Healing Willow


by Saber ShadowKitten
Eternity Series, story 2



Prologue




Spike walked through the cemetery, smoking a cigarette. He had purpose to his step. He was going to visit the particular headstone that was the source of one young womanís pain.

Standing in front of it, he exhaled the smoke from his dead lungs. He squatted down under the night sky, re-reading the inscription, knowing how hard it must have been for her to have the headstone made.

Almost a year had passed since she told him what had happened, her voice scratchy and rough from disuse. He faintly remembered how eerie it was, how it put him on edge. She hadnít said anything since.

Spike remembered holding her small, callused hand in his larger one. She didnít pull away, but she also didnít hold his in return. They sat like that for close to an hour, no expression on her beautiful face, until she simply stood and walked away.

He tried to leave her alone, to forget about what she had told him. To forget the dead look in her eyes after she had spoken. To forget her graceful movements, whether competing, riding or simply walking from one place to another. But he couldnít.

Many believed that vampires had no feelings, but this was not the case. Vampires did not have morals, but they did indeed have emotions. Rage, jealousy, greed, sadness, love. The longer a vampire existed, the more he felt.

And Spike felt something for this young woman. He felt angry that her friends had died, leaving her alone. Sadness at the fact that she was only the shell of the person she had been. And he felt a tenderness stirring inside of him, wanting to help her heal.

After a month of trying to forget her and failing, he started to follow her again.



Part One



Spike entered Club 911 through the front door this time. He wanted the bouncer to get to know his face. The bodies of dancers and club patrons engulfed him, as he wove his way to the bar.

He saw her where she always stood, leaning against the bar, waiting for the competition to begin. He walked up to her, then leaned against the bar as well, not saying anything. She looked at him briefly, her cold dead eyes and expressionless face raising the hackles on his neck.

He didnít say anything. He just nodded in acknowledgement and continued to stand next to her, the music pulsating around them.

The unspoken time for the competition arrived and Spike watched as she walked unhurriedly to the stage. Her skin tight, brown body suit with white plastic knee and elbow pads had every man in the place eyeing her.

The challenger joined her on stage and the music changed. The Ďdanceí was fast and furious, a flurry of liquid motion. But in the end, she prevailed once more.

"Good job, Will," the bartender said handing her a bottle of water as she returned to the bar. Spike did not comment, he just stood next to her, watching as she finished the water, retrieved her helmet and left.

Every night for a month, he went to the club and stood next to her, letting his presence be felt, never speaking, never touching. He got to know the bartender and the bouncer, who both were fiercely protective of the mysterious young woman who was a patron at the club every single night for over two years.

Spike decided it was time. When she took her place next to him at the bar, he said something for the first time in two months. "Hello, luv."

He watched as she cocked her head slightly at his voice, but her eyes and face remained expressionless.

"Youíre probably curious as to why I would talk to you after all this time. Or not. I really donít care," Spike said and shrugged. "I just feel like hearing my own voice and youíre a good of person as any to listen. Well, actually, youíre better. No interruptions."

He gave her a smirk. She didnít react, but she also didnít leave.

"The bartender says your name is Will. I know thatís short for something. Willamina? Willa?" he asked, even though he knew she wouldnít answer. "Anyway, I like Will. Itís a great name. After all, itís my name, too." The last part was said with great cockiness.

Spike continued to talk to Will, asking questions, not waiting for an answer. The bartender wondered why he even bothered, but he shrugged him off.

Each night, he would do the same thing. Heíd ask questions about the competition, about what it was like to be an Immortal, about computers, about what she ate or read, anything he could think of. When he was not asking questions, heíd tell her about his life.

One night, about three months later, he followed her home. He parked his large, black car in the driveway and approached her as she walked to her front door.

"Pet? Feel like company?" Spike asked, mentally crossing his fingers.

She turned to him, key in the lock, and studied him with her lifeless eyes. She nodded once, then opened the door, stepping inside.

Spike stood in front of the threshold, unable to cross over unless invited. He waited expectantly to hear her voice, allowing him to enter. Instead, she gestured with her hand in invitation and the invisible barrier vanished.

