He looked down at her
sleeping form and carefully positioned her in his arms. He carried her
over to the bed and laid her down next to Nicolas. He went back to the
room and began to clean up.
After a quick shower and a large breakfast/lunch, Willow felt as good as new. Nicolas had woken her up with a swift kick to her stomach. After she feed him his bottle, she placed him in the playpen with his teething ring and a small teddy bear. She had stepped out of the shower to see Nicolas playing peacefully, fascinated by the small bear. She looked over at Angel and smiled, glad he was still asleep. She picked up Nicolas in her arms and headed down to the kitchen and placed him in the playpen downstairs. Once she finished eating she pulled out her laptop and connected to the web.
After a quick search through the police database she found no children had been reported missing. She ventured through her bookmark links and found nothing odd. Not even any new bodies with ‘strange marks’ on there necks. After an hour she disconnected and shut down her computer. Angel joined her a moment later, refreshed by the shower he had taken minutes ago.
“Did you find anything?” Angel asked her.
“Nope, nothing, nada. Everything seems normal in Sunnydale. I’ve searched everywhere I could think of. No mention of a baby.”
“This might be a lot harder then we thought.”
“Maybe we should call Giles. There might be a prophecy.”
Angel wasn’t sure.
“Do you think he’ll help?”
“I’m sure he will, then we can all research...”
“No, Willow. I don’t want anyone else to know. The least people that know, the best. I don’t know what we might be up against and I can’t protect everyone.”
“I understand. I can just casually ask Giles if he has something?”
“I would appreciate.”
“No problem. I’ll call him later.”
“What did you want to do today?”
The first task at hand
was taking Nicolas a bath. The baby seemed to love slashing them both with
By the time they were done, Willow and Angel were wet. They laughed as they saw how soaked they were. Angel picked out his clothes as Willow dressed him. They moved the playpen to Nicolas’ room and finished up his room. By late evening, they moved to the living room for some dinner and began to talk as the baby crawled around the floor, his giggles filling the room.
Willow awoke as the door shut behind him. She looked over at Nicolas, thankful he was still asleep.
He appeared next to her in a second.
“Is anything wrong?” he asked worried.
“No....I was just making sure it was you”, she replied with a crooked smile as she tried to surpress a yawn.
“Did you find anything?”
“Nothing. I went to all my sources, they didn’t know anything.”
“Do you think they told you the truth?”
“I’m sure they did. I’ve asked Whistler to ask around, maybe he can come up with something.”
Willow nodded in agreement as she covered her mouth, a yawn escaping her.
“Go back to sleep.”
“I’ll get you some water.”
Angel went to the kitchen and grabbed a cup, filling it with water. To his surprise, he found Willow seated on one of the stools by the counter.
“So...when does Buffy return?”
“Tonight. So does Xander.”
“Then....you...did..you want to go see them?”
“I’ll call them. I’m
sure they’ll be tired from their trips.”
“That means you go back to school tomorrow,” he said a bit worried.
“Yeah. My three day weekend is over, but I start break next week.”
“That’s good....so that means...you’re leaving tonight?” he asked, trying not to sound fretful.
Willow looked at him surprised and a bit hurt.
“Do you want me to?”
“No!...no...but I know you must have plans and taking care of a baby isn’t what...well...you’re young and have friends...school....Oz. I don’t want to take you away from things that you have planned. I need your help, but I’ll understand if you can’t stay...”
Willow smiled at him.
“Angel, if you let me, I want to stay and help you. School will be out by next week for Christmas Break. Cordelia already invited Xander to go to Aspen with her and her family for the break and Buffy told me that this year it was her father’s turn to have her for the holidays. Since Faith is here, Giles said it was okay. Oz is touring, so you aren’t taking me away from anything, just from two very lonely weeks by myself.”
Angel smiled in relief.
“And, I like playing mami for Nicolas.....and....I like the idea of getting to know my friend Angel more...” she said as she blushed a bit.
“I’d like that too.”
“But you know that means we have to get a tree and lights..maybe some garland, ohh! and presents. This will be our first Christmas/Hanukkah together,” she said excited.
“That would mean we have to go...”
Willow passed by Giles
apartment before she made a stop off at her house. She was surprised
to see him in normal looking jeans. They spoke briefly, Willow checking
in, making sure everything was all right. She once again was not needed
for research, Sunnydale seemed peaceful, as peaceful as a town on a Hellmouth
She asked him if he had heard about any new prophecy, but Giles had found none. She informed him of her new home until her parent’s arrived - she would be staying with a friend of her mothers, her parent’s not wanting to leave her alone. She told him she could be getting a cell phone, her mother ordering it as a gift for her, to keep in touch with them. She would give Giles the number later.
After her brief conversation
with him, Willow headed to her house, needing to pack a bit more clothes
and take anything else she thought she might need. She checked her
messages on the answering machine and closed up the house tight. She checked
her fridge and took some food with her. Before she left she took a look
the dark and empty house. She had a strange feeling that chilled her to the bone, but shrugged it off. She looked at her watch and hurried out, closing the door behind her. It was almost sunset and she was looking forward to go shopping with Angel.
