Disclaimer:  I do not own these characters.  They are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and the WB. 

And So It Begins

It was half past seven.  Willow was standing outside of her house, waiting.  It was exciting! Her first real date with Angel.  Exciting, and a little scary.  What if they didn't have anything to talk about?
What if Buffy and Xander, or Oz saw them together?  What if it was what she feared, just a sexual thing?  What if she said something stupid, or accidentally pushed him onto something pointy and he turned to dust, and then other vampires came out from bushes and attacked her, and then she'd be a bloodsucking vampire, or just plain dead.

<Okay, that's enough! Get it under control right now, Willow!> She took a deep, cleansing breath and counted to twenty.  All right, then.  Willow opened the small clutch she was holding, removed a mirror, and checked her reflection for what had to be the tenth time in the last fifteen minutes.  Still fine, although she couldn't be sure in the dim light from the porch.  She grabbed the doorknob and started inside, to have a look in better light.

"Going somewhere, Willow?"

"Angel!  Uh, no, just making sure... no, I'm not going anywhere. Not without you, anyway."

Angel surveyed Willow.  She was wearing the green silk dress again, like he'd asked.  Her hair was shining, almost as brightly as her eyes.  He kissed her cheek and handed her a rose.

Willow looked at the flower, a Fire and Ice rose, like the ones he'd left for her, what seemed like, ages ago.  It was beautiful, and the unspoken acknowledgement of their union made her stomach flutter.  She turned her eyes to Angel.  He was gorgeous, as usual.  He was wearing black pants, a slate coloured shirt that looked soft to the touch, and something out of the ordinary, a grin.

"Are your parents home, Willow? Is that why you're waiting out here?"

"No.  They're gone.  Not that they'd notice you if they were home. They don't notice me, why would they notice you? Unless you were a musician, then they'd probably notice."

"Willow, I am older than you..."

"Yeah, like over two hundred years older."

"Okay, I look older than you.  Is that better?  You're parents probably wouldn't like that you were dating an older man."

"Well, I could say you were twenty, in college or something."

"I don't even look twenty, Little Girl."

Willow smiled, "I'll tell them you're like Carson Addison.  He had a moustache our freshman year.  He's actually going bald, now.  They'd buy it."

"Young, but I don't age well, is that what you're saying."

"Something like that.  Anyway, where are we going?  No place too public, I hope."

"Sorry, someplace very public.  I'm thinking the Bronze."

"What?  No! Buffy, Xander, Oz! We can't go there, they'll..."

"Relax, Willow.  I'm teasing you.  I told you I was taking you to dinner, to thank you for the other night.  I have a reservation at TeaGardens.

"TeaGardens? The TeaGardens that is really trendy and outrageously expensive?
That TeaGardens?"

"Yes, that TeaGardens.  The only place I'm absolutely sure we won't run into any of your friends.  Is that alright with you?"

Willow slipped her arm through his.  "TeaGardens it is!"

The restaurant was lovely.  Full of dark wood, prints of classic paintings, and there was a grand piano in the corner near the bar.  A bearded young man was playing the piano and singing.  Willow felt like she'd walked onto a movie set.  It was too perfect.  And the best part was that she was with the most amazingly good-looking man she'd ever known in her life.  She was giddy with excitement, and still a little nervous.  It was silly, she knew.  She and Angel had spent a lot of time together.  And he certainly knew her more intimately than anyone else did.  There was just something about it being an 'official' date.

The host led them to a side dining room.  Booths lined the side of either wall. A row of carved wooden screens running down the middle of the room separated it, giving the room a more intimate feel.  The host led them to the last booth on the right, waited until they were seated, facing each other, then handed Angel the menus.

"You're server tonight will be Gregory.  He'll be with you shortly. Enjoy your evening."  He smiled and briskly walked away, leaving the couple alone.

Angel handed Willow a menu. "Do you like it so far?"

Willow opened her menu, scanning it.  The prices were more than a little steep.  "It's really... nice."

