" to seek out
powerful enemies...

Until the Initiative "helped" me out a bit...he smiled wanly...

Wow...Clem and Dawn looked at him...Equally sympathetically...

"Of course..." he noted... "I'll have a lot to do...Trying to rebuild some kind
of life..."

And there's a lot to think about...he sighed...

"Nearly 40,000 things to think about..." he paused...

Hey!...Spike groused...At least 40,000, mate...

And I would've guessed twice that...

40,000?...Dawn wondered...

Oh...

He eyed her sadly...

"It wasn't you, Will..." she noted sympathetically...Patting his shoulder...

God, he's not gonna pull an Angel on us now, is he?...she thought...

"Bye guys...Gotta fight evil in London for 122 years to ease my conscience"
that sort of thing...?

Oh!...Gee...

"This soul thing?...Ummn...It wasn't like...Another curse type of thing?" she
asked hastily...

Exactly, a freaking curse!...Spike bellowed from below...

"No, Nibs..." William smiled...Happiness is not denied me...

Phew...Dawn thought...Not that she wanted to encourage anything...

And we coulda been very happy several times on this trip...Spike groused...

Sod off, Spike...William thought...We have a commitment...

Bollocks!...The little %^&!@ of a Slayer doesn't care what we do...And how many
times has she jumped into the sack with the first...

"I...Heard about Ms. Maclauy...Tara..." Will began... "And Willow..."

Talk of the underworld, that...

"I'm sorry...And sorry I...we...Weren't here to help..."

Always knew Red had it in her...Spike grinned within...What a vamp she'd have
made...Really, if I had just realized her potential a little sooner...

"It was rough...Willow was...Well...Like an Angelis...Only loads
faster-moving..." Dawn noted...

See...Spike continued his rant...I know potential when I...

William pushed him down...Enough...

"Thank God, Giles has been here and back a few times this summer..." Dawn
added...

Helping with her recovery and the permanent magics block...

Crap!!... "Permanent magics block"?...Spike growling below...

Had some ideas, brother...? William pleasantly noted to himself...

An appeal to Red's darker nature, perhaps...?

#$%^&!!!...the demon backed off, fading...

"Spike missed Willow too..." he explained to Dawn...

In his own way...

***
A dark-haired, fortyish woman walked the Sunnydale downtown streets...Lost in
thought...

To the extent of occasionally losing control and slipping into her true
face...To the horror of several passersby...

Though not all...This being Sunnydale...

Trouble...Halfreck sighed...

Big trouble...

A century old assignment ready to go down the tubes...

Unless something can be done, quickly...

Who'd would of thought...But then she'd been called here primarily to deal with
a situation that had been brewing for months...Years, really if you took the
long view...And that even before this latest disaster...

Almost makes one think the Powers That Be are against one...

Well...She had her duty...A contract to be fulfilled, a wish maintained...

Though really...Ms. Summers could do her the courtesy of finally making up her
mind...

Fickle, fickle woman...Worse even than Anyanka who seemed actually poised to
again give up D'Hoffryn's patronage...And her immortality...

For...

Well, the fellow was cute...And his power of love had just saved the world...

Lacking a little of William's romance perhaps...And Spike's edge...But, in all
fairness, she had to admit she could see some of Anyanka's reasons...

But as to the matter at hand...

Hmmn...Another performance as Ms. Summers?...she wondered...

Tell the little would-be rapist he's an animal and to never darken her door
again...?

Ummn...No...William would just agree that Spike was an animal and come back
when she'd had a chance to think things over...

It really wasn't fair...All the work she'd put in...And now...Both Spike and
William likely to be lost to her...Forever...

More important, to screw up this assignment...Again...Would not sit well with
the boss...

He'd had his heart set on acquiring a Slayer-vengeance demon...His first...And
had been, admittedly...Unusually patient...

But Ms. Summers was not likely to surrender to demon Anne nor Anne to take
D'Hoffryn's offer of employment unless guilt and shame lead Buffy to death and
drove her human soul off...

Hmmn...Well, there was a lot of potential for guilt and shame here...If Buffy
learned everything...

Leaving the field here to Halfreck...To comfort poor lost William and his
"brother"...

But if even driving William to his death had not been quite enough...

Trouble...she sighed...

Well...No one ever said a justice/vengeance demon's job was an easy one...

And the reward at stake...Eminently worth it...

***

Dawn was eager to hear more details of William/Spike's leetle safari...But it
was getting on...And she couldn't be sure how Buffy would take things...

Well, actually she could...At least in her own case...

All the more reason to urge her guest along...

Maybe...After he told her more about the demon god...And his side trip...To
England, after his "restoration"...

Of course...If all this is true...she thought...No particular need to let Buf
know his first thought wasn't to come rushing home into her arms...

I mean...Only natural...Human...she noted proudly...That he'd want to go home
and try to learn what had happened to his long-deceased loved ones...And if he
had any surviving family...

Just...Buffy might be a leetle disappointed...

Odd actually...

That he came here first and didn't go seeking her to trumpet the glorious
news...

But he did come in the end...

Home...

God, he looks pale...Gee...Is he?...Not feeding?...

"Of course, Nibs..." William eyed her... "You lot will have to check me over
and all...Anya or Giles or Willow could..."

Not Willow...Dawn replied hastily...

Ah, right...he nodded...

But...he continued...I was wondering if ...Considering the situation at the
cemeteries in the vicinity...

A place to crash?...Dawn hesitated...

"Gee...I'd like to help you out, Will..."

But if Buffy ever...

Right...Spike sneered below...Save you all last summer, ungrateful little...And
this is the thanks I get...

"Actually...I was thinking more of the Magic Box..." William explained...

Just for a day or two...In the basement...Until I get my bearings and all...

"If you lot have an extra key to the place...And if we could square things with
Anya..."

"And Giles...He's here for a couple of weeks now..." Dawn noted...

Ripper's here now, eh?...Hmmn...Spike pondered within...Now there's a man who
might understand my situation...Trapped raging...Being...in torment...

Rupert Giles?...Rupert is never going to let you out, brother...William smiled
inwardly...We'll be lucky if he doesn't kill us as a preventive measure for
Buffy's sake...And for...

Unnnh...

And given your attitude, it might not be a bad thing at that...

"Well..." Dawn eyed William... "I guess we could call Anya...See if she'd be ok
with it..."

She paused...

"Will?...Have you been...Feeding?..."

You look awful...

Mr. Suicidal Martyr prefers not to dine on human blood...Spike groused
within...What was it last time, bro?...A cat?...

"I've been trying to take that aspect of things a little slow, Nibs...But I'm
just tired, really..."

"I could get some blood for you..." Clem noted... "Couple of pals of mine keep
a stock...They'll sell it for a little cash..."

Great...Dawn replied...I got some upstairs...Wait a sec...

She ran upstairs...

"Nibs..." William called to her...Sighing...

Really...You've got to learn to be a little more careful when the Undead come
to call...Not all of them are as nice as Clem here or souled like me...

Clem turning as red as possible for him...

Little moron'll get her face eaten one of these days...Spike groused...

We'll take care of her, don't worry brother...William replied silently...Say...

You've got a bit of a good heart there, Spike...he teased...Bad luck winding up
with a fellow like me as your human counterpart, eh...

Sod off...Spike fumed...If the Nibs croaks Buffy will be in mourning for
months...And we don't get any...

***

Romance Palace...Part III...

She'll let you in her car
To go drivin' round
***

Part III...


A large and greasily hairy fellow confronted Buffy in the same cemetery William had been
escorted from a little over an hour ago...

The cemetery she had developed a habit of rechecking two or three...Well, ok...Four times
a night since Spike had left...

Not that she was mooning over her departed (figuratively now as well as literally) ex-lover,
she told herself...

Just...With all the extra guards cluelessly wandering around now at night since she and Riley
had blasted Spike's old place...The Slayer had to take extra care there...Duty and all that...

She eyed him...God, the one thing she couldn't forgive in her victims...Poor grooming habits...

And inexcusable...

Spike, the Anointed One, Dru, Darla, Mr. Trick, even the Master had all prided themselves
on style...Personal cleanliness...Never an issue...

"You fear me, Slayer..." he grinned...

You fear the great Philipicus...

It was true...All that grease...She hated the thought of touching him...

"Now...Slayer...Your fear will be your undo..." he dusted in mid-speech...

Xander...

"Thought I'd drop by..." he explained, picking up the fence picket he'd skewered the greasy
Philipicus with ...Just see how things were going...

"He's not here, Xander..." she frowned at him...

"Well..." Xander fumbled awkwardly...

Why do I keep having this ridiculous urge to tell her... "He'll be back, don't worry..."?

Hell, if I ever see him back...

"Anything else...?" she eyed him...

Ummn...Well...

Just came by to see that things were...ok...With Patrol and all...

She stared at him...Knowing exactly what and why...

Hmmn...she frowned at him...

See...He knew that sometimes...Things could go wrong...Xander explained feebly...

He...Just wanted to be there...In case...

Right...she glared a little...

Still thinks I can't handle it, eh...After all summer...Of handling it...Quite well...

Still...He did just save the world...With love...

Gotta cut a sweet guy like my Big Bro a break...

And things did go wrong...Often...With it...

Although...It was...In a sense...A very bizarre sense...Her responsibility...

And to be honest...Her secret joy to care for...

He stared at her...Hopefully...

Well...Maybe just this once...

"O...K..." she nodded, grinning a bit...

And tossed him the keys...

"To the Spikemobile..." he beamed...

Well...After all, it wasn't as if Clem could drive...And he had figured...When Buffy had
asked...

Who better than the Slayer to use it...Surely Spike would have no objection...

***
My god...Xander gasped...Looking at the battered old girl...

Buffy nervously rolled her eyes...Geesch...

Two tiny little dings...On a scruffy old car like this...

"Buffy...This is a classic..." he struggled to keep an accusatory tone out of his voice...And
lost...

"What were you thinking?...What's Spike gonna say?"

"Geesch...Xander...It's just two little dents..."

He shook his head...

What's Spike gonna say?...God, what happened to the guy who was gonna stake Spike the
moment he showed his face in this town?...she thought...

Guys and their toys...

Besides...she thought, annoyed...

It was my bo...

Gulp...she backed away from that mental cliff...

Well...he sighed, surveying the hideous blemishes...Maybe they could be fixed...

Lets go...

They got in and belted up...

Curious that Spike hadn't ripped the belts out...You'd have thought they'd be the first things
to go, Xander noted...Beaming at the dash...

He couldn't help it...The Spikemobile at last...

He'd been trying to get a crack at her since the first day Buffy started "borrowing" it...

"Atomic batteries to power...Turbines to speed..." he happily cried...Eyeing Buffy for her
line...

Geesch...she thought...

Guys...

Still...He did just save the world with the force of his love...And she knew the line...

"Roger...Ready to move out..." Anya's voice brightly replied from behind them...

Geesch!!...Xander jumped...

"Do you have to keep doing that?..." he groused at her...

Sorry...She looked crestfallen at him...

Guess I shouldn't 've...

He sighed and shook his head...No, no...It's ok...Just...

"Give a guy a little warning...If I'd been in traffic when you decided to make like Endora..."

Sorry...she replied, more brightly...

He'd been preety angry with her these past months...Nice to hear him softening a little...

Though it wasn't her fault...As she explained when the Willow fight was safely over and all
seemed pointed towards immediate reconciliation...

She couldn't just "resign" from the vengeance demon business...It wasn't allowed...

But what had really made him furious was her refusal to tell him how to get her out of it...

She couldn't she'd explained...Not allowed...Physically impossible for her...

Yeah...Right...Some goof-ball test of his renewed devotion...he'd immediately thought...

However Giles had confirmed that her class of demon was not allowed or capable of giving
out such info...

But thanks to help from Giles and a lot of fancy maneuvering with potential clients,
persuading them not to maim and flay former lovers...She'd successfully avoided any
murders or torture to date...

Sooner or later someone was bound to figure out how to free her...she'd brightly told him...

A thousand years...he'd noted...Last time it took a thousand years...

"You'll wait for me...Won't you?..." she'd asked pathetically...

Souls are immortal, she'd noted....

But of course, if he wanted to go ahead anyway and didn't mind her occasionally being forced
to zip off to attend an angry client...Whom she would do her damnest to dissuade from
anything remotely harmful...However it might annoy D'Hoffryn...

Well...Maybe it was best to wait on another wedding try...she'd noted sadly...

Of course...With all that...She saw no reason to...In fact some very good reasons not to...
Abandon her Xander to loneliness...

Especially if Buffy or Willow might be trying to ease that loneliness...And their own...

***

Romance Palace...Part IV...

You've gone a million miles
How far did you get?
That place where you can't remember
And you can't forget ...
***

William having reminded Dawn and Clem of Buffy's likely reaction to finding him in the
house, the Nibs had agreed to contact Anya regarding use of the shop basement before Clem
headed out to purchase a few blood bags...

Which led to Anya receiving a rather startling cell phone call...While riding with Xander and
Buffy in the Spikemobile...

However...Dawn had been strongly encouraged to confirm that Buffy was no where in the
vicinity before giving details...And being well aware of the possible consequences of her sis
learning of Will's visit...

"Anya?!...If Buffy's there...Don't say anything...Hangup and redial as soon as you can..."
Dawn hissed into the phone...

Who is this?...Anya asked the phone...Buffy looking back at her...

"Dawn..." Dawn replied... "Do like I asked, please..."

"Who's on the phone?..." Buffy asked...

God, for a nineteenth century type, Spike sure knows his engine maintenance...Xander noted
to himself contentedly...Listen to that beauty purr...

Gotta find out who his mechanic is...

Hmmn?...Anya looked at Buffy...Ummn...

Nobody...Well, gotta go...Bye, honey...she called to Xander...

"An?!..." he called...

"Too late..." Buffy eyed him...

An assignment...? You think?...she looked at him...

"They usually don't call on the phone..." he replied...Watching the road...

God I hope not...She can only persuade these ladies to see the bright side of being dumped
by, or settle for just embarrassing, their worthless ex-lovers so many times...he thought...

***
"Anya..?" Dawn called into the phone...William eyeing her...

Such a remarkable century this he noted to Clem...Never had the chance to sit back and really
appreciate it when I was trying to do anything I could to restrain ole Spike...

Yeah...Spike groused deep inside...How about you go explore the wonders of a plugged-in
toaster in the bathtub?...

You that anxious to see good ole Hell again, brother?...William teased him...I can
accommodate if that's what you really want...

"Hi..." Anya appeared before them...Dawny taking a sec to realize she was not still on the
phone...

What's the big...

"Holy!!..." she clasped a hand to her mouth in astonishment...

"Spike?!...You're back!..."

Anya?!...You're a lumpy vein-bulging murderous fright again?!...Spike sneered within...

Hmmn...A vengeance demon...With a fair degree of power...

And one who'd experienced the blessings the Spiked One had to offer...

Say, love...he concentrated from within...How's about lending your ole sackmate a hand?...he
thought, straining to reach his fellow demon...

Forget it, brother...William pushed him down...

"Holy?!...Are there two of you in there?..." Anya clasped her other hand to her mouth...
Looking at William...

I'd take that as confirmation...Dawn noted to herself happily...Beaming at Clem...