Willow walked up the stairs and suddenly stopped as she heard the sounds from the living room. A smiled appeared on her face as she heard a familiar voice with a familiar giggle.
“Gaga...gaga...peek a bo, peek a bo.....gugu..gugu...gaga....”
Willow slowly walked up the stairs and looked at the pair on the sofa, she couldn’t help but stare. It was sweetest thing she had ever seen.
Angel stopped the moment
he felt someone looking at him. He looked up to see Willow smiling at him.
If it was possible, the vampire would have turned red in complete embarrassment.
Willow couldn’t stop smiling as she walked over to Angel, leaving her bags
by the stairs. The baby looked up at Willow and began to giggle and
“We were waiting for you since you wanted to go shopping,” Angel told her in a low voice.
“I’ll prepare his bag,” she said, not able to stop from smiling.
“Already prepared it.”
“Then we can go.”
“I was getting Nicolas ready,” he said, still not able to meet her eye.
Angel looked up at
and saw her still smiling, but found that it wasn’t one that made fun of
him, but one of sweetness. He returned her smile and gathered Nicolas in
his arms, as Willow grabbed the bag that was on the floor by the sofa and
They walked in the crowed mall, Nicolas biting his teething ring in his stroller as Angel and Willow window shopped. They shared decorating ideas as they went from store to store, deciding what would best fit the house. They passed by the toy store to see what would be nice for Nicolas as they both made personal notations of each other likes and dislikes.
By the end, they had bought garland, snow, stockings, little miniature santas and reindeers, candles, and a fuzzy mat for the front door, which had been Willow’s idea. They had to go back to buy ornaments for the tree.
Angel had been hesitate
in buying Christmas decorations, the last time he had celebrated the holidays
was more then two hundred years ago. But there was something about Willow
- her resolve face - that changed his mind. He was looking forward to spending
the holidays with Nicolas and Willow.
“Have you no mercy?” Willow asked him.
“None. Do you surrender?”
“Never! France shall never concede,” Willow declared as she moved her pawn forward.
“Then suffer the consequences,” Angel replied as he finished the game a victor.“Checkmate.”
Willow looked at him and smiled.
“That would be four for you and...”
“None for you,” Angel replied with a smug look on his face.
“It isn’t fair you know,” she pouted.
“And why wouldn’t it be?”
“Because you have had 200 years to perfect your game. I only started last year.”
Angel wouldn’t help but smile.
“I knew there was an upside to eternity.”
“That and fashion trades. I would love to have seen you during the 60’s.”
“Let’s just say multi colored shirts and bell bottoms were not my style.”
Willow giggled as she imaged him with longer hair, a bandanna and a peace sign around his neck.
“Then I take it you weren’t into the 70’s?”
“That had to be a nightmare of some kind. I enjoyed the swinger times.”
“Ohhhh...I’ve always wanted to learn how to swing,” Willow told him excited.
“I’ll teach you some time if you like.”
“You know how to dance?”
she asked in complete surprise.
“Which one - the east coast or west coast swing?”
“Wow....I never really thought....you know...”
“There’s a lot of things that no one knows about me. I’ve lived a long time.”
Willow smiled, becoming more and more fascinated by the mysterious man that had saved her life countless times.
“When do we start?” she asked thrilled.
Before Angel could answer, Nicolas began to cry. They both stood up and went see what had happened.
“I think he’s hungry,” Angel told her.
“I’ll get the bottle.”
A minute later, Angel
was feeding Nicolas on the couch
Angel left to make a quick sweep of the cemetery, leaving Willow and Nicolas alone.
Willow took a quick inventory of her books and clothes and went exploring the rest of the warehouse. She took Nicolas in her arms and went up the second pair of stairs heading to the third floor. She was immediately surrounded by darkness and headed to were the moonlight offered some light. To her complete surprise she did not find a window, but sliding glass doors. She flicked open the lock and pulled the doors apart, stepping into what looked like a garden. She stepped deeper inside, enjoying the deep cool air. She walked down a corridor full of flowers and plants hanging on either side of her as well as above her. To the end of the corridor, she found an open platform, with a table in the middle with tulips, roses, carnations, and lily’s all around. The view was nice, but with a building next to it, made it limited.
Nicolas began to giggle as a breeze picked up and began to play with Willow’s hair. She looked around her, feeling something around them. She peered through the darkness to find only the night. A cold wind swept by them, chilling her to the bone. Nicolas’ giggles stopped and remained quite in her arms.
Willow could sense
something close and headed back to the doors, but before she could make
it, she saw them close. She frantically tried to pull them apart, but found
them locked. She turned around, holding Nicolas closer to her body, and
began to chant the words that she knew would protect them. She was brought
out of concentration
by the sound of a snarling growl. She quickened her words, glad to see a soft blue glow surround them.
“Give me the child,” a menacing voice called out to her in the wind.
“Give me the child,” it repeated, sounding deadlier.
“The child most die.”
“No, I won’t let you.”
“Spare yourself, give me the child.”
“Never. I won’t let him go.”
“Then you shall die as well.”
Willow looked around frantically trying to look for the source of the voice, but found no one. The voice quieted as she waited nervously for the monster to appear. Her only thoughts surrounded on the one person she hoped would come soon.
