Willow pulled on her sweater and left her room. Her mom and dad were away for the entire month, and, for once, Willow was glad.
< At least now I won't have to make up excuses for where I'm going every night! >
She couldn't help but let her mind wander while she was walking.
< I wonder how Angel is doing tonight... >
When she got to his apartment she tapped softly on the door.
"Willow? Come in..."
He called softly from the other side of the door. She opened the door and stepped in.
He was sitting on the couch, staring deep into space.
Angel? You aren't brooding, now are you?"
"I just can't help myself, Willow! I fell so guilty..."
"God Angel! Stop it! You can't keep beating yourself up over this! You are NOT Angelus, you can't help what he did! Why do you insist on blaming yourself for his actions?"
He sighed again and her heart ached for him. She had been visiting him almost every night since he got back from hell, and the routine was always the same. He would tear himself apart and she would do the best she could to comfort him.
"Willow? Could I ask you a question?"
"Sure, anything! You know that!"
"Why do you do this?"
"Well- the.." he winced. "The others... they put up with me. They're doing the best they can, considering the circumstances... Already they've done more for me than I could ever ask for... but you, Willow... you're amazing! You're always here for me... not only do you put up with me, you do everything you can for me... you go out of your way for me. Why?"
She looked at him with disbelief.
< Stupid, stupid! Why did I just say that! It's obvious- she's just doing it for Buffy! >
"Angel! Why do you
always put yourself down like that?! I do this because I like you a lot
and I consider
you to be my friend." She looked down at her hands. "You deserve so much..." She swallowed hard. "So
much more than I could possible ever give you... and... I just want you to be happy.."
She trailed off, embarrassed. Angel's heart leapt.
"Willow! My God! You're the best friend I could ever ask for! EVER! I don't deserve anything you offer me, least of all your friendship. You sit here and listen to me mope, but your always kind, caring, and patient. Always positive. You're always telling me not to put myself down... what about you? If I can't put myself down, neither can you, ok?"
She gave him a tiny smile, still unsure of herself.
He pulled her into a giant bear hug.
"Thank you, Willow, for all the wonderful things you've been doing for me..."
His voice came out muffled because his mouth was buried in her hair.
< My God, what beautiful hair- why does she always put herself down? She's always comparing herself to Buffy or Cordelia- but she's prettier than either, if not both. >
"Thank you Angel.."
He head was buried in his chest. She looked up at him and gave him a genuine smile.
< My God! She has such beautiful, innocent eyes.. and that smile... Melts my heart.. >
"Of course, Willow. Always.."
"Thank you, Angel, thank you."
< No, thank you, Red. >
"Come on, let's talk about something more pleasant, ok?"
Willow smiled cheerily, then quickly remembered where she was. She was draped over Angel's chest, on his couch, in his apartment.
She scrambled away, again settling herself next to him. Angel had to restrain himself from bursting into laughter. The shy girl was embarrassed to be laying on him- she jumped away as if he were on fire. He smiled and waited until she had resettled herself.
"So, Willow, what would you like to talk about?"
She stuttered for a few seconds before taking the easy way out.
"Whatever you want to talk about."
He smiled. "O.K., then, let's talk about you!"
"Me?" She squeaked.
He smiled fondly. "Yes, Red, You!"
He leaned over and ruffled her hair. "You have such pretty hair, Willow. So red, so soft.. I have a thing for redheads, you know..."
< Angel! You're flirting with Willow! You can't be flirting with her! You're still mooning over Buffy! >
But he couldn't resist listening to the tiny voice in the back of his head that accepted the fact that Buffy and he were over and was ready to move on.
Willow looked nervous. "Uhhhh, thanks." < Oh, down girl! He's just trying to be nice! >
He quickly changed the subject. "So, how's Oz?" < Uh-oh, wrong question! >
Her face immediately shut down and she blinked back tears.
< Stupid moron! You're really doing well tonight, Angel! > "Oh, Willow... I'm sorry! I didn't mean to pry!"
"No, no, you aren't prying. He dumped me for a groupie. No big deal. It wouldn't have worked out, anyways. I'm just not pretty. He was bound to find someone better than me..."