***
"Buffy...?" Xander called...Glancing at her briefly when she had failed to answer him twice...

She was off again...Another one of those glassy dazed stares...

Geesch...And what with everything getting so much easier in the past few months, seemed
like she should've gotten over these things...

Instead they were, if anything, worse...Longer and more frequent...Though thank God, never
during Slaying or driving...At least that he knew of and she admitted to...

Gotta get her over to a good neurologist...And no matter what she says, tell Giles while he's
around...This is not right...

Unless she's trying mediation or yoga or some Slayer equivalent...

"Buffy..." he raised his voice a notch...

Hmmn...? she stared at him...

Buffy...? What a foolish name...Who..I...she thought confusedly...

"Xander...? What?..." she looked around...

Anya was here, wasn't she?...

Ok...Now she's getting me a leetle worried...

"Yeah...An was here and gone..." he nodded...Just a minute ago...

"Speak of the demon..." Anya called brightly from the back seat...

The car squealed to a stop!...Fortunately, the street was empty at this time of night...

"An!!...What did I just ask you not to do?!..." Xander yelled...

Sorry...Sorry...She desperately contained herself...Eyeing Buffy...

Oh...She tapped her fists together...

Oh...I can't keep this in...she thought...

"Gotta go..." she told them...Vanishing...

Xander rolled his eyes and rubbed his forehead...Unnnh...

"It'll work out, Xander..." Buffy told him sympathetically...

Giles will figure it out...

"Yeah, yeah...Well it's what I deserve I guess..."

Well...she thought...It's hardly like you're the one who has to deal with the bulging veins and
the irate wronged females...Poor Anya does her best to be human for you when she drops in...

Poor An...A soul condemned to torment...Cursed, really...So unjust...

"It's wrong..." Buffy was getting a mite teary... "Unjust..."

Well...Xander nodded in agreement...

Kind of Buf to see things so sympathetically...

A little unusual actually...Is she ok?...

"It was so unjust...Evil...Cruel..." Buffy continued...

They had no right to do this...she went on...

Well...Ummn...They?...Oh, right the Fates, that sort of thing...

Well...He paused...I guess I have to admit...A lot of it is my...

"William is innocent..."she murmured...

Oh...

She blinked...Ummn...

"I mean...Anya and...Ummn..."

Well...she eyed him...Their souls would be innocent, right?...

Both their souls...she hastily added, leaving him no room...

Sure...Xander agreed...But Buf...

"William is gone...Probably safe in Heaven or wherever you were when..."

Ummn...Maybe a subject best avoided...

I don't know...she began...Sometimes...I think...

"He was so human sometimes..."

Ummn...

"And...Where was he?...If I was in Heaven...And he was there..."

Well...Maybe William didn't know who Buffy...he began...She eyed him coolly...

Ummn...

"Maybe you get a few thousand years of privacy before the first social calls..."

"William would have come!..." she shouted at him, trembling...

Buffy?...he blinked at her...

"...He wasn't there...Henry, he wasn't there!..."

Buffy?!...

Huh?...she stared at him...

Oh...Ummn...

"What was I saying?...Yeah...Ummn...Anya's soul is innocent..."

"Who is "Henry"...?" Xander eyed her a second, as he made the turn into her street...

Who?...

"Henry...You just called me...Henry..." he turned into her driveway...

Ummn...

"I should give you a ride home..." she hastily began...

I can walk...Xander paused...

"Buffy...Something strange is going on with you..."

Died...Resurrected...Best friend tried to inflict serious death and damage on me...My boyf...

Oops...That mental cliff again...Back up...Quickly...

"I'll be fine, Xander...I just need..."

"You need to see a doctor, Buffy...And Giles should be told...Tomorrow..." Xander insisted...

These visions or flashes or symptoms of premature Alzheimer's are getting worse, not better...

"I'll speak to Giles...Tomorrow..."

We'll speak to Giles...Tomorrow...he insisted...

***

Anya popped back to the Summers...To find Dawn and William rather...

Clem out to fetch blood bags now that Dawn felt Will's story could be accepted...

"Anything wrong?..." she asked...

Where did you go?...Dawn looked at her...

Ummn...Well...

"Did you go and tell Buffy about me?..." William eyed her...

No...Anya insisted...

Just had to check on Xander...But that was all...

"Though it was really hard...This is such great news..." she gushed...Tapping her fists together
again excitedly...

She looked at them...

Isn't it?...she looked from one to the other...

Are they mad at each other?...she wondered...And asked...

"He doesn't want to see her..." Dawn groused...Glaring at William...

Not yet, Nibs...he replied...

"He's mad at her..." she looked at Anya who stared at William...

I didn't say that...William looked at Anya...

"I just said...I need some time...To readjust..."

"And...?" Dawn eyed him, annoyed...

He frowned...

"... "she wasn't in any great hurry to help me, was she?"..." Dawn quoted...

"Well..." he looked away...

Was she...?

"You were a killer vampire!..." Dawn groused...Waving her hands...

What was she supposed to do...? Stake you?...

He stared back at her...Coolly...

Oh...she blinked...Ummn...

"Will...She lov...Cares for you...She couldn't have stood that...Not this year..."

She didn't know you were there...

"She knew..." he replied...She sensed me...Even if not consciously...

Well, then...Dawn began, brightly...Naturally she wanted to try and...

"She never even tried to help me..." William stared at Dawn...

She knew I loved her...We were lovers...

Dawn stared...Not that she didn't know...And hadn't imagined...At great length...

Just to hear it so...

He swallowed a bit...He hadn't meant to let that slip out...Or to be bitter about things...

"Ummn...Well...I mean..." he paused...We had a relationship of a kind...

Hey!!...Spike bellowed...That was my doing, you poof...Summers needed a lil of the ole
devil-boy...Not some fourth rate Shelley-imitator...

"I know about you and her..." Dawn looked away...

So....Buf couldn't forget the ole Spike, could she?...Had to tell the lil' Nibs and the gang all
about her little romance...Spike grinned inwardly...Well...No surprise, that...

Best she ever had...I can tell you that...he continued...Hey!...

William crushed him down...

"All right, then..." he looked at Dawn... "You know...Then you should be able to understand
my feelings a little..."

Well...Spike noted within...Nibs wasn't there when we tried to stop sis from running to the
cops and she beat you silly...

Us...William replied silently...

It wasn't my idea to stop her...Spike groused...Though...I did go along with it...For ole Buf's
sake...You might note that in my favor come Judgment Day...

Would you like to lose all power of speech?...William groused back...I can do that now, you
know...

I only tolerate your comments for what info you can provide, brother...he warned... You
know that...And you never gave me the slightest chance to communicate until you wanted
my help with Buffy...

Ummn...the demon faded, glowering...

"I still don't see why you can't just..." Dawn began...

"She "cared" for me?...She couldn't guess the torment I was in?..." William looked at her...

Hmmn...Anya thought...I must say...I always did think Buffy was a leetle cold towards her
Undead victims...

"She had other things to worry about, Spike...Ummn, Will..." Dawn replied...

And so do I...Now...he said softly...

"Well, then why did you come back here...?!" Dawn glared at him...

God knows...William replied...Rubbing his head...

"Hell...Everyone I cared about is dead...I have no family who'd know me left...Where else
was I gonna go?..."

Spike quietly enjoying things from below...Hmmn...

Maybe he'd still get his chance to see the Slayer's demonic sister at that...

***
Romance Palace...Part V...

The sound of the Spikemobile pulling into the driveway brought Dawn and William out of
their little debate...

"Buffy and Xander!..." Anya hissed...

"You better go, Will... "Dawn turned to him...

Right...He got up...

Hey!!!...Spike cried from within...

"Wait a minute..." William paused...

Has Buffy been...? he eyed Dawn...Who looked nervously away...

An incoherent internal howl from trapped Spike...

Quiet...William pushed him down...

"Using my car...?" he finished...

Your #$%&*!!ing car!!?...Spike howled...Your bloody #$%#!!ing car!!?...

Not that I mind...William hastily added...

%$#@!!!...

"I'm sure she was careful with it...But it is..."

#@%$#@!!!...

A difficult car to handle...

Gee...Never thought he'd take it so well...Dawn noted to herself...

My god...We're all dead...Anya thought...Vaguely hearing the trapped demon's screams of
hideous rage...

He sounds worse than Willow did...

"You better slip down to the cellar...Now..." Dawn noted to William...

Unless you've changed your mind and want to see her...she added hopefully...

He raised a hand...Later...

But...Seeing her crestfallen face...

"I will see her...When it's the right time..." he smiled at her...

"And it was good seeing you, Niblett..."

Dawn grinned back...

Always knew he had it in him...Hey, I was the first to recognize his potential, she thought
happily...

You're second on my list, you little!!!..If there's one #$%&^ing scratch!!!...Spike bellowed
within...

Anya rushed to cover the front door as he went to the basement stairs...And hurried down,
closing the door behind him...

The front door rattled a bit...

Dawn raised an eyebrow at Anya...Who shrugged...

"Just buying him a minute or two..."

She smiled at the girl...

"It'll work out Dawn...I'm sure of it..."

Just like it'll work out for me and...

"Dawn...?!..The door's stuck!..." Buffy called...

***

Well...We've had worse, brother...William noted...Looking around the Magic Box basement...

&^%##!!!!...

Rather superior digs at that...Compared to most of what we've been getting recently...

%#$^#!!!...

Spike...he sighed internally...The car is fine...Buffy was very careful with it, I'm sure...
And you were the one who entrusted it to dear old Clem...

#$#%!!!!! Clem...@#$%&^!!!!...

Buffy must have cared...he noted to himself quietly...To have wanted to take it...

Really...? Spike paused in his screaming rant...

Why...The little bitch...

You really think she...? the demon all but beamed...

#$%#@!!!!! my car!!!...

Enough...William pushed the demon down...

"Hey..." Anya appeared suddenly...

Got everything you need?...

Not quite...Spike surged up within...Love...

"Spike's still the same I hear..." Anya smiled...

"You hear him?..." William looked at her...

An...ya...Spike intoned within...How's about a little...soul expulsion spell?...

"Yeah..." she nodded...Not all that clearly but if I concentrate...

And the answer's no, Spike...

Right, well concentrate on this...#@#$%!!!!...

"Sorry..." William eyed her...Pushing the demon down...

Mate, behave to our hostess or I pull the plug on your language skills...And you know I can
do it...

"No problem...You should've heard Dracula when he was in his cups..." Anya smiled...

And in Romanian to boot...

***

"So..." Dawn had grinned at Buffy...A tad nervously...After a crash in the basement had sent
both she and Xander running to check...

Nothing...

Phew...Dawn and Anya had thought...He made it...

Anya having then departed with the explanation that she had a client to dissuade from
inflicting gory death on an unfaithful husband...

"You're a disgrace to vengeance-seeking fiends everywhere..." Xander had smiled at her...

I try...Anya grinned back...Vanishing...

"The Spikemobile made it another night?..." Dawn continued...

Hmm-hmmn...Buffy nodded...

Xander unable to contain himself...

"She sounded ok...But I heard a click when I made that last turn...You oughta have the
mechanic take a look..."

And get those dents fixed...he continued...Shaking his head...

Buffy rolled her eyes...

"You let him drive her?!" Dawn growled...

I've been asking all summer...And you let him...

Dawn...You don't even have a permit...Buffy frowned at her...

Dawn frowned...Well...

"How was it...?" she eyed him...

God...Xander grinned...I tell ya...

That vampire knows his cars...

"Where's Clem?..." Buffy looked around...

Oh...When Anya came...I sent him home...Dawn explained...

The door opened and Clem entered with several blood bags...

"Slayer...Hi!..." he smiled...

Hey, Xander...he waved...Xander nodding...

Dawn desperately tried a signal...Clem eyed her curiously...

"You want something, Dawn?" he asked...

Say...? he looked around...

Spike and his soul leave...? he asked pleasantly...

Got his blood for him...

***
"So..." Anya continued...

After Willow let Xander reach her...And released her power...

We got her home and Giles put a limited memory block on her...Just enough to keep her from
remembering about Warren...

"See...She was a wreck...All set to commit suicide or run to the police...And Giles and
Buffy...All of us...Felt she should have some time to get her sanity back before spending the
rest of her life in prison..."

He'll lift that when she's ready of course...Anya hastily added...

William nodded...

Mears was hardly someone for whom one would demand immediate justice...Rather a pity
the whole thing couldn't be quietly forgotten...he noted...

Still Willow herself would insist on doing the right thing when she was up to it...he
continued...Though surely temporary insanity was a reasonable defense in this case...

Right...The temporary insanity defense...Spike sneered below...Your favorite...

Why don't you tell it to that grandfather in St. Louis?...I'm sure he'd listen to your eloquent
arguments..."Spike was a deranged maniac when he ate your wife and grandkids...But I'm all
right now..."

If you'd like to be staked, Spike...William hesitated...

You haven't got the guts, poof...Spike growled...

"Anya...? Where did Buffy keep those extra stakes...?"

Ummn...Will...Anya hesitated...

Gutless, whipped poof...Spike sneered...You'll never...

William pulled a board loose from a wooden crate...

"You want to...?" he smiled...

Got a first-class ticket to Hell right here...

"Guys...?" Anya looked at the "brothers" nervously...

Though I can't guarantee the service will be as good as what Angel got...
***

Romance Palace...Part VI...
PG-13...

Summary: Season seven tale...William/Spike returns with atonement-seeking Will firmly in
the saddle and romance on the menu...

Clip:

Hello...Buffy said...Staring at him...

Ok..She's won us back...Lets have titanic sex...Spike happily called from below...

Spike...William growled to himself...

What...? You gonna make her do the whole "Jerry Maguire" speech?...I thought you were a
Victorian gent?...Show our poor embarrassed Ms. Summers a little courtesy, mate...Make it
easy for her...

Just tell her she "had us at hello..." That's romantic, she'll love it...You moronic sot...

Summary: Season seven tale...William/Spike returns with atonement-seeking Will firmly in
the saddle and romance on the menu...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Josh Whedon, Mutant
Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

***
She'll let you in her heart
If you gotta hammer and vice

***
Part VI...

Hmmn...Dawn thought...As the deafening silence continued...

You know, I think we have mice...

A puzzled Clem was staring at the shocked Buffy and Xander...Rather frozen himself...

Ummn...Slayer seemed a little...He looked to Dawn for support...

I do something?...

Buffy began a high-intensity blink...

"Spike was here?..." she stared at Clem, then Dawn...

Oh...right...Clem bit his lip...The soul didn't want her to know he was back...

He looked apologetically at Dawn...Gosh...Sorry...

It's ok...she looked back...Sighing...

"What was that about a soul?..." Xander asked...Likewise blinking...

***

Boys...Anya looked at William...And therefore, Spike...

"Angelis can probably take you in, brother..." William noted internally, holding the board
he'd pulled from a storage box...

Think of how nice it'll be to relive old times with him...

You wouldn't dare...Poof!...Spike growled...But a slight note of uncertainty...

William had hung on like grim death for 122 years...Clearly his soul "brother" was a
determined sort...

Heaven sounds awfully good to me...William noted...

Geesch...Guys...? Anya pleaded...

