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Title: A New Path
Author: Shanna - shannalynn9064@yahoo.com
Summary: Willow's Goddess puts her on a new path during Season 5 Angel
Spoilers: Minor spoilage for Season 5 Angel and Season 7 BtVS
Rating: PG-13
Distribution: Near Her Always, Shades of Gray, WLS & Reds Soulmates
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters, only the teeny tiny story line. All characters belong to Joss Whedon & Mutant Enemy. No infringement is intended, and no money is being made from this little ficlet.

This was written for Carla's challenge in the SoG ficathon:
Post Season 7 Willow/Spike romance
I hope you like it. I tried to make it romantic without being too sappy. :)


Willow stood near the edge of the roof, looking out upon the lights of LA. They twinkled like colorful lightning bugs, flickering and shimmering in the night. She wrapped her arms around herself tightly, feeling the rain building on the electric, humid breeze.

Memories tumbled through her mind, one after another. A soft smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. She'd come a long way from the shy, studious girl she'd been before learning what went bump in the night. Now she was a self-confident wicca, secure in both her powers and control.

Something amazing happened to her that last day in Sunnydale. When Willow accessed the power of the scythe, her Goddess reached out a blessed hand and touched her. It was such a soft, loving caress, like a mother reassuring a beloved child. The touch withdrew, much to her disappointment, but it left her with gifts. A sense of peace and happiness overtook her, because not only had her Goddess blessed her with Her touch, but She also banished all of the darkness that tainted her soul. For the first time in the longest time Willow felt the shadowed edges of her heart and soul brighten, and the light within her grew. Everything looked new and wonderful, from fresh, blooming blue bells to an tumultuous gray sky just before a thunderstorm.

After defeating the first, Willow, the Scoobies, and the newly minted slayers made a pit stop in LA to regroup and tend their wounded. It was upon this very rooftop that Willow felt that true, first connection with the earth and all it had to offer again. Kennedy thought she was crazy that day as she stood outside and let the warm summer rains drench her skin, arms open wide and head leant back, welcoming heaven's tears.

Sadly, that was the moment she realized their relationship was going to slowly come to an end. They were too different, Kennedy being the kick ass and ask questions later type of warrior. Willow growing into the logical-minded one, rather than the powerful and punishing witch Kennedy thought she should be. Oh, she could still fry a baddie at twelve o'clock with a single thought, but she weighed the pros and cons of it carefully before said frying commenced.

Kennedy never understood her magic. The slayer never grasped that it wasn't a hobby like miniature golf, stamp collecting, or even like Andrew's comic collecting. The magic was a part of her, ingrained in her very soul. It no longer controlled her, but worked with her, and her faith and beliefs in the wiccan way guided her life. After a while, the thoughtless teasing comments began to wear thin.

While in Rio Willow decided to travel to the astral plane, searching for direction. It was there that her Goddess gave her some surprising peeks into her future, into her purpose in the overall battle between good and evil, and some very surprising secrets about herself and some of her friends. When her spirit returned to her corporeal body, Willow had a plan mapped out in her mind. She said her good-byes to a stunned Kennedy, then teleported herself to LA where she was desperately needed.

She arrived in the final hour and banished Illyria from Fred's body. The physicist was left weak, but alive. Willow transported the sarcophagus back to bottom of the well, deep within the earth. Knox and other of Illyria's followers had plotted down through the millenniums for the resurrection of the demon they worshipped by planting false stories, leading the others to believe that there was no true way to save Fred. Willow couldn't believe they fell for that old line. Hadn't Angel and Spike learned their lesson the hard way once before? Did the words "No weapons forged by mortal man" not ring a bell? There's *always* a way to take down the evil of the week. You just need to know where to look for their weaknesses. Luckily Willow's Goddess had pointed out Illyria's Achilles heel, and it hadn't even taken a rocket launcher to dispatch the demon.

