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Part 6

"Hey, Giles... What, it's been 3 hours and still no tweed?  Okay... Come clean.  Who are you and where is our tweed-clad watcher?"  Xander sat propping his feet up on the corner of the table and held out a bag of cheesy
chips to Giles.
"No, thank you.  I believe I'll pass.  Did you and Oz come up with any leads on the events of the past few days?"

"Nada.  I did however notice our naughty...er,  Slayer's stuff missing.  Speaking of slayers, where's the Buffster?  I figured she was here when I missed her last period... er, class,"  Xander scrunched up his face when the private girly thought crossed his hormone packed mind.

"Ah... D-did you say Faith's belongings are gone?  You mean weapons?  Her training clothes?"  Giles leaned on the back of the chair across the table from the boy.

"Yep.  You didn't see her come in?  I didn't see her... But I'm unaware of my surroundings.  Often lost in thought of... well... thing that make you... ah... stutter,"  Xander smiled and shoved a hand full of chips into his mouth
and nodded.

"Well, well... yes, you are... often... ah, distracted... No, I didn't see her.  She obviously didn't want to be seen."

Just then Oz entered the library and joined Xander at the table and accepted the snacks offered.

"So guys... what's up?  Any news?"

"No, not as of yet, but I am finding it odd that Faith hasn't checked in, and found it necessary to go unnoticed while retrieving her belongings,"  Oz looked at Xander and back at Giles.

"You know, Giles, I've been meaning to call you on the fact that she's not exactly the picture of overly responsible,"  Xander pointed a chip at Giles before stuffing it in his mouth.

"Or, of not being nuts!" Oz agreed.

Xander then pointed at him and nodded.

"Y-Yes I am aware of that,"  Giles was uneasy with not having Willow there to do research.  The boys were always on call but lacked the grasp on how serious living on the Mouth of Hell could be at times. <One might think the
experience they had would be enough of a lesson. > He was grateful to have the help. < Without the efforts of the hacker, Angel , as well as Buffy... and now Faith off on one of her ... Oh my.>  "Xander, did you say you were
under the impression that Buffy was here ... ah with me? You haven't seen her?"

"Yep, and nope,"  He took a sip of his pop.

"Oh dear. Oh dear.." The boys looked at each other.

"I can not express how much I hate when he says that.  Doesn't it creep you when he says that?"  Xander questioned Oz.

"Yeah, it almost always leans toward 'of the bad'."

"I'm with ya on that"

"Oz, can you fill in for Willow on that... that dread thing?"  Pointing at the computer that sat on the check out counter,  "I believe she has check marked all the needed areas."

"Ah... Book marked,"  He corrected the old fashioned watcher as he began to boot up the system,  "What am I looking for?"

"The Morgue, City Hall, The Mayor's Office, the hospitals. The usual,"  Giles was making his way to his office.

"The usual... odd how that no longer creeps me,"  Xander grinned.

Giles stopped at the door but remained facing inside,  "Xander, I need to have a... ah... word with you."

"Will I be needing a dictionary or will it be a small, easily defined word?"  Giles turned his head, glaring at Xander, and motioned for him to get moving.  Xander responded and followed him in.

Giles quietly closed the door and began to explain the remainder of the past few day's events.

"Oh man.  I don't know... This is Angel... Willow with Angel... I don't like the idea of Dead-boy being connected to my Willow,"  Xander was caught between concern and jealously.  He had coped rather well with Angel's return
lately but this was a whole new story.  This was Willow.  < Buffy can kick his ass if he lets his inner blood-sucking fiend come out to play... but Willow. >  "Giles... I don't like this... but ... Willow has proven that she is going to do what she wants."

"Well... so has Buffy and that is the main concern at this point.  Knowing her temper and ... well... her feelings about these events.  She is no doubt on her way to Angel's now.  If she hasn't already arrived, that is.  With her
state of mind and her actions in the past couple of months... I am not at all comfortable with her approaching this matter... well... unsupervised."

"Do you think... should I ... you know, go over there?  I'm not ready to help her pick out a china pattern with Dead-boy but I don't want Buffy flippin' on her, either.  She's been really harsh lately."

"Y-Yes, I agree... I think it would be best if you did just that." With that Giles opened the door to his office and walked Xander to the doors of the library.  "Let's leave the explanation of all of this to Willow."

