“Willow, is everything okay?”
“Um....no...no..nothing...what could be wrong?”
“Could be because each
time I look at you, you turn bright red.”
Willow wasn’t sure how to reply. She wouldn’t help it, her imagination was getting too inventive. Even in the cool, brisk night, she felt hot, especially when he looked at her.
“Is there anything you want to talk about?” Angel asked her.
“Questions? No, of course not....nope no questions...none at all....”
“Willow Ann Rosenburg, you are a terrible liar. Tell me.”
“I can’t...it’s too....,” Willow covered her scorching cheeks in her hands.
“Nothing about too something, tell me.”
“....it’s too embarrassing....”
“Willow, you’ve seen me completely naked, with all kind of red and green slime on me, which I may add smelled horribly. I’m not sure there’s anything more embarrassing then that.”
Willow looked up at him and smiled. She wiggled a bit on the backyard swing that her father had built so long ago, a pair, for her and Xander.
“It was...well...how....how...what...you have...of course you have....is sex that good?”
Angel almost fell back on the swing.
“Well...it depends...Willow, are you contemplating.....?”
She looked at him a bit confused. Then it hit her.
“No!...oh no...it just..well a friend is...I’m not..you know...experienced...geez..let me crawl under a rock now....”
Angel chuckled. <Can the night get any weirder?>
“This is for Cordelia?”
“How do you know?” she asked completely surprised.
“Xander came to talk to me early tonight.”
“An actually conversation?”
“Believe me, it’s odder
for me then for you.”
“Wow...and was it about....did you give him.....advice?” she asked turning redder.
Angel felt a bit uneasy talking to her about it. Hell, he would probably feel a bit ackward talking about it to anyone.
“ A bit.”
“Cordelia will be happy. All the videos for nothing,” Willow looked at him terrified. She wasn’t sure how something like that could slip.
Willow hoped the ground would swallow her up and end her embarrassment. She got up quickly and headed to the back door, but before she could take another step, Angel appeared in her path.
“You’ll think I’m a pervert or something,” she said, burying her face in his chest.
Angel placed his hands on her back and began making small, soft caress, to soothe her.
“I won’t think your a pervert. You can tell me or ask me anything remember.”
“I know...I...Cordelia and I.....we rented...some...instructional videos...,” she mumbled.
“Instructional videos on....”
Angel couldn’t hold back a chuckle.
“I know, I know...I’m
“Why? Because your curious, or because you were helping a friend? Well, at least they’ll be prepared for it.”
“Angel...does it feel that good?” she asked, not sure if she should have asked him that question.
“.....it does, but what makes it wonderful is when you share it with someone you love....”
Willow sensed an immediate mix of emotions in him of sadness and joyfulness.
“I didn’t mean to bring up any bad memories Angel...I know that you and Buffy....I know it was special. I’m sorry if I made you....”
Angel hugged her, his arms wrapping around her securely.
“I’ve faced that, Willow. What Buffy and I had was messy, hard, untrusting. It’s a part of my past that caused immeasurable amount of pain. It should stay there.”
Willow looked up at
him, returning his embrace.
“But you can be happy now. No more curse. Your soul is yours to keep. You can do anything you want. You can be happy.”
Angel looked deep into her green eyes and smiled.
The Bronze was filled
to capacity when Angel brought Xander to the Bronze. The birthday boy was
completely surprised to see the Bronze dedicated to him for the night.
He was even happier to see that people he did not like had not been invited
or permitted in. Angel had arranged a special table for the group and the
music they requested.
“This is great Angel. How can I ever thank you?” Willow asked him as they sat next to each other at the table.
“You can dance with me.”
Willow accepted his invitation and joined him on the dance floor. By midnight, Xander and Cordelia had decided to take their leave, Xander thanking Willow for the party and Angel for his help and the party. Willow wished them a wonderful night and left with Angel.
“Now what?” Angel asked her as they walked down the street.
“We can break into the library, or go see a movie, or rent something and go to my house.”
“What about we go and read some books?”’
Angel couldn’t help but smile.
“If you like. Come on.”
The twosome walked down the street, talking and enjoying the time as they walked to Borders.
