"Have I mentioned lately how much I love vacations?" Buffy asked the others.
"Not in the last five seconds," Giles replied dryly.
"Well I'm gonna keep on saying it," she informed him cheerfully.
"Will they have proper doughnuts in Italy?" Xander asked worriedly.
"Nooo they'll be made of pasta. What do you think you bloody idiot," Spike replied sarcastically.
"How am I supposed to know? They're European, aren't they meant to eat differently?"
Willow rolled her eyes. She wished they'd all shut up, she'd have plenty of time to escape them though on this trip. All those places to visit and those gorgeous Italian men. She blushed hoping no-one could hear her thoughts.
The mini-bus arrived at the docks where they were to catch the cruise ship to Italy. Leaving the mini-bus and the gang still squabbling, Willow sighed as she looked up at the ship, sparkling in the moonlight and then back to the others. "This trip sure is going to be unforgettable..."
Spike followed the others out of the mini-bus. Why the hell he had agreed to accompany the Slayer and her half-twit friends halfway across the world, he didn't know. Glancing at Angel, he shook his head. Even his bloody poof of a sire was coming along. He could never get away from all of them on a ship like this. Listening to them argue about how much luggage was a good amount to have brought, he murmured under his breath, "At least it's going to be unforgettable."
Willow sighed as she felt the warm water and bubbles enveloped her as she settled back into the Jacuzzi. This was why she had come on holiday. Everyone had separated once they had got onto the ship, so she had time to relax before meeting the others for dinner. Breathing in deeply, she let the water soothe away all the day's tension. Suddenly a head came soaring through the water following by a lean, pale white body. Willow screamed.
"Sorry luv, did I scare you?" Spike asked, a huge smile crossing his face.
"You... you..." she began.
"Idiot, wanker, sexy vampire..." he finished off for her.
Willow blushed but then started to fume again. "What the hell were you trying to do? This is a Jacuzzi not a swimming pool."
"There's a difference?"
Spike watched Willow, amused at how when she got annoyed she really got annoyed. Her face was turning the same colour as her hair. "She's sweet when she's angry," he thought. All her innocence seems to blow away.
Willow noticed Spike staring at her with a weird, amused smile on his gorgeous face. Her stomach started to flutter. "Oh, no." She thought, "Now is not the time to develop a crush on Spike. "A crush?" She started to panic.
"On Spike? I've got to get out of here."
"If you're gonna make it to dinner, you two lovebirds had better get a move on," Cordelia told them as she walked past. Pruned after a massage and a manicure. As she finished her sentence, Willow made a half no, half yelp sound and jumped out of the Jacuzzi and ran out of the room.
"Did I say something wrong?" Cordelia asked Spike.
Willow stared at the clothes hanging in her cabin's wardrobe. Buffy insisted she bought new clothes, so she didn't recognize half of them. Pushing to the back of her mind all thoughts of Spike that threatened to surface, she grabbed a pale pink dress and shrug that didn't look as revealing as the others. Grimacing in front of the mirror, she muttered, "At least today can't get that much worse..." Before leaving the room.
The restaurant was dark and lit only by low lights and candles. The gang where all crowded around a table in the center of the room. Spike was sitting at the head, wearing his normal attire of black pants, red shirt and black leather jacket. Willow gulped and made her way over to them.
"Hi," she said sitting down.
"Wil-low," Cordy replied in shock, "Have you finally ditched the geek wardrobe or what?"
"Well-" Willow began.
"I took her shopping," Buffy interrupted.
"You mean, you took her out and spent her money for her," Angel replied teasingly.
"Did not," Buffy answered, playfully hitting him on the arm.
"You look great Will," Xander said.
"Thanks," Willow replied. Nervously she began twisting her napkin, aware of Spike's unfaltering gaze.
"What does the redhead think she's doing?" Spike wondered to himself."That dress is so... so flattering." His eyes traveled downwards. He could smell her arousal. His cock began to harden.
"Spike!" He yelled mentally to himself. "Get some control, you do anything to that witch and you won't leave this ship alive. But then I'm not alive anyway..."
Buffy noticed the two and smiled inwardly, "Well what do we have here? Seems that nobody's been telling Auntie Buffy everything, well I'll have to see about that." Glancing at Angel she saw that he too had noticed but didn't look in the least bit surprised. Smiling she turned and whispered in his ear, "Later you're gonna tell all..."
Somehow Willow managed to get through the meal. Spike had stopped staring at her and focused his attention on insulting Xander and Buffy.