After defeating Illyria, saving Fred, and scolding the AI gang for believing everything they read, Willow posed a question that threw everyone for a loop. She asked if she could stay and help them. After Giles' reaction to their request for help, everyone was confused, but Angel was never one to look a gift witch in the mouth. So that's how Willow became one of the good guys trying to turn around Wolfram & Hart's reputation.

She'd been part of the team for about five months. Her friendships with Angel, Fred and Wesley strengthened, and she was working on getting Wes to forgive Gunn for signing the custom's release that let Illyria's sarcophagus into the building in the first place. She came to the conclusion that she and Harmony could *never* be friends, whether one of them be dead or alive. Either way the vampiress was still just plain annoying.

Spike was a different story. He was so different from the Spike she'd known in Sunnydale. True, she hadn't really had a lot of time to talk to him after coming back from England. He'd been a little crazy adjusting to his soul, while she'd been terrified of hurting anyone with her magic again. Not so much conducive mindsets for chatting and becoming buddy buddy with the world's newest souled vamp.

But now, in LA, they worked together on a daily basis. They chatted, he snarked, she laughed, and Willow found out something she never would have thought before that fateful astral plane walk. She liked Spike. She really, really liked him. Oh, sure, he could be sarcastic and obnoxious. He could also be thoughtful and funny. He liked to tease her until she lost her temper, but then he would just smile, tell her he liked her fire, and it was good to see it back.

Somehow they became friends, which just annoyed Angel to no end. She played referee many a time between the two vampires. Spike wasn't as big and bad as others thought, not since the soul. He just had a ball annoying the crap out of Angel. Payback's a bitch, he confided in her one night. Angel was a "ponce" in his book, and the fact that he knew Angelus was in there gnashing his fangs together was definitely an added bonus.

Spike showed her a side of himself that he hid from the others, for whatever reason. Giles called shortly after Willow's arrival and ordered her back to Brazil in a tone that left thoughts of imperious British kings dancing through her head. She refused his "request", and advised the Council's senior watcher she would be staying in LA for a while because she was needed. Spike was the one who reassured her that once he got out of his Ripper phase he would call back and apologize for his harsh words.

Sure enough, two days later, a sheepish and apologetic Giles called her office. He explained he was worried about her surrounded by all of the evil, and it was still his first instinct to protect his "children" from the darkness in the world. Willow tried to explain she was a big girl who could take care of herself, and regardless of what he thought, the AI gang hadn't compromised their principles. Oh, and as if she wasn't used to being surrounded by evil? Did he forget she lived on a hellmouth for the first twenty-one years of her life?

Giles caved easily, compared to Xander and Buffy, who were a lot harder to convince. Xander sometimes growled a bit. Hmmm, and she thought he'd lost all of his hyena ways years ago. Both changed the subject quickly each time Angel or Spike's name was brought up, too.

Oh, yes, Andrew slipped and let the cat out of the bag. Everyone knew Spike was a vampire of the non-dusty variety again. Buffy wouldn't discuss his un-demise, only saying softly she hoped he was happy, but she didn't want to see him. She was now involved with some immortal guy in Rome. Willow just didn't understand why Buffy had to have a man in her life to make her happy. Heck, look at her. She'd done just fine without a man in her life since Oz. Okay, granted there had been two women after that...but, but, still no men!

Until earlier in the day, of course.

She and Spike had been sparring in the training room. Angel insisted that if she stayed in LA, she was going to have to learn to defend herself, un-magically. You never knew when you would encounter a demon with the ability to bind a witch's powers. They weren't common, but there were several species out there that could do it, and all of them were native to North America. Thus began her training sessions with all four men. Wesley taught her as he would teach a Slayer, technical and by the book; Gunn showed her how to handle herself in a street fight. Angel was big on the Tai Chi, and Spike simply went for the jugular, down and dirty, no holds barred.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Come on, Red," Spike goaded. "You can do better than that. Hell, Wussy could do better than you today."

Willow pulled back from their sparring circle and placed her hands on her hips, trying to look offended while sucking in gulps of air at the same time. "Hey, you try being at the top of your game after taking down a slimy, ten foot tall Dryacnal demon the night before. Give me a break, Spike. I'm a little tired today."