Willow awoke to an
empty house. Angel had left shortly before dawn to get more clothes and
‘supplies’ for the week. After a quick shower and breakfast, she headed
to do some more gift shopping. She had met Amy for some lunch, then walked
to her house. She remained there until it was time for Amy to leave
with her parents to
San Francisco. She headed back to the stores and picked up the special package she had ordered a week
ago, but now was having second thoughts about it. Would he like it? It wasn’t original as the first gift she had bought him, but hope he liked it anyway.
She looked at her watch and decided to go home. There was still light out by the time she reached her house. She opened the door and walked in, placing the bags on the couch in the living room. She walked over to the answering machine and pushed the red button.
“Willow - Meet me at 130 Manchester Lane - Take a taxi. It’s a surprise.”
Xander entered the gate with Cordelia in complete awe. They had returned from the small Bed and Breakfast they had spent in last night, to find a small note taped on Willow’s door. He took out the letter and read it, making sure it was the right address.
Xander, Cordelia - Meet me at 130 Manchester Lane - Take a taxi. It’s a surprise.
“Do you think we’re late?” Cordelia asked, as she looked up the magnificent house.
“I don’t think so. I’m sure Willow would want us to come here before the sunset.”
“What do you think we’re going to do here.”
“Another party maybe...I have no idea.”
They walked up the stairs and knocked. No one answered after three knocks and tried the doorknob. It was open. They entered the lit room, too entranced by the house to notice the door close behind. By the time they turned around and rushed to the door, it locked, preventing them from leaving.
Angel was a bit confused when he heard Willow’s message on his answering machine. He decided to leave his cargo, then come back for it later with Willow. He replayed the message once more, memorizing the address.
“Angel - meet me at 130 Manchester Lane - Be careful - It’s a surprise.”
He grabbed his jacket and left right after sun set.
Willow looked up at the house in complete amazement.
<Wow - Angel probably owns it>
She walked up the pathway, her eyes still inspecting the majestic mansion. Before she could knock, the door opened. She stepped inside without a worry, searching for Angel. After a few steps inside, the door slammed closed behind her, once more locking itself.
She was surprised to see Xander and Cordelia rush out of a room to greet her.
“Willow, what it this?” Xander asked worried.
“Xander, when did you
get back? What are you doing here?”
“You invited us,” Cordelia replied, a bit out of patience.
“No I didn’t. Angel asked me to meet him here.”
“You left us a note Willow. Here look,” Xander said as he handed her the paper.
“Xander, it’s blank,”
she told him as she unfolded it.
He snatched the paper back and saw no written words on it.
Cordelia remarked as she looked down at the paper.
“It was your writing, Will. It asked us to meet you here.”
“I never wrote it, Xander. I got back from shopping half an hour ago. I got a message from Angel and came over here.”
“Angel...that’s it..Angel...” Xander reasoned.
“What about him?” Willow asked defensively.
“He planned this.”
“Why?”, Cordelia asked panicking .
“To kill us.”
“He’d never do that.”
They moved farther in the entrance room, arguing, never noticing the fourth figure that joined them.
“How well do we know him, Willow? He’s probably been planing this since he came back.”
“I know him. Angel would never plan this.”
“I’d never plan what?”
They all jumped, startled to hear his voice.
“You did this!”
“Did what?” he asked
Xander, noticing his angered face.
“You know what the Hell I’m talking about. What are we doing here?”
“I don’t know why you’re here, but Willow left me a message to meet her here.”
“I didn’t leave you a message, Angel, you left me one.”
“Willow, I never left you a message. You said to meet you at...”
“....130 Manchester Lane...” Willow said, as she replayed the message she heard in her head.
“....take a taxi....,” Cordelia said, remembering what she read on the note.
“.....It’s a surprise,” Xander added.
They all looked at each other, realizing they all had received the same message.
“I’m glad to see everyone was able to make it.”’
They all turned to see who the source of the fifth voice was. They covered their eyes, the light on top of the staircase too bright.
“Who are you?” Willow asked.
“All in time, Willow, all in time.”
“What do what?” Angel growled.
“Temper, temper, Angelus. You most be patient. It’ll depend on your lives.”
“I really don’t like the sound of that,” Xander said softly.
“How do you know our names?” Cordelia asked as she moved closer to Xander.
“I know everything I need to know.”
