Spike came to with a groan. He couldn't remember what had happened. Why was he laying on the ground? Why was his head spinning? Did he drink too much whiskey again?

He opened his eyes to see the witch standing over him, and he gasped. Everything that had transpired came rushing back to him. It was startling to have someone grinning down at him when he opened his eyes, but her appearance also surprised him. She didn't look like Willow anymore. She looked more nightmarish, more like what you'd expect a fairy tale witch to look: green blotchy skin with dark spider veins all over; yellow crooked teeth; eyes as black as midnight; her hair a frizzy, ratty black mess. And yet it was still Willow's face underneath it all... it was unnerving to say the least.

Spike gulped, trying to get his wits about him. "Your face..."

"I didn't need the glamour anymore, it served its purpose. It allowed me to lure the flies into my web. I put on that face for company and other special occasions!" She snickered.

Her voice was different too. It wasn't Willow's soft, sweet voice. Maybe more like what she'd sound like if she gargled with gravel and broken glass.

Spike felt his strength returning along with consciousness. He moved backwards until his back came up against the wall. The rattling of chains alerted him to the fact that his right ankle was shackled and chained to the wall.

He picked up the chain and yanked on it, but it wouldn't break. He looked up at the witch when she laughed again.

"You can't break it, dear boy. You'll only tire yourself out and make your meat all stringy if you keep trying. And then neither of us will be happy."

He struggled to keep his human visage in place as he snarled at her. "Where's Buffy?!"

"Right over there," she pointed with a black-clawed hand to another corner of the room.

Buffy was laying on the floor in a heap, unconscious, and also shackled to the wall by her ankle.

"You crazy bitch! Let us go now or you're going to be so bloody sorry!"

"Heeheehee! Oh no, I'm keeping you." She skipped over to the table and picked up an armful of treats, then dropped them on the floor near Spike. "Eat."

"Are you out of your... Scratch that -- you're obviously insane. But you're nuttier than you look if you think I'm eating anything you give me."

"I have no reason to weaken you again. You're mine, I have you." She grinned evilly. "Now, eat."

"Fuck you!" Spike kicked away the food, scattering it on the floor.

Her grin turned into a scowl. "You bad, messy, wasteful boy! You're going to eat all of it if I have to shove it down your throat!"

"Bollocks to this!" Spike sprang up to his feet and lunged at her. As soon as he grabbed her by the arms, bolts of agony shot through his body, causing him to shout in pain, release her, and fall to his knees. It was different from the pain he normally got from the chip. It was intensified, and caused every cell in his body scream at once.

He went onto his hands and knees, panting for breath and shaking as the pain slowly ebbed.

Wicked Willow placed a swift kick to his face. Spike grunted and fell back onto the floor on his side. He looked up at her once-again smiling face.

"Don't try that again. You see what happens to naughty boys?"

"What the fuck was that?!" Spike said breathlessly, blood trickled from the corner of his mouth.

"The pain? Oh, that's just a little protection spell I whipped up. Sometimes my little darlings don't want to play nice and try to harm me. The same will happen if you put your hands on me again, boy. I suggest you don't try... Your head just might explode!" The sound of her laugh cut through him like a dentist's drill.

Spike pushed himself up until he could lean back against the wall. He was sitting on a mat with a blanket on it that the witch had thoughtfully provided him for a bed. He felt so weak after getting zapped, all he could do was sit there and look at her. His mouth still worked though. "What'd you do to us? We didn't eat or drink any of the shit you tried plying us with..."

"People aren't as trusting as they used to be. Time was when I couldn't keep little pests like you from taking a bite out of my house. I adapted the potion I put in the food to work if you inhale it as well. And you and your little friend had big snootfuls. Works wonderfully! I'm immune to it, so I had no trouble staying awake."

Spike looked over at Buffy, getting worried that she wasn't awake yet. "She's... She is going to wake up, isn't she?"

"Yes, I'm surprised she hasn't yet... Hmm, maybe she had too much or had a bad reaction to it. That would be a shame, I had plans for her." Wicked Willow shrugged. "Well, I can always get a new girlie."

Spike hoped that Buffy would be alright, he needed her help to get out of this madhouse. And... he just didn't like the idea of her being dead and gone; the thought made his heart ache. He told himself it was only because he wanted the privilege of killing her himself one day. But deep down he knew it was because he cared for her, he loved her... And that thought filled him with anger, he shouldn't -- he couldn't -- actually love the Slayer!