Spike's strode quickly to stand before her, his face deadly serious. He gripped her shoulders and stared intently into her eyes. "I can't give you a break, luv. Watcher boy and Angel may be willing to go easy on you, but I won't. Neither would any other big nasty. You think a Fyarl demon's going to understand you had a rough night, and tell you he'll come back to rip your head off when you're feeling a bit less tired?"

Willow saw his point, but wasn't ready to admit he was right just yet. "Ummm, if the Fyarl demon happened to be Giles again?" She clutched her sides and heaved in a few more gulps of air.

Spike grinned at her. "True, luv, but what are the chances of a watcher allowing himself to be turned into the same demon twice?"

"Okay, but, oh, I wouldn't even know if he was asking me if he could rip my head off at a later point in time because I don't speak Fyarl," Willow stated triumphantly.

"Maybe I can give you a few lessons in that as well then, eh?" Spike chuckled at the defiant tilt of the little witch's head. The spell she used to banish the demon the night before *had* taken a lot out of her, as the tired shadows under her eyes attested. Spike knew he was right, though. No other demon would give her a break, so he couldn't either. With that thought in mind, Spike moved with lightning quick reflexes to draw Willow into a loose headlock. "After we're done here, of course."

Wesley's precise instructions came to mind, and Willow's reflexes kicked in. She attempted to throw Spike over her shoulder, but he anticipated her move, parrying with one of his own, and soon the fight was back on.

She was tiring quickly. Spike could read it in her body language. Finally one blow caught her off guard, and Willow flew a few feet across the mat before landing with a loud 'Oof'. She lay still and unmoving.

"Red?" Spike watched, waiting for her normal soft little moan as she tried to tell her body to get up and continue, but instead silence reigned. He stepped closer, hesitantly at first. "Red? Come on, pet. Don't tease the vampire. Get you arse off the mat and let's finish up."

There was still not a peep or a twitch from the girl on the ground. Spike quickly knelt at her side, concern etched across his features.

"Willow?" His voice held a note of panic as he gently turned her from her side to her back, brushing back the strands of hair clinging to her damp jaw line.

The next thing Spike knew, the world spun, and he was staring up at the ceiling. Willow rolled atop him, straddled his body, and brought an imaginary stake down to his heart.

"And he's dust," she grinned triumphantly.

Spike stared up at her in shock. "You tricked me? You let me think you were hurt so you could win?"

"A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, especially when she's pooped," Willow quipped.

"Pet, that was bloody brilliant. I'm proud to see you've still got a bit of a devious streak in you. That was right quick thinking on your feet. Actually, on your arse," Spike complimented.

"Thanks," she replied, a self-satisfied smirk on her face. "Now that that's done...ahhhhhh!"

This time it was Willow who found herself with a sense of vertigo, staring up at the ceiling before it was eclipsed by Spike's face. He straddled her body in such a way that he had her legs pinned with his own and her arms trapped above her head, wrists held in one of his hands.

"Didn't say we were done, pet. We've still got ten minutes left in the room. Never stop fighting until a demon is dust, slime, or splattered to bits. Some of us are pretty hard to kill. You'll have to be punished for your lack of concentration, I'm afraid," Spike shook his head sadly.

"Punished?" Willow's voice came out sounding a bit more breathy and Marilyn Monroe-ish than she would have liked. She could feel the weight of his body pressed against her...and she actually liked it...a lot.

"Definitely." Spike solemnly stated, then proceeded to tickle the redhead with his one free hand.

Willow squealed and tried to twist away from his torturous hand. She bucked against him, trying to dislodge his body from her own, trying to gain some advantage to evade his evil, tickling fingers. Gasps emerged between uncontrollable giggles, and her sides began to ache. Her back arched and she found herself centimeters away from Spike's face. Both froze instantly, their eyes locked. Willow and Spike stared at each other intently, the only sound in the room being her heavy breathing.