“What do you want with
us?” Angel asked.
“A simple test. You pass and you win a prize. You lose, you die.”
“That’s great.” Cordelia remarked, frightened as ever.
“Don’t you want to know what you’ll prize will be?” the woman in the light asked coyly.
“We get to live?” Willow asked hopeful.
“That’s your bonus, but you get your friend back......”
They all held their breath as they waited for her to continue.
“Giles? but his in England with...,” Angel said.
“His ill sister. Well I’m glad to say she is actually doing quite well. His plane, however, was a bit detoured.....”
An image appeared before
them. Giles was unconscious on a bed, his arms and legs held down with
“Now, who will play?”
The all nodded their consent, the image disappearing in front of them.
“Good. Listen carefully.
In the next room there is a table. On that table their are boxes. Each
person must choose one. The leader, however, will be permitted a combination
of two. These will be your powers. I shall grant them for you and the search
for Rupert Giles will begin. Choose wisely, this will be your only protection
‘obstacles’ you encounter. You have ten minutes.”
With that said the light disappeared.
“What are we going to do?” Cordelia asked.
“Play the game,” the rest of them replied in unison.
The group entered the living room, Angel automatically checking the room for any potentials dangers. They checked the doors and windows and found them all locked securely.
“No way out,” Cordelia said in despair.
Xander pulled her in
a hug, caressing her hair and whispering words to comfort her. Angel and
Willow moved to the table in the center where small white treasure boxes
laid. They looked them over, their hands grazing over them, emitting a
different glow on their hands as they each touched one. Willow picked up
a paper at the end of
the table and read it a loud, their ten minutes having gone down to eight.
“Each box contains powers of your choosing, one per person, except when needed to combine. The game shall consist of a maze in the mansion, in doors as well as outdoors, prepare yourselves, your life shall depend on it.”
“Well, if it puts it that way, I really want to win,” Xander commented, still holding onto a shaky Cordelia.
“We’ll get through this,” Angel told him, hiding the worry he felt for all of them, especially Willow.
Willow reached out for his hand, holding onto it tightly, not able to surpress the fear she had. Angel tugged on it, giving her a small smile. Willow returned it, able to feel the warmness he was sending her over the link.
“We have to choose,” Cordelia told them, as she pulled away from Xander’s embrace and looked at their selection.
Willow read them off, her mind already working on which ones would best suit each person.
“Protection, Invisibility, Nature, Illusion, Shapeshifting, Telepathy, Clairvoyance, Telekinesis, Strength, Charm, Power, Light (Fire), Copy, Sound, Color, Beams, Absorption, Teleportation, Mind Reading, Dark, Truth and Fear.”
“Can we share the Protection one?”, Xander asked.
“No, it might need to be combined with another”, Willow replied, understanding what the light had said.
“Then who gets the protection one?” Cordelia asked.
“Angel,” Willow replied.
“What? Why?” Xander asked a bit mad.
“I can place protection spells on us. I haven’t learned one for vampires yet.”
“Willow, you should take the one for Power. It might make you stronger when you cast spells.”
Willow agreed, taking the box from the table.
“I’ll take the one for Fear,” Xander said.
“But you can’t fight, Xander. You need one that will help you sneak up on them, just like what we do when we’re patrolling,” Willow pointed out.
“Then what about Invisibility?”
“I think it would scare people more if we could see a bunch of you,” Cordelia commented.
“That sounds the best,” Angel commented.
“What about Cordelia?” Xander asked as he took his box.
“You shouldn’t get something that someone has a similar to,” Willow commented.
“Any of the ESP?” Xander suggested.
“Telekinesis might work best out of all of them.”
“She did mention we would be outside too, what about Nature?” Cordelia asked.
“Completely different from the rest. It should work,” Angel agreed.
Cordelia reached for her box as Willow thought over Cordelia’s comment.
“If we’re outside...Angel...the sun....,” Willow said a bit terrified.
“Maybe a can call on the clouds or something,” Cordelia said.
“But what if we need the sun or something. That’s Angel’s weakness,” Xander said, impressed that he had made the observation.
“Then take the box of light, Angel. Protection against light (fire),” Willow told him.
