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She's Like Candy, Cont.

Chapter 21

"Help me sit him up." Willow stood beside the bed holding three huge bowls of blood on a tray. "He swallows better upright."

"I remember," the dark vampires voice was laced with worry and sadness, and Willow swallowed back a shuddering breath. "Ive really let him down, havent I?"

Willow decided that it was a rhetorical question, and so remained silent as she dipped the tip of a finger in the red liquid and formed a floating stream of blood to Spikes still lips. She smiled softly when the blonde began drinking in earnest, the soft slurping filling the otherwise silent room. What little color he possessed returned as he ate so that he appeared normal when he had finished.

"Well, thats the last of his supply." Willow wiped at Spikes mouth, ridding him of the last traces of blood.

"Not the last." Angel placed Spike under the covers before biting into his own wrist and holding it to his childes mouth. "The blood of the sire heals all. Drink, childe."

Willow was turning toward the door with the empty bowls and tray when Spikes pink tongue flicked out to taste the offered wrist. Suddenly, she couldnt move. The room grew steadily warmer as Spikes demon came out to play, followed closely by Angels.

The sight of sire and childe curled around each other caused something low in Willows stomach to tighten. A pair of amber eyes framed by tousled pale hair snapped open and snapped her back to reality even as her legs turned to rubber. A soft chuckle from the bed followed the redhead from the room.

/Goddess help me. That was... Wow./

Willow rinsed the bowls in the sink before moving back down to the lobby where she found Lorne waiting with the rest of the team.

"Hi Lorne." Willow fished her purse from the pile of luggage sitting on the floor by the stairs. "Angel is looking after Spike, so Im going to get home."

"Youre leaving?" Wesley looked up from the books he was arranging into an impressively tall stack. "I thought that you would like to see the books Ive been reading through."

"I wish I could." Willow rubbed at her eyes as she sunk down on the round sofa that dominated the center of the lobby. "But I have a three hour drive ahead of me if Im going to make the two exams I have in the morning."

"Leavin on me, Red?" Spikes voice caused Willow to jump, and the blonde smiled. "Not even going to say goodbye?"

"You shouldnt be moving yet! Angel, get him back upstairs."

"Ill not be shut away like some misbehaving child."

Willow winced at the harshness in Spikes voice. "I didnt mean it like that. Its just that you were so hurt."

Spike sucked his cheeks in and gave the rakish smile Willow had come to know meant that he was proud of himself. "Like I said before, pet. I didnt even whimper... Ive had worse."

"Would you at least sit down? Youre making me hurt in sympathy." Willow moved over and patted the cushion beside her.

Spike nodded and sank down on the plush seat with a slight sigh. "You still leavin?"

"I have to, Spike." Willow smoothed a wayward curl away from the vampires forehead. "I didnt spend all that time studying and killing myself to make it to classes dead tired from helping with demons the night before just to fail because of four exams."

"Youll be back day after tomorrow, right?"

"No. Monday night or Tuesday."

Spike froze with his lighter halfway to the end of his unlit cigarette to turn and look her in the eye. "Youre staying in Sunnydale over the weekend?"

Willow gave short nod, once up and once down.

"In your house?"

Another nod.

"Without me there?"

Yet another nod, though this one was slower. Angel had begun glowering at her when she had said that she wouldnt be back until Monday or Tuesday. The sight sent a tremor down Willows spine, and she tried to keep thoughts of Angelus from coming to mind.

"Not gonna happen."

"Yes, it is." Willow hated the hard finality in Spikes voice. "Im not going to not graduate Spike."

"No, it isnt." Spike tossed the half burned Marlboro on the floor, obviously ignoring the annoyed looks and noises from the other people in the room. "Youre not going. Not alone, at any rate."

"Whos going to come with me? Youre not. Angel and Cordy need to stay close in case of a vision. Fred wouldnt stand a chance against Buffy, no offense." Fred simply smiled understandingly, and Willow went on with her argument. "Wesley has to stay and research if Im ever going to figure out whats wrong with me. Lornes more of a singer than a fighter."

"Arent you sweet, cupcake." Lorne gave Willow one of his million watt smiles that she couldnt help but return.

"I can go." Gunn spoke up from where he was leaning against the counter. "Im pretty much just extra muscle anyway."

Willow caught a rumbling growl from behind and turned to see Spike glaring at Gunn with glowing eyes. /Whats he all growly about?/

"Cordy can go." Angel nodded to himself.

"The cheerleader?" Spike raised a scarred eyebrow in question.

