"Who made the mess?" His voice startled the silent crowd of his new staff. Blue eyes glared at each person in the room, regardless of their position in society -- witch, demon, or shapechanger. They were all employees, and he was the boss. Enough said. It seemed to take an eternity, but Spike did have that kind of time to spare, but finally, finally, one vampiress stepped forward. That was a bit of a surprise.
"We do not stake guests, no matter how poorly they tip." Spike informed her, his voice firm. "And we most definitely do not stake co-workers."
"He was harassing me." She hissed, game face sliding on as she glanced at the dustpile. "No one touches me unless I want him too."
Spike willfully suppressed the urge to roll his eyes. A feminist. A radical feminist. What blundering idiot in his right or wrong mind would make a feminist into a vampire? The masochistic tendencies required to create such an unnatural vampire was beyond imagining. "So you staked him?"
"No." Spike shoved his hands into his long duster, looking at the vampire and then past her to the glowing sign over the door. His Asylum, the nightclub of the night for the night was his bait to lure Willow back into his arms -- err-- clutches. Somehow, he had a sinking feeling that this plan was going to be more than he wanted to bite off. "We do not stake staff, customers or the local authorities. Either follow the rules, or you're out of here." He frowned sternly at her. "If someone bothers you, you tell me."
The feminist sulked, and it really wasn't a pretty thing to see. She wasn't pretty, really, which made it amazing that his now permanently deceased bartender had even glanced at her. A hugely tall, strong-boned muscular woman with crooked teeth, squinty eyes and a permanently sour expression, she radiated bad attitude and strength. But then, she hadn't been hired to be congenial. She was one of the three bouncers.
After all those years with Drusilla, Spike was proud of the fact he was an equal-opportunity employer. Dru could have warped anyone's world view on what women were capable of. "Do we understand the rules, or am I going to sack you now?" Spike hadn't been a Master for nothing. Managing a community of vampires was much like managing a business. You just had to kick a few teeth in and make sure everyone knew who the top vamp was.
"Fine." The vampiress groused. "I get bothered, I'll tell you."
A curt nod, and the staff all scampered off to their respective stations. This was opening night, the night Spike had been oh so impatiently waiting for. Fifteen weeks, six days and God knew how many hours he had bided his time, sent out his lures and spent a great deal of money all in pursuit of a cheeky redhead.
If this plan didn't work, somebody was going to die. Messily.
Willow slammed the textbook into her bookbag with more anger than was probably justified. The book itself hadn't angered her, but the apparent expectations of Buffy and Xander definitely had. 'It's too dangerous, Willow. You stay here and do the research thing, and we'll go patrolling...'
"Go to hell." Willow grumbled, stuffing her pen back into it's allocated little spot, and self-cursing herself for such meticulous. "Too dangerous, my ass." Unless she missed her guess, Buffy and Xander were either making out, or were out partying at the Pub. Sure, they'd patrol, superficially, but until Giles and Willow dug up the dirt on the latest predator skulking about... neither of them would take risks.
So, knowing Buffy, they were likely shimming down at the University pub, while she had the delicious task of doing the research. Good old Willow, computer goddess and book geek, to their rescue. Especially now that Giles had managed to obtain yet another concussion with their first encounter of tall green and gruesome.
"Well, bite me." Willow grumbled aloud, her hair shielding her face as she pulled the zipper up on her backpack. "I am NOT spending another night in here, by myself, while they're out partying or whatever."
"That's good to hear, luv." Spike's voice drifted on the air behind her, a soft whisper of air moving as he emerged from his dark shadows to stalk close. "I've got a far better idea of how you can spend the night."
Willow's eyes shot wide, the white clearly visible all around the green iris. "Spike." She gasped, jumping. Spinning around, she stared up at a smirking face, her eyes immediately dropping from his, to study his mouth, before heading back up resolutely to some vague point at the top of his head. "What are you doing here?" She demanded.
This was not good. So very not good. As in incredibly very bad. The night at Sanctuary had been one thing... she'd been in a mood and he'd been there. The rules of Sanctuary made everything possible, which is why she had left as she did upon the rising of the sun. Here and now, there were no rules, there was nothing to stop Spike from draining her dry.