Xander nodded, shoved his hands into his pockets and left.

Buffy knew Angel rarely locked up the old house on Crawford Street.  She had no idea what she was going to say to him or to Willow but she had to do something.  She was beginning to feel guilty for being so absorbed with Angel that she let her friend down but the feeling that she had something with him that she, herself, did not was brewing in her gut.

Buffy entered through the concrete garden and pulled open the large glass paned door.  She glanced around the room hoping to find Willow asleep on the sofa or sitting in the large room.  < I'd rather speak to her first...  >
When there was no one in that room and no sound coming from anywhere in the huge mansion she walked quietly to the room she knew Angel used.  Just before reaching the door, she called his name in a small voice,  "Angel."  She turned the corner and peered into the pitch-black room,  "Angel, are you in there?"  When an answer didn't come she crept up to the bed and leaned over to feel for him,  "Angel?"  she whispered slightly louder.  Her foot came in contact with something on the floor.  Buffy bent down to feel what it was.  < Denim... Angel's jeans >  Her eyes began to adjust a bit to the room.  She reached out and touched his arm,  "Angel."  She spoke a bit louder this time.

"Sshhhh, it's alright. go back to sleep," Angel mumbled.

"WHAT!"  Buffy nearly yelled.

Willow sprang into a sitting position, her elbow inadvertently hitting Angel in the ribs.

"Owwwww... What is it... Willow, are you okay?"  Angel was still facing where she had been lying against him.

"Willow?  What the Hell is going on here!?"  Buffy shouted as she pulled the cord to switch on the light. "Willow, what the fuck are you doing in bed with my boyfriend?  Making your rounds with the whole gang now, are you?"  She was furious.

"Buffy, that's enough!!"  Angel bolted up, standing between her and Willow who was sitting on the bed with her head in her hands, bawling.  Sobs were shaking her small frame.

"What?  You going all protecto guy now, are you?  What is this about, Angel?"  Buffy thought all the way to the mansion that if this is was what she walked in on she would fall apart.  Cry and beg Angel to forgive her for being
selfish but now that she was there anger was all she felt.  There wasn't any sadness, heartbreak or the overwhelming ache she expected.  She was full of jealousy over being shunned for someone as plain as Willow.  The only thing hurt was her pride and that pissed her off.

"Buffy... calm down!  We can go and talk about everything but don't take it out on her,"  He wasn't raising his voice but he sounded short.

"Ha!  Talk?  About what?  About your bad taste... but then... being a bloodsucker, taste isn't a concern, now, is it?  This is really something else!  Did you get hit on the head, too?  This is Willow!  Willow!  Not big in the sexy department Willow."  Willow got up grabbed her shoes and ran from the room.  "What ... truth hurt?"  Buffy yelled after her.

"Christ, Buffy.  What is your problem?  Bitch does not look good on you."

Buffy hauled off and punched him in the ribs.

"AH!"  Angel's eyes were narrow and his shoulders we pulled up taunt. The muscles in his jaw flared as he clenched his teeth.

"What?  Are you going to go Angelus on me now that I messed up your little fling?"  She felt bad as soon as that came out. "Angel ... I... didn't..."

"Yeah. Buffy you did.  You meant it.  You've always meant it.  That's the whole point.  If you'd get off you holier than thou riff and think about how you really feel... how you have really felt since I've been back... You'd see
that is what you have always meant.  There wasn't anywhere for us to go from there.  You and I both know we can never get what we had back.  Any hope I might have had... is gone.  You have proven what I've always felt and what I was waiting for you to admit to yourself"  He made to leave the room to see where Willow had run to.  Buffy grabbed his arm as he passed.

"Angel... don't do this... don't do this to us... to me."  Tears were streaming down her face.  He shrugged her off.

"To you?  Do you have any idea what you have just done to your best friend.  She would barely let me speak to her because she said I was yours even after the way you treated her.  Get out of my house!"  With that he walked out and checked through the house.  Buffy passed him in the hall and tried to talk to him again but he just went about looking for Willow.  Defeated, Buffy left.

Xander was walking up the road that led to Angel's place when he saw Willow come running down the hill.  She had one hand over her nose and mouth and the other carried her shoes and her jacket.