Angel walked down the usual path he took to the cemetery in a bit in a hurry. He didn’t want to leave Nicolas or Willow alone too long. Unknowingly, he immersed himself in his thoughts, still not able to believe what was happening or why Willow was willing to help him out so much.
He was finally getting
a change to know Willow Rosenburg. He barrated himself for not thinking
much of her before, not able to see beyond the witch, the researcher, and
more importantly, Buffy and Xander’s friend, because now she was becoming
his. His thoughts were interrupted as he heard the sounds of scuffle. He
quicker, passing through the tress and finally reaching the battle, finding Faith staking a vampire. The brunette looked up, sensing another one around. She put down the stake as soon as she noticed who it was.
“Late for the fun,” she commented.
“It didn’t look like you were having any trouble.”
“Been a quite night, boring actually,” she told him a bit disappointed.
“That should be good.”
“Yeah, but a little more couldn’t have hurt,” she replied with a smile.,
As if upon her wishes, seven vampires jumped from the tress and began to attack the duo.
“This is more like it,” Faith yelled, making Angel roll his eyes.
The attack began, four
attacking Angel as the other three went after Faith. Angel soon dusted
one, but abruntly stopped his attack, feeling a dreadful fear wash over
him. The vampires took the advantage and jumped on him, delivering
punches to his head, stomach and chest. After a moment of reflection, Angel
an inner hidden dosage of energy and began fighting, dusting one of the vamps quickly as he began to struggle with the other two.
Something was wrong, he would feel it. With a deep desire of going to his family, Angel quickly dusted both vampires and left, never looking back as Faith yelled her thanks for his help.
He ran across houses,
streets, and yards, taking every possible short cut he would think of that
could get him to the house faster. Once he reached the warehouse, he took
a secret passage way inside, sensing the danger closer with each step.
He slipped his “game face” firmly into place, using all his senses to find
them. He was amazed at
how quickly he detected them, and ran up the stairs, two at a time, up to the third floor.
Willow sensed the creature near, but not close enough to hurt them. It hide in the darkness of the sky, feeling it around her, but not on the ground. She held Nicolas closer to her body, trying to shield him better. She stayed close to the glass door, hoping it would open.
“Are you willing to give your life for someone that you do not even know?” it hissed at her.
“Yes. I’ll protect him.”
“Not even you, witch, will stop me. I shall find a way,” it said angered.
Willow remained quiet, processing its words. To her relief she heard the door opening and turned to see a vamped out Angel growling at the unseen threat. He automatically pulled her inside, placing her behind him.
“This is far from over Demon. I shall have the child.”
Before Angel would reply, the danger was gone. The source had disappeared. He carefully stepped outside, making sure everything was fine. He turned to see Willow shaken, tears in her eyes. His mask fell back into place, his arms reaching for her.
“I’m sorry...I never should have come out here...I didn’t....”
“Sshh....This isn’t your fault, Willow.”
“But...Nicolas...it could have....”
“But it didn’t. Your both safe, that’s what matters,” he said softly as one hand stroked her hair and the other touched Nicolas’ covered head.
“But if it wasn’t for me this never would have....”
“No. This could have happened to me, too. It didn’t take him, now all we have to know is why.”
“I think it was the spell. It needs to be invited in, that would explain why it didn’t take us when it would.”
“Then see, you saved him.”
“Angel,......it knows I’m a witch. It told me,” she said a bit frightened.
“It also knows I’m a demon. We have to find it what ‘it’ is and how it knows us.
Now at least we know Nicolas is safe in the house.”
“It wants to kill him, Angel. It wants Nicolas to die,” she told him as a tear began to fall.
Angel’s hand trailed down to her face and wiped away the tear with his thumb.
“It won’t. I’ll protect him, I’ll protect you both.”
“So will I, Angel.” Willow added.
They both looked down at the baby and smiled as it seemed to agree with a soft glee of slurred words. Angel turned Willow around and with one arm firmly around her shoulders, led her back inside. He locked the door in back of them and led her to the bedroom.
After a quick check around the apartment and outside, Angel returned to the bedroom with Nicolas and Willow already under the covers. He quickly joined them, thanking Willow for everything she had done so far. She soon feel asleep, followed soon after by Nicolas.
Angel remained awake,
looking at them in there slumber. It had been close. He had almost
lost the two more important people in his life. It would never happen again.
He silently vowed to protect his family against all, no matter the price.
Willow was the first
to wake a little after dawn. After a quick shower and some light breakfast
she was ready for school. She made sure her cell phone was charged and
went to look over at the two men in her life. She smiled as she looked
at how peaceful they looked in their sleep. She moved over to her side
of the bed and placed a kiss on
Nicolas’ cheek then moved over to Angel’s side. She was hesitant to wake him, but knew she had to. Her hand found is shoulder and began to shake him a bit. Her hand soon moved up to cup his cheek as she saw how he awoke in a rush to shake off the veil of fogginess.
“Angel, it’s okay. It’s me, Willow. I just wanted to tell you I’m heading to school.”
