Oz left his girlfriend's house and jumped in his van, driving away as fast as the old, beat-up contraption would go.
< EX-girlfriend > he reminded himself, heart-broken with the thoughts.
He pulled up to the Crawford Street mansion and jumped out, fairly flying to the front door. After a couple of moments of banging, the door flew open.
"Oz, what's wrong?" Angel asked, his dark voice full of concern.
Oz steeled himself, knowing it wasn't Angel's fault. He wasn't here to place blame, only to deliver a message.
"Can I come in?"
"Sure... has something happened? Buffy?" Seeing no reaction from the younger man, Angel continued, "Willow? Is something wrong with Willow?"
"She's fine," Oz answered, plopping down on the couch.
Angel sat across from him on the fireplace, knowing that there was something on his mind but wanting to give him time to find whatever words he was searching for himself.
"She loves you."
"Willow... she loves you."
Angel fell silent for a moment, words coming difficult for him, too.
"She loves you, Oz."
"She used to... maybe on some level she still does. But she's in love with you now. She just told me."
"Oz, I don't know what to..."
"Don't say anything. That's not why I came here. She loves you, and her happiness is the only thing that matters to me. Don't hurt her."
"If this is true... if she thinks she does love me... Oz, I love Buffy. You know that."
"I also know you're leaving town. Just don't... don't go without seeing her, or remembering the things she did for you."
"I could never forget that... she saved me."
Three nights later...
Turning off her laptop, Willow heard a tapping at her balcony doors. Cautiously peering behind the blinds, she was surprised to see Angel. Opening the doors, she slipped outside.
"Angel? What are you doing here? Is everything ok?"
He blessed her with one of his patented smirks, his eyes twinkling just slightly in the moonlight, but still unable to disguise the sadness hidden behind them.
"I... I came by to tell you goodbye. I'm leaving for Los Angeles tomorrow night."
"Willow, Oz came to see me a couple of nights ago."
She had dropped her head forward, her red hair covering her face. Angel gently traced the edge of her face with one finger before resting it underneath her chin, tilting her head up to meet his gaze.
She was trying so hard not to cry. He could see the tears glistening as she tried valiantly to blink them away.
"Willow, you saved me. When no one else could, you found the way and you saved me. You gave me my soul, and you found the way to bring me back from Hell. I do love you. You're an incredible young woman, selfless and beautiful and one of the most genuine people I've ever known. You're my friend... maybe even the only true friend I have, and I treasure that so much."
"There's a 'but' coming, isn't there?" she asked, the tears running freely down her cheeks now.
"No buts, Willow."
"But, you don't... you don't feel the way for me that I do for... you."
Angel sighed. He had hoped that she would leave things where they were and wouldn't force him to say the next words, but he knew he owed it to her. She was Willow and he wouldn't do that to her... wouldn't lead her to believe something that could never be true.
"No, Willow, I don't. I'm sorry..."
A sob escaped her lips as she turned from him, intending to go back into her house so he wouldn't see her lose the control that she was barely holding onto, but he grabbed her shoulders, turning her back to face him.
"Don't... don't turn away from me. Hurting you is the very last thing I want to do. You deserve so much better..." he told her, his own voice threatening to break under the strain he was under.
"Don't what, Willow?"
"Don't say anything else... I know... I know that you don't love me, and that's enough," she cried silently.
He took her in his arms, crushing her against his chest as she tried to pull away, "I do love you, Willow. I'm sorry that it's not the kind of love that you want, but I do love you," he whispered against her red hair.
Sobs wreaked her body,
sobs that she had longed to release for months, watching Angel come back
from Hell and trying so hard to regain the trust from all of them.
Watching Buffy and Angel try to repair their damaged
relationship, and, finally, preparing to watch Angel walk away from all of them when his efforts to make things right with them failed.
Angel held her tightly, not saying a word, just holding her in his arms, rubbing her back with his strong hands, until she cried herself out. She cried long and hard, grasping the back of his shirt in her hands, her shoulders heaving, anguished sobs escaping her chest until she could barely breath.
He felt her grip loosen as her body stilled in his arms, exhausted and spent. Carefully removing his arms from around her shoulders, he took her tiny face in his hands, brushing damp strands of hair away from her tear-streaked face to stare into her brilliant green eyes.
"I will always be here
for you, Willow. It doesn't matter where you are or where I am.
If you need me, I will be there. I promise that to you," he
brushed his lips softly across hers, lingering only for a moment, before
pulled away and disappeared over the edge of her balcony, tears stinging in his own brown eyes.
A year later...
"Hey, Cordelia, what's up?"
A lot of time had passed, and a lot of things had changed in their lives in the past year. Willow, Buffy, Xander and Oz had finished their freshman year of college rather uneventfully. As far as uneventful could be on top of the Hellmouth. The important thing was that they were all still alive, and all still friends.
