She sat in her
room, looking out of the window, if that's the word you would like to use.
She knew it was night because she couldn't feel the sunlight on her face.
Willow Rosenburg had locked herself in her room. And she hadn't come
out in days. Despite the desperate pleas of her 'friends'.
'We need you, Will,' 'We love you,' and her favorite, 'This doesn't change
anything'. *Fools!! This changes EVERYTHING!* she thought bitterly.
Her thoughts flooded to her talk with Oz. He had come to her door,
she guessed that he let himself into her house,
because it wasn't like her parents were there. They had heard about what happened but Willow was sure they didn't care. Anyway, he had come to her door.
"Willow..it's me, Oz."
"Oz? What are you doing here? What do you want?" she had asked, her voice empty and cold.
"I-I want to see you. To talk to you."
"See me? See me!! Good choice of words!!" she had laughed. A cruel, unhappy sound.
"I didn't mean it that way! I just..Willow, I still love you."
Willow snorted, "Stop."
"Willow, you can't stop loving someone."
"Oh can't you?, " she hissed, "you know you can if you try hard enough.
Leave Oz. Go find someone else. Someone who's not broken!"
"Willow," he'd gasped, and she knew he was fighting tears, "I'm not going to give up on you because of this."
"You should. I have. I know..I'll make it easy for you. I don't love you. I don't want you. I HATE you! Do you hear me!" she'd shouted on the top of her lungs madly, "I HATE you, Oz! Now leave!!"
"Willow, please don't say that. Don't ever say that! At a time like this you should be with your friends. Now open the damn door." Oz had barked, angry, sad and probably terrified.
don't want you all as friends anymore! I just want to be alone forever!
I want to stay in this room and wait until I starve to death!
If you want in this room you'll have to bust the door down! Because
never open it again," she cried.
"Running away from this thing won't fix it," he whispered.
"Shut up! Just shut the hell up! Leave damn you! Leave me the hell alone!
I don't want to hear your voice ever again. Tell Buffy and the others the same. I want to be alone!" she screeched at him.
"GO!" she had screamed as loud as she could.
She heard him crying. Sobbing. And then heard his footsteps as he ran out the door. And now here she was this evening. Alone.
Part of the old Willow,
the one everyone loved, the healthy one, had been crying when Oz had left
and was crying now. But the new, cold, empty Willow, outwardly, did
not cry. She sat stone faced in front of her window.
*Why don't I just walk out to the terrace? Why don't I just throw myself off it and end this? * she asked herself.
*What is the point of living now? In this..destroyed shell? There is nothing for me to do now. No one to love. No one to love me. I've cut off my emotions. I threw away Oz and Buffy and the others. I think someday they
will thank me for it. They do not need to waste their time on me. Saying soft, sweet, comforting words. Skirting the issue of what that bitch Faith and the Mayor did to me. Why don't I just do it? Why don't I just end my
life? Kill myself. * The words 'kill myself' sent a shiver through her but she brushed it off quickly. She was more than prepared to end her 'useless' life when she herself laugh bitterly. *How can you kill yourself? You can't even find the door to the window anymore!!*
She stopped and froze when she heard a tapping. She had to think hard, to pin point where the sound was coming from in the dark. *The window. It's at the window. * Willow felt a stab of pure fear but brushed it off.
"Who's there!" she shouted.
She heard a loud click as the window's opened, then a soft voice, "Willow?" It took her a moment to place the voice.
She smiled smugly,
"Angel. What are you doing here? Why aren't you with Buffy?
I'm sure she needs your comfort right now. Poor little thing.
Her best friend hates her now. She probably wants to bury herself
in your chest. Forget the world and run her hands along your
chest and thighs. Then of course, she'll cry again because she can't
have sex with you. She'll moan pitifully, 'Oh Angel, I've lost my
friend and we can't hump like weasels!' "
Willow laughed cruelly.
"I..see you're not taking this well." Angel whispered.
" 'This!?' THIS?!' What do you mean Angel! Why don't you say it! I'm not handling WHAT well? The fact that I am FUCKING BLIND!!!! Is THAT what you mean!" she cried at him, wanting to lash out as she tried to stare in his direction. Wanting him to look at her green, dead eyes.
"Yes, " he said calmly, "that your blind. You don't seem to be handling it in a good way."
"Tell me, how should I 'handle' it?, " she hissed, "you know so much. How should this be handled."
"With your friends. Your.." He started.
"Your 'loved ones'? Well, guess what? I don't LOVE them anymore."
"That's not true, " he growled, "Stop acting childish!"
She felt as if she'd been slapped. She'd been so coddled lately, because of what happened that to hear someone yell at her was new.
She regained her composure
and tried to stay cool, "Childish? Nice thing to say to a newly blinded
woman. No hugs and kisses from you I guess. You're one of the
face-reality types. What kind of life will I have now? Tell
me that. I'm smart but I can't read Braille. I have to learn. And what kind of job can I get? And no more driving cars for me, where will I go.." She stopped, feeling as if she was bearing to much. She didn't want to discuss
"Look, just leave, okay. Leave. Go. I want to be alone."
"What?" she gasped.
"No, Willow. I'm not leaving and you can't make me," he said smoothly.
Willow felt her anger boil, "Leave damn you! Go the hell away. I don't WANT you here! I hate you and Oz and Buffy and all those losers! I hate them!"
"No, you don't. You hate yourself, Willow. You hate the situation. And I am not leaving." Angel said.
"GO! GO AWAY!" she screamed and reached out for something, anything, to throw at him.
She grabbed a book and tossed it in the direction she had heard his voice. It didn't come close to him, but smacked against the wall.
"I'm not leaving you, Willow. No matter how loud you scream and how many things you throw at me. You can scream and throw fits all you want. But I am staying here until you cool down. I'm going to help you."