"Anyone wanna go see the nightclub?" Cordy asked the others, "It's meant to be the best place on the ship. It's got a mystical theme according to the brochure."
"Sure," the others agreed.
"I'm not sure I'd agree it's the best place on the ship. I'm rather fond of the Jacuzzi myself. What would you say Red?" Spike asked Willow. His blue eyes shone with a mocking innocence.
"What? Erm... I, I'd probably have to see the nightclub first. Before I make any decisions that is," Willow said, stuttering a reply. They left the table, Giles wandering off to find a coffee bar where he could read his book. Xander and Cordy followed and then Spike getting closed down by Buffy and Angel. Willow wandered slowly after them.
Spike felt an arm grab him and shove him into the lounge as he walked out of the restaurant. "What the hell..." He yelled.
"Time to 'fess up Spikey. You gonna tell Auntie Buffy what's going on between you and Willow? Or do I have to force it out of you?" She shoved his further into the wall.
"Why what you gonna do? Stake me? I don't think Daddy here would be best pleased." He said taunting her.
"Don't try my PATIENCE!" Buffy replied, hitting him in the stomach with her free hand.
"What am I going to do?" He wondered. "If I confess anything about Willow that can in any way be interpreted, to mean that I like her. Which I do, then... then..." He trailed off, lost in thinking mental images of how many ways in which he could be killed or tortured.
"SPIKE!" Buffy yelled again.
As Willow walked past the room, she heard Buffy yell. About to walk in and find out what was happening. She stopped, hearing Spike's voice.
"Why would I? A master vampire, be interested in some little witch like Willow? I mean come on. She doesn't exactly turn heads where ever she goes, does she?"
Willow blinked back tears. She knew it had been too good to be true, all the attention Spike had been giving her was probably out of pity. The tears now flowing at full speed, she turned on her heel and sped out of the hall and onto the boat deck. Not seeing the figure coming the other way, she ran blindly into them.
"Woah," a voice said, "Where's a pretty girl like you going in tears?"
Willow stared at the man standing in front of her. His rusty brown hair shone in the moonlight and his brown eyes reflected worry.
"Wow," she thought. Then remembering Spike's hurtful words she began to sob again.
"Come on now, don't cry. Whatever it is, it's not worth crying about."
"He... he was sooo hurtful though."
"He probably didn't mean it."
"See, even you're sticking up for him."
"I'm not. Look, come with me and I'll buy you a nice bottle of wine and you can tell me all about it. How does that sound?"
Willow was about to say no, when she realized. Here was a gorgeous man offering to listen to her troubles and not make any judgments. She'd be stupid to turn that down. Putting a watery smile on her face, she replied, "I'd love to."
Spike was annoyed. That stupid bitch had kept him there for ages, questioning him as if he was some bloody criminal. The only thought that had kept him from telling the truth was that he would be able to go find Willow and admit his feelings. Well, maybe not straight away. He's have some fun first. Whistling happily he went off to search the ship for Willow.
"So I've known him for a couple of years. But we've never been really close, hell I've never really had a proper conversation with him."
"He was with someone else then."
"I guess you could say he was in a long term relationship. But she's dead now, went into the sun.. and had really bad burns... Lethal actually."
"Maybe he was just scared of something new."
Willow snorted, "He's not the kind of guy who gets scared easily. Anyway he said stuff... about me. Really hurtful things."
"He might not have meant them."
"Oh he did." Willow twirled the glass in her hand and stared miserably into its murky red depths.
"Well he doesn't deserve you then."
Willow heard a hush go over the room, looking up she saw Spike standing in the doorway. His look radiated hurt and evil.
"Spike," she murmured.
Willow sighed, she really didn't want to get into an argument right now and the way in which Spike was charging over to their table was unnerving her. Sitting straight and staring directly at him, she prepared herself for what was to come.
What the hell did she think she was doing? She was his. Sure he hadn't claimed her as of yet. But she had no right to be sitting there next to some rich bloke who was all over her. "I'll teach her who she belongs to." He muttered under his breath.
"Spike, I wish I could say it's nice to see you but it's not. What are you doing here?" Willow asked unemotionally.
"Looking for YOU," he hissed.
"Really, you're interested in a little witch like me? Should I be flattered?"
"What? I've chosen you, you belong to me."
"I think it's quite obviously that I belong to nobody. Least of all, scum like you."