The cheerleader in question snorted at Spikes incredulous near shout. "I was a lot more than just some cheerleader. I was *captain*."

Willow giggled at Cordelia before sticking her tongue out at the vampire sitting beside her. "She told you."

"Shut up, pet."

"Enough!" Angel shook his head at the two on the couch. "Willow, Cordelia will go home with you as long as you promise to call if anything should happen or theres a vision. That way, youll have company and Spike will stop being so overprotective and jealous."

"Just dont want anyone gettin any ideas is all."

"Sure, blondie." Cordelia had retrieved her purse from behind the counter and moved to the stairs. "I think Ive got enough things here to get me through one weekend in good old Sunnydale. Ill pack and be down."

"Okay." Willow smiled at the girl who had become her friend since their days on the hellmouth. "We can grab something for supper on the way."

"Come here." Spike wrapped an arm around Willow and pulled her down the hall to the back of the hotel. He didnt stop nearly dragging her along until the sunlight from the back windows nearly touched his boots.

"Still dont like this, pet."

"Well, Im not thrilled about it either." Willow was wishing that Spike would just let her leave, even though she knew that it didnt matter how soon she returned to her house. She couldnt leave until after her tests anyway. "I just know what I have to do and, wether we like it or not, Im going to do it."

"I just dont want you hurt." Spikes arms surrounded her body, and Willow let herself sink into his borrowed warmth.

"I know. Its nice to know someones worrying about me for a change, though I dont want to cause you to worry. Okay, I dont think that made any sense."

"Dont worry, luv. I understood." Pulling Willow tight against his chest so that their bodies made one fluid line, Spike kissed her deeply.

"Spike," Willow pulled back from the kiss just enough to be able to speak. "You *do* realize that my magic is stronger now, that I can defend myself, right?"

"Doesnt matter, pet. I dont want to be a room away from you. The thought of you being three hours away, without me to protect you, with that bitch of a slayer running around..." Spike sighed and pushed Willows head to rest under his chin. "Its almost more than I can handle."

"Youre going to make me cry if you keep being so sweet."

Spike chuckled. "Cant have that, or you might go running off to my sire."

Jerking away from Spikes body, Willow stood well within the circle of his arms and gazed into his eyes. "Why would you even say something like that?"

"Could smell you earlier. In the room."

"Well, it was pretty intense! I cant help it if seeing a beautiful vampire feeding his unspeakably attractive childe turned me on. Im a young woman with hormones, and desires, and-" Willows ramble was cut short as Spike once again pulled her into an intense kiss.

"Never said it was a bad thing, luv." Spike brushed a soft kiss over her lower lip. "Though you can get any thoughts of Brood Boy out of your mind. Im not sharing. Youre mine, Willow."

Willow turned her head to avoid the kiss Spike tried to initiate. "Say it again."

"That youre mine, or that Im not sharing?"

"My name." Willows eyes focused on Spikes reddened lips. "Say my name."

"Willow," Spikes eyes registered confusion.

"I love the way you say that." This time Willow pulled the vampire into a kiss, sinking her fingers in the hair at the back of his neck and going up on her tiptoes to crush his mouth to hers with all of her strength.

/Lips of Spike are definitely good things./ Willow soon lost the ability to form complete thoughts, and she sunk into the feelings Spike was evoking with his lips, teeth, and tongue.

Chapter 22

Angels black convertible hurtled down the highway. It had taken nearly an hour and some of the heaviest begging she had ever had to do, but Willow had eventually talked the dark vampire into letting her use his car. In the end, she had just told him of her white knuckles and not being able to see anything in the mirrors or out the windows of Spikes car. Angel had given her his keys when she made mention to Cordelia that driving the DeSoto in the afternoon was hard, but they wouldnt be able to see to make it back out of Sunnydale if it got dark before they could leave after her tests.

Fred had braided her hair to keep the wind from tangling it past repair, and Willow and Cordelia proclaimed themselves ready to leave. After a round of hugs from everyone, Willow had been subjected to a drawn out, and thoroughly enjoyable, goodbye from Spike. The blonde had pulled her into an intense kiss that consumed her so deeply that she didnt register Angels voice until he was within a foot of their embrace. Spike had chuckled at her red lips and glassy eyes before running a hand over Willows braided hair.

"Ever wonder about the old custom of women wearing their hair up except when they made love?" With that parting remark, whispered into her ear, Spike pushed her out the door of the hotel and into the growing evening.

