Willow’s day was slowly
turning from terrible to horrendous, and it was only noon. She had been
chosen as class speaker for the week in her history class, where she was
boo off the podium. She now had two green spots on her yellow dress, thanks
to Harmony in Chemistry class, added on with that fact that she smelled
like a toad from
Cordelia’s ‘accident’ when she spilled some of the vile substance on her hair and arms in Anatomy class. Now she sat at her usual spot and waited for her friends to meet her for lunch. She pulled out her brown paper bag and found her banana crushed, the now creamy substance covering her once ham on white sandwich. She rolled her
eyes, wondering who else was laughing at her as she heard giggling in back of her. She pulled out her trig book, hoping to look busy and avoid the people coming down the pathway by the bench she sat on.
“Pathetic, much?” Cordelia remarked with a smile as she passed by her, the small group following her joining in the laughter.
Willow remained silent, the usual feeling of complete isolation, humiliation, and low self-worth engulfing her. After ten minutes of waiting, the petite redhead packed up her belongings and headed to the library, hoping to find someone. She entered to see Giles packing up some books in his briefcase.
Giles turned to see the redhead look at him a bit surprised.
“Willow, I thought you’d be in class,” he remarked as he pulled on his tweed jacket.
“I was actually having lunch right now....by chance have you...do you know where Buffy or Xander are?” she asked a bit worried.
“Buffy was here a minute ago with Owen. They were looking for a book...I haven’t seen Xander.....” he replied as he closed the briefcase.
“What about Jesse?.....Giles, are you leaving?” she asked completely confused. Giles never left the library, especially during the middle of the school day.
“I have to leave.....emergency watcher meeting...,” he answered as he took hold of the briefcase and moved past her.
Willow moved out of his way, not wanting to be trambled over by his swiftness to the library door.
“Oh, Willow, would you mind looking up some stuff on that blasted computer? I left a list for on the monitor....” he asked turning around quickly, remembering.
Willow nodded and smiled.
“Bye,” she managed to say before he went through the doors.
Willow walked over
and took the paper off the computer and walked up to the stacks, taking
the usual seat among her faithful friends, but not before tripping up the
stairs and landing on her face.
“So where are we going tonight?” Willow asked, looking up from her English book in class.
“Sorry, Willow, I forgot to tell you...Owen asked me back out...and since Giles is out..... I decided to take my chances and try it out one more time.”
“And Jade finally said
yes to a night with me at the Bronze,” Xander replied proudly
“You mean she finally understood,” Buffy commented with a laugh.
“The language of love is universal.... I’ll just have to keep to things I can translate with my hands.”
“That won’t be hard. Hey, you and Jade can join us, we’ll be there too.”
“So will be Jessy and Amy.”
“Is it getting serious between them?” Buffy asked Xander.
Willow remained seated in front of them, remaining quite. Until she heard a question directed her way.
“Then we can all hang out...what about, Will? Watcha up to tonight?”
“I was thinking about staying in,” she replied, changing her mind, not wanting to be an extra wheel.
“You do that every night,” Xander remarked.
“Well...I have a lot of homework...and then Giles left me some stuff to look at... and I am a bit tired...”
“Okay, but if you change your mind you can come by.”
“Sure...if I have time,” she replied with a weary smile.
Willow walked down
the block to her house alone. It was only six in the evening and she was
already bored. She had gone to the library right after the end of classes
and gathered the information Giles had asked from her. She stuck around
to finish her homework as well as some due by the end of the week. She
had left the library, shortly
before sundown and walked home before any real danger appeared. Her mind replayed her day, wondering who she had crossed to deserve such a dreadful Tuesday. All her friends had plans, but her. While they were going to have actual fun on dates, she was going to stay home, curled up in bed, seeing TV or even worse, do extra homework for the heck of it and pick out her clothes for the week. She was alone once again. Everyone had plans,
even Giles, though it was a meeting < It still counts as something, something much more then I have>. She walked up the path to her house, trying not to think of just how alone she would be tonight, since her parent’s had left for a convention last night.
She pulled out her keys and opened the door, completely surprised to see the two men in her house. She began to cough as her lungs took in the gray smoke. Her eyes teared as she stepped back into the comforts of the clean air outside. She was shortly joined by one of the men in space suits.
“What are...you...doing..here...?” she asked between coughs.
He pulled back the covering over his face and replied.
“We came to fumigate the house.”
“We were called in two weeks ago, who are you?”
“I live here.”
