Willow fell on the bed with a loud sigh. Xander had survived his first night out with the leopards. Had been an especially good hunter. Willow had asked what that meant and Xander had started talking to her about the culinary delicacy that was Squirrel. Willow had squealed. "Unless you've been eating frogs I don't want to know about it." Xander made a face at that.
"Frogs taste bad."
"Says the man talking about squirrels."
After the conversation, Willow had felt almost ten times better. A part of her had worried that after Xander had changed into his leopard form, he wouldn't be the real Xander. He would come back changed and they wouldn't be friends anymore. Instead, Willow was secure in the fact that Xander was still Xander.
It had only been two hours after she had fallen asleep, that her phone rang. Willow moved her hand blindly over to the table and pulled the receiver to her ear.
"Is this Willow Rosenburg?"
"This is Sergeant Dolph Storr. Anita Blake said that you might be able to help me on a case."
"Meet me at the Starbucks on 31st."
"Wait...." click. The phone was dead. Willow shook her head and stared at it. Well, damn.
"Yes, sir." Willow shook the giant man's hand. He looked like he should be on the WWE fighting Brock Lesnar for the title.
"Nice to see your prompt. I need your help. But I need to know that you can handle some of the things I'm about to tell you."
"Are we speaking of blood, magic, or just silence?"
"I grew up on a Hellmouth fighting demons." Willow's eyes turned black and Dolph nodded. "As for the silence, people tell me I'm too good at keeping secrets. People forget that they've told me in the first place." Dolph smiled at her and shook his head.
"Okay, here goes nothing. A couple was killed last week in the park. We thought it was a normal stabbing until the moon rose and the couple started to sprout flowers from their wounds. Do you know what could be doing this?"
"A florax demon. They have large nails that act as their reproductive organs. They stab their victims creating cocoons to plant their eggs in. The flowers are a pre-stage. They should be pulled like a weed and the seedlings will die. The mother should be in one of the ponds at the park. You kill them by decapitation. Anything else?"
Dolph looked surprised. "Ummm, no. Thank you. Can I call you again?"
"I'm already seeing someone."
"That's not what I meant.....and you knew that." Dolph sighed and rubbed his forehead. "Listen, now that Anita is pregnant she isn't going to be able to help us with most of these cases. Is it possible for you to work part time for the department as an advisor."
Willow nodded. "Sure. I'm working at Circus of the Damned most nights, but just call the number Anita gave you and I will be able to get in touch with you. I plan on getting a cell phone soon, so I'll give you that number when I have it."
"Thank you, Ms. Rosenburg. Expect my call."
Willow watched him walk away and though about the strange twists of her life. Looks like she was back to protecting the world.
Willow sank down under the covers. She thought twice and pulled them up and over her head. It took all of two minutes for her to fall asleep.
Jean Claude looked at the sleeping form. He could make out the bulge under the covers and very little else. He could hear her heartbeat, and smell her own fragrance. She was there and asleep. From the deepness of her breathing she had been that way for awhile. He had fed already and had made haste to get back to the city. He wanted to see her. It didn't surprise him. Like all new gifts, he couldn't wait for this one to be opened.
He crawled up onto the bed beside her and gently pulled the covers down. She was so pale. Without her heartbeat beating in his ear, he could almost picture her as a vampire. Her hair was a red that no box could repeat. When awake, her eyes were the color of jade. He wanted her to wake up but he could have patience. He settled himself next to her for effect and waited.
Willow came slowly to consciousness. She wasn't alone. Willow turned slowly to better face her intruder. It was Jean Claude. Willow actually relaxed. She knew it wasn't right to be so relaxed around a vampire, but a large part of her didn't care. "Good morning."
"It is not morning my dear. Try good evening."
"It is too morning. See me waking up? That means morning." Willow moved in closer to the vampire and snuggled into his chest. Too say that he was taken for a surprise would be an understatement. Anita hadn't been big on cuddling. A part of her always shrunk back from him. A part of herself could never admit that she in anyway loved a vampire. His cold skin next to hers seemed to be an unpleasant reminder. Apparently, Willow had no such qualms.