Two hours into their drive, the girls stopped and got dinner at a drive thru. They didnt want to be on the road after dark if they could help it, and the sun was setting with them an hour away from home. Willow had called Angel to get instructions on putting the roof up. She wasnt going to drive on the hellmouth without some sort of protection over her head. Now the car and its two passengers slid through traffic with ease.

"So, you and Spike."

Willow groaned at Cordelias obvious interest in the topic. "What about me and Spike?"

"What about me and Spike?" Cordelia imitated in an exaggeratedly innocent voice as she batted her lashes. "Please. Youre in love with him. Dont deny it, because its too plain for even you to miss. Its also easy to see that hes in love with you too.

"Now that the facts are established, just start with the details. I want to know everything from when you realized you were in love with him until now."

"Im not going to deny that Im in love with him, Cordy. Ive liked him since he first showed up with Dru, though it was more of a hes dangerous and unattainable, so I can crush on him thing than anything.

"After he got chipped and started helping us, I couldnt help but fall for him. We got to know each other, and I found that I had more in common with him than anyone else I knew. We would talk for hours, and hed actually *listen* to what I had to say. No, Im not denying that Im now completely in love with him."

"Im hearing a but in there." Cordelia checked that her door was locked before leaning against it to face Willow. "Whats wrong?"

Willow sighed and worried her bottom lip. "Well, I just dont want to end up being a fling he has to get over Buffy."

"Buffy?" The seer straightened in her seat at that bit of news. "As in Angels ex, the bitch of Sunnydale, she who makes Angel broody with just the mention of her name? *That* Buffy?"

"No need to go all hysterical, Cordy. And yes, *that* Buffy. Who else?"

"Oh." Cordelia only nodded and remained silent for the next half hour.

"Yeah, Sunnydales still here." Cordelia looked over the town as they passed through it on the way to Willows house. "Are you sure you cant do this some other time?"

"I wish I could, really I do, but I cant do that. Im the one who talked my history professor into giving the exam on Friday for those of us who felt ready instead of just once next week."

The two were pulling Cordelias two bags from the back of the car before another word was spoken. "I didnt mean to make you feel bad back there. I just hate being back here. Too many bad memories."

"Its okay. I knew what was bothering you." Willow led the way past the wreckage of the living room and up the stairs to her parents room. "I figured youd rather stay in here than in the guest room. Spikes been staying there, and what I couldnt pack for him is still sitting around."

"This will be fine." Cordelia caught sight of the blood stained mess that made up the covers and sheets of the bed. "Well, after we get rid of the blood, anyway."

"Sorry." Willow set the bag she carried on the floor beside the door and retrieved clean bedding from the closet in the hall. "I wasnt in the mood to clean before I left."

"Willow, its fine."

Willow nodded and smiled at Cordelias eep of surprise when the pillows lifted into the air and began to shimmy out of their cases. The brunette stared at the sight before her as Willow made the bed without touching so much as a throw pillow. The quilt Willows grandmother had made drew itself over the sheets and turned itself down before Willow relaxed and giggled.

"Cool, huh?"

Cordelia nodded and then broke out into a grin. "And so much more fun. From messing up spells to making a bed without really even trying. Youre turning into super witch on us."

"The thing is, *I* dont even know how powerful I am now. I mean... I sent Buffy to the Magic Box by concentrating really hard. I moved Spike and I from the mansion to my bedroom, but I was really tired afterward. Im a little freaked out by the burning smell that happens when I get mad, thats not mentioning the sparkage in my hair. Its like I could burst into flames and not even know it."

"Well, at least Wesleys still got some leads to follow." Cordelia led the way into the living room, watching as Willow once again tapped into her power to pick everything up and put it all back together. "That could come in handy."

"Yeah, I guess it could." Willow shrugged and sunk down onto the newly restored sofa.

"So, two tests tomorrow and two on Monday?"

"Yeah. After that, were back to LA."

"How long are you two going to stay?"

"Its hard to tell when Spike will decide to take off. Me, on the other hand... Im not sure *whats* going on with me, so I dont know what kind of timeline Im on. All I know, is that I cant be around Buffy right now."

"I couldnt stand to be around her in the first place, but I get what youre saying."

Willow nodded slowly and then focused teary eyes on her friend. "I dont know if I want to be a Scooby anymore."

Chapter 23

Friday came and went. Willow breezed through her first two exams, and was happy to say that both History and Rhetoric of Cyberspace were in the bag. The History had been easier than she had planned and, therefore, studied for. Her second exam of the day saw her building a website in two hours from components supplied by the professor. All in all, it had been a good day.