Cordelia had surprised them all when she moved to Los Angeles to try her hand at acting, and had surprised them even further when she called to announce that she would be working with Angel and his partner/demon friend Doyle at the detective agency that they were opening.
When Willow had found out that Cordelia would be with Angel, her heart had begun that familiar constricting that it usually did when she thought of him.
She still loved him, but pushed it to the backburner. Buffy could never know how she felt. It was bad enough that Oz knew, and, of course, that Angel knew, but she couldn't bear to see the disappointment and betrayal in her best friend's face if she found out that her best friend was in love with the love of her life.
Besides, too many changes
were happening in Willow's own life to dwell on a life she couldn't ever
have with Angel. He never called, never talked to anyone. Whenever
any sort of contact needed to be made, it was always
through Cordelia, so Willow wasn't surprised to hear the other woman's voice on the other end of the line.
"Doyle and Angel want to computerize the agency and you're the only one that can do it, so could you come to LA and do it for us?"
Willow chuckled. Some things never change, and Cordelia's cutting to the chase was one of those things.
For a moment, it escaped Willow that going to LA would mean seeing Angel, but that moment didn't last long.
"Cordy, I'm sure that there are plenty of qualified computer programmers in Los Angeles that could handle the job."
"Come on, Willow. You know this isn't your normal, everyday detective agency. The files we keep can't be seen by just anybody."
She had a point, Willow realized.
"Will you do it?"
"Of course, I will. When do you need me there?"
"Angel told me to ask you what sort of equipment you need so he can have everything ready to go when you get here."
So, Angel didn't want her around any longer than necessary, "Cordy, I don't even know what sort of set-up he wants, so how could I possibly know what equipment I'll need?"
"Geez, Willow, bite my head off. You know Angel doesn't know a thing about computers. School's out for summer, so you can spend a few weeks here, right? So why don't you just come on out and we'll figure it out when you get here?"
"I'd really rather know what I'm getting myself into before I just run off..."
"You know, Willow, you sound as if you don't want any part of this. Maybe we can find someone else if you don't want to..."
"I'll do it, Cordy. I can drive out this weekend."
As soon as Willow hung up the phone, the panic and anger set in. Willow hadn't seen or talked to Angel for a year. Why hadn't he called himself to ask her to come out? She supposed that his speech about how much she meant to him had been very well rehearsed.
Willow drove herself to Los Angeles the following Saturday afternoon. Following the directions Cordelia had given her, she easily found the large warehouse that apparently doubled for the agency and, above it, the homes of Cordelia, Angel and Doyle.
Opening the door carefully, a bell jingled above her head. Sitting at one of the two desks in the office, a man with dark hair and pale skin looked up to greet her.
"Yeah..." she answered shyly. This man had beautiful blue eyes.
"I'm Doyle," he told her, rising from the desk to shake her hand.
She accepted and was surprised by the warmth it conveyed.
"Not all demons are cold," he informed her.
"I'm sorry," she stammered.
"No apologies. You're used to Angel, the cold of blood. I understand," he winked at her.
Willow felt herself blushing. Doyle was only a bit shorter than Angel was, but far less stocky. He was thin, and pale as a ghost, almost paler than Angel, but jet-black hair and large, vibrant blue eyes. He was gorgeous.
"Wh-where's Cordelia?" she asked.
"Getting her nails done. C'mon, I'll take you upstairs to Angel."
At the sound of his name, Willow started to panic, "It's getting late and I should just go on and check into my hotel and then we can get started tomorrow..."
"Whoa, wait a sec there... First off, it's only 4 in the afternoon. And don't you want to see Angel? And I thought you were staying here... Angel said you were."
Willow managed to form totally incoherent thoughts as Doyle took her arm
and led her to the back of the office into the waiting elevator.
He stepped inside with her and pressed a button before quickly
stepping back out of the elevator.
"Wait!" she cried, holding open the elevator door.
"I thought I'd give you two old friends some time alone to catch up," he said, gently removing her hand from the elevator door so that it could close.
Willow silently cursed the demon as he backed away with a warm smile, and the elevator began to ascend.
Angel heard the elevator
begin its climb up to the main floor of the apartment, and his undead heart
skipped a beat. He was nervous and partly ashamed. Willow was
his friend, a very good friend, and he hadn't even been
able to pick up the phone himself to ask her to come do this favor for him. He wondered if she had moved on and gotten over what he was sure had just been a crush on him. He wondered if she was still as warm and open and
forgiving and wonderful as she had always been.
The door opened and Willow stood still, shyly wanting the doors to close back up so that she wouldn't have to face him again. She almost got her wish until Angel stepped into view, his hand holding the elevator doors open. Her breath caught in her throat as she laid eyes on him again.