"Don't you dare speak to me like that. Who's your little friend here? Paid him to sit with you and make me jealous? Or is he paying you for something else? You stupid whore," Spike sneered.
"Excuse me," Andy interrupted, "But you shouldn't be talking that way to a nice woman like Willow. Will you please leave her alone you're upsetting her."
"Am I Red? I could have sworn it's the other way around."
"Shut up, just shut up." Willow yelled tears in her eyes. "If you feel anything for me at all leave now or I'll tell Buffy to enjoy herself, throwing you into hell."
Spike relented seeing her tears. "Just remember this is not over," he choked before running from the room.
"I'm sorry we had to leave early." Willow said apologizing to Andy. "Maybe we could meet up some other time and go for a walk?"
"That would be nice. Goodnight Willow," he replied, kissing her forehead before disappearing into the night. Breaking back into fresh sobs, Willow opened her cabin door and threw herself onto her bed.
Andy walked along to his cabin, thoughts of Willow filling his head. Suddenly a blue clothed arm reached out and grabbed him, pulling him into the shadows.
"What?" Andy asked the woman, rubbing his arm.
"You know just well what. You're job is to break the news to Willow, not to go after her."
"I wasn't, she was upset. I still don't know why I'm doing this."
"Because you owe me and you'd better well remember that the next time you go doing things that weren't in the contract."
"Well, what's she like?"
"Sweet, innocent. You'd love her. I'm going now, I need a bloody strong drink after the shock you gave me.” The woman looked at the stars twinkling in the sky and murmured gently, "I do love her. She is after all my daughter."
The figure spun around and walked swiftly away, her long red hair swaying in the breeze.
Willow slept in late the next day and it was early in the afternoon that she eventually got up. After dressing she scoured the ship for the others and found them all up on deck. Giles was as always, reading a book. Cordy was impatiently telling Xander to hurry up putting the sunscreen on her back, and would he please not get it in her hair too. Buffy was messing about in the open air swimming pool with Andy.
"Willow, morning. Or should I say good afternoon?" Giles asked, amusement dancing in his eyes.
"I'm sorry, I just didn't feel like getting up." She replied, settling down into a deckchair next to him.
"No need to apologize, this is your holiday as much as anyone else's."
"You're pretty relaxed. Not that you aren't normally relaxed but you're a Watcher and you're tense and stuff... and I'm going to stop digging myself into a big hole right now."
"I know what you mean. But so far there is no sign of anything strange or evil. And I'm hoping it'll stay that way."
"WILLOW!" Buffy yelled from the side of the pool.
"Hey, Buffy" she replied as Buffy and Andy climbed out of the pool.
"Will, I want you to meet Andy. Andy this is Willow." Buffy said introducing them.
"We've met," Willow replied shyly, wondering what the hell Andy thought of her after last night.
"Yes and I promised you a walk along the boat deck. Shall we, that's if you don't mind me kidnapping your friend for a while Buffy?" Andy said.
"Go ahead." Buffy answered.
The two made their excuses to the others and strolled off, deep in conversation.
"Who IS he?" Cordy asked Buffy.
"Lets just say he's gorgeous, he's rich from what he told me about himself, and he's VERY interested in Willow."
"Wonder what he does."
"Whatever it is I bet it's important. But then Will isn't interested."
"Does she have a mental problem?"
"No, but a crush on Spike."
Willow for the first time in 24 hours, was happy. She'd spent the day with Andy just hanging out and talking about anything and everything. And now she was having dinner with him and her friends and she'd been able to avoid Spike since the sun had set. Taking a sip of wine, she smiled at a joke Xander was telling. "Life was getting better..."
Spike was annoyed. He'd been annoyed since he'd seen Willow with that prat. And for the first time in ages, he'd hated being a vampire. He'd been stuck in his cabin all day unable to come out. But the sun had set and now he would be able to see Willow and apologize. She had to accept his apology. His life depended on it.
Spike had entered the room, that Willow was sure of. She could see the looks exchanged between her friends. They could be really sweet at times but she didn't like the way they had avoided talking about him. Like they were frightened of saying something wrong. But even for all that she was glad he hadn't been mentioned, she'd needed time to come to terms with everything.
"Hi Spike," Buffy said, welcoming him with false cheerfulness.
"Hi," Spike said back, equally as false and cheerful.
Willow could feel his gaze on her, "Hi," she replied.
"So what have you all been doing today?" He asked through clenched teeth, plastering a smile on his face as he listened to
Cordelia and Buffy drone on about their day and how they'd all met Andy.