Angel focused his eyes on her smile and nodded his head in agreement to what she had just told him.
“I’ll call you by lunch. If you need me, call, I’ll have the phone on.”
With another nod from his head, her hand reluctantly left his face and saw Angel roll over to his side, spooning himself around the baby, protecting him.
Willow left the apartment, prioritizing. She would talk to Giles this morning, hoping he could give her more insight on the creature that had tried to attack them last night, but first she needed to get her story straight and hoped it sounded truthful.
Willow opened the door to her house and felt a cold chill run down her spine. It looked so dark and quite. She entered, the light from the windows enough to see around her. She headed up to her room and took a book she had forgotten when she had packed to go over to Angel’s. After a quick check around her house, she was content to see everything was fine, not needing her as she usually felt.
She was about ready to leave, when she saw the small red light flashing on her answering machine. She sat down on the couch next to it, wondering who could have called. She clicked on the button and waited for the recording to fill the room.
“Hey, Willow, it’s Oz. I wish you were there instead of me having to leave a message for you, but it might be easier this way. I won’t be coming back this week, the band did pretty well on tour and we’ve been invited to play some more out here and since break is coming up, I really don’t think they’ll be a problem with school or anything. Um...maybe I should call back to tell you, hopefully catch you. I’ll call you back.”
Willow remained seated, knowing what would come next, the second message come through, Oz’s voice once more filling the room.
“Damn, I wish I would have caught you. Okay, well, Willow I think we need some time apart. I’ve had a lot of time to think and I’m not sure where this relationship is going and I think a bit of time apart will help define it. You have to admit, the past couple of months have been...unsteady...I’m either touring or your researching and studying. I think this might be best. I’m sorry.”
Willow remained seated
with tears in her eyes. She’d just been dumped by the only boy that had
ever paid much attentionto her. As much as she knew it would hurt, she
didn’t expect it to hurt her this little. Maybe it was something she had
expected for some time, hell, they hadn’t even had smochies for the past
three weeks. Not that
she missed them much, but they never did hurt.
She looked back down at the book on her lap and wiped the tears away.
Willow turned to see Buffy running down the hall with an ecstatic smile on her face.
“Willow, you’ll never believe it,” Buffy said as she finally got to Willow’s locker.
“What?” she asked, trying to sound excited.
“My dad and mom are going to be spending the holidays together with me!”
“Wow, how did that happen?”
“Well, my mom came
with me to see my dad since she didn’t want to miss my birthday and we
spent a lot of time together and one thing led to another, then one morning
I woke up to see my mom wearing my dad’s shirt like she used to.
Don’t get me wrong. The thought of my mom getting some still gives me the
wiggin’s, but it’s the good
“Then there back together?”
“Sort of, but my dad thought it would be a great idea if we all went to Hawaii for the two weeks I have for break and we jumped at the chance.”
“Then your mom and dad might get back together, wow, Buffy. I’m so happy for you.”
“I can’t wait. Two whole weeks without having to worry about vampires, demons, end of the world prophecy’s. I have to go buy a bathing suit, some nice outfits. We have to go to the mall tonight, maybe Giles will be nice and give us one night off.”
“Sure, the mall all night.”
“Good, I have to go and report in with Giles, see you in class.”
Buffy left, leaving Willow alone at her locker.
To her hope, no one
asked her about her weekend, or seemed to notice she was not living at
home, or seemed to notice her somber behavior. Xander told her of
the fun he had in San Francisco, that was when ever Cordelia left him alone.
It seemed no one was interested in what she had done over her weekend in
Sunnydale. The school
day was soon over and after a bit of arguing, the small group had convinced Giles to let them go out for the night. Cordelia, Xander, and Buffy spoke about their respective trips and what they would need to buy, leaving Willow much out of the conversation as well as the shopping venture. For the first time in a long time, Willow felt left out. After an hour into the venture, she went on her own way, looking for presents, remembering the small bit of
information she had taken about Angel.
She passed by the toy stores and looked at what Nicolas might like. It was in one of those ventures that Willow saw a familiar face and went to greet them.
“Fancy meeting you here,” she said in back of them.
The baby giggled, as Angel turned with a smile and greeted her.
“Thought you were out with your friends.”
“I was, but I ended up losing them.”
“Is everything all right?” he asked as she took a better look at her.
“I’m okay, just a bit tired I guess.”
“Did you want to go home?” he asked concerned.
The thought brought a smile to her face.
“I’d like that, but not until I see what are in those bags,” she teased.
“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”
Willow shook her head, trying to hide the bags in back of her.
“Then I can’t show you mine.”
“Fine, be a meanie.”
Angel gave her the worst fake hurt look she had ever seen making her laugh. His expression changed traumatically as he looked up briefly then back to her eyes.
“I’ll meet you downstairs at entrance C in five minutes,” he told her.
She took a quick glance in back of her and was about to reply, but he was gone. She walked over to her friends, who seemed surprised to see her.
“Hey Will, where did you go and hide?”
“No where, just went shopping a bit. I have to get going...”
“But we’ve only been here three hours,” Cordelia complained.
“Have to study. I haven’t been sleeping to good either.”