"I, " she bit out, "DON'T WANT YOUR HELP!" With a cry she flung herself at him. She kicked and punched him with all the fury she had. And he let her. Then, she screamed in agony, and fell against him. "I..I HATE YOU!" she wailed, "I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! I...". And then burst into bitter tears. "I hate this. I hate this! I hate myself.." She whimpered and fell on to the carpet, sobbing in pure agony.
Angel took her into
his arms gently and rested his face against her hair. She choked
out words, that flooded uncontrollably, "That night. That horrible,
horrible night when we were doing the exchange. Faith.., " Willow
tried to piece together what she hadn't wanted to talk about, what she had tried to forget, "Faith hadn't meant to hit me? Had she? She knocked into me and I hit one of those spider things and it..got on my face and..I don't..I can't remember what it did to my eyes. It stung and then...Buffy tore it off of me before it could eat me but.. I couldn't see! I opened my eyes and there was just blackness. I was so scared!" She went into uncontrollable sobbing then and Angel feared that she might hyperventilate.
She held tighter to him and he simply brushed a soft hand over her hair, whispering soothingly, "It's okay. It's okay. You'll be all right."
"Will I?" she croaked, "I-I don't want them to know, Angel. Promise me you won't tell Buffy and Oz and the others about this, please?"
"And..and I can't...," she didn't want to say the dreaded word, but did, "I don't want to see them yet. I can't. I'm not ready."
"Okay. Okay. You don't have to." He said.
"And..," she whispered against his coat, "I mean..you can come though. You can come over anytime you want. You can come in through the window and stuff. I..I don't mind seeing you so much."
He smiled, and she could feel his lips against her hair form into that smile,
"Angel.." She whispered in a small voice.
"Stay with me. Please. Just for tonight. Just hold me in your arms and..whisper soft words to me and tell me things will be okay. Just until I fall asleep. You don't have to but.."
"I will, Willow. I'll stay with you." He replied.
"Thank you," she said and closed her eyelids, even though she knew there was no use.
She concentrated on the warmth and the sound of his breathing, nothing else, as she fell asleep in his arms.
Let's try this again, " Willow told herself and let out a shaky breath.
She stood up, holding tightly to the cane. She stepped forward, counting
out each step, "One. Two. Three." She moved forward from
slowly, pushing the cane first to check for anything in her path. She continued until the cane hit a large thing.
She reached out a hand and felt around. It was dry and hard and she knew it to be the wall, but it wasn't what she wanted.
*Come on..Come on..*
She finally hit
something cold and round. She felt all around it and almost squealed.
The doorknob! She had made it to the door. She had been practicing
all day. She had discovered that by counting out loud she could find
out how many steps it took to get to each place in her room. It was
still hard though. But things were getting much better.
Especially with Angel's help. Every night he came and they
talked about this and that. But he never avoided the issue of her
being blind. Or act as if it hadn't happened. He was helping
her to accept it.
She had even talked to Buffy recently on the phone.
"Willow! I'm so happy to hear from you!" Buffy had cried, near tears.
"It's nice to talk to you too. How is everything?"
"Good. But they'd be so much better if you came back. Willow...when are you coming back?" Buffy had asked.
Willow sighed. She didn't want to go back, but she knew now she couldn't stay in her room forever. And besides, Angel had been telling her how she couldn't teach herself forever. She was going to need a specialist. Someone who knew how to help the blind. And Willow had to admit that she wanted that now. She wanted to get back to having something of a life.
"I don't know. But I do miss you guys. I'm really sorry about all that stuff I said. I don't blame you for what happened."
Willow had heard Buffy gasp, "I was hoping you'd say that..I thought.."
"Don't blame yourself, Buffy. What happened was an accident. Pure and simple. I don't blame you at all and I don't want you to blame yourself. I'm..adjusting to this. It's hard but..," Willow gulped, "do me a favor will you? Tell Oz, I'm so sorry. I said some really cruel things to him."
Buffy grew silent.
"Buffy?" Willow had asked suspiciously.
"Willow..Oz..He left town."
"WHAT!" Willow gasped.
"He-he just felt so bad about you and I don't think he could deal with being here. He thought you hated him."
Willow had been torn between being depressed and angry.
*How could he leave? I need him* she had thought.
*You had told
him you didn't. You told him you hated him. YOU sent him away.*
"Oh.." She had breathed.
"Don't get upset, Will. He'll come back!" Buffy said, desperate to please her friend. She didn't want Willow to pull away again, she couldn't bare it.
Willow smiled, "I'm sure he will. Give Xander and Giles, my love. I'll...see you soon."
She still hated
the word. 'See'. It was so mocking now. She
had never given it much thought when she could
see. How could you? You never thought this sort of thing would happen to you. It seemed impossible on all levels. But it had happened. And Willow decided she had to be an adult about it. She was going to learn how to live with her 'handicap' and she was going to go back to her good life. With Oz. Willow nodded to herself when she felt the doorknob move beneath her hand.
"No, Willow. It's me, Xander."
"Xander!" Willow gasped.
with a sick feeling she hadn't locked the door. She rushed about
her room in vain to find her shades.
She didn't want Xander to see her dead eyes. She found them and slipped them on moments before he walked in.
"Sorry to let myself in but.." Xander grew silent as he looked at Willow.
She sat on her bed, trying to look as normal as possible.
He noticed she wore shades and could feel himself shudder. It was still hard to fathom. Her being blind. He was her oldest friend, and he found this hard to stomach. He had been acting different since it happened, he even yelled at Buffy, blaming her for what had happened. He just hated the fact that she'd been hurt and he could do nothing to fix it.