Angel looked at the group and they all nodded in agreement. He grabbed both boxes hesitantly. They weren’t even sure it would work, but they encouraged him to take it.
“A minute left,” Cordelia said as she looked at the clock on the mantel.
“Who’s the leader?” Xander asked.
“Angel, he has the two boxes,” Cordelia told him.
Angel expected some form of protest to begin, but to his complete surprise none came. They all seemed glad to see him take the roll.
As much as Xander still harbored some ill feelings towards him, he knew Angel could do the job best, even maybe save their lives in the process. If ever their was a time to trust him, it was now. They all settled he was the best for the job, and took a final look at their powers, acknowledging they had made correct choices.
They stepped out into the entrance way and waited for the light to appear. It did not disappoint as the light come into sight in a matter of seconds.
“Are you ready?”
“Yes,” Angel replied as he stepped forward.
“You are the leader?” she asked.
“Then, show me your powers so that I may grant them for you, Angelus.”
Angel held out both arms, the small treasure boxes in his open palm, offering them to her.
“What is it that you ask for?”
“Protection against the Light.”
The song of an ancient
chant began, as the group stood in complete amazement as they saw Angel’s
body rise from the floor and a soft warm red glow entwined with a blue
one, engulfed his body. Moments later, a flash appeared, hurting their
eyes. When they opened them, Angel lay on the floor still.
Willow rushed to him, trying to feel something through the link. Her worry
began to fade as she sensed a warmness in him. She smiled,
thankful he was all right.
“Xander, come forth. What is the gift I shall grant?”
In moments, Xander was engulfed in purple light. Cordelia was relived to see Angel wake, as she kneeled by Xander, taking his unconscious head in her lap.
“Willow, come forth. What is the gift I shall grant you?”
Willow was the next to lay on the floor, after the white and yellow light around her disappeared. Angel remained by her side, until she regained consciousness.
Cordelia was the last of the group to receive her gift.
“What is the gift you ask for Cordelia?”
“Then let it be so”
Xander held onto her unconscious body after a green light had engulfed her. Their attention was turned to the white light as it spoke once more.
“With these powers granted, the game shall begin.”
A bright light hit them and then everything went dark.
“Angel...can’t you talk to them?” Xander asked panicking.
“And what would like me to tell them?”
“Please don’t kill us,” he replied as the group moved closer to each other.
“I don’t really think they’ll listen,” Cordelia commented.
The group turned and looked at Willow as they heard her begin to chant. Seconds later, they were covered by a dark blue light, encircling them around the approaching bunch.
“Now what?” Xander asked as he jumped back as one of the vampires ran up to the shield and was dusted.
“I can’t destroy all of them,” Willow informed them as she felt the impact of four other vampires trying to ram through.
Angel looked around him, trying to figure out a way to save them. He looked up at the sky, seeing the black clouds remain still above.
“Cordelia, move the clouds.”
“Your power, move the clouds. The sun will kill them.”
“And you,” Willow added worried, her strength growing weak as ten other vampires rushed at them.
“He’s protected remember. Cordy, move the clouds.”
“And how do I do that?”
she asked confused.
“Will them away,” Willow replied, grunting as five others tried to ram into them.
“Okay, will away.....go away...move!” she screamed up to the sky. “It isn’t working.”
“Try again,” Willow told her as she fell onto her knees, trying to hold them off as ten other collided against the shield at the same time.
“How the hell I’m I suppose to move them?” she replied angrily, her fear getting the better of her.
Then Angel and Xander noticed it. A patch opened in the sky, a small ray catching three off guard.
“That’s it. Cordelia your anger...”
“It’s moving them...keep it Cordy...,” he encouraged.
“Hurry...” Willow pleaded, as she reached deep inside her for reserves she never knew existed.
In panic, the demons began to rush against the shield, hoping to eliminate the threat.
She closed her eyes and let the anger and fright over the situation consume her, her mind trying to push away the clouds in the sky in order to save them.
The shield began to crack around them as Cordelia began to shake. Angel slipped into ‘game face’, as he saw parts of the shield break apart.
Then it happened - The shield fell as both women fell into unconsciousness, but not before the sun shined brightly above them.
Cordelia awoke with a throbbing headache. She opened her eyes and almost shirked as she saw the face hovering over her.
