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Breaks, Page 2

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Breaks, Page 2

Chapter 9

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Willow ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The second band left the stage at a few minutes before midnight. Willow was hot and sweating, her loosened muscles already telling her that she was going to be sore the next day. She had pulled Spike a little further out onto the floor to join in the bouncing, thrashing dancing of the other club goers. Spikes usual air of detached stoicism had slowly cracked and melted away as Willow moved to the beat and he moved with her. The two had been separated four times by moving bodies, but Spikes large, cool hands always appeared around her waist or arm before she had time to panic. He would give a brilliant grin and cock his head to the side in greeting, and Willow would copy him before moving back into the fray.

"Ready to go, pet?" Spikes lips brushed over her ear as he made himself heard over the loud voices and louder music that the DJ was pumping into the night air. "You look right knackered."

"I dont want to go back yet, but this is too much!" Willow shouted over the music, forgetting that Spikes hearing was much more acute than her own.

"Cmon, Red," Spike wrapped a firm arm around her waist and led her out of the club and onto the sidewalk.

Willow still moved to the music, muffled now that they were past the large doors and on the sidewalk. She giggled and wrapped both her arms through one of Spikes as she leaned happily against his side. Her brain, which usually ran twice as fast as the average human brain, was racing speedily along as she tried to decide what she wanted to do in a city that she had never visited.

"So?" Willow fluttered long eyelashes teasingly up at the blonde. "Anything you know that will give us an excuse not to go back to the room?"

"Only places I know of that have anything going on at this time of night are other clubs or demon spots."

Willow, not wanting to listen to anymore dance music pumped out by DJs who had no taste in music, grimaced at the thought of clubs. "You mean even a city like San Francisco closes down?"

"Well, there are places to eat open, and Im sure we could find a party or two."

"How about we go for a walk for a bit and then maybe get something to eat? There are lots of people around, and I dont think we could get into too much trouble with my magic and your vampy-ness."

Spike chuckled at her mini-babble and nodded. "Sounds like a plan, luv. Shall we go back up the hill or keep going this way?"

"This way. Ive already seen everything up there."

They moved amongst the small groups of people leaving the concert and just meandered along with the general flow of foot traffic. Willow told herself that she was holding Spikes hand to ensure that they wouldnt get separated and that no one would try anything with her, even as she told herself to ignore the way her skin tingled at the touch.

A few blocks away from the club, Willow caught sight of a bright, flashing sign, and grinned up at Spike. "Lets go there!"

Spike eyed the neon sign announcing tattoos and piercings before training his blue eyes on her. "The bloody Scoobies will probably yell for my head on a platter if you come home with more holes than you left with."

"Good thing Im getting a tattoo then." Willow nodded to herself and yanked Spike through the door after her before he could respond.

Spike pulled his arm back and stared at Willow as she stood in the center of the parlors front space. "Sure bout this, pet? Its permanent."

"Ive wanted one for a while, Spike, Im just too chicken to get one on my own."

"And youre not a chicken now?" That scarred eyebrow rose in question, and Willow suddenly thought how cool it would look with a bit of silver running through it.

Just after that, she wondered when she had developed a fetish for piercings. Lucky for her slightly bewildered mind, a heavily bearded and tattooed man stepped through the door separating the front room from the back.

Willow was thinking that he *had* to have been the template for every stereotypical biker or tattooist in the movies or on TV. A black bandana was tied around his forehead, keeping the long, waving grayish brown hair from falling in his eyes as he moved. The matching beard fell to nearly the center of his Harley Davidson t-shirt that stretched over his round stomach, giving him an almost comical Santa-as-rebel look. The arms that ran through the sleeves and down to hands that wiped absently at a towel pulled through a belt loop were colored in with so many designs and colors that Willow was unable to pick out more than one or two of the largest pictures.

"Can I help you?" His voice was mellow, and Willow found herself smiling.

"I want a tattoo." Willow cringed at that, knowing that it had to be one of the more inane things she had ever uttered.

The man simply nodded and gestured at the walls around them. "You pick it, I stick it."

Willow frowned for a moment as she glanced around. "Could you do something that isnt on the walls?"