"How have you been, Will. It feels like forever since I saw you last."
"I'm good. As good as can be expected. Actually, I am getting much better.
You'd be suprised.
About a two weeks ago I would have thrown myself from my terrace.
But I realize now that that isn't the answer. Just because I'm blind
now doesn't mean I can't have a life, right? I mean, lots of people
are blind and they go through life just fine. I wanted to apologize to you. I think the last time we talked, I was rather cold to you." Willow said.
"Not really. I maybe blind now, Xander. But I am still a person and when a person hurts someone's feelings it is right to apologize."
"But with your..condition.." Xander said gently, "I understand how you would.."
"'Condition'? Xander, I'm blind. Just say it."
"I can't" he whispered.
"I know, " she said softly, "I couldn't either for a while. Because saying it means that it's real. But you need to accept this, Xander. I have. Being Blind..it doesn't mean we're not friends anymore, right?"
"Of course!" He said and took her hand in his, "We'll always be friends, Will. Nothing will change that. Even if you get a sex change."
Willow laughed, a clear happy sound and Xander smiled. It hadn't been the funniest thing he'd ever said, but it had been the first joke he had made in weeks.
"Well, I don't plan on becoming Will Rosenburg anytime soon. I'm Willow and I enjoy it."
There was a silence as Xander ran his hand over top of hers. She could feel that his palms were sweaty and shaky. Probably from seeing her this way. He would have to get use to it, but she'd help him. She'd try to show him that she hadn't changed so much, that there was still some of the old Willow in her, "So, how are your grades?"
She heard him laugh and smiled, happy to make him more comfortable.
"Bad as always. I still need your help."
"Well, that's what I'm here for. And how's the vamp slayage going?"
"I got one the other night," Xander said proudly, "I got one that was about to tackle Buffy from behind."
"And the business with the Mayor?"
"We still don't know much."
Willow suddenly remembered something she had grabbed that night for later reading. Now where had she put it. She got up slowly.
"Willow?" Xander asked concerned.
"Hold on, I need to find something." She said and took her cane.
"Willow, I can help.."
"No!" she said tightly, "I can do this."
the cane in front of her and counted out the steps. She knew that
it took about five steps to get to her desk. Hearing her cane tap
against the end of something, she stopped. She reached out
to feel first air.
Her hand went lower and caught a smooth flat surface. The desk! She reached around gently and hit the side of her computer.
"Willow.." Xander said again, her felt so uncomfortable watch her fumble around. She touched what she thought was paper. She felt around it. It was smooth but kind of rough, with wrinkles.
She picked it up, "Xander, is this a sheet of paper."
"Yes, It looks kind of old. Where did you get that?"
Willow grinned, "Come here."
She heard Xander walk over and could feel the heat of him when he stood next to her, "What?"
"Are there any other papers that look like this on my desk."
He nodded, then cringed when he realized she couldn't catch the movement,
"Yes, there are."
I stole them from the Mayor's book that night. I think it will help
Buffy understand the Ascension."
"That's great, Willow! I should take these to her now but.."
"If I leave. I mean, Willow..you kind of shut all of us out and.."
"I won't shut you out again, Xander. But I'm not going back to school yet. I need just a little more time. I'll see you all soon."
wishing that she could see the happiness on his face. Instead he hugged
her, "Good. Hey, I want you to know I still love you. You're my best
friend, now and forever"
Willow hugged him back, "I love you too. Now get out my house." She laughed.
She heard Xander walk to the door, then pause, "Willow, I meant to ask you. Why did you think it was Angel?"
Willow froze, should she tell him about Angel? What if he misunderstood it or told Buffy?
"Well, he..uh..stops by sometimes. And I wasn't sure if it was night or not. I can't feel any sunlight."
"It's cloudy outside today." Xander explained.
"Ah, that makes sense."
another moment at her. Standing there, holding tightly to her cane,
shades covering her wounded
eyes. He suddenly wanted to see her without the shades. He wanted to cure her and turn her back into their sweet, seeing Willow. But he couldn't and it tore him apart.
"I'll talk to you later, Willow." Xander said and left.
Willow heard him shut the door behind him and sighed.
*Well, that was exciting!*
Willow wondered when it would be night. She was eager to see Angel. It was funny, she never thought she'd feel this way about him. I mean he was her friend. But he'd never been a close friend. He had always just been Buffy's boyfriend. The nice vampire. Now he was so much more to Willow. She wasn't quite sure what he was to her now, but he was very important. If it hadn't been for him, she would have given up all hope. She found it a bit disturbing that she hadn't gotten that kind of comfort from Oz, her boyfriend. And for the millionth time that day she wondered where he was. What he was doing. She loved him so much. She hadn't meant to hurt him. She felt so foolish for what she had said. Willow froze when she thought she had heard something moving. A rustling of some kind.
"Is someone there?"
She let out a breath, "Angel."
"I came the moment it got dark," he said.
"I'm guessing it's night then. Xander was only here a while ago. He said it was cloudy out."
"It is. A storm's coming this way. I'm glad to hear you talked to Xander.
Was it in person?"
I'm thinking..I might go see them soon. I miss them. Buffy
and everyone." Willow said.
"That's good. You should see them. Buffy talks about you a lot these days," he said, editing out how the conversations started on Willow then morphed into Buffy. "Angel this hurts ME. I need comfort," she had said.
Angel had avoided telling Buffy that not everything was about her. He instead had comforted her and told her that everything was going to be okay. He loved Buffy. She was the only woman in years who had affected his heart, but she could be self-absorbed sometimes. He supposed that everyone was. Even himself. Willow was the only person he had ever seen who didn't care very much about herself but more about everyone else. Now that she had to start caring about herself, she found it difficult. She didn't seem to care very much for herself as a person and that made Angel upset, he wanted her to know just how wonderful she was.