"Just nice?  I thought you'd really like this place." He reached across the table and took her hand.

"Oh, Angel.  Really, it's great.  I just feel like I'm sticking out like a sore thumb. You know, 'Look at the little geeky girl playing dress up.' Or something like that."

"Willow, you are a long way from geeky. And no one can even see us back here.  That's why I reserved this booth."

Willow looked stricken. "You mean you don't want to be seen with me?"

"Stop it.  I love having you on my arm.  You are the one who was afraid of being seen.  With any luck, we'll work through this thing, and we won't have to worry about sneaking around.  Okay?  Now, make a choice, I believe Gregory is headed our way."

They ordered.  Well, Willow ordered.  Angel told the server he'd had to have an early dinner with a client.  Willow asked for the pasta primavera specifying that there was to be absolutely no garlic in the sauce.  Angel ordered a bottle of Chardonnay.  With a nod of his head, the waiter scurried away, returning shortly with the bottle and two glasses.

Willow started to protest, "Oh, I can't..."

Angel interrupted her, "It's okay, sweetheart.  We'll take a cab home."

Gregory poured their wine and left.

Willow took a sip. "I'm really not much of a drinker.  Wine's okay, but I don't want you to end up in jail for contributing to my delinquency."

Angel grinned, "They'd probably lock me up for statutory rape.  There is that large age difference."

"You know, it's funny.  Sometimes you really do seem like you've lived all those years.  Other times, it's like you're only a couple of years older than I am."

"Are you saying I'm a mystery?"

Willow took another drink, a large one. "Sort of.  You have been acting less morose, lately.  More happy, less broody.  It's nice."

"Don't you think that you have something to do with that, Little Girl?" He took her hands back in his own, caressing her wrists.

"In a round about way, I guess.  I figure it's because you're getting it regular, now."

Angel gasped in mock surprise, "Willow!"

She moved her hands from his and took another drink.  All gone.  She reached for the bottle and filled her glass again.  She was feeling all warm.  She liked it.

Gregory returned and set Willow's dinner down, made sure there was nothing else they required of him, and left.

Willow took another swig from her glass and picked at her food.

Angel spoke, "Willow, you're getting tipsy.  Eat.  Now."

Willow looked up from her plate.  "Let's get this straight.  You may be older than I am, and you may be stronger than I am, and we're obviously stuck together, but you aren't going to tell me what to do.
Understand?"  With that, she raised her glass in a salute and downed the wine.

Angel felt the anger rising in him, but he held it in check.  He thought about what she had said, and he slowly realised why she was acting the way she was.

"Willow, I think it's time we had a little talk."

Willow refilled her glass.  Angel waited for her to speak.

"Okay, we'll talk.  Want to know what I think?  I think that you're nice, Angel.  Really nice.  And that's why you broke up with Buffy. You knew I wouldn't be able to handle having sex with you, knowing that you were still in love with Buffy. I would have ended it with Oz, that's just the way I am.  But you'd still be with Buffy.  You still love Buffy, still want her, you just didn't want me to be hurt.  And since it can't be helped, since we're going to be together every month, since you're stuck with me, and I'm the way I am, you broke it off with Buffy.  Even though Buffy is gorgeous, and I'm just plain old Willow. Because, you feel bad for me and you're too nice not to want to try and
make things right."  Willow took another long drink, sat down her glass and hiccuped. "Excuse me."

Angel stood, "No, excuse me."  He walked away from the table, leaving Willow staring at her plate of pasta, which was turning cold and sticky.  She sighed. <Way to go, Willow.  Great first date.>

Gregory came back and removed her plate, as well as the bottle of wine. As soon as he left, Angel was back, sitting down next to Willow on her side of the booth.

"Scoot over and give me your purse."

Willow looked at him a moment and then did as he asked.  She hoped he wasn't looking for money to pay the bill with, she'd only brought five dollars with her.

Angel looked in the purse and removed the mirror she'd been using earlier, setting it on the table.  He handed the clutch back to her, then took his face in her hands, turning her towards him, looking deep
in her eyes.