He hadn't changed, of course. But seeing him again reminded Willow of what a beautiful creature he was. Long and muscular with that dark brown spiky hair that glimmered when the light caught it. His strong jaw line and his deep brown eyes that seemed to penetrate her very soul.
She managed to squeak out a small hello as he lead her from the elevator into the large living room.
"Can I get you something to drink?" he asked, offering her a seat on the couch.
She shook her head no, and sat on the edge of the couch, nervously twisting her hands and biting her lower lip, a habit that she thought she'd gotten over a long time ago.
Angel sat next to her, as nervous as she was.
"How are you?" he asked.
"I'm fine. You?"
< This isn't going well > they both thought.
She giggled and his eyes twinkled with a hint of amusement.
"Why don't we start over?" he asked.
"Good idea. I've missed you, Angel."
"I've missed you, too, Willow," he told her, honestly.
They made easy conversation
for the next couple of hours, with Willow telling Angel
about school, and catching him up on the lives of Xander, Oz, and
Giles, carefully avoiding the subject
of Buffy, while he told her all about
the purpose of the agency, and what he and Doyle were looking for as far as the computer system went. It would be a simple job, neither Angel nor Doyle, and especially, Cordelia, wanted anything complicated or too complex. Once they bought the equipment on Monday, it would take Willow less than a week to put it all together for them.
"I should be going," she finally said, "I've got reservations at a hotel a couple of blocks from here."
"Willow, we've got plenty of room here. I thought you'd stay with us."
"I... I don't want to be an imposition."
"Don't be ridiculous. You're staying here with us."
"No, Angel, I'm not," she told him firmly.
He stared at her a moment, taken aback by her tone of voice.
"Angel, seeing you again is hard enough," she told him, tears forming in her eyes, "I can't be around you all day and night. I just can't."
Angel nodded, mutely, ashamed at himself for trying to push her to do something that she obviously didn't want.
The next morning, Willow went back to the warehouse, once again jingling the bells as she stepped through the doors of the agency.
"Hi, Willow," Cordelia greeted her brightly, looking up from the desk where she sat doing something that looked rather oddly like real work.
"Hey, Cordy," she answered, plopping down in the chair in front of Cordelia's desk, relieved to not be facing Angel first thing.
"Doyle will be down in a few... he's going to take you out to buy the stuff you'll need."
"It's LA. Things don't close down here like they do in Sunnydale."
"How's Xander?" Cordelia asked suddenly.
"He's good... you should call him sometime. I know he'd love to hear from you."
"You think I should?" she asked.
"Yeah, I do. It'd mean a lot to him. And, judging from you reaction, you, too."
Just then Doyle popped his head around the corner, "Ready, Red?"
Willow cocked an eyebrow at Cordelia, who rolled her eyes, "He gives everyone nicknames. He calls me..."
"Sparky," Doyle interjected.
"Sparky?" Willow asked.
"Long story," Cordelia answered.
The ride to the computer store was uneventful as she and Doyle made small talk. Willow found herself taking a liking to the demon. He was calm and quiet, yet animated and goofy. He reminded her of a cross between Xander and Oz.
Willow picked out the equipment that they would need and Doyle whipped out a credit card, paying for it without blinking, and the clerks carefully loaded the equipment into the back of his 4x4 as Willow nervously hovered about, making sure that they didn't damage anything.
The ride back was mostly silent. That is, until Doyle finally asked the question that had been nagging at him for the past twenty-four hours.
"So, what's the story with you and Angel?"
"What story? We're friends."
"I think there's a little more to the story than that. Angel won't talk about you... he'll talk about Xander and Giles and Oz, and even Buffy... but if someone brings your name up, he'll change the subject."
"That's because there's nothing to say."
"You're in love with him."
"You're in love with him."
"I am not."
"You're also not a good liar."
"My feelings for Angel are of no concern to you," she snapped, becoming quite formal.
"I'm sorry... it's none of my business. But, I kinda like you, and I don't want to see you get hurt."
"You have no idea what you're talking about."
"Ok... but if you want to talk, Red..."
"There's nothing to
talk about," Willow turned and stared out the window.
The next few days passed uneventfully. Willow would get up in the morning and go to the agency. She would work setting up the computers and start programming them, then she and Cordelia would leave for lunch. She was cordial with Doyle, but not too friendly. In the late afternoon, Angel would come down, and they would talk quietly for a few minutes, with Willow telling Angel about what she had set up so far. Then, either himself or Cordelia would ask her to go out to dinner with them. She'd feign exhaustion or a headache and go back to the hotel by herself.
Willow had almost finished with her task, and was training Cordelia and Doyle on how to use the system before Angel came down. Tomorrow would be her last day before she left and went back to Sunnydale. She was cleaning up some files while Cordelia went to make a pot of coffee and Doyle came and sat next to her.
"Tonight's your last night, huh?"
"Have dinner with me tonight."