Think of Buffy...Dawn...

"I am thinking of them..." William replied...

And I'm sure they'd find life much easier with the two of us gone...

"Spike...er Will..." Anya hesitated...

"You could've done it weeks ago if you really wanted to..."

See...Poof!...Spike sneered within...

There's one fellow demon who knows us...Intimately...he grinned internally...

"Please, William..." Anya begged... "Spike wants to live...Demons hate Hell, that's why
they're even willing to be limited to night hours here on Earth...And have the Slayer on
their backs from the moment they rise...And he's always been the practical type...He'll
behave..."

Be#$%^ing!! have!?...Spike cried within...

"And you have things to do...The atonement thing...Your life to live at last..."

And Buffy cares...I know she does...Anya continued...

She was so broken-up when you left...I mean after the joy of the world not being destroyed,
Giles coming home, her saving Willow and overcoming resurrection depression had faded...

"Really?..." Both "brothers" chorused at her...

I told you...Summers never had it so good...Spike confidently boasted...

Besides...Anya paused...

There's something you don't know...

Well...she thought...A couple of things...But even the one I can tell him oughta be enought to
keep him in this world...
***

There he was...Lying on his back...His sweet face looking up at me...No accusation in his
eyes...

Oh...My darling...Oh God...William...

Henry pressed my arm...We should go...There's nothing more we can do for him...he told me
sadly...

"I have to see!..." I cried, shaking my cousin off and bending over him...I turned his head...
Oh, God...The marks...

"A strange case, miss..." the attending morgue doctor began, eyeing us...

I looked at him...Staggering...

"Cicely!..." cousin Henry cried...Grabbing at me as I fainted...

Buffy...?! Dawn and Xander called to the dazed Slayer...She staggered...Still lost in her
daze...

Buffy!...Dawn cried out...Clem hastening over as well...

The shock he noted to Dawn...Just too much for her...

"William...?" she murmured...Trying to get up...

I have to be there...Stop him...I can't let him...Rise...

"Buffy?..." Dawn stroked her hair...Buffy...

"Dawny?..." she looked at her...

"Did you say Spike was back?..."

We need a neurologist...Definitely...Xander noted to Clem who nodded...

"There's a good one on Forsyth St..." the demon noted...

***
They called Giles after my leetle collapse...Dawn and Xander that is...Refusing to let me set
a foot out of the house until he and Willow came over...

Though poor Clem was quite concerned for me as well...

As consolation, Xander agreed not to carry out his "immediate staking" threat...

And to call Anya to come over asap...Meaning by teleport...And give me details on William's
condition...

Clem kindly agreeing to head over to the shop with his blood...

***
Giles rushed over, having picked up Willow at her parents on the way...

Giles...Thank God for my second father...Who'd made no less than three costly trips back and
forth since Willow's little rampage...All to help Willow in her recovery and to reassure me...
and all of us...That we were not alone...

I still couldn't get over the fact that he hadn't set out to immediately destroy Spike as soon as
Willow was secure and he'd recovered a bit...That he'd found my tale of our little
"couplings"...Hilarious...Even...Rather touching...

And the most startling thing of all...He'd been less upset by my sleeping with
William...ummn...Spike...Than my not trying to help him...

Not that he approved of our little tryst...Just...

He'd never forgotten the look on William's face when I died...No pure demon looks like
that...

He'd actually hoped it would be good therapy for me...And a constructive way for Willow to
use her magics in a creative way...Helping our resident electronically-medicated psychotic
back to Humanity...

All year he'd quietly gathered what little info he could find on vampire redemption, soul-
restoration...In case we called him, half-expecting we would...To help our new friend and
assistant...

Gee...He really must have hated Angel...

Instead...We'd...Giles was too polite to put it in harsh terms...

Used and abandoned him...

Reminding me that before I died I'd been terrified that I was losing the ability to feel...To
care...

Not that he in any way approved of...

Just...

"Well..." he eyed me...Now in bed at Dawn's insistence...

I think Xander is right about the neurologic consult...

However...

"Giles...I am not crazy..."

That would be a psychologic consult, Buf...Xander helpfully noted...

This one is in case your brain is still half-melted...

Don't forget your little session with Warren's invisibility ray...he continued...

"Say..." Willow asked...Pausing from patting my hand...

Whatever happened to that guy?...Did he go join Andrew and Jonathan in Mexico?...

Probably did...Xander nodded, eyeing Giles...Yeah, I'm sure of it...
***

Romance Palace...Part VII..


***
It was just a matter of being cool, calm, and collected...William noted...

Spike for once agreeing...Cool being his state of choice...

Anya's news might admittedly be...Potentially...Earth-shaking...At least to him...And Buffy...

Hey!?...A cry from within...Spike was genuinely hurt...He wasn't in Hell yet you know...Still
a contributing member and a valuable part of the team...

I mean you too, brother...William noted to himself...

Sensitive little fellow aren't you...? he teased...For a mass murderer I mean...

That was business...A matter of survival...Our unjust curse...It was never personal...Spike
insisted solemnly...

Excuse me...?! William nearly barfed...

Well...Ok...Once in a while...It was rather nice...

Say remember that bloke in Easthampton?...The stupid lout who tried to sell us that
broken-down old horse back in 1889?...Now you must admit, doing him in was sheer...

A creak on the floor...He turned...

Buffy...

"Bu...Buf...

"Summers..." William tried to choke out a casual greeting...

Hello...Buffy said...Staring at him...

Ok..She's won us back...Lets have titanic sex...Spike happily called...

Spike...William growled to himself...

What...? You gonna make her do the whole "Jerry Maguire" speech?...I thought you were a
Victorian gent...Show our poor embarrassed Ms. Summers a little courtesy, mate...Make it
easy for her...

Just tell her she "had us at hello..." That's romantic, she'll love it...You moronic sot...

Enough...

"Buffy...? What are you doing here?..."

Anya...You sweet bitch of a demon...Spike grinned within...You couldn't keep it in for thirty
seconds...

"Clem told us...By accident...He didn't mean to ..."

She handed him a couple of blood bags...

"I...Ummn...Decided...To ask him to let me bring these over..."

I had to slip out of the house...she paused...Eyeing him...

Had a little shock...When I heard...

Oh?...William eyed her...

Naturally...Spike beamed within...News of our return would do that to any woman...Now,
make your move, you sot...

"So...How've you been?..." Buffy looked away...

I hear you were in Africa?...

Hmm-hmmn...William nodded...

"You heard about Willow?..." she asked, looking at him briefly...

Hmm-hmmn...

Spike howling from within...Soooooooooootttttt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Enough...William pushed him down...

"Must have been a rough time for you lot..." William noted...

Glad to hear Willow's in recovery...

She looked at him...Clearly seeing him for the first time...

William?...She eyed the scars she could see...Guessing at the ones she couldn't...

"What the hell happened to you?!!" Buffy cried out in fright...

He shrugged...

"I... "heard the rains down in Africa..." as the song goes..."

"Buffy!..." Anya appeared suddenly...

What the hell do you think you're doing?...You're supposed to be in bed!...

"Are you all right?..." William looked at her...She did look pale...

Fine, fine...Just a leetle fainting spell...It was nothing...Buffy waved a hand...

Keeled over at the first mention of our return...Spike gloated from within...See...

"What about these scars...? William?..."

Just a leetle fighting spell...he grinned...

"Buffy?..." Anya glared... "Giles is coming...And if you don't go back...Now..."

I may have to rethink letting William stay here...

They stared at her...

"I mean...Get him a motel room...Somewhere away from here...I wouldn't just send him out..."

He's hurt...Buffy looked at her...

In agony...Spike noted...C'mon brother...Let her feel the pain...She wants to play Florence
Nightengale...

"I'm fine...The blood and a few hours' rest will do me a world of good ..." William told her...

"I'm getting some stuff for him..." Anya told her...

Xander and I will see he gets everything he needs...

Ummn...Xander?...Buffy looked at her...

Anya shook her head...Don't worry...He's promised...

And he's a man of his word...

Well...Usually...When it doesn't involve a solemn, life-long commitment...she noted...Getting
a bit misty...

Tell her she can't leave us alone with that human killing machine...Spike growled...A poor
poof poet like you can't hope to survive the mighty Mr. Harris...he sneered...

Rather nice to have our fate in ole Xander's hands...William grinned back...

Nervous, by any chance, Spike...? The ole chip is still firmly in its socket, you know...

@#$%!!!...the demon faded out...

Well...Buffy hesitated...

"Are you sure you'll be ok?..."

Oh...This is so sw...So incautious and dangerous...Anya noted to herself...

"Buffy...?" she nervously pleaded...

I'll be fine...William eyed her...

A boyish smile breaking for the first time...Ow!...A scar in the way...

Buffy winced...

Ok...she nodded...

Guess we'd be better off talking tomorrow...

Or even better...In a week...Or two...Anya brightly noted...

"Thanks..." William smiled at her...A somewhat trunkated one, on account of multiple scars...

I just wanted to make sure you were ok...she smiled back, wanly...

No...he paused...Although I do appreciate the visit...

"Thanks for calling me...William..."

Last year, I mean...Before...

"It's your name, isn't it...?" she looked at him...Smiling...

Oh...Anya trembled...Gotta get back to the others before I explode....

"Ummn...You still are a vampire, right?..." Buffy eyed him...

I mean...Not that that would be a good thing...Just protectionwise and all...It might not be so
bad...

She wants us, bro...Spike cheered within...She is hooked...Now just...

"Yeah...And still getting sex advice from ole Dr. Spike..." William frowned wryly at her...

"Great...I mean...That you can help me and protect yourself...Helpin' me in the fight against
evil...That sort of thing..." she looked at him innocently...

Is this gonna be a great year or what?...she thought happily...

He sighed faintly...Eyeing Anya...Who'd given him "the news"...News that could change their
lives as much as his soul recovery...

Cicely always was a forward girl...he thought...
***

Romance Palace...Part VIII...
PG-13...

Summary: Season seven tale...William/Spike returns with atonement-seeking Will firmly in
the saddle and romance on the menu...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Josh Whedon, Mutant
Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Part VIII...

***
Halfreck of course had not initially meant to spill any of the beans regarding the "Walthrop
case"...But by nature a talkative type, and rather proud of her determined efforts in this
particular case, she hadn't been able to resist dropping a few minor details one night visiting
with her sister demon...

However it had rather quickly come to her that letting Buffy learn a few of those details might
not be the worst thing...If a few relevant ones could be left out...

And dear Anyanka was never the sort to hold good gossip back...She'd pass it on to Ms.
Summers...And then...We'd see...

Anya for her part with Xander's strong urging had been probing all summer at every
opportunity for info from the "justice" demon...Curious as to why she'd taken an interest in
Dawny...And more important, why she was still hanging around...

And how she had known... "William"...

She didn't quite buy the idea that Haly just wanted to hang with a sister...Her fellow demon
hadn't seemed to feel any need to get together with her much in the past couple of centuries...

And of course if in the course of their conversations, with Xander in nervous attendance...
Lest dear Haly finally persuade Anya to some act she might regret later...Haly should mention
the procedure by which a vengeance demon could be released or expelled, depending on your
pov, from D'Hoffryn's order, well...

That'll be all right too...The key issue, from Xander's pov...

Spike being lower than ever on his list of charities at that particular time, two weeks previous
to William's return...

Unless one considers immediate staking...charity...

***

It was annoying Halfreck had noted, in a conversation one night that week, eyeing Xander...
With all due respect to both his world-saving love and Anyanka's feeling, seeing a
transgressor getting off scot-free just went against her grain...

"Haly, Xander was just nervous...He never stopped loving me..." Anya had smiled
reassuringly at her beloved...A very lucky man...In both his two great loves...As he
appreciated...

"Couldn't I just pay a call to one of the human females who disliked him back in high
school...There must be plenty of them around...." she smirked at Xander...

"Just something simple...Small...Say, get her to wish me to strike him blind?..." Haly asked...

Haly...Anya sighed...I don't want vengeance...

Justice...Halfreck firmly corrected...I deal in...Justice...

"Justice?..." Xander choked...

Nearly getting us all killed back at Buffy's place was...Justice...?

"Haly...If you were human again...You'd understand..." Anya began...

Pffht...Haly sneered...Aren't we the self-righteous little human wanna-be...?

"I can remember a time, Anyanka...Before you met dreamboat here...You were a champion of
our kind of justice..."

You don't want to hear this...Xander told himself...You want to go straighten out the
stockroom...

"Be in the back, honey..." he called...

"Bye, dreamboat..." Haly cooed...

Don't let anything happen to you in that dark stockroom...

"Haly?!...Don't you dare!..."

You know I can't...I'm just jerking his chain...she grinned...

"Haly..." Anya sighed... "You would understand...If you were human...Like..." Anya sensed
an opening...

Back when you knew William...

"In 1880?..." Halfreck smiled...

"What?...1880?...You weren't human in 1880?..."

Then again there weren't many if any men named "William" back in Second Dynasty Egypt
when human Halfreck had tended the Pharaoh's sacred cats as a junior priestess...

But he was...Halfreck grinned...

'Course I did know Spike from before my soul and demon merged...Back in Hell...

Anya blinked...

Very unusual fellow...It was nice to see him finally reach Earth...

Though...Haly sighed...A leetle disappointing...He never quite seemed to want to get together
with me...That damned vampire "mother" of his...

"You know vampires and their taste for incest..." Haly eyed Anya...

They get their little pride together and that's that...

"Xan-der..." Anya called as calmly as possible...

And both William and Spike were always the one woman man type...Haly continued...

Kind of part of their charm really...she noted fondly...

"You..." Anya looked at her...

Hmmn?...Halfreck looked back, cocking her head...

Oh...Right...

Hmm-hmmn...she nodded, smiling...

"What...?" Xander hurried in...

"She cursed William...In 1880..." Anya eyed her sister demon...

But...I thought Drusilla...Xander looked at them...

"Lucky happenstance..." Haly grinned...Fate putting its seal of approval on my work...

Well...Maybe not so lucky...she thought...Just skillful timing...But no need for Anyanka to tell
Buffy that...

But...What did he do?...Anya stared at her...

"Pretty much what he's been doing here until he left..." Halfreck noted...

He got in the Slayer's way, poor sweet fool...

In Buffy's way?...Anya blinked...Xander blinked...

"You mean the 1880's Slayer..." Anya looked at the demon...

William knew the 1880's Slayer?...As a human...?

"Well..." Halfreck paused...The fact is...

OH...!! Anya put her hand to her mouth...

"That's why you're here...You're still cursing him..."

Holy!...Anya put the other hand to her mouth...

An?...Xander looked at her...

"Xander...Don't you see?...It was Buffy's wish..."

What?!...

But whoa...How could she have?...he paused...

Well...Halfreck noted...Her name was Cicely Addams then...

What?!...

It's not that unusual, honey...Anya noted...

Slayers reincarnate more than most people...Very strong lifelines and usually lots of unfinished
business...

"But what did he do to her...To deserve...Drusilla?"...Anya looked at Halfreck...

Oh...Well, nothing really...But Cicely needed him gone...He was very
poor and a very poor poet...And, as she was the Slayer, even then...