She felt herself drowning in his stormy blue eyes. The color reminded her of a summer day just as the rain clouds began rolling in. His pupils were dilated, and his cool, unneeded breath fanned across her lips. It tickled. Willow's tongue darted out to lick her suddenly dry and ticklish lips. Can lips even be ticklish?

Spike's eyes were drawn to the pink tongue slowly wetting her soft lips. His nostrils flared and he caught a whiff of arousal. His? Quite possibly. Who would have thought he could feel this way about Willow? The little witch, his new friend. He inhaled again. Not just his arousal after all. Hers, too.

He leaned forward and their lips brushed together, sending electric shocks through both. Willow's lips parted on a soft sigh, which Spike took as a good sign. He nibbled and sipped at her lips, his tongue lightly teasing both upper and bottom.

Warm, thick, honeyed blood pumped through her body, leaving Willow languid and trembling all at once. She leaned closer, deepening the kiss slightly. Spike pressed his body against hers, guiding her down to the red, vinyl gym mat beneath her that suddenly felt soft as floating on a cloud. Willow's breathy moan rent the silence, and Spike pulled back like he'd been shot by a toy gun full of holy water.

His eyes were wide, his pupils dilated even more than before. He looked surprised, embarrassed and afraid all at once. Realizing he still gripped her wrists in his hand, Spike let her go like a hot potato, and ran his hand through his hair.

"Red, I'm sorry, luv. I don't know what...why...," he stumbled across his words as he struggled to his feet. Spike backed away, avoiding her gaze when Willow slowly sat up. He couldn't bear it if he saw disgust in her eyes. "I think we're done here today. Good lesson, pet."

Suddenly he spun on his heel, and headed for the exit, grabbing his duster off the rack as he passed it.

Willow felt a mixture of hurt and amusement. She had rendered the ever obnoxious Spike speechless. Who would have thought it?

"Spike?" She called out softly.

He stopped, but didn't look back. "Yeah, Red?" Was it her imagination, or did his voice crack?

"It was nice. Really, really nice," she offered shyly.

His back tensed, and he told her briskly, "Don't forget to cool down. Stretch before you leave, or you'll be sore as hell in the mornin'." Then he left the workout room without a backward glance.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Willow smiled as she remembered the way his soft, full lips felt sliding against hers. Closing her eyes, she raised her face to the breeze, and she felt the ghost of a tingle still where their lips had met. Her eyelids fluttered open as the first drop of rain kissed her upturned cheek. Willow stepped back from the ledge of the roof and spread her arms wide, welcoming the warm drops that trickled down her face and dampened her hair.

She began to hum a wordless song, swaying and twisting in the humid breeze, feeling the power of the earth dance over her skin. Lightning shimmered in the distance, followed by a rumble of thunder fifteen seconds later, if she counted correctly. One Mississippi - Two Mississippi - Three Mississippi... It was a game she, Xander and Jesse played often as children. Count the seconds between lightning and thunder to find out how many miles away the heart of the storm was.

The rain quickened, not a downpour yet, but a steady shower that drenched her clothes. Willow's beige blouse and brown skirt clung to her wet body. She could feel nature's force behind the rainstorm, electricity and life in the air all around her.

She spun and dipped again, and wound up facing the door leading to the roof from the floors below. Standing in the doorway was Spike, gazing impassively at her. Willow blushed and looked a bit sheepish, but reached a hand toward him and silently beckoned him to join her.

*************************************

Spike just wanted a smoke before the storm hit. Poof of a sire wouldn't let him smoke in the bloody building. Spike didn't know why he picked up the habit again. It was a nasty one that stained his fingers yellow and sometimes the smoke burned his eyes. Willow called him on it a few times, but the old 'smoking causes lung cancer' routine didn't really work for someone already dead and immune to all mortal diseases.

Spike cursed roundly when he heard the patter of a steady rain before he even opened the door to the roof. What he saw made him pause.

Willow danced upon the rooftop, soaked to the skin, her clothes clinging to her modest curves. Her face was raised to the falling rain, eyes closed, a soft smile brightening her countenance. Spike became entranced, watching her movements. Willow was grace personified, her Goddess personified. When she turned and their eyes met, Spike felt his undead heart tug.