"I miss Buffy a lot. I miss Oz a lot," she confessed.
Angel avoided the rise of anger. He couldn't understand how the werewolf could just rush out on his girlfriend in her time of need. Even Xander, of all people, was handling this better. Then again, everyone handled things differently. Maybe Oz just needed sometime away to think. He'd be back soon. *He'd better be*, Angel thought with a fierce frown.
"Angel, I am
starving. I've been hungry for a long time. So far I've been
able to survive on a big bag of M&M's I had hidden in my room but I'm
out so...," she let out an unsteady breath, "I was wondering if you could
down the stairs."
Angel took her hand, "Sure. As a matter of fact. How about I take you all around the house. Show you where everything is."
"Oh, that'll take all night. I don't want to keep you from Buffy.."
"She'll be fine. She can do one night without my presence. I'm sure she's gone to the Bronze anyway." Angel led Willow out the door.
They counted each step.
Willow used her bed as the counterpoint and used her hands to feel along
Angel put her hand on the banister and helped her down the stairs slowly.
It's like I have to learn how to walk all over again." She said to
him as she walked down carefully.
At one point she lost her step and fell but he quickly caught her in his arms.
She remembered the feel of his warm arms well and felt a blush rise to her cheeks. *I'm not sure it's a good thing to remember how your best friend's boyfriends arms feel.* she thought.
"Thank you." She said in a tiny voice.
"You're welcome." He said, helping her back to her feet.
They went all over the house and Willow managed to get something to eat at last.
"I've been doing a lot of research and I found out their is a woman named Dr.Anne Smyth who deals with the blind. She works right her in Sunnydale. I think she can help you." Angel said as Willow ate another handful of potato chips.
"That sounds good. You didn't need to go through the trouble.."
"Of course I did. It didn't look like anyone else was going to. Certainly not your parents," he scoffed angrily.
"They've been busy. As always. They are concerned about me,
but they don't know how to deal with it. My mother's in Canada and
My father's in China. Neither of them want to fly home and deal with
They think I'm staying at Buffy's. That's where I told them I was. As you know, I actually barricaded myself in my room."
"Maybe you should stay at Buffy's for a while."
I have to get back on my feet in my home. Maybe I can ask Buffy to
come over here or something but I am just now getting use to this place.
I know it much better than Buffy's. I need to get a feel for my house
first. And I'm going to see this Dr.Smyth. I'm sure if you
picked her out that she's good."
Angel took her hand in his, "Okay."
Willow could feel her palm sweat a bit as she memorized the feel of his hand. Strong, but gentle. With rough, but pleasant feeling calluses. *I don't think I'm supposed to memorize how Buffy's boyfriend's hand feels either.* Still, she couldn't help it. She wanted to know how his hands felt. How his arms felt. How his lips... *WHOA! Stop right there!*, her thoughts shouted, *He's a friend! Buffy's boyfriend! And that's all! You're just throwing your feelings on to him because you haven't seen Oz in so long.*
You all right?" Angel asked at the strange look that had gotten on
"I'm fine," she lied, her thoughts still trying to explain why she had just had such 'warm, fuzzy' feelings about Angel.
with Buffy to take you to Dr.Smyth tomorrow. I hope that's okay,
but I think you need to see her as soon as possible. The sooner you
spend time with her, the sooner you'll learn how to live your life as a
Willow nodded, "That's fine. I'm going to go to bed then. Big day tomorrow. First time I leave my house in almost two weeks, right?" She got up, not wanting to be around him another second. She felt so uncomfortable, thanks to her dirty thoughts.
"You can go ahead and go out the front door. I can find my way upstairs on my own." Willow said and took her cane.
Angel quietly trailed behind her. Completely silent. Willow counted each step in her head, using her cane and hands to lead herself around, almost bursting with bliss when she found the steps. Willow got into her room and squealed happily at being able to find her own room. *It is my room, right?* she wondered and felt around. She found the bed and knew how she could find out if it was her room or not. She kept her diary under the pillow. If the diary was there... She stuck her hands under the pillow and felt a book.
"Yes!" she shouted and flopped on the bed, "I found my room. All on my own!"
Angel smiled, standing in the doorway.
Willow crawled under the covers and let out a sigh, "Angel."
Willow smiled, "Angel, I know you're here. You followed me, didn't you?"
|Angel laughed, "Yes, how did you know?"
Willow smiled as she snuggled into bed, "Because, you're my friend. I knew you'd follow me and make sure I got here safe."
Angel grinned and turned off the lights, which he knew Willow didn't know were on, "Good night, Willow."
"Good night, Angel" Willow said as she felt herself grow tired.
She heard him leave and smiled, her thoughts of him as she fell fast asleep.
Willow released a shaky breath as Cordelia helped her out of the car. Willow felt herself shudder, she wondered what awaited her as she prepared to meet Dr.Smyth. *Get a hold of yourself! Just because Angel isn't here to hold your hand doesn't mean you have the right to wimp out. * she scolded herself then raised a hand to her mouth. *Angel? You're first thought is Angel? Shouldn't you think of Oz? You're boyfriend? * She almost laughed, *Some boyfriend..he ran out on me. He just thinks I'm a blind freak. I mean I'm useless now, right? I was a virgin when I met him. He was probably waiting until the right moment and then we'd have sex. That's over now though, bad enough I'm inexperienced in the sexual department but I'm blind on top of that. * *Stop thinking like that! *, she hissed at herself, *That's not true and you know it! Oz will be back soon, you'll see*
"I hope you don't mind me taking you. Buffy apologized for not being able to come but.." Cordelia bit her lip. Usually she was blunt about everything, no matter how bad. But this was different. Willow was blind, poor thing. And Cordelia hated to tell her why Buffy hadn't taken her to the doctor today. Because in Cordelia's mind it was downright rude and selfish what Buffy had done.