He turned his rage on the witch. "Take these bloody chains off of us! We're not gonna kowtow to you or be good slaves, so just end it now! And maybe we won't take you apart piece by piece before we go on our way!"

She laughed in response. "Oh, you are entertaining! Such big-talk. You'll do exactly as I say, or there will be consequences."

Spike was going to retort when he heard Buffy groan. He turned to her, not able to stop a smile from lighting up his face. His mind yelled with joy, 'She's alive! My Buffy’s alive!'

He pushed past the giddiness, forcing the smile away. He glanced at Wicked Willow, and then back to Buffy. "Buffy-luv? You alright?"

She sat up slowly and blinked at him and the witch. She was relieved not to be looking at her friend's face, but the new face wasn't nearly as easy on the eyes.

Spike looked at the witch. "Yeah, our hostess took off her company face. Nice, eh?"

"About time you woke up, little girl! I thought you might have died before the time was right for it. I was just wondering if I should bother cooking a skinny thing like you, or just throw your carcass out into the forest to feed hungry wolves.”

Buffy was so irate that she couldn't move or speak for a few seconds. Seeing blood on Spike's lip enraged her further. 'Oh, she did NOT hurt him! It is so ON!' She grit her teeth and shot up off the floor, barreling at the witch.

"Buffy, don't!" Spike shouted in warning.

But Buffy was moving too fast to stop to ask why she shouldn't charge the evil green bitch. She didn't realize that she was chained to the wall. The witch was taken by surprise, but quickly recovered (much faster than a normal human could) and moved just out of the limit for Buffy's chain.

Buffy's right leg jerked back when she reached the limit, and then she fell unceremoniously onto her face only a few feet away from the witch. Spike winced when she hit the floor. She groaned and lifted her face to see the witch cackling and grinning at her.

"Oh, you're a naughty one too! Same as the boy."

"What's this 'boy' shit?" Spike was irritated to be referred to as a 'boy'. Angelus used to call him boy or boyo from time to time, therefore Spike hated it.

"You have a dirty mouth. I can see that the two of you will need to be taught manners! Training new ones is always a challenge."

Buffy smiled just a bit as Wicked Willow walked within her reach again. She gathered her strength once more, and hopped up to her feet.

Spike could see Buffy's butt-kicking expression and tried to warn her, but again, she was too fast. He only got out, "She has --!"

Buffy's hands wrapped around the witch's neck. The moment her hands made contact, the same agony that Spike had experienced ripped through her body. She screamed, her face twisting with pain. Her hands fell away from the witch's neck and her legs gave out.

Spike finished lamely, "... a protection spell." He felt sick (but mostly angry) that Buffy was on the floor trembling and whimpering. He didn't want to see her hurt -- though there was a small, grim satisfaction that she now had an idea about what he went through every time he tried hitting a human.

The witch kicked Buffy in the ribs, making her 'Oooph!' and clutch her side.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” the witch shook her head and clucked her tongue. “Very bad and mischievous. The boy’s had his first correction too. Maybe you’ll think twice before you try something like that again, eh?” She walked past Buffy.

Spike would have gone to see if Buffy was alright, but his chain was much shorter than hers, only about 4 ft. long. "Tried to warn you 'bout the protection spell."

Buffy pushed herself up into a sitting position. "Yeah... would've been nice to know about that before I grabbed her." The pain was receding, but it still made her tremble. She'd never felt a pain like that in her life, and didn't care to feel it again. Which made them being able to get away much, much more difficult.

"Go back to your corner, Buffy," the witch ordered, pointing to where Buffy had woken up. There was a ratty blanket on the floor serving as a bed for her.

Buffy glared at her, but slowly complied. She sat with her back to the wall to rest and get her strength back. "Why did you do this? We didn't mean you any harm."

"Haven't you figured it out yet? I'm going to eat you! I'll gobble you down with a creamy Hollandaise, and just the right spices -- a pinch of tarragon, chervil, onion..." She smacked her lips and rubbed her stomach.

"You have all this food... your fucking house is made of food!" Buffy uttered with revulsion. "Why would you eat people?!"