The meal went without hassle except for the odd remark that was ignored by everyone. Deciding to go show Willow the nightclub that she had never seen the night before. They all went off in the direction of the club.
"Willow is it okay if I speak to you?" Spike asked.
Looking at the others, she said softly, "It's ok I'll catch you up in a minute." Turning her attention back to Spike she replied sharply, "What?"
"I'm... I'm sorry if I have said anything to upset you luv, but I didn't mean it."
"Really, you were quite convincing in your conversation with Buffy and Angel."
"What? You heard that?"
"Every word. And keep the apologies cause I don't want to hear them." She said walking away.
"I was lying, dammit. Willow... WILLOW. Look at me, I would never mean anything like that. You're beautiful and intelligent, and I don't deserve you."
"Well you're right about that."
"Willow," he grabbed hold of her arms. "Don't walk away, I mean it."
"I don't care anymore."
"What, you like that Andy geezer?"
"What if I do?" She replied coldly, green eyes flashing.
"It means nothing, because he'll never be able to make you feel the way I can make you feel."
"High opinions of yourself you've got-"
Her words were cut off as Spike kissed her roughly.
Willow leaned into Spike and the kiss. Emotions soared through her body, all the feelings pent up inside her now released in a kiss.
"Spike," she murmured, "SPIKE!" Willow pushed him back. But he wouldn't let go, she pushed him harder.
When he finally moved away, Willow slapped him, “How... how..." her words trailed off as she ran away from him.
"What did I do?" Spike groaned to himself.
"Why did he have to do that?" Willow sobbed, falling against the floor to the door. "After everything. I still love him." She stared at a single photo lying on her bedside table. It had been taken the year before around her birthday. They'd all had such a good time, going to the beach and having a moonlight picnic. The whole gang, together.
Buffy knocked against the door. She was annoyed. This was the second night in a row Willow had failed to turn up at the nightclub. Meaning she had lost even more quality time with Angel, and she was seriously pissed off. The door opened slowly to reveal a puffy, mascara run, red-faced Willow.
"I'll kill him!" Buffy yelled storming off. But as she rounded the corner, a leg was stuck out belonging a beautiful red-haired woman.
"No, you don't." she muttered. Buffy tripped over the leg, falling in a heap on the floor, unconscious.
Willow didn't know what to do. Buffy had been gone for over an hour and she hadn't heard a thing. Spike deserved to be killed, but... but... it was hard to admit but, she loved him. And it was immoral to sit back and let him be killed. She HAD kissed him back. "Can't let Buffy do this, can't let Buffy do this," she repeated to herself over and over again. Before running out of the room going in the opposite direction Buffy had gone.
"No need to go mad!" Spike told himself as he kicked the furniture in his cabin. "Just a little mistake, plenty of time to put it right-" He was stopped in mid sentence as Willow burst into his cabin.
"Willow, I'm sorry," he began.
"Your supposed to be dust. What are you doing here? Buffy's not here?" She said gasping for air.
"Should the stupid bitch be here?"
Willow struggled to focus on Spike. Her head throbbed painfully, grasping the handle of the door she tried to stay upright. "What the.." she began before fainting and falling to the floor.
Willow slept on as Spike watched over her. After she'd fallen unconscious, he'd taken her back to her cabin, finding Buffy sprawled on the floor on the way. "What is it with unconscious women lately?" He wondered. He'd tucked her into her bed and contacted the others. She'd come in and out of consciousness and had been running up a high fever. Thankfully now she was asleep. He tucked a few strands of her wild red hair that had fallen out of her braid, behind her ears. "Willow, why does everything seem to go wrong between us?" He asked her softly. Receiving no answer as expected, he made himself comfortable in the chair next to her bed and watched on.
"Where am I," Willow wondered as she observed her surroundings. She was standing in a field of golden sunflowers. Yellow everywhere and yet no yellow was the same as the next. The sun was shining and she felt happy. Raising her face to the sun, she caught a flash of white in-between the huge stalks of flowers. "What's that?" She asked herself curiously. Willow moved forwards brushing past the flowers, there it was again! Deciding it must be a rabbit or a dog she followed it. It came again and again. She quickened her pace, trying desperately to find out what it was. She came to the end of the field, it opened into woods. She carried on, the white turned out to be a figure, "Wait!" Willow yelled. The figure took no notice of her. She ran quicker and quicker. Her heart felt like it was going to pound of her chest and her legs ached. Just as she felt like she could not go further, it opened out onto a small clearing. A small waterfall trickled away. "Why wouldn't you wait?" She asked the figure. Moving closer, she saw that it was Buffy. "Buffy-" She began, but she had no further said her name when the figure changed into Giles. It kept changing again and again and Willow felt the woods spinning around her. Her ears burned as they chanted repeatedly, "Is Willow really Willow?" She started to cry but then the spinning stopped and the woods went dark. Hours had passed by without her noticing. The figure had its back to her. "Why?" She asked, "Why?" The figure turned around. "Spike?" she whispered in disbelief.