"Will!   Willow, what is it?  Did he hurt you?"  She shook her head and threw herself into his arms.

"Buffy,"  was all she could get out through the sobs.  Xander held her as her oldest friend always did if she needed him to.

"It's okay, Will.  She'll calm down and everything will be alright, little buddy."

She pulled away from him and shook her head.  She bent down and picked up her shoes, slipped them on and pulled her jacket on,  "No Xander . Not this time."

He put his arm around her and walked her home.

Part 7

Once Buffy had gone and Angel realized Willow had done the same, he went to the kitchen and roughly pulled open the door to the fridge.  He popped his meal in the microwave then took in all in.  < Okay, I have three and a
half-hours to try not to lose it.   I had better fill Giles in.  > Angel sat down and dialed the number.

Giles and Oz were going over the bits and pieces of information they had gathered through Oz's surfing and attempting to put it all together when the phone in the office rang.  Giles went to the phone and picked up the


"Hey, it's me.  Buffy was just here.  All Hell broke loose.  Willow left and she is not in a good place." Angel gave Giles the whole story.

"Ah... I see. No, no, that does not sound ... Buffy said that?  Oh, Willow must be terribly upset.  Maybe I should go and see her... or ... you could. Well... No ... No I guess that is not going to be feasible.  Okay, so... I'll
see you later then?"

"Oh, Giles, do you have Willow's number?  I may not be able to go see her, but I can phone and maybe get her to talk to me." All the concern for her was clearly evident in his voice.

"Yes, of course." Giles gave the number to him and hung up the phone.

Once Xander had Willow home he offered to stick around and be her punching bag.

"No, Xander.  I need to think.  I have to be... alone,"  She was still bawling.  She hadn't stopped once for the entire walk back into town,  "Thank you for ... well... you know... not getting on me about Angel."

Xander shrugged,  "I guess I'm growing... as a person... or I have a fever or something."  Xander joked and bobbed his head to catch her eye.  She was staring at the carpet and twisting the bottom of her jacket in her hands.  Xander kissed her on the forehead and left closing the door behind him.

Willow went up to her room and pulled out some clean clothes.  She kicked off her shoes and headed for the shower.  < maybe if I'm not all icky I'll feel better >  She pulled off her overalls and t-shirt and started the shower.
After removing the rest of her clothes, she climbed into the shower.  She stood with her arms wrapped tightly around herself and leaned her forehead against the cool tile while the hot water beat onto her back.

Figuring he had given her enough time to get home Angel dialed Willow's number.  It rang three or four times then the voice mail kicked in.  Angel left a quick message then hit the end button on the phone. <DAMN!  She should
be home by now... Maybe she isn't ready to talk. >

The tears had finally stopped and she began to feel numb and hollow.  When the water started to cool, she quickly washed up and turned off the shower. < brrrrrrr > Willow grabbed a warm fluffy bath sheet and went back to her room.

 She sat down on her bed and glanced around the room, then she noticed the message light on her phone was flashing.  She tilted her head and sighed. < Do I check?  What if it's important?  What if it's Buffy just calling to
finish telling me what an awful person I am... Oh, what if it's Giles and he found something out? >  "Darn... if it's her, I'll just hang it up and not listen,"  Willow spoke out loud to no one.

* Beep*

"Hi... Willow.  It's me.  Angel.  I... just wanted to... you know... make sure you're okay... Of course, you're not okay... Willow, if you need to talk to me... call me, okay?  I mean it.  Call me anyway.  I-I'm worried about
you.  If I don't hear from you by nightfall, I'll stop by on my way to see Giles.  If... that is ... you are okay with that.  Everything is going to be okay ... I'll talk to you later...?"

* Beep*

"Oh... now what do I do?"  Willow was tearing up again.  She got dressed quickly in green jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt then sat staring at the phone.  She walked over to her desk and picked it up.  She put it back down
and walked back to her bed and sat for several minutes.  She walked back and picked it up again and brought it back to the bed with her.  She laid down on her back and stared at the buttons.  Finally she dialed Angel's number.

"Hello?"  He grabbed it up before the second ring finished.  There was no response. "Hello... Willow, are you okay?"

"Um. no, hi." < Oh boy, that was smooth... tell him you are fine... go on tell him > "I mean, yeah, I'm good... you?"