Xander stared at Anya...Anya at him...

"You condemned him for nothing?!..." Anya stared at the demon...

I'm a demon...It's what I do...Haly shrugged...Anyways, all I did was drive him away...

"Besides...What about that poor girl, Drusilla...Did she deserve her
fate?...Sometimes these extra things just...Happen..."

With a little help, she thought with a touch of pride...After all, is there anything more poetic
than turning one's true love into something one must inevitably hate and destroy?...

But...no need for Ms. Summers to know that...

"I thought you said you were a "justice" demon..." Anya glared...

"Now just a minute..." Halfreck had raised a finger...

"I'm simply doing my job...Carrying out a wish...Your friend's I might point out..."

And when I carry out a wish...It stays...she noted proudly...

With a leetle occasional maintenance...she thought...Eyeing the couple...

***
Giles had understandably insisted they sit on this "news"...It was hardly likely to contribute to
Buffy's shaken peace of mind just at that time...

When the proper time came, they could tell her...Cautiously...What Halfreck had said...And he
could perform a check to confirm it...

But just then, six weeks after Spike had left, Buffy had had enough to worry about...After the joy
of seeing Willow and the world saved had faded, there was of course Willow's rehabilitation and
the temporarily deferred consequences of Warren's murder to worry about...The continuing
financial worries...And more important...

Spike had left a leetle gift for his girl...

***

Buffy'd known since eight days before Anya's fateful conversation with her old friend...

Learning it the hard way while on Patrol...In the midst of a surprisingly tough fight with a
rather average, though tall vamp...A female...Who'd sensed it even as they fought...And out of
some buried bit of surviving humanity...Or a perverse sense of vamp humor...Suggested the
Slayer might wish to take a break and finish this one another night, watching Buffy as she
suddenly stopped and parted with her dinner...

"You're not showing yet, Slayer...What less than two months?..." the vamp had asked,
watching her...Sympathetically...?

You really should take it easy, you know...she solemnly told her...Buffy staring at her in
horror...

Showing?...Showing...As in...

Pr...

"And you're too thin...You have to eat properly now..."

Had had her share of children in her former life, she explained pleasantly...

"Can I help you back to your car?...Or are you all right?...No, Franklin..." she waved off her
mate who'd finally come from his hiding place...

Eleanor?...her mate asked nervously...

It's fine, dearest...Truce for tonight...Right, Slayer?...

Buffy was too shocked to do more than nod...No, no...I can manage...she mumbled...

Preg...

Preg...

The tall vampiress eyed her...

"Sure you're alright?..."

"Yeah..." Buffy nodded..."Thanks..."

"Don't forget...You've got to eat properly...And try to keep your feet up when you can..." the
former mother called, waving...

Yeah...Thanks..
***
You know what I think, the male said to its mate as they left, Eleanor continuing to watch Ms.
Summers as she headed to her car...

We should let our brethren know the Slayer is vulnerable...This could be the one good day we
all look for...

Franklin...Eleanor paused...The poor girl is indisposed...You couldn't...

Hardly sporting dear...

Well...Franklin paused...

Now, Franklin...she eyed him firmly...After all she did let me go...

Of course if you don't care about that...Eleanor looked at her sheepish mate...

Oh...All right...he fussed a bit...

"You've a noble heart Eleanor...But one day it will get you into trouble...Especially with the
Slayer..."

"There'll be another time, dearest..."

They headed back towards the woods by the cemetery...

He paused...

"You know you don't have to go on about my not caring...You have to admit I've tried very
hard to be more sensitive these past years...And it was only one meaningless little affair,
decades ago..."

"You know you're the only girl for me, Babbie..."

Well...I would hardly call it "meaningless"...But...We'll see...Eleanor replied...

We have plenty of time for you to prove yourself...

Eleanor...he groused...

I'm here aren't I?...she noted...Ever since our transformation...

Well...he smiled at her affectionately...

Just don't start thinking I take you for granted...he noted...

I suppose we could just forget we saw the Slayer tonight...he eyed her...

"But...Dearest..." he sighed.... "Slayer...Vampire...You've got to start accepting political
realities..."

"Well...Anyway...I'm sure we can find some one doing evil to take tonight..." she noted...

I always feel more comfortable eating evildoers...

You're my moral compass, my dear...he smiled at her...
***


Romance Palace...Part IX...


***
A nervous Anya continued to press Buffy to head for home...

Hopefully before William...Or more likely, Spike...Communicated her "news" to Buffy...

Well...Buffy eyed William...

Guess I'd better be going...I'll see you tomorrow, right?...

He nodded...

"Will?..." she paused...Nervously rubbing her hands...

"Was it for me?..."

He eyed her...

"Well...Buffy...To be honest..."

Oh right...Spike groused within...Go ahead, tell her...You stupid... "No, Summers...I...er we
embarked on this little quest to find a way to rip your silly throat open..." Go ahead, you
Angel twit-in-training... Tell her...Blow a perfectly good entry to her pants...It's what you're
best at...A talent for poofery even greater than your awful poetry...

"...I'm not sure what we were after, Buffy...But..." he smiled at her... "Yes...In the end...I think
it was..."

She blinked...And smiling gently at him, nodded...And nodding to Anya went up the stairs to
the basement door...Anya following, a nervous mother hen...

"Xander and I will be back later, Will..." she called from the door...Waiting for Buffy to go
through...

"Good night...William..." Buffy called...hesitantly...Pausing...

Welcome...Home...

She hurried out...

Good night...he called....

"Is she ok?..." he looked up the stairs to Anya...Who waved a hand...

"Lots to think about, Will..." she smiled down at him...

Give her time...

He nodded and Anya headed out...

Give her time?...After all that had just happened here he could wait now till Judgment Day...
he thought...

He'd already waited a century, hadn't he?...Living on nothing but the tiniest crumb of
hope...Well...On what she'd given him just now....

Hmmn...Dear old bro is rather quiet...Finally at a loss for words, eh...

You satisfied, brother?...William smiled inwardly...Pulling some boxes around the basement
to make a sleeping space...

Spike?...

Sp...ike?...

You do know that with an opening like that I would right now be undoing her blouse...the
demon groused...

Say...Spike continued...

She seem funny to you?...

She looked exhausted...They both said she'd fainted before...Really, the others should've kept
a better watch on her, letting her slip out like that...William noted to himself...

No...Well...Yeah...But...There was something else...Spike pondered with his limited capacity...

Well...William considered...She did seem...

Guess she was just overwhelmed by my renewed presence...Spike noted happily...Even
through the blocking poof effect of you, you twit...

Must have been it, brother...William smiled inwardly...

Tears...Those were tears she was blinking back.. Spike continued...

For me, you know...The ex-lover...

Right...William patiently agreed...

Hey it takes so little to make the condemned one happy...

And those were tears...Tears for...Us...he noted...

In wonder...

***

You haven't told him?...Buffy eyed Anya outside...

Told him?...Ohh...Right...

The little...joy bundle...

"Absolutely not, Buffy..."

She frowned at Anya...

"He looked at me...As if he knew something..."

"Buffy...I would never tell him without your full permission and consent...Which I take it you
are not offering as yet..."

"I can't let him know...Not just yet..."

Hard to avoid him knowing much longer Anya thought...Looking at her friend...

Good thing she wasn't wearing anything tight tonight...

Ummn...Buffy?...

"Have you...Decided?...Anything...?" Anya paused...

Buffy waved a hand...

"Not yet...I can't..."

Well...Maybe you should let him in on...Things...

"It's my decision, Anya...I'll let you guys know what I decide...But he's not to be told...By
anyone but me..."

Ok...Anya looked back at the shop...Oh...Will...

And felt Buffy's hand on her arm...

"Anya...It's really true?..." Buffy asked cautiously...

You're sure...?

"As sure as I can be without Giles doing a thorough soul check, Buffy..."

Are you...Glad?...Anya looked at her...

Buffy paused...Looking down the street...

"I don't know...I...I think so..."

Is he?...she looked Anya in the eyes...

"I think so..." Anya nodded...

Yes...Though he's got a lot ahead of him...And he knows it...

Buffy looked down...Staring...

I didn't do anything for him, Anya...Nothing...All this time...

And if it's true...And his soul was hovering around, trying to fight...

"No...No, Buffy..." Anya smiled...

"You gave him a reason to hang around...Keep fighting..."

Why do you think he stayed and helped us...Even after you died...?

William couldn't give you up...And who knows...

Maybe Spike couldn't either...Even if it cost him...This...

Buffy looked up at her...

"How...How could he love me so much...? I don't understand it...I've never given him
anything...Except to take whatever he offered me...And let him go on...As he was...When I
could at least have released him..."

Oh...Cicely...Anya thought...You don't know the half of it...Oh, I have got to get away from
her before I spill everything...she noted to herself...

And Giles kills me...Or at least leaves me as I am...For good...

"Well, Buffy..." she shrugged... "Really asking the wrong person, you know..." she smiled...

Funny...Anya grinned...

"You know...Willow asked me the same question about Xander the day after he saved her..."

How could he love me so much?...

***
Halfreck continued her ruminations as she finished her stroll...

So far, whatever if anything, Anya had passed on to Buffy about what she'd told her regarding
Cicely Addams had not been sufficient...

Geesch, I knew Slayers were rather cold and heartless but I mean, C'mon...the demon thought...

If I had caused my innocent...Husband's...death and possibly eternal condemnation...

Well, ok...I did call down vengeance on my common-law feller, back in Egypt...But he
deserved it...Not enough just to fool around, he goes and has me put on the list to be sealed
up in the Queen's pyramid with her corpse...

But Cicely...Well, of course she never realized what she was wishing on poor William...At
least not until it was much too late...

And she must have gone to considerable trouble to win reincarnation...

After all, Anya may not have told her anything yet...

While in the meantime Buffy has been coming together with Spike even in spite of
herself...Almost as bad as he was...Drawn like a magnet...

Not good...

Guess it must be true love...Pity it will be all for nothing in the end...

And at the rate Ms. Summers was trying to run from any thing that might be construed as
even the remotest type of tie last time I checked on things between her and Spike...Even with
the latest disturbing turn of events...I may not even have to intervene...Much...Again...

Maybe just with that bit of help from her friendly guardian demon that had already worked so
well in the past...Though never quite enough...

Well...A justice demon's work is truly never done...

***

Romance Palace...Part X...

PG-13...

Season seven tale...William/Spike returns with atonement-seeking Will firmly in
the saddle and romance on the menu...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Josh Whedon, Mutant
Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...


Part X...

***
Dawn expressed her resentment over Buffy's slipping out...With the ultimate punishment...

"I called Giles and told him you sneaked out..." she told her sister crossly...As Buffy entered
with Anya...

"Dawn...I am not...14..." Buffy glared at her arms-crossed, frowning sister...But paused...

What did he say?...

Unfortunately, that was part of the reason for Dawn's extreme resentment...

"Well...He didn't think it was all that bad...Hoped you found Will ok...But he was concerned
that you ran out after your fainting spell..." she hastily added...

And he was going over to check...On him...And you...

Oh...Buffy looked at Anya...Fretting just a bit...Giles might be a leetle...with Spike just now,
knowing as he did about...My little...Problem...

Even knowing about Will's soul's return...Angry substitute papadom might well win out over
sympathy for William...Not even considering that ole Watcher practicality that might
encourage preventative measures against either the soul thing being a trick or any chance of a
Spike return...

Kinda nice, in a way...Not that she was sliding back into dependency...Just nice to have a
"papa" on hand who would not hesitate to take the shotgun to the boy who got his little girl
"in difficulties"...Make him do the "right thing"...

Gulp... "right thing"?...Why did I have to think of that...? Uh-boy...

Besides, she thought confusedly...William never in his life behaved dishonorably...And if he
had known...Nothing they did would have made him leave me...

He'd never have run off...Whatever that thing said to him...He'd have lived...And our baby
and I wouldn't have...

Wouldn't have...What?...she murmured...Staring around...

"Buffy?..." Anya looked at her...Then Dawn...Who was also looking, increasingly nervous...

There she goes again...Geesch...Dawn looked at Anya...

"What is wrong with me?..." Buffy whispered...Who is wrong with me?...

"Buffy?..." Dawn was getting frightened now...

It's Xander's neurologist tomorrow her look said to Anya...No more excuses...

The Slayer looked at Anya and Dawn...

"Sorry guys...It's been a long day..."

You are seeing a doctor tomorrow...Dawn said grimly...

Buffy nodded an ok...Which perhaps frightened Dawn more than anything else...What if it's
something to do with...?

Anya gave Dawn a reassuring look...Wish I could say something to her about this, the demon
thought sadly...

Not that telling her about Cicely is likely to be much reassurance...

"I'll be ok, Dawny...And I will see a doctor..." Buffy patted her sis' shoulder...

But, first things first...

"Anya, you're going back, right?...You and Xander will make sure Giles doesn't...Do
anything?..."

Xander?...Dawn thought...Hell, Xander would help him...At least considering all his rants the
past couple of weeks...Since he found out the "big secret" they've been trying to keep from
me...

Right, like I don't notice when Buffy suddenly gives up her beloved tight blouses and pants
and switches to loose stuff...Even on Patrol when it could get in her way...

So much for including me in her life...And did I give even a hint to Will when he was here?...
All that time I was ready to explode...Scream it at him when he first came to the door...And
then wanting to hug him and tell him when he told me what had happened to him...

Anya nodded to Buffy...They'd see Giles didn't get too upset...And really, she didn't think
he would...He'd shown a lot of sympathy for Will during the times his name had come up
when he'd been around this summer...

"And besides, he'd never stake the..." Anya paused as Buffy glared...

Anya looked at Dawn, Dawn frowned...Geesch...What am I, five years old?...

Ummn...Anya continued...Someone we all cared about...In spite of his past transgressions...

Thanks...Buffy nodded...

And thanks for not...her look said...Anya smiled and nodded...

She left with a wave...Teleporting to Xander's to save time...

Neat thing...Buffy noted to Dawn...Not that I want her to stay trapped that way...

Dawn, somewhat over her fright, had not finished venting however...

"I...nearly...Called Willow after Giles when I couldn't find you..."

Hmm-hmmn...Buffy nodded absently...

"Willow looked good tonight, didn't she?..."she noted...

Hope she'll be able to handle it when Giles removes the memory block about Warren...

"Still don't understand why he has to..." Dawn groused...

"She's just gotten over losing Tara...To Giles' unspecified evil enemy..."

Why put her through it all over again for Warren Mears' sake...?

"It's for her sake...Not Warren's..." Buffy stressed gently...

Willow has to deal with this...She killed a human being...Even if she was insane at the time...

"So you're gonna let her turn herself in...Or maybe even...?" Dawn paused...

You know what she was like the first days after Xander brought her back...

"Willow is strong...She won't hurt herself..." Buffy insisted...

It was the power controlling her before...

"I wasn't exactly rational last summer when I threatened everyone over you, you know..." she
pointed out...

"But even if she doesn't...Hurt herself...The cops are never gonna believe the insane with grief
and mystic energy story..."Dawn hesitated...

Even I...she paused...Looking down...

"Even I can't quite get past what she did...Tried to do...To all of us..."

Buffy patted her...