"Yes, you can. Just us, no Cordelia and no Angel. And I promise that we won't talk about them, either. We'll especially avoid the topic of Angel. If that's what you want."
Willow started to protest again, but was cute short by Doyle, "Please?" he begged, sticking his bottom lip out.
Willow giggled, "All right. But I pick the topics of conversation."
Doyle took her to a quiet little Italian restaurant and
she had a wonderful time. It was the first time in a week that she
had truly relaxed. The wine she drank didn't hurt, either, but it
was mostly Doyle's company. He stayed
true to his word and avoided topics that he knew she wouldn't want to talk about.
He took her back to the agency to get her car, and she decided to go inside and finish up a few things for the night. The work was basically finished and she just wanted to put things in their place before coming back the next day to finish training Doyle. Cordelia had been with her every step, and surprisingly, had picked it all up very quickly.
Doyle pulled the chair away from the desk for Willow and she sat. He pushed the chair back in for her before leaning over her shoulder and catching her lips in a sweet kiss. It had been so long since anyone kissed her that she kissed him back. She liked him, but not that way, and knew it was wrong. She pulled back with a small shake of her head, starting to say something.
He placed a finger on her lips, hushing her with a shake of his own head, "Shhh... that's all I wanted. Nothing more."
He stood back up straight and a light caught his eye, "Angel's down here," he told Willow, nodding towards the closed office door that belonged to Angel, "I'm going to go talk to him, if you need me."
Doyle disappeared behind the door and for a moment the office was deathly silent, until Willow heard Doyle's voice coming from the intercom sitting on Cordelia's desk.
"Uh oh," Willow thought, realizing that the pair had no idea that she could hear every word that they were saying.
"She's something else," Doyle said.
"Hmm? Who?" said Angel, distracted by something.
"Willow, you idiot."
"Willow? What about her?" Angel's voice suddenly sounded very interested.
"I said, 'she's something else'."
"She is," Angel quietly agreed.
"She's still in love with you, you know?"
Willow was ready to tear out the door, but something held her glued to the seat.
"I'm not having this conversation with you," Angel answered.
"You need to have this conversation with somebody. She deserves better."
"How do you know about Willow's feelings for me?" Angel's voice was calm and steady.
"I guessed. I can see it in her eyes. And she didn't return my kiss."
"YOU KISSED HER?" Angel bellowed.
"Relax... I didn't even slip her the tongue."
"You. Keep your hands off Willow," she could tell that his teeth were clenched tightly as he tried to rein in his anger.
"Why does it matter so much, Angel? I like her. A lot. She's an incredible woman. She never mentioned to me that she was such a looker... that red hair... those big green eyes."
"Yes, Willow. You mean to tell me that you never noticed how beautiful that girl is? How on earth could you miss it?"
"You don't love her, right? I mean, you're not interested, so why can't I be? You're not interested are you?"
"Of course I'm not. She's Willow!"
"Then why so jealous? Maybe you do have feelings... or is it just that you don't want her, but you don't want anyone else to, either?"
"Shut up, Doyle." Willow could tell that Angel was almost at the edge. She knew that if one of them didn't stop soon, things might well turn ugly.
"Look, Angel, if you want her, fine. I'll gladly back away. She loves you, and she deserves all the happiness in the world, and if you're the one to give her that, there is no way in hell that I'd try to stand in the way. But, if you can't give her that, don't you dare stop me from trying..."
Willow had heard enough. Throwing open Angel's office door, she stalked over to the desk, stabbing her finger against the button of the intercom, shutting it off. The two men sat stupefied, their mouths hanging open.
"Next time, you might want to check and make sure the damn intercom is off," she huffed.
"Willow, I..." Doyle started.
"Shut up! I'm leaving. Tonight. Cordelia can teach you two how to use the computers."
"Willow, please, you can't leave tonight," Angel pleaded quietly.
"The hell I can't!"
"It's almost midnight. I don't want you driving back to Sunnydale all alone in the middle of the night."
"Too bad!" she turned and stormed out of the room, but Angel caught her before she could get out of the front door, grabbing her arms from behind.
"Let me go, Angel."
"Not until we talk."
"No, Angel. Let me go," she pleaded, "Please. I don't want to hear the same things from you again. Please."
Angel released her arms and she stumbled forward to the car, quickly climbing inside and speeding away.
Three hours later, Angel was still sitting in his office, brooding. Doyle had long since gone to bed, with one final glare at Angel for letting her leave. He didn't understand that Angel had to let her go. Angel, whatever his feelings for her were, couldn't stop her. Any presence in her life would only confuse things further, both for him, and more importantly, for her.
Suddenly, the phone on his desk began to ring. Snapping out of his stupor, he grabbed it on the second ring.
"Angel, it's Rupert. Willow's been in a wreck."