"Because I like eating people! Especially little scamps like the two of you." She licked her lips with a snake-like black tongue. "You're going to be simply delicious!"

Buffy and Spike stared at her, their minds going a mile a minute to figure a way out of this.

"You think we're going to let you kill and eat us?" Buffy asked.

"I don't see that you have a choice in the matter, dearie! Hmm, I wonder what side dishes would best compliment you..." the witch wondered aloud, tapping her whiskered chin with a black fingernail. "Some boiled potatoes with parsley and butter, some fresh, chopped carrots from the garden, some..." She kept naming side dishes as she went into the other room.

"What the fuck are we going to do now?" Spike whispered urgently.

"You think I know?! What do you think we should do?"

"Oh, now you want my opinion?! I thought you had all the bloody answers!"

"Will you just --" Buffy stopped talking when the witch came back into the room.

"Now, you children behave yourselves while I go tend to my garden." She picked up what looked a wand made of gnarled black wood, it was about a foot long and shaped like a lightening bolt. "If you get up to mischief while I'm gone, you'll be punished. I can accomplish many tasks with my wand, one of which is delivering the same pain you felt when you put your hands on me. Keep that in mind." She pointed the wand at each of them in turn, and then went out the door.

Spike noted that it was daytime. Judging by the brightness of the light coming from the windows, it was maybe about 2 o’clock in the afternoon. He was thankful that he wasn’t chained up near a window. He would’ve burned to a cinder before he came to... But maybe that would have turned out to be the kinder fate. Getting eaten by the crazy witch sounded a lot worse than the fast sizzle and *foom* of getting caught in the sun. And, with him being a Vampire, she could chop off and cut out parts of him without killing him and draw it out for weeks. She was sack of hammers, so she’d probably get a real kick out of that. It would be best to keep his true nature under wraps.

As soon as the door shut, they began pulling on the chains that bound them to the wall. But neither of them made any headway.

"Damn it! They must be... enchanted!" Buffy said between clenched teeth, pulling with all of her might.

Spike growled, dropped his chain, and sat back down. "Play along, she said... and I was stupid enough to listen to you! If we'd done it my way, we wouldn't be here chained to the bloody wall by a crazy bitch who wants to eat us!"

Buffy stopped pulling on her chain and glared at him. "Oh yes, I was wondering how long before the 'I told you so's' started."

"Well it's bloody true! I think I'm entitled to a few 'I told you so's' since I‘m front-and-center in this bloody mess!"

"Again with the over-usage of ‘bloody’. How do you know that this isn't what we need to do to get out of here?"

"Call me crazy, Slayer, but I'm not seeing how this can be a positive development." Spike kicked ineffectually at the wall.

"I mean, yes, this sucks major ass, but you know how the story goes: Hansel and Gretel escape from the witch. So odds are that we will too... somehow." Buffy rattled her chain.

"Yeah, we need to work on the somehow part."

Buffy took a breath, braced herself, got a good grip on the chain and pulled as hard as she could. Spike watched, hoping to see the chain snap, but it didn't. The whole house was, in all likelihood, enchanted to prevent the witch's captives from breaking out.

"Slayer, if that chain gives now, you're gonna shoot across the room and clean-through the wall."

Buffy stopped, catching her breath, and kicked the wall. "Goddamn it!" She sat down and groaned in frustration. "I'm still wondering what she did to make us pass out..."

"Said it was a sleeping potion in the stew that works if you eat it or inhale it."


"Shit, indeed."

Buffy looked intently at the blood on his mouth. "She hurt you?"

Spike used the back of his hand to wipe away the blood, and then licked it off of his hand. "Gave me a boot to the face for grabbin' her. It was a love-tap compared to the pain I got from touching her. Don't have to tell you how bad it is... felt like I was being turned inside out."

Buffy wasn't sure why seeing Spike's bloody lip had fueled her initial fury. Not because she cared for him -- nope. It was probably because... because he was with her, he was her traveling companion, so an assault on him was also one on her. And no one got away with hurting her. Yeah... that had to be the reason.

A short time later, the witch came back inside. And much to Buffy’s chagrin, the witch once again looked exactly like her friend Willow. They both looked at the witch with a combination of fear, loathing, and bitterness.

She giggled. “Oh, cheer up, my lovelies! I want to see smiles on those pretty faces!”