"But she didn't in the end..." Buffy noted, hugging Dawn...

Our Willow came back to us in the end...And she will now, whatever happens...

"As for the police..." Buffy grinned... "Well, they're not all quite as clueless as you may
think..."

I've had to deal with them on occasion...And Giles has...Contacts...

"Can't go round staking human-looking things all over Sunnydale every night without
somebody calling the cops every now and then..."

We'll explain things...They'll help her...But first she has to deal...And it's important that she
makes the decision whatever the possible consequences are...

Ok...Dawn nodded, still looking sourly at her sis...

Speaking of dealing...she thought...Glowering a bit...

I know someone else who has to face up to the consequences of her actions...

"He looked...So exhausted..." Buffy suddenly blurted...

Near tears, Dawn realized in wonder...

Did you see those scars on him?...They're all over him...Buffy looked at her sis...

"He must have been hurt so bad...Glory-level hurt...For me, again..."

She stared at Dawn...Trembling...

"Trying to save me...Again...From himself..."

"My poor William..." she burst into tears...

Oh...Dawny...What am I gonna do?...

Dawn hugged her desperately...

"Buffy, this isn't bad...If it's true...It's wonderful..."

"I'm...Pregnant, Dawn..." Buffy whispered...

Yeah...Dawn nodded...

What?...Whatdaya mean, "Yeah..."?...

"I mean...You're starting to show, sis..."

God...No...she raced to the large mirror in the hall just off the living room...

She angled herself...Nope...Other side...Nah...A little turn...Oops...

Oh, God...

"You look great though...A real glow..." Dawn noted...Grinning...

Shut up...Buffy glared at her...

Dawn continued to grin...Buffy broke into a sheepish smile...

"He's gotta be a good man, Buffy...For Spike to be what he was this past year, William has to
be..." Dawn told her confidently...

Buffy nodded quietly, coming back into the living room and sitting on the sofa...Dawn
huddling into her arms...

"I had to go and see him, Dawn..." Buffy eyed her...

I had to know...If he'd...Changed...

Dawn looked at her...

Buffy looked away...But a faint smile broke...

"It was William...All this time...Whatever part Spike played this year...William was the one
who loved me..."

He hasn't changed...she smiled...A tear running down her face...

"Not a chance..." Dawn smiled at her...Of course...she paused...

He did seem a little...Annoyed with you

Not in all this time...I haven't lost him...Buffy murmured...

Well...Dawn thought...It's only been eight weeks...Still I suppose there was no way to be sure
how William would feel about her...

If he can forgive me...she went on, dreamily...Oh, God...It could still be put right...Even now...

"Well..." Dawn paused... "I still don't understand why he should be miffed at you not staking
him..."

What?...Buffy looked blankly at her...

"I just mean...If you'd staked him, he'd never have had the chance he's got now...If it is all
true..." Dawn cautiously noted...

Buffy looked at her...Blinking...What was the little girl saying?...William had wanted...?

"He wanted to die?..." she began sobbing quietly...Clenching her fists...

Oh God, what have I done?...Oh, darling I wanted to save you...

Buffy?...Dawn stared at her...Hmmn...She was drifting off again...

"I wanted to save him..." she looked frantically at Dawn...Taking her hands...

He'd have been killed if he stayed...

"Buffy?!..." Dawn was getting truly frightened now...And the pressure on her hands was
rising...

I had to...I had to...she murmured...Sobbing...

"Buffy?...You're scaring me..." Dawn looked at her...Not to mention crushing my hands, she
thought...

Stop this...

"I loved him so..."

"Buffy?!..." Dawn shook her a bit...

"He was 'annoyed' with me...?" Buffy suddenly came out of it...

Ummn...

"Well...I guess I should have done something for him...But it was a busy year, right?..." she
looked at Dawn...

Ummn...Yeah...she replied...Staring at her sis...

What?...Buffy eyed her...

Looking like this year's gonna be an even busier one...Dawn thought...

***

"It's important..."

Yeah, yeah...

"A creature like William and Spike needs all the support he can get..."

Yeah, yeah...

"To counter the demon's natural attempts to influence the soul...You know like those cartoons
with the little devil and angel appearing on Fred Flintstone's shoulder...Only the angel is his
new-found conscience and well, you know who the devil one is..."

Uhhh...Xander groaned...Readjusting the heavy box on his shoulder...

Ferrying all this stuff to the Box just to please An...Well...Ok...Will do...But, geesh...

For William the Bloody?...To make sure our manic killer nemesis and would be Buffy-rapist
is "comfy"...

"So...Be nice..." Anya continued...

"And what if this turns out to be a trick?...If he's got some magic whatdayacallit, good enough to
fool even Giles...We let him hang around and the next thing you know, Buffy..."

Goes back to him?...she eyed him as they reached the shop door...

Uhhhhh....he glared at her...

But...Yeah, that was about the sum of all his fears...

He paused on the step...Putting the box down...

"Geesh...When I think of her...With him...Him taking advantage of the way she was..."

And now we're encouraging him to stay...?

Xander?...Be fair, she went to him when they were lovers...And you know about Cicely now...
This isn't some crazy side effect of resurrection...

"I'm not accepting Halfreck's story without some confirmation besides Buffy getting all
hallucinationy..."

But you know...As well as I do...That she loves him...Anya eyed him...

And with good reason...Think of how he was this past year...Always trying to be there for her,
do you have any idea how hard that must have been?...What he had to overcome?...

Xander stared at her...

Ummn...Anya looked away...

"I'm sorry..." Xander looked at her... "An...I'm so sorry, honey..."

It's all my fault...

Oh...Xander...

Xander, Alexander...Please don't cry...Anya hugged him...

Don't cry, baby...Don't cry...she rocked him...It'll work out, I promise...Giles will find
something...Or find something to offer D'Hoffryn in exchange...

It's not so bad for me...Really...At least I'm not compelled to kill like Spike...And I'm not
angry...Much...Anymore...My soul is pretty intact...

"And I have you...Pulling for me..."

C'mon...Spike will laugh at you if he sees you've been crying...Even if you can't hear him, I
can...she grinned at him...

And I don't want that demon making fun of my feller...


He rubbed his head and laughed at that...

"When Buffy was invisible..." he paused...

"She was at his crypt...When I came to see Spike, looking for her..."

It didn't hit me until after she told me about them...

He looked at Anya...And smiled...

"She was all over him, pulling on his ear...It wasn't some kind of weird thrall...She was happy
to be with him..."

He sat on the box and looked at her...

"If all this...Is really true...?"

I think it is...Anya replied...But we'll know beyond all doubt when Giles checks him out...

"Buffy and William...God...Well...If it does hafta be a vampire...With a soul...Well, at least
Will's the staying type..."

What if it's all true, Xander?...If this has been a love story going on since 1880?...Anya
paused...

Then..he grinned...

"Cicely, you got some 'splaining to do..." he smiled...

And they went in...

***
Romance Palace...Part XI...

Part XI...

Xander and Anya found William in the shop’s main room...Sharing a quiet cup
of tea with one Rupert Giles...

“Spike has access to information that could be useful...To Buffy as well as
me...” William was going on..."If I allow him to continue communicating..."

“And...I am a vampire, soul not withstanding...Still Immortal, still powerful
enough to do soome good...If I’m going to make sensible use of all that, any
info Spike can provide is worth the occasional tussle...”

Giles nodded...

“He can’t get the upper hand again...Not with me in control...”

Pfhht...You sodden poof, if I hadn’t been stupid enough to try that demon
god...Spike groused within...

“Well...” Giles sighed...Nodding to Xander and Anya who came cautiously
into the room...Xander heaving the box...

“You’re probably right to keep access to Spike...Best to know what if
anything he’s up to...”

William nodded to the newcomers...Eyeing Xander, with a wry grin...

“He will help, Giles...” he paused...

“He loves Buffy too, I have to grant him that...”

Loves her...Too?...Spike glared internally...Too?! @#$%$!ing too?!!...I was the
one who...

Found my wife for me?...Thanks, brother...William grinned within...

Whoa....

Anya stared at William...Being the only other person on hand who could hear
that conversation...

Wife?...she thought, gulping...

Wife?...

Xander looked at Giles...

“So...This means you believe him...?”

“I don’t disbelieve him, Xander...This sort of thing has happened on a few
rare occasions...” Giles noted...

“Giles will test me out, thoroughly, Harris...Starting tomorrow...” William
smiled at Xander...

He eyed the box and grinned at Anya...For me?...

Anya smiling back...

"Just a few things to get you set up..." she noted...

I know sss...something that would set me up just fine, pet...Spike whispered internally...

Developing a lisp, brother?...William smiled internally...

"He's just trying to keep his edge with the serpentine thing...It's rough on him, no more
wowing the ladies with those cutting, cold hunter looks and all..." he smiled
apologetically at Anya...Xander staring...

It's fine...Anya nodded...Nice try, Spike...Very Garden of Eden...

Anya is so kind, isn't she...Brother...? William grinned within...

$%%*# kind Anya...!

"I think we can give William the benefit of the doubt for now, Xander..." Giles noted...

Well...Xander sighed and waved his hands...Why not?...

God knows I’ve seen everything else in this "side career" of mine...he
thought...

“I understand congratulations are in order, Harris...” William grinned at
him...

World-saving by love alone...Not too shabby, I would say...

“Willow just needed to remember who she was...” he replied quietly...

“Only one person could have made her remember...” William pointed out...

Hey!...Spike called from below...World-saving demon here, you know...Remember
how I saved the world from Angelis?...

Buffy saved the world from Angelis, Spike...William hissed...You decided not to
help him..

But it was the right thing to do...throwing a bone...

“Spike...er, Will...” Xander began...

"Understand...I’m glad for you, if this is true...I respect what you tried to
do for Buffy and Dawn last summer...I’m even willing to concede that you
helped her this past year...You were there for her in ways the rest of we
couldn’t be..."

Damned straight there, Xan...Spike growled within...Listen to our ole pal,
bro...

Lets remember who was running the show back then, though...

Our “ole pal”?...William thought...

“But...Buffy is my only concern here...And I’ll do whatever it takes to
protect her...” Xander went on...

“Meaning...I’ll destroy you if you hurt her...Soul or no soul...”

Anya?...Spike let out a leetle call...

“He won’t hurt you, Spike...Unless you hurt Buffy...” Anya
replied...Breaking into the conversation...

Xander and Giles looked at her...

Spike’s a little nervous, William explained...

Hey!...Just thinking of our girl here...Spike hastily called within...

She needs us...Intact...

Hmm-hmmn...William returned...Well, don’t worry...Anya will protect us from
our “ole pal”...

Xander frowned at Anya...Leetle hard to take, her with a direct line to
Spike...

He brushed it off and eyed William...

“On the other hand...I know she loves you...And I know about Cicely
Addams...”

Oh...Not everything about Cicely...Anya thought...

Wife?...Holy!...

Well...Spike groused to her from within...So, tell everyone...he internally
sneered...Summers is our property, our chattel...

Hands off...I stake our claim...God knows poof boy here will never...Hey!...

William crushed him down...Eyeing Anya...Not yet, his look saying...

Oh...Why do I have to be the one to hear Spike?...she thought,
fidgetting...Hurry up Xander, so you can drag this one out of me when we're
alone...

Wife...? My God and she made the wish that...

"And I want her to have the happiness she deserves..." Xander continued...

He sighed...So...

I’ll give you a chance, for her sake...Hope for the best...

“But I will be watching you...”

“You’re a good brother, Harris...” William grinned at him...

You remind me of an old friend I once had...Cicely’s cousin Henry Foxcroft...

He introduced Cicely and me in 1880...Helped me and us out many a time...And,
I’m sure, looked after her...When...Well...

Oh...Anya was getting dizzy from the repression...A good and concerned husband
too, after all these years of suffering...Oh...

She sat down, apologetically...

A little tired after the long night she explained to Giles...

“I mean...I’m glad to know Buffy has someone like that...” William
concluded...

Xander looked at him and nodded...

“Speaking of Cicely Addams...” Giles waded back in...

“We need to learn more about her...And why Buffy is having these flashes of
past-life experience now...?”

Well?...Anya spoke up...Isn’t it obvious?...What with...she paused, Xander
frowning slightly at her...Giles eyeing her...

Ummn...

Oh, God...That one too...Oh...

Thank God Giles and Xander know about that...

Whaat?...Spike asked, innocently as Spike could....

Whoops...Stop thinking so loud Anya, she thought...

"What with William getting his soul back, her resurrection, all that..." she
went on to the group...

“It’s bound to shake a few memories loose...” she noted...

Did you catch that?...William noted within to Spike...

Catch what?...the demon groused...

Not all that sharp without full access to brain and externals, are
you?...William noted to himself

Hey!...

Anya was going to spill something...William explained to his “brother”...

Oh...You think so...? Spike sneered...

Sharp as a sledgehammer aren't you, brother...You stupid poof, of course she
was gonna spill something...And I could of gotten it out of her in ...

Oh, damn...#$%^&$ing! Damn!...Spike internally hollered...

What?...William questioned...himself...

Angel...He must be back...Or coming...

What?...Angel?...No...It couldn’t be...

“Will?...” Giles looked at him...

“Hmmn...? Oh, sorry, Rupert...”William came to with a start...

“Spike has to get his little comments in...Demands an attentive
audience...”

“I was asking about how well you knew Cicely...In your previous life...”
Giles explained...

Ah...Well...William paused...

“Say...” he hesitated...

“Any word from ole Angel these days?...”

“Christ-imitiating twit...” both brothers chorused internally...

On this subject the “brothers” Walthrop were in perfect agreement...

***
How well did I know Cicely Addams?...William thought...Eyeing Giles...

Angel threat not imminent, according to the Watcher...thank God...

How well?...

Preety well...both “brothers” mentally chorused...

Anya eyed him....

Hell, she's gonna blow any minute...Spike noted within...

And if you start telling secrets, maybe she...

“Ummn...As to Cicely...” William began...

Even he enjoying the look on Xander’s face as he went on...
***

Holy!...A stunned Xander repeated...

For the fifteenth time, Anya noted as they walked to his car...

It can’t be...It can’t...he insisted...For the fourteenth time...

“It’s gotta be a lie...It can’t be...”

Fifteenth time, Anya noted patiently...

“Well...It could be a lie...Or William could just be confused...” she
kindly replied, supportive hopefully soon-to-be-spouse-at-last that she was...

But...Holy!...

Sixteenth on that one...

“It’s true...” Xander sighed, giving up...

“They’re...Married...”

Well...Anya pointed out...A marriage between Cicely Addams and William Soames Walthrop in 1880
doesn’t necessarily apply to Buffy Anne Summers in 2002...Even if we take the reincarnation
thing into account...

And we can't be sure what Buffy's feelings for him are yet...

***
Meanwhile, at the Summers home...

Dawn watched in shock...As Buffy danced around the room to music...Carefully,
considering...Grabbing her occasionally for a spin...