Angel was already as the hospital before he realized that he hadn't bothered to wake up Cordelia or Doyle. Using a pay phone in the emergency room, he quickly phoned the warehouse, waking them up.
Twenty minutes later, they both rushed through the doors of the ER, finding Angel sitting in the waiting room.
"Where is she?"
"How is she?"
"I can't get anyone to tell me anything, other than she's going to be fine. I guess they're setting some broken bones. Rupert and the others are on their way."
"What about her parents?" Doyle asked.
Cordelia and Angel both shot him a long that told him not to mention her parents anymore.
A couple hours later and Angel had to leave to get back
to the warehouse before sunrise. He didn't want to leave without
seeing Willow, making sure with his own eyes that she was going to be all
right, but the hospital staff
wouldn't let anyone see her that wasn't family, and, according to Willow's ID, that was her Uncle Rupert.
Cordelia had finagled some information out of an intern about her condition. She had several broken bones and a couple of bruised ribs. Luckily, those were the worst of her injuries.
Giles, Buffy, Xander and Oz finally rushed in the door just before sunrise, all looking equally terrified. Giles went to find the doctor while Cordelia introduced Doyle and filled them in on Willow's condition.
Giles came back to inform them that she had been moved into a private exam room, her breaks having been set and her bruises attended to.
He went in to see her first, then came back out sending Oz, Buffy and Xander in to see her and speaking with Cordelia and Doyle in hushed whispers.
"She can't travel like she is," Giles told them.
"What do you mean?" Cordelia asked, "I thought she was going to be fine."
"She... she will be... but her left leg is broken in two places, very severely. It's in a full cast, as is her right arm. Not to mention her bruised ribs... traveling the distance between her and Sunnydale would be very painful for her."
"She'll stay with us. We can take care of her until she's able to make the trip. Buffy has to get back to slaying, and you have to watch, and Xander and Oz are both in summer school, aren't they?"
"Yes, that's quite right."
"Well, then, it's settled. We've got a spare room."
"Are... are you sure Angel won't mind?"
"I'm sure Angel won't mind at all," Doyle interjected. He had seen the look on Angel's face this morning, and heard the panic in his voice. Even when he realized Buffy was coming to town, he hadn't even blinked an eye.
Angel rushed from his bedroom when he heard the clamor of people filling the warehouse. The first thing he saw was Xander carrying a sleeping Willow, and he hung back, wishing to let the others get her settled before he caused a stir of any sort.
Oz saw, and came and leaned on the wall next to the vampire as the other's worked to settle Willow in the spare room.
"Why'd she take off in the middle of the night?" he asked quietly.
"I don't know," Angel answered, distracted, and not wanting to have this conversation with Oz.
"You're lying. I warned you not to hurt her..."
"I love her," Angel answered quietly, fiercely, before moving to the other side of the room.
After several hours, the others left. Willow had slept through all the commotion, thanks to the heavy painkillers given to her at the hospital. Xander and Cordelia had slipped away for a little while to talk alone, and Doyle and Giles swapped war stories. Oz sat beside Willow's bed, keeping guard while Buffy and Angel talked quietly.
After the other's left, Angel finally went in to see Willow,
sitting on the edge of the bed as she slept. Her face was swollen
and bruised, and her red hair lifeless and stringy around her sagging shoulders.
Her right arm was in
a complete cast, crooked at the elbow and it rested on her stomach. Her broken leg was underneath the covers, but Angel could clearly make out the outline of the enormous cast encompassing her tiny leg under the covers.
Taking hold of her uninjured hand, he held it to his lips, gently kissing each knuckle.
"I'm sorry, Willow," he breathed against her hand, "I'm so, so sorry..."
He gently placed her hand back on the bed and left the room, missing seeing Willow's piercing green eyes as she watched him walk from the room.
The next two weeks were pretty much a blur. Cordelia and Doyle fussed over Willow, taking care of her in every way that they could. Angel tried, but every time he'd get close, Willow would brush him off.
Her ribs had healed, but her arm and mostly her leg, still prevented her from moving very much. For the first week, Cordelia had stayed in the apartment with her then entire time, but by the second week she and Doyle had gone back down to the agency, periodically checking on her during the day while Angel pretended to sleep.
By the beginning of the third week, Willow had grown restless.
She wasn't used to be helpless and hating being cooped up in the same apartment
with Angel, knowing that he was on the other side of the wall. And
She knew that she should wait for Doyle or Cordelia to come check on her, but she was damned tired of being waited on hand and foot.
She struggled to sit up in the bed before swinging her good leg over the side. Using her good arm, she gently lifted her other leg off the bed and onto the floor. Gingerly, slowly, she stood from the bed, taking a few moments to control her unsteady balance. It was the first time in over two weeks that she had stood on her own.