"I love you," he told her, clasping her hands and kissing her on the forehead. "Please don't forget that."
"Don't go Spike," she begged, "Please don't go."
He let go of her hands as he disappeared into a bright white light, showing her reflection. She stared back at herself, but it wasn't her. A woman reflecting herself but with white reptile like skin looked back at her. "SPIKE!" She yelled.
Willow woke up with a start, tears streaming down her face with the echoing of the chanting, ringing in her ears.
Spike tried to comfort Willow but all she wanted to do was hold onto him. She wouldn't let go, Buffy and the others tried to help her but all she'd do was shy away from them and beg Spike to get rid of them. "What am I going to do?" Spike wondered.
In the opposite end of the ship, a woman was frantically moving around her cabin smashing everything into millions of tiny pieces. "It was never meant to happen this way!" She yelled, "Andy was meant to tell all. When I get my hands on him, he'll wish he'd never been born."
Willow was scared. Scared of the darkness, scared of the light. Scared to sleep, scared to stay awake. All she could see was the dream, played in her mind over and over again, and the feel of Spike's arms around her. "Don't leave me Spike," she murmured as she eventually fell into slumber. "Don't let the light come and take you away from me."
Spike tried to control his patience, he tried to keep his anger under control. But all he wanted to do was grab the person that had made his little spitfire into a hollow mouse and torture them till they knew what pain meant. "They'll never get away with this," He promised Willow tightening his embrace.
"You were meant to tell her you bastard!" The woman yelled.
"I haven't had chance to. The change is too sudden," he replied.
"The CHANGE! I've been planning this for 18 years, you don't go telling me that the change is too sudden."
"Well EXCUSE me, but this isn't my daughter we're talking about and if you want it all done quicker you do it yourself." Andy yelled back slamming the door.
"My poor baby," the woman said in a quieter tone. "I need to do something and yet I cannot. Not if I ever want her to know the truth and still be able to know me."
Willow slept on and dreamt of animals, demons and those who wandered day and night for eternity. And minute by minute, she knew more of her destiny, no matter how jumbled it seemed. The third day into the journey, her brain was swimming and she was desperate to get out of her cabin. Spike was acting strangely and wouldn't let her out of his sight but she managed to convince him to let her out for a while. They went over to the small coffee bar, that the others had been meeting at to research why everything was happening to her. Entering the coffee bar, Willow wondered if they'd found out anything. If not, what was she going to do?
Giles was confused, they'd been searching through the books he'd brought with him for hours. While going the books on disc that Willow had brought with her, with her laptop. But they hadn't found a thing. "What is going on?" Giles muttered to himself.
"Found anything?" Willow asked Giles, hopefully.
"Well, um... I haven't got all my books with me, and I um..." Giles began.
"Cut the bloody crap," Spike said getting annoyed, "You've either found something or you haven't."
"No, we haven't found anything useful," Giles replied defeated, "But we'll keep on looking. What did the doctor say?"
"He couldn't explain it, just said it could be bad migraines." Willow answered him.
"I can tell you what's going on," a voice called out from the doors of the coffee bar.
The Scooby Gang turned around at Andy's voice. He walked over, nervously fiddling with the corner of his shirt.
"Andy?" Willow said in shock, "But what, you, how?"
"My real name is Andy, I'm a demon and I'm an old friend of your mothers. She agreed to help me... with something, but in exchange I had to do something for her."
"So that's why you've been hanging around us," Buffy said.
"Partly yes," Andy admitted.
"It's ok Andy," another voice called out, "I'll take it from here."
"Hey, you aren't Will's mom," Xander blurted out.
"Not her adopted mom," the woman standing at the doors replied, "Her biological mom."
"What?" Willow said.
"Let me start from the beginning," the red-haired woman said wearily, sitting down at the table.
