“Everyone, there’s someone I want you to meet.” Said Willow as she found her group at the Bronze. “This is Angel.”
Her friends studied the stranger silently, while he studied them. < Wow. They all look so… old for kids their age. Like they’ve seen to much. > He thought, then chastised himself. < Don’t be ridiculous! What could they have possibly seen in this little town? > But, arguments aside, they did all look much too old.
“Hi.” He said, nervously glancing at Willow. < She’s amazing. I’m totally entranced and I haven’t even known her five minutes! > But suddenly, it seemed very important that her friends like him. Willow introduced the small group, but Angel knew that she was going to have to repeat them a thousand times before he’d remember them. He was horrible with names. So he just stuck to answering questions they fired at him.
“What did you say your name was?” asked a brown headed kid.
The kid grinned, but it didn’t come out quite right. “Well Angel, congratulate us. We graduated today.” He said bitterly.
The blond studied him. “You’re older.” She stated.
“Yeah, starting my senior year of college. But I’m only 20.”
“How’d you do that?”
“No social life and a lot of summer school.” He replied, and Willow grinned. Over academic achievement she could relate to.
Silence encompassed the group. Angel searched frantically for a subject, any subject. “So, how’d graduation go?”
They all stared at him, eyeing each other. Then, as if planned, they burst into rounds of stomach-gripping, tear-inducing laughter simultaneously. Even Willow. They just laughed and laughed and laughed.
Angel was obviously
confused, and that just made them laugh harder. After about ten minutes,
they started winding down, couples getting up to dance or get something
to drink. The skinny guy with red hair got up
to lead the girl who appeared to be his girlfriend to the dance floor stopped in front of him and said, “Thanks, man. I needed that.”
Angel turned to Willow, still lost as to the punchline of the joke, but decided to ignore it. < When in doubt, smile and nod, even if only inwardly. > he advised himself. Outloud, he said, offering his arm to the pretty girl, “Dance with me?”
She looked slightly taken aback. < He wants to dance with me! Not Buffy, or Cordelia, but me! Wow! > She was so off-balance that she just nodded and let him lead her out onto the floor. A semi-fast song was playing, and they started to move to the music. “I’m really bad at this.” He apologized.
She smiled that one hundred watt smile at him. “It’s ok.” She said softly. “So am I.”
They smiled at each other. “So, tell me about your friends.” He finally said.
She smiled. “They’re
great. Buffy-she’s great. Very um…athletic. She and Scott started dating
this year, and recently they’ve gotten really chummy. He’s nice. And then
there’s Xander…He’s been my best friend
forever. Longer than I can remember, really. He and Cordy used to have a thing, but now they don’t-no one really knows why. She’s slightly mean, and I used to hate her because she teased me, but she’s gotten nicer. And Amy. She’s a good friend. She can do all sorts of…interesting things, and she’s teaching some of them to me. Oz and I used to date, but when those two met each other…well, they were perfectly matched. Who was I to stand in the way? I love them all so much…” she trailed off finally.
He smiled down at her.
“It seems like it.” They continued to dance, and Angel’s hand grazed her
fiery hair accidentally. All of the sudden, the scene of the dance club
disappeared and he saw a man who looked like
himself and a woman who looked like Willow getting married. Just a brief flash of a ceremony. Then an alley, and a fight. A blond woman with a strange face…Willow looking down at him. Cobblestone? Things were so
Then, just as quickly as it had happened, it was over. “What in the…?” he trailed off, looking at Willow, who’s eyes were wide. “Did you see that, too?” he asked, and she nodded.
“What was it?” she asked him.
“That’s what I was going to ask you.”
They stared at each other, puzzled. She took a deep breath. ‘I think…I think that we’re ok for now. If it happens again, we’re going to have to see Giles, though.” She decided aloud.
She looked at him. “Giles? Oh, he’s the librarian.”
Needless to say, Angel was confused. But he shrugged and continued to dance with Willow.
Later, they went back to the table, and as her friends started to loosen up, he saw the wonderful people Willow had described to him while she had been chattering. But what really interested him was Willow himself. He began to see that she wasn’t just outwardly beautiful, but inwardly as well. She just…shimmered. Like that song. How did it go? He couldn’t remember.
It became late, and with reluctance, he realized that he had to leave if he wanted to finish his Western Civics report before dawn. < Angelus, the Great Procrastinator! > He thought with a smile. He couldn’t just leave the girl who intrigued him so, though. So, he pulled her aside and looked into her eyes, writing his number, dorm room number and location on a napkin, then making her write hers down for him.
“Here.” He said, giving the napkin to her. “Call me. That’s not an option.”
She considered it, then looked at him. “No, it’s not, is it?” she repeated solemnly.
< Joy and Elation! She likes me, too! >
He grinned. “I bet you that I’ll call you first.”
She considered. “Probably. Me calling you would require much courage. Courage is something Willow seems to be lacking lately.” When she caught his concerned gaze, she smiled. “Don’t worry, I’m working on it.” She explained.
“Good. See you around.”
Normally, he would be the righteous guy and leave with that slightly condescending remark, but he found that tonight wasn’t an ordinary night. He found himself grasping her fingers and bringing then up to his mouth, grazing the knuckles lightly with his lips. Just then, another series of pictures overcame his mind. Thousands of times where he had done what he had just done, brushing his mouth over her knuckles. A scene between them in a barn, where he yelling, and then crying. Pushing her out of a road…with carriages? Then a jolt and another set of pictures. Dancing with…that blond girl. What was her name? Bobbi, Barbie…or something equally ridiculous. Kissing the blond. Sitting on Willow’s bed, asking for help. Constant pain.
And then back to the present, where Willow was again staring at him with wide eyes. “Ok, this is not good. Not good at all.” She exclaimed. “Time to go see Giles.”
She grabbed his hand and dragged him out of the club.
Marios, the great writer
of timelines, sat in his chambers and grumbled. He did not like his job
at all. All that writing about the billions of different people and their
stupid little lives…not to mention the horrible things, like war and poverty.
He had to write all that, too. And it really didn’t help that he
had had a raging case of writer’s
cramp for the last couple of millennia.
Suddenly the old gruff
man smiled. < I’ll just check up on my favorite redhead. > He thought
with a smile. He flipped through a couple of pages of his own neat script
that crowded thousands of pages until he reached
the area that contained the story of Willow and her friends. He read the more recent version and smiled. Things had gotten so much better after he had sent Willow back in time to stop Angelus from being turned. Now
the two Ancient Souls could continue on as they were supposed to be-together through every lifetime. Then, as he read the most recent events, he became very frustrated.
“What is THIS!?” he cried out to no one in particular. < This isn’t supposed to happen. They can’t remember past lives. Or alternate dimensions…how is this happening? This has never happened before! > He thought wildly.
“Damn those two.” He muttered. “All the other Ancient Souls follow the rules-why can’t they? Those two have given more trouble…”
With that, he started frantically searching through old tomes of timelines, trying to find out why this was happening, and more importantly, what consequences it would have.
“GILES!” yelled Willow as she dragged Angel through the library doors. “GILES!”
“Coming!” came a voice from his office. As he placed a bookmark in the tomb he was reading, he thought, < I love all those children, but honestly, do they think that I answer to their every whim? Bloody Americans. >
He came out of his office to find Willow standing there, very pale, with a perfect stranger.
“We have a problem.” She stated.
“What else isn’t new?” he asked sarcastically.
“Giles, this is Angel. I met him tonight.”
Giles studied the young man, who offered his hand in greeting. Carefully, Giles reached out and shook his hand firmly. To Willow, he said, “Are you sure that he’s completely safe?”