The ranch house was modest. Faint lamplight lit the small living room. A old, worn-out couch sat under the picture window with a coffee table in front of it. A free standing lamp rested beside it. On the opposite wall, a cherry entertainment center housed a modest stereo, TV and VCR. He could see several movies and CDs stacked haphazardly on the empty shelves.

Against the far wall was a large desk with the most sophisticated computer equipment available. Three CPUs sat stacked next to the desk. An oversized color monitor sat behind a split keyboard and mouse. Multiple Zip drives, Scanners, modems, printers and things he didnít even recognize were scattered on the desk. A tall bookcase stood next to it, littered with computer software and books.

Spike followed Will into a spacious kitchen. It was bright and cheery, with all the modern conveniences and a medium sized table in front of a large window looking into the back yard. She opened the refrigerator and pulled out another bottled water, and began to drink, not bothering to offer him one.

He sat down at the table. "Do I get the nickel and dime tour, Will?" he asked, removing his duster.

Will shrugged, put the plastic bottle down and walked to the entryway of the kitchen. She paused and turned back to him, waiting.

Spike smiled and stood. He followed her down a short hall. She flipped on a light in the bathroom first. It was done in green and white, with a normal accoutrements. Fluffy towels lay on the bar.

Across from the bathroom was a bedroom converted into a library. Bookshelves lined each wall. A comfy recliner sat under the window, with a small table and lamp next to it. Books filled every surface, even piling on the floor next to the chair. From what Spike could see of the titles, there was no set system. Shakespeare lay on top of Quantum Mathematics, language texts fell over onto modern romance novels.

At the end of the hall were two bedrooms. They were both identical in furnishings. One queen size bed, two chests of drawers, and a nightstand on each side with lamps on them. There were no pictures, no jewelry, no beauty products lying around. If Spike hadnít seen the open closet door with the clothes hanging inside, he wouldnít have know which was Willís bedroom.

"This is a nice house. Is the mortgage expensive? The taxes?" Spike asked, knowing that he wouldnít receive and answer. "I didnít see your sword anywhere. I know that Immortalís carry one. Donít you?"

She walked out of the bedroom back to the entryway. What he had assumed was a closet opened to reveal steps leading down. He followed her into a basement littered with exercise equipment. A mirror covered one wall completely. He chuckled when he didnít see himself.

The basement was divided into two parts. Spike headed through the cement doorway and into what looked to be a tool room. A bench sat to the left and two large doors were to the right. He walked over to the bench and noted the various cleaning supplies. Rags, oils and polishers covered the table. A strange drill press-like machine sat on one end.

Turning, he went over to the doors and opened them. Vampires were not afraid of much, but what he found behind the door chilled him to his bones.

Weapons. Cushioned in black, latched with bands and straps, they lined both doors and the entire back wall of the cabinet. He saw everything from a miniature ladies derringer to a bazooka, including ammunition. And those were just the guns.

Pulling a small handle, the back wall of the cabinet opened again. Swords and knifes of all designs were hung in similar fashion as the guns. He knew immediately which one she used the most from its highly-polished gleam. A simple short saber, with a plain, leather-banded grip.

Clearly disturbed, Spike closed both sets of doors and turned to face Will, who had come to stand in the doorway, expressionless. "You have enough for a bloody army," he told her. "Planning on taking over the world?"

She didnít answer. She only stared at him with her lifeless eyes.



Part Two




Now that Spike was invited into her house, he took every opportunity to use that invitation. He would meet Will at the club and have one-sided conversations with her. Afterwards, he would follow her back to her house.

At first, he would sit in the kitchen or living room and continue talking to her. Soon, however, he suggested that she just do what she normally did if he wasnít there and he would entertain himself.

Spikeís first project was to tackle the library. He loved books and hated to see them throw onto the shelves with such little care. As he entered the library, he could hear that Will had turned the TV on. He glanced back down the hall and saw her sitting on the couch, staring stoically at the flickering screen.

Sighing, he shook his head sadly and began to work. He stacked books onto the floor in categories until the entire surface was covered, including the recliner. There was barely enough room for him to maneuver.

As dawn approached, he left the library. He walked up to Will, who was still staring blankly at the screen. "Iíve got to go, pet," he said. "Iíll see you tomorrow."