"Willow, I'm nice, but I'm not that nice.  I'm selfish. I don't like sharing and I won't be shared.  You are what I want, not Buffy.  That decision has nothing to do with pity, because pity is an emotion I
don't associate with you, at all.  I've never pitied you." His voice softened, "I feel so much for you, Willow.  I just wish you could see that, see how beautiful you are.  I wish you knew how much I want you, all of you."

He kissed her then, deeply, his tongue slipping inside her mouth tasting the wine she'd drank.  Willow sighed, and moved her arms around him.  Not an easy feat, in the cramped quarters.  She couldn't resist him, not when he touched her.  She didn't care why he was with her, she was just grateful he was there.

Angel moved his hand down her side, cupping her breast in his hand, rubbing her nipple through the thin material of her dress.  She pulled her mouth from his then, to protest.

"Angel... don't.  This is a public place, I don't want that waiter walking over here and getting an eye-full."

Angel smiled at her, and turned her in the booth, so she was facing forward. "Gregory just received a fifty dollar bill and instructions not to return to this table until he saw us leave.  And as far as it
being a public place... so was the alley and the phone booth.  Besides, I think there's an exhibitionist in you, just begging to get out."  He leaned over and started kissing her neck, undoing the top two buttons of her dress, allowing him access to her shoulders.

Willow moaned slightly.  Angel brought a finger to her lips.

"My turn to shush you, Willow.  You can be quiet for me, can't you, Little Girl?"

Willow nodded, her eyes wide, watching him slip one hand beneath the table.   He began to unbutton four of the buttons holding her dress together, near her pelvis.  Slipping one hand inside her dress, he
moved the other hand behind her back, cupping her breast.  Willow shuddered as she felt his hand slip under the waistband of her panties. Angel urged her legs apart and began a rhythm.  He slid two fingers back and forth between her clitoris and her aching entrance.  Willow groaned and tried to move her hand to touch him.

Angel caught her earlobe between his teeth, and bit down, lightly. He whispered. "No, this is for you.  Put your hands on the table.  And I thought I told you to be quiet." He gave her ear another nip, then swirled his tongue around it.

Willow brought her hands to the table, gripping the edge.  She closed her eyes and wondered what he was trying to prove.  He increased the speed, and adding more pressure to her breast, slid his fingers inside of her.  Willow gave a low sigh, and let the sensations carry her. Angel bit her ear again, and gave her another, "Ssh, Little Girl, quiet as a mouse."

Willow was moving her hips slightly, keeping time with his hand.  She was afraid to move too much, for fear that she'd make noise.  Her walls were clinching around his fingers, grasping at them.  Angel moved his thumb up to her clitoris, pressing on it.   Willow dug her nails into the table and her eyes flew open.  Angel could feel her orgasm approaching, and moved his hand faster.  He looked into Willow's wide eyes and saw the need in them.  He kissed her then, his mouth covering hers, his tongue sliding in her mouth and muffling her soft cry as she came.  He slowed his motions, when he felt her trembling subside.

Angel removed his hand from inside her dress, bringing his fingers up to his mouth and tasting the wetness on them.  Willow lowered her head and began to button up her dress.

Angel took the mirror off the table and put his hand behind Willow's neck, forcing her to look into it.

He spoke, "There.  That's what I see, Willow.  Nothing to be pitied, just a soft, sensual, beautiful woman.  A lovely, caring woman who makes me feel things I'd never dared to hope I would.  That's what I see when I close my eyes to go to sleep.  You're what I dream of, nothing else."

Willow gazed at her reflection for a moment.  The girl, no, the woman staring back at her was flushed with spent passion, her eyes bright with intelligence and compassion.  Maybe she wasn't plain old Willow anymore.

Angel sat down the mirror.  "Are you okay to go home, now?"

Willow nodded, "I'm definitely not tipsy, anymore.  Thank you, Angel. I'm sorry I almost ruined tonight."