“I love you, too,” he replied as he placed a kiss on her forehead.
“What....what happened?” she asked.
“You moved the clouds,” Xander replied proudly.
“Yeah, you toasted them.”
“And Angel?” she asked.
“He made it. That protection thing worked.”
“She hasn’t woken up yet. Angel’s with her.”
“I wasn’t too late....right?” she asked worried.
“Angel feels her through the link. She’s weak. Her body shut down to recoup just like yours.”
“I was so scared,” she confessed as tears began to fall.
Xander pulled her into his arms and kissed her.
“I know, I was too, but you were great....I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Cordelia held unto him, her eyes noticing the couple across from them. Willow was snug in Angel’s arms. She closed her eyes, hoping her friend was fine.
“Come on, Willow, wake up. Remember the promise we made. We aren’t allowed to leave each other ever...no matter what,” he pleaded with her as he rocked her in his arms.
He received no response
and nearly growled. He looked over and saw Cordelia awake and worried more
about Willow. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the link, opening
it up to it’s fullest, trying to sense some kind of feeling inside her.
She was alive, but that did not help the sense of worry he had. He tried
to convey some of
his strength to her, some of the warmness his body had begun to experience go to her. He opened his eyes, sensing her waking up slowly.
“Hey,” he said with a smile as he looked down at her.
“Hey, yourself,” she replied a bit fogged.
“Thought you were going back on your promise.”
She smiled at him, knowing what he had done through the link.
“A promise is promise,”
she replied happily.
They walked for about two hours, trying to find a sense of direction. Angel still marveled at the feel of the sun on him. His eyes taking in the complete brightness of a day.
“Now you can get that tan you really need,” Cordelia had commented to him.
But the need to find a way out overshadowed his happiness of being able to see the sun once more.
They stopped once they reached a fork in the road.
“Which way?” Xander asked, his legs tired.
They looked both ways, each having a different theory for each path, one heading into a meadow, the other into a forest.
“There’s a clue!,” Cordelia exclaimed as she saw a piece of paper in the road.
“I have four wings, but cannot fly, I never laugh and never cry; On the same spot I'm always found, toiling away with little sound. What am I?” Xander read it out loud.
"A windmill", Cordelia answered quickly.
The group turned to look at her a bit surprised.
“Hey, I can think too...anyway, I heard it somewhere before...,” she defended herself.
“We knew you had it in you,” Xander teased, waiting for the smack on his shoulder from her.
“And where are windmills found?...”
“Down the yellow brick road we go,” Xander commented as he turned right and led the group, only to encounter a large gray brick wall a mile down.
“I really don’t want to walk back,” Cordelia told them as sat down on a log.
“My feet hurt, too,” Willow included as she looked at the wall.
“So we were wrong,” Xander commented to a confused looking Angel.
Before Angel could reply, his eyes caught site of an opening not far down.
“What’s he doing?” Xander asked the group who shrugged at this reply and walked over to see what the vampire had found.
“Can we get through there?” Willow asked as she saw the two small openings through the wall. It looked like a rather tight square opening, enough for one crawling person.
“Let’s find out,” Angel
replied as he went down on his hands and knees and began his journey inside.
He didn’t get far, a small wall blocking the passage. What
he did find were small pieces of stones that were a bit out of place. He
pressed his hands over them, making them shift back down evenly with the
rest. As much as he tried to
cover all the abnormal stones with his knees and hands, there were some too out of range for him to reach. He shifted his body, moving to lie on his back, able to reach the stones be would not before, but not able to touch the others he had. He moved out, figuring out how they could press them all down and hopefully open the wall.
“Well, what did you find?” Xander asked impatient.
“A way through, I think.”
“Cordy’s my partner,” Xander quickly said as he took her hand and moved to the small opening.
Willow and Angel followed, a bit nervous. Xander and Cordelia choose the right opening and began to do what Angel had instructed them to do.
Angel looked at Willow and flashed her a quick smile.
“Did you want to be on top or on the bottom?” he asked.
“Which ever you feel more comfortable in,” Willow replied, trying not to blush.
“Then I’ll be on top,” he replied his voice a bit strained.
Willow nodded in agreement and was the first to enter the left passage. She crawled as far as she was permitted then laid down, her cheeks turning bright red. She waited and held her breath he as entered.