Willow glanced at Angel. “As far as I can tell. Buffy didn’t have a vibe, so I’m going for the yay. Besides, he saved my life.”
“Oh! Well then, what can I do for you? I thought everyone was Bronzing it tonight.”
“We were.” Willow confirmed. “But then something weird happened.”
“Oh, buggers.” Giles sat down, and motioned for them to do the same. He loosened his tie and rolled up his sleeves. “Let’s hear it.”
As Willow relayed the
story of dancing and the various flashbacks they had experienced, Angel
pondered. He was confused. This night had to have been one of the strangest
ones he had ever experienced. Meeting a
beautiful, but all too mysterious girl, having flashbacks of things he had never seen, and coming to a high school librarian for help? Not to mention the way Willow and the librarian spoke to each other. He seemed to be almost a father figure, and the questions that he asked were strange, not to mention the answers. Was he safe? What kind of question was that? Vibes? He rubbed his temples gently. He was developing a very large headache.
“…then by the door it happened again, except this time there were some that appeared to be in the past and some that could have been in the present except that they were all screwed up, like him making out with Buffy. Weird stuff like that.”
< Oh, that was her name! >
“Well, uh, it sounds like this needs some extensive research. Can you get the others?” asked Giles.
Willow groaned. “I’d hate to drag them away. They deserved the break they’re getting tonight, considering.”
“Yes, they do. We all do.”
Angel watched the man. Although he couldn’t be older than forty or forty-five and seemed to be in good shape and very lively in general, at that moment, he had the same air as the kids at the bar. Old. Or maybe just tired of life, he wasn’t sure. Then, just as quickly as it had come, the look passed. < Man, hanging out with these people is giving me the creeps. > He thought. Then he looked at Willow and the thought disappeared as he felt a rush of…something… towards her. < Creepier and creepier… >
“Well, we really need their help on this one.” Giles decided.
Willow sighed. “Fine. I’ll go get them.”
“Do I sense that we are needed?” asked a cheerful voice from the door.
They turned and saw…”Xander!” Willow cried gratefully.
The rest of the crowd that had been at the Bronze filtered through the door in pairs. “I’m afraid that…” Willow started with a grim look on her face, and Xander moaned.
“Oh no! Not yet! I thought this was vacation!”
Willow shot the kid a look. “Xander, this is Sunnydale!”
They looked at each other and the entire group said, “Research time.”
And as Angel watched in bewilderment, the entire group of tired teenagers completely switched gears. “Ok, everyone. Anything you can find on visions, flashbacks of past lives or alternate universes would be good.” Stated the librarian.
“Got it,” said that Oz guy.
Buffy and Giles brought out armload after armload of huge, dusty books from the stacks, Willow grabbed a tall stool and pulled herself to the computer, obviously signing onto the Internet, Oz and Amy sat down and started paging through the huge books while Cordelia played with her hair, whining about how flat it was going to be after pulling another all-nighter. Scott seemed to hesitate, then joined Amy and Oz in sorting through the books. Xander kneeled under the desk and came back up with an entire drawer full of junk food-Twinkies, candy bars, and soda.
Angel just stood there,
having no idea what was going on. Finally, Willow noticed him. “Oh, Angel!
You can probably go home now. I’ll call you if we find something.” Then
she seemed to have a thought and turned
to Buffy. “Buffy, it’s dark-do you think…”
The blond nodded. “Sure, I’ll take him. Come on, college stud!”
With that, she grabbed his arm and dragged him out of the library.
Outside, Buffy led Angel through the night to his dorm. He was only going to be living there for a week or so, until he could find a decent apartment. Even though the night was hot, with the kind of humid air that hangs on your skin, Angel shivered. < Something about this town is not right. > he thought.
Just then, there was a crash from an alleyway nearby, and Buffy’s head shot up, looking into the night quickly. “Stay here!” she ordered him, slightly arrogantly, as she followed the sounds.
For a moment he did, but then he heard the sounds of fighting and followed her. < She might need my help. >
He rounded the corner
to see the petite blond throwing a huge guy like a feather across the alleyway.
The guy made a strange sound-a growl?-and got up, facing them. < Whoa!
What is with that guy? > Angel thought
frantically as he studied the strange and fierce-looking man.
Buffy sighed. “Growl. Why is it that the bad guys always growl? Can’t you find another way of expressing yourselves? ‘Cuz the growling just isn’t working for me.”
With that, she plunged what looked like a stick into the guys’ chest. “No!” yelled Angel. < No matter what kind of creep he is, impaling him is sort of overkill. >
At that moment, the guy exploded. Sort of. It was kind of hard to explain, considering Angel wasn’t sure what had happened. He was there one minute, and gone the next. While Angel stood, trying to figure out what in the hell was going on, Buffy checked the pulse of a teenage boy who was groaning from the ground, then helped him up. “You hit your head.” She told him. “Watch where you’re going next time.” Then they watched as the kid stumbled away.
“He’ll be fine.” Buffy said to Angel.
“Fine? FINE?! What about the guy who-who went poof? What about him? Will he be fine?” yelled Angel, who was very upset.
Buffy sighed. “Come on, let’s go back to the library. Willow will explain.”
She turned and headed back the way they had come, and Angel didn’t feel as though he had any choice but to follow. They were silent on their way back, and as they walked into the library everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at him, then each other, then back at him. All was silent.
At that moment, Willow and Xander walked through the door, laughing and carrying sodas. Their laughter died as they saw Angel standing there, and Angel just looked at Willow, his eyes begging her to make him understand what was going on. Willow sighed and walked right up to him, pulling him into a bear hug.
“Well Angel,” She said. “Welcome to the Scooby Gang.”
“Vampires?!” exclaimed Angel. He looked from one person in the library to the next, searching for some hint of laughter, a sign of a joke, but everyone seemed to be deadly serious. “So, you actually expect me to believe that she” he said, pointing to Buffy, “Is something called a Slayer, that kills vampires and that you all are her little helper people?”
“He makes us sound like Santa’s elves.” Muttered Xander, and Willow shot him a look that clearly said, ‘Shut up before I hurt you.’
“Not just vampires.” Said Giles, that weird librarian. < Poor boy. He’s not used to the Hellmouth. > “All forms of evil. That includes…”
“Zombies!” interrupted Oz.
“Bug people!” exclaimed Xander with a shudder.
“Ghosts, goblins, and ghouls.” Added Amy.
“Not to mention many other various demon-types.” Said Willow wryly.
Angel looked at all of them. “You’re all raving lunatics!” he exclaimed. “Is there something wrong with this town’s drinking water?”
Willow laughed. “Not that we know of.”
“Although there was that time…” started Buffy, but Willow hushed her and turned to look at Angel.
“Angel, think about
what you saw in that alleyway. Now add every little strange experience
you’ve ever had that had seemed a little…odd, but you shrugged it off.
Now add the fact that you’re surrounded by eight people
whose ratio of normal to not is three to five, and you’re left with some serious evidence that we are telling the truth.”
“Three to five?” Angel questioned. “I suppose that Buffy isn’t normal, and I guess that makes Giles not-your-average-librarian-man, but where are the other three?”
“Oh, Amy and I are witches and Oz is a werewolf.”
“Dude, you’re a werewolf?” asked Scott turning to Oz.
“Only three nights of the month!” exclaimed Amy, defending her boyfriend.
Scott shook his head in disbelief and sent Angel a sympathetic look. “I’m still getting used to this myself.” He explained. “I just found out today.”
“And you believe them?”
“Well, after seeing our mayor turn into a giant snake-demon at our graduation, I kinda didn’t have a choice.” Scott pointed out.