“Your Sheila Rosenburg?”
“No, I’m her daughter, Willow.”
“She never mentioned a daughter. She left us keys and orders to have the house fumigated.”
“But all my stuff is in there...,” she tried to explain.
“I can’t let you in there. We’re almost done...”
“But...I don’t...I don’t even have my things....they haven’t even been covered,” she panicked.
“I’m sorry. You can’t go back in there for at least three weeks.”
“No but’s. Ms. Rosenburg left her orders and we are going to stick to them.
“If I could at least get some of my stuff out...”
“No can do. The fumes are too dangerous. Even if you would, you’re clothes are as good as damaged if they aren’t covered.”
All Willow wanted to do was cry. This couldn’t be happening to her. Her parents just couldn’t have forgotten about her....but she knew the answer to that.
“I have to go back inside...I’m sorry kid....”
The worker left Willow alone in the front hard.
<Well at least the day can’t get any worse> she thought as tears began to fall down her face. That was before she felt the large drops fall from the sky all around her
“Oh my God, Willow, what happened to you?” Amy asked the moment she saw Willow.
“It’s a long story,” she replied as she began to wipe the water off her face.
“Come in...come on.”
Willow entered her house, making a small puddle in the middle of her entrance hall.
“What happened to you?” Amy asked worried.
Willow began to cry once more as Amy hugged her. They walked over to her living room were they both sat and Willow began to tell her about her day.
“You’ll stay with me. My dad is out on business so we have free reign over the house starting tonight,” she told her once she finished her story.
“Are you sure?” Willow asked still wiping away the tears.
“Of course, Willow. You can sleep in one of the guest rooms for as long as you want and until we reach your parents then you can wear my clothes, I’m sure Buffy wouldn’t mind borrowing some either.”
“You’re too nice.”
“No, your my best friend. Now come on, you need to change. I’ll call Jessie and cancel our plans for tonight....”
“No, Amy. I can stay here alone. I don’t want you to change your plans for me. Go out, have fun.....”
“No ‘buts’, Amy. You, go out and I’ll stay here. I think some time alone would be good.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course, anyway Jessie could never forgive me for breaking your date. I’ll be fine alone...I’m used to it.”
Amy led her to her new room, the last comment nagging her. After a bit more persuasion on Willow’s side, Amy decided to keep her date. An hour later, Jessie came by to pick her up.
They met up with Xander and Jade, half an hour later bumping into Buffy and Owen. After an hour of dancing, the small group re-joined at their small table.
“So, are you going to Charity Dance?” Buffy asked the gang.
“Already have the tickets for Amy and me,” Jessie replied, squeezing his dates hand.
“Just asked Jade and she gave me a yes. What about you?” Xander asked happily.
“Owen just asked me,” Buffy replied with a smile as she turned to look at the tall, hottie seated next to her.
“Then maybe we can all go together,” Xander commented, “that way we can save and go in a limo.”
“That sounds cool,” Buffy replied excited.
“Then the six of us can....”
“What about Willow?”
“She can come along I guess...but seven in a limo is a bit much....” Buffy commented.
Amy remained quite, surprised to see that they had overlooked her, considering she was a good friend to everyone at the table, with the exception of Owen and Jade. They talked a bit more about the dance that was going to be a prom style party that would benefit the school and a local charity.
She left early with Jessie explaining to him the need to go to her house and take care of school work she needed to finish for tomorrow. He dropped her off at home by nine, kissing her at the door.
A plan had begun to formulate in her head, but she needed to find the materials first. She was surprised to see Willow already in bed when she passed by her room. Instead of heading to her room, she walked up to the attic, looking for her books. She had taken the liberty of arranging the room as she needed with a supply of herbs, potions, and a bowls, since her mother had left. She had already helped Buffy and the rest of the ‘Slayarettes’ with some spells and was becoming more and more confident of her new found skill. She found the book and flipped the pages.
She read off the materials, figuring out a way to simplify it.
“If I change this, and put more lavender in, then I can liquefy it instead.”
With a smile, she began her spell, hoping to help a friend.
Willow woke up early.
The long hot bath and much needed sleep helped her feel refreshed. She
pulled open the curtains, letting the bright sun illuminate the room.
She looked through the closet, looking over the clothes Amy had borrowed
her. She looked through the selection, wondering what to were. Of
course, that would not had
been much of a problem a month ago. Jessie had noticed Amy right after her change of wardrobe. After her father came back, he had taken Amy on a shopping spree, letting her choose what she wanted. Her skirts grew shorter, her shirts a bit tighter, her pants less denim. She had created a cross between Buffy and Cordelia, with a bit more material.