Angel tried as hard as possible not to press himself against her too much as he moved over her body, pressing his back against the cold wall above him. He tried to give her a comforting smile, as he fought back images that popped in his head.
“You okay?” he asked as he managed to place his hands successfully behind her back.
“Fine... you?” she asked, her cheeks turning redder.
“Now... what we have to do is press on all the stones to open the wall ahead of us,” he instructed her.
“Okay... well then.... we should start.”
Willow moved her arms
to his head where her palms touched down on the stones on either side of
his head. She pressed her body hard against the floor pushing down on all
the levers. Angel did the same, his hands finding one just above her head
as well as one above her right shoulder. His knees straddled her hips,
his knees covering
two stones. Willow shifted her butt a bit to the side, pressing on the last stone. To their relief, the wall opened revealing a similar passage ahead.
Angel moved his palm, thankful to see the path still open. He nodded for Willow to begin to wiggle upward as he crawled with her. The next puzzle was a bit harder for the twosome, seeing they would need to be inventive.
“I can’t press the one between my knees.”
“Spread your legs,” he instructed her, as he moved his knees in between them.
Willow couldn’t help but blush as the small confines began to make her feel hot.
“Pull up your knees,” he further explained.
She did as he asked, setting her feet over two stones. Angel tried to ignore the sensations the situation created, and couldn’t help but smile as he looked down and saw the affect on her. Willow’s breath quickened as she held both hands above his head.
Angel’s hands moved to cover two stones on either side of her waist as he strained his neck to press on the final stone.
The second wall opened to reveal a third. To both their surprise, the tunnel became smaller. Willow tried to wiggle forward, put was not able to fit her shoulders in it’s width. After a moment of thought, she changed her positions side way, or tried as she kicked Angel in the ribs.
They both turned to their sides, trying not to notice which body part touched each. Willow placed one leg between his, her knee needing to press down a stone too close to comfort by his groin. His hands pressed down, brushing against her breasts.
Much to there relief the wall opened to reveal a similar passage to the same as the last, but much smaller. Angel decided to take the floor and was the first to enter, shifting his body on his back. Willow couldn’t help but turn redder.... and hotter as she saw Angel lying on the floor ahead of her. She moved above him, her body now pressing slightly against him.
But the wall did not open. The large stone underneath Angel was not completely pushed down. That would only be resolved in one way.
“Willow...I need you....to.. put all your weight on me.... The stone hasn’t completely gone down.... it needs more weight.”
She did as asked and fell completely on him. Once the door opened, the walls behind them closed.
“I’m going... out... now,” Willow told him as she began to slide over him. She held her breath and prayed her didn’t smell just how nervous she was.
Angel did smell her nervousness, put more importantly he smelled something that stirred him. He clenched his hands into fights and retrained them to the floor as her body slid on top of him.
Once the couple was safety out, they couldn’t help but stare at each, wishing to find words to say. But before they could, someone else did.
“Took you guys long enough,” Xander told them as he walked up to them.
“How long have you been here?” Angel asked once he gained his vocal abilities.
Cordelia appeared as she punched him in the arm.
“About two minutes.”
“It looks just like the other side,” Willow commented.
“Minus the 40 vamps - hopefully,” Cordelia added.
“We should get going,” Angel told them as he followed a trail into a forest.
Xander followed, leaving the two women trailing behind them.
“Must have been interesting being in that wall with Angel,” Cordelia commented to her friend.
Willow could only blush her response, not sure what to say.
“That’s what I thought,” she remarked with a smile.
But before the cheerleader would begin her interrogation Xander’s voice interrupted her.
“Why does this look too easy?” he commented.
“Because nothing here is,” Angel replied as he looked ahead of them and saw a stone wall with a red door right ahead of them, a few yards away.
The group looked around them, the dense forest offering them no clue of any danger ahead.
Willow immediately began to prepare herself for a protection spell as the four moved together down the path to the door.
“I really don’t have a good feeling about this....” Cordelia began to say, but again was interrupted.
“I wish you hadn’t said that,” Xander told her as the group stopped dead in their tracks.
Four large red serpents
parted the tress ahead of them and hissed making sure they knew what exactly
would prevent them from opening the door.