"I know better than that!  It's only an hour or so until I can get out.  Is it... Can I. I'm coming over.  I-if that's okay..." < Why does she make me act like this?  I sound like her... only less cute and more... sappy... Jesus... >

 "Sure.  Okay.  I mean if you want to ... you can.  You don't have to, though.   I'll be just fine, you know. I'm a big girl." <Oh... oh... oh... that sounded... mean. > "I... well... I'd like for you to... come... over and you know... I don't know what's going on, Angel, and it's kinda freaking me out.  I really want to see you but I feel... like... well... bad.  Like I'm betraying Oz."

"I know, Will.  Have you talked to him? Are you ... do you want to... I mean ... is there a reason for you and him to have a talk?"  Angel was beginning to worry she would rather be with Oz.  Or not with him for the sake of not
hurting Oz.  "I mean... it was one kiss... okay two but ..."



"I am going to call him now... I'll see you in about an hour... or so... Will I see you in about an hour or ... so??  I mean is seeing me... and me talking to Oz what you would like?"

Neither fully knew what the other really wanted.

"Very much so.  I-I need to see... and talk to you.  We need to talk.  Make your call. if you want... I'll see you soon."

"Okay ... bye,"  They both hung up and Willow dialed Oz. "Oz. Hi. Um. how are you?" < Okay, I can do this. >

"Willow..."  his voice was low and pained,  "Is there something you need?"  < Oh he's being short with me. well, he's always being short... but he sounds mad. > She didn't say anything. "Well... I had a talk with Buffy after school today. She was pretty upset. But I guess you know all about that."

"Oz... wait... don't you want to know what is going on?"

"No ... not really.  Buffy came into the library all weird.  She ranted and Giles filled in the blanks.  It's okay, Willow.  Really.  I don't like it but I can't change the way you feel ... can I?"

"I didn't mean for this to happen... Oz.  Oz...?" This time he was silent, "I'm sorry if I hurt you... again.  I know I'm not doing very well on being quite the human and I understand if you hate me... and... and never  ever speak to me again.  I would deserve anyway you want to treat me"

"Willow, it just didn't happen for us.  I hoped it would but ... I don't hate you.  I'll see you around,"  With that he hung up.  She set the phone down on her bed and pulled her pillows down and wrapped herself around them and cried until she dozed off.

Willow awoke to light tapping on the window in the door to her room.  She got up and pulled back the curtain. < Angel > She opened the door.

"Hi."  He stood with his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. "How are you?"

"Come in, Angel," Knowing he couldn't enter with out one, she invited him in.  She took a step back to allow him to pass. He took a step inside, stopping only inches from where she stood.  He just stared at her, his head hung low. < Come on, Will, let it go.> "I'm... I'm... I don't know how I am."

He slowly pulled his hands from his pockets and lightly gripped her shoulders.  When she didn't pull away he leaned down and wrapped his arms around her in a fierce hug holding her tightly to his chest.  Willow slid her
arms up his back inside his coat and leaned into him.  He placed a small kiss on the top of her head then laid his cheek against her and sighed.

Angel pulled away from her.  Taking one hand in his own, he shut the door and led her to the bed.  He pulled off his jacket, sat down and pulled her onto his lap.  His arms encircled her again and she pressed her face into his
chest and began to sob.  With the fingers of one hand, he rubbed her lower back and the other cradled the back of her head and neck. "Sssshhhhh, it's okay.  Have you eaten anything?  You are very pale, Willow.  If Xander sees
you like this he'll think I had you for a snack."  She let out a small laugh between sobs then shook her head.  "Well, then, let's go get you something to eat.  Will your parents let you go out?  If not, I could go pick something up and bring it back."

She sat up and looked into his eyes then back at her hands. "They aren't home.  Conventions... that kind of stuff."   She had moved her hand to her lap still a bit leery of what she should do with them.  She was squeezing
them together nervously.  "I'm not really ... um, hungry... I don't know if my tummy would like food... might not be real welcome down there," She tried to smile.