She had placed a call to LA within minutes of returning home to find Cordelia washing up her lunch dishes. Spike had congratulated her on passing the tests, telling her that there was no bloody way she could have failed when she tried to inform him that she didnt know what her actual scores were. Willow had only laughed and asked how he was feeling.

Saturday morning blew in with a deep red dawn heralding the storms to come. Just before ten, the sky grew dark and the wind began battering the trees that lined the street in front of Willows house. Willow was glad they had been able to fit both cars in her garage. She didnt even want to *think* about what Angel would do if a stray limb found its way to his car. Not long after the wind appeared, fat drops of cool rain plopped onto the worn boards of the front porch. Soon, the rain was falling in thick sheets.

Cordelia had yet to make an appearance, though Willows growling tummy told her it was nearly time for lunch, and she had to remind herself that the pretty brunette had different sleeping habits. While Willow could keep vampire hours, sleep for a while in the early mornings, and then be awake for the rest of the day without any problem, Cordelia obviously got her full eight hours. The witch thought of asking her why she needed to sleep so much, but thought better of it when she heard the other womans voice in her head lecturing her on needing the sleep to look her best.

Willow heard the shower in her parents room turn on and decided to fix some omeletes. Breakfast for Cordelia, and lunch for herself.

Willow had retrieved a skillet from the drawer under the oven and was reaching to turn the burner on when the French doors leading from the kitchen to the back porch exploded in a shower of glass.

"Where is he?" Buffy was pulling at Willows shirt before she could right herself. "I *know* you had something to do with it."

"Hes asleep." Willow pushed Buffys hands away from her and stepped back. The redhead winced when a searing pain lanced up her leg, knowing that her bare foot had found a shard of glass.

"I dont feel him. He cant be here." Blue eyes, devoid of the warmth and caring Willow had always associated with the small blonde, focused on green. "Where is he? Xanders? Giles?"

"No. Ive made it so he cant feel you and you cant feel him." Willow caught movement at the top of the stairs and saw Cordelias head peaking around the corner. She chanced a quick shake of her head as Buffy looked into the living room, relieved when the brunette nodded and slipped back out of sight.

"You little bitch!" Buffys open hand connected with Willows cheek sharply, snapping the witchs head sharply to the right. "How *dare* you-"

Willows eyes flashed a bright red and the room became nearly unbearably warm as she interrupted the diminutive slayer. "How dare *I*! No, Buffy, how dare *you*? *Youre* the one who came into *my* house uninvited after all the mean things you said and did. *Youre* the one who took Spike against his will, chained him up, and then beat him and broke his legs!

"Youve always been a little bit of a bitch, and usually kinda self-centered, but Ive always loved you." Willow took a few steps toward Buffy, delighting that the blonde slayer took an equal amount of steps back. "Youve been the best girl friend Ive ever had, and one of my all-time best friends ever, but I dont know about that anymore. Ive always stood by you, helped you, but I refuse to do it on this."

"As if it matters!" Buffy laughed sharply even as she turned to keep Willows slowly circling form in front of her. "He wont want you, you know. He cant hit you, and theres no way youre going to let him take a nibble. You cant be much of a lay, otherwise Oz would have stayed. Hell, you arent even much of a witch!"

The slight pain at the mention of Oz disappeared almost as soon as it set in. "Im more of a witch than you are a slayer."

"Im the oldest slayer in history."

"Without me and Xander, theres no way you would have lived this long. I mean, *hello*! Did you bring yourself back from the grave?"

"You dragged me out of heaven! How can you even call yourself my friend?!"

"I thought you were in hell! If I could do something to make it up to you, I would! You cant go taking it all out on Spike. Take it out on me!"

A sneer slid over the once pretty face of the slayer. "What do you think Im doing?"

"Thats what *Id* like to know!"

The soft giggle that came from Buffy contrasted so badly with the look in her eyes that Willow found herself wondering if she had really heard it at all. "I started using Spike because he made me feel something. I hated him and how he made me feel, but it was something. I kept using him once I realized that it would hurt you, long before you found out about it. What better way to hurt you than to hurt the people you love most? I thought about Xander first, but then Spike just... fell into my lap."

"You were going to hurt Xander?" Willow shook her head in confusion.

"Youve got it all wrong, Wills. I *am* going to hurt Xander. Then Giles. Then Anya. If theres one thing I learned over the years, its that being thorough and picking off the people who mean the most to you one by one is worth the time and effort. I *need* Spike to be the first though."

A memory of fish strung on a line flickered in her mind, and Willow felt the air around her swirling with heat. The intense smell of copper was back, so strong that Willow could see Buffys eyes watering where she stood several feet away. Beyond the slayer, Willow could see rain sheeting through the broken glass and soaking the carpet.

