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Tea and Crumbling

It’s all Mad Hatters and March Hares and teacups on saucers for eyes, but this isn’t really a party. No, it’s just Willow trying to make sense of a troubled soul, a soul never meant to be there.

“How did it happen?” she asks him, not that she expects an answer. Spike hasn’t made sense once. He’s six impossible things for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and she’s seeing Glory’s Tara in the way he stares off at things she can’t see. Would it be better if she wasn’t Willow? If she were Drusilla, she could figure this out.

If she were Drusilla, she wouldn’t be aching and lonely and it wouldn’t matter that her friends don’t trust her anymore.

“Spike,” she says softly, trying to win his attention from the subtle wooing of the shadows.

“I remember you,” he says, and for a moment she thinks his mind is truly gone, but then there’s some strange, fey wisdom swirling in his blue eyes – nothing like Tara’s eyes – and she thinks he means something different from the sound of the words shattering against dank basement walls.

“I remember you, too.” She has no idea why she said that, but when his gaze turn sharp as a rapier in the dim light, she thinks he could tell her if he wouldn’t keep disappearing, leaving nothing but eyes instead of a grin. “Would you come with me? Let me take you home?” She doesn’t know what she means by that either; she can’t take him to Buffy’s house, not that it’s really home, anyway. It’s just a place to hang her coat and pretend to sleep.

“Will you?” he asks. “Will you take me home?” He looks terrified and she realizes what he’s afraid she’ll do. His eyes catch a glimpse of blonde hair and eyes colder than the grave and she thinks perhaps she does, too. If they stare at each other much longer, she thinks she’ll become him, and where will she go?

“No, not really. But my parents are gone. I still have a key, or if it doesn’t work, I at least know how to pick the lock on my balcony doors.” She clings hard – claws and talons – to the sound of her own voice. There she is.

He smiles at that, but there’s no joy in it. “That’s housebreaking, isn’t it?” He sing-songs, “Red’s a bad girl. I always knew.”

She thinks of a high cliff and a boy bringing stories of broken crayons and she nods her agreement. “Red’s a bad girl.” Maybe it would be better to jump, to get lost. She thinks of Oz and Chet Baker and wonders why there’s a mirror in each painful corner.

He takes her hand almost without her knowing it, madness suddenly gone as if it hadn’t been there. “Right. We’re off then.” He stares down at her fingers and the madness is back. “Red’s a bad girl and she can’t have any tea.”

Feet begin to move and steps are taken. Soon they will be gone from here. “I don’t think I have any tea anyway,” she says as two move as one move as two. She’s fully aware that tea isn’t tea. Nothing is anything it seems, not here and not anymore.

Perhaps she should have a flamingo to replace Miss Kitty Fantastico.

The End.
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