Very slowly and very carefully, she made her way to the bedroom door, silently opening it. She could see the kitchen on the other side of the large living room and prayed quietly that Angel would be fast asleep.
By the time she was halfway across the room, she was exhausted and swaying. The pressure on her good leg was immense and it was starting to cramp up on her. Heading towards the couch so she could sit and rest for few minutes, she bumped against the coffee table and lost her balance before she could catch herself, falling to the floor with a loud crash.
Angel was out of his bedroom and kneeling by her side in seconds, but, again, she brushed him away.
"Do you hate me so much that you won't even let me help you with this?" he asked, darkly.
"Hate you?" she cried, humiliated and angry, "You think I hate you?"
"You know how I feel about you."
"I thought I did."
"And I thought you cared about me."
"Willow! When... what... have I done to make you think I don't care?"
"I heard the entire conversation that you had with Doyle about me. First off, you couldn't even imagine what it was that he saw in me, and, secondly, you... you... you FORBID Doyle to touch me again. What if his touching me made me happy?"
Willow hadn't expected the question.
"Did it, Willow? When he kissed you, did it make you happy?"
"No, Angel, but at least it was something!" she cried.
"What do you mean?"
"God, Angel, it was something... the last man that had
touched me before that was you. A year ago. That silly little
chaste kiss you gave me before you left. It felt good to be touched,
even if it wasn't by who I wanted it to
"You deserve better than that. You shouldn't even think about settling for someone that you don't want..."
"Angel, you know I can't have the one I want. You love Buffy, remember... not me. I'm your friend, and that's all..."
Angel took her face in his hands and quickly covered her lips with his own, effectively stopping her rambling.
His kiss was gentle and demanding all at once. He was easy with her, slow and soft, yet forceful enough for her to understand that this kiss was more than a kiss of friendship. He pulled away to stare into her face, gauging her reaction.
Her eyelids fluttered open, shocked.
"Angel?" she questioned.
"I love you, Willow."
"No... no buts this time. I love you. All of you. In every way."
"You can't," she gasped with disbelief.
"I do, though."
"I just told you... no buts."
"Willow!" he chided, "Can't you just accept that I love you?"
"Do you seriously want me to answer that question?"
"Yes, I do."
"Angel, no, I can't just accept that... after a year. When and how and why?"
"When?" Angel thought aloud, "I don't know.
Probably long before you ever came out here to Los Angeles.
How? I can't explain that. Why? Because you're the most
perfect imperfect creature I've ever known. You're
intelligent and funny and naïve and caring and compassionate and selfless and so devastatingly beautiful that you make my knees weak. And that's only a few of the millions of things to love about you."
"You're making my head spin, Angel."
"Love is supposed to make your head spin... unless you hurt yourself when you fell? Did you?" he asked, his voice suddenly full of concern.
"No, I'm fine. You love me? Are you sure?"
"Could you maybe help me up off the floor then?"
Angel got lost in her eyes for a moment, shining with bright love back at him. He did love, he didn't know when it happened and he didn't care why. All the knew was that he did. Heart, body, mind and soul. And that's exactly what he had told Buffy the morning after Willow had the accident.
"Sorry... I was just... loving you."
He picked her up gently in his strong arms, and crushed his lips against hers again.
"Where were you headed anyway, Willow? Did you want something?"
"I... I don't remember," she answered, her hunger long forgotten.
He carried her back in the bedroom, placing her on top of the covers before turning to leave.
He turned back to her.
"You're not going now, are you? I mean... you know... I thought..."
"I'm not going anywhere you don't want me to go, Willow."
He climbed onto the bed on the right side of her, lying
on his side and Willow suddenly realized that they were both in their pajamas,
he in his navy silk pajama bottoms and her in a breezy cotton nightgown
that ended just
above her knees.
Leaning over carefully so as to not put any weight on her broken arm, he kissed her again, he lips prying hers open. He slipped his tongue inside her mouth, brushing it tenderly against hers. Willow tilted her head further up off the pillow, deepening the kiss, bringing her uninjured arm around his neck to hold him closer.
His mouth felt so good against hers... it had been far too long since she had been touched by a man, and never one that she loved as much as the man in bed with her now. Heat began coursing through her body, centering in her groin. She felt the moisture began to seep from between her legs as she arched up towards Angel, longing for more contact.
"Willow," he pulled away, breathless, "We can't..."
"I... I need... you. Angel, please..." she breathed.
He chuckled, watching her flushed face beneath him as she struggled to control her arousal, which he himself was finding very arousing in it's own right.
"You've got a full cast on your leg... and another on your arm, in case you forgot. We just can't..."
"Damn it," she grumbled, pounding on the bed with her left arm.
"Of course," he told her, nuzzling on her neck, "If you really want... I suppose... there are other things I could do for you..."
His placed his hand on her right knee, moving his fingers up her inner thigh slowly, dragging the fabric along with his hand.
