Willow walked through the crowded mall. She held the baby protectively in her arms, as Angel walked next to her, his hand on her back, keeping her close to him. To their relief, they spotted a store they needed, “Baby Wonderland”. Willow’s face lit up as she saw the array of baby furniture. They moved deeper into the store, to the crib area. Willow felt drawn to one on the far corner of the store and headed towards it. Angel followed her, looking at all the gismos babies now used. The oak crib looked like an antique, sparking an interest in Angel. The detailed molding and carvings placed the style of the crib in a different century. Willow turned to look at Angel, they had found their crib.
“Is there anything I can help you with?” the petite blond sales clerk woman asked.
“We wanted to purchase the crib,” Angel replied.
“We have one more left, just came in time,” the woman said with a smile.
An hour later, they had purchased a whole nursery for Nicolas. Everything would be delivered by tomorrow. They headed back into the mall, Christmas carols greeting them by the overhead radio. Christmas was a week away, the height of late minute shopping in full swing, assaulting all the stores in Sunnydale. They next store to lure them in was ‘Cuttie Booties’. As they looked through the different kinds of clothing, Willow couldn’t help but smile as she saw Angel’s face. It wasn’t guilt ridden or dark, nor was it sad or hard. It was soft and light, and full of curiosity. She jumped slightly as she heard the sales clerk’s voice. She blushed a bit as she realized she had been staring at Angel. The woman looked at Angel then Willow, her eyes settling on the baby in the redhead’s arms.
“He’s adorable, looks like his father”, the brunette sales women commented.
Willow was about to say something, but Angel beat her to it. “Thank you.”
“But I must say, the smile is her mothers.” Willow thanked her, feeling a bit motherly.
“If you need anything, just let me know, my name’s Kate.”
They resumed shopping.
“What to do think about this one?” Willow asked as she showed Angel a small white and blue sailor suit.
Angel smiled and showed
her an identical one he had in his hands. Willow giggled, then showed him
another one with Winnie the Pooh on it. After a bit of discussion, Pooh
had survived the selection. It was safe to say Barney had been glanced
over, not liking the dinosaur at all. They left with a multiple number
of sizes of clothing and bags, shocking ‘Kate’ with the amount of clothes
they were purchasing. Angel carried the six bags as they headed back into
the mall, looking for another baby store. At ‘Baby Bundle’ they found the
most essential items they would ever need, a stroller and a baby carrier.
Willow happily deposited the child into the comforts of the
stroller. They purchased a car seat as well as a collage of blankets, pillows, matting, playpens, and a walker. And for good measure a rattle, a pacifier, more bottles, a teething ring, baby lotion, baby shampoo, baby power, baby whips, and almost left before purchasing the baby bathing base. They rushed back, realizing that they didn’t buy what they would need the most, a baby bag. Willow helped Angel carry some of the bags as she pushed the
stroller to the food court. Angel remained with the baby as Willow went to get her Big Mac. She returned to
find Angel feeding Nicolas his bottle. She smiled and sat across from him. Angel wasn’t quite sure how to start the conversation, or how to ask her. But if he was to protect both of them, it was something he could have to ask.
“Willow, I’m not really sure how to ask you...”
Willow swallowed the bite of the burger in her mouth and cleared her throat. “Just ask me?”
Angel looked her straight in the eye, hoping she said yes. “Will you stay with us in the apartment?” Willow gave him a reassuring smile, but remained silent for a moment, scaring Angel. “I’m not sure I can take care of Nicolas by myself. I need your help, and I understand if you wouldn’t want to, but we need you and....”
“Angel, I’ll stay with you as long as I can. My parents will be gone for a month, and after school I’ll go right over. I packed some clothes already and brought them over to your house. When I need more, I’ll go over to my house and get some. I’ll help you Angel, as much as I can.” Angel knew he didn’t deserve her trust, let alone her help, but he was grateful he had it. After eating they enjoyed the mall a bit more, they left and headed home.
“What will the spell do?” Angel asked her as he bounced Nicolas on his legs as they moved up and down. Nicolas began to giggle, uttering baby talk.
“This one will protect the house, you know, sort of the uninvited spell, but this includes evil spirits, even some demons.”
“And the other?”
“While I was home I did some research. I found one for you. It’ll protect you from the spell I place over Nicolas and me, but also against anything other then wood. It really isn’t that explicit so we’ll have to try it once were done. The one I’m going to place on Nicolas and myself will protect us against demons to a certain extent, again this is all new, so I really don’t know how much it’ll protect us.”