“Okay, we’ll I guess I can walk you home,” Buffy said a bit disappointed.
“Actually, my mom’s friend is here and she can drive me back to her house since there’s where I’m staying.”
“Great, thank her for us,” Cordelia said as she took a hold of Buffy and Xander and pulled them back into the stream of people still shopping.
After a ‘see you tomorrow’ and ‘bye’, Willow left to meet Angel in the lower section of the mall.
Angel noticed the change in her demure, but did not ask, instead tried to change her mood. After a quick stop at a cafe to get a mocha for her, the couple went to their apartment.
By the time she arrived
at the apartment, Willow felt better and told Angel about Buffy, Xander,
and Cordelia’s plans for break, as well as the phone message she had received
at home from Oz. After a bit of crying, he carried her off to bed, where
Nicolas snuggled in-between them happily content and asleep.
“What do you mean Oz wants ‘space’?” Buffy asked surprised.
“He left me a message last night on my answering machine at home. He said he wanted us to slow down, that we needed space,” she replied.
“God, Will, I’m sorry. Had I known I would have.....”
“You would have what?” she asked curious.
“I don’t know, had you kicked some vampire butt or something. Are you okay?”
“I thought it would have hurt a bit more, but it really hasn’t. We’d been drifting. It was a matter of time,” she told her sadly.
“Geez, Will, why didn’t you say anything?”
“I guess if I ignored it, then it really wouldn’t happen.”
“Don’t worry, you’ll find someone who appreciates you. Someone that will worship you.”
“I know...I’ll be fine...”
“You will. We have to research tonight, but maybe we can out and so some bronzing tonight, or maybe after we go shopping tomorrow night. Cordy and I have to finish shopping for our trips.”
“Sure, that sounds like fun”, she replied, trying to sound happy.
The rest of the week went by quickly. Willow went to school, listened patiently her friends as Buffy talked about her pending trip to Hawaii and how her parents seemed to be getting closer everyday. To Xander who spoke about how incredible Cordelia was, how wonderful it was to have spent the weekend with her in San Francisco and how great it would be to be spending two whole weeks with her in Aspen. Cordelia really only spoke to her when it was needed or for a casual comment. Her evenings were spent between two places. The mall with the gang or with Angel and the baby. It always brought a smile to her face when Angel and Nico waited for her by the mall to escort her home. In the afternoon she had started calling them from her cell during lunch. She never realized just how much she looked forward to the night time and her lunch.
She had tried to ask
Giles in a round about way if there was a new demon in town or if he had
found a new prophecy or if he had heard or seen something out of the ordinary.
Giles never suspected something was wrong, believing her new found need
to research steamed from the void her friends were leaving. Though that
did exist, it was quickly being filled by the two new men in her life.
“Are you sure?” Willow asked him.
“Willow, go. Have fun,” Angel told her as he changed Nicolas’ diaper.
“It’s just a program, Willow. I’m sure they’ll pass it this week again. I can’t see why they wouldn’t.”
“It was just so last minute and....”
“I want you to go. I want you to have fun. I know that spending all this time with me and Nicolas wouldn’t have been...”
“Don’t you dare say it, Angel. I’ve all ready told you, I enjoy staying here. I do have fun here....”
“Okay, but you need to spend time with your friends. You won’t get to see them for two weeks.”
“I know, but....I’m sure they wouldn’t notice if I was there of not.”
“They would, Will. We can plan tonight another night.”
Willow knew she was
defeated. Angel had that look on his face that was the equivalent of her
She nodded and gave him a small smile.
An hour later she was
at the Bronze, sitting down at a table alone, looking on as Cordelia and
Xander danced and Buffy flirted with someone she met at the pool table.
Gifts were not exchanged, wanting to wait until they returned from there
trips. They looked like they were having fun, something Willow was not.
She looked around club and
saw everyone enjoying themselves, laughing, joking, and smiling. She felt like an outsider again.
Something wasn’t right. Her mind began to block out the voices around her.
<What am I doing here?>
She wondered as she took one final look at Buffy, Xander and Cordelia now dancing in front of her. She smiled as she stood up and headed toward the exit.
“You need a bath,” Angel told the smiling baby on the bed. He pulled the towel over his shoulder and took the giggling baby in his arms. He got as far as the hallway before he saw her coming up the stairs.
“I thought you were going to the Bronze,” he said, happy to see her home so soon.
“I did,” she replied as she took off her jacket and put it on the bed.
“It was crowded and loud and I had a headache. So we hung out a bit, decided to exchange gifts when they returned and then we played pool, then I left.”
“That was quick. You weren’t even out two hours.”
“I had a really bad headache.”
“How’s your head now?” he asked curious as he entered the bathroom.
“Better,” she replied as she pulled up the sleeves from her sweater.
“I’m glad. So did you have fun?”
Angel placed the talkative baby in the tub and was glad to feel Willow’s hand cover his around the baby’s waist.
“Your turn to shampoo,” she reminded him with a smile.
After half an hour of bathing and clothing him, they were ready to restart the plans they had prepared earlier that night. Willow changed into her pair of comfy flannel pants and cotton oversized gray shirt and headed downstairs with Nicolas to pop some popcorn as Angel changed into his sweatpants and white v-neck T-shirt.