“I suppose not.”
Angel looked up from the thick book he was scanning about visions and sighed. “Someone remind me again why we’re doing this.” He said.
“Because this is the Hellmouth, and in our experience, nothing that happens here is ever a coincidence.”
Angel sighed and turned to Willow. “Why couldn’t you be a normal girl, with normal friends?” he asked her, more than a little frustrated. “Then we could meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after in ignorant bliss.” He said. Then, after a pause, he added, “Did I just say all that out loud?”
Angel groaned, blushed, and hit his head lightly on the table. Xander patted him on the back as comfortingly as he could manage. “Ignorance is highly over-rated.” He told Angel dryly.
“Somehow, I’m not comforted by that statement.” Angel replied.
Cordelia slammed a book shut and rubbed her blood-shot eyes. “This is ridiculous! We’ve been here for hours! And found absolutely nothing! We don’t know enough about what we’re looking for to even start!”
Giles rubbed his temples gently. “I never thought I’d say this, but…Cordelia’s right. The only option we really have is to wait and see if the phenomena occurs once more, and if so, collect knowledge from that enigma.”
Scott turned to Buffy and said, “Your Watcher is talking like an encyclopedia again.”
“He does that when he’s tired. Forgets to translate into non-Watcher speak. He said go home and get some shut eye.”
“I thought so.” The couple headed out the door, exchanging half-hearted good-byes with the other teenagers who were gathering their things as they prepared to leave.
Angel walked over to Willow, who was shoving random articles into a worn backpack. “Do you need a ride home?” he asked her, and she stopped what she was doing and smiled her amazing smile at him.
“I would, but I’m not going home.”
He shot her a questioning look, and she continued in way of explanation “There’s someone I want to see first.”
“Are you sure? It’s late.”
“Yeah, I’m sure. It won’t take long, I just want to check in.”
He shrugged. “Ok, then I’ll take you there and then take you home.”
“You don’t have to do that…” she started, but he stopped her by placing his hand on her mouth.
“Willow,” he said softly, “I’ve just found out that the world is being run amuck by vampires, ghouls, and every other childhood monster that I feared. I’m not even going to bed tonight without checking to see if there’s a monster under it first, forget letting this amazing girl I’ve just found walk all over the city by herself during the time when all those afore-mentioned goblins and such are created the most mayhem. Kay?”
Willow studied his worried face quietly. < He’s so perfect! > she thought. “Yeah.” She said softly.
He smiled. “Good.” Then, on an impulse, Willow leaned up and kissed his forehead. The skin under her lips was cool and when she pulled away, his eyes were wide. < I just kissed him! >
< She kissed me! And…Wow. > He had never known that an innocent little kiss could be so…stimulating. And it wasn’t even a real kiss. Then he realized that she was speaking and forced himself to concentrate on her words.
“It does get easier, you know.” She said, trying to reassure him. “It seems like a lot now, but in time…you adjust. Accept. Even grow accustomed to.”
“I hope so.”
She grabbed her bag and slung it over her shoulder, then they headed out of the library together, hand in hand. “So, where we headed?” he asked her.
The hospital was pretty much like every other one he had ever seen. A lot of white, a lot of noise, and people running around like chickens with their heads cut off. The couple headed up the stairs to the ICU.
“Willow, I think it’s past visiting hours.” Pointed out Angel.
She nodded. “It is.”
They reached the front desk and walked right past. “Hey sweetpea!” called out the man working there, an older man of about sixty.
“Hey Walter.” Willow replied. “I won’t be long.”
“Right-o.” The guy said, and went back to his work. Willow continued down the hall with Angel in tow. At the end of the hall, she turned into a small, secluded room. The light was dim, and Angel struggled to make out two figures there. One was a teenage boy about Willow’s age who was in the bed, hooked up to various machines and appeared to be asleep. The other was a woman in her mid to late thirties, who sitting in a chair, dozing. Willow smiled and walked over to the woman, shaking her gently. The woman opened her eyes, and then, seeing who it was, her arms. “Willow!” she exclaimed as the two women embraced. “You’re here!”
“And so are you!” returned Willow. “Shouldn’t you be in the Maternity ward?”
The woman shrugged. “Well, the stupid doctors said I had to stay in the hospital for the rest of the pregnancy. They didn’t say where. Besides, I knew you were worried about what would happen to him if…well, you know.” The woman trailed off as she saw Angel standing there.
“You mean, if we hadn’t killed the mayor? Yeah, I was.” Then seeing the woman’s shock, Willow laughed. “It’s ok, he knows. This is Angel.”
The very pregnant woman started to stand up, but Angel stopped her by walking over to shake her hand. “Hi.” He said.
“Angel, this is Jenny. Giles’ wife.” Explained Willow. “And this…” she said, gesturing sadly to the figure in the bed, “Is Jesse.”
“…So then, Oz and Xander come crashing through the ceiling, scaring everyone half to death, look around, and say, ‘We’re here to rescue you!’” Willow finished the story, and all three of them burst into laughter.
“I remember that Giles fummed for days about the books that had been irreparably damaged in that fire. He would come home and whine about how difficult is was going to be to replace some of them.” Jenny confided through her laughter.
This seemed to make Willow laugh even harder. “Giles whined?!” she exclaimed.
When Angel tried to imagine it, he too found himself chuckling harder.
Eventually, they all calmed down. “So, you see, Angel, it’s not all death and grim and gore. Some of it is actually fun.” Explained Willow.
“But there’s a lot more of grim and gore.” Angel pointed out. “I mean, take Jesse here for an example. I don’t know why he’s in this bed, but I can bet that it’s not a funny story.”
All traces of laughter on Willow’s face faded away as she looked at the frail boy under the worn white sheets. “No.” she said softly. “It’s not.” She paused, as if trying to decide whether or not to tell the tale, then started speaking again, sorrow filling her words.
“It was a few weeks after we had first met Buffy. We already knew about the whole Slayer deal, and the three of us were her loyal Slayerettes. Well, this demon showed up. Not even a big demon-just a little thing, about the size of your arm from wrist to elbow. And being the vanquishing team of all demon types, we went out to kill it.
The problem was that we were too cocky. We had been slaying for all of four weeks and nothing had ever defeated us, so of course we assumed that nothing could. It was like fighting all the baddies of the world was an extra-curricular activity-we did that instead of baseball or soccer, then went home and did homework. It wasn’t real. So, of course we didn’t think twice about this little thing.
We got down into the sewers, which was where this guy hung out, and fanned out, searching for him, keeping in touch through walkie-talkies. Well, we had been searching for about fifteen minutes when Jesse said that he found him. Everyone started heading towards his location to help out, but I was closest and got there first. He was using a baseball bat to try and hit it, but it was too little, too fast. Before I could do anything, the demon darted forward and bit Jesse. On the top of the foot, through his sneaker. Jesse passed out, but ironically, he was the one who killed it.”
“How’d he do that if he was unconscious?” asked Angel.
Willow smiled, her eyes far away. “He landed on top of it. Well, the demon’s bite turned out to be poisonous, even deadly. But Jesse’s shoe stopped some of the venom, so it just sent him into this half-way state. Neither here nor there. Scientifically, there is no reason he shouldn’t wake up-everything works right as far as they can see. But he doesn’t. They took him off the machines, but to everyone’s surprise he could breathe on his own. So they monitor his brain waves and heart rate, feed him through a tube, and turn him over now and then, waiting.”
“Waiting for what?” Angel questioned, and Willow shrugged.