"Leave." The voice that came from her mouth didnt sound like her own.

"Tell me where he is, and I let Anya live." The blonde didnt move.

"Get out of my house." Willows eyes flicked from Buffy to the door, and the blondes feet began sliding over the carpet.

"Give me Spike." Buffy tried to dig the soles of her boots into the thick gray fibers and gave a frustrated grunt when it failed.

"Get out." With a shove of her hand, Willow sent Buffy out the way she had come. The glass littering the floor picked itself up and formed itself back into a single, seamless pane in the door.

Willow caught sight of Buffy running at the door through the windows glass. There was a thick thunk as the slayers boot made contact, and then nothing. The window hadnt suffered so much as a crack.

Buffy disappeared from view only to show a moment later in front of the large window in the living room. She punched at the glass, and then winced as she shook her hand in obvious pain. She landed a solid kick to the offending window, this time hopping a bit when it only ricocheted away from the unmarred surface. Again and again she punched and kicked at windows and doors only to find her efforts rebuffed.

Willow waited until the blonde was once again glaring at her through the window of her back door. Walking over to lean down and look the smaller woman in the eye, Willow grinned.

"Not much of a witch, huh? Seems I figured out a way to uninvite *you*." With a swirl of fiery hair, Willow turned and ascended the stairs.

Chapter 24, Part a

Willow rounded the corner to find her parents room empty. A quick look around confirmed that Cordelia wasnt under the bed or in the closet. A missing telephone and a closed bathroom door made the witch smile.

/Of course./

"Cordy?" Willow giggled at the sharp eep that greeted her voice from the other side of the door. "You can come out now. Shes gone."

"Gone?" The door opened, revealing a clearly shaken seer clutching the telephone to her chest.

"Yes, gone. I threw her out."

"And what? She left, just like that?"

"Well, there was some threatening involved and a lot of kicking and punching at the glass. I wouldnt call it peaceful. Is that Angel?"

"Huh?" Cordelia had moved into the room proper and was peering out the door, moving to get a better view.

Willow pointed to the phone Cordelia had in a death grip. "Are you talking to Angel?"

Nodding quickly, the brunette brought it back to her ear. "Angel?- Geez, you dont have to yell.- Fine. Were both fine."

Willow sprinted down the hall to her room and pulled the cordless phone from its base on her bedside table. Hitting the talk button, the redhead was immediately assaulted by a deep Irish voice barely discernable over a thick English accent, both demanding to know what was going on.

"Its okay! Were Fine!" The noise stopped just long enough for Willow to take a breath.

"Are you okay?"

"What the bloody hell is going on?!"

"One at a time! First off, were fine. Cordys a little wigged, but were fine. Buffy showed up wanting me to give her Spike." Willow waited until the blonde vampire finished his grumbling, trying not to laugh as he mentioned the blonde whore of a slayer. "I told her you were sleeping in a safe room where you couldnt feel each other."

"Thats what got Cordelia all scared?" Angel sounded disbelieving, and Willow could almost see the look that he had on his face. "Ive seen her face some truly horrific things without getting this riled up."

"I think she must have overheard Buffy saying that shes punishing me for bringing her back, making me suffer because I made her suffer."

"You didnt-"

"I *did*, Angel." Willow sunk down on the corner of her parents bed, facing Cordelia. "I didnt mean to, I thought I was going something good, but I was wrong."

"You dont deserve this, though." Spikes voice was comforting, but the edge in it told Willow that he was reigning in his temper. "Red, I know you wanted to take your exams, but you need to come back to LA."

"Shes going to hurt Xander, Spike."

"What?" Angel answered, the pitch of his voice impossibly high.

"She was going to start with Xander until she realized, somehow, that I had feelings for Spike. Thats why she started with him instead."

"Why would she go after them?" A new voice tickled over the phone, a thick southern twang very noticeable.

"Hello Fred." Willow cleared her throat, hating to say the next sentence. "She learned it from Angelus."

"Learned what?" Angel was clearly trying to come to grips with the entire situation.

"Shes going to go through them all, one by one, until Im left broken and alone."

"Then shell come for you."

"No, Angel, thats where shes got Angelus beat."

This time it was Spikes soft voice that came over the line. "Hows that, luv?"

"Shes not going to kill me. She knows that, since I was a little girl and my parents started leaving me alone, Ive always hated being alone."

"Youre not alone, Red."

"I will be... I will be."