Even if he did look fit to eat.
Spike shrugged, the wonderful trademark Duster rising slightly away from the ground, and then sweeping low again. "Just, bearing gifts." His smile was anything but a smile, it was a grin fit to match the gleeful fire dancing in his eyes.
"Gifts?" Inwardly, Willow winced at the slightly breathless voice, hoping he hadn't noticed. What was it with her and bad boys? 'I'm going to get myself killed.' She sighed silently. 'Why not a nice, old-fashioned, tame man? Why only serial killers or maniacally demon possessed robots?'
Wordlessly, Spike reached into his duster and extracted a black and gold envelope, the type of fine paper envelope reserved for high-class invitations or some such. Events of significant importance. Turning it over, as he extended it towards Willow, she could read her name in fine gold calligraphy, the sweeping curls and bold strokes elegant.
Licking her lips nervously, and only belatedly scolding herself for it as Spike watched her with avid fascination, she took the invite, careful to keep her fingers clear of his. "What's this?" She murmured, holding the invite, but not daring to look down. To do so would give Spike an opportunity to attack, or disappear. She couldn't decide which would be the worse of the two possibilities.
"What does it look like, pet?" Spike chortled, lightly leaning against one massive bookcase. "It's an invite."
"An invite?" Willow swallowed, her mind conjuring a thousand reasons to panic. The fact he was in San Francisco, that he was here, that Buffy could return at any time and see him... and her... and most of all the fact she really wanted to rip his clothes off and ravish him. 'NO I DON'T' She firmly informed her mind and body. 'No, no, and no. Spike is not sexy.'
'Drop dead sexy.' Whispered the nasty subconscious. 'Live a little and lust a lot.'
Dropping her gaze from Spike, she risked looking at the invite. Tilting her nervous hand, she slid a thumbnail under the flap of the envelope and neatly sliced it open. "Oh my." The words were torn from her throat, a soft gossamer wisp of sound dancing in the silence of the library.
The card on the inside was equally elegant, a fine parchment, thick and heavy, with the ancient symbol of the night embossed on the cover. A symbol only used by the respected and acknowledged safehouses to the creatures of the night, the places were the rules there protected them from one another. The sweeping lines in gold curled with a life of their own, fairly leaping off the cover of the invite.
Passing her fingers lightly over the top, Willow knew it wasn't a forgery or a fake symbol. This one had been blessed by the community, permitted to be used. 'Why? And why did Spike give this to me?' Willow darted another quick glance at Spike, aware of his fixed fascination with each move she was making. Her tongue darted up to lick her bottom lip, nervously.
"If you keep doing that, luv, I'll have to lick it for you." Spike growled, his eyes pinned to her mouth.
"Sorry." Willow muttered, firmly keeping her tongue inside her mouth. "What's going on?" She held out the invite towards him, waving it once. "Why did you have this?"
Spike shrugged again, his gaze still intense, as if everything hinged upon her reading the invite. "Read it."
'Bespelled?' Willow studied the cover, her thumb slipping below to lift the cover and see the inside. 'No, none of the covens would willingly do that. Drusilla, though...aah, in for a penny, in for a pound.'
'Twilight's Children, the Moon does Call
Covens, Changers, and Vampires All
The Soul's release, Body's Pleasure
Seek the freedoms beyond all Measure
Laws Abide, of Unity Three
For all the Nights Children, a Sanctuary
Celebrate Asylum's Opening'
Willow glanced up at Spike in startlement, ignoring the rest of the invite as the phrasing, in an elegant script and wording that held meaning only to those inducted into the night's mysteries, struck her. To anyone else, it would seem nothing more than a dark gothic poem, but to her it meant far more. "Here?"
"San Francisco." Spike confirmed with a nod, his blue eyes still intense. "Tonight."
Willow blinked, surprised. "Tonight? But..."