*WoW! You're one to judge, Chase. At least Buffy's saving the world. What do you do? What do you contribute to the Slayerettes and the world? Your keen fashion sense? *
"Why was Buffy unable to take me? I'm sure she had a good reason." Willow said kindly.
Cordelia sighed, "Well, it's sort of her anniversary with Angel. The anniversary of their first meeting. So Buffy had to go out and buy a new dress and get a manicure and stuff, she said you would understand."
"Oh. Sure, of course I understand." Willow said, while silently cursing Buffy.
*What's happened to
Buffy? She use to sacrifice everything for her friends. But lately
she's een so..self-absorbed. Now wait a minute, maybe I'm over reacting.
Buffy has had to give up a lot for us and the world and totally unnoticed,
she deserves some down time with the man she loves, right? * Still,
it didn't seem right to Willow. The Buffy she remembered would have
dropped everything, no matter how important to cater to Willow's needs.
Cordelia helped Willow on to the curb and then helped lead her inside.
They were soon enough waiting outside the doctor's office, waiting.
Cordelia let out a soft breath and looked at Willow. She often
thought about the shy redhead. In her snotty, stuck up days, she
had just thought of her as a geek with bad taste in clothes. Now
Cordelia wished she could just talk to the girl, become friends with her.
Even despite what Willow had done to her and Xander, Cordelia just wanted
to talk to her. Make a friend. But she knew that would never
happen. She was the black sheep of the Slayerettes. No one really
liked her. At first she had been the bratty prom queen that they
talked about and made fun of. Then they just had abided her presence
because she knew vampires existed and that Buffy was the Slayer.
And then they accepted her for a while because she had been Xander's girlfriend.
And now? Now she was nobody again. She wasn't a prom queen anymore,
nor was she a
nuisance or Xander's girlfriend. Now she was just another person, a cardboard image. The others probably didn't care whether she went to help them with the vampires or not. Hell, if she disappeared, she doubt they'd care.
So she looked at Willow again with longing, wishing that the red head did care and did want to be her friend.
"Cordelia?" Willow asked, "Are you okay? You're awfully quite."
Cordelia grinned sheepishly, "Scares you silly, right? The big mouth keeping her trap shut."
"I don't think you're a big mouth at all. I think.."
Before Willow could finish, a woman's head popped out from the doctor's office, "Willow Rosenburg?"
Willow stood up, "That would be me."
The woman smiled and took Willow's hand in hers, giving it a friendly shake,
"I'm Dr. Anne Smyth. Would you like to step into my office."
Willow tried to look in Cordelia's direction, "I'll see you soon."
"I'll be here." Cordelia promised and pulled a magazine from her purse to read while she waited for Willow.
"May I help you to a seat?," Dr.Smyth said softly.
"Yes, please." Willow said. She liked Dr.Smyth's voice. It was smooth and calm. She noticed an accent, maybe Italian.
Dr.Smyth helped her to a chair and sighed, "I'm sorry I took so long. It was an important phone call. Now would you mind taking off your shades, please?"
Willow bit her lip. *But my eyes are so ugly. * She couldn't see her eyes but she knew they had to look awful. Probably deformed and dead. Just plain dead. She let out a heavy sigh and pulled off the shades.
Dr.Smyth warned her, "I'm going to take your face in my hands, okay?"
Willow nodded and let the doctor hold her head.
Dr.Smyth inspected Willow's eyes, thinking silently as she watched Willow's lids move.
"Hmmm. Willow, how long have you been blind?"
"About three or four weeks."
"And how did you become blind?"
Willow pondered on how to tell the doctor this piece of information. She couldn't just say 'Well, one of the spiders from the box of Gavroc attached to my face and put something in my eyes', right? But she couldn't lie either. The answer to this question was important.
"A rather..uh..large spider attached itself to my face. It shot something in my eyes and when the spider was removed I couldn't see anything." Willow said, hoping she sounded believable.
"What kind of spider?" Dr.Smyth asked.
"Um..a big one."
Willow heard a silence and knew that the Doctor now probably thought she was blind AND insane.
"I see. I'm going to run a test, okay." Dr.Smyth pulled out a small
flashlight and flashed it in Willow's eyes, "Do you see anything."
Willow shook her head.
"No kind of light." The Doctor probed.
Willow shook her head.
"Do you feel anything?"
"Warmth. Like sunlight." Willow said softly.
Dr.Smyth licked her lips and turned the flashlight off, sticking it back in her breast pocket. She scribbled on a pad of paper she had.
"Willow, do you still have the ability to cry."
"And you still blink and close your eyes when you go to sleep?"
"Now Willow, have you ever had trouble with your eyesight before?"
"Okay," Dr.Smyth said and leaned back, staring at Willow thoughtfully.
Willow would have given anything to know her thoughts.
"Willow, do you know what test I performed?"
"I...think you put a flashlight up to my eyes."
"Yes, do you know why?"
"You didn't believe I was blind?"
Dr.Smyth almost laughed, "No, I believe you are blind. Otherwise you wouldn't be here. You see, you still have movement in your eyes. Your lids and tearducts still work. I don't believe I saw your pupils move but still.."
"Are you saying I might be able to see?" Willow asked, trying to contain her excitement at the idea.
"No, Willow, I'm not
saying that exactly. Now, I don't want you to get your hopes up.
But it is a good sign that you still have feeling in your eyes. That
doesn't mean however that you are not blind and that you will not
continue to stay blind."
"Oh." Willow breathed out.