She held out her hand, a siren beckoning a sailor, promising a safe haven in the storm. Spike found his feet moving without a thought on his part. He was drawn to her earthy beauty, and the hand he clasped in his own was wet and warm, so pale and fragile. Spike pulled Willow into his arms and commenced a waltz, learned long ago while he was still human. He hummed a melody from his youth and spun and twirled the redhead across the expanse of the rooftop.

Willow raised her face to the rain once again and laughed joyously. Spike's steps quickened until the world spun around her faster and faster. She became breathless, clutching at his shoulders as her feet followed his lead, until suddenly he stopped.

When the world righted itself, Willow found herself looking up into Spike's stormy eyes again. He blinked rapidly as drops of rain slid down his forehead, dripping into his eyes. Willow reached up, and gently wiped away the trails of water. She ran her hand through his drenched hair, loving how the strands seemed to curl around her fingers, caressing them.

Spike raised his own hands to cup her face, his thumbs brushing away the rainwater. Ever so slowly, he leaned in to kiss her, a tentative brush of lips. Willow's fingers tangled in his hair and urged him closer, parting her mouth willingly beneath his. The kiss lengthened, then lingered, until Spike pulled away to give Willow a chance to breathe.

Her eyes fluttered open, and her kiss-swollen lips formed a small 'o'. "Again, that was really, really nice," she smiled shyly.

"You didn't mind?" Spike frowned, worried that she would use some mojo to toss him off the edge of the building for daring to kiss her again.

Willow shook her head no, and nibbled her lower lip. "Huh-uh. Spike-kissage. Very, very nice." Her fingertips brushed over his lips as she stared at their fullness. "Are all vampires' lips so soft? Don't you guys get chapped, ever?"

Spike snorted. He was forever fascinated by the sudden twists and turns her mind would take. "Never thought about it, luv, but I've never had to use any bleedin' lip balm before."

"Huh. Interesting." Willow's eyes remained locked on Spike's lips as her fingers gently caressed them. She giggled when he snapped his teeth at her, then nibbled the tip of her index finger before taking a swipe at it with his tongue. Willow inhaled sharply, and her eyes darkened from a gentle mint green to a shade the color of fresh spring leaves. The sensation of his lips closing around her finger, suckling lightly and stroking the pad of her fingertip with his tongue sent a rush of longing through her body.

She wanted to let go and just go with the feelings Spike was drawing to the surface, but she couldn't...not just yet.

"Why are you doing this, Spike?" Willow asked softly as she withdrew her finger from the sanctuary of his teasing mouth.

He frowned and loosened his hold on her. Had he read the signals wrong? Spike was certain that Willow felt the electric sparks flying between them. His body tensed, then he backed up a step, arms falling to his sides. She was rejecting him after all. "It won't happen again."

Willow quickly grabbed for the slick sleeve of his duster and dragged him back. "I didn't say I wanted it to stop. I just want to know why. Why now, why me?"

Spike tilted his head back and closed his eyes, letting the rain patter upon his face while he tried to formulate a truthful answer. Willow deserved no less. "Don't rightly know, Red." He lowered his head again to meet her questioning gaze. "It's not like I planned it. I'm not doing it to get back at the Slayer. You're not a substitute, if that's what you're worried about. I don't know when it happened, but today in the gym, when I felt you under me...when I saw you under me... You looked like a bloody angel, fallen from heaven. Your face was flushed, eyes sparkling, your hair spread around you like a blaze of fire. If I had breath, you would have...oh, bloody hell. I sound like a Grand Poofter," he groused suddenly.

Willow giggled, knowing the poet lingering in him was struggling to come out, and she loved that he could feel that open with her, to share that part of himself with her. "I think you were doing just fine," she grinned.

"What about you, eh pet?" Spike slid his arms around her waist, and drew Willow close again.

"Me? What about me?" Willow's brain went to mush when she felt the lean hardness of Spike pressed against her. Distracting mean ol' vampire. How was she supposed to think with his fingers tickling her lower back like that?