"Oh, Willow... Come here.."
He laid back and patted
his chest. Uncertainly, she resettled herself so she was using his chest
as a pillow.
She looked straight up into his eyes.
< He has such wonderful eyes... so brown and chocolaty... so warm and fell of life- errr..... unlife. >
"Willow, you are the most beautiful person I've ever met, inside and out. Oz was stupid, and I'm sure he'll regret his mistake!"
She sighed. "Thanks, Angel. You're such a great friend... even if it's not true, it makes me feel better..."
He stroked her head.
"It's true, Red..." But she was already asleep.
(One Week Later)
Willow stood in front of the mirror, critiquing herself.
< God! I can't believe he talked me into this! >
Exactly one week ago, today, she had fallen asleep on him. When she woke up they sat and talked for hours about nothing. Somewhere towards the end of the conversation Angel had decided that him and Willow should go to the Bronze one night and have fun. One night, no brooding, just fun. She, of course, agreed readily, thinking that it would be good for him. Now she was having major second thoughts.
< I'm not pretty at all! Everyone who sees Angel and I are going to wonder what he's doing with ME. Plain, mousy old me. And Buffy and the gang are going to be there! What are they going to think? God! Buffy had made it clear to Angel that she wanted to part of him after he came back from hell, but what if she changed her mind? I'm no competition for her! Angel loves her! WAIT, girl, what are you thinking? We're only going as friends! Don't go making it into a bigger deal than it really is. Angel would never want you for more than a friend, get used to that!>
She stared at her outfit. She had finally decided on a simple black dress, sophisticated but cute. Her hair fell on it like golden-red fire. She had to admit it, she looked good.
< If nothing else, I'm gonna make Oz sorry he broke up with me.. >
The doorbell rang and she ran to answer it.
She launched herself into his arms and he caught her in a bear hug.
"Hey! Good to see you too, tiger!"
She stepped back, embarassed.
"Wow! Willow! You look great!"
Willow could feel the blood rushing to her face.
"Thanks, so do you!"
And he did, in black pants, a black shirt, and a black jacket.
"Angel?" Willow asked, totally serious.
"Do you, by any chance, like black?" Willow giggled and Angel smiled.
"Come on, Red, we've gotta get going if we're going to make every guy in that club jealous of me..."
Willow smiled. "You're so sweet, Angel. But's it's the girls, not the guys, that are gonna be jealous. And that's fine by me...." She giggled. "'Specially if it's Harmony. I can't stand that girl! I sure like to give her some of her own..!"
Angel smiled. "Well then, you just point her out and we'll see what we can do, eh?"
Willow giggled. "You're the best, Angel! I could never ask for a better friend. Thanks!" She hugged him again.
< If only, Red, if only we could be more... >
Outside the Bronze
Willow stopped outside the door to the Bronze. Angel had ben leading her the whole was, and with each step her nervousness increased. Angel turned back, concerned.
"Willow? Are you alright?"
"Yeah.." She gave him an unsure smile. "Angel? Are you sure you still wanna do this? I mean, I would understand if you wanted to back out. Really...."
"Willow! I'm sure I wanna do this. Come on already!"
She smiled. "OK. Lead on.."
Inside the Bronze
<Figures. They have to play a slow song just when Angel and I get here.> Willow was having major thoughts and it was obvious.
"Willow? Would you like to dance?" Knowing that she would find a way out if given the choice, he didn't wait for an answer. Instead, he swept her into his arms and held her close. She gave him a sarcastic smile.
"Gee, sure, that would be nice.." But she was swaying to the song, fully enjoying the feeling of his strong arms around her. He chuckled.
"You laughing at me?" That did it. He burst into laughter and she, too, smiled.
"Whatcha smiling at, little girl?"
"hmmphh!" She acted indignant. "Little girl? Yeah, I suppose your right. Little girl dancing with old fogie, mmm?" Angel scoffed at her.
"Yeah, yeah. So, seriously, whatcha smiling at?"
"Me?! Well, I never!"