"My name is Regina Du Morte and I was born into an old rich family that has been around since the beginning of time on this planet. It might sound strange but it was always the women who had the power in my family. The first woman of my family was called Iona and had unbelievable powers that allowed her to take the form of any creature or demon she wanted. She used her powers for good at the time, but fell in love and married her soul mate. She soon conceived a child, a daughter whom she named Psyche. Their daughter when she turned eighteen, inherited her mother's powers and her mother in turn died after her daughter inherited her powers. Psyche married a man and they too had a daughter but her husband died and she re-married. She gave birth to twins, a girl and a boy. The first daughter turned eighteen and did not inherit her mother's powers. The daughter was a rebel and Psyche thought that her first daughter was dammed as she did not receive her powers. But when her second daughter turned eighteen she received her mother's powers causing her mother to die. It was the second daughter who inherited her mother's powers, as the daughter who received the powers had to be conceived from true love. The first daughter had been born from an arranged marriage lacking the love needed. Since then, the first daughter of each generation in the family has conceived a daughter with their soul mate, causing the child to inherit her mother's powers. When I inherited my powers from my mother, I soon met the most wonderful man. We fell in love and I was devastated to find out that I was pregnant. It meant that I only had eighteen years to left to live. It would mean that I would die at thirty-six. I was adamant that I would not die. I put up my daughter up for adoption as soon as she was born. As you know by now, that daughter was Willow. Forgive me if I seem harsh Willow, but I was young and naive. I felt that if I managed to get rid of you, you would grow up not knowing the history of your family and that you wouldn't inherit my powers. But I grew up and by the time I realized the error of my ways, you had grown up yourself. I couldn't just barge into your life and lay this on you."
"Then why did you decide to tell her now?" Spike hissed.
"Guilt. I decided I couldn't tell you myself and that's where Andy came in. He was to explain it all to you before the change causing you to inherit the powers. But it was too late. You were having the dizzy spells, the dreams. I know it's my time to die. I only hope I have your forgiveness before I leave this level. I'm sorry." Pushing back her chair, she smiled sadly at Willow, "I love you, if you need me. I'll be waiting for you." She walked quickly out of the room, leaving the others in silence.
Willow looked up at Giles, "I'm... I'm..."
"... A shapeshifter." Giles said finishing her sentence.
Willow sat at a table in a dark corner of the nightclub while the others reluctantly danced. Even Giles had been persuaded to get up on the dance floor. She just needed some time to think, without silence and the others attempting to somehow console her. "I mean, why are they trying to console me?" She wondered out loud, "It's not like all this could have been prevented. I've just got to deal..." A soaring pain ran through her body, clutching her stomach she shuddered as her body changed form into a water demon. Before changing back to its normal appearance just as quickly. Shaking she stammered out, "I, I guess... that's n-normal." But if that was normal, then her mom must be slowly dying. Her mom... all this time all that pressure her so-called parents had put on her, all this time she had strived to please them. And for what?
"Penny for your thoughts," A voice said interrupting them.
"What?" Willow asked turning her attention to the owner of the voice.
"It's not good to keep them all locked up inside." Andy told her.
"What if it hurts even more to say them out loud?" She asked, a sad smile playing on her lips.
"The pain is nothing compared to the feeling of loneliness," he replied, his mind drifting.
"Penny for them," she said jokingly.
"What? Oh, yer..."
"Is she ok?" Willow asked him in a small voice.
"No, but then that's to be expected."
"She'd love to see you," he said intercepting her thoughts.
"I don't know if I could. How long... How long does she, well."
"Days at the most. Do it before it's too late."
Willow hesitated in front of the door that Andy had given her the number of. Taking a deep breath, she whispered, "Breath Willow, don't forget to breathe. Raising her hand, the door opened and a voice whispered, "I've been hoping you'd come."
She was sitting at the window seat of her large cabin, staring out of the window into the endless blanket of darkness. "Don't be afraid," she told her, never changing her position, not even to turn her head. "You're strong, so strong. You won't act like I have done."
"I thought those kind of things ran in the family," Willow answered, trying to break the ice but somehow the sharpness in her voice gave away the emotions she was trying to keep below the surface.
"Don't be angry, I need to explain," her head turned around and her emerald green eyes bore into Willow's.
"Take your time, it's not like I have anywhere to run."
"But I have," she murmured under her breath. "I need you to forgive me Willow, I need to be able to die knowing my only child doesn't despise me."