They had to bite their tongues to keep from answering with profanity.

"Strange... you don't prefer me looking like this, do you? I would think the glamour would be more to your liking. So why isn‘t it?" the witch asked curiously. She noticed Buffy's displeasure in particular.

"You... You look like a friend of mine," Buffy admitted in a small voice, looking away. "You have no right to look like her... she's the sweetest person in the world."

Wicked Willow laughed and clapped her hands. "How delightful! What a happy coincidence!"

"Yeah, coincidence... somehow I doubt that," Buffy muttered. “You just happen to look like my best friend, and have her name.”

Spike asked the witch straight-out, "Are you one of the Unari?" He wanted to cut to the chase and quit playing games. "If you are, just bloody well come out with it and we'll go from there. This is all really a bit much."

"I don't know that word... What's an Unari?" Wicked Willow asked, perplexed.

Spike sighed, not seeing even a glimmer of recognition in her eyes. "Nevermind."

"Something you said last night puzzled me, boy. You said you had to leave before daybreak because of 'sunlight issues'..."

Spike hated to expand on it, the witch would surely use his weaknesses against him. But he didn't have much of a choice. She'd probably test him whether he told her the truth or not. "I... can't stand direct sunlight. It makes my skin burn and blister."

"Hmmm, interesting..." Evil Willow said, pondering that. "I've never heard of such a thing. So if I chained you near the window, you'd sizzle and burn like a slab of bacon on a hot griddle?"

"Yes... I would." Spike didn't want to tell her the whole truth about his nature. That he had super-strength and acute senses would be better kept from their jailor for the time being.

"That wouldn't do at all. I don't want you to cook until you're ready."

Spike decided on trying honey, as opposed to vinegar, to possibly appeal to their hostess. “Willow, we shouldn’t be adversaries, you and me. We’re on the same side,” he said, standing up and turning on the charm. His voice was smooth as silk.

Buffy frowned at him.

“Is that so?” Evil Willow asked curiously.

“I’m evil through-and-through, just like you, luv. And I can respect the sweet setup you got here: luring the kiddies with the candy house and using the cute, innocent-looking glamour to lull them into a false sense of security. And the sleeping potion you put in the food? Very clever.”

“Hmm, you're flattering me. I do enjoy flattery... Go on.” She passed a hand over her own face, instantly transforming back to the non-pleasant, green face.

Spike was unnerved for a moment at seeing the transformation, but was able to carry on. “It... just seems a shame for us to be enemies. I could even help you out, we could be partners.”

Buffy bit her tongue, too upset to talk. Spike had conned her and was offering to help the witch kill and eat children! She was a fool to think he might've had any decency at all -- he was still an evil bastard.

Spike swallowed, and licked his lips. He'd hoped that they would've been able to escape before he had to tell the witch what he really was, but that hadn't happened. And it was getting critical now that he reveal the truth. The crazy bitch had to understand why she couldn't fatten him up, and he needed to try and convince her that he'd make a better ally than he would a meal.

"I'm a Vampire." Spike finally got the words out.

"Vampire," the witch said slowly. "What's that?"

Spike felt optimistic that she didn't appear to know what Vampires were, therefore she wouldn't automatically know his strengths and weaknesses. "A Vampire, we’re... sort a demon/Human hybrid.”

“A half-breed?”

“The politically correct term is ‘hybrid’, thanks ever so.”

"You don't look like a demon..." the witch said suspiciously.

His face morphed into his Vampire visage. "How 'bout now?" Spike smiled wickedly when he saw the witch's eyebrows shoot up in surprise. He hoped a bit of fear was mixed in there too.

"Well, I'll be... I never would've guessed!" Evil Willow exclaimed.

"You see, luv? We have a lot in common. Just like you, I use the other face to blend in with Humans, makes it much easier to hunt and pick them off when they don't know what I really am until it's too late. But this is the real me."

Spike's smile wavered when she approached him, looking fascinated by his new appearance. So much for her being afraid of him.

"What a beautiful creature you are." She reached out to touch his cheekbone and he flinched, moving back against the wall. She giggled, which really wasn't attractive on her. "I wasn't going to harm you, silly boy!"

"Let's take a pass on any touching, shall we? Don't think I want to get crippling pain just 'cos you want to inspect my features."

"Oh, the protection spell doesn't work if I touch you. Only when you try being naughty and hurt me."