Nicolas and Angel looked on as Willow spread an array of junkfood on the center table then settled on the sofa, snuggling next to him, her head settling on his shoulder as his arm stretched across the sofa. Nicolas was happily seated in Angel’s lap, chewing on his teething ring.
Willow changed the channel and squealed in excitement as the “Muppet’s Christmas Carol” began. Though she was half-Jewish, she was also half-Catholic (mother’s side). Her parent’s had agreed some time ago to let Willow decide what she choose to be, while her parent’s remained neutral and celebrated neither.
Knowing Angel was Catholic helped her decided what she would do this year. The couple smiled as the movie began, looking forward to the evening ahead.
It had taken the small group of friends nearly four hours to realize there friend was gone. Once they got to her house and found it empty, Xander went to his and grabbed the emergency key Willow had given him sometime ago. They were surprised to see the whole house dark and empty. It was after some intensive thinking that they figured out what to do.
Willow received a call on her cell in the middle of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” After the fourth ring she had managed to find her bookbag and find her phone.
“What happened to you? We’ve been looking for you? You just left.”
“Xander, I left the Bronze more then five hours ago.”
“Oh...but you didn’t tell us.”
Willow excused herself from the sofa and went to the far side of the room.
“All of you seemed too busy,” she informed him.
“Not for you...”
“That’s why you’re calling me at two in the morning?”
“Wow, two! Haven’t really seen the clock.”
“Was there something you needed?” Willow asked a bit sad.
“We just wanted to know you were safe, you aren’t at home....where are you, Willow?”
Willow could feel tears the tears in her eyes.
“I told you guys I was staying at one of my mom’s friends house until they come back.”
“Oh yeah, must have forgotten. Then I’ll let you go back to bed. See you when we get back,” Xander told her cheerfully.
Before Willow could say anything, the line went dead. She took a moment to regroup and headed back to the sofa, taking her seat next to Angel on the sofa.
Angel looked down at her, noticing her change in mood. She didn’t know, but he had heard some of the conversation, had heard her muffle a sob a moment ago.
“Is everything all right?”
“Yeah....they just wanted to....say bye and wish me a good vacation,” she lied.
Angel remained silent, looking at her, then at the movie on the T.V, vowing silently to make these two weeks the best in Willow life.
“Sorry,” Willow muttered once again.
“Don’t worry, you really can’t hurt me,” he replied, making her chuckle.
She looked up at him and smiled.
“Let’s try it once more,” he said as he stepped back then to the side.
Willow followed, her hands glued to his shoulder and hand.
“See, all you need is practice,” he encouraged her.
After toes that Angel was grateful would heal in a bit of time, he continued showing her the basic steps of the west coast swing. Nicolas looked on attentively from his playpen, giggling when he saw his parents laugh or step on each other. After two hours of practicing, the sun had set and with only a few days left ‘till Christmas, they decided to suspend the lesson and head to the mall. After two showers and a complete change of diapers and bottles and clothes for Nicolas, the happy couple left the house.
They shopped, separating
only twice, needing to purchase items separately. After a couple of hours
of walking, talking and about ten shopping bags, they decided to call it
a night. As they walked down the pathway to the main level, they were too
engrossed in their conversation to notice the couple ahead of them that
were preoccupied with each other as well. That was until Nicolas’ stroller
bumped into the couples feet, making them
all stop and look at each other in complete shock.
The four adults sat at the table in complete silence in the food court. The only one who seemed unaffected by their chance meeting was Nicolas who was falling asleep in Angel’s arms as he suckled on his pacifier.
Faith was the first to break the silence.
“So, what are you guys doing here?”
Giles turned to look at her, surprised at her question.
Willow looked at Angel , then at her and replied.
“Us, too,” she replied, hoping the conversation ended there.
It was times for Willow’s curiosity to get the better of her.
“Are you two here... ‘together’?”
Giles looked at Faith, then felt her hand on his under the table.
Angel and Willow couldn’t hide the surprise on their faces.
“We’ve been ‘together’ for two months,” Faith told her happily.
“Wow....does anyone know?” Willow asked.
“No...we thought it might...be best if we...kept it low profile..” she replied.
“For now...” Giles added.
Faith smiled at him, then looked back at Angel and Willow.
“What about you guys? Is he yours?” Faith asked as she motioned to the baby in Angel’s arms.
Willow and Angel looked
at each other, not sure just how to explain.
“He’s so cute,” Faith remarked as she played with him on the counter.
“I know,” Willow replied proudly.
“He actually looks a little like...”
Before Faith could finish her comment, Giles interrupted her as he came out of his office with Angel, carrying books.
“He was just left at the mansion for you to find him?” he asked once more surprised.
“With a letter asking me to protect him,” Angel replied as they made there way to the table.
“And you say you never saw the face of the demon that wants the baby, Willow?”
“No. It was there, telling me Nicolas needed to die. I never saw it’s face, Giles.”
“I can’t see why anyone would want to hurt him, let alone kill him,” Faith commented in disbelief.