"So sorry, ma rouge. I assumed that the rising of the sun concurred with morning. I bow to your infinite wisdom." He kissed her forehead and wrapped his arms around her.
"Good. We're getting this relationship off on the right foot. I got a call from Dolph today."
"Yep. It appears I'm taking Anita's place in more ways than one." Willow regretted the words almost immediately. Jean Claude had gone perfectly still. The type of stillness that only snakes and vampires could possess. "I'm sorry. Ignore me. I have a tendency to ramble." Willow pulled out of his arms. The moment had already been broken and she felt the need to be less than serious. "So, when is Xander starting at Guilty Pleasures?"
Jean Claude stared at the red head. She slid out of the bed and moved about the room gracefully. She had been here less than a month but the room was already hers. Even if she left the next day, the room would always remind him of her. Even now, when he was supposed to be caring for her, she emitted such a sense of comfort and peace, that he felt cared for. "What am I to do with you?" Jean Claude gave a hand movement as if to push away any answer she would have given. "Xander starts tonight. I need to be sure that he can handle himself so close to the change."
Willow nodded. "It's a good idea. Plus, he's done this kind of thing before, so hopefully it will be like falling off a bike."
"Hopefully, it will be like falling off a pole." He looked so innocent when he said it that Willow couldn't help but laugh.
"I hope he doesn't fall off. That could be very embarrassing for all." Willow winked at him and moved towards her open closet. "What should I wear?"
Willow shook her head. "Oh no, you don't. First I see Xander perform. That it's time for your performance." Willow gave him a seductive smile and turned back to her closet. She threw up her hands. "Help me decide? I don't think anything here will work!"
"Well, then. Maybe this will." Jean Claude reached down next to the bed and pulled out a simple package. It was wrapped in brown paper and was gift shaped.
"What is this?"
Willow took the box reluctantly. She shook it a couple times and held it up to her ear. Jean Claude laughed at her strange behavior. "Hey, don't laugh. I lived on the Hellmouth. Sometimes presents were more likely to be killer Karmap demons than puppies." Willow undid the string slowly. Now that she was sure it wasn't going to bite her, she just enjoyed the simple pleasure that opening a gift could give a person.
Jean Claude was amazed at the look of joy on her face. Was opening a present really that special to her? She was taking such care not to rip the paper. Her movements were slow and cautious. How a person opened a present said a lot about what kind of lover they would be. People who ripped the gift wrap with no care to the time it took to wrap, generally were more selfish in bed. Those who meticulously undid the tape and corners were more likely to take their time and enjoyed themselves. Willow seemed to be of the more pleasurable variety.
"It's gorgeous." It was said so quietly that if he hadn't been a vampire, he probably would not have heard. Willow pulled the necklace out of the box first. It was a cameo of the Goddess on a simple chain of gold. It was said to give protection to all those who wore it. The top and pants were much more modern. It was of a simple black and green scheme . The top was a fitted corset of green silk with black velvet designs, and black ties up the front. The pants were black leather with the same green designs up the side. "I figured you for the corset type, but leather pants? Is that just a vampire thing?"
Jean Claude laughed. She was such a joyful creature. He would enjoy having her in his care. "How about you try them on."
Willow winked at him. She reached down and grabbed the base of her nightgown. She pulled it up and over her head. She was left in nothing but the black bikinis she had worn to bed. For the second time that night, Jean Claude stopped moving. This time Willow thought it was for a good reason. Willow put the corset on and made short work of tying up the front. Her breasts looked huge in the tight silk. Willow gaped a little, but blushed and moved on when she realized she was standing there in just her underwear and the corset. She reached her hand to grab the pants but Jean Claude put his own hand on top of the pants.
"These are meant to be worn alone."
Willow blushed crimson. For most of her talk she wasn't used to being seen naked. The top was fine. If the world considered it Pg-13 than so did she. Oz had been one the only man to see her naked, minus Xander whom she didn't count as a "guy". Willow slipped her underwear down to her feet and reached out for her pants again. Jean Claude stopped her. He moved the pants out of her reach and swung his legs over the side of the bed putting the pants behind him. "Come here."