"Despise you? I don't even know you. I have been around for eighteen years and every time I think I have some grasp on my life, something happens and reality changes. First with Buffy and then with my own identity. Do you realize how many times I thanked my lucky stars that I wasn't like Buffy? That my future wasn't decided, that I could be who I wanted to be? How many times I pitied her? And now she's doing the same for me? I may not despise you, I may be able to forgive you, but I will NEVER forget what you've done."
"You think that I wanted this destiny too?"
"No, but you had eighteen years to come to terms with it before it happened. I have but days." Tears now threatening to flow, she gulped.
"I-I have to go."
"Please Willow wait," She jumped up and grasped Willow's wrist.
"There's something else."
"What?" She asked, her voice softer as she lost her grip on her hate and somehow wishing her mom would take her in her arms and sing lullabies to her until she fell asleep. "Get a grip Willow," she thought.
"This is yours," she replied handing her a large silver bound book. "It will be able to help you when I no longer can, maybe you'll also be able to understand my actions." Fury gripped Willow, fury at how she had let herself fall into a dream where her mom would want to be with her. Fury at how her mom hadn't. "Thanks," she mumbled before fleeing the cabin.
Iona stood watching her, "Please be safe Willow, please understand your destiny," she called after her, although she knew she couldn't be heard. She turned back, taking one last glance at the stars before closing the cabin door behind her.
Willow had been staring at the silver bound book for an hour. Buffy sighed, "What am I going to do with her?" She wondered, "If she doesn't snap out of it soon I'll go mad." Staring at Willow and sending mental signals to her to wake up, she sighed again. "And what the hell is she doing listening to classical music? That's *so* not Willow." As if a light had been turned on inside her head she jumped up. "I know how to help you Will, even if I have to do a little persuading," she yelled mentally to her, before adding out loud. "I'm sorry but I completely forgot. I... I have this thing I have to do. I'll be back soon. Just remember, don't do anything I wouldn't do."
Hearing Buffy's voice somewhere in the pool of her thoughts, she nodded. Feeling like she had the weight of the world on her shoulders and in her mind. Willow fell into a troubled sleep.
"Really," the Captain said, "You do know that this is going to interrupt the cruise's entertainment plan."
"Of course, but it will mean so much to her, with her birthday and all," Buffy replied.
"We'll pay for anything extra, just charge it to Mrs. Regina Du Morte's account. Willow's her daughter," she said, "And deserves something after what she's put her through," she added mentally.
"Miss Du Morte's daughter? Why didn't you say so sooner? Of course it would be an honour for us to put on a party for her."
"Thanks," Buffy said smiling sweetly at him before leaving the cabin.
"Get your party hat on Willow, cause you're in for one hell of a ride," Buffy muttered under her breath.
Spike shook his head, he didn't know how the two had done it but they'd managed to get the captain to arrange a party for Willow, courtesy of the Slayer's charms. Though how anyone could be attracted to her was beyond him. She'd get off with anyone. And Cordy had managed to find the perfect dress. He only hoped Willow would like Buffy's idea or he might have to turn the Slayer into a midnight snack. "Slayer blood," he murmured, unconsciously licking his lips. He was brought back to reality by Angel thrusting the dress into his arms. "Daddy dearest, how kind of you," he said adjusting his position to hold it without creasing it.
"You'd better remember that the next time you try and hurt Buffy."
"Hurt Buffy?" Spike replied in mock horror. "Never."
"I know you Spike, anything for a laugh."
"So have I."
"Into a lapdog," he muttered as he sauntered away, Angel scowling after him.
Willow's eyelashes fluttered as she opened her eyes. Yawning, she rubbed the sleep from her eyes. Glancing at her alarm clock, the green digital time flashed back at her. 5 o'clock at night. The night of her birthday. "Yay, another useless year has passed me by," she muttered, "And what have I got to show for it. A whole big agglomeration of pain. Life doesn't get much better than this." She fell out of bed and wandered into the shower. Stepping out an hour afterwards, her eyes traveled around the cabin dotted with familiar items. They traveled past a dress, draped over a chair. A dress? She walked over to the chair. Eagerly taking in every sequin, magically sewn onto the sun yellow material. She looked around the room checking to see no-one was about, like a child who's spotted their Christmas presents and doesn't want to be told off for playing with them before the big day. Smiling secretively she put the dress on, staring at her reflection in the mirror she smiled. Suddenly there was a knock on the door. "Come in," she replied.