"Well..." He smiled back... and he was getting braver. "You have to eat something."  He took her face in his hand and tilted her head up so he could look her in the eye and get her to do the same. "I'm not going to let you not
eat, okay?"  He pulled her face closer so that his lips were almost touching hers. "I need you... to be strong... and healthy... and I need you!"  To stress his point he kissed her gently.  She closed her eyes while he lingered
there.  His lips on hers. < Angel's lips... > He leaned back to look at her face.  She didn't move and slowly opened her eyes.

"Hey...  Hey! Why did you do that?"  She looked irritated.

"Do what? Kiss you? I'm sorr..."

"No... why did you stop?"  she pushed out her lower lip a tad.  Angel flashed a wicked grin, narrowing his eyes at her and leaned in and captured her lips again.

This time he slipped his hands into her hair on either side of her head.  Willow's eyes drifted closed as she softly slid her fingers over the angles of his face.  Angel stopped and kissed her again slightly parting  his lips.  She quickly followed his lead and opened hers as well.  His tongue brushed against her lower lip and she let out a soft moan.  Soon their kisses were longer in length and gaining in passion.  Angel let his hands trail down her
shoulders around the backs of her arms and he spread  his fingers as they slid down her sides to her waist.

Willow was now the one getting brave.  She ran her hand over his jaw and down his neck and into the collar of his shirt.  Remembering the shiver when her nails accidentally grazed the back of his neck, she repeated the action to
see if that was what caused it.  Her hands ran up the back of his neck into his hair and back down with her nails barely making contact.  Angel shivered and slid his hands to her hips.  In one smooth motion he lifted and turned
her so that she now sat astride his lap.  She gasped as she came in contact with his lap and liquid heat coursed though her.  Willow pulled back, wide-eyed, and shyly asked,  "Um... Angel... am I supposed to feel, um...
like molten lava just, uh... shot though my body... and I take it your ribs are ... um, healing?"

Angel couldn't help but laugh,  "Well... yeah... you are ... if I'm touching you right... you are... and yes... feeling better."

"Oh... you get an A in Willow smoochies... and ... tou.... touching... a plus and gold and silver stars... Oh, and one of those 'job well done stickers'" she nodded,  "Um... Angel... if I'm doing something... wrong... tell me?
Okay?"  She scrunched up her nose hoping she wasn't doing things wrong and Angel was just too sweet to tell her.

"You... are doing... very... very... well... maybe too good."  He looked at her sideways and smiled.

"Huh?  But... Too good... is that... bad??"

< Oh no, the lip again... she's so damn cute when she does that > Angel kissed her and pulled back,  "By too good, I mean... I'm getting... um... You're ... I-I'm ... well... I'm enjoying myself.  Maybe too much."

"But why too much... if it feels. like I... um, feel... then why is it bad?"  Willow had an expression of hurt on her face like she had displeased him.  She was more innocent than anyone really knew... she and Oz kissed... sitting
next to each other... she'd seen him without a shirt, but that was it.

"It's not something... I can... explain... just ...yet... when you are ready, okay?"

 < I know... I'm not sexy like Buffy... >

"Stop thinking like that!  You are very sexy."

"Right.  Hey ... you ... get ... get outta my head, Mr."

<Fine, Willow... I hope this doesn't scare the hell out of her > Angel grasped her hips and slowly slid her forward on his lap until she was pressed to him.  < Maybe I shouldn't ... well ... if I embarrass her then... so be it.> He held onto her hips and leaned back slightly so she came in direct contact with exactly what she was doing to him.

"What on earth do you have in... Oh my... oh my... I did THAT??"

"Yes," he chuckled which caused her to rock against him < Oh, don't do that again... no laughing... >  "Yes,  you.. did that."   She gasped, leaning to kiss him again. "Willow... stop moving... please..." Willow giggled... <Wow... > He lifted her up with an harsh intake of air his body didn't need, and moved her closer to his knees. <Aahh better... not better but no danger...>

Willow was damn proud of herself and was growing braver by the moment.  She unbuttoned two of the four buttons on his silk shirt. "What happens when I do this?"  She gently raked her nails from his throat to the taunt muscles of his stomach.  Angel closed his eyes and smiled.

"It will get bigger and you'll be in trouble and I'll be soulless."  < Maybe not the best joke. > Willow began to giggle then abruptly stopped.

"What... she didn't... You don't... Oh my God!  That bitch!!"  She got off his lap and started to pace.