"Oh, God... Angel," she moaned.
He propped his head up on one hand, lying on his side next to her, watching her reactions to his touch.
His hand left her knee and came to rest on the top edge
of her nightgown where he slowly began unbuttoning it. Once it was
loose down to her belly button, he slid his cool hand inside, spreading
the fabric as his hand glided
across her stomach. Tiny goosebumps formed on her skin as he softly cupped her left breast in his hand, his thumb grazing the hardening peak. Delicately, he leaned across her again, capturing the rosy tip between his
teeth. Laving it with his tongue, he lowered his mouth, taking in as much of her as he could, while crossing his right leg with hers, seizing it between his own two legs, and spreading hers wider.
Willow gasped as she felt the cool air between her damp thighs, and then Angel's hand was on her knee again. His mouth never left her breasts as he moved from one to the other, pushing her nightgown further open with his chin as his hand climbed further up her thigh.
Suddenly, his finger was tracing her outline through the cloth of her panties, just barely giving any friction. On instinct, she tried to free her right leg so that she could trap Angel's hand between her legs, forcing him to give her the pressure she desired, but the vampire held her tightly, her movements giving him the friction that he needed between his own legs.
Nipping lightly at the tender underside of her breasts, he tenderly scolded her, "Patience, Willow... I'm not stopping here," as he unconsciously began moving himself against her leg. She felt his erection pressed against her legs and pressed back.
He tried pulling the her panties down with his hand, but with him leaning across her body, and with her cast, it was almost impossible.
Lifting his face to her neck, he swirled his tongue around her earlobe, "Do these panties hold any special sentimental value to you?" he purred.
"Not until now," she whispered, before gasping aloud as he ripped them away from her body, tossing them to the floor.
"Sorry..." he murmured against her neck.
"Just don't stop," she answered.
Without the satin barrier, his fingers now traced her moist folds, carefully avoiding her center. He dragged his middle finger all the way along her wet slit, stopping only to push inside, letting her heat envelope him.
"Angel... oh... God, please... Angel..." she was mumbling, only semi-coherently, yet he understood her exactly, and flicked his thumb across her clitoris.
Willow jerked up off the bed, her need becoming more insistent. Angel easily pushed her back on the covers again with his head as his mouth covered her breasts again with sweet, wet kisses.
Another finger joined the first, filling her tight channel as his thumb continued it's assault on her hard little nub.
Wetness was coating his hand as Willow began to tremble beneath him. He pulled his head away from her chest and propped himself on his arm again so that he could watch her face as her orgasm began. The sight of her beautiful face flushed with her desire and the sound coming from her throat were nearly enough to push him over the edge as he continued to thrust his fingers deeply inside her, pressing harder against her need. She kicked her right leg out, again pressing against his erection just before her body stiffened and she came with a shout. Angel followed, ejaculating without even having any direct contact from Willow, a deep, guttural moan escaping his lips.
After a few moments, he pulled his hand away, lowering her nightgown over her thighs again and began pulling himself up off the bed, placing a feathery kiss across Willow's sweaty brow.
"Where're you going?" she asked, still somewhat breathless.
"I need to change, Willow," he said with a grin, "I'll be right back."
"You can't leave me here like this..."
"I'm all sticky, too..." she murmured, a little embarrassed.
"Let me change, and then we'll take care of you..."
"I'm not a child, Angel... I can clean myself off, I just need you to help me get to the bathroom."
Angel's laughter echoed through the warehouse as he left her lying on the bed.
"Angel? Angel...?" she called after him, "BASTARD!!"
He only laughed harder.
As he promised, he was back in only minutes wearing a pair of jeans and an unbuttoned shirt. He lifted her into his arms, kissing her.
"I love you, Willow."
She nuzzled her face against his neck, reveling in the feel of being in his arms.
"Do you realize that you haven't said it?"
"That you love me. I'm not trying to rush you, but..."
"No, Willow... I don't want you to say it if you don't mean it."
"I'm afraid that if I say it, this will all disappear... that you'll disappear."
"I'm not going anywhere, Willow. Ever. I love you... I know that those are just words, and I intend to prove it to you every day, but I do, Willow. I love you, and I'm not going away from you, ever."
"I do love you, Angel. I love you so much it scares me."
"Don't be... please. Don't be afraid of us," he lowered his lips to hers again.
"I'm still sticky," she giggled, and he carried her into the bathroom.
"You can't really take a bath, can you?" he asked, looking around the room.
She shook her head.
"And I suppose a shower is out of the question?"
"Sponge-bath," she giggled, "But I can do it myself, if you'll just sit me down on the sink and hand me that big sponge by the tub."
"Miss the chance to give you a sponge-bath? I think not," he replied, placing her carefully on the sink so that she could prop her broken leg on the toilet after Angel lowered the lid for her.