“Only one way to try I guess.”
“I don’t even know if I can do this..”
“I know you can Willow, I trust you.”
“What if I turn you into a frog?” she asked him worried.
“Then I’ll start a new breed, but I don’t think that’ll happen Willow. I know you can, you just need to believe you can.”
Willow smiled and thanked
him. “Oh, there’s one more. I found one where we can be in sync with each
know, sort of feel the baby when his awake or where he is, that sort of thing.”
“Sort of a monitor?”
“Kind of I think, but I’m glad we bought the baby radio monitors.”
“We should start.”
Willow took a deep
breath and looked at the books and supplies around her. It was now or never.
The first spell she worked was for the house, then moved to the baby, then
Angel. The next one required both Angel and the baby as well as Willow
and the baby. Angel looked on in amazement as he saw her work the magick
with ease. The baby looked on in curiosity as he saw the many colors Willow
made glow. The last spell was hers. By dawn Willow was done and fainted
from exhaustion. Angel picked her up in his arms and carried her to the
bed. He laid her down next to Nicolas and pulled a cover over her. He joined
them in the bed a moment later, his body demanding sleep. He looked once
more at the two sleeping forms before he closed his eyes, and smiled,
thankful he had been chosen to take care of them.
Willow looked around
the apartment, wondering were to place the furniture that would be arriving
in less then three hours. The delivery company had woken her from her sleep,
informing her they would be delivering the items around 3 p.m. She walked
back into the bedroom, careful not to wake them. Curiosity got the best
of her as
she looked at the door at the other end of the bedroom. Expecting a closet, to her surprise found a second room instead. She walked up the few steps to a raised floor. She searched for the light switch, feeling her way against the wall. Unlike Angel’s bedroom, this was a closed room. She found what she was looking for and switched it on, a light glow appeared from the single bulb on the ceiling. She walked to the only window of the apartment and pulled up the blinds and opened it. A soft breeze swept inside, with a little sunlight entering. It was perfect. Excited as ever, she headed downstairs, finding a second door with a second set of hidden stairs. She went down and walked over to the kitchen. With a broom, bucket, a sponge, and soap, she headed back to the room, ready to prepare Nicolas’ new room.
It only took half an hour to clean the room. The apartment had been kept clean, only a bit of dust had been accumulated. An hour later, Willow greeted the delivery people who took the items as far as the living room.
Angel awoke hearing men voices. He instantly got out of bed and looked over the railing. He saw Willow handing a clipboard to one of the three men. Further inspection revealed the furniture had arrived. He rushed down the stairs in his sweats. He smiled as he saw how excited Willow was. Willow took care of Nicolas as Angel took all the items to the room. She met him there as the last piece of furniture was placed inside.
“I hope you don’t mind that I picked this room, it was just that I didn’t find anything else and I wasn’t sure where else we could place the stuff and I didn’t want to wake you ‘cause I know you were...”
Angel couldn’t help but chuckle. She was still nervous about all this, her ramblings were his proof. “Willow, the room will be perfect, this is your house as well, I want you to think of it as yours. As for waking me, when ever you need to, just wake me up, okay?”
Willow felt herself relax. “Okay.”
“Good, now, which one should be start on?”
Willow looked at the selection and knew which one would take longer. “The crib.”
“That looks easy.”
Two hours later, with four breaks in between, the crib looked ready.
“Do you think it’ll collapse again?” Angel asked, remembering their past attempts.
“Only one way to find out.” Willow placed her hand in the middle and pressed down on it. The left side collapsed. Angel sighed in frustration having lost all patience will that damn thing. Willow had a different view on it, she celebrated and starting laughing. “Half way there.”
Angel let out a full, healthily laugh, something completely new for Willow. “Maybe, we just have to figure out how we did that part.”
“Don’t you have perfect memory?” Willow asked amused.
“I do, but you helped me in that part.”
Their conversation was interrupted by the baby’s cry in the bedroom. “I’ll go check on him.” Willow said.
“Escape while you can. You should order something to eat, have it delivered.”
Willow sat on the floor by the crib eating pizza. Angel sat across from her, feeding Nicolas his bottle. Willow couldn’t help but stare at him in complete amazement. It looked so natural for him to hold a baby. Seeing him across from her now, it was hard for her to think of him as a 200 plus age old vampire. The baby always looked happy in his arms.
“Have you always been this great with children?” Willow asked as she took a bite out of her pineapple pizza.
“Not at first. But by the time Mary was born, I had helped raised them all.”