Their conversation at the food court had ended abruntly once Willow and Angel began the story of Nicolas. Giles was fascinated as to what the child might mean as well as the opportunity to shift everyone’s attention from Faith and himself. They headed to the library to do some research.
with Angel was still fragile to say the least. It was hard for him not
to look at him and remember the brutality that was inflicted upon him,
but somehow with Faith now at his side, his outlook was changing slowly.
He remembered the countless times Willow stood up for him, even after they
had found out he had come
back from Hell. To have seen Angel care for Nicolas these past hours had helped to change his view on him. Angelus was gone, Willow had some how managed to banish him forever. Now it was time to heal. That was something he would have to thank Faith for. As reckless as she was, the friendship of the rest of the small group and his own affection for her had changed her.
“Second changes are a gift. I’m happy to have had one,” Faith had once told him.
Perhaps it was his time to do the same. And so the group had gone to the library to find a way to help the couple. That would be there start, for all of them.
Faith and Willow joined
the men at the table, the women taking seats next to there men. Ideas were
tossed, that lead to an hour researching, until the yawning began
as well as the cries from Nicolas. Everyone took turns carrying the baby,
but it was obvious to the group that the Hellmouth was affecting him even
with the spell around them. Angel was a bit skeptical in letting
Faith or Giles carry him, but Nicolas never cried, but smiled or
giggled or stared intently. He had a good feeling about the small group in the library as did the rest. It was soon time to leave, with promises of a phone calls tomorrow and perhaps even a visit.
“Did you need a ride?” Willow asked as they exited the school.
“Giles is taking me home.”
“Okay, well have a
Giles and Faith left hand in hand and went across the street to his car as Willow and Angel followed in toe the same.
“They make such a good couple,” Willow commented as they pulled back the covers from the bed. It was four in the morning, Willow having adjusted a bit more to his time frame as he had to hers.
“I think they’ll make each other happy,” Angel replied as he placed Nicolas in the middle of the bed. He seemed contented to look from parent to parent as they talked.
“I think so too. I just hope the others don’t make such a fuss about it,” she replied climbing into bed.
“I don’t think that should matter. Happiness is something that doesn’t come often. You have to take it when it comes and defend it till the end.”
“Give yourself completely,” Willow added as she turned on her side to face him.
“I think you have to. I think that’s what love is.”
“Is that what you had with Buffy?” Willow asked in a whisper, regretting the words that had slipped from her lips. “I didn’t mean to...I’m sorry Angel..it just...it came..”
Angel stared at her for a moment, making Willow more uncomfortable. She hadn’t meant to saw anything about Buffy, knowing it most likely was still a sore topic to touch. Then to her surprise, he replied calmly.
“No, it wasn’t like that. What Buffy and I had was lust...hormones...with a bit of love...but more of an urge of the forbidden...”
Willow looked at him confused for a moment, not sure just how to take his response. Seeing her confusion, he began to explain.
“Have you ever been in love, Willow?”
“Friendship kind of love.”
“What kind of love do have for Oz?”
At that question, Willow froze, not sure just how much to share with him. But if she was to trust him completely, she needed to tell him, but the odd thing was that she wanted to tell him.
“I loved him.”
“It started as a friendship sort of love, then it moved a bit more, but it wasn’t that kind of love that you read in books or in poems.”
“Neither was mine with Buffy.”
“But she loved you....”
“We loved each other
in the moment, Willow. What it turned into was obsession, jealousy...things
my demon wanted, not me. I remember a talk I had with my mother once.
She told me that I was a womanizer, that I saw women as conquest and when
I saw something forbidden, dangerous, that I might not be able to have,
make it into a challenge, a challenge once I won, I would let go. It was true and I hated that. What I truly wanted was just love, pure and innocent, caring and passion filled. Love can be lust as well, but in the good sense.”
“So you haven’t changed much,” Willow mumbled, embarrassed she had let that slip out.
“Not until I spent 100 years in Hell. I had a lot of time to think.”
Willow looked up, genuine compassion for him and his ordeal. Angel smiled and continued his story.
“My grandfather Nicolas
once told me that I would find that love I envied. The love my grandparents
shared. It was beautiful because everyone could see it. There eyes
spoke to each other, there bodies seemed to be connected in some way, as
well as there minds, hell they would even finish up there own sentences,”
remembering the past.
“It seemed like you loved your family very much...and were loved back very much,” she told him, her voice cracking a bit.
“I was. They were my entire world. I just took that for granted. I never thought I could lose them. In all my years since then I’ve never felt so alone.”
Willow knew that feeling all to well and looked at him and for a moment envied him. He had what she had always wanted. She couldn’t help but let a tear fall.
“Willow?...” he asked worried.
“I’ve never seen that kind of love, I’ve never been treated that way. My parents love each other I think, maybe more on a professional level, but in all my years, I don’t think I’ve ever felt loved...I can’t even remember the last time they told me they did....I’ve never had what you had.....not even a fraction of it,” she replied as she wiped her tears away.
“I didn’t mean to.....”
“No, Angel...you didn’t do anything. I want to hear more about your life...as a vampire and as a human....I guess I reflected a bit to much on mine.”
“Is that why you stayed with Oz that long?”