"Angel, you don't have to," she told him, reaching for the sponge, which he held just out of her reach.
"I want to," he turned on the faucet, letting it run for a moment before dipping the sponge underneath it and ringing it out.
He held the sponge to her neck, rubbing slowly down between the still-unbuttoned pieces of fabric, "Too hot... too cold?"
"Perfect," she sighed, settling back against the mirror.
Angel unbuttoned the nightgown the rest of the way down, letting it fall completely open and away from her, and pushing it gently down her arms. He grabbed the bottle of Johnson's baby soap off the ledge and squeezed a small amount onto the sponge and proceeded to carefully wash her from top to bottom, spreading the gentle soap across her body and then rinsing it away with the warm water, skipping the area between her legs.
Willow was quickly turning to mush underneath his talented fingers and became so comfortable she almost slipped off the edge of the sink, until Angel stood between her legs, anchoring her.
"One spot left, Willow... should I stop or do you want me to...?"
He smiled, leaning over to capture her lips in a long, slow kiss as he dragged the sponge along her inner thighs. She groaned into his mouth, and he began to harden again.
He pulled away, continuing to caress her lower body with the sponge.
"Angel, this isn't working," she told him, her breathing growing heavier.
"Mmm... feels good, though, doesn't it?" he teased before dropping the sponge in the sink and sliding his fingers along her wet folds again.
Her eyes met his and she saw the mischievous twinkle in his eyes as he grabbed her hips and slid her forward until she was balancing on the edge of the sink, making sure that her leg was still balanced on the toilet.
He sank to his knees, breathing in the heady scent of her arousal, before flicking his tongue against her core.
"Angel..." she moaned as he pressed his face further into her heat.
Using his tongue and fingers, he quickly brought her to a shuddering climax, using his tongue to catch every trace of her unique flavor that he could.
Once she stopped shaking and calmed down enough, he stood and kissed her again, letting her taste herself on his lips.
"All clean," he teased.
She surprised him by reaching out with her left hand and capturing his erection through the cloth of his jeans.
"Your turn now..." she began to caress him through the denim.
"Willow, honey... you can't... you don't have t-ohhh, God..."
Her fingers deftly unsnapped the button on his jeans and quickly unzipped them as she prayed silently that she wouldn't screw up and get anything caught.
She didn't, and as she used her hand to try and push his jeans aside, she partially freed his erection. Wrapping her hand around him, she began to tease him with her fingers, staring him in the eye.
He could tell she was new at this, but it didn't stop
the waves of pleasure that were coursing through his body. He lowered
his jeans the rest of the way down his hips, completely freeing himself,
and then he wrapped his hand
around hers, showing her the right amount of pressure to give him. She was a fast study and he moved his hand away, holding on to the edge of the sink, trapping her between his arms.
Suddenly Willow bent at the waist, leaning over to eagerly suck the tip of his cock into her mouth. Angel bucked forward, shocked, as he felt her hot, wet mouth close over the head as her hand continued with the pressure that he had taught her. As her tongue worried the sensitive skin beneath the tip, Angel knew he was close and drew her shoulders back, pulling her head away.
When her confused eyes met his, he shook his head no with a small smile, "Just keep doing...ohhh... keep doing what you're doing, Willow..."
Angel grabbed a handful of tissue and quickly closed his
hand over the head of his cock as the streaks of semen began shooting from
him. Willow continued to pull his orgasm from him, fascinated by
what was happening and
fascinated by the fact that she had caused it.
Angel managed to catch most of his with the tissue, but a small amount still spilled onto Willow's hand. Angel placed his hands back on the edge of the sink and leaned over Willow, resting his forehead against hers, breathing unnecessarily, and staring deep into the fathomless green depths of her eyes. Without even realizing she was going it, she lifted her hand to her mouth, tasting him.
"I love you, Willow. I. Love. You."
"What do we do now, Angel?" she asked, suddenly afraid for their future.
"First, I pull my pants back up, wrap you in a towel and carry you back to the bedroom before Cordelia or Doyle catches us like this."
"That's not what I meant."
"I know what you meant, Willow."
"So, I don't know. You have, at least, another three years of school that you have to finish..."
"They have universities here in LA."
"And then we still have to tell Giles..."
"She already knows."
"I already told her that I love you. We have her blessing, and I'm sure the others will follow. Do you want to move here, Willow? Are you ready for that? Ready to live with me, not to mention Doyle and Cordelia?"
"Willow, are you sure?"
"Angel, I've loved you for what seems like forever.
Of course I'm sure.
And, besides, I've got to stick around until these casts come off... I'm not
sure but I've heard that there are other things to do other than those things
we already did."
"Yes, there are a couple of other things..." he answered with a grin.
Willow wriggled her eyebrows at him, "Are you sure
Doyle and Cordelia will
want to live here with us?"