"Yeap! hehe.... I was thinking how great it is to hear you laugh." She turned a previously undiscovered shade of red. <Did I just say "hehe?" Wait, did I just *flirt* with Angel? Ohgawd...> Her hand flew to her mouth and she started stammering. "Uh, I uh, meant that..." She was cut of by Angel's hand, which was now placed over her mouth. He brushed his fingers over her lips lighting.
"Shhh, shhh. I know how you feel. I feel the same way to, Red."
Her heart soared. "You do?!" <Calm down, girl! He's just talking to you like a friend!!!>
"Of course! It's always great to see a friend happy..." Her heart fell.
<Of course, just a friend...>
"Willow?" Angel asked, concerned. "Did I say something wrong?" <Does she not want to be my friend?>
"Oh no, I'm sorry, Angel. Let's just enjoy ourselves, kay?"
"Deal!" The danced together quietly for awhile before they were rudely interrupted.
"Well, well, well. Whaddawe have here, hmm??? This must be your cousin, Willow. Can't imagine any other reason he would be dancing with you.... no, I take that back. He's way to cute to be related to you!!! So, who is he?"
Willow turned around slowly. Sure enough, there stood Harmony surrounded by a gaggle of her sheep. "Harmony." One word- not as much to acknowledge her as to make sure Angel knew who she was. Angel stood next to Willow, protectively.
<What a bitch! It's gonna be soooo much fun screwing with her mind!!> He wrapped his arms around Willow's waist. "Hi, my name is Angel. I'm Willow's BF." Willow tried hard not to gasp in surprise. Instead, she smiled sweetly.
<Oh, he's such a sweetie! He'd pretend that just for me!!!!>
Harmony snorted. "Yeah, right. And just how much did she pay you to say that?"
Anger flared up inside of Angel. <How dare she talk to Willow like that?> He felt like ripping her head off- or, better yet, ripping her heart out. If she even had one, that is...... Instead, he smiled. "Oh, I know what your thinking..." He said in a knowing voice. He flashed Harmony one of the smiles that Willow liked so much. Willow felt herself getting nauseous.
<ohnonono! He's not falling for HER, too, is he?> It took her a minute to come to her senses. <Down, girl. He would never do that to you. Whatever he's got in mind, just go along with it...>
Harmony looked a little confused. <But then, what's new?> "You do?! Uh, err, you do! Of course you do! Duh! I mean, what's a guy like you doing ith-- well,-- her?"
Angel resisted the urge to leap at her. <ohh, that little...> "Oh, I know exactly what you mean! I have no idea HOW I got someone as great as Willow, but, believe me, I thank the gods everyday for it! She's so wonderful.....mmmmm" He purred in her ear. "I'm so lucky, aren't I?"
Willow focused all her energy into keeping herself from bursting into laughter. It was hard, too, considering she was very distracted by Angel purring in her ear. Before she knew what was happening, he had spun her around and they were sharing a deep kiss. <mmmm.... this feels so right! If only it was real!>
<Gee, I hope she isn't mad at me... mm, but it feels soooo god!>
Harmony and her flock quickly left, disgusted. The two non-lovers seperated quickly, but unwillingly. Willow's head was spinning and her knees were weak.
"Whoa..." she suddenly lurched forward, straight into Angel's arms. He quickly steadied her, but did not let go.
"Willow? You're alright, aren't you? I mean, you aren't mad at me, right? Cause I was just trying to, well, you know, "give her some of her own".. and then,"
She furrowed her brow. "No, no, no. It was kinda nice, actually..." her hand flew up to her mouth. <Ohmygod, did I just say that? Nooooooo...> "I'm fine, reall---" She cut herself off when she noticed a couple making out and realized just who the couple was.
"Oh my God.." her voice was strangled and the words were followed by a shrill cry.
Angel turned around
to see what the commotion was about. There, a mere 10 feet away, stood
Buffy and Xander, completely oblivious to the events going on around them,
making out like teenagers. <Duh, Angel, they ARE
teenagers. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid teenagers.>
Willow was sobbing now. Her tears feel like torrents down her face. He felt like he had been stabbed in the gut, the offending object twisting round and round.
