"I give up!" Buffy exclaimed, hitting the door with a powerful side kick. It didn't budge. "Let's just press the numbers at random and see if it opens."
They had been trying to figure out the puzzle for hours. And that didn't include the time they spent making love on the soft, green carpet, the chair, on the bar, in the other chair. They even slept and ate again, thanks to the fact that they could go back into the music room. Spike was in there now, playing the piano once again as Buffy beat on the door.
With a growl, she closed her eyes and stabbed a number. She heard a loud screech and whipped her head around in time to see the horse statue next to the other door fall down a hole that was suddenly created.
"What was that, Slayer?" Spike called out to her, halting mid note.
"That was me trying not to kill myself in frustration," Buffy yelled back. She stomped over to one of the chairs and flopped into it, crossing her arms over her chest in a huff.
The blond vampire walked through the door and looked down at the large hole to the right of it. "I take it random guessing is out."
"Fuck off," she snapped.
Spike arched a brow at her language, then walked over to her and picked her up. He sat on the chair and settled her in his lap, holding her head to his chest like a child. He began to stroke her hair. "It's ok, pet. We'll figure it out."
"I wish we could just ask the horses," she muttered.
Spike stopped suddenly, his brow netting together. "What did you say?"
"I said that I wished we could just ask the horses," Buffy repeated.
"Bloody hell!" Spike exclaimed. "That's the answer."
Buffy raised her head and looked at him. "‘What'ju talkin' ‘bout, Willis?'"
Spike looked at her in confusion, then shook his head and answered. "It says ‘How many of Hassan's horses can say it is the same color as another one of Hassan's horses.' Horses can't bloody talk!"
"That is the answer?" Buffy asked incredulously. Her eyes narrow in anger and she pushed off his lap, stomping over to the door. She jabbed the zero and the door clicked, swinging open. "Aaarrrggghh!" The frustrated yell she let out echoed in the next room, which was set up similarly to the smoking room. She stormed inside and threw herself into another chair. "I hate this place."
Spike went over to the next door and saw two movable handles, one with a sun on the end, the other with a moon. He turned and quickly searched the room for the next clue, knowing the Slayer needed time to cool off. Until then, he'd try to figure out the next one on his own. "‘A night without day, a day without night,'" he read to himself.
"I bet Willow and Angel didn't have any problems," she grumbled.
"Yes, Willow?" Angel said, turning to face her.
"This bites," she told him. He chuckled. "How long have we been in here now?"
"Two days, maybe more," he replied. She sighed sadly. "Well, at least we had good music for awhile."
"I'm hungry. I bet you are, too," Willow said, looking up at the trap doors in the ceiling.
"I'll live," Angel replied.
"But how long before the bloodlust overwhelms you? Buffy said Spike was able to last for about four days," she said.
"Willow, I'm not going to feed on you, no matter how strong the bloodlust becomes," he told her firmly.
"Well, if I die of dehydration, you have my permission to drink my blood," Willow said. She sighed again. "I wonder how Buffy and Spike are doing?"
"Hang on, Slayer," Spike commanded as he gripped the rope.
"Hang on, he says," Buffy muttered, looking down at what use to be the floor. Now, there was a deep, black hole and they were hanging on for dear life to various ropes that hung from the ceiling. "What else am I going to do?"
Spike had figured out the answer to the last question after only a few hours. He moved the two knobs so the moon covered the sun as an eclipse would, and the door had swung open to reveal a room full of the ropes. They both walked to the opposite side of the large room, intent on moving forward quickly, and found a door with one button that said press me. He did and the floor dropped out from under them. Only their quick, supernatural reflexes saved them from disappearing into the dark.
"What is the one thing you regret?" Willow asked, rolling onto her back on the mattress.
Angel looked down at her from his position on his side, one hand propping up his head, with an arched brow. "What do you think, Willow?"
"No, I don't mean that," she said quickly. "I mean what's the one thing you regret not doing, not something you regret that you've already done."
"Boy, you don't ask easy questions, do you?" he said. "What's with the sudden introspective?"
"We're going to die in here," she said simply.
"Don't say that," Angel said.
"Why not? It's true," Willow replied. "A human can only last for so many days without water."
"You know what I regret?" she continued as if he didn't speak. "I regret not going all the way."
"Going all the way where?" Angel asked, confused.
"You know," she replied, emphasizing the second word. "Doing it. Sex. That whole making love thing I've read about but never got to experience." Willow's eyes met his. "I don't want to die a virgin, Angel."
He read the message behind her eyes. "Willow, I can't. My soul. If I lose it, I'll kill you."
"I'll be dead either way, Angel," Willow said logically. "And if you do lose your soul again and drain me and are rescued, when Buffy sees the body she'll stake you. Or she'll have Spike do it. So, you wouldn't have to worry about hurting them."