"Seem to recall you statin' you were, and I quote, 'Gay now.' Didn't seem too opposed to the male species when you were kissin' me just now."

"A girl has a right to be...flexible in her preferences, don't ya think? I mean, after all, just because I like Hershey's chocolate doesn't mean I can't like Godiva, too." Willow blushed as she struggled to make a sensical comparison.

Spike chuckled and drew her closer to his body, wrapping the duster around them both as the rain began to pound down upon them. He had to yell to be heard over the heavy drops hitting all around them. "Beautiful as you look playing water pixie, pet, I think it's time we head down below. Storm's rollin' in fast, and trust me when I say bein' struck by lightnin', dead or alive, it's no fun at all."

He leaned in, and dropped a quick peck to her lips before taking Willow's hand and leading her toward the stairs. They walked hand in hand into the penthouse, silent and lost in their own thoughts. When they stood before Willow's room there was an awkward moment of silence. Both shuffled their feet a bit and glanced almost shyly at one another.

"Go get something warm on before you catch a cold, Red." Spike bent forward and brushed a kiss across her forehead, reluctant to part ways, but not wanting to push the petite redhead faster than she was willing to go. "I'll see you in a bit."

Before he could pull back, Willow tightened her hold on his hand. She stared at him a moment, a soft pink blush rising in her cheeks.

"Willow? Did you need somethin' else?" Spike questioned, his head tilted at a questioning angle.

"I'm cold." She blinked owlishly.

He slide his hands up and down her chilled arms. "I can see that, luv. Got something warm you can put on?"

Willow chewed her lips and decided to drop a bigger hint. "I thought I might take a shower."

Spike felt himself tense as he pictured the lithe redhead standing beneath a hot spray of water, rivulets of the liquid sluicing over her bare, flushed body. He cleared his throat and squeezed her hand a bit tighter before releasing it and stepping back. "Sounds like a good idea. Enjoy your shower, Red. I'll catch up with you in a bit."

He was halfway down the hall before she built up enough nerve to do what she wanted. "Spike!"

The vampire turned on his heel, taking in the vision of Willow standing next to her door, her clothes plastered to her body, a puddle forming beneath her feet. "Need somethin', pet?"

She slowly nodded, her eyes darting back and forth to everything in the hallway but Spike. Willow suddenly found a Picasso print fascinating. Why on earth would he paint an eye there? She clenched her fingers tightly around the doorknob and took a deep breath. "Icouldusesomeonetoscrubmyback."

Spike stared for a minute, blinking dumbly, then slowly made his way back toward Willow. "Could you repeat that again, luv? And this time stop for a breath between words?"

Willow closed her eyes, counted to ten, then slowly enunciated, "I . Could . Use . Someone . To . Scrub . My . Back."

A grin spread across Spike's face. "That a fact? Well, I think I might have some free time I could spare to help your cause."

Willow turned the doorknob and led him into her room, Spike's lips chasing hers the entire way.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Later, Willow snuggled into the circle of Spike's arms and nuzzled his bare chest. He'd made the most tender and passionate love to her in the shower...and on the vanity sink...on her dresser...and finally they made it to her bed. Her smile was that of a very physically sated woman. There was a nagging in the back of her mind though. She hated to ruin such a peaceful quiet moment, but she needed to know.

"Spike?"

"Hmmm?" The vampire buried his face in Willow's fragrant hair. He would have to find out which shampoo it was he'd used while washing her hair. He'd buy her a case of it...two cases. The scent was heavenly. Or maybe it was just Willow.

"What did you think when you saw me on the roof earlier?"

Spike pulled back and looked into her eyes. "What do you mean, Red?"

"When you saw me dancing, did you think I looked silly?" Willow unconsciously gripped his arms a bit tighter.

"Silly? Why would you think you looked silly?"

Willow buried her face in his chest and remembered Kennedy laughing at her as she danced in the rain, and let the power of the earth fill her. She shrugged slightly, embarrassed to let Spike know about her silly insecurities.