“For him to wake up. Or to die. Everyone’s given up on him-even Xander gave up about six months ago. But I still visit him, worry about him. I know he’s still in there, somewhere. I can feel it, you know?”
Her big green eyes caught Angel’s brown ones, and the look in them almost made him break. Sorrow, loneliness, a little desperation, and a glimmer of hope that refused to die glistened through her tear-filled eyes. Jenny was sitting in a corner, trying very hard to not to sob as she watched this stranger take Willow into his arms and rock her back and forth until the tears stopped.
It was one of the most beautiful things she had ever seen.
Angel stopped his car in front of a large-sized house that Willow said was hers and studied it. It was nice enough, he supposed, but like Willow herself, it radiated loneliness. “Isn’t anyone home?” he asked. “Your parents…or someone?”
Willow laughed, looking at the house. “My parents. Yeah. Right. I haven’t seen my father in at least a year and a half-and my mother stops in once or twice a year to make sure I’m still alive then joins him at whatever city they’re in to do whatever it is that they do. I have a bank account that gets an allowance every two weeks-about a thousand dollars for groceries and house repair and bills.”
Angel looked at the girl, shocked. “You’re kidding!” When she said nothing, he commented, “That must be horrible.”
Willow shrugged. “It’s fine. They call once a month-sometimes. And this way they don’t even suspect that one of their daughter’s favorite past times is fighting the forces of darkness and working witchy mojo.”
Angel got out of the car and went around to the other side, opening the door for Willow and offering her his arm. She smiled and took it, her delicate nose pointed high into the air deliberately.
“Why, thank you, kind sir.” She said stuffily.
“You’re most welcome, m’lady.” Angel replied, grinning.
They proceeded to walk up the sidewalk to the front porch, where Willow took a key out of her shoe and unlocked the door. She reached into the house, turned on the light, then walked in and slid her shoes off onto the doormat. Angel watched this entire ritual with bemusement. When Willow caught Angel staring at her, she smiled. What?” she asked.
He shook his head. “I just…find you fascinating.”
Willow blushed and looked down at her now being shuffled feet. “And this is a good?” she questioned.
He grinned. “Yeah. A major good.”
She smiled her perfect smile and Angel felt his insides melt. “So…so…you want a drink?” Willow asked nervously. “I have iced tea, hot chocolate, milk, regular tea, coffee, lemonade, and Kool-Aid.”
He grinned. “Kool-Aid?”
She shrugged. “I like Kool-Aid. It’s easy to make, sweet, low on nutritional content, and comes in a variety of yummy flavors. Not to mention the fact that that Pitcher man is way hip.”
He chuckled. “Kool-Aid is good.”
She grinned and headed
toward what he assumed was the kitchen. “Good! Now, what flavor would you
like? I have orange, grape, cherry, black cherry, lime, lemonade, strawberry-watermelon,
and tropical punch. My
favorite is tropical punch, which is why I have so much of it, but if you like another kind…” she trailed when she saw the amused expression on his face. “I’m babbling again. Xander normally stops me when I do that, but sometimes I just go on and on and on about nothing at all. Xander says it’s a purely Willow talent. But a lot of people find it annoying, so I’ll stop now.”
They entered the kitchen in silence and Willow said nothing as she went about making Kool-Aid. She got out a Kool-Aid man pitcher and some sugar, then she stopped and looked at him helplessly.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“You never said what kind you wanted.” She explained sheepishly.
Angel took one look at her and burst into laughter. He laughed so hard that his eyes watered. When he calmed down, he walked over to the embarrassed red-head, took her face in his hands and pulled it up so that he could look her in the eye.
“I don’t care if you babble, and I don’t care about the Kool-Aid.” He said. “I think that even if you babbled until sunrise and made the worst kind of Kool-Aid I can think of, I would still be falling for you.”
Her eyes widened in
surprise and she made a little sound in the back of her throat. He saw
her surprise at his words and smiled. “Hasn’t anyone ever told you how
perfect you are?” When she shook her head, he grinned.
“Then I get to be the first.”
On that note, he dipped his head and kissed her. It was meant to be a soft kiss, a slow, tentative brushing of the lips to reassure her.
He hadn’t expected the world to explode. But it did.
The second her lips
touched his, the emotions just came pouring out. Light blinded him
behind his closed eyelids. It was the kind of kiss from movies, where music
is playing and fireworks are exploding and time
stops. Passion welled up inside of him and the light brush of lips was forgotten. He pulled her against him almost violently, kissing her with a kind of passion he was helpless to control. His world was her. There was nothing but her, and her lips on his, kissing him back just as relentlessly. Her hands circled his neck, pulling him closer, and one of his hands tangled in her glorious hair while the other went to her waist to pull her against him. He deepened the kiss, ruthlessly plundering her mouth with his tongue while her own tangled with his in an exotic dance.
< Oh my God! > was the only thought in his head. < Yes! Yes, yes, yes,YES! >
Willow couldn’t think at all. They were so close, that she could feel the frantic beating of his heart through their clothes, and she was positive that he could feel hers.
That’s when something even more amazing than the kiss happened.
For one endless moment in time, the couples’ heartbeats were completely synchronized. The frantic beats matched each other exactly. And in that one moment, they were one.
It was like they’re souls just…joined. Meshed. Suddenly, she was surrounded by him, and he by her. Encompassed in the very essence of each other. It was the most glorious, perfect moment that had ever existed.
And then, the pain started.
A soul-wrenching type pain. Every nerve in their bodies screamed. Their lips parted as they tried to grab onto something to steady them as the throbbing proceeded to take over they’re bodies. Behind clenched eyes, millions of pictures swam before them. Thousands of scenes, all jumbled together in one big mess as they scrambled about, trying to make room for themselves.
As an Ancient Soul…
I’m not allowed to have boys in my room…
Angel in hell?
I, Marios, writer of the timelines send you back…
Eventually, the pain subsided. Angel was the first to recover, and slowly sat up from the spot where he had fallen on the tile floor. He reached over to Willow, who was lying near him, shaking with terror and pain, and pulled her into his arms.
“What was that?” she asked.
“I don’t know.” He said softly. “I don’t know.”
And they sat like that, Angel propped up against the counter and Willow in his arms, until both drifted to sleep on the cold white tile of the kitchen floor.
Willow groaned at the
light flooding through the window and turned away from it, burying her
nose more deeply into her pillow. < What is that noise? > her sleep-addled
brain wondered. < Thump-thump, thump-thump.
Like a wacky drum. >
< Or a heartbeat. > A voice rationalized calmly.
< Oh, a heart beat. > Thought Willow calmly. Then her eyes flew open and she though wildly, < A heartbeat?! >
The light streaming in from a nearby window blinded her temporarily, but as her eyes adjusted, she checked out her surroundings. < Tile, dishwasher, handsome guy’s lap… >
< ??? >
She sat up abruptly, knocking the top of her head into Angel’s jaw-hard. “Ouch!” she cried, and he woke up with a start and cupped his jaw, looking around frantically.
“What? Where! Who?” he cried out. Then , as the events of the last twelve hours came back to him, he relaxed. “Oh.” He leaned back against the counter, rubbing his jaw softly. “Geez Will, trying to break bones much?” He teased her.
Her eyes widened and her hand flew to her mouth in horror. “Oh no! Are you hurt much? It’s not really broken is it? I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean too… but I was startled. Let me see…”
He laughed. “Willow, it’s ok. I’m fine. Really.”
After several more reassurances, she calmed down. Some. Pushing away from his chest and standing up, she said, “I’ll get some ice. Yeah, ‘cuz ice is good. Lessens the pain factor. Pain which I caused. Did I say I was sorry? ‘Cuz I am. Very, very very…”
“Willow!” He cried out, interrupting her tirade. “It’s ok. Calm down.”