"Oh God, Wills, I'm
sorry...." He pulled her to him, wanting to comfort her and stop the tears.
He desperatly hoped Buffy and Xander stayed oblivious to them. Willow was
drawing quite a bit of attention, though, and he knew what he had to do.
"Will, I'm gonna get us out of here, OK?" She nodded meekly, unable to
face words past her gut wrenching sobs. He quickly picked her up and rushed
her out of the Bronze.
“no, No, NO, NONONONONO!!!”
Angel had brought Willow to his apartment hoping to calm her down. As soon as they walked (more like hobbled, actually...) in the door, she had slid to the floor and refused to get up.
“Willow, I’m sure you’d be much more comfortable on the couch or the...uhh... the bed....”
Angel sighed. This was going to be a looooonggg night. <I swear to God I’m gonna rip that boy’s head off the next time I see him...> “Willow?” He asked gingerly, afraid to send her into another fit.
“What?” Her response was muffled by the carpet.
“Would you like to spend the night here? So you won’t have to deal with them just yet?”
She nodded- or at least, he thought it was a nod. She could have been wiping her tears on the carpet.
“Don’t you have to call your parents or something?”
“N... no. They’re *sniff* on vacation. Away all this month....”
<All this *month?!* Geez! I wonder how many parents return home to find their children dead or missing...> “Willow, come on. You can change out of that dress and then we’ll talk, ok?”
She didn’t answer. “Alright, come on now...” He lifted her up and carried her into his bedroom. He gently set her down on his bed and went to the dresser. “Here you can wear these.” He tossed her a large black (What else) t-shirt. “I’m gonna go get some food, ok? You can change in here.” She nodded and he left the room.
“Here, I heard junk food is the best in situations like this...” She gave him a slight smile.
“Thanks, but no thanks. I’m not really hungry right now.”
“OK. He put the food down on his dresser and moved back to Willow.
“Here, lie down.” He gently scooted her over and tucked the comforter around her. She was crying again. His heart ached for her. “Willow, what can I do for you?”
“Juu....just don’t leave me alone, please. I don’t think that I can handle being alone right now...”
He nodded. “Ok, ok, of course. I promise I won’t leave. I’m so sorry, Will. This is all my fault. If I hadn’t been so damn insistant, this never would’ve happ--”
“Wha?” Angel was startled and confused.
“Shut UP! Angel, repeat after me. I had ABSOLUTLY nothing to do with this!”
“What are you talking about? I--”
“Damnit Angel, just say it!”
Angel did, only to appease her. “I had ABSOLUTLY nothing to do with this.”
“Good. Thank you. Now,
you listen to me. You are NOT responsible for what happened. God knows
how long that that’s been going on...... Angel, if anything I should be
thanking you. At least now I know...” She began
sobbing again, and he crawled into the bed next to her. He cradled her in his arms and stroked her hair gently.
“Let it all out, Red, just let it all out.....”
And she did. She stayed in his arms and sobbed herself to sleep.
Angel looked at the girl sleeping in his arms. After she was all cried out, she had fallen into a restless sleep.
<I can’t believe that they could do this to her- Dammit! They’re supposed to be her friends! I swear to God, when I get my hands on them.....>
Full of malicious thoughts,
Angel also fell into a restless sleep.
It was 10 A.M. when Angel woke. Willow was still sleeping in his arms. <Poor girl, she must be exhausted!> He gently stroked her hair. <I’m sorry, Red. I wish I could’ve protected you..... If only I-- no, Angel, stop it! She told you herself it wasn’t your fault, and, well, she’s right. As much as you’d like to, you can’t protect her from life!> He sat there, holding her for awhile before he realized something. <Geez, Angel, if ya hadn’t been so busy brooding, you would’ve remembered that today is Thursday, a school day. Willow’s gonna be missed! You need to wake her up!> Still, as he looked at her now peaceful body, he couldn’t do it. <She’s obviously tired. And the sooner I wake her up, the sooner she’s gonna have to face all this. She has a near-perfect academic record. Calling in sick one day won’t kill her!> That settled, he carefully detached her from him and went into the kitchen to get some blood.