Suggested Theme...Heatwave...
"Whenever I'm with him
Something inside
Starts to burnin'
And I'm filled with desire
Could it be a devil in me
Or is this the way love's supposed to be
Just like a heatwave
Burning in my heart
Can't keep from cryin'
It's tearing me apart

Whenever he calls my name
So slow, sweet and plain
I feel, yeah, yeah, I feel that burning flame
Has the hot blood pressure got a hold on me?
Or is this the way love's supposed to be?
Just like a heatwave
Burning in my heart
Can't keep from cryin'
It's tearing me apart

Sometimes I stare in space
Tears all over my face
I can't explain it, don't understand it I 'ain't never felt like this before
Now that funny feeling has me amazed
I don't know what to do, my head's in a haze
Just like a heatwave
Burning in my heart
Can't keep from cryin' It's tearing me apart

(Chorus)
Don't pass up this chance
This time it's a true romance

Heatwave"

Buffy crashed into the coffee table...Whoops...She eyed Dawn apologetically...

Sorry...

Oh...God...Dawn stared blankly...

I had to let him into the house...I had to have Clem get those damned bags...

Oh my God...

Still...Looking at her sheepish sis' beaming face...

She's happy...

But...Oh, my God...Not that I don't like Will...Even Spike in a way...Just...

Oh...my...God...


Romance Palace...Part XII...

She'll lead you down a path
There'll be tenderness in the air...


Part XII...

Dawn managed to get Buffy to bed a half-hour later, pleading school
tomorrow...Little sis needs her rest...

No more dancing, please...

Only to hear her talking excitedly on her bedroom phone to Willow, when she
crept down the hallway to check on Buffy a little later...Geesch, what a kid...

Must be the hormones...Say...?

Why the hell is she talking to Willow?...She knows I know...

What, am I five years old?...Some "sharing her life" this is...

Geesch...she groused as she crept back to bed...

***

The world moves too fast these days...Xander sighed...As he drove Anya to the
shop the next morning...

She could teleport of course but pass up a "humanish" drive to work with
Xander?...No way...

Besides...They had lots to talk about...Following their daily review of plans
in "Campaign Anya-Restoration"...And Xander preferred not to have her suspend
time in their apartment while they had breakfast...

Hmm-hmmn, Anya agreed...But if you won't let me suspend time...

"I just mean...Things are moving so fast...Us, Buffy and her...gulp...baby...,
"William", the "when and what do we tell Willow about Warren?" thing, all of
it..." he paused...

It's just all piling up at once...

"But it's a happy pile, mostly..." she pointed out..."Or at least it will be
when it's all sorted out...It's not like last year...When we didn't know what
to do, where we were going..."

He eyed her...

"Everything's different..." she explained..."We have goals now...Good
ones...You and me, straighten things out with D'Hoffryn, help Willow
recover...Buffy...Get back to college, care for Dawn, work things out with
human-souled William, her Cicely side, and the baby..."

William...Get settled, deal with his or Spike's past, help Buffy and...

Enough already...Xander groaned...But smiled...

"You're right though, everything is different..."

"And I didn't say...Easier..." Anya smiled back... "Just different...Tough,
maybe...But there's light ahead now...And that makes all the difference..."

"Vive la difference!..." Xander grinned, nodding...

But he hesitated...Not light for all of us...

"But Willow is getting better every day..." Anya noted..."She's got her parents
and family by her again...And us...And she's gonna be fine..."

Now...Anya paused, sensing her opening...Speaking of William getting settled...

***

To her surprise, Xander was prepared...

Give "William" a job...At the Box?...Hell, why not...

He'd be there all day anyway...

At least this way they could keep an eye on him...

And Buffy would love it...

But...He eyed her...

We sit on our offer until Giles confirms things this morning...And...

He joins a union...There's one for clerical workers...

Unions are the bedrock of the workingman's rights, you know...he noted...

Geesch...Anya frowned...

Wasn't like I wasn't gonna pay him minimum wage at least...she thought...

On the other hand, if we vengeance demons had a union...I could probably force
D'Hoffryn to let me go right now...

Hmmn...Maybe I need to speak with my "sister" demons about organizing for our
rights...We wanted to get more 1880 details out of Halfreck anyway...

"Say, honey...I've got an id..."

Holy?!...Xander stared at the Magic Box door as he pulled in...

A sheepish Buffy standing on the steps...

Hi guys...she waved...

***

I didn't want to wake William if he was still sleeping, she explained
embarassedly...As the three entered...

Just wanted to make him feel...At home...

First day back and all...she went on, nervously...

"You should be sleeping in, Buffy..." Xander stared at her...

"Oh...I'm fine...Couldn't sleep any more this morning after I got Dawn off..."

Brought breakfast...she waved a bag of bagels...

And a little more...You know, "supplemental nutrient"...she nodded at a box at
her feet...

Where'd she get blood at 7:00 am?...Xander wondered...

"You've got a fridge in the basement, right?..." she asked Anya...

Hmm-hmmn...

Guess you'd better take your soda out of it first, honey...Anya whispered to
Xander as Buffy peered around the shop and eyed the door to the basement...

***
Hey, Giles...Willow grinned at the Watcher as he picked her up at her
parents'...

"Quite a day, yesterday,huh?..."

I mean William and Spike and all...

Giles nodded, waving at Mrs. Rosenberg...

"Got my fingers...And toes crossed...For William..." Willow smiled as she
buckled up...

God, this would be so great...Ummn...she eyed Giles...Well...

"So potentially...Nice...For Buffy..."

Especially right now...

"I can't say as I completely see the "great" there..." Giles began, but
smiled...

"But yes, it would be nice...Potentially...For her..."

Though...Will faces a difficult time, if all this is true...he noted...

Willow stared at the dash...Hmmn...

"You don't mean he's got to atone for all the stuff Spike did?...Get all
Angelly?..."

Poor guy's been trapped with that little maniac for a century plus, Giles...If
he wasn't lying to us...

Are you saying he's got to go off and earn redemption now...?

God, no...Giles shook his head...

"Will can't be held responsible for Spike's actions...Although there will be
those who claim otherwise, likely including some of his victims' relations...If
any survive...And possibly the Council or at least some members...Though there
is a set policy of absolution towards the rare demonic creature who recovers a
soul..."

So...Willow eyed him...The Angel thing is not an absolute for absolution?...

Giles rolled his eyes, watching the road...Angel...

"I respect Angel's efforts...But frankly Willow, I find it difficult to see why
he should have found it so impossible to stay near Buffy...Even if it took
years to obtain a solution to the problem of the curse..."

"I was kinda wondering why he didn't come after Buf's resurrection...At least
until we found out about him and Darla...And Connor..."

Yes...Giles frowned at the road...Darla...Well...

If she is his actual true love, all's for the best then...he noted...Still...

"That boy likes playing hero...Solo...And I think we would find there is a good
reason as to why he feels he must atone..."

Willow glanced at the clearly angry Watcher...

Guess somebody hasn't forgotten poor Ms. Calendar...she thought sadly...Poor
Giles...

I know what that's like...

"But...The remorse is inevitable..." he sighed... "And William is obviously a
good and decent man...I spoke to him last night at the shop and it's clear he's
already feeling the weight of Spike's crimes..."

He grinned a bit at the windshield...

"My boy Randall was no aberration...that was William we saw that day...And in
flashes all last summer..."

She grinned at him...Why Rupert Giles...

So our Watcher finally has a son as well as a daughter...

Gee...she thought, just a hair sadly...

My poor Xander...He's tried so hard to measure up all these years, but Giles
has never quite...

"Oh, Willow..." Giles shook his head... "He'll be going through a lot of
suffering in the next few months...And he's long ago lost everyone he's ever
cared for...Except..."

Buffy...And Dawn...Willow filled in...

"I meant to include all of us...Including you, Willow..." Giles smiled at her a
second...

Still...He must be a strong lad to have endured so much...And with our help, he
can build a place for himself here...

Here?...Willow thought...Well...I suppose so...And he is the fath...Gulp...

"He can be a great help to Buffy...Especially now...And..." Giles glanced at
Willow...

Later...

Holy!...she looked at Giles...Not son!...He's looking at Will as
potential...Buffy spouse material..?

Son-in-law...?! she thought in astonishment...

"And...There's something else involved here, Willow...Which I think you should
know..." Giles began as he turned into Main Street...Pulling into a spot
outside the shop...

Giles?...Willow stared at him...

"Buffy may have known William before..."

Before?...she asked, brightly...

Back in Chicago?...Did Spike show up back then?...

Long before, Willow...Giles eyed her...

***
Unwilling to risk waking poor Will from his well-earned rest, Buffy had paced
the shop...Anya eyeing Xander as he eyed her...

This is bad...his look said...

Thank God I decided to take the day and see how Giles' tests go...And press him
on "Campaign Anya"...

"He looked better last night after I got him that ointment..." Anya called over
to the pacing Buffy...Who'd halted to stare at the basement door yet again...

Really?...Buffy looked at her...

Anything would've looked better...After seeing how bad the wounds really
were...Anya did not say...God, what did he fight over there?...

Geesch...Hope D'Hoffryn doesn't make me take him on for my restoration...she
thought...Not that it wouldn't be worth it...she eyed Xander...Just...

Ouch...

Much better...she nodded to the Slayer...

"Say..." Anya paused...Hoping to halt Buffy in her efforts to wear away the
shop floor...

"Xander and I had a great idea...About Will..." she began...


***

Uh-huh...Anya nodded...As Buffy continued...

See...I owe Giles...A lot...Buffy was explaining to Anya...

'Bout time I nailed priorities down and got to 'em...

Giles and Willow entered...To find Xander watching Anya and Buffy...

You're not gonna believe this one...his look to them said...

Uh-huh...Anya repeated, nodding at Buffy...

"Hey guys..." she waved to Giles and Willow...

Well on the one hand, she thought, eyeing Buffy's hopeful face...Buffy and
William...Working together...So cute to watch them every day...It'd be like
that movie...Only..."The Little Magic Shop Around the Corner"...

"Plus I could use a little extra cash and maybe a...flexible...job schedule..."
Buffy continued her pitch..."If things work out for my readmission to
UCal-Sunnydale in January..."

Uh-huh...Hmmn...On the other hand...She was not the most reliable and steadfast
of employees last November...

Plus they both have a tendency to attract large, violent,
insurance-rate-raising creatures...Not their fault, really, just the way things
work...

I know things didn't work out well last November, Buffy paused...

"Is she asking for what I think she's asking for?..." Willow hissed to
Xander...Sliding into a chair next to him...

He rolled his eyes...Giles eyed the basement door...But said nothing and went
to get his test materials...

"Xander?..." Willow eyed him slyly, whispering... "You gave William a job,
didn't you?..." Grinning...

He eyed her...

"It's not set yet...We haven't spoken to him..."

"You crazy romantic..." she poked him...He waved his hands but gave a wry grin
back...

An's idea...he nodded at his demon betrothed...I just caved...

I guess...Buffy needs it even more than he does...he sighed...

"God, Will...I hope this is the right thing to do..."

God why did we ever fuse the two Xanders back together?...Willow thought, a bit
sadly as she patted him...The world needs at least two...

And I could sure use one these days...

Oh, Anya sighed to herself, staring at Buffy...Look at that face...And Buffy
should be where we can keep an eye on her at least part of the day, now...

After all, it's the real reason Giles is staying on...

And William needs her...His reason for going on...

"But..." Buffy continued, a little nervous, a lot riding on this one..."I was
still upset then...Couldn't focus well after my resurrection and all...And..."
she hesitated, sheepishly...

Hmmn...Well, I guess we can deal with the occasional Cicely fit...And the
need for multiple rest breaks...Anya thought, sighing a little...Oh, I am just
a fool for love...she noted to herself...Like my sweet honey, she eyed
Xander...

Hmmn...I can be good and let him sit and talk to poor Willow alone for exactly
two more minutes...she noted to herself...

"...William needs...Someone to watch out for him...While he readjusts..." Buffy
concluded...

Well...She was a good salesperson, after all...When she actually
worked...Briefly...Anya pondered...Plus, having the Slayer and William the
Bloody, even human-souled, working here is bound to attract attention among
the magically-inclined...A real draw...

"Well, Buffy...If Giles says we can manage it for the two of you
financially...It's ok by me..." Anya smiled...

So long as they don't start fighting each other to the death again...

Hmmn...she eyed Xander and Willow again...Time's up...And I have an opening...

"Guess what?..." she popped into the empty chair next to Xander and
Willow...Both jumping...

An?!...Xander frowned...

Sorr-y...But guess what?...Buffy and William are gonna be working here...she
smiled at Willow...

***

Buffy had gone over to ask Giles about the tests for William...And his opinion
on her job application...

You've a kind heart, partner...he thought, smiling over at Anya...Who, looking
back, shrugged and waved her hands...So I won't be a millionaireness by
thirty...

I really must find a way back for her...he sighed to himself...Looking at
Xander now...

Who was now coming over...To inquire on "Campaign Anya"...It having been at
least fifteen minutes since he'd last asked...

"These tests won't...Hurt? Will they?..." Buffy paused...

He's been hurt a lot this year...she explained...

Mostly by me...she did not say...

He'd be hurt a lot more if your condition were a result of Spike's last pass at
you...Xander thought as he reached them in time to hear Buffy's last...

***

Willow looked at Xander...Xander at Anya...Anya at...William...All three
struggling to keep a straight face...

Buffy firmly planted right in front of him, fussing over...The Randy suit...

Only thing he had left from the old days still fit to wear in lighting
approaching sunlight, during business hours...Fortunately having escaped Riley
and Buffy's little hand grenade party at Spike's old place by being left at the shop...

Giles however, burst into prolonged laugher at the sight...

Hey!...Spike groused within...No need to act as if we don't have feelings...

Much to everyone's surprise, William joined in, head in his hands...While Buffy
turned and a slight, but definite glare came into her look...

Whoa...Xander thought...

Cicely's home to defend the hubs...

"You look fine, Will..." she returned to the chuckling William...Who put up a
hand...

"I look...Like a ridiculous caricature of my old self..." he grinned at
her..."Except for the blonde hair..."

"But I appreciate the kind support..." he smiled at her...

She nodded, smiling back...

Long overdue, Cicely-Buffy!...Spike bellowed within...High time you tended to
your wifely duties, there girl...

What the hell happened in 1880?...Anya wondered...This is not a woman who
scorned her ridiculous lover...

And I oughta know...

"No offense intended, my dear girl..." Giles smiled at Buffy...

"Very Randall, William..." he grinned at him...And went to get the last
implements...

Oh...Rats...Anya turned to Xander...Incoming message from the boss...

"I've got to go...It's my one chance for an audience today..."

Good luck, boys...she called to William...

"Ask him, Xander, please?...If I can't get back for a while..." she blew a kiss
to Xander and vanished...

***
Anya's trying D'Hoffryn again...Xander explained...

If she keeps pointing out she'll never allow a violent wish to go through,
maybe he'll see reason...And let her go...

"For whatever crazy reason, she still thinks he's basically a good guy...From
the demonic pov..."

Well...Giles nodded at him...We'll find a way in time...

"It will work out, Xander...This is gonna be a good year for us..." Buffy
grinned at him...

I just know it...she smiled at William...

She looks radiant...

Spike?...William mentally asked...himself...

Rather an unusual choice of words for his maniac "brother"...

But she does look...Jesus...

Oooh...Taking Angel's true name in vain, brother?...Spike grinned within...

So...You finally caught on...