Spike thought it best not to say that he also didn't want her touching him because just the thought of her hands on him made him want to puke. So he stayed still, trying not to flinch or show his revulsion and fear for her, while she traced the contours of his face with her fingers.

Buffy watched, cringing, and feeling glad that the witch didn't think she was stunning enough to fondle her face too. She didn't know how Spike could stay still. With some luck, they'd start fighting and rip each other to shreds, and then Buffy could be on her way.

The witch lightly tapped on one of his fangs with a long black fingernail. "Such lovely, sharp teeth. Like a predator."

Spike didn't know how long he could pretend her touching him didn't make his skin crawl. "I am a predator, and a damn good one."

"And what do you prey on, pray tell?" She giggled again at her little joke.

"Animals, anything warm-blooded, but preferably Humans."

"Like your little friend Buffy?" Wicked Willow looked over at Buffy. "Or are you a Vampire too?"

"No, I'm not one of those sickening, soulless pieces of shit," Buffy said, a disgusted twist to her lips.

The witch only spared Buffy a glance, concentrating back on Spike. "If you're a demon, then why can't you free yourself?"

"Because the chains are enchanted. If they were normal everyday chains we wouldn't be standing here and havin' this nice chat right now. I'd be long gone." Spike felt relieved that Wicked Willow had stopped feeling up his face, but she was still standing too close for his liking. But if he was pretending wanting to be her friend, he had to bear it.

The witch laughed, "You're not a very good demon, are you? You can't use magick to escape your predicament! And you're just as susceptible as the girl to my enchantments!"

Spike had thought that about himself more and more often recently: he wasn't a very good demon at all. His lust (love) for the Slayer, his fondness for her mom and sister, being on a leash because of the damn chip and not living like a Vampire was meant to... All of that made him uneasy, afraid that he was losing his edge and becoming that 'fluffy puppy with bad teeth' that he'd once compared Angel to. He did his best to control his temper, and his tongue. The only signs of his anger were a glint in his golden eyes and a twitch of his lips. "Vampires don't have that kind of magick, unfortunately."

“Then what is it that Vampires do?”

“We hunt Humans and drink their blood for sustenance. That’s how we survive -- by drinking blood." He pointed to his mouth, "These pearly whites ain't just for show. We don’t need to eat normal foods, and eating lots of food doesn't have the same effect on us as Humans. We can‘t get fattened up that way.”

"Hmm, interesting..."

Spike tried to maintain his composure, not to show his joy that the witch might be seeing things his way. He had to keep cool until he was sure he had her, then she'd lower her guard. If he could just find some weakness, a chink in her armor...

“You sure the girl isn't evil too?” she asked, casting an amused look at Buffy.

He smiled at Buffy. “No, she’s not, but I have hope for her yet. She’s got a darkness inside her, just needs the right bloke to bring it out.”

"Go to Hell!" Buffy spat angrily.

Spike and Evil Willow laughed.

"She's a little spitfire, ain't she?" Spike said. "Buffy's my 'special project'."

Buffy leaned against the wall behind her, arms folded over her chest. She couldn't wait to get an opportunity to kick Spike's ass now. Of course he was going to take the first chance he got to save his own ass, that was the way Spike operated.

The witch cackled. "Why would you willingly travel with the girl if she's prim and proper? Because you desire her?"

Spike tried not letting his extreme discomfort show, he had to play it off. "'Course I do, she's a pretty little thing."

"True, I suppose she is comely... But last night you said that you were looking for her sister. That doesn't sound especially evil of you..."

"Well, yeah... but I've got my reasons for wanting to help find the girl. The better to get into big sis's good graces -- and eventually, her knickers -- and have her feel indebted to me. That's blown now, but..." Spike shrugged. "I reckon saving my own hide now takes precedence over any future plans I had for Buffy and Dawn."

Buffy bit her tongue again to keep from going on a tirade. Her nostrils flared as she looked angrily at Spike.

Wicked Willow laughed. “Silly boy, I don’t want or need a partner! I do quite nicely all by my lonesome. I’m not changing my plans for the two of you. You look too damn tasty! Nice try, though.”

Spike's toothy grin changed into a snarl, his demeanor changed completely when his ruse didn’t work. “Didn’t you hear a word I said!?”