Willow woke up, very disoriented. Arms wrapped around her- black silk sheets- and it all came back in a flash. She gagged. Angel immediatly shot upright. “Angel?” She was on the verge of tears so he pulled her into his arms.
She tried to relax “Angel, what time is it? I have to go to school......” He smiled. “What?!” She snapped, annoyed. His smile immediatly faded.
“Oh, Will, I’m sorry. You were sleeping so peacefully- I couldn’t bear to wake you up. You looked so tired... It’s 3:00 now. You kinda missed school.... I’m sorry... Are you mad at me?”
She relaxed. “No, how could I be? You were just trying to look out for me! And you were right, I did need the sleep. Also, I don’t think I would have been up to facing--” she frowned. “them.... yet.”
“It’ll be O.K., Red. I promise. The pain, it’s going to fade and heal. Please believe me....”
“I believe you, Angel. I do. It’s just, well, right now...” She choked back a sob. “Just hold me, please, Angel.”
So they layed together and sobbed together.
Willow had just stopped sobbing when the phone rang. Angel gently untangled their bodies, completely pissed. <Who the hell could that be? I swear, if it’s a God-damned salesman it’s gonna be a slow, painful death...>
“What?” He snapped into the reciever.
Willow looked on, interested. A small smirk played on her lips. Her mind sing-songed a thought. <Some-body pissed Angel off...>
“Well, good to talk to you, too.”
Angel lost all control. He immediatly vamped out. Willow jumped back, out of surprise more than fear. She knew that he wouldn’t hurt her- she trusted him.
“What the hell do *you* want, Buffy?” He snarled into the receiver. The smirk immediatly fell from Willow’s face.
<Buffy. Buffy the Bitch. Hey, I liked that. Buffy the Bitch.>
“God, Angel. So cold! Whaddid I do?”
“Nevermind. *What* do you *want*?”
“God! I just wanted to ask you if you knew anything about where Willow is! She didn’t show up at the Bronze last night and she wasn’t at school today. Xander and I checked and she isn’t at home. Angel, we’re worried about her!”
Again, Angel snarled into the phone. <Like hell your worried! Like hell you care!>
“I’ll call you back!”
Too late. He had already hung up.
Angel turned to Willow and immediatly realized that she was shaking. He mistook her anger for fear and his hands quickly flew to his face, running over the ridges. “Oh gosh, Red, I’m sorry...”
He dropped his head and his face immediatly shifted back to human form . She was still shaking. He approached her slowly, as not to frighten her even more.
“No, Angel. I’m not scared of you. I trust you. I know you would never hurt me... it’s just, well, you know.. *Buffy*.” She shuddered. “I don’t know if I could face her...”
“Well, Red, we kinda
need to talk about that.... He sat down on the bed next to her. “They
ARE worried about you. Now, Buffy wants to know if I know anything about
where you are. I told her I’d call her back- Red,
whatever I say, it’s up to you, I know you’ll make the right decision. But I do think that they deserve to at least know that you are safe, even if they don’t know where. At least, Giles does..”
Willow nodded and sighed. “You’re right, of course.” She suddenly thought of something. “Angel? If I do decide to go and see them, you’d go with me, right?”
“Of course! Of course!”
She relaxed. “Thanks. Tell her to gather everyone in the library after dark. Tell her you’ll look for me through contacts but if you can’t find me you’ll come up with a plan then. Then I’ll go with you and well...” She grimaced.
“Alright, Red. I think you made a wise choice. Hold on and I’ll relay the message.”
She nodded and laid
down. This was gonna be a loooooonnnnng night. When Angel had hung up on
Buffy, he turned to Willow, who was laying down again. He could tell by
her heartbeat that she was relaxed but not yet
“There’s something I kinda wanted to talk to you about....” <Oh gosh, Angel, you’re going to sound soooooo desperate!>
“Yeap?” She cracked open her eyes and looked at him. “What is it, Angel?”
“Umm, since your parents won’t be home and all, I was wondering....” he trailed off so she prompted him.
“What? What were you wondering?”
He blurted it out. “If you’d like to stay here with me. I mean, so we wouldn’t have to be alone and all. You could sleep in here and I would sleep in the living room.”