It had taken the two vampires and the seer an hour to calm the witch down. After assuring Angel that she was okay, she spent another half hour trying to convince Spike that he needed to rest more than he needed to drive all the way back to Sunnydale.

"Spike, Ill be fine. Im going to get Xander, Anya, and Giles together to tell them whats going on. I cant just leave them here if Buffy wants to hurt them. I at least have to warn them."

"Youre right, luv." Spike sighed audibly. "I just want you here where I can look after you."

"I can take care of myself, you know." A stray thought popped into her mind. "Spike?"

"Yeah, luv?"

"What did you mean about women putting their hair up?"

A husky laugh floated over the phone, caressing her ear and tingling its way down her spine. "When I was young, women would wear their hair up unless they were going to bed. Their hair was their one last great mystery."

"But didnt they wear long skirts and stuff?"

"Once youve seen a pair of legs, youve seen them all. The sight of all that hair floating down around a womans shoulders," Spike groaned. "Thats something to behold."

"Oh," Willow smiled and said her good-byes.

Now, Willow, with a sort of messy bun at the top of her head with curls framing her face, opened the door to greet Xander and Anya.

"We came as soon as we got your message." Xander smiled at Willow as he came through the door. "You said Spike wasnt here, so we came baring only pizza and- Cordelia!"

Willow couldnt contain the giggle at Xanders shocked expression. He had stopped just inside the front door, completely blocking Anyas path.

"Xander, we brought soda." Anya elbowed her way past her boyfriends frozen form, halting when she saw the two women standing in the foyer. "Oh, that Cordelia."

Willow moved to stand between the two women. "Let me re-introduce the two of you. The last time you met wasnt the best of times for anyone. Anyanka, this is Cordelia, one of my good friends. Cordy, meet Anya."

"Hello." Cordy extended an uncertain hand to Anya.

"Are you here to try and take my Xander away?"

"No." Cordy looked at Willow, getting only an encouraging nod. "Im here to help Willow."

"Oh," Anyas face lit up with her smile as she grasped Cordys hand. "Pleased to meet you. As long as youre not after Xander, we should get along fine."

"Then were good."

Anyas reply was cut off by a knock on the door behind her still unmoving boyfriend. "Dont just stand there, Xander. Answer the door."

Giles entered, took one look at the faces surrounding him, and herded them all into the living room. Xander placed the pizza on the coffee table beside the plates Willow had set out when he mentioned bringing food. Anya simply removed her coat and sat on one of the chairs.

"What is so important that I close shop and come running over here?"

Willow took a deep, calming breath and launched into her explanation.

* * * * *

The faces surrounding Willow were slack with shock, and she wasnt absolutely sure that they had heard anything after her description of Spike when she found him at the old mansion. It wasnt until she began retelling Buffys expulsion from her house that any of them moved. This, too, was limited to four sets of eyes (Cordelia joined the group for this part of the explanation) sliding from Willow to the perfectly remade French door and back again.

"So, plans have been messed up a bit." Willow sighed in relief that her speech drew to a close. "Instead of just the two of us," Willow motioned to herself and Cordelia. "Now, we *all* have to go."

Xander, Anya, and Giles simply stared at the redhead.

"All of us."

Another stoic look from the others.

"To LA."

Still no response.

"As in... Now."

Giles finally came out of his stupor. "Just pack up and leave? Just like that?"

"Shes not right, Giles. We need to put some distance between us and her. At least long enough to come up with a plan. After that, you guys can come back."

"You guys... You arent coming back, Wills?" Xander sounded forlorn in his seat along the wall.

"I cant be a Scooby anymore, Xan. Not after all of this."

Anya had pulled herself out of Xanders lap and turned to face Giles. "You mean... we have to close the Magic Box? Do we have to stop making money for this?"

"It *does* sound like the logical thing to do, though I believe that its a little predictable. Dont you think so, Willow?"

"Anywhere else has innocent people who have no clue about vampires, or slayers, or real witches with new powers they dont fully understand." Willow stood and moved to look out the window, her hands lacing and unlacing her fingers. "Spikes already there, so it just seems like the easiest thing right now. Angel has more than enough room in that hotel, and there are enough rooms restored for us all to sleep there."

"Youre in love with him." Xanders voice was accusatory. "What is it with you girls and that vampire?"

"What?" Willow rounded to stare at her oldest friend. "In love with who?"

"Angel." The one word was said with more venom than anything Willow had ever heard pass the young mans lips.

"Shes not in love with *Angel*." Anya rolled her eyes at her boyfriend, and Willow sagged in relief until Anya finished her thought. "Shes in love with Spike."