“Your mother must have been proud.”
Angel looked at her, not sure how to respond.
“I never had brothers or sisters. Xander’s the closest I have to a brother. All my relatives live too far and I really don’t have much in common with my cousins.”
“What about your parents?”
“They travel a lot because of their work. I really don’t see much of them when their here. I guess we don’t have much to talk about.”
Angel could sense her sadness.
“My father traveled a lot. He was merchant. He spent most of time in the city, “securing our futures”. As soon as he came back from one business trip, he was off to another. My mother took care for us, a huge accomplishment with two boys and three girls.”
“But you were there and I’m sure that counted the world to them.”
Angel couldn’t help but stare into her green eyes. “How do you do it?”
“Manage to turn all your sentences into compliments?”
Willow smiled, her cheeks turning a bit red. “I just point out what’s already there.”
Willow blushed a deeper red at the compliment. “So, do you get as hungry as we do?” Willow asked changing topics. She finished off her second slice of pizza and reached out for her third.
“I can last 2 days without feeding - give or take - depending on my condition.”
“But do you feel hungry?”
“The demon always wants, but I’ve learned to control it.”
“How do you do it, Angel?”
“I’ve had a couple of years to practice.”
“Then your always in a struggle with it?” she asked saddened by the thought.
“Not as much as it had been before. When you did the restoration spell, something happened. Maybe because my soul is permanent now, the demon forever caged that it’s become weak. I don’t fight the same urges as I did before. I have complete control over the demon. And that would all be thanks to you.”
“I just wish it could have found it earlier. Then none of it could have happened, none of this.....”
“That is past, Willow. As much as we would like to, we can’t change what happened. I can’t ask for forgiveness. What I did was...”
“What you did was nothing. It wasn’t you, Angel. It was the demon, the demon that used you, the demon that controlled you.”
“Not everyone shares your opinion.”
“It was hard on them, it was hard on me, but I’m sure it was worse on you. Angel, your my friend, and I will never blame you because it wasn’t you.”
Angel was left speechless. He looked down at Nicolas in his arms, then looked back at Willow. She smiled at him, her eyes looking deep into his deep brown eyes, reassuring him she had meant what she had said. She needed to say it, for him, but as well as for her. That was the truth, the truth she felt. The last of her hidden fears vanished as she finished up the slice she had in her hand.
“Come on, no more breaks. We finish this crib tonight.” she said, her resolve face firmly in place.
Angel nodded in agreement and stood up carefully, taking Nicolas to the bed.
By three a.m. the room
was mostly done. The crib was safe and built, as were the shelves and the
small “change” table they had bought. Angel brought up the rocking chair
and placed it by the window. Willow helped Angel bring up the small dresser
and put in one of the corners of the room. Everything looked ready and
began to fold up all the clothes they bought. As Angel folded, Willow placed
all the baby supplies away. By four, Willow was ready to pass out, but
the only thing left was the curtain to cover the window during the day.
She went up the latter as she shook her head, trying to fight off the sleep
that beckoned her. All she needed to place were the brackets and clip the
rod into place, a difficult task considering her both hands held both items
in place and had
left the screwdriver on the floor.
Angel turned to see Willow on the ladder, her arms stretched painfully above her head.
“What happened?” he asked, trying to hid his grin.
“I need the screwdriver, but I don’t have another hand to put in the nails.”
He walked over to her and grabbed the screwdriver from the floor and went up the ladder in back of her. He tried to find the bolt, but Willow’s hands were in the way.
“Willow, you need to
Willow bit her lower lips and carefully began to turn, Angel’s hands holding her by her waist. He moved up a step, his body up against hers. He heard Willow’s intake of air as they touched, which caused him to swallow involuntary.
“Um..just move your hands a little higher...so I can...um. put my head through them.”
Willow nodded nervously
and did as he asked. Angel carefully moved his head in the gap between
her arms, able to see where the bolt needed to go. His arms left her waist
and began to screw in the necessary bolt. Willow stared into his chest,
her nose touching the smooth fabric of the shirt. She began to fidget,
her nerves getting the
better of her. Angel tried to concentrate on the damn bolt, but it was difficult. Willow moving against him was not helping. He took an intake of unnecessary air, his mind riling in the sensations he was feeling.
It was too tempting
for Willow. Her head begged for her to lay it on his chest. The will too
great, she granted her minds request, her hearing catching what seemed
to be a beat of a heart before her eyelids closed. Angel was glad he was
done, but before he could step away Willow’s arms fell around his neck,
as her body pressed against his.