It can't be...

It is...Spike noted happily within...She's...Preggers...Look at her waist...And
notice the loose clothes...? And the..."Glow"...? he sneered...

My God...

He felt a hand on his shoulder...

"Will?..." Buffy looked at him...He seemed a bit preoccupied...

Hmmn...Oh...

"Giles will be ready to start in ten minutes..." she explained, smiling...

She shyly kissed him...

He stared back at her...In wonder...

Even Spike was speechless at this one...

"I believe in you..." she whispered..."William, I wanted you to know
that...Before..."

She eyed him...A bit dazed...

Buffy...Oh, God...he thought...Cicely...My Cicely...

You remember...She remembers, Spike...he called within...

That was her last letter to us...Before...

Before she married and left us...Spike finished...But there was no anger in his
echoing voice within...

She remembers...Cicely...And...I am a father...At last...the "brothers"
chorused to themselves within...In wonder...

Xander frowned at Buffy...Pushing things...His expression said...

Willow a little worried herself...Maybe pushing things, Buf...Her expression
said...

Probably the hormones got our Cicely's memories to sparking...Plus the news of
our incredible heroic odyssey...Spike suggested within...

Preggers...And it took my hunter skills to ferret out this one, bro...the demon
noted proudly...

Bull...You can sense the little soul's presence...William replied...to
himself...

Well, only barely...And only as of this morning...Spike noted...

Well, he sneered...

Looks like I did it...Bagged yet another Slayer...And in a way no vampire has
ever even considered...

Angel...

Angel...Couldn't cut the mustard...Slayerwise, anyway...C'mon,
bro...Rejoice...I'm willing to give your poof body a little share of the
credit...

Buffy looked back at the others...A determined, but slightly dazed look in her
eyes...

"Tell the Council...I am done with it..." she told Willow firmly...

"We are going away..."

Buffy?...Willow looked at her...

Nice English accent, there...

"Buffy..." William touched her arm gently...

"Ummn..." she blinked...

"Buffy?...What about the Council?..." Willow asked her, nervously...

And what the heck do you mean...Going away?...

The...Council...? Buffy asked...Ummn...

"It's all right..." William patted her hand...

She's just a little out of sorts...he told Willow...

Nothing to get upset about...

"What the hell is with her?..." Xander hissed to the returned Giles...

"More like...Who is with her?...I'd say..." Giles noted...

God...Pregnant...Buffy and I are...Both the "brothers" were still struggling to
deal...Even as William continue to pat her hand...

Unless she hopped in the sack with ole Riley or Xan...Spike pondered
within...Maybe gave the Ripper a turn at last...Hey!!!...

William crushed him down...Nodding to Xander and Willow...

We'll go slow, folks...No need to freak...his look said...

You suppose where Dawn is "made" from Buffy, we could do her as well?...Spike
questioned...When Buffy's not available, I mean...I'm not suggesting a twoso...

Hey, mate I asked!!!...As Will slammed him down...

***

Romance Palace...Part XIII...


"It's not fair..." Halfreck groused to D'Hoffryn...Standing by him in his massive, gloomy
reception hall, surrounded by cold mist drifting in, accompanied by the howls of condemned
and tortured unfaithfuls...

The obstacles put in my way in this one...The amount of follow-up time required...

I deserve a little help...

The demon king sighed...Haly...

Much as I love you...And much as I'd love to have Ms. Summers and her demon essence with
me...

There are rules...Which have to be obeyed...

Without law, anarchy would prevail...The stronger demons would kill and eat the weaker...
All the time, instead of just occasionally...

"I can't exceed the bounds of my authority...Ms. Summers must act voluntarily..."

But...All I'm asking for is a little hate spell...I'd even settle for strong feelings of
caution towards William on her part...Is that exceeding your authority?...

Voluntarily, Haly...And you have the ability to lead her into making that choice...Just as
you did in 1880...

"They're together again...How am I gonna separate them now?...And Spike..." she paused, sighing...

Spike doesn't...Care...she bowed her head sadly...

Even he's in love with that Cicely/Buffy...

Haly...D'Hoffryn came over and lifted her chin...

Where's my kick=ass vengeance demon?...The one who got a Slayer to send her own husband to his
death?...

You handled it beautifully then...You'll handle it now...

And you know, win or lose...I'll always love my demons...

"As for Spike...Well...If he can't see what he's passing up when you drive William out...
It's his loss..."

"Hey..." Anya popped into the reception hall...

Halfreck clammed up and backed away, eyeing her "sister" demon...

You didn't tell me she was coming this morning...? Her look at the slightly sheepish D'Hoffryn
said...

"Say...D-H...Did you repaint the walls?...It's much brighter in here..." Anya noted...

Hello, Haly...she nodded...

***

The soul testing session had a dual purpose...

Giles had initially intended it for Buffy's little bundle...To help her reach a decision...

Just luck that it was available for testing William's claims as well...

To Buffy's relief, William felt nothing...

Spike however...

#$%&^!!!...Who turned the heat off!?...It's bloody freezing in here!!!...the demon groaned...

"Demonstro..." Giles intoned...

Imaginary fires raged about poor Spike...Who screamed in horror...

"You ok?..." Buffy asked William anxiously, noting him grimace a sec...

Xander rolling his eyes at Willow as Buffy took William's hand, stroking it...

Just ole Spike...William smiled at her...Poor fellow's having a rough time in there...

All but the preoccupied Giles eyed him...

"He couldn't help what he was...And he is a part of me..." William explained...

Can't help feeling a little sympathy for the poor maniac sot...

"Tell him..." Buffy paused... "I know he loves me...And I am grateful to him...For not
being quite an Angelis...For taking you both to Africa..."

And for keeping you around...Until we could meet...

Willow eyed her...

"Spike knew William was there..." she explained... "He could have gone and found a way
to drive him out for good..."

Damn right there!...Spike hollered as the flames backed him up against an imaginary
corner...God, if I had had half a brain then...

The things I do for Buffy (Cicely Addams) Summers!...

Which are appreciated, brother...William called to him generously...

You heard her...

$#%^&!!!...Kiss m...

Spike!...William hollered to himself...

No...Spike called...

Kiss me...Tell her...If she's really...#$%#^!!!...the flames lept up around him...

If she's really grateful...Kiss me...Me...

"Spike..." William paused...Eyeing Buffy...Who stared back...

Spike wants a kiss...If you wouldn't mind...

For him...

He's taking quite a beating in here...

"Sure..." Buffy nodded...

Thank you, Spike...I know you tried...she kissed William gently...

"I hope you find happiness...Or whatever nonharmful-to-others contentment a demon
can win in Eternity..."

Quite a girl we married in 1880...eh, brother...William smiled within...

Yeah...Spike replied quietly...!@#$#@!!! Could you tell the Ripper to can the flames?!...

He must have what he needs to know by now for Christ's sake!...

"Rupert?..." William eyed him...

"Tell Spike it's just about over..." the Watcher nodded...

And...Congratulations...William...

Buffy hugged him...Willow came over and shyly kissed him...Xander came over...

William hugged him...Winking at the others...

Spike is a part of me, remember ole pal...he grinned at Xander...And releasing him, shook
hands...

Same old Spike...Xander frowned...Oh, well...At least he'll still be able to fight with
her...

"...So keep an eye on me..." William concluded...Looking at Xander firmly...

Brother...

In-law, Willow thought...Grinning at Xander...

And Xander finally has his older brother...

Oh...God...If my Tara could just walk through that door now...This would be Heaven, no doubt about it...

Tell her...Spike mumbled...

What?...Never thought I'd have to ask you to speak up, brother...William called within...

Tell her...Trapped in this bloody hell of a place...Long as you manage not to get your sorry ass
kicked in...

With her around...

Is all the Heaven I want...

Even if I have to share her with you, poof-boy...

"Spike says...Thanks...And he's very content right now..." William smiled at her...

Hey!...Exact quotes, poof...

He kindly repeated the "exact passage"...Buffy nodding...

Spike...? she whispered in Will's ear...

If you ever make William call himself "poof-boy" again...

I will have Giles leave those flames on inside...Permanently...

Get me...?

Phone call...For Buffy, who handed it to William with a shrug...

Dawny...For you...I told her it was ok...Long as she doesn't take a ridiculously
long break...

He took the phone and the babbling of an eager Dawn could be heard as he
tried to respond to her stream of questions and comments

"Ummn...?" she turned to Giles, moving off from where the others were excitedly talking...

My baby...No flames and nasties for it, right?...I wouldn't want that even for a hideous
demon offspring...

Now off the phone, William showed equal apprehension watching Buffy slip off with Giles
...Natch, Willow thought...

Giles having told her that William knew...Courtesy of Spike...Having quizzed the
Ripper on the ceremony when Buffy was kindly rearranging his sleeping quarters in the basement with a few little items from the house...

Much gentler version for it, Giles had assured them each in turn...And set to work...

Buffy slipping into his office with him for a few moments' "discussion" while he performed the spell...

Ok...His look said to the others as they emerged...

Buffy's desperate attempt to cover her beaming joy preety much said it all anyway...

Quite a moment...Willow thought looking at William who did his best to conceal his joy...

Really shoulda brought a camera this morning...she noted to herself...

***

"Another round!..." Xander called to the waitress...Having insisted on taking his betrothed's
new employees and family out to dinner...

Hell, a day like this does not come by often...

Buffy's baby fully souled and human...Though Giles had steadfastly refused to determine the
sex...And Buffy remained determined to keep its existence a secret...
(Will for his part insisting Willow, Anya, and Giles go along, keeping mum...)
And William...Where he wanted to be...As he put it when Buffy in a slightly sad mood had asked
him if he regretted losing Heaven...

Like Spike tried to say...Heaven's where you make it...he'd noted...

And Eternity...Can wait...

The only thing missing...Oddly enough the thought of four present...Spike, William, Xander,
Giles...And well, to be honest, Buffy would have to admit to making it five...

Angel...

To share their joy...

And rub his Christ-like puss in it...

William flanked by beaming Buffy and Dawn on opposing sides...Giles between Willow and his
Buffy...

Anya happily between Xander and Willow...

One minor fly in the otherwise estatically happy ointment tonight...No go as yet with
D'Hoffryn...

But she had learned that dear Haly seemed to be in regular touch with the demon king...

And maybe info could be gleaned from that source...Both for her and for Buffy...

However...William had asked them to hold on giving Buffy the Cicely story for a bit just
yet...

He'd like to break it to her himself when he felt she was ready to accept it...

Besides a once-over by a competent neurologist as well as a complete medical could never hurt
after a full resurrection...

Pity they hadn't made her go before...he thought...

"You know...It's a shame about Warren..." Willow paused...

This being a evening to forgive and forget...

They all stared at her...

What?...She blinked at them...

"Warren?..." Xander asked... "What about Warren?..." he hesitated, eyeing Giles...

"Just mean...He has such a brilliant mind and all..." Willow looked at him and slowly
at the others who tried to look...Causal...Warren you say? Oh yeah, him...

Dawn stared at her...Eyeing her sis...Cautiously...

Whoa...Look at them...Red must really have "dealt" with ole Mearsy...Spike noted within...

Damn...No more girly bots...

What?...William asked...himself...

Dawn looked at him for comfort...He eyed her sympathetically...

Willow's strong, Nibs...Don't worry...his look said...

I mean for when Buffy croaks Spike went on within...You know she'd never let me transform her now...
And we'll be alone...Eternally...

I don't want a mannequin companion for all Eternity, Spike...William noted to him...As he nodded
at Dawn...

Besides when the time com...he began, returning to his "brother" within...

Red or the Ripper could've stuffed Summers' soul into the bot...Spike groused on...Even the little
Scoobies'ld have approved...Their Slayer around to protect their grandkiddies forever...

Nonsense, when the time comes she'll stake us before she goes...Or I will...William replied...

You'd do that...To me...All I've done for you and...

Do it right now if I didn't think Buffy would mind...By the way, "all you've done for me?"...You
demented maniac!...

I gave you everything, you poof...The fighting skills...That certain style, that cool stare...That
"I'm gonna rip your throat open and I'm not just saying that" air...Hell, even the blonde was my idea...

Thanks to you, I'm responsible for 40,000 plus deaths!...Not to mention the torturing sessions...

God, the torturing...Lord, how I miss the good old days...Haven't had a moment like that since I had
sweet Dru in chains...Unless I count watching myself in the mirror at Glory's and pretending it was
you, poof-boy...And that I was helping her...

Willow shook her head at them a little...Geesch...Don't mean to praise the guy she explained...
Just...He was quite a science whiz, not bad at the magics either...It just seems a shame for all
that genius to be thrown away on...

"Hey, fellow geek here...Can't help expressing a little Robert Downey Jr. sympathy for
wasted talent, you know..." she sighed...

Yeah...A real shame...Buffy and Dawn chorused qently...Xander frowning a little...

"Are we still going after him?...About the murder thing?..." Willow asked...

She'd been a little out of the loop recently what with her gradual recovery after Tara...And all...

Well...Buffy eyed Xander...

"I think there's not much we can do while he's in Mexico with his pals, Wil..." Xander replied...Looking to
Giles who nodded...

But we've sent info to the police to have them look into his role in Katrina's death...And if he ever shows...

They'll deal...

Hmmn...Willow nodded...Well, still...A shame...

"And you did like Jonathan..." she looked at Buffy...

Well...He kept the others from helping...Big Baddy...Buffy noted hastily...

So he wasn't all bad...Maybe someday...He'll grow up and do the rest of the right thing...

"Sis never gives up on anyone with the slightest chance..." Dawn grinned...Eyeing William who grinned wryly
back...

"Yeah..." Willow smiled at William...

"But as to this "Big Baddy"?...The one who...Ummn...You know...Tara and all..."

He's dead...Gone, Wil...Lets forget him...Buffy hastily put in...

"Lets not let another forgettable creepy ruin a good...A great...evening..."

Willow nodded...Long as he's really gone...

William eyed her...

Not the best way to handle this, Buffy...His look said...

Please William...her look said...

Save the forthright Victorian attitude for another day...

My God, thought Anya...Watching the interplay...

They're already exchanging significant looks that express more than words can say...

They really must have been a couple...Married...Back then...

"So...?" Dawn eyed William... "Spike having a good time in there?..."

***

Romance Palace...Part XIV...

She'll let you come just far enough
So you know she's really there

Part XIV...


"It'll be fine..." Willow noted...

Absolutely fine...

Dawn eyed her...

"Dawny, they've gone on Patrol lots of times together..."

It'll be...Fine...

"Did you see how she acted?...Willow...?" Dawn groused...

"Ummn...?" she mimicked her sis... "William?..."

"I'm going on Patrol in a few minutes..."

"And I was...Wondering..." Dawn sarcastically batted her eyes...

"If...Maybe..."

She was laying it on a leetle thick, Willow had to agree...

"This is no ordinary Patrol..." Dawn noted, frowning...

This is...Date Night...

First (real) Date Night...

"Well...Is that so bad?..." Willow looked at her...

"You want Buffy with another vampire?..." Dawn stared at her...

"I thought you liked William...?" Willow eyed her...And he is certified human-souled...

"I like him...But..."

What if he gets the Angels...? Decides to go do the redemption thing...?