"What!" The shout came from either side of the room, making it hard for Willow to look either her oldest friend or her mentor in the eye.

"Okay, so Im in love with Spike." Willow nodded to herself. /I cant believe I just admitted to that without any stuttering or trying to backpedal./

"Go for it."


Xander shrugged and gave a small grin. "If youre in love with him, then you should just... Go for it."

"I dont think hes over Buffy. Its too soon."

Xander crossed to her in three strides, grasped her arms in his hands, and bent down to look her in the eyes. "He wasnt in love with Buffy. Shes the slayer. Theres no way Spike would ever let himself be fully in love with someone who would never fit together with him. We both know you would fit. Youre his puzzle piece, and I say go for it."

Willow nodded at Xanders forceful words, smiling as she remembered the way her body fit with Spikes as they kissed. Well, they were perfect puzzle pieces that way... It was a start.

"Maybe youre right."

"I *know* Im right. If you dont give it a shot, youll regret it."

Willow nodded, more to herself than to Xander or his words, and smiled. "I will, Xan."

"Good then."

They shared a smile before the sound of Cordelia clearing her throat got their attention.

"Whats wrong, Cordy?" Willow wasnt sure what had the brunette acting so impatient.

Cordelia slid from her seat on the end table beside the couch to stand beside Willow. "If were planning to get home before midnight, we should probably get moving."

"Right. Youre right." Willow nodded and pushed Xander toward Anya.

"Xander. They want to close the shop until we figure out if Buffys really crazy and going to come after us." The confusion Anya was feeling clearly written on her face. "Why would she destroy a place of business to get back at someone? Thats just not right."

"I know, baby, but thats just the way things sometimes work." Xander pulled the small ex demon close to his chest, running a palm over the waves of her hair.

"Well, it sucks."

"Yeah, it does." Cordelia nodded and turned to Giles. "So, are you coming or what?"

"Yes, I suppose I have no other choice but to go along with this plan until a more reasonable one can be made."

"Do you ever do unstuffy?" The seer shook her head and dismissed him with the wave of one perfectly manicured hand. "Willow and I are already packed. Our things are in Angels car. Giles will drive it back to LA so that Willow can drive her car-"

"No." The redhead interrupted Cordelia.

"What do you mean, no?"

"The sedan belongs to my parents."

"Oh." Cordelia regrouped in the amount of time it took for Xander to cough once. "Willow will drive Angels car back with Xander and Anya. Giles can take his car, and Ill ride with him since its a two seater. We go to Giles first, then to your guys apartment. We stay together as a group."

"Safety in numbers?" Anya looked at Xander and then grinned happily at his distracted nod. Shed gotten something right.

Willow, Cordelia, Giles, and Anya began moving toward the garage door until Xanders voice brought them up short.


"What is it now, Xander?"

"Sorry, G-Man. Its just..." Xander took a deep breath and looked at Willow. "What about Dawn?"

Chapter 25

"We have to take her."

"Absolutely not!" Giles gave Willow a look that told her she was taking things too far. "Dawn means the world to Buffy. She wont be harmed."

"She wont be harmed, because shes coming with us!" Xander was nearly panting in rage. "We cant just leave her here, Giles!"

"If we take her without Buffys permission, then its kidnaping. I, for one, dont want to have the police to worry about on top of everything else. Buffy would do anything to protect the girl, as she proved not even a full year ago."

Willow sighed and pushed a few curls that had worked their way loose from her bun behind her ear. "Okay, well try it Giles way first. If theres so much as a whimper from the girls mouth, Ill know about it. Im pretty sure I can be anywhere she is within seconds. If shes hurt or scared, all bets are off and shes coming with us. Agreed?"

Reluctant nods answered her, and Willow moved to the garage. "Lets get this started then. Id like to be in LA, and off the road, by midnight."

Cordelia slid into the passenger seat of Giles car before they backed out of the drive and waited for Willow in Angels pride and joy to catch up. The trip to the watchers apartment took less than ten minutes, and the group soon found themselves sitting in his living room.

Willow took a few minutes to call the hotel in LA, getting a machine for her trouble. She left a short message after the beep telling whoever checked the messages that everyone was coming for a bit of a visit. She hung up the phone and tried to act more calm and collected than she really was.