She perked up. “You’d do that for me?”
He sighed. “I understa--- what? I mean, of course I would!”
She giggled. “That’s sooooo sweeet! I’d love to stay, if I’m welcome... But, you would NOT sleep in the living room. I would!”
“Of course you’re welcome! You’re always welcome, you should know that. So, does that mean you’ll stay?”
“Sure! I’d love to!”
“That’s great!!” He swept her into a giant hug.
“Thank you, Angel.”
“Nope, thank you!”
“Nuh-uh, thank you!”
“No, Thank you!”
“Negative. Thank you!”
Angel sighed, defeated. “Your welcome.”
She giggled. “Red wins, yet again!!”
“Hey!!! I resent that! I LET you win!”
She picked up the pillow and wacked him over the head. “You just can’t admit defeat! It’s some kind of male thing...”
“Hey!” He scowled playfully at her. “First, physical violence, then, insulting my gender! I’m afraid I won’t tolerate that!”
“Oh yeahhhh? Whattaya gonna do about it, hmmmm?”
“This!” And he launched himself at her, tickling her until she couldn’t breathe..
"Willow? Willow?” Angel gently shook Willow, who was sleeping, yet again.
“Willow, come on, get up. You have about an hour before sun set, I figured you might want to shower and change or something...”
Willow cracked her eyes open sleepily. “I don’t wannnnnnaaaa,” she whined pitifully.
“Come on, up.”
She groaned. “Yea, yea, yea. I’m coming...”
He snorted. “Betcha are. You’ve got five minutes to get up before I come in here and get you up myself, got it?”
“Noooooo......” As soon as he left, she snuggled her head back into the pillows. <Just one more minute....>
Angel reentered the room ten minutes later to find <surprise, surpise> a sleeping Willow. He groaned to himself. <Man oh man..>
“Willow! GET UP!!!”
“Noooooo...” she mumbled softly.
He sighed heavily. Then, he leaned over and tugged the comforter and sheets of Willow. She shot up, startled. “What’d ya do that for?”
“Willow, you need to get up! Come on. You need to take a shower and get dressed and as of right now you have less than 50 minutes. Come on...”
Defeated, she held out her hand and he gladly pulled her out of the bed and steered her towards the bathroom. He opened the closet and pulled out a black towel which he immediatly threw to her. Then he motioned to her dress which was hanging up on the back of the door.
“Here, I washed this. It’s all clean so you can put it on when you’re done with your shower, ok?”
She nodded. “Thanks so much for everything, Angel.”
“Your welcome. Now, hurry up, get moving!” And with that he left to go get dressed for the confrontation he was severly dreading.
Angel gently guided Willow through the front doors of Sunnydale High and in the general direction of the library. It seemed that the closer she got, the number she got. <Oh, Willow...> He was really worried about her. He knew what it was like to feel betrayed- but her situation was just terrible. Her two best friends seeing each other behind her back..... <Oh no, oh no....Poor Wills....> “Willow?” He gently placed his hand on her back.
“Are you sure that you are up to this? I could just tell them that you’re fine but elsewhere...”
She set her face and pointed to it. “Resolve face. I’m not sure that I’m ready, but I really have to do this. I do. I have to face them sooner orlater, right? Besides, you were right. I don’t want to worry Giles- he doesn’t deserve that. I’ll be fine...” She trailed off.
“Ok, if your sure. M’on.....” He gently took her hand and moved in front of her, pulling her towards the library.
<What was that?> Sure that he heard something out of place, Angel stopped short. Willow walked straight into him and immediatly went flying backwards, landing ungracefully on her butt. He turned, horrified. “Oh my God Will I’m sooooo sorry! I though I heard something... are you alright?”
She winced. “Ummm.... my wrist kinda hurts...” she rubbed it gingerly. “Ohh yes, I did something to it.”
“Oh no! Willow, I’m so sorry!”
She laughed. “It’s Ok! Don’t worry, I’ll live!! Come on, we have a meeting to get to!” He offered his hand to her and she grabbed it with her good hand and pulled herself up.
