Flicker of Hope
It had been nearly a month since Angel had been recursed, and Willow
had found herself magically back in the Slayer’s good graces. Buffy
had somehow deluded herself into believing that Willow had been planning
all along to try the curse, and that the redhead had only been around Angelus
so he wouldn’t suspect what she was up to. Willow didn’t really care
other girl thought, she was just glad that Buffy and Giles were speaking to her again. She needed all the friends she could get, even if they were annoying. In one move, Willow had lost three of the most important people in her world: Angelus, Spike, and Drusilla. Oddly enough, Angelus’ two children didn’t seem to hold any ill will towards her. The couple had left town immediately after Angel’s re-emergence, but Willow had found one of Dru’s dolls outside her door with a note from Spike telling her that Dru had wanted her to have it. It was the doll that Dru had given her to sleep with that night at the warehouse that now seemed so long ago.
Willow sighed. She was glad Buffy no longer hated her, but she
despised the fact that her friend refused to acknowledge what had really
happened. At least she had Miss Calendar and Cordelia to lean on.
She never thought she’d consider the snobby brunette a friend, but the
girl had really been there for her. With the help of the teacher
and the cheerleader, Willow was
slowly getting over the loss of Angelus. She knew deep down that, even if they hadn’t done the curse, it would have been over anyway. There was no way she could have forgotten what she saw, and Angelus would have never changed his ways.
Angel watched Willow from his spot just outside her door. She
looked so lonely, and his heart ached at seeing her this way. He
wanted to tell her how Angelus felt - how he himself felt - but he wasn’t
sure how the knowledge would effect her. He sighed softly.
Since he had come back, the Slayer had made it obvious that she wanted
to continue the relationship that
they’d had before, but he had told her no. He didn’t want Buffy anymore. All he wanted was Willow.
And he had no idea how to tell her.
Willow stopped in her reading as the feeling of being watched came over
her. Angel. It had to be him. She had felt his
presence quite a few times over the past few weeks, and she wondered why
he was following her. Was he simply grateful that she had helped
to restore his soul? Did he feel guilty about the relationship she’d
had with Angelus? If that was it, she didn’t
see why; it’s not like they had slept together or anything. Or was it something more? No matter what it was, she had to know, and she had to know now. The waiting was driving her crazy.
Angel jumped as the door swung open. He’d been so absorbed in his thoughts, he hadn’t even seen Willow leave her desk.
“Hi to you, too.” Willow left the door open and sat on her bed. She stared expectantly at Angel, who was still standing just outside the threshold. “Are you just going to stand there all night, or are you going to come in? You’ve still got an invitation, you know.”
“I know,” Angel answered, stepping just inside her room. He tried not to think about the last time he’d been in her bedroom. He could clearly remember the feel of her in his arms; he was aching to hold her once again.
“Why are you here, Angel?”
The hacker’s words knocked Angel out of his memories. Or, more accurately, Angelus’ memories. Not sure of how to answer her question, Angel looked around the room. His curiosity turned into surprise when he spotted the doll on Willow’s dresser.
Willow followed the direction of the vampire’s gaze and smiled sadly when she realized what he had seen. “Dru gave it to me; Spike left a note with it.” Willow wiped a tear from her cheek. “God, I miss them. I know it’s wrong, that they’re evil murderers, but I can’t help it.”
“You miss him, too, don’t you?” Angel asked, purposely speaking of his soulless self in the third person.
Willow closed her eyes against the wave of tears that threatened. “Is that why you came here? To tell me to get over it because he never really gave a damn about me anyway?”
Angel sat down beside Willow and reached for her hand, unable to just stand there and watch her in pain. “He loved you, Willow. He loved you so much it hurt. I never thought the demon was even capable of caring for someone, much less loving someone, especially to the extent that he loved you. I still have my demon, Willow; I still have him inside me, and I always will. And it still loves you, little one. Almost as much as I do.” Angel winced as he realized that he’d actually said that last part out loud.
“You love me?” the redhead whispered, shocked. She knew Angel thought she was pretty - Angelus had told her that - but she’d had no idea that he loved her.
“God, Willow, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that, at least not right now anyway. This isn’t exactly the time for us to be having this conversation.”
“When will it be time?”
“When you’re over him. I want to be with you, Willow. But I can’t be a substitute for him. I won’t be one. You have to want to be with me, too. And I know you’re not ready for that now. But it’s okay; I can wait. I’m pretty good at that.”
Willow sighed and leaned against Angel. She knew he was right. She needed time, but she would get over Angelus. And when she did, she could move on.