"No, Willow, I'm not going to do this," Angel said.
"Oh." Tears began to fill her eyes. "I understand. You don't want me. I shouldn't have asked."
"What?" he asked incredulously. "You don't think I would want you?" Angel grabbed her hand and put it over the bulge in his pants that had grown the instant his eyes met hers with the unasked question. Willow gasped, about to snatch her hand away, but Angel held fast. "I told you that I prefer brains over beauty any day, Willow. You have both. And it is incredibly arousing."
"Will..." Willow swallowed heavily, his gaze holding hers. "Will you at least kiss me?"
His mouth curled up on one side in a half-smile. "I think I can do that," he said, releasing her hand and leaning forward to capture her lips with his.
Sweetness. That's what he tasted as his lips moved over hers. Under its own power, his tongue
darted out to trace along her soft mouth, then inside as she opened it. He felt her tongue seek his
out, and he made a low growling noise deep in his chest. He moved so he was almost flush
against her side, his hands supporting him as the passion between them grew.
Breaking the kiss, he lowered his head and his mouth closed upon her throat, heat and moisture,
deep and drawing passion. She arched helplessly into the sensation, her one hand moving up to
run over his arms, the other still pressed intimately against him between their bodies. She drank
in his scent, his coolness as he licked and kissed up the column of her neck, nipping her with
elongated canines, then lapping at the small slices with his tongue.
Angel brought his mouth back to hers, initiating a long, deep kiss as he unhooked her overalls
and pushed the corduroy down, then her white shirt up in order to caress her skin. Willow
shivered when his cool fingers ran over her stomach, then slowly up until they barely brushed her
cotton covered breast.
Wanting to reciprocate the feelings that were coursing through her body, she pressed her palm
harder against his arousal and began to rub in small circles. Angel broke away from her mouth
and hissed in pleasure, his eyes closing tightly. When he opened them again to look at her, his
gaze was lit with an intense fire that burned her, making her heart speed up. This time, when his
mouth descended, she was swept away in an earth-shattering kiss.
She didn't remember her clothes being removed, or his, only the shocks of pleasure that ran
through her body. Her hands wove through his hair, holding him to her as she arched against
him, not wanting the sensation to end. He began to kiss down her body, his tongue dipping into
her navel, making her jump.
"Willow," Angel said in a hoarse voice. "Are you sure you want this?"
"Oh, please," Willow breathed, her eyes wide with hazy desire. "Don't stop."
That was all he needed to hear....
He held her tightly as they came back down to earth, almost crushing her and he prayed for the
first time in a very long while. *Please, God. Don't let me lose my soul again. I don't want to
hurt this wonderful woman in my arms.*
"Next time it says ‘press me', don't," Buffy said as she collapsed onto the floor in the room they had been in before.
"Then that door wouldn't have opened," Spike said, pointing to the wall that had swung open.
"Hidden doors, missing floors," she groaned. "I'm a poet, and I don't know it."
"Slayer, I think it's time to get your head examined," he joked.
"Yeah, for loving you," she shot back.
Spike's mouth dropped open in mock shock and he dropped to the floor next to her, tickling her under the duster she'd put back on earlier. They rough-housed for a good twenty minutes before they both lay back on the carpeted floor, exhausted. Swinging from rope to rope like Tarzan was not on their list of things to do for fun.
"What say we take another nap before we continue, pet?" Spike asked, arm over his eyes.
"We're never going to get out of here if we keep sleeping," Buffy told him, her position mimicking his.
"Right now, I could care less," he answered. "I may be like Willow on caffeine at times, but all these puzzles are frying my brain and now I want to sleep and recharge."
"Ok, battery boy," she said. "You sleep, I'll have my wicked way with you."
Spike raised his arm and turned his head to look at her. "Be gentle," he teased. But Buffy was already asleep.
Willow snuggled closer to Angel, her lids heavy as she tried to put off sleep a little longer. They had finally redressed and changed positions so she was cradled against his chest, his hand running lightly up and down her arm.
"I never did answer you," Angel said.
"You asked what was the one thing I regret not doing," he replied. "And you know what I regret?"
"Not getting to know you better when I had the chance," Angel said. "Now, I'm afraid I've lost that opportunity because of the curse. You are a special woman, Willow. I'm sorry I didn't take the time to learn that sooner." He kissed the top of her head. "Willow?"
Willow didn't answer because, like Buffy, she'd already fallen asleep.
Spike woke suddenly, his game face coming force as he tried to discern what had surprised him.
He had been having a very erotic dream, and was furious for being interrupted. "Fuck," he
gasped when he realized what was happening.