He turned to her, concerned. “What? Is something else wrong?”
She pointed to her ankle. “I think I twisted it...” She grimaced again.
“Oh Willow, I’m sorry....Here.” He picked her up like a baby and proceeded to carry her.
“What are you doing?!”
“I’m carrying you! What else? You have a bad ankle, remember?”
“Angel, put me down! How do you think we’re gonna explain you carrying me in?”
He pretended to think.
“Oh, I duhno. Maybe that you can’t walk because you twisted your ankle?”
Nevertheless, he complied, knowing she was right, and gently set her down.
He wrapped his arm around her waist and
supported her as she limped, slowly and painfully, towards the library and the impending meeting.
Four students and a teacher sat in the library, all trying to deal with their own issues.
Buffy idly picked at her nails wondering where Willow was, and, more importantly, why Angel was acting so cold. <Gosh, what did I do?>
Xander silently stared at the library doors, hoping Willow would walk through, alive and unharmed. <My best friend... oh God Wills, please be O.K.>
Oz twisted his hands together, terrified that Drea would dump him because she thought he was still in love with Willow. <Geez Will, you disappeared at the worst possible time..>
Cordelia bitched and moaned about anything she could possibly think of to hide the fact she was actually worried about Willow. <Come on, you have to be alright! I mean, who else can manipulate a computer like you? We’d, like, die if you couldn’t hack into stuff and that sort of thing....>
Giles nervously flipped through books, staring at the pages but not absorbing anything. <Please, oh please let her be alright..... please just let her be safe from the hellmouth and the other, well, “nasties”>
When the doors opened and Willow hobbled through, supported by Angel, four of them relaxed. Buffy sat, staring at her ‘best friend’ being supported by her ex, and she thought she might burst into tears.
<Oh, thank God. My best friend is safe... thank God, thank God...>
<Yeash. Good... Willow’s OK, I can get back to Drea now..>
<She’s alright! Good! I better not get circles under my eyes from lack of sleep over this.......>
<Thank God she’s alive... but why’s she hobbling? What happened?>
Giles was the first to speak. “Willow, are you alright? What happened? Where were you this whole time?”
Angel quickly helped
Willow to sit down on a bench and immediatle sat down beside her. He nodded
for her to start and quickly grabbed her hand and gave it a slight supportive
squeeze. She winced in pain. He cringed.
“Sorry, kinda forgot bout that...”
She smiled. “S’ok, no prob.”
She took a deep breath. Angel and her had quickly discussed this earlier and he had decided that she should tell them whatever she felt comfortable with. If she decided to say she was going out of town and stay with him, that was fine. If she decided to say she was staying with him, that was fine, too.
“I was at Angel’s place.”
“You were WHERE?” This came simultaneously from Buffy and Xander. Giles waved his hand to shut them up. “Later. First, Willow, are you alright? What happened?”
She smiled meekly at him. “Oh, nothing, really. Just a little accident, I fell, clutzy me, and I kinda hurt my ankle and wrist.”
Giles immediatly grabbed the first aid kit from the table and went over to her. “Here, let me check the injuries.” After deciding that they weren’t broken but sprained he wrapped them in ace bandages. “There. You should be back to normal in a few days.”
She smiled at him. “Thanks.”
He went back to his seat and plopped down. “So, did you want to tell us what happened?”
“You mean, how did I get hurt? I told you, I was just being klutzy me and--”
She was cut off by Buffy, who sounded pretty pissed. “No, he means why were you at Angel’s?” She turned to Angel. “And why did he feel the need to keep that little fact from us?”
Willow gulped, getting pretty steamed herself. “Jealous?” <Willow!! Where did that come from?!>
Angel looked at Willow, shocked. <She’s got spunk.> He couldn’t help the small smile that slowly spread over his features.
The smile wasn’t missed by Buffy, who decided to address him instead of her. “Care to share?”
“No.” The smile faded.
Buffy turned back to Willow. “Nothing to be jealous of, really. Certainly not of you...”
Willow bit back tears. Angel bit back curses. The others stared on, shocked.
“What were you doing with dead-boy, Wills?”