"Itd cost more, but I can do just about anything."

"If I had thought ahead, I would have gone online and brought the picture with me."

Another soft chuckle came from the gently smiling man, and he waved them over to the counter situated to one side of the main showroom. He pulled a laptop from its resting place under the counter top and opened it before turning it to face Willow. "Ive got a wireless connection."

Willow giggled and nodded as she looked up the site that held the pictures she had been looking at when contemplating getting a tattoo. Tara had always been against it, telling her that there were other, more important things to spend her money on. Now, faced with life without the blonde witch and a future that she would lay out for herself, Willow felt suddenly free. She didnt have to please anyone, or try to be what someone expected. She was good enough for herself, and Spike hadnt complained about her, so she figured she was good enough for him.

Finding what she was looking for, she looked up to see Spike leaning against the counter, giving the other man a light as a thin veil of smoke formed around his own head. "I found it."

"Lets have a look, then. Should have known itd be a fairy."

"Its not just any fairy. Its by Nene Thomas, and its called Pumpkin Patch. I like it cuz its all sexy and witchy, but still gentle."

"Seems to suit you, then." After a quick look, the man nodded and hooked his printer up to the laptop. "Itll take me about an hour to transfer it to what Ill put on you to use as a guide."

"Youll be open that late?" Spike had glanced at the clock on the wall before facing the shops owner.

"Names Doodle, and I should tell you that this is going to be a $300 job."

"Told ya, mate, money isnt an object when it comes to Red and what she wants." Spike had spoken before Willow could, and she frowned up at him slightly even as her stomach did that now familiar twisting thing.

"Ill be here, then. Im open at night and sleep during the day, anyway."

"Well go grab something to eat, and be back then. You want something?"

Doodle looked up from the page that had just slid into the printers tray. "Chocolate milkshake, if you can manage it, would be great."

Spike nodded and Willow waved. "See you in a bit, then."

* * * * * * *

They had found a Dennys not far from the shop and spent the next half hour arguing over who was going to pay for the impending artwork. Willows stance was that it was going on her body, and that Spike had bought far too much for her already. Spikes arguments centered on the fact that she was the best friend he currently had, that shed been through a lot, that he was going to be blamed for it anyway, and that he had more than three lifetimes worth of savings to her half-life accounts. In the end, Willow picked up the tab for dinner and one large chocolate shake to go, and agreed to let Spike pay for the tattoo.

"Okay," Doodle shuffled them into his shop and turned off the sign and locked the door behind them. "I dont think anyone else is getting worked on tonight. You decide where you want this pretty little fairy?"

Willow pointed to the flat space on the front of her right hip. "Right here."

Looking from her petite body to the outline he held in his hand, Doodle went to the copy machine as he spoke over his shoulder. "Youll need to skinny out of everything under that skirt, then. Well just push it up so its out of my way. Your boyfriend there gonna have a problem with this?"

"Not a problem, mate." The warning gaze shot to Willow kept her from saying anything, and she wondered at its meaning.

When the situation dawned on Willow, she felt the hot surge of a blush sweep over her chest and face. "Spike?"

"Its okay, pet." Spike kissed her temple and led her to the chair that was set up for her. "Ill make sure everything that isnt being inked stays covered up, and that nothing happens that shouldnt be."

"I think hes human, Spike." Willow grinned up at him as he removed her boots before throwing his duster over her lower body and gestured for her to get on with her disrobing underneath it.

"Doesnt bloody well matter, Red." Spikes eyebrows rose as the stockings, garters, and ruffled panties appeared in her hands. He chuckled as Willow blushed a deeper red when she realized he was studying her underthings and jammed them into one of the dusters pockets. "Someone messes with you, theyre messin with me."

Willow could only nod as Doodle appeared in the doorway and motioned Spike to a seat a little to Willows left as he pulled a pair of rubber gloves from a box on his table. "Lets see that hip, little girl."

The kind twinkle in his eyes caused the insecurity to evaporate, and Willow was left with only a faint blush that soon disappeared altogether as the man plied his trade.