“Oh, I heard you. I just don’t care!” She laughed and held her sides, walking away from him, finding Spike's attempts to butter her up amusing. "Ah, I think I'll have a little catnap. It's so much work to train new ones." She pointed at the food on the floor at Spike's feet, "You better have all that finished by the time I wake up, boy."

Spike was angry, severely disappointed, and feeling violent. He gave the witch his most malevolent look, which didn't seem to faze her a bit. "I told you, this food won't make me fat. I can't gain weight by eating lots of rich foods."

"Such pathetic lies," the witch said, shaking her head and smirking.

"It's not a bloody lie!" Spike insisted, getting angrier. "My kind can't get fat from eating too much cake and sweets -- with the possible exception of Angel, he really ballooned up."

Buffy rolled her eyes. Spike just couldn't pass up an opportunity to put Angel down, though... she had noticed her ex had packed on some pounds last time she'd seen him...

Spike continued arguing his case, "How can you doubt what I'm telling you is true?! You can see my face, can't you? That should prove to you that I'm a demon!"

"Demon or Human, doesn't matter to me! There's not a creature in existence that won't grow fat from eating cakes and candy. What's more, I've never had a cooked Vampire -- or a raw one, for that matter -- I'm looking forward to it even more now!"

"You stupid, crazy bitch! Why can't you..." He saw that it was pointless to argue with her, nothing he said was going to make her believe him about the food. Instead, Spike growled and punched the wall a dozen or so times.

"My, my, such a temper on you," the witch tsk'ed and shook her head. "I'll ignore those insults this time, lucky for you."

Spike leaned his back against the wall, sliding down into a sitting position again, gnashing his teeth and clenching and unclenching his fists. "You're as daft as you are loony!"

The witch sighed tiredly. "We'll soon see if you're telling the truth or not. The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding!" she laughed. Then she pointed at Buffy, "And you, don't think you can just laze on your butt all day! You get busy sweeping and dusting."

“You... want me to clean your house for you?” Buffy asked slowly.

Spike kept quiet, knowing that if he opened his mouth he wouldn't be able to hold back an onslaught of swearing and insults that would earn him punishment.

“That’s right. Not thinking of objecting, are you?” The witch smiled, showing that she wouldn’t mind if Buffy protested, that she'd enjoy correcting her again. Then she walked to Buffy, who leaned away from her, not knowing what the witch intended to do to her. But she didn't harm Buffy, she only touched the chain attached to her ankle with the magic wand. The chain glowed for a moment.

"What did you do?" Buffy asked nervously.

"The chain will now magically lengthen so that you can clean my cozy home from top to bottom without being limited."

"Then why not just take the chain off altogether?"

"Don't sass me, girlie. I have my reasons for everything I do. Now, you should know that I require a very tidy home, make sure it's spick and span or it'll be the lash for you."

"Oh great, there's a lash too?" Buffy groaned. "What, kicking us and shocking us with the wand aren't brutal enough for you?"

Wicked Willow laughed. "Oh, you'll find that I have many different methods of punishment, unless you behave yourself like a good girl and don't force me to demonstrate. Another thing, you will only eat what I give you, you will not have any of the boy's food. If you take any, or he gives you any, there will be swift and agonizing retribution all around."

"Why? There's --" Buffy flinched when the witch jabbed the wand at her face.

Evil Willow stopped just short of touching her with the wand. "I've had enough of your lip. Shut your mouth or I'll shut it for you."

Buffy didn't reply, only looked at her apprehensively. Spike had a sense of deja vu -- Buffy had said pretty much the same thing to him back at the Magic Box not long ago. Ironic.

The witch smiled again. "Good girl, you may be trainable after all. Who knows, if you do a good enough job working for me, I might spare your life!" She pointed to another corner of the room where a broom was leaning up against the wall, "Use that to sweep my floor. And you'll find a feather duster in the cabinet to dust my shelves. Do a good job of it, or --"

"Let me guess -- I'll be punished?" Buffy said. She didn't even see the slap coming before her head whipped to the side. Buffy scooted back, holding the side of her face.

"Such a smart mouth, don't make me sew it shut," the witch told her. "Now for my nap. Behave yourselves, children!"

They warily watched her leave the room, not saying a word until the door shut.