Willow turned to Xander, eyes flaming. “Don’t you dare call him that again, Xander.”
“Yeash, sorry. What were you doing with him?”
“None of your business.”
“Whoa. What’s with the ‘tude?”
Willow could stand it anymore. She burst into tears. She managed, however, to choke out a few words inbetween the sobs. “How long-- have-- you guys--been--- kissing?” She gasped for breath. Angel quickly gathered her into his arms and rocked her back and forth, all the while shooting daggers with his eyes at Buffy and Xander.
The color immediatly drained from Xander’s face. <How does she know about that?> “I’m sorry, Will. We were gonna tell you...”
Willow gasped out some more. “I don’t care about excuses, Xander. Just, please. How long?”
Buffy cut in. “A few weeks.”
The intensity of Willow’s sobs increased, as did the intensity of Angel’s glare. He decided to help her along a little bit. “You wanna know what happened? I’ll tell you. I was with Willow at the Bronze when we see you two, basically oblivious to the outside world. She came back with me to my place and she’s been there ever since. I didn’t feel the need to tell you because I know you- “he glared at Buffy- “would’ve insisted that we do something stupid like make her leave or talk before she was ready.”
Giles, Oz, and Cordy stared on in shock. <What the hell is going on???>
Buffy turned red. “I suppose Xander and I are to be blamed for all of this?”
Angel glared. “Umm, yeah?”
“What are you doing with her, anyways? She’s healed, she’ll be fine, gosh!”
Wilow, still sobbing, curled even closer to Angel, trying desperatly to shut out Buffy’s hateful words.
“And Willow, what are you doing? Can’t you see he’s only doing this because he pities you?”
Willow, unable to take anymore, gathered herself up before running out of the library, unheeding Giles’s calls. “Willow, your ankle! You could hurt it even more...” She stopped short and turned. “Nothing compared to the pain in here..” she said softly, pointing at her heart, before slamming through the doors and running blindly down the school hall.
Angel stood up, angered greatly. “Your dead wrong, Buffy. I care for Willow, more than I’ve cared for anyone in a long time. Including you. You should be ashamed of yourself, both you and Xander. She’s supposed to be your friend, and how do you treat her? Like this? What a joke! Giles, she’ll be OK. I’ll take care of her.”
Giles nodded quickly, quite appalled at his Slayer’s attitude. “And I shall take care of this-” he said, motioning around the room. “Now go.”
And Angel fled quickly after Willow, heart wrenching for her. <I love you, Willow.>
Willow ran blindly down the streets of Sunnydale. She knew she was a sitting duck for any vamp that happened to be out that night, but she couldn’t care less. <Hell, if I got killed they might actually feel guilty...> Her heart thudded in her chest and her breath burned her throat like fire, but she didn’t slow. She couldn’t slow. She realized that they hadn’t even chased after her. <They don’t even care anymore!> Tears ran down her face, clouding her vision. She didn’t even bother to wipe them away. She just stumbled blindly, not even sure where she was going. Anywhere, anywhere away from THERE. She was quite surprised, of course, when she ran straight into a male chest.
“Ummph!” Willow fell, thwailing wildly. She was quite surprised when strong arms caught her before she hit the pavement. They lifted her up and steadied her. She gasped for air. The collision had knocked the wind out of her.
“Are you alright, Willow?” A concerned male voice asked.
“Yeah, it’s me. Are you alright?”
“I- I’m ok, I think. Wait... how come I ran into you? How could you be in front of me? I left before you did...”
“I took a shortcut. I was hoping you were heading this way, instead of towards your house. Plus, there is the whole vampiric speed factor...”
“Huh?” Willow looked around to see that she was headed straight for his apartment. “Oh, I’m sorry. You probably don’t want me there, or Buffy doesn’t, or something... I’m sorry, I didn’t even realize where I’m heading. I’ll just go home now...”
“Of course I want you there. I’m the one who asked, remember? And I don’t really care what Buffy wants right now, this is none of her business. Actually, as of right now I’m not giving you a choice. You’re in no shape to take care of yourself, you are definitly coming home with me. Ok?”
She