* * * * * * *

The sky had the barest pink tinge as Spike helped a slightly limping, and thoroughly happy, Willow from the confines of the tattoo parlor. The finished ink work started on the front of her hip as she had asked, the fairy sitting on the largest pumpkin sat prominently on the swell of her hipbone, and a few smaller vegetables and vines trailed along to the back. The oranges and yellows of the gourds were reflected in the fairys wings that were then lined in red, and the black and white dress she wore would be both flirty and pretty... Once the redness and swelling went away.

Spike had sat by her the entire time, talking with her and Doodle, getting drinks from time to time, and holding her hand when the needle came in contact with a bone. His sharp eyes had taken in everything the other man did, and Willow knew that he would have ripped fingers, or an entire arm, off if anything unwanted had been attempted. He held the mans business card in one hand, given should anyone ask where she got the work done or if any unforseen problems should crop up, along with a small tube of A&D ointment to cover the colored area to help prevent scabbing and the loss of ink.

They had just passed the club, now dark and derelict in the early morning light, when an arm snaked out of the darkness of an alley and wrapped around Willows waist. She squeaked in fear and pain as a decidedly ungentle hand bit into her tender hip.

"Let her go." Spikes eyes had flashed to yellow before Willows eep had fully registered to her own ears, and the ridges of his true face slid over his alabaster brow as he growled low in his throat.

"Make me." The other mans hand was sliding over Willows side, and she could smell the alcohol in his breath.

"With pleasure, mate." Spike glanced at Willow and flicked his eyes to the side.

Willow got the idea that she was supposed to duck, and did just that. As her head left its spot in front of the mans chin, Spikes fist slammed, lightening fast, into his nose. Willow heard an odd crunching noise and felt something wet shower the back of her head and neck before both men howled in pain. The man behind her let go and stumbled away from them, leaving Willow to stand looking down at the vampire at her feet.

"Spike?" Willow touched his shoulder, getting only a whimper in response.

Looking up, she saw one of the most welcome sights she could think of. A taxi was heading towards them. The off duty sign was on, though, and it was going in the wrong direction!

Seeing that the window was down, Willow waved her arm in the far too large coat just as it began to pass them. "Ill pay double!"

Brake lights lit up, and the taxi turned in the parking lot of the store across the street before pulling up in front of the redheaded witch and the huddled vampire.

The driver, an older man with graying hair helped Spike into the backseat, and Willow was glad to see that the demons face had retreated. "Wherere you headed, kid?"

"Up to the Mark Hopkins Intercontinental."

The man looked at Willow sympathetically. "You know you dont have to be with a drunk, right? There are lots of nice, decent boys that would treat you right."

Willow shook her head. "Its not like that! Someone grabbed me, and he got a little beat up stopping it."

"Mmmhmm," the driver wasnt believing her, but he simply got in and started the meter.

Willow paid the man double the fare, as promised, as well as a very generous tip for helping her get Spike to the front door where she had to show the doorman her room key to be let in. Making it to the elevator, she slumped down onto the seat and counted the floors along with the little electronic panel.

Spike was walking much better by the time they reached their floor, and was able to lean against the wall as Willow unlocked the door to their suite. He curled up on the bed as soon as Willow got him close enough.

"Go change, luv. Dont put anything on that will rub against that ink too much." Spike rubbed at his temples until Willow moved his hands out of the way and placed a cool, wet cloth over his forehead.

"Whyd you do that, Spike? I wasnt hurt, just scared."

"Thats why, pet." Spike toed his boots off, and Willow followed suit before he pulled her up onto the bed beside him. "I dont like seeing you scared. I hate seeing you crying. I loathe seeing you hurt in any way. Its just not in me."

Willow felt the room disappear, Spikes arms around her waist and the solid wall of his chest at her back the only things that remained real, as he spoke.

"Im falling in love with you, Red." Spikes hand settled over her mouth before she could try to come up with a reply. "Its too soon after the witch for you, Willow. Youll figure it all out sooner or later. Just go to sleep, now."

Willow nodded mutely, lying awake as she felt Spikes arms slowly relax as he slipped into sleep. It was well after eight in the morning by the time Willow, still confused and with a fluttering stomach, nodded into dreams.