He stood up slowly and faced her. Her face was pale, her hair rumpled, her eyes slightly misty with the remains of sleep. He didn’t think he had ever seen a sight like that in his life. Breath-taking.
They gazed at each other for a moment, both remembering the amazing kissing action from the night before. Then Willow blinked and smiled, turning away from him.
“Would you like some breakfast?” she asked him as she headed to the refridgerator.
He paused a minute, then smiled. “Only if you help me make it. Do you have any eggs?”
“Yeah.” She said, slightly confused. “Why?”
He grinned. “Because I happen to make the best scrambled eggs this side of the Mississippi.”
She raised an eyebrow skeptically. “Is that so?”
“Absolutely. You make the toast and pour the drinks, and I shall scramble away.”
She shrugged. “’Kay.”
She opened the fridge and handed him the egg carton. When he opened it
to find all twelve eggs inside, she shrugged. “I’m the only home.
One person does not eat a huge amount of eggs,
‘specially when she can’t cook them to save her life.”
“I suppose not.”
She got him out a frying pan and a spatula, then started toasting bread and buttering it. Angel scrambled away, humming softly to himself. Willow seemed to be deep in thought, judging from the far off look in her eyes and the slight line between her eyebrows. Angel saw that look, and understood it. After their little…experience last night, he felt like he knew her better than anyone. And visa-versa. Which in itself was a deep-thought worthy idea.
He studied her for a moment, wishing that this morning could just be…fun for awhile. Then he glanced down at the extra eggs and a devilish grim spread over his handsome features.
He continued to stir the eggs, adding some butter, cheese, and garlic. “Have I told you already how much I love baseball?” He asked Willow, innocently reaching for the egg carton.
Willow was startled out of her thoughts. “What? Oh, um…no, I don’t think so.”
“Well, I do. I played my entire life. Little league through varsity and now on the college team.”
“Really? Baseball was always the one sport I liked. Xander, Jesse, and I used to sneak into any game we could find. Jesse was a freak about it-he could recite baseball facts faster than Cordy can buy a new pair of shoes. So I had to be tolerant. What position do you play?”
He grinned. “I’m a pitcher.”
With that, he let loose the egg, which landed with a satisfying smack on the front of her rumpled shirt. She made a slightly startled sound, then studied him with wide, slightly angry eyes. “That’s it, buster! You’re in for it now!”
She lunged for the
carton, but he grabbed it a split second before her. “Hah!” he yelled
victoriously. As he went to through another egg at her, she decided to
take defensive measures and grabbed a wooden spoon out of
a jar of utensils that sat on the counter. As the egg flew towards her, she closed her eyes and with a fierce battle-cry swung the spoon toward the flying egg. The bowl of the spoon hit it and the egg smashed, but
the force of the blow caused all the egg remnants to fly back and hit Angel squarely on the chest.
She raised her arms
above her head and yelled triumphantly, “It’s a line drive! The crowd goes
wild as Rosenberg passes first…” A slight pause as Willow scrambled over
the counter section in the middle of the spacey
kitchen, “reaches second…” she went on. Second was the freezer, which she reached into and pulled out a large hand full of ice cubes, which she promptly stuck down the back of Angel’s jeans, causing him to yell out in shock. “And goes on to third, where she is safe!” Then, Willow reached around Angel’s body and grabbed an egg, which she smashed into his hair, topping it all off with a good squirt from the ketchup that had been sitting on the counter for Angel to eat with his eggs. She leaned forward and whispered in his ear smugly, “Payback’s a bitch,
He growled menacingly. “You have no idea, little one.”
At that moment, he spun around quickly, grabbing the ketchup bottle from her and squirting it’s contents all over her. She squealed and tried to run for cover, but he followed her, scooping up some shredded cheddar and propelling it at her. The little slivers stuck to the ketchup, and Angel laughed. Willow then caught sight of the perfect food-fight weapon-an unopened bag of flour sitting on a shelf of the pantry Angel had left open. She lunged for it and turned around to face Angel with the bag threateningly, ripping off the top of the bag. He paused when he saw the bag and his eyes widened.
“I would! Don’t come any nearer, or I’ll do it!”
He studied her and advanced a few steps. “I don’t believe you.”
She dug her hand into the flour and threw what she got at him. He stopped, his legs now completely covered with flour. There was a silence, then he growled playfully and said, “Well, I have nothing to lose now!”
He lunged right for her and pulled her down to the ground with him, the flour bag absolutely exploding and filling the air with so much white powder that he couldn’t see.
When the air cleared,
all he could see was Willow. She was pinned under him, covered in god knows
what, laughing so hard she was crying. He laughed with her, at them, at
how childish they were being and how good
Then, all at once, the laughter was gone and the ever present passion had returned. Staring deep into her eyes, Angel started to lower himself down to touch Willow’s lips with her own, only to be unpleasantly surprised when she pushed him away.
“What?” he questioned and she gestured wildly to the stove.
“Smoke!” she cried.
He yelped, jumped up, and turned off the burner. The fire alarm went off, giving loud bleeping noises at regular intervals. He grabbed the smoking pan and ran it under water, trying to stop the burning.
Finally, the billowing smoke ceased and Angel looked around him with awe. The kitchen was a disaster area. He’d be very surprised if they could find their way out of it. Smoke filled the air, making his eyes burn, so he opened a window. Unfortunately, that let in a breeze that stirred up the flour. After a few minutes of looking at each other and the mess alternately, Willow said, “You know, there’s a Burger King a few blocks over and up. We could walk there, pick up breakfast, then walk back and clean up the mess.”
He nodded. “Sounds good.”
So they headed out the door and started walking. After awhile, a figure loading things into an expensive looking car came into view. When they came closer to it, Angel recognized the figure as Cordelia, one of the girls from last night.
“Hey Cordelia!” called out Willow, running up to her. “Watcha doing?”
“Leaving.” Was the short reply.
Willow’s eyes widened and she looked at me in shock. “Where?”
“Anywhere that isn’t here.” Said the brunette, still not looking up.
“Oh. For good?”
“I never intend to return to this hell hole again.” Cordelia answered, finally looking at Willow. “My God, what happened to you two?”
Willow smiled. “Food fight of the century in my kitchen. So, you’re leaving. Well.”
“Yeah.” Cordelia studied us for another minute, then laughed unexpectedly and pulled out a disposable camera. “Lord, I have to get a picture of you two. For posterity.”
They put their arms around each other and grinned compliantly while she snapped the photo. She then put away her camera and loaded the last bag into her car, slamming the door. “Where are you going like that, anyway?”
“To Burger King to pick up breakfast.”
She sighed. “As much as I really don’t care, I can not let you go to a public place like that. Give me your money and place your orders.”
Surprised, Willow complied and Cordelia got into the car and sped away, returning in less than five minutes with our meal and handing Willow the change. Willow had the strangest look on her face and Cordelia laughed.
“Don’t look so shocked Willow. I do occasionally do a good deed or two. Don’t tell anyone though, you’ll ruin my image.”
Willow smiled a half smile. “Secret is safe.”
There was an awkward pause, then to everyone’s surprise, Willow leaned forward and captured the other girl in a hug. “Take care of yourself.” She said softly.
“Uh…yeah. I will. Thanks.” Came the reply, followed by a smile.
Willow pulled away and Cordelia looked like she wanted to say something, but she didn’t. She climbed into the car, put on her shades, and nodded her goodbye as she drove off.
Willow stood, watching the car. When it was out of sight, she turned to Angel and shrugged. Then they headed back the way they had come.
