~~ In the mansion ~~
The pain coursed through his body.
It felt as if he were being eaten alive from the inside out. With
some effort, Angel opened his eyes and saw her. Willow’s face had
a look of caring and concern that tugged at his heart.
“You’re awake.” Her voice was soft and full of hope when Willow spoke.
“You… you’ve been watching over me?” Angel managed to gasp out the words. Taking her hand, he kissed it softly.
“Well, we’ve been taking turns.”
“I thought… I thought I’d never see you again. I… I can’t leave you. I was wrong. I need you.” He paused.
Seeming understanding crossed her face.
“Oh.” Willow took her hand from his. “You mean you need Buffy.”
Angel peered at her, wanting to tell her she was wrong, that it was her he needed.
“Willow?” He began.
“Yes. Right. Willow.”
“Where is she?”
“She’ll be back soon.” Willow rested her hand on his chest and he caressed her arm as he lay back.
Soon, she’d said. Surely there
wasn’t enough time to tell her what he felt, what he been feeling for several
months. He thought at first it was gratitude, but had come to realise
that it was much more than that. It wouldn’t be right.
He couldn’t make a death bed confession of his love for her. Willow wouldn’t
understand. How could she, when he couldn’t explain it himself?
He loved Buffy, heart and soul. But there was a part of him that longed
for and needed Willow in a way he couldn’t begin to define. No, his
feelings for her would go with him to his grave. She deserved peace of
~~ After the ascension ~~
Angel had his moment with Buffy.
Now, he stood lurking in the shadows taking them all in one last time.
Oz, Cordelia, Xander… Buffy… he’d miss them all. His eyes scanned
over to Willow. Willow…he regretted leaving her most of all.
It was a bittersweet moment for him. He’d left so much unsaid, even
though he’d done the right thing. He was sure of that. Willow had
Oz, a bright future, and friends who cared for her. She didn’t need
a confused vampire that was unsure of his
feelings, who couldn’t touch her in the way he longed for. As the group turned and walked away, Angel’s eyes began to sting and his gut twisted.
He whispered softly, “Goodbye, Willow.”
~~ Los Angeles ~~
Angel didn’t know why he’d done it. He’d found it in a pawnshop and bought it. The ring was simple elegance and reminded him of Willow; a gold band with an intricate design, four small diamonds set in on either side of the emerald stone in the center. He’d had the inside of the ring engraved, not with words, but with an infinity symbol. Angel wondered if she’d know what it was or if that she’d think it was an eight lying on its side. It eased his mind. He was finally able to express himself without actually foisting his confused emotions on her.
He sent it without a note or card.
It wasn’t until later that he realised that she might know who sent it
by the LA postmark. But two month’s had passed and there hadn’t been
a word from her or anyone
else. Not until the phone had rang on a hazy Saturday afternoon.
Willow’s hesitant voice came across the line, “Hello, Angel. It…it’s Willow.”
Angel’s mind raced, trying to come up with an explanation for the ring, in case that was what she was calling about. He decided to buy time with small talk.
“Willow. It’s good to hear from you! How have you been? How is everyone?”
“Oh, they’re good. Everything’s good.”
“Everything is good here, too, Willow.” Angel tried to keep his tone light, even though he was dying to add, “But it would be better if I could make you understand that I need you.”
Willow spoke again, “Angel, I have to ask you something.”
Angel’s stomach lurched. “Go ahead.”
“Well, I…I don’t want to be a pest, but I don’t know anyone in LA, not a single soul, Angel. No one but you.”
“Willow…” Angel’s voice was filled with apprehension.
Willow jumped in before he could say anything else.
“See, I’ve got a seminar at UCLA next weekend and I thought maybe you could…we could…”
“Willow, I’d love to have…to see you.”
Willow sighed, “Good. I really want to see you, too. We’ve got a lot we should…could talk about. I’ll see you next Friday night, okay?
Angel gave Willow his address, then
hung up the phone wondering how much to read into the conversation.
He couldn’t be sure, but a part of him hoped that she knew how he felt.
~~ Friday night ~~
The knock on the door set Angel in motion. He lunged for the door and flung it open, staring at Willow. She smiled and smoothed her hair behind her ears. Angel’s eyes were drawn to the glint of gold and green on her finger. That one look told Willow all she’d suspected was correct.
“Angel. I think maybe you’ve had something you’ve wanted to talk to me about for awhile.”
Standing to one side, Angel let Willow
into his new apartment for the first time, silently hoping that it wouldn’t
be the last.