He crooked a finger beneath her chin and raised Willow's face. Spike leaned forward, and softly kissed her while gazing intently into her eyes. "My mum used to read me stories when I was a boy about fairies and magical pixies. Tonight you looked like some water sprite come to life. You were soddin' beautiful, Willow. More than that, you were magical."

The tension fell away from her muscles, and Willow smiled serenely at the vampire holding her. "Thank you, Spike."

"For what, luv?" His fingers fanned her petite rib cage, savoring her warmth.

"For getting me."

Willow smiled against Spike's lips before the kiss turned passionate, and Spike decided to, once again, prove that vampire stamina definitely had its upside.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Just before dawn, Willow lingered in that ethereal space between dreams and reality, wrapped securely in Spike's embrace. Her subconscious drifted up, up, and up, until her feet floated gently to land upon the astral plane.

She turned slowly and took in the misty room. Everything was done in white, from the marble floors, to the columns, the benches, and even the flowers growing there were the white of fresh, virgin snow.

Willow didn't hear a sound, but turned when she sensed a presence. She knelt and lowered her head in respect. A gentle hand brushed the top of her head.

"Rise, my daughter," a melodic voice filled the silence of the space.

"Good morning, mother Goddess," Willow whispered reverently, her lips curving into a gentle smile.

"I see you have found your path, Willow," her Goddess began, nodding her approval. "You are doing well, fighting alongside The Warrior for the Powers."

"Yes, mother Goddess. I finally feel like I'm making a difference again, helping Angel and our friends fight the good fight, taking on the baddies."

The Goddess smiled, a twinkle in her brilliant eyes. "You have found more than your path, though, have you not? Perhaps you found more than you expected with the other vampire with a soul."

Willow blushed. Her Goddess seemed to be all-knowing. She wasn't sure how she felt about her knowing *all* that she and Spike had done. She didn't even know if there were terms for some of the things he'd done to her. All Willow knew was that he'd made her see stars over and over throughout the night.

"Spike. He, ummm, he's s-special," she stuttered.

Her Goddess nodded wisely. "Yes, he is. William has much to atone for, but his is a good, kind soul. Do you remember what I told you during your last visit with me, child?"

Willow nodded slowly. "You said that I should follow my heart, and it would lead me to a place where I was needed and wanted. You were right. Helping Angel has set me on the right track."

"That is one way of looking at it, but it isn't Angel your heart seeks. It isn't Angel that needs and wants you. It isn't Angel who is your other half." The radiant being before Willow smiled gently.

"Spike?" Willow asked softly, finally understanding her Goddess' words.

"No, not Spike. William." The Goddess reached out a hand and caressed Willow's cheek. "His soul has been waiting in the ether for such a long time, waiting for you to be born, to grow, for the fates to twist and turn the strands of time to this perfect point. You are both where you are meant to be now, child. Your souls have been apart for so very long; do not waste this gift."

"I won't, mother Goddess," Willow whispered. Her thoughts swirled and tumbled at the enormity of this revelation. Spike...no, William, was her other half, her soul mate. She was practically numb as she rose to her feet, and gentle lips pressed a maternal kiss to her brow.

Willow suddenly was tumbling through time and space, plummeting back into her body. She awoke with a jerk, finding herself staring into Spike's sleepy eyes.

"All right, pet?" He mumbled.

She reached up and traced the sharp lines of his face gently, lovingly. "Everything's okay. Everything's perfect."

"Go back to sleep then, luv. 'M tired." Spike snuggled close, resting his cheek against her breasts. A contented rumble emitted from his chest when Willow began to gently stroke his hair.

"Good night, Spike. Good night, William," she murmured. The vampire smiled against her skin, placing a soft kiss against the underside of her breast.

"Night, Willow. Sweet dreams, luv."

Both snuggled into each other's embrace, feeling safe and loved for the first time in a very long time, and drifted off into a contented sleep.
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The authors own nothing. Joss, UPN, WB, etc. own Buffy, the show, the characters, the places, and the backstory. The authors own any original plots.