“You know, we should try to figure out the flashes before we forget.” Pointed out Willow an hour and a half later. They had finally finished cleaning the kitchen and had both taken showers. Angel was borrowing a pair of sweats that had never been worn, he supposed they were her father’s, and Willow had changed into jeans and a Snoopy T-shirt.
Angel sighed. He really didn’t want to think about that right now. Everything was so perfect. Why ruin it? But he knew she was right and sighed. “Alright, let’s get this over with.” He said dejectedly.
Willow got out a pad of paper and they started sorting down everything they could remember into two columns-stuff that appeared to have been the distant past, and stuff that appeared to be an altered present.
When finished, Willow looked at the lists with a frown. < Something’s missing… >
“Wasn’t there a name? Last night. A name and a title…” she pondered aloud, and he closed his eyes, trying to remember as he lay on the carpeted floor.
“Yeah, I think so. And it was something weird, too.”
“Merlin?” Willow shook her head at her own suggestion. “No, but it did begin with an M…”
“Mafisto?” Angel suggested.
Willow shot him a dangerous look. “Don’t be ridiculous!”
“Mari….os. Yeah, that’s it!” Angel exclaimed. “Marios the…”
“Writer of the timelines!” finished Willow triumphantly writing the title down.
They sat there for a moment, relishing the moment of victory. Then Angel looked up at Willow and said, “Now what?”
Even before she answered, he knew, and she smiled. “Say it with me!” she cried, and then laughing, they said together, “GILES!”
Marios moaned. They were coming way too close for comfort. It wouldn’t be long before they knew everything…and that couldn’t happen.
All the important beings knew that Marios had a soft spot for those two Ancient Souls. They were sent down the most often, given the hardest tasks, but also the most rewarding lives. When they were on Earth, his job was a little easier because he could look forward to their antics. They were always light-hearted, no matter what they faced. < Like that food fight… > Thought Marios with a smile. He enjoyed writing their story.
But if they found out about him, if they remembered anything more, he was going to be forced to take drastic action…
“Marios, the writer of the timelines.”
Giles looked up from the Codex. “Excuse me?”
“We remembered a name.” Explained Willow. “Marios, the writer of the timelines.”
Giles raised his eyebrow. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Well, Marios doesn’t do anything except for the obvious.”
“Which is?” questioned Angel.
“Write the timelines.”
“Oh.” Said Angel sheepishly. When he saw Willow’s bemused look, he objected, “Hey, you gotta remember that I just found out that the world is a demon-filled wonder world. Why would it occur to me that there’s actually a guy who writes down everything that happens to everybody?”
Willow just smiled. Then turning back to Giles, she said, “But that’s not what he was doing in the vision. It was more like he was actively participating in stuff. Or at least meddling. Or causing me to meddle…” she trailed off. “You know, I’ve even confused myself, so I’m gonna be quiet for a little while.”
“Good idea.” Said a voice from the door. When the trio turned, they were surprised to see who they saw.
“What are you doing here?” Willow asked.
The girl shrugged. “Got nowhere else to go. So I came here.”
“Bloody lovely. I thought you had skipped town.” Giles remarked.
“Came back. Who’s the new guy?”
Angel offered his hand. “Angel. And you are..?”
The girl half-smiled. “Anya.”
“Anya is a former man-punishing demon now turned mortal.” Explained Willow, and Angel paused, then nodded.
“Ok, I’ll go with that.”
Anya turned to Willow and Giles. “You were talking about Marios? You know, how he doesn’t do the active participation thing? Well, you’re not wrong.”
“See Willow? I told you that he doesn’t…” Giles started, but Anya interrupted him.
“But you’re not right either.” When seeing their confusion, Anya said, “Let me explain. Marios normally doesn’t participate. But every five hundred years, the higher powers that be let him send one person back in time to alter something that he feels went wrong in history. But not just any person. It has to be an Ancient Soul.”
“Ancient Soul?” asked Willow.
Anya paused, trying to find a way to explain it. “Well, every lifetime, two of an original twelve Ancient Souls are sent to Earth to help humanity. They’re like…I dunno, soulmates. I was really sickening, ‘cuz I never got to curse any of the men. These twelve souls are said to have been created at the dawn of humanity and have been being reincarnated over and over since then. The only ones, I might add. Normal souls go to…a different place, where they stay. And that’s where Ancient Souls stay-in between lives, anyway.”
Angel was confused. But, that seemed to be a seemingly normal state of mind for him lately. “What does any of this have to do with me and Willow?”
Anya stared at them all. They were completely oblivious. “Isn’t it obvious?”
“Would I have asked if it was?”
Anya sighed. “Well, you two are probably them.”
Anya rolled her eyes. “The Ancient Souls for this lifetime, of course!”
Silence. Right up until Willow and Angel passed out. Then, there were two consecutive thumps.
Willow tossed and turned. Images flashed before her eyes. An entire lifetime…with Angel. And whole different place. Where things were really weird. But the point was, that it wasn’t just fragments this time. It was everything. Right up until the alley in eighteenth century England and her other reincarnation’s death. The whole story. Finally.
With a gasp and a jolt, Willow sat up. Across the roomy library, Angel did the same.
“They’re up!” yelled Anya to Giles.
“Oh, yes, quite good.” Said the Watcher. Then , when he saw the looks on the couples’ faces, he asked, “What ever is the matter?”
“Giles…” Willow started, but trailed off, too overcome with emotion to continue when she caught Angel’s eye.
“We remember.” He finished for her. “Everything.”
“Or at least, one lifetime and an alternate type universe.” Willow corrected.
Giles sat on a chair in-between them and leaned back. “Do tell.”
So they filled him in on the entire story. Which granted, took some time. But finally, they all sat in the library, stunned at the story of what things had been like.
“How…” Anya started.
“Bloody terrible!” exclaimed Giles. “The whole thing was just a bloomin’ mess!”
Willow’s eyes widened. “You must have really hated it.”
“Of course!” he exclaimed. ‘Life without Jenny…but why do you say that?”
“Well, you’re doing the Ripper-speak thing again. And you clucked your tongue somewhere in your tirade.”
Giles smiled in spite of himself. Then Angel said, “Let’s just be glad Marios did interfere. Or I’d be stuck in some God-awful relationship with that Bunny girl. Not to mention the whole evil or tormented demon thing”
Marios let out a yell. Damn those two! They never follow instructions! Well, now he had no choice…
The old man waved his hand and waited impatiently.
Willow didn’t know what was going on. One minute ago, she had been sitting with Angel, Anya, and Giles in the library, thanking whatever powers that be that things were not as they had been. Now, she was in a giant white room. It was sparsely furnished, only a giant wood desk at one end with an old man sitting behind it. There were rolls of parchment everywhere she looked. And there was no ceiling. Only the starry sky. < Pretty. >
She felt a hand touch hers and she turned to see Angel sitting next to her. “Are you OK?” he asked her, and she nodded, hugging him.
“Where are we?” she asked him, and the man at the end of the room replied. “You are where I live. Where I work.”
The couple broke away and turned to him, walking closer. “And you are?”
“Oh.” Said Willow. Then, looking around, she exclaimed. “You wrote all this? This is like, the world’s entire history?”
She studied the long
scrolls that were crowded into every part of the room, then turned back
to the old man. “Haven’t you ever heard of a wonderful machine called the
Marios paced the small room frantically, lecturing Willow and Angel just as he had been for the last half an hour. “Ancient Souls do not remember the past!” he ranted.
“We’re kind of clear on that now. But it’s not like we tried to. It just happened. It was actually sort of freaky and disturbing.” Pointed out Willow.