<Why not be daring...I can be daring....> she encouraged herself and pulled out the first thing at hand, took a look at it, then put it back in.
<What am I going to do?>
“Are you sure this doesn’t look....funny on me?” Willow asked her for the twentieth time.
“No...” she replied as she heard the doorbell. “You can ask Buffy.”
Amy opened the door, letting the blond inside.
“Came by to pick you and Willow up....and that would be Willow right?” Buffy asked as she came in and looked at the girl hiding behind a house plant.
“See...I look stupid,” Willow said as she looked at Buffy’s expression.
“No...not stupid...just different....I need time to get used to it....really,” Buffy tried to reassure.
“Come on, or we’ll be late,” Amy told them as she took Willow’s arm and pulled her out of the house with Buffy’s help.
Willow walked to class, her eyes glued to the floor. The morning had gone fine, her history class actually looking interested as she read one part of her report. She had received 10 compliments, a new record since she had never received any in her life. Even Jessie and Xander had complimented on the way she looked. She had still managed to get her daily of comments from Cordelia and Harmony, but that didn’t ruin her good day. What did unnerve her a bit were the stares she received.
She walked into the
bathroom, and washed her hands, curiously looking up at the mirror, still
surprised to see her new reflection. The longest piece of clothing Amy
had was a red dress that at least went down to her knees, but that seemed
to identify all her unknown curves. She had covered herself up with a red
sweater and had gone a
bit daring and placed her hair up in a bun. She had even gotten the thrill of putting on a bit of make-up. She opened the bookbag and took out the perfume bottle Amy had given her. She sprit on a bit more of the wonderful smell and put it back. It had been a gift from Jessie and her for having had such a horrendous day yesterday. She closed her book bag and headed out, walking over to see Buffy seated at a bench, looking over a book quickly.
“Will! The person I wanted to see... what do you know about ‘The Iliad’?”
“It’s a mythological war that was fought over Helen of Troy?”
“Because she was the most beautiful woman in the world and she was given to Paris as a gift, even though she was married.”
“Oh...and I thought Mr. Filllety was talking about Paris, France...makes a whole lot of sense now...”
“If you need more information about it I can...”
Before she could finish the sentence, Owen came by.
He turned for a moment to see who else was with her and when he looked next to him, he stared.
“Hi,” she replied, her shyness evident.
It was Buffy’s voice that finally snapped him away from his obvious staring.
“Oh...yeah, Buffy...I was wondering....wondering if you were going to the Bronze tonight?”
“Are you?” she asked happily.
“Yeah, how about you, Willow?” he asked as he turned around to look at her once more.
“I...was...yeah...maybe...,” she answered, surprised that he had asked her too.
“Good, then I’ll meet you guy’s there.”
He left, saying bye to both ladies, then excused himself and left.
“That was weird,” Buffy remarked.
“Oh well, anyway, did I tell you. Angel was at the Bronze last night again.”
“Checking up on you?” she asked as she moved to sit next to her.
“Think so. He saw Owen and me dancing, and he looked mad....”
“In a good way, right?”
“So, you think he maybe wants to...go on a ‘date’ with you?”
“Maybe, but there is that whole ‘vampire’ thing..”
“But it isn’t bad...he’s really nice...”
“...really gorgeous,” Buffy added.
“...and gentlemen like....you’ll just have to bend a bit...”
“and not stake him.”
“That would be good,” Willow commented, sending the girls into a giggle fit.
“Yeah... Giles will have a cow.”
“Well there is that whole vampire, slayer thing.”
“An hurdle to overcome.”
“What about Owen?”
“I like him, he’s everything I ever wanted - a normal relationship - a guy who likes, granted a little too much, this whole slayer thing - but overall a relationship. I like him...a lot.”
“As much as Angel?”
“In different ways, but the same. I just have to decide.”
“Well I vote for whoever you want,” she added happily.
“I’ll need a favor
from you, Will.”
“I’ll need you to hang around Angel tonight. I’m sure he’ll be there. Gauge his reaction to what Owen and I are doing.”
“I guess I can, but... don’t you think he’ll find it ackward that I’m looking or hanging around him.”
“We’ll invite him to the table with us.... and you have talked to him before. Get to know him...talk about the hell mouth if you need to... please Will?”
“Okay.... I’ll help you.