Willow moved closer and forgot entirely about being embarrassed. She felt excited. She moved a few hesitant steps forward till she was standing between his own leather clad legs. Jean Claude reached up to the corset and undid the bow at the top. He slowly untied all of the front. Each movement caused his hand to brush against her breast and Willow gave a small gasp with each "accidental" brush. By time she was unlaced, her nerves were on end.
Jean Claude moved the straps down and off her shoulders before removing the whole thing. Willow stood in front of him naked. His eyes moved from her head to her toes, not stopping to long at any one place. "My dear, you are not a replacement for Anita. If anyone tells you that I want you to hurt them. For when they hurt you, they have hurt, and disrespected me. I loved Anita for so many reasons. However, I enjoy you for quite different ones. You are soft where she was hard." His hand appeared on her stomach and Willow sucked in a breath more out of surprise than vanity. "You are warm, where she was cold." He moved his hands up to above her breast, touching her right above her heart. "And most importantly, you have acceptance where she had none." His hand came to rest on to small scars on her neck. Angel had put them there as a way of warding off other masters. The marks could not be given out of anything less than freewill.
Willow looked into his eyes. He was so sincere it almost put her in physical pain. If he could accept her, and Xander along with it, then why couldn't anyone else? She didn't know she was crying till he had moved her to his lap. She probably should have felt uncomfortable but she was to tired to think about being naked. Jean Claude rubbed her back in slow motion as she sobbed out her pain. People had never been tolerant of her pain. She was forced to get over Oz ten times quicker than Buffy's love for Angel because she was Willow. She had been forced to forgive and forget a lot simply because she was the only one who would. Now, she was free to feel as she wished. Right now, she just felt like crying.
Willow looked around the darkened club. Jean Claude had introduced her to a few of his employees, but she had yet to see Asher. "He is still moping."
Willow smiled as Jean Claude wrapped his hand around her waist. "How did you know who I was thinking about? I could have been thinking of Xander."
"Xander's out back getting ready. Besides, you made me tell you stories about my past in the car. You seemed to be harping on Asher when we finally got here." Willow turned in his arms and wrapped her own around his head.
"Can you blame me? He is a hottie."
Jean Claude wrapped his arms around Willow's back and pushed her full against him. When she had finished crying, he had allowed her to get dressed and doll herself up. Hannah had been a big help. With Willow's pale skin, natural grace, and aura of power, it was hard to tell her from any of the vampires in the club. He hadn't been out of physical contact with for more than a few minutes since her release. It felt good to have someone want, no need, his touch. "Plan on replacing me already?"
"Not replacing. Just thinking about how to repay you for these clothes."
"Oh, and what does this repayment have to do with Asher?"
"You're French, ever hear of a menage a trois?" Jean Claude laughed and placed a kiss against her neck right about her pulse point. She shivered in his arms.
"Yes, my dear. I have heard of a menage a trois. You are willing to do this with Asher?"
"Why wouldn't I be? Like I said before, hottie!"
Jean Claude laughed. "I will accept that gift, although I am surprised that you have offered. We will approach him with the offer after I experience you for myself." His light kiss turned into a light nip and Willow leaned against him.
"Sounds good to me." Jean Claude moved his head up and kissed her on the lips. It was a small kiss but Willow would let him get away with that. She lightly bit his bottom lip and trapped him there. When she was sure he wasn't gonna move she deepened the kiss. He tasted old. The good kind of old. It was like when she used to walk into the library. She would smell that ancient book smell and know that she was home. "Tastes like home."
"What did you say?"
Willow kissed his nose, and then each eye. "I said, you taste like home."
"Is this a good thing?" She turned in his arms to watch Xander take the stage. Her back was pressed full against his front, and she could feel his reaction to her pressed against her back. It was funny. She had feared going to St. Louis because she thought she was losing everything. Instead, she had found something better. She was still helping save the world, still had Xander's friendship, had a new job, and had a new man. Well, vampire.
"Being like home? It's a very good thing."