Spike shrugged. Taking a step towards her, and smirking slightly as she leaned backwards, her body pressed firmly up against a table. "It's like this ducks, if you're game, we'll have round two of what you started. That is, unless you want to be a mouse. If you want to be the goody goody and live your life in a shell."
The green eyes flared, like twin gas flames. "Round two?"
"Yeah. Prove to me you're a real player. And I'll never hunt you again." Spike grinned now. "Come party down in my little club-- but the catch is, you can't hide from your friends. The sexy witch comes out to stay."
Willow felt her jaw drop. "Bu--but..." But, the illusions, the facade she'd carefully maintained would be irrevocably shattered. If Buffy ever found out about the Sanctuary's, the primary safe haven of the nightfolk would be lost. "She'd slay them all!" She whispered.
Spike smiled, another step forward. "She won't get in." He murmured. "She can't. All I want is to kill the mouse, and let the witch out to play."
"She'll stake you." Willow warned, her eyes again fixed to his mouth. Lovely mouth that it was, it hovered dreadfully close to hers.
The mouth twitched again. "And you'll stop her." He whispered, the breath of air used in making sound brushing across her lips. "Dance with me, tonight."
The kiss was a feather's touch, soft as satin and as ephermal as a ghost. Barely felt, but searing through her senses all the same. Just like it had the first time, it called to the fire in her soul and blood. The spirit of the night calling out to one another. Without awareness, Willow stopped trying to shrink away, her fingers dropping the invite onto the table before clutching at the black t-shirt beneath Spike's duster, the kiss deepening with growl from the vampire.
It was a dark elysium, the hungers she'd thought she'd chased away awakening once again. The coolness of his flesh as arousing as the soft nips and touches to her body. Drowning in a myriad of sensations, her awareness of the world, and the threat possibly with such intimacy to a vampire in grounds not labeled as inviolate to a kill.
With growing need, Willow tugged at his shirt, pulling it out from his pants and sliding her hands up along the cool flesh of his chest. Spike growled in satisfaction, his mouth straying from hers to nuzzle at her earlobe and down along her jaw to her throat. His hands pulled her tight, pressing her lithe demurely clad body tight against his own.
And neither of them heard the voices or footsteps approaching.
"WILLOW!" Buffy's scream was a canon in Willow's head and a stake in Spike's. "Get away from her, you bastard." The rapid staccato of footsteps provided mere seconds for Spike to extract himself, push Willow back to the safety of the table and to toss himself clear of the Slayer's attack.
Blue eyes, ringed yellow, looked past Buffy's figure and met green eyes in mutual understanding. She would come, to the Asylum and their games would resume there, without the Slayer's interference. "Later, pet." He promised aloud, smirking at the consternation of the Slayer.
Buffy lunged, a stake upraised in her hands. "Buffy!" Willow cried out, tossing hysteria into her voice, some of it unfeigned. The distraction was all the opening Spike needed, and without a second glance back, he melted into the shadows of the library and fled.
"Damn." Buffy swore, stalking deep into the library but not sensing Spike nearby. "Damn, damn, damn. That was too close." Returning to the scene, her mind replayed out the near killing, her body shuddering as she pictured Spike's arms trapping Willow, and his game face poised at her neck. If she'd been so much as a minute later---
Xander was beside Willow, a stake in one hand and vial of holy water in the other. Eyes darting nervously about the room, he seemed close to an apoplectic fit. Willow's head was bent forward, her head on her knees. Red hair fell over, curtaining her face, but Buffy read extreme weariness and shock in the posture. "How did he manage to trap you?" Buffy sighed.
Willow's head snapped up, the green eyes rich with shadows and secrets. "Pardon?"
Buffy shook her head, blond curls fixed in a up-do jiggling, the soft light reflecting off them as if to suggest a halo. "Never mind, it was me muttering to myself. I'm sorry we left you alone, that's all. I didn't know Spike was in town."
The green eyes still held secrets, but Willow said nothing more. Standing, as Buffy and Xander assumed positions on either side of her, she crammed her hands into the pockets of her corduroy overalls, her left hand fingering the invite hidden within and Spike's taunting promise echoing through her head. '--kill the mouse, and let the witch out to play.'