Dr.Smyth felt a pang of sorrow. She hated having patients this young. Ones who should be more worried about getting into college than whether they'll ever be able to see again.
"This will take a lot of research, I think. It will also take patience from you. I'm going to teach you how to live as a blind person. You'd be suprised to know that the world offers more advantages to blind persons than it did before. I'm not telling you this will be easy. It won't. You have had the curse of being blinded during your life and not at the beginning or near the end. You will have to develop your other senses: smell, touch, taste, hearing, to make up for the loss of your eyesight. Do you understand?"
Willow smiled and nodded, "Yes, I do."
Dr.Smyth looked her over one more time then sighed, "Good. I'll work with you a bit today. But I'm telling you now that these lessons take time. I will have to see you everyday for about two hours, is that okay?"
"Yes, I'll do anything. I want to start living my life again."
"That's what a Doctor likes to hear." Dr.Smyth said with a smile, "Let's begin your first lesson. Shall we?"
Willow put back on her shades as she left Dr.Smyth's office feeling giddy. *It may take a long time..but I'm going to get my life back! *
"How did the meeting go?" Cordelia asked as she helped Willow to her car.
"Wondeful. Dr.Smyth is really nice."
"That's good." Cordelia said.
"Oh! I don't want to go home yet! I'm too pumped! How about we go for a walk?" Willow asked.
"I guess we could.
We could go to the park, if you want." Cordelia said, suprised by
*She want to hang out with me? *
"That sounds great! Let's go!"
When they reached the Park, they followed the concrete path through the flower beds and trees.They walked on for a ways in silence when Willow suddenly stopped.
"What is it?" Cordelia asked worried.
Willow knelt down and reached to her left. She grabbed a flower and plucked it from the ground. She smelled it and smiled, " A tulip. I didn't know that Tulips were blooming already."
Cordelia smiled, "They just started."
"What color is it?" Willow asked.
"It's orange red." Cordelia said.
"Dr.Smyth said I needed
to focus more on my senses. Like smell. And to visualize things.
I could tell the scent was coming from my left, that's how I knew where
to reach. And I can see this flower in my head. It's pretty."
She handed it to Cordelia, "Here."
"Thanks." Cordelia said with a smile, "Willow, I've been wanting to talk to you for a while."
"Same here." Willow confessed.
"Yes, I wanted to talk to you about Xander."
Cordelia winced, "Um..I don't really want to discuss that with you."
"Cordelia, I still feel bad about what Xander and I did. And I wouldn't blame you if you hated me and didn't give a damn about what I'm about to tell you. But..I really think you ought to give Xander a second chance."
"WHAT?!" Cordelia laughed.
"I know, you probably don't give a damn what I think either but.."
"Willow. I don't hate you. On the contrary, I really like you. I'll admit that I held some bitter resentment towards you for a while over the Xander thing, but I don't anymore. I don't think it's your fault at all. I blame him. I should have seen the signs, but I was too engulfed in him to notice. He was so jealous when you started dating Oz. And then there was his attachment to Buffy. I've never charted high on his list, that's all."
"That's not true!"
Willow protested, "I was jealous of you and Xander at first. But
then it dulled, not just because of Oz. But because I saw how happy
Xander was with you. He really cared a lot about you. I know
doesn't seem that way, but I know he did. I saw it in his eyes. He use to look at you. Take little peeks at you while we were in the library. And there was such affection in his eyes. It made me green at first, but then I
realized that if you made Xander happy then I should be happy for him. And I know he made you happy.
Now I see the havoc I've wrought and am trying to rectify it. You and Xander are miserable and I truly don't think you'll be happy until you're together again."
"Willow, It's over. I've moved on, I like Wesley now."
Willow raised an eyebrow, visible above her shades.
"What?" Cordelia asked.
"Cordelia, I'm blind. Not stupid. You're using Wesley as an excuse. You still care for Xander."
"What do you want me to say? That I still care about him! That I still love him! " Cordelia shouted exasperated, "Okay. I do. I love him! But it doesn't matter if I do, he doesn't love me, he never did."
"How do you know that? Did you ever ask him?"
Cordelia was silent, looking down at the tulip in her hand, "No."
"Maybe he does. You two are both stubborn. You should talk to each other.
Try and work this out. You give a little and he gives a little."
"For me, Cordelia," Willow whispered, "you know I hate asking for things for myself, but please. For me, try and work things out. I want you two to be happy. I want to make up for what I did to you two."
Cordelia smiled a small smile, "Okay. And Willow?"
Cordelia felt dumb asking, but did so anyway, "Do-do you think you and I could be friends?"
Willow smiled, "We all ready are, Cordelia."
The two girls continued
on their walk and for once Cordelia felt fully accepted.
Even as a blind woman, time, still seemed to go too fast for Willow. Hours turned into days and days turned into weeks. Graduation and the Ascension were drawing nearer. Every day, Xander or Cordelia would stop by and help Willow with her homework and every night, if he got the chance, Angel would stop by and share meaningful conversations with her. And of course there were her daily meetings with Dr.Smyth. Everyday the doctor helped Willow tune her other four senses to make up for the loss of her eyesight. Willow was a dutiful student and an apt leaner.Dr.Smyth even said she was proud and suprised by Willow's improvement.
Willow had no trouble walking a straight line or going up or down stairs. She still had to be helped into cars, though. And Cordelia or Xander drove her to her appointments with the doctor. Buffy had yet to see Willow, and she preferred it that way. Willow wasn't ready to see her, and she was sure it was the same for Buffy. They talked on the phone however. Oz was still missing. He'd been missing for almost a month now and Willow was very worried. It wasn't like him to run out on her. She stayed strong, though and was positive that he WOULD return. Even though Xander and Cordelia had expressed their doubts and their anger, towards her absent boyfriend.