“Thanks, you have no idea how grateful I am. Got to go. See you after school.”
The redhead waved to
her friend, butterflies invading her stomach as she thought about the night
The afternoon had gone smoothly, Buffy informing the gang that their help was not needed for the night. After a small victory dance from Xander and Jesse, the small group separated with promises to meet at the Bronze later.
“Are you sure this doesn’t make me look fat?” Buffy asked the two girls on the bed.
“No, just like the nine other outfits before didn’t,” Amy replied, growing a bit weary.
“I just want to look...perfect.”
“It looks great on you, Buffy.”
She rummaged through her closet once more, as the two girls waited for her to make her final selection.
Two hours later, the three women entered the Bronze. They were greeted by three enthusiastic men and Jade, waiting for them at their usual table. Xander took Willow’s hand and offered her a seat between himself and Jesse.
“You look very pretty, Willow,” Owen commented once Buffy left the table.
She blushed and thanked him as Amy smiled.
Xander and Jesse agreed and added there own comments.
Before anyone else would say anything more, Buffy returned and asked Willow to join her at the bar.
“He’s there, but I’m not sure just how to ask him, without sounding interested. I thought maybe we ask for drinks, I introduce, then you ask him over.
“Are you sure this is going to work?” she asked nervous.
They approached the bar, trying to ignore the handsome vampire.
“Two sodas,” Buffy asked the bartender as she stood next to the vampire.
“Angel, I didn’t see you...well I did... now I mean..”
Angel remained looking at her, not sure what to say. His gaze shifted a moment, his eyes looking past her a moment, seeing a tint of red hair.
“So, Angel, what are you doing here?”
“Just came by....”
“Oh...any end-of-the-world stuff?”
She stepped aside, letting the women hiding in back of her appear.
Angel looked at her for a moment, then did something they had never seen him do, smile.
Buffy was as surprised as Willow, but tried to breath, never knowing that a simply smile would make him look more irresistible. She bumped into Willow a bit, her head gesturing for her to go ahead with the plan.
“I’m...I mean...we all came as a group... and I was... actually we were... no I....would you like to join us?” she asked, trying not to fidget in front of him.
Angel took a closer look at her, then smiled once more after he thought about her proposition.
“I’d love to.”
“Okay... good... then you can follow us.... we’re over there....”
Buffy led the way, Angel following behind Willow, fighting back the temptation of grabbing her hand.
After a roll of eyes, the vampire joined them, pulling a chair next to Willow, pushing Xander a bit to the side. The group remained quiet, the tension in the air too much to handle.
“Any one else a bit
warm?” Buffy asked as she pulled her jacket off, showing off her arms in
the tight tank top.
The males remarked as all there eyes seemed to turn to Willow, as she agreed and decided to take off her sweater. The neckline was not low, but did show off her neck and soft arms.
“Let’s dance,” Amy said, as she pulled a hesitant Jesse to the dance floor with her.
Buffy followed and pulled Owen as Jade practically dragged Xander with her. Willow remained at her seat, not daring to look at him seated so close to her.
“How are you doing?” he asked her, his voice soft and gentle.
“Me? Fine...and you?”
“Willow, would you mind coming with me... I would like to talk to you”, he asked her as he finally took hold of her hand.
He smiled once more
and pulled her up and led her to the back of the Bronze.
“Angel, it’s beautiful,” Willow commented as she moved closer to the edge and looked out at Sunnydale, fifteen stories high.
“I thought you might like it. It’s nice and peaceful.”
“The sky’s so clear.... and the stars..”
“Bright and beautiful,” he remarked as he took a completely look at her.
He saw her shiver and took off his jacket, moving up behind her and placing it on her shoulders. She accepted it with a smile and took a seat on the ledge. Angel joined her, making sure there was no way for her to get hurt.
“Do you come here often?”
“A lot actually. I like coming here to read and keep an eye on things.”
“Oh...so what do you like to read..?.”
“Classics, though I dapple once in a while in contemporary.”
“So do I....like classics.... but I like reading a lot of poetry too.”
“Who’s your favorite?”
“There so many...but I love hearing the sonnets of Shakespeare... I love reciting Victorian verses.... and the expect verses of Pablo Nerudo...”
He looked at her more intently, catching something he had never before seen in her eyes. Before he could reply, he heard a cry from below, knowing someone was in trouble.
“Trouble,” he remarked
as he took her hand and rushed down the stairs.