Spike changed back to his Human features. "Bloody hell, that bitch moves fast. I heard the sound of her slapping you before I saw it... Buffy, are you alright?" he asked with concern etched on his face.

“Don't even try talking to me, you sonuvabitch! You make me sick!” Buffy hissed, rubbing her stinging cheek. "I should kill you right now!"

Spike looked at her with surprise, then frowned. “What?”

“Whaddya mean 'what'? You were trying to join forces with her!”

“That was a bloody ploy, you dimwit! I was trying to appeal to her sense of evil, as one soulless being to another. You... really thought I was serious?” Spike hid how much it truly hurt.

“Why shouldn’t I think that? You are evil! You're evil and proud of it! You have been trying to hurt or kill me and my friends since I met you! It wasn't that long ago that you tried turning us against each other because you had a deal with Adam!”

Spike clenched his fists again, trying not to yell. “A lot's happened since then! I only tried cutting a deal with Franken-soldier 'cos I was desperate." He didn't like reflecting on all that Adam business, he actually felt guilty for trying to hurt Buffy (and to a lesser extent, her friends). And the whole thing had ended in failure for Spike, as usual. "Doesn‘t the fact that I went into the portal with you mean anything? That I volunteered to go with you didn't give you a clue that I might not be totally evil? That I'm capable of emotions other than hatred or anger? That you'd be able to trust me?"

“Trust you!? HA! Never in a million years! And you didn’t make the decision to go into the portal with me, it was those Unari assholes who chose you for some bizarre reason. Probably because they knew how pissed off I'd be.”

His voice was softer, with an edge to it; more hurt than angry. “But I volunteered before that, didn’t I? You shot me down and chose Captain Cardboard, of course, but I did step up all on my own. I knew going into the portal could be dangerous or end up killin' me. I still chose to go because I wanted to bring Dawn back safe.”

Buffy blinked at him, and then swallowed, looking down sheepishly. That part had slipped her mind momentarily. "Okay, I'll give you that... Still... you can't blame me for --"

"Sure, I can. Just watch me." His jaw tensed, he leaned back against the wall, purposely not looking at her. “You believe whatever-the-fuck you want, Slayer. You always do.”

Buffy was quiet for a minute. Thinking that it looked like she really had hurt his feelings. Maybe she had been too quick to think the worst of him. Spike was such a strange guy... He seemed so tough, cocky and self-assured most of the time, but there were times (like when Drusilla had dumped him and he came back to Sunnydale to work a love spell) that his softer emotions ran high. His face was so expressive; it was almost as if words were written on his forehead. Yep, he did look wounded that she thought he was plotting against her.

Buffy sighed. “Okay... I’m big enough to admit that I could be wrong about you trying to be buddies with the witch.”

Spike didn’t look at her or respond.

“Spike, how can you blame me? I don’t trust you, and you don’t trust me -- we’re enemies. I‘ve never known you to lookout for anyone but yourself... well, except for Dru.”

A muscle in his cheek ticced at the mention of his ex’s name.

“Of course I thought that you’d betray me in a second if it meant saving your own ass. All that stuff you said to the witch... You were very convincing. The stuff about you only helping in the first place because you wanted to get in my pan--”

Spike smiled at her, “You know what the funny thing is? You keep talking to me like I’m listening to you! Do us both a favor and shut your gob!” He sneered and turned away from her again.

“Fine! Be an asshole! It’s what you do best.” Buffy huffed and sat back, crossing her arms and looking petulant.

The witch's voice sounded from the other room, "Both of you had better be busy with your assigned chores! You don't want me to be displeased when I wake up!"

Buffy got up and grumbled all the way over to the broom, noting how the chain became magically longer and heavier with each step she took. Spike likewise grumbled as he began eating some of the food piled in front of him, even the stuff he'd kicked away a while ago. They had to go along with this, avoiding getting punished if possible, until they found a way to escape.

Buffy started sweeping near where he was sitting. She said in a low voice, "We'll figure a way out of this and..." She sighed, seeing that Spike was being haughty and wouldn't look at her. "Oh, that's good -- you're going to give me the silent treatment now? How are we supposed to --"

Spike gave her the middle finger, waving it around in the air at her.

"You're such a jerk! Fine, don't talk to me, I'll come up with a plan all by myself then," she said peevishly, sweeping a bit of dust directly at him.

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