Marios stopped pacing, a brilliant thought emerging in his head. “Of course!” he exclaimed. “That’s it!”
He ran back to his
desk and pulled out an old book. After paging through it for a few minutes,
he found the passage that he was looking for and started translating in
his head. < And so it shall come to pass that the
Enlightened Ones arrive during… >
Marios squinted at the number, then translated it. Then he started chuckling. In-between hearty chuckles, he said to the confused couple, “This is all my fault. I translated a date wrong. Two thousand and three thousand are very similar in this language. My mistake. I’ll send you back now. Oh, and congratulations!”
Then, Willow and Angel blinked, startled to find themselves once again in the library. “What?” Angel said, still adjusting to the abrupt change of scene.
At the sound, Anya and Giles looked up from whatever they were doing on the computer and screamed to see them there. “Where did you come from?” asked Anya.
“And where did you disappear to?” added Giles.
Willow briefly explained what happened to Giles. When he questioned her about the book Marios had looked in, she said, “It looked an awful lot like the Codex, Giles.”
Giles walked over to the stacks and pulled out his copy of the Codex. “So the answers are in here.”
Willow shrugged. “I think so.”
“He said he translated the numbers two thousand and three thousand wrong.” Added Angel. “Will that help?”
Giles nodded. “Most likely. Now, I suggest you go, Willow. It’s moving day, after all.”
Willow eyes widened. “I had completely forgotten! And I’m late! Xander’s gonna kill me!” she exclaimed, jumping up from her chair and rushing out the door, Angel and Anya close behind.
“Moving day?” questioned Angel, and Willow nodded. “You’re moving out of that great house?”
Willow laughed. “No. I was going to, because I was sick of being alone and dorms are hardly alone places. But then Xander begged me to let me move in with him. He doesn’t have the money to pay for a dorm, and he has to get out of the house, so we both got off-campus permission. I’m glad…I think I suffer from only child syndrome. I almost wish we had more roommates.” Then, a grin split across her face and she turned to face Angel. “Angel, didn’t you say you were looking for an apartment?”
He nodded. “Yeah. I
hate dorm life and I’m finally old enough to live off campus without getting
special permission, so…” then he realized what Willow was offering and
his eyes widened. “You mean, you want me
to…move in with you two?”
Willow nodded enthusiastically, until a shadow of doubt crossed her face. “Unless you don’t want to, which would be ok, because…” she started, but he interrupted her.
“I would love to. But I’m worried about Xander.” When Willow shot him a questioning look, he explained, “It’s kind of obvious that we’re…interested in each other, for lack of a stronger phrase. What if he felt like a third wheel?”
Understanding dawned on Willow’s face, but a voice said, “There’s an easy answer to that.”
The couple turned to look at Anya, who had been listening quietly. “And that would be?” asked Willow.
“You can let me move in with you.”
There was moment of silence, then Willow laughed. “That took guts, Anya. Congrats. Now tell me your real reason.”
Anya blushed and stuffed her hands in the pockets of her shorts, looking at the floor. “Well, I’m lonely. I’m stuck as a human girl, with no family. You guys are the closest semblance of friends I’ve got. Not to mention I have no place to stay…I’ve been sleeping in the furnace room here, and trust me, it’s not someplace I want to stay. Besides, I need your help. As far as the world is concerned, I don’t exist. I need a birth certificate, social security number, school records, that sort of thing.”
Willow studied the girl, feeling sympathy well up in her. She knew what it was like to be lonely. On impulse, she hugged Anya. The girl was obviously surprised, but hugged her back. When Willow pulled away, she said, “I think I’ll like having you around.”
Just then, the door to the school flew open and Amy came in, tears streaming down her cheeks. Willow excused herself and went over. They were joined by Oz and the three spoke in hushed tones. Ten minutes and a few hugs later, they headed back to Angel an Anya. Willow had one arm around each of them.
“I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve acquired two more roommates.”
Anya and Angel shrugged. “Whatever. But is the house big enough?”
Willow made a sound that sounded suspiciously like a snort. “Yeah. Six bedrooms, three bathrooms.”
“What about your parents?” asked Anya. “Don’t they need a room?”
That caused Willow to break out in peals of laughter as they headed out of the school and to Xander’s house to help him move.
Willow climbed out of the passenger seat of Angel’s truck, slamming the door behind her. Amy, Anya, Xander, and Oz jumped out of the back, carefully moving around the boxes that had taken all of the morning and most of the afternoon to pack. Granted, Xander had already been packed, Anya had no belongings saving an outfit or two, and Angel had only been partially unpacked at the dorm, but Oz and Amy hadn’t even been planning to move, so the day had been spend stuffing things into boxes.
Willow led the whole crew into the front hall of her home.
“Wow, this place is huge!” exclaimed Amy. Willow smiled wryly.
“Ok, on this floor
we have the front hall, the kitchen, formal dining room, parlor, study/library,
rec room, and screened porch which leads onto the patio, which has paths
to the pool and gazebo, which are both surrounded by the gardens. Downstairs,
in the basement, are two bedrooms, a bathroom, and the laundry room. That’s
where Amy and Oz will be. Upstairs, we have my room, with the balcony off
it, adjoined to a bathroom which is shared by another bedroom-Anya, that’ll
be yours. Across the hall can be Xander and Angel’s domain-two bedrooms
and a shared bath. There’s also a door to the attic-please don’t go up
there. I managed to track down my parents while we were at Oz’s house-they
have now gotten a semi-permanent apartment in New York-and they not only
not care that they have no room here, they have sent a whole load of money for redecorating, so we can splurge. Tonight, let’s sit down once we get semi-settled and decide what everyone wants to do wit their respective areas.”
She turned to see her five companions staring at her. “Whoa. Check out Willow the major organized.” Said Xander. Willow smiled.
“Behold the wonder that is me. Come on, let’s unload the truck.”
It took a couple hours for every to get unloaded and sent to it’s proper owner. By that time, they were really hungry even though it was only four p.m., so they picked up Chinese take-out and took it back to the house. Sitting in the rec room, with the stereo blaring, they vegged out. At first, it was awkward, but then…things just seemed to fit. They fought over the chow mien, danced crazily to the music on the radio, told wild stories of past Slayage. Buffy, Scott, and Giles stopped by on their way to their respective homes, and they questioned Giles about his findings.
“I didn’t find out anything.” The man said. “But the Codex is a large book.” He paused. “You know, the legend of the Ancient Souls says that they are supposed to make a great contribution to mankind every lifetime.”
Willow nodded. “This we know.”
“Well, have you thought about it at all?” questioned Giles.
Angel put his arm around Willow and shrugged. “We think that we’re not supposed to. That maybe it just happens.”
“It’s as good of a theory as any.” Pointed out Willow.
“Mmm, yes. Well, I’m headed to the hospital.”
Willow stepped out of Angel’s arms and said, “I think I’ll come with you.” She turned to Xander. “You should come too.” She pointed out.
He paled. “Wills…”
He sighed. “Yeah.”
Buffy’s smile had long ago died. “Is it that day already?” she asked Willow, and the red head nodded sadly. “Then I’ll come too.” Amy agreed with a nod and Oz made it clear that if Amy was going, so was he. And Angel didn't want to be alone, so he decided to come along.
On the way out the door, Willow said to Angel in way of explanation, “It’s Jesse’s birthday.”
Willow walked into Jesse’s room leading a crowd of people-all of whom came running when she let out a rather loud cry of surprise.
“What are you doing here?” she asked the girl sitting next to the bed, who shrugged.