And he's an immortal blood-feeding creature, limited to night-hours...How's he gonna support her and the...gulp...Baby?...

Geesch...Dawny...This is the 21st century, you know...Willow thought...

Blood banks, transfusions readily available...Heck artificial blood well on its way...

And as for "supporting" her...Just being home all day to mind the kiddies for her would be a major plus in his favor...And if his Victorian nature even makes him try to help out financially, she's got a better man than many...

"They'll get by...If things work out that way..."

And, given that they're already married...And may have been seeking each other for a century...she thought...

"Well...He was very concerned about her visions or whatever..." Dawn conceded...

Aw...I do like him Willow...I'm just...

Scared...For her...

"Buffy Summers can deal, Dawn..." Willow grinned at her...

With anything...

Even with her Victorian lover...

"Geesch...She doesn't even know his name..." Dawn noted...

Oh...Willow thought...

I wouldn't be too sure of that...

She's shared it for 100 plus years...

Lord...When I think how I tried to push her with Angel...

Thank God Cicely was in there, fighting for William all the time...

But, hell, why did she send him away...? Unless that Halfreck was lying...Which Anya told Giles was entirely possible...

Gotta get over to Xander's and see what they've found out...
***
"I'm so glad you took the job, William..." Buffy noted shyly...While ramming a stake through the entrails of a large horned demon...

I mean...It's only the start of bigger and better things, I'm sure...What with your writing and education and all...

She glared fiercely at two other demons who'd been making ready to charge at William...

They eyed each other...Geesch...The stories are true...

The Slayer and William the Bloody...And she's not just tolerating him, she's actually...Protecting him...

By the demon god Ba'al...Who would've believed it?...

Hey...The shorter one nudged his partner...

I think...She's pregnant...

Holy sacred Ba'al!...Joe, you're right!...the other agreed in shock...

William took up a fighting stance, eyeing her...

How's about letting me have a couple? His look said...

She'd already killed the first half dozen they'd encountered, without giving him one...

Hell, he used to box for Cambridge...He'd noted earlier, after she'd stepped in front to take the fourth in a row...And he still retained Spike's abilities...Plus his bro's occasionally helpful advice...

Though Spike was in a snit and refusing to speak just now, following the last major smackdown...

You went to Cambridge University?...she'd replied, impressed...

But heck, Spike always did have that air of sophistication underlying the bad boy mannerisms...

"Didn't graduate...Had a year to go..." he'd noted ruefully...

Well...still...she'd replied, supportively...

Now however, she decided to back off a bit...She was getting a bit pooped...No need to take foolish risks with little Joycee or Will Jr...

And Will was so eager to show he still had it...

The two demons awaited their fate...Not so much out of courage or blood-lust...

Kinda more...Hoping to get in a chance to ask ole Spike...

Did you actually get the Slayer...?

Definitely a cause worth dying for...The stool rights alone in any demon bar for the eyewitness story-teller with the spell-confirmable truth would be Eternal...

***
Meanwhile, at the Magic Box, a battle of wits and wills was engaged...

Anya and Xander versus Halfreck...Who'd decided it was again time to try the partial truth-dropping route...

"So...Cicely summoned you...And you took her place...?" Anya noted...Following Haly's outline of a certain fateful night in 1880 London...

"She was squeamish about facing the poor little fellow..." Halfreck smiled...

But...She was married to him...? Anya quickly countered...

Women make mistakes sometimes when they caught up in the moment...Haly grinned, eyeing Xander...

Big, thoughtless mistakes...

She married in haste...And regretted at leisure...

And it ended up a rather short marriage...Two days, as a matter of fact...

"Actually..." Haly grinned again at Xander...

"Dreamboat here at least had the courtesy to run out before the wedding vows..."

But...Why did Will stay around?...If she'd consented to driving him off?...Anya stared...

"Ah...Poor William...He's always been a fool for love...Besides, don't you people read fairy tales any more?..."

Snow Queen, that sort of thing?...He was trapped by his love for her...Couldn't really believe she'd betrayed him...And spent the past century waiting for her to free him...

"But..." Haly sighed... "She never did...He had to suffer a century before being "helped" accidently...By strangers..."

Only human Drusilla ever provided him any comfort in all that time...

"Human?...Drusilla?..." Xander asked...

Her soul, trapped in the far reaches of limbo...

It came partially back thanks to him...Haly explained...In shame for what had happened to him...And then, because of the kindness and forgiveness he showed her...

A kindness that went a long way towards healing what Angelis had done to her, poor thing...

She was actually able to escape to Rebirth thanks to him...Not as good as fleeing to Heaven, maybe...But, given, demonic Dru's powers and her desire to keep sis confined, not too shabby...

"Drusilla...er human Drusilla...Was reborn?..." Anya looked at her...

Years ago, Haly noted...

Which left poor William all alone again...Watching Spike, trying to drive him to
attack Slayers...

Hoping to either find his Cicely reborn or be released at last...

"But...She never came for him..."

"But..." Anya hesitated...Buffy...

Haly shook her head sadly...

Well...She was reborn at last...But...

Even after the Initiative "helped" him a bit...

And even Spike couldn't help loving her...

She didn't lift a finger to help him...

Even after he was the one there for her all last year...

"I guess..." the "justice" demon sighed...Eyeing the two...

"She just didn't care all that much..."

Not that I would ever judge a client...Haly solemnly noted...

But Slayers do tend to be heartless...Part of their profession, I guess...

***
William handled Joe and partner in style...Kicking both sharply back...

Aided perhaps by their mutual reluctance to kill him before learning the answer...

Was he, ole Spike...A papa?...A Slayer's...Slayer of the heart?

Unfortunately Spike needed some time to recover even his internal speech abilities after his self-imposed exile...

Much as he deeply desired to tell a few demon mates the glorious news...

William the Bloody had indeed bagged his third...And in a way none had ever before...

Poor Joe was down and at the mercy of William's borrowed stake...His partner down as well, gasping for breath...

Buffy ran up...

C'mon Will...she called...Time's awasting...Demons to kill...Vamps to stake...

Ummn...William looked at poor Joe...Holding the stake to his throat...

Here we go again...Spike groused...

Buffy eyed him...Will?...She rolled her hands...

You gotta push it in...Remember...?

She went over to Joe's buddy, still gasping on the ground...Bit out of shape that one, Spike noted within...

Will?...she called...

Poof-boy hates killing...Except in self-defense...Spike growled within...

She dealt with the other demon and came over...

William eyed her...And pulled the stake back...

"Get out of here...If I find you harming anyone, I will kill you..." he told poor Joe...Now rather broken up over the departure of his buddy...

Buffy stared at him...And the fleeing Joe...

What the hell...?

"He wasn't harming anyone...We attacked him..." William noted...

"He would have harmed someone...He will now..." Buffy replied...Staring after Joe...

Great...Just great...Spike fumed within...

We just dropped 100 points with her...After coming within a hair's-breadth of her pants...

And I didn't even get a chance to tell the other guy that the Slayer's been made a woman at last...By the "Doctor" himself...

Naturally the twit exs don't count...After all, they couldn't cut it...

***

"What the hell were you trying to do, Will?..." Buffy glared at him...

Slayer preempting First Date Buffy...

Get us killed?...

"We weren't in any danger...That one was harmless..."

To us...She noted...

Not to your average Sunnydaler...

"All right, if you want, I'll go hunt him down...Like an animal..."

He is an animal...Buffy replied...

Hey!?...Spike hollered within...A little compassion there...

"I meant...Me..." William glared back...

Buffy stared, speechless...

Wow...A romantic poet's compassion...she thought...Eyeing him sideways...

My romantic poet...

Of course, thank goodness he actually could've killed both of them if he'd wanted to...

***
He sighed at her as they walked along...In silence...

First date not quite rolling along as well as she'd hoped...

"You're disappointed in me?..." he hesitated...

No...She looked at him...

I mean...I can understand you're not wanting to kill the way Spike did...

"Guess I wasn't thinking back there..." she ruefully noted...

I'd forgotten what you've been through...

"I just...I can't see the point of blindly killing these creatures...Dragging ourselves to their level..."

So they won't blindly kill us or our loved ones...she noted hastily...

Well...

She eyed him sideways...Hmmn...

"Will?...Do you think I kill...Like Spike did?..." she eyed him...

No thought, no compassion...

"I realize you have a job to do Buffy..." he paused...

People who need protection...

"But it's hard for me to accept...Following in Spike's footsteps...Even against demons..."

Pfft!...You!? You poof, in my footsteps?!...You couldn't fill half my shoe with your whole poof bod...Spike sneered within...

"And what about our...first time for everything, she noted, gulping...Baby?...Would you let..."

Don't be ridiculous...he glared at her...

I'd never let you or the baby be harmed...

Why do you think I'm out here?...

"God knows...After the way you let that last one go..." she groused...

I'm not insensitive you know...I do what I have to do to protect innocent people...

"We don't even know if those demons were human-hunters..." William pointed out...

"Do you want me to stop and ask every rampaging demon or vamp if they kill humans?...And show proof?..." Buffy grumbled...

"I'd last what?...Thirty seconds...?"

Well...We could try to check...That's all I'm saying...William noted...

You could carry a backpack full of the Ripper's reference books, poof-boy...Spike grinned within...

"Just a mo, Buf, dear...Gotta read the chapter on Vorth demons...Hang on there...Don't ruffle the poor lad's fur until I review the case throughly..." he sneered...

Our girl wants a man...Or demon...Of action...Not Percy #$%$@ing! Shelley...Spike groused on...

"I happen to think it is important...Even if we lose one or two while we check..." Will frowned...

Caring and compassion matter, Buffy...You know that...

And they apply to our victims as well...

"I don't need lectures on compassion from someone who killed..." she began...

People...he finished...

"I...I didn't mean that, Will...I just..." she finished lamely...

"I guess...We don't really know that much about each other..." he looked at her...

They walked on in silence...

Not the way she'd hoped First Date would work out...

***
They were returning to the house...

William lost in thought...

Geesch...Buffy thought...

Did not think things would go like this...

Maybe he's right...A little...

I was concerned about losing my compassion...Before I died and other problems
took precedence, she thought...

She tried to smooth things a bit...

“See, Will...You hafta understand...” she began...

What’s my name?...he brought her up short...

Huh?...Well...Ummn...William...she looked brightly at him...

Ummn...she continued her bright look...

“You don’t know, do you?...” he eyed her...

And do you know why?...You never even bothered to ask...

Never cared enough...Even when we slept together and you and I...meaning me, William...
Almost connected that time...When I almost got through to you...

Hey!...Spike bellowed...Mate, that was my night...

“And you felt me there...Don’t deny it...”

Ummn...Well...He did seem very human that time...

That was a nice time...she thought, a little happily...Almost as nice as...

When?...Where?...

“You all right?...” he looked at me...

Hmmn...she tried to look a little extra wan...Wobbily...In need of a Victorian gent’s consideration...
And forbearance...

He frowned...Well...? You felt my presence...And still you did nothing...Not a blessed thing...

“You would have left me there...Forever...”

“Well...I...” she stammered...

He stalked off...

“Will...?!...Wait!...Will!...Please...” she cried...

“I’m sorry...C’mon!...I was dead, remember...Busy year...” she called...Following after him...

We were enemies...What did you expect...?

He was picking up pace...

Gee, he’s still got that those vampiral legs...Buffy noted...Hurrying after...

“Wait...William...You wait!...”

Hmmn...Fake a cramp?...she wondered briefly...Nah...Spike'd probably know right away...

She tripped on a broken branch...He was slipping away...

Again...she staggered up...

Ummn...Oh...My God!...

“Walthrop!...” she screamed...

“Your last name is Walthrop!...William Soames Walthrop!!!...” she gasped...

How the hell...? she stood with jaw somewhat dropped...

He froze...And turned round...Staring at her...

“What the hell...? Did Willow net search my college records or something?...” he stared at her...

***

Romance Palace...Part XV...

Part XV...

Willow sat in Xander and Anya's living room...Thoughtfully reviewing Haly's account of her "job" for
Cicely Addams in 1880...

"She can't be giving you the whole truth..." she paused...

Buffy...er Cicely...Couldn't have just turned on William like that...

"He could have done something..." Xander noted...

Halfreck might not be aware of the cause...Maybe he did...Something...

Something terrible...

Like maybe...Another rape...?

Deserving immediate punishment...Then...And now...

Xander?...Anya looked at him...

Haly told us he didn't "do" anything...Cicely decided the marriage was a mistake and let
her drive Will off...

"Buffy would never..." Willow paused...Ummn...

But...Anya nodded...We don't know Cicely...

A wealthy Victorian girl...Courted by a poor poet?...Not often a successful outcome, outside
the romantic novels...she noted...

She married him...Willow pointed out...

Buffy...Well, lets be honest...Loved him...Even when Spike held the upper hand...

Loves him now...she eyed the frowning Xander...C'mon, Xander, you saw her at dinner tonight...

She must have loved him...It doesn't make sense...

"Maybe..." Anya paused... "Maybe she was trying to protect him...If she was the Slayer then..."

After all, if I were a demon being pursued by the Slayer...I'd go after her family...

I mean...she eyed them...Hypothetically...

"There must be records of her...As a Slayer..." Xander suggested...The Council must have something...

We could have Giles try and get them from the Council...

The answer could be there...

Willow nodded...But...

"We should tell Buffy...She needs to face...Cicely..."

"William asked us to wait..." Anya pointed out...He said he'd tell her...At the right time...

Well...Maybe...Willow nodded...Still...

It's wrong to keep this from her too long...She needs to deal with it, especially considering the
visions or memory flashes she's been having...

Anya eyed Xander...Hmmn...

Someone else who needs to deal with the truth in our little group...

"Well...(God, never in my life did I think I'd be saying this)...We can leave it to
Will for now...I'm sure he'll do the right thing..." Xander noted...

The others stared at him...Xander?...

He shrugged...Ok, Will's a good guy...I accept it...

'Course I intend to follow his advice...And keep watching him...

***

"I'm sorry...I shouldn't have let you run like that..." William eyed an out-of-breath Buffy...

No...Problem...

"Mr. Walthrop..." she grinned...

Holy!...she put her hands to her mouth...In shock...

I told him...

Without even thinking it over...

After begging Giles and the guys not to say a word today...

Before a thing is settled between us...

"Ummn...William...What I said a moment ago...About..."

"Protecting our baby?..." he grinned...

I took it as absolutely hypothetical...Naturally...

"Very funny..." she looked down...

Thank God I still can, she thought...In a month...

"How long have you known?..." she asked...

Spike guessed this morning...he smiled...

Bless his little demented heart...

She looked away...And back...

"Are you...Glad?..."

"Buffy Anne..." he paused...

I am so far beyond...Glad...

When Spike made me realize it...And I knew it was true...

And Giles told me it was ok...

"Giles...?" she frowned...Damn, he promised not to say a word...

I told him I knew, William explained...

God...He might have let me know, she groused...

"It makes up for everything, Buffy..." he said simply...

Everything...The whole past miserable #$%@ing century...

She looked at him...

"So...You're glad..." she grinned...Looking away...

"I am too..." she smiled into his eyes...

William Soames...

***

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