Willow reached out and tapped the top of her clock. Cordelia had bought Willow a clock that announced the time so Willow no longer wondered what time it was.
"The time is 10:45 p.m.!" the clock's computerized voice clipped out.
Willow knew she was
in front of her mirror, she had her room easily mapped out. As she
stood before it she wondered how she looked now. She imagined that her
hair had gotten longer and that her face was pale and bare because she
never got out too much and she never wore makeup. The one part of herself
she wanted to see though was her eyes. She figured they looked horrible.
Obviously they'd carry a dead appearance but she wondered if their color
had changed. If they were no longer a lively emerald green but a dingy,
Grey-green. Or worse, totally discolored from whatever the spiders had
shot in her eyes. Maybe they were white or yellow. She would never
know though, because she didn't want to ask anyone. They'd just feel sorry
for her and she couldn't
stand that. So she just continued to wear her shades, whether it was day or night or even if it looked tacky.
She just wanted to avoid the subject of her eyes.
Willow reached out and found the smooth handle of her brush. She ran it through her red hair when something soft brushed across her face and she almost screamed.
"Shh.. It's me."
"ANGEL! You scared me to death!"
"Shh. What do you feel?"
Willow was confused at first, and then she realized that he was still running something along her face. She dropped the brush and concentrated on the feeling of whatever Angel ran along her cheek. She could smell something sweet and she knew what ever it was, it had layers. One smooth thing on top of another.
"Flowers." she said softly.
Angel grinned, "Correct."
He handed her the small bouquet of different flowers. She felt through each of them.
"They all feel so nice," she said and smelled each one, "Roses, carnations, and...daisies."
"Right again, you're getting better at your sense of touch and smell." he said with a satisfied smile.
"Thanks to Dr.Smyth. And you. After all, if it wasn't for you I'd still be locked up in this room, avoiding my problem. But I'm suprised. My life is going pretty good. Better than I thought. I've still got a lot to learn but..I'm getting better." she said and blushed, feeling as if she was rambling on and boring him. She clutched the flowers tightly; "I should get a vase for these."
"Wait. I got you something else. Someone actually."
*Don't be stupid*, she scolded herself, *Oz is gone and he'll come back when he wants. I doubt Angel went out and dragged him back here. *
Still, for about the hundredth time that day, Willow thought about Oz and wondered where he was. Willow was so deep in thought that when Angel took her hand she gasped loudly.
"Yeah." Willow mumbled feeling stupid again.
Angel gently laid Willow's hand on something warm and soft. Willow recognized it as dog hair. She heard a whimper and something licked her hand. "Oh! It's a dog!"
"Yeah," Angel laughed and ushered the dog closer to Willow; "This is your Seeing Eye dog."
Willow giggled happily, she loved animals and had always wanted a pet that wasn't a fish.
"What's his or her name?"
"It's a boy, and that's your decision. I got him from Dr.Smyth earlier this evening. She told me to tell you to bring him with you tomorrow for your next meeting."
"You talked to Dr.Smyth?"
"I told her I was your brother and I wanted to know how you were doing."
Willow smirked, "Brother? We look nothing alike."
"Well, it worked. She gave me the dog, as I was leaving."
"What color is he?"
"Golden. He's a golden retriever."
"Aw!" Willow said and hugged the dog. "I just love him! I'm going to name him
"I like unusual names." Willow said.
Angel smiled, "Okay, Azrael he is. So do you and Azrael want to go out for a walk? It's a nice night for it."
Willow grinned, "We'd love to."
The night was warm, but the wind was oddly cold. Willow held tightly to her cane and Azrael's leash as he led her down the road. Angel had offered to hold Willow's hand if she needed help but she had declined. The idea of him holding her hand made her insides squirm. But in a nice, warm way. She swallowed and tried once again to push away those bad thoughts about Angel. But she couldn't help it. Like she had told Cordelia, she maybe blind but she wasn't stupid. Angel was an attractive man. A MAN, not boys like Xander and even Oz. And he had such a soft, soothing voice. One she had fallen asleep to when she had fallen asleep in his arms in what seemed like so long ago.He had been so good to her, so kind.
Then she remembered the question she had been meaning to ask him for sometime.
"Why are you helping me?"
She heard his footsteps
stop and she knew that he had frozen to the spot. She stopped herself and
twisted Azrael's leash in her hands. The dog sat, resting, as Willow spoke
up and broke the silence, "You see..um..What I mean is, why did you help
me? Why did you come that night and keep me from throwing myself from my
terrace and help me deal with being blind and help me find Dr.Smyth and
why do you come by every night and talk
Angel sighed and Willow waited calmly, feeling the cold wind brush roughly past her cheeks.
"Because you're a good person, Willow. You're Buffy's friend and you got hit with a blow you didn't deserve. No one knew what to do when you became blind. Not even Oz knew how to deal with it and I felt like I could...that I should help you because," he let out a breath, "you helped me, Willow. You freed me from Angelus. You stood by me and believed in me when Giles, Buffy, and Xander were ready to just give up and stake me. You were my only supporter. My only friend. And now I'm returning the favor."
"Is that all?" Willow whispered. She wanted there to be more. She wanted him to tell her he wasn't being this way just because she was Buffy's friend and he felt he owed her.She wanted him to say he was helping her because he liked her.Because he liked her a LOT.
Maybe because he loved..
"Willow.." Angel said softly when Willow's ears perked up and heard a growl from behind Angel.
"Angel, watch out!" Willow said and threw herself at him just as a vampire emerged from the shadows of an alley and leapt up to attack Angel from behind.