"Is this wicked enough for you?" Buffy asked in a low, sultry tone....
"Slayer, you are definitely wicked," he said, agreeing with her earlier question, several blissful minutes later. "And you make
one bloody good alarm clock."
Buffy giggled against his neck. "I suppose we better get moving again."
"I bet your Watcher is worried about you by now," Spike commented as they put their clothing back in order. "I think we've been gone several days."
They walked to the next room which held a billiard table and nothing more. The next door was located on the right wall and had an ornate door knocker on it. The clue was wrapped around one of the pool cues sitting in the rack on the wall. Buffy picked it up and read it aloud. "‘On the ceiling if you want me. Twice on the pipe if the answer is no. Oh my sweetness...means you'll meet me in the hallway. Twice on the pipe means you ain't going to show.'"
"Knock Three Times," Spike said immediately. If it was one thing he did know, it was music, especially ‘oldies.'
"Let me guess, another song," Buffy said. She gestured to the door. "Knock yourself out."
Spike groaned at the pun, then raised the door knocker. He rapped it three times and heard a click, but not only one door opened.
Angel blinked at the sudden light permeating the room and he realized the door to their trap had swung inward. He didn't pause as he picked Willow up in his arms and darted through the opening... and practically ran into Buffy, who had just moved to look inside.
"Angel!" Buffy gasped, stumbling backwards. "Willow!"
"Go away, I'm sleeping," Willow mumbled against the vampire's chest.
Spike turned at his love's surprised gasp and saw a haggard looking Angel cradling the hacker in his arms. Without saying a word, he walked quickly back through three rooms to the music room and retrieved the bag of blood and the other lunch bag from the small refrigerator in there.
"What happened?" Buffy asked, looking at both her friends worriedly.
"We got trapped," Angel told her. "I...we..." He stopped when it dawned on him that he still had his soul, and it had been several hours since he and Willow made love. "We've been in there for days."
"Here," Spike said, returning to the room. He held out the bag and watched as Angel's true face appeared instantly. "I'll take the Witch."
The dark-headed vampire looked at Spike gratefully, then gently passed Willow to his arms before snatching the bag and quickly draining it, not caring if Buffy was watching him. "Thanks," Angel said, wiping his mouth with the back of his sleeve, his human mask returning.
Willow chose that moment to wake up in Spike's arms. When she opened her eyes, she expected to see darkness and Angel, not light and a blond vampire. She screeched, making Spike jerk his head back in surprise.
"Willow!" Angel exclaimed, taking her away from his childe. "It's ok. We're free."
Willow's wide eyes met his and she pressed her hand to her chest. "We're free?"
He smiled at her tenderly. "We sure are."
The whoop of joy she made the other three laugh as she wrapped her arms around Angel's neck and hugged him tightly, still in his arms. She put her mouth close to his ear. "I see you're still full of soul."
"Just call me Soul Man," Angel joked quietly in her ear. "Maybe I should get the shades."
"The hat, too," Willow agreed as he set her on her feet. She turned and hugged Buffy. "It is so good to see you."
"You, too, Wills," Buffy said, hugging her back. "You won't believe the trouble we had with these puzzles. Next time I take your brain for granted, smack me upside the head."
"I can do that," Willow replied. She looked over at Spike at the same time pulling the bottled water out of the bag. "Sorry about wigging in your arms a minute ago."
"Women have screamed louder in my arms," Spike said, giving her a lewd wink.
"Can your ego get any bigger?" Buffy asked sarcastically.
"Is that what your calling it these days," he replied with fake innocence.
"Willow? We can always go back in there," Angel suggested, making the red head laugh.
"That's ok, Angel," Willow said. Then she grinned impishly. "I think Buffy's stroked his ego enough by now."
All three of them groaned.
"And on that note, let's shove off," Spike said, turning to the open door they had yet to go through. Inside were stairs heading up. When they got to the top, Spike pushed a trap door open in the floor and they ascended into a very familiar room to Willow and Angel.
"This is the Horse With No Name room," Willow commented.
"And the door we didn't go through the first time is open," Angel pointed out.
"Then that must be the way we go," Buffy said taking the lead. There were more steps, this time going down, leading to another door. She pushed it open easily and the group ended up in an empty room save for the door on the far wall with the riddle carved into it, as well as numbered buttons. "Who's gonna do the honors?"
"I will," Spike said, stepping forward to read the puzzle. "‘Hassan-'"
"Not him again," Buffy said, then swore fluently under her breath. Spike looked at her and she gestured for him to continue.
"‘Hassan owned eight camels. In one unfortunate month, all but five of them died. How many were left?'"
"That's it?" Willow asked.
"That's what the big door says," Spike replied.