“I knew it was his birthday. I wanted to…I don’t know, say goodbye before I left for LA Actually, I drove almost half way there before it started bugging me, then I turned around and came back again.”
Willow smiled. “I’m sure he’d be ecstatic. He had the biggest crush on you.”
Cordelia smiled. “I know. It was so annoying.”
As the others filed into the room, now accompanied by Jenny, their eyebrows raised at seeing Cordelia sitting there. Silently, the group crowded around the bed and gazed at the figure there, underneath the sheets. < It’s his eighteenth birthday. He should be awake. Alive. Watching a baseball game like we did every year. Hitting on Cordy. > thought Willow. She didn’t even realize that she was sobbing until Angel pulled her into his arms, rocking her against his chest.
“Shhh.” He murmured softly. “It’s ok.”
The entire group was
caught up in their own reactions. Scott was pale, probably from seeing
what could happen to you if something went wrong in their line of work.
Jenny was sobbing so hysterically that it was almost
funny, with Giles trying to calm down the wrought-with-hormones pregnant woman. Buffy brushed a tear away. Xander looked as though part of him had died, and Willow knew exactly how he felt. Amy and Oz just held each
other, sad but not really touched by the whole thing. And Cordelia actually cried. She pulled her knees up to her chest and cried.
Willow calmed down and pulled away from Angel slightly, looking up at him. He gazed at her tear-stricken face and wiped it off with his hands. “I’m in love with you.” He said, so softly that only she could hear.
Her eyes widened and she smiled through her tears. “I’m in love with you, too.” She whispered back.
At that moment, the door to the room slammed shut. The lights went off, causing all of them to cry out in alarm, and a cool breeze rushed through the room. Then, there was a flash of brilliant light that illuminated everyone in the room.
Then, everything was normal again. Lights came back on, the breeze was gone, the door opened. And the group looked at each other in shock.
“What was that?” asked someone.
Giles said, “Well, obviously a highly supernatural phenomena. Perhaps the work of poltergeists-things moving on their own, breezes, and so forth. But the light represents…”
“Rupert.” Said Jenny softly.
“Another occurrence altogether, so I’m inclined to think that it wasn’t poltergeists at all, but something else…”
“Rupert!” Willow looked at Jenny and her eyes widened in surprise at the look on her face.
“I’m not sure what exactly, but it is a wonderful research opportunity. I’ve got a new book that may be able to help us discover the nature of this incident…”
“GILES!” yelled Willow finally.
He came out of his talk mode with a start. “Yes Willow?”
“Your wife is in labor.”
Angel awoke to the now familiar yells of, “Where’s the breakfast cereal?” and “Quit hogging all the hot water!” and smiled. He had been living with Willow and her four friends for only a week, but already the house seemed more like a home than any place he had ever been. And the people in it were his family.
As he got up and started to get ready for the day, he let his thoughts wander. And in wandering, they went to the obvious place-Willow. He sighed. Lord, she was wonderful. Perfect. Granted, living with four other people, they didn’t get much time alone together. But it didn’t seem to matter. Whenever she was with him, he felt…whole. Not to mention madly, crazily in love. But they were trying to take it slow, because neither one of them wanted to screw this up. And besides, there was so much else to worry about.
The smile on his face faded abruptly as he thought of the baby.
It had been a hard
pregnancy from what he understood, and before the baby had even been born,
the doctors had known there was something wrong with it. That’s why Jenny
had spent the last few months of her pregnancy
in the hospital. Well, after it was born, they discovered that there was something wrong with the baby’s lungs. Angel didn’t know all the details, all he knew was that the poor baby was in an incubator with all sorts of tubes attached to him and oxygen that he couldn’t get himself being pumped into him. It was so sad. The doctors didn’t think the baby would live. Giles and Jenny never left the hospital, and Willow almost never left. Meanwhile, everyone else spent most of their days holed up in the library, searching for some explanation to what had happened on Jesse’s birthday in the hospital room. Something like that didn’t happen everyday. And Willow was up late at night after she got home from the hospital, translating the Codex for whatever it was that Marios had
looked at when they were with him. All in all, things were not fine and dandy.
Once he was ready for
the day, he emerged from his room to find everyone down in the kitchen,
eating Fruit Loops. He greeted everyone and poured himself a bowl, sitting
at the table with them. “Willow already left?”
he asked around the cereal, and Anya nodded.
“Two hours ago. She’s going to kill herself with the schedule she’s trying to keep.”
Considering it was only eight, which meant she had been gone since dawn, Angel heartily agreed. “She didn’t go to bed until two last night. She was translating that damn book.”
“And she had weird dreams all night.” Added Anya. “I heard her tossing and turning from my room, even with both doors shut.”
Xander laughed. “Well,
that seems to be going around. Angelus over there had them, too.” At the
look Angel gave him, he shrugged. “Hey, not my fault man. You were thrashing
around in that bed like there was no
Angel looked down at his cereal. “We’ve been having dreams about our past lives.”
Amy walked in with Oz, an interested look on her face. “Really? That must be pretty cool.”
Angel grinned. “Yeah, actually. There was this one-well, never mind. Let’s just say those medieval times were pretty cool. Gross, in some ways, but cool.”
Everyone stared at him for a minute, then shrugged it off. “Well, to the library again?”
Everyone seemed to agree, so after they had cleaned up, they headed towards it. Amy grabbed the Codex out of Willow’s room and said with a smirk, “She’s not the only one who can translate this.”
They reached the library and buckled down, searching through Giles’ books with scrutiny.
And searched. And searched.
Then, out of the blue, Amy stood up, screaming, “I’ve found it, I’ve found it!” She danced a little jig and everyone rushed toward her, wanting to know what it said. After a moment, Amy realized what she was doing and blushed, sitting down. “Ok, here’s what it says: ‘And the Ancient Ones shall remember all they have known at the end of the second millennia, and shall become the Enlightened Ones.’”
Everyone looked at Angel pointedly, who blushed. “Is that it?”
Amy snorted. “Hardly. It goes on about you two for awhile, and how you will help the world and receive some really cool powers.
“Yeah. It says that you’ll have a bond of the mind, and Slayer-type powers…super strength. Also something weird about wisdom of the ancient. And powerful magick”
“Uh…ok.” Said Angel. Then, gulping, he said, “Go on.”
“Then, it gets sort of confusing. It says, ‘When love is admitted, the Awakening shall occur, setting all those present at that moment to the path of the Healing, which shall occur at the first full moon after the Awakening.’”
Everyone looked at Angel again, and again he blushed. “Ok, so that light and stuff in the hospital room was the Awakening. I kinda told Willow that I loved her, and she said the feeling was mutual.” Everyone stared at him, and tears were in Amy and Anya’s eyes.
“That’s so sweet!” Amy exclaimed, sniffling.
Angel sighed. < I do not enjoy this having my personal life be common knowledge thing. It’s of the bad. > “Would you just finish already? It sounds like this effects the rest of you guys, since you were all there, too.”
Amy turned back to the book and read, “Then, on the eve of the last day of the old millennia, all present for the Awakening will become the…”
She trailed off and stared at the book in shock, then looked up, then back at the book. “That’s not possible.” She said softly.
“What?!” exclaimed the rest of them, and Amy cleared her voice and continued weakly, “Will become the Ones of Immortal Life, as shall their offspring when of age. And their race shall be a secret coven that protects the world from all forms of darkness, leading the human race to a time of utter peace and unity.”
They sat like that,
completely shocked, for what seemed like hours. Of course, Xander was the
first to recover. When he did, he cleared his throat and said dryly, “Well,
I’d say that’s a Contribution all right.”