“Why can’t anything be simple?” Xander commented as he saw the dragons blow fire from their mouths.
“Then where would the fun be?” Cordelia replied sarcastically.
“How do we get across?” Willow asked, trying to hide the worry in her voice.
“Maybe Cordelia can make it rain?” Xander suggested.
“Which would....wet us from the fire?” Willow asked confused.
“Okay, maybe not. What about your protection thingy?”
“I don’t think I can..... I’m not sure I could protect all of us through the fire.”
“Then what?” Xander asked.
All eyes turned to Angel who seemed busy looking at the doors on the other end. He quickly picked up some rocks near by and threw it in that direction.
“And that was for.....?” Xander asked.
“Testing it,” he replied.
“For what?” Cordelia asked.
“Are you sure this is going to work?” Cordelia asked worried.
“Hopefully, but just in case....”
Willow took her cue and placed the protection blue shield around them.
“Ready Xander?” Angel called out as they all laid on the floor.
“Just concentrate,” Willow encouraged.
Xander nodded and gave them a small smile.
“Please,” Cordelia emphasized.
Xander took a deep breath and closed his eyes, doing what he had down only seconds ago. His image appeared in front of all the statues, the flames complete attention and burst of fire concentrated on the transparent image in front of them.
Angel was the first to crawl below the flames, his body pressed to the ground as the flames directed their wrath at the imaginary person projected at them.
Cordelia was the next up, quickening as her blouse took a hit at her shoulder, putting it too close for comfort. Willow was last, moving as quickly as possible.
As soon as Willow cleared, Xander stopped his projection and nearly fell back as his head began to throb.
“Xander!” Cordelia yelled, scared something had happened to him.
He took hold of himself and took another deep breath, opening his eyes.
Xander felt a tingly feeling as he saw a blue surround him.
“Go,” Willow yelled.
Xander ran through the passage, closing his eyes, praying he did not feel the flames. He opened them only for a moment, not able to stop from bumping into Willow, falling on top of her.
He smiled, thrilled to see the face below him.
Angel helped the pair up as the group moved to face both doors, wondering which one to open.
“Uh, clue,” Willow pointed out as she caught sight of a white envelope on the ground.
She quickly opened it, reading the new riddle inside.
“Double my number, I’m less than a score, half of my number is less then four. Add one to my double when bakers are near, day of the week are still greater I fear.”
“I hate math,” Xander complained.
“Angel, Willow?” Cordelia prompted, having no idea what the answer was.
“Six,” Willow replied.
“Seems right, I guess,” Xander commented as he noticed the number appear on the door.
The group looked at Angel, waiting for his approval before doing anything. It was at that moment that Angel realized just he much the group trusted him in his leadership position. He nodded and opened the door, taking a look inside, making sure it was safe for them to enter. He stepped in, looking around, remaining silent.
“What is it, Angel?” Willow asked softly, being pulling in by his hand.
Willow entered, taking in the beauty around them. The sound of birds chirping and crickets talking filled the air. The palm tress around them swaying in the wind, as flowers seemed to burst from the ground. But what demanded attention was the very high and powerful waterfall that filled the large pond like pool.
“I’ll look around. Stay here.”
Angel left the three, making his way through the palm tress. What he found a few yards away was a large and high concrete wall. A wall he followed completely around, until it hit the waterfall. He made himself around and found the wall once again. They were confined in a circle, with not much space.
Once he joined the others, Angel was not surprised to see the door they had entered disappear and merge with the concrete.
“Why can we hear birds, but not see them?” Cordelia asked a bit worried.
“Because there aren’t any,” he replied.
“Great. So what did you find?” Xander asked.
“Concrete wall all around.”
“What do we do?”
Angel splashed the cool water on his face and neck. They were all tired and hungry and if nothing could get out of this confined paradise then maybe nothing could come in and harm them. Darkness was quickly approaching, making it best for them to stop for the night.
Xander took a small sip from the water and looked over at Angel and frowned.
“Um..... I wanted.... I wanted to thank you.....” Xander mumbled.
His head shot up and looked at him in surprise.
“For, you know.... the advise and all.... It was very.... helpful,” he replied, wondering if he was turning a bit red.
“No problem,” he replied, putting his attention back to the pond and wet his hair, smoothing it a bit back.
“And.... I’m sorry about accusing you about this..... Old habits die hard. I’m glad your the leader.”
Angel once again looked at him dumfounded.
“Thank you?” he replied, not sure what to say.
“Gonna get Cordy.”
Angel nodded, wondering
just when he had seemed to earn a bit of respect from Xander Harris.
“So what happened?” Cordelia asked as both girls freshened up on the other side of the pond.
“Shouldn’t I be asking you that?”
“I asked first,” she protested.
“Oh, I don’t know. The fact that you were sandwiched in with a total babe for at least five minutes.”
“Touch him?” Cordelia asked mischievously.
She simple nodded with a large smile on her face.
“Oh, don’t hide it. I know you like him.”
“Like a friend....”
“Yeah right. Denial it’s called. You have the hots for him in more then a friend like way.”
Willow smiled, knowing the truth.
“You shouldn’t worry so much about it. He likes you too.”
“He told you?” Willow asked, hopeful.
“No, but I can tell. Female intuition.
“I’m telling you Willow. He has the hots for you too. I’m just asking what are you going to do about it?”
Willow bit her lower lip. It was something her heart wanted, but her mind warned her against. What if he didn’t feel the same? Would she lose the little she had with him.
“So... how did “it” go last night?” Willow asked, wanting to desperately change the subject.
“You have no idea how good,” she squealed in delight.
“That good huh.... Eek, did I just ask that?” Willow said turning red.
“You have to try it..”
“Promise, in the future,” Willow replied turning redder.
“We are far from done here okay.”
“I had a feeling it wasn’t.”
Cordelia smiled at the redhead and went off to look for Xander. Willow was left with her own thoughts, thoughts she had always tried to ignore. She almost fell into the pond upon hearing the voice immediately in back of her. But thanks to Angel, his arms wrapped around her soon enough for her to avoid such an embarrassment.
“Are you all right, Willow?”
“Fine... good... you just surprised me, that’s all.”
Angel smiled and turned her around in his arms, hugging her to him.
“Everything’s going to be fine,” he told her.
“I know. I’m glad you’re here.”
“Come on. We should
Angel followed her as she took his hand and led him to the rest of the group, smiling as his hand began to caress hers without a hesitation.
“Whose first watch?” Xander asked as they settled down for the night.
After a quick feast of the food Willow and Xander had saved from the last meal they had, the group had settled down and kept close. They talked, going over their options and plans for the morning. As much as they should have been scared by the situation, by being together, they felt a bit confident in themselves.
“I can,” Angel offered.
“Then I will, then Cordy, and last Willow.”
“Sounds good. Let’s go to bed,” Cordelia said as she pulled Xander down to the grass with her, snuggling in his arms.
Willow looked at Angel and smiled. The fire cast the only light making her hair look so soft and warm in it’s wake.
“Come on,” Angel encouraged as he stretched his arms to her, pulling her in.
They fell to the ground softly, her head nestled on her hard chest.
“Sleep,” he said softly as he placed a kiss on her forehead.
“I will now,” she said
as she snuggled deeper into him, feeling something new, but too tired to
process the thought as she fell into a deep slumber.