“Not again. All I wanted was a night, is it too much to ask for?” Buffy asked as she paced on the sidewalk.
“What happened?” Angel asked as he and Willow joined the rest of the group on the sidewalk outside of the Bronze.
“Where were you two?” Buffy asked curious.
“In the Bronze. What happened?” Angel asked once more.
“Something Giles is going to want to talk to us about tonight,” she complained.
Moans of disappointment
were heard as they began to walk to the library.
“I see... were there any bites...marks...?” Giles asked.
“None...it looked like she was..... frightened to death,” Buffy tried to explain.
“But she wasn’t this old?” Giles asked trying to find some sort of explanation.
“I had English with her,” Buffy replied.
“And she looked..... eighty or something,” Xander added.
“Who would do that....not a vampire, right?” Amy asked a bit uneasy.
“No, it was most likely a demon of some kind,” Angel replied.
“How would you know?” Xander asked interested.
“Because vampires retain there youth. What ever this wants is draining the youth out of it’s victims.”
Willow returned to the table with the printouts offering more information then they had on hand.
“Okay...I found two female teenagers missing in Kensinton, three in Northbrook and two in Bellville, a few miles out of Sunnydale. Two of the bodies have been found.”
“Did it say just how the bodies looked?” Giles asked.
“All they found were the skeletons,” she replied with a cringe.
“When did they begin to disappear?”
“A month ago.”
“Two ‘feedings’ per week,” he commented.
“So this ‘it’ is taking there youth?” Buffy ask.
“Forever youth...beauty.... power..” Angel added.
“But how those ‘it’ do it?” Xander questioned.
“Anyone up for a trip
to the morgue?”
“Xander, you need to be a bit quieter,” Willow informed him as she opened the second door that led to the morgue.
“Never thought of you as much of locksmith,” Angel commented.
Willow blushed and turned to look at him quickly as she opened the door.
“Yeah.... well..... I also rob paintings from the museum on the side,” she mumble.
He smiled as they made there way around the desk and to the fridge.
“Okay...I really don’t like this part.”
They looked through all the drawers until they found the body. Willow pulled back the sheet, and looked at the face of the girl she had gym with last year.
“This was how she was supposed to look like when she turned seventy or something,” Willow reflected as she looked over the victim.
“What’s the damage?” Xander asked, feeling a bit jumpy.
“Nothing. She doesn’t have any marks....oh wait...there’s something on her arm.....claw marks of some kind.”
Angel took a deeper look at the gash on the wrinkled out skin.
“It wasn’t a deep mark... nothing that would case this..” he said.
“Are we almost done here, or are we taking pictures?,” Xander commented nervously.
“Look at her face, Willow.”
“Her mouth.... it’s still open.”
They looked at each other and smiled as there thoughts came to the same conclusion.
“Come on, let’s go,” Angel told them as he pushed back the tray inside and closed the small door.
They walked back to the library in silence, Angel noticing the banner hanging above the doorway before they entered. They explained the theory they had come up with and discussed it with the remaining people in library.
“We’ll need to research it much more in depth tomorrow. I need everyone here as soon as classes end,” Giles informed them.
I’ll take Willow home,” Xander told them, ready to bolt.
“Well, actually, I was thinking I could drive her... it’s on my way home,” Giles explained.
“That won’t be necessary. I told Willow I could walk her home,” Angel informed them both as he took Willow’s hand and led her to the library doors, leaving the surprised group behind.
“I’m sure Buffy can take Xander home, or even, you can give them a ride Rupert,” Angel added.
Before Willow could
protest, Angel pulled her past the doors.
“You didn’t have to walk me...but thank you..” she muffled as they walked down the deserted street.
“You don’t need to thank me. We never did finish our conversation.”
“..on the roof...”
“....I saw the banner above the school... a charity ball?”
“Yeah... it seems everyone’s going....,” she replied with a sigh
“..and who are you going with?”
“Me?... I’m not going,” she replied rather low.
“No one’s asked me...It’s too late anyway. I can’t even afford a dress now.”
“But you’d like to go?” Angel asked, making sure.
“It’s too late...”
“I’d be honored if you let me take you.”
“Take me where?” Willow asked unsure she heard him right.
“To the Ball.”
“You don’t have to do this....”
“I’ll take care of everything...if you let me.”
“What about Buffy?”
“What about her? Isn’t she going with Owen?”
“No buts. Here’s your stop. I’ll see you tomorrow night.”
Before Willow would
protest, he was gone, leaving her alone at the front steps.