Xander stood at the door, open mouthed and in a suit. "I'm... I'm here to escort you... to the party." He extended his hand.
"Want to go to the ball? Or run off with me into the sunset? I'll even through in your own pocket-knife."
"That's tempting Xander, but I've decided to face my problems."
"Good for you."
"I can still have the pocket knife, can't I?"
Willow felt like a princess. She'd arrived at the party to find the rest of the gang there and what appeared to be, the entire ship. And then she'd seen Spike. Willow's lips curved into a childish grin as she thought back to the vision of Spike dressed in a tux. She'd almost fainted, all Spike ever wore was black pants and a red shirt. But he'd made the effort and she'd have to show him how much it meant to her. Her mind trailed off with thoughts of how she could show her appreciation.
"Are you having a good time Red?" Spike's voice whispered into her ear. His cold breath sent a shiver down her spine and he pulled her closer.
"It's perfect," she replied as they dodged another dancing couple heading straight into them. "Though you could have warned me, I'd have taken dancing lessons."
Spike let out a low chuckle. "I'm always available-" He was cut off as the crowd gathered around the dance floor let out a low murmur. Coming to an abrupt halt, the couples turned around to see what had caught everyone's attention.
There stood Regina, clothed magnificently in a pale blue dress. But she was clutching to a nearby chair, eyes sunken and gasping for breath.
"Regina?" Willow breathed.
Suddenly as if in slow motion, Willow could see Angel and Andy go to steady Regina and carry her off into a dark corner of the room. The party after a while carried on, but everyone shot glances every now and then to the woman who looked like she was about to pass out. But Willow, Willow stood there in shock like the air in her lungs had just been sucked out of her. Gone where the earlier ecstatic and happy emotions. And in their place sat feelings of hatred towards her mother, that she could interrupt her life in this manner again. But mostly she felt the feeling of the Angel of Death. Sitting on her shoulder, laughing at the irony of the situation and the fact that she was about to lose someone else. Someone she'd never have the chance to know or to understand, or to even love. Tears pricked at her eyes, threatening to surface and envelop her in their depths. And then there was Spike, who was gently pushing her over to where her mother sat. Whispering soothing words into her ear and telling her it was time to say goodbye. Telling her not to make the mistake most of us do.
"I'm sorry, I'm just so sorry," Willow managed to say, before the tears gushed forth from within her, and she fell to her knees. Grasping her mother's legs as if they were a lifeline, and if she was able to hold them tight enough it would somehow stop her mother from slipping away.
"Shush," her mother replied, stroking Willow's hair. "You never did anything wrong. Remember that. I need you to promise me that you'll never blame yourself. I shouldn't have abandoned you."
"No you did what you thought was right," Willow said shaking her head and turning to look at her mother.
"I love you Willow," she whispered, her voice tight and raspy.
"I love you too... mom," She replied, just as Regina's eyes closed and her head fell forward.
"NOOO!" Willow screamed, trying to shake her mother awake. But was stopped as her body began to ache. It flashed an off-white colour, changing its appearance to a unicorn. Then back to normal as Willow lay unconscious on the floor.
There's one thing I'm sure of is
that we will always be
Even though the road seems
to get a little rough
It's for you I live I can do anything
And it will never be too much
Willow managed to smile as the coastline of Italy came into view. "Not a palm tree to be seen," she murmured under her breath. Her eyes traveled down to her lap where a silver bound book lay. She had found out the previous night when the time had come to pack and the pain had subsided a little, that it was a diary.
In my darkest hour you are
there to light the way
And when I'm down you
always lift me up again
Oh, oh, oh, oh
You know me
better than I know myself
You comfort me and let me know
with you I'm gonna win
The first woman of her family had started it, injected into its pages, her hopes, fears and dreams. In a funny, comforting way it reminded her of the Watcher diaries. And in that funny comforting way it had helped her get through these first few days and would continue to do that for the rest of her life.
Walk with me hand in hand
We help each other
understand how to go through
There will never be a day
that we'll grow apart
So we'll forever be
together hand in hand.
"It's time to go Red," Spike's voice said as he appeared next to her. Taking one last glance at the coastline, Willow breathed in deeply and clutching the diary in one hand and Spike's hand in the other. She followed him off the ship. And as the others started with their friendly mickytaking and jibes, she smiled and muttered under her breath, "Unforgettable is good."
Sometimes I'm wrong
and even in that case
You didn't go away you
stayed right next to me
As time goes on I realize
that you're for me
And I will love you for eternity.