She did nothing.

It took Spike four weeks working a few hours per night to finish the library. When the room was spotless, and all the books lined neatly on the shelves, he was ecstatic. He practically ran into the living room to get Will.

"Will! Iím done!" he said excitedly. She was sitting in front of her computer, working on what looked to be an accounting program.

He hurried up to her and took her hand. This was the first time in seven months he had touched her.

And, for the first time since that night in the cemetery, something flashed in her eyes.

Spike almost dropped her hand when he saw the awareness flicker through them. His own eyes widened perceptually. "Will?"

She didnít answer, of course. Didnít change the expression on her face. But he wasnít expecting a miracle to occur. Until now.

He pulled slightly on her hand until she stood, then kept the contact as they walked down the hall to the library.

"I hope you like it," Spike said, his voice sounding excited and worried at the same time. Upon entering the room, he watched closely as she took in the neatly lined shelves.

"I categorized them by subject," he explained. Still holding her hand, he led her to the first bookshelf. "I put your literature books here, followed by fiction. Then, continuing on down the line, the math books, science, language, travel and finally, history over there."

Spike waited expectantly when he finished showing off the room. **Please like it,** he thought, his stomach in knots.

Will surveyed the room a second time, her hand still clasped in his. She finally faced him, and he looked into those cold, dead eyes. "Well?" he asked, with a small voice. He was feeling like a little boy rather than the two hundred twenty year old vampire who had killed hundreds of people.

She smiled.

It wasnít a large smile. In fact, the corners of her mouth barely tilted up. But her eyes reflected the smile.

And Spike knew she was on her way to healing.

With a whoop of joy, he threw his arms around her. He picked the small, muscular redhead up and spun in circles. When he stopped, he set Will to her feet, but continued to hold her against him.

"Oh, Will," he sighed into her hair. After a few minutes, he loosened his hold and looked into her face. It was expressionless once again, but her eyes were pools of wonder and amusement.

Spike laughed softly under his breath. He leaned forward and gently kissed the tip of her nose. "Címon, luv. Letís go watch a movie."

At her slight nod, he put his arm around her waist and led her to the living room. He had to let go in order to select a movie, but was relieved when she sat on the couch and turned on the TV.

Flipping through the medium sized selection of videos, he thought about what had just occurred. His undead heart expanded in his chest, threatening to burst, as he chose a movie. He wanted it to be a "cuddle picture," as Drucilla used to call it. Not a comedy or a drama, just a nice, happy, romantic story that left you feeling good when the credits rolled.

He chose Pure Country, starring the country singer, George Strait.

Popping it into the VCR, Spike went over to the couch and sat down. He didnít sit right next to her, but he also didnít sit on the opposite end. Partway through the movie, he attempted the classic yawn and stretch, putting his arm around Willís shoulders.

He wasnít very successful. He didnít remember how to yawn, and when he tried it, he sounded like a cartoon character. Shaking his head at the lame idea, he just went for it.

As his arm settled around her shoulder, he felt her shift ever so slightly to accommodate him. His face lit up in a surprised grin. He settled more comfortably into the couch and proceeded to watch the rest of the movie.

*I cross my heart, and promise, to
Give all I got to give to make all your dreams come true.
In all the world, youíll never find
A love as true as mine.*

As the song faded and the movie came to an end, Spike picked up the remote that was on the couch next to him and switched off the TV. He looked over to Will, only to see her head leaning back against his arm, her eyes closed, asleep.

He didnít want to move her, but it was getting close to dawn and they were sitting directly under a large picture window with filmy white curtains over it. He carefully maneuvered so he was able to put his other arm under her knees.

Spike picked Will up slowly, trying not to jar her. When she didnít wake, he brought her down the hall to her bedroom. He laid her gently down upon the bed and slowly removed the pads she was wearing over her elbows and knees. He had learned from watching her that they were for both riding her Yamaha and for aiding her in the competitions at Club 911.

He brushed a strand of hair out of her face, then leaned down and lightly kissed her forehead.



Epilogue




Spike stood in the cemetery and looked down at the headstone that had caused such pain in one young womanís life.

And he swore to himself that, even if it took an eternity, he would help her heal.


End