Angel fell to the ground
and Willow fell on top of him. She quickly rolled off and Angel jumped
up. She could hear him fighting with the vampire. Azrael barked and
growled. Willow was confused by all the noises. She was pretty
sure that another vampire had showed up and that Angel was now fighting
two of them, then three.
*How many vampires are here?*, she wondered, whipping her head around as if to see them somewhere.
Willow's shades had fallen off and she had lost her grip on Azrael's leash and her cane. She reached out, looking for her cane. Willow felt the round, wooden smoothness of it and grappled down to the end of it. She pulled off the rubber stopper and felt a sharp point. Willow spent a lot of time at home these days but that hadn't meant that she had forgotten the outside dangers of Sunnydale. She had worked very hard to whittle the end of her cane into a stake. Her mind raced as she thought of how she could plunge the cane into one of the vampires and not into Angel. She felt someone roughly grab her, snarling. *Well this is a bad vamp*, she thought with a grin and with a quickness she didn't know she possessed, she jammed the cane upward and thrust the sharpened end into the vampire.
There was a gasp of pain and then she felt herself being released.*Dusted*, she thought pleased when another vampire grabbed her roughly from behind, wresting the cane from her. She fought but couldn't get free from those strong arms.Willow heard Angel howl in outrage and could feel Angel tackle her assailant. She lost her balance and fell to the ground on her hands and knees. Her mind was whirling in confusion. Willow could hear Angel fighting one vampire but didn't know how many were around her.
She could hear Azrael
growling from somewhere but suddenly his mouth was full and she heard a
She couldn't help but grin, knowing that Azrael had just bitten one vamp. Willow felt strong, cold brick against her back and relaxed. Knowing she was resting against some building.
Willow sighed when something wet clamped over her mouth. She tried to scream but got out nothing. *It's a hand, * she rationalized, *A hand is over my mouth. * The hand was slim and held her mouth tightly but wasn't too painful, just VERY tight.
She felt herself being lifted a bit and forced around a corner. Into an alley or some dark area, she figured. Her back slammed against the wall and she heard a familiar husky voice.
"Willow, it's me."
*FAITH! *, Willow's mind shouted.
She felt images flood into her mind in a flash. The night she had gone blind. Faith had pushed her, knocked into her and she had fallen down. The spider attached to her face and..Faith's left hand tightened on Willow's shoulder.
"I'm gonna let your mouth go, but don't scream or speak. Got it?"
Willow nodded dumbly.
Faith removed her right hand from Willow's mouth but clamped it down tightly onto her other shoulder and started talking in a hurried and hushed whisper,
"Listen, I sent the vamps. I'm sorry but I wanted to talk to ya and I couldn't do it with Buffy's big boytoy there. Look, I want to apologize, I didn't mean to knock you into that spider. I'm so sorry, you're blind. I'm..I'm sorry." Faith apologized and Willow acknowledged that this was hard for her.
"I just wanted to tell you I'm sorry and that I didn't do it on purpose and.." Faith paused and Willow figured that Angel must have been finishing off the last of the vampires Faith had gotten because she began to talk fast, "Listen Will, I can help you. I know a healer. His name is Masque and I think he can make you see agai--URK!"
Willow felt Faith's hands being ripped off her shoulders and heard the dark slayer gasped in alarm.
"Leave her alone, Faith." Angel hissed coldly.
"Don't be a fool, Angel. I can help her. I know someone who can return her.."
"SHUT UP!" Angel shouted and Willow heard some trash cans and a heavy body hit the ground, knowing that Angel had thrown her, "You stay away from Willow. Got it?! You've hurt her enough as it is."
Willow heard a tense silence and knew that Faith was contemplating tackling Angel, staking him maybe. She assumed Faith changed her mind when she heard running footsteps in the opposite direction.
Angel stepped closer to Willow, "It's okay. She's gone. They're all gone." He cupped her cheek; "You okay?"
Willow's eyes grew misty and she felt tears sneak loose.
"Hey, it's okay," Angel said and took her into his arms with no hesitation, "They're gone now. They won't hurt you. Don't worry. I won't let them." he said tightly, his anger at the idea obvious.
It was one thing to attack him or Buffy, but Willow was blind and defenseless. * Well *, he thought with a small grin, *Not defenseless. She's one of the toughest people I know. *
"It's not that." she gasped, angry with herself as she felt sobs form inside her.
"Faith talked about
getting my eyesight back and," Willow let out a choked sound as hot tears
squeezed out, "Angel, I don't tell anyone, but part of me, in the back
of my mind still thinks that I'm going to be able to see again. That
one day I'll open my eyes and see as if nothing happened. That this is
only temporary. But it isn't. I'm blind and I'm trying so hard to accept
it but..I miss being able to see things. I want to have my sight back so
badly..I wanted to believe.."
"Shh," Angel whispered and stroked a hand through her red hair, "It's okay, Willow. I know..well, I don't know how you feel. But I do know you want your sight back and I wish I could give it to you. I'd give up my soul if it meant giving you the ability to see again. To make you happy again."
Willow laughed through her tears, "I am happy. With you and.. I am happy."
Angel pulled back to look at that lovely, heart-warming smile she gave him and couldn't help smiling back. He kissed the top of her head and then her cheek, "Good."
There was a loud, happy yap and Willow felt something brush her leg. She leaned down and patted Azrael's head and said in a wobbly voice, "Hey, big guy. I heard you did good out there."
She found his leash and Angel quickly got her shades and cane, re-attaching the rubber stopper, and handed it to her.
Willow sniffed a bit and ran a hand over her face, "Let's go."
The trio started back
down the road, unaware that a certain, blonde haired, blue eyed slayer
had just seen the touching moment between Angel and Willow. Her fist
tightened but she did not follow them. Instead, she watched them
walk away, thinking to herself, *Soon, VERY soon. *