Willow nodded, her tears drying a bit.
“You were scared of being alone.”
“I think everyone is,” she simply replied.
“Yeah...but you aren’t alone Willow...you have Buffy and Xander...”
Willow couldn’t help but let out a small snort.
“If not them Willow, you have me and for now Nicolas....and even when all this is over....you’ll still have me,” Angel told her with a soft look on his face she had never before seen directed at her.
Willow smiled happily as a few tears fell.
Angel got up from the
bed and placed his pillows along his side, effectively forming a safe barrier
for a sleeping Nicolas. Willow looked on as she saw him move to her side
and pull back the covers, settling next to her and taking her in his arms.
Willow had never felt so happy or...loved before in her life. Angel held
her, her back settling
against him perfectly. Willow took his hand in hers and softly whispered her vow to him, before drifting off to sleep.
“No matter what, what ever happens, I will always be here for you, for as long as I live.”
Angel smiled, placing
a kiss on the top of her head.
“So how did it all start?..” Willow asked her.
“What do you mean?”
“You know what I mean, buster.....who...asked who?”
“I did,” Faith replied as she finished off the carton of ice cream.
“When...I mean did it just come out one day or what?” she asked, her cheeks turning red.
“It was after me and Buffy finished training one night. I got kicked out of the motel...I was broke. The Council still hadn’t finished processing my “paperwork” and I needed a place to stay. I didn’t want to ask any of you...I wasn’t sure you guys would have been cool with it. I ended up going to the youth hostile, but what I hadn’t realized was that Giles way home was on the way and he saw me. He came in and got me, asking me what had happened and told me to crash at his place.”
“How long were you there?” she asked in complete surprise.
Faith looked down at the empty carton then up at her again, with a tint of red on her cheeks, taking Willow by complete surprise.
“I haven’t left.”
Willow’s eyes grew wide.
“It’s been a surprise for me too...I’ve never stayed that long with anyone before....never stayed in one place so long.”
“But you belong here...” Willow began to tell her.
“I never thought I would belong anywhere, Red, but here...I think I can.”
“Good, now I know why Giles hasn’t been bombarding us with so much research, why he even seems happier since....” Willow abruntly ended, not sure how much Giles had told her.
“Since Jenny Calendar.”
“Giles and I have talked about her...about what happened....about what might happen.”
“And what might happen?”
“We can’t keep it a secret for too long and I really don’t want to. This might be the guy, you know, that sweeps you off your feet,” Faith told her in all honesty.
“I’m happy for you two. It least Giles makes you less...”
“Crazy?” she asked with a chuckle.
“Well, I was going for insane, but.....”
“Ha ha. He has that effect on me. I’m actually listening to him, the watcher side. I have a lot to learn.”
“You will. Giles is a great teacher.”
“A lot more than that....So, what about you and Angel?”
“What about Angel?”
“Don’t tell me you don’t see it?”
“God, Red, you are blind.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I don’t know, maybe the way you look at him or the way he looks at you...”
Willow blushed, somewhat knowing what she meant.
“It has crossed your mind,” Faith commented happily.
“Thought...but not acted...” not sure where her revelation came from.
“I don’t really think he’d mind..” Faith told her.
Biting her lower lip, Willow wasn’t sure how to act.
“Take it from me, Red. When you find someone what can make you happy, don’t freight about it...life’s too short.”
Willow looked up, knowing what she meant.
“Come on, if were going over to visit you Christmas day, we have to find gifts for each other.”
With that said, both
women left the food court and began there shopping.
Willow entered her
home just before the sunset. She was happy to see no one around as she
walked up the stairs. She rushed over to a near by closet and carefully
placed her shopping bags inside. To her surprise she found no one on the
main floor and was more surprised to see no one on the second floor. She
saw a soft glow coming from
the stairs that headed upstairs and took the stairs to the third floor. To her complete surprise she saw a bare topped Angel in front of a canvas, painting.
Willow carefully made herself over, taking a look at the other paintings on the floor. They were beautiful landscapes of what she was sure Ireland must have looked like and then found one of the most striking she had ever seen.
“They’re my family.”
Willow turned her head to see Angel right in back of her, looking at the panting she was looking at intently.
“That’s Marie, she was handful, but her smile could light up anyone’s soul....She’s Beatrice, the serious one of all of us, but had one spot in the back of her ear that made her go into a laughing fit.... Then that’s Eliz, the most nurturing of all of us. When ever one of us was sick, she’d be the first to take care of us..... Sean, my only brother. We’d wrestle and horseplay, fight for my mother’s attention all the time....... That’s my mother, Elizabeth. She was wonderful..... next to her is my father, Henry...... I miss them so much,” he muttered, a red tear falling.
Willow turned around
and wrapped her arms around him, comforting him as best she could. Angel
laid his head on her shoulder, grateful for her embrace. Reluctantly he
began to pull away from her, far enough to look at her and what he saw
there gave him hope. His head was inches away from hers, there hands still
each other, the moment sweeping them away.
Their heads inched forward, there lips meeting to taste each others.
They remained frozen
in time, never hearing the sliding door open and seeing the two pairs of
eyes that looked at them.