"You didn't ruin anything.  You just need to stop beating yourself up over this. I'm with you because I want to be.  And that's what you want too.  From the first moment I saw you, I knew there was going to be something special between us.  I just never dreamed that it would be this. I never thought I could feel this happy, or this much in love."

"Angel, I... I'm not sure..."

"I know.  And that's okay.  You will be.  And I don't want you to say the words before you are.  Now, lets go home... to my home."

They rose and left the restaurant, holding hands.  Outside, Willow paused and putting her hands around his neck, drew Angel down for a passionate kiss, wanting him to know how much she felt for him.

A loud voice broke them apart.

"I don't believe it!  Slutty much, Willow?

The lovers turned to stare at an indignant Cordelia Chase.

Cordelia stared at the couple for a long minute, then turned to the man who was accompanying her.
"You go on in, Daddy.  I'll be in after I talk to my 'friends'.

The man nodded and headed into the restaurant.  There was silence for a moment.  Willow was dying inside.  They'd thought of everyone but Cordelia.  Of course this was a place that she'd go.

Cordelia began, "Well, I guess since Xander's not with me, anymore, he just wasn't any fun, huh,

Willow started to reply, "Cordelia, it's not what..."

Cordy interrupted, "Oh, it's exactly what I think.  You just can't keep your hands off of other
people's property.  Of course, there is an up side to it.  This time Buffy gets to hurt."

Angel spoke up, "Buffy and I aren't together, anymore."

"Oh, that's right... I heard that the two of you had broken up with your better halves.  Guess that
means she'll be dumping you soon, Angel, since you aren't going steady with someone else."

Willow began again, "I'm not like that! I never..."

"Oh, yes you did, Willow.  You're exactly like that.  Pretending to be sweet, little, innocent, mousy
Willow, and all the time whoring after other women's men.  You are such the little tramp.  And I
can't wait to tell Xander and Buffy, and Oz exactly what a little sleaze you are!"

Willow was near tears, "Cordy, please don't tell them.  Angel and I don't want to hurt anybody."

Cordelia continued to rant, "Angel and I, how sweet.  Well, I guess that means one of two things.
Either you haven't given it up for him yet, or you did, and you just don't do it for him.  Is that
it? He just doesn't love you, does he? You're just a little plaything so that he can get a happy."

That was enough.  Angel stepped towards Cordelia in game face. "Angel?  Who said I'm Angel?  It's just a nickname, Cordy.  You're almost right, Cordy. Willow is mine, in every way, but I love her.
And you're not going to hurt her.  If you do, if you breathe one word of us to anyone, before Willow
and I are ready to talk, I'll be waiting for you.  Now go eat, before I make you my dinner."

Cordy was backing toward the door, laughing nervously, "Um, just kidding, right, Willow?  No hard
feelings.  You make a cute couple, really.  Much cuter than when you were with Oz and Buffy.  I'll
just be going in now, see you, tomorrow, Willow."

Angel grabbed her arm, "I'm not playing a game with you, Cordelia.  You keep your mouth shut, or
you'll live... or not... to regret it."

He released her arm and Cordy bolted for the door.  Angel put his arms around Willow.  "Are you okay, Little Girl?"

She looked up at him, "I guess. Do you think she'll tell them? Do you think she'll believe you?"

"Cordelia is the bitchiest woman alive, but she's a bigger coward.  She won't say a word."

"I hope your right." Willow touched his forehead, running her fingers across his demonic visage.
Angel was suddenly ashamed and morphed back to human form.

"Sorry, you shouldn't have to see me like that."

"It's okay, it doesn't bother me. It's part of who you are. Besides, my last boyfriend was a werewolf, remember.  You're much cuter than that.  And definitely less hairy."

"We should go home, before we run in to anyone else.  If you still want to..."

Willow kissed him.  "Of course I want to.  We can salvage what's left of our first date." She paused, "What is it about watching me eat that seems to turn you on?"

They started towards home again.  Angel grabbed Willow's butt, giving it a light squeeze. "I don't
know, but, I still want my dessert."