"For once, this is even easy for me," Buffy said. "The answer is five. ‘All but five.' I hated doing those trick questions in math class." Spike turned and pushed the number five, and the door swung inward to reveal another door, slightly smaller than the main one.
"This is cute," Angel commented. "Where's the bottle that says ‘Drink me'?"
Willow giggled. "Maybe inside this bag is the cookie that says ‘Eat me,'" she said, taking out the apple and biting into it.
Angel walked over to her and bent to whisper in her ear. "If you're the cookie, I'd be happy to eat you." Willow blushed bright red and almost choked on the apple.
Buffy watched the exchange between the two and knew something was different, but couldn't put her finger on it. *Very weird,* she thought as Angel rubbed Willow's back. She turned to the next puzzle written on the door. "And our next contestant is...drum roll please," she announced as she looked over the words. "Another song puzzle!"
"‘How many nights and days did I sail the sea. When I thought of the girl, oh, constantly,'" Spike read. "Three."
"Care to fill us in on how you know that?" Angel asked.
"Louie, Louie, by the Kingsmen," Spike replied. "One night Dalton and I decided to figure out the words. Dru helped, even though she mostly danced around the room as we played the song over and over. She then decided she wanted to eat the band members for supper, and I spent an hour trying to convince her they weren't hiding in the speakers."
"You do realize that you spent most of your unlife with a sanity-challenged woman?" Buffy said to him.
"And look who I'm with now," Spike retorted with a grin as he pressed the number three. The door swung away from them this time to lead to yet another room, but the vampire didn't enter.
"Why aren't we going forward?" Willow asked curiously having just finished her apple.
"A little thing called sunlight that I happen to be allergic to is blocking the way," Spike replied, stepping back to allow Buffy to pass.
The Slayer went into the glass enclosed room, the sunlight shining down on her as she smiled back through the door. "We're so out of here!"
Willow looked up at Angel, who gave her a swift pat on the rear, sending her scampering for the sunlit room. He walked up to where Spike was standing and watched as the two girls bounced together in joy.
"Look at them," Spike said. "This is what we're missing, mate, being stuck in the night. Cor, she's beautiful."
"That she is," Angel replied, eyes on Willow's fiery hair and happy face as she and Buffy went to a window and peered out.
Spike looked questioningly at his sire, then realized what he had caught the scent of earlier. "You shagged her, didn't you? Are you playing with fire, what with the bloody curse and all."
"I know," Angel said sadly. "Don't tell them, but I'm going to be leaving Sunnydale at the end of the summer."
"Sucks to be you," Spike said. Angel glared at him. "Sorry. Well, I'm not, but I thought, ‘hey, what the hell.'"
"You really are a pain in the ass, you know that?"
"I try," the blond replied as Buffy came bouncing back into the room and threw her arms around his neck.
"As soon as the sun sets, we can leave!" Buffy exclaimed excitedly. "We already know the answer to the last puzzle."
"What was it, luv?" Spike asked as Willow came back into the room.
"It's my favorite part in the whole movie," Buffy told him. "The part where Vizzini is going up against Wesley..."
Angel looked at Willow questioningly as Buffy rambled on. "What is she talking about?"
Willow held up the piece of paper that was attached to the door and cleared her throat loudly. Buffy stopped talking and grinned sheepishly. "Go ahead, Will."
Willow smiled and began to read. "‘Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me...Iocane comes from Australia and Australia is entirely populated with criminals, so they have people not trust them, as you do not trust me, so I can clearly not chose the wine in front of you...And you must have suspected I would have known the powder's origin, so therefore I will not chose the wine in front of me...You've beaten my giant, which means you're exceptionally strong, so you could be relying on your strength to save you, so I can clearly not chose the wine in front of you. But you also bested my Spaniard, you must have studied, and in studying you must have learned you were mortal, so you would have put the wine as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not chose the wine in front of me.'"
"That's it?" Angel asked sarcastically.
"Yup," Willow said. "That's it."
"So, what does it mean?" Angel inquired.
"What does it mean?" Spike asked incredulously. "You can't be bloody serious."
"The Princess Bride," Buffy said. "It's like only the most memorable and funny movie in the world." She looked at Spike. "‘Mawwidge. Mawwidge is wat bwings us togever today.'"
The blond vampire started to laugh as Buffy continued. Angel shot Willow a ‘help me' glance. "Please tell me what it means?"
"It means it's time to buy you a VCR."
Willow and Buffy pulled the handles simultaneously, opening the final door to the ‘House.' With squeals of delight, the two girls grabbed their respective vampire's hand and yanked them out into the night.
"Hey, Buffy," Willow said.
"‘They can trap us in a house, make us solve puzzles,'" she started with a huge smile. Buffy joined in on the last line. "‘But they can't take away our freedom!'"