After getting tired of the tense silence, Cordelia declared that they should be looking for on the road snacks. Since they spent most of their research sessions in the apartment, there was an impressive selection of sugary delicacies. Anya managed to locate a few bags and the group loaded them with as many unnutritious things as they could, only stopping when Giles lugged his suitcase to the foot of the stairs. Armed with two suitcases full of books and two duffels of clothing, along with their haul of road snacks, the group piled once more into the cars and headed across town to the apartment Xander shared with Anya.

"Somethings not right." Willow rubbed her shimmering arms against an imaginary wind.

Xander raised an eyebrow and quirked his head to the side. "You sure, Will?"

"Sure, Im sure. Theres something... I dont know, just off about this tonight."

"Its the thought of Buffy. It will go away after we get out of here." Anya spoke softly, a sad expression on her face. "Come on, I want to get packed and out of here as soon as I can. If Im going to be losing money, I may as well make the most of my vacation. Theyre supposed to be fun, right?"

"Yes, they are." Cordelia followed the ex demon up the stairs. Willow and Giles followed, an anxious Xander brought up the rear.

The three behind Cordelia couldnt enter the apartment until she stepped inside, so Anyas shout of fear and surprise caught them off guard. "Xander!"

The dark haired youth sprinted past Willow, Giles, and even Cordelia only to skid to a stop just inside the door to their home. To say the place was a wreck would be like calling the Titanic a boat. The front room was in complete disarray, and Willow could see the bedroom was just as bad.

"What happened?" Anya, sounding small and lost from the confines of Xanders arms, asked the others.

"Right off?" Willow pointed to a spot above the upturned and ripped apart remains of the sofa. "Id say it was Buffy."

Where Is He? was scrawled along the wall in a slanted line in a deep red paint.

Intense anger flared through Willows body, fueled by the fear that had been building since before she first found Spike beaten and bloodied. While everyone else began moving around the room to help Anya and Xander gather what they could from the mess, Willow stood, monolithic and pale in the moonlight streaking through the broken panes of the window.

Raising a hand she pointed at the stuffing and wire that had once been inside the large tan sofa. A few pieces of fluff trembled as if in a breeze before large clumps began flying through the air or slithering along the floor to their former home. As the cushions restuffed themselves, the frame popped back in place. Willow grinned as she remembered Christine and the car that put itself together in much the same way.

After the sofa was back in perfect condition and sitting where it always had, the witch went to work on the other pieces of furniture in the living area. Next came all the picture frames and windows. She moved into the kitchen, moving and straightening as she looked around the immaculate room. The bathroom hadnt been touched, so she moved on to the bedroom where everyone way searching for enough clothes to last the couple at least a few days in LA.

A wave of her hand had the bed reconstructed and the covers and pillows fluffing and folding on their own. A look at the closet had its rightful contents sliding back onto hangers, and the hangers hooking themselves over the rod.

"You *gotta* teach me that!"

"Later, maybe." Willow grinned as Xanders obvious approval of her abilities. "Right now, you have some packing to do."

"That was amazing, Willow." Giles blinked at her from behind the lenses of his wired glasses.

"You ought to see her with blood stains!" Cordelia crowed from her spot on the bed where she was supervising Anyas packing by removing all the unfit articles of clothing from the suitcase as quickly as the ex demon could put them in. "Youre not taking this shirt, when that dress is hanging there so nice and neat. Dont forget to pack the red heels, since they obviously match so well."

"Oh, youre right. Thank you."

Willow could only shake her head at the newly human woman as she took the seers advice without a second thought. /I wonder how she does that? Anya would fight me tooth and nail about just about everything I suggested./

Instead of taking up space in the small bedroom, Willow retreated back to the living room. The jagged words were still on the wall, and Willow grew more and more upset as she stared at the angry slashes of color. Green eyes slid over the letters, line by thick line, and the blood began sizzling through the redheads veins. Willow didnt notice the heat, didnt notice the smell in the air, and didnt notice the sparking in her curls.

The first thing that drew her eyes away from the offensive words was a small flicker of blue light crawling down her arm. The blue flicker turned out to be a small flame sliding over her skin, tracing along the now glowing tribal patterns. As she watched, fascinated, the blue spot of heat grew until every patch of the tribal that wasnt covered by her shirt or mid-length skirt was alive with blue, yellow, and orange licking flames. Willow pulled her shirt away from her body, giggling softly as the newly exposed skin flickered to life.

"Willow!" Cordelia was standing in the doorway between the living room and the bedroom. The others came at her shout, skidding to a halt when the flaming redhead came into view.

"Giles?" The flames died out, leaving a frightened Willow standing in the middle of the room. "Whats happening to me?"

"I think its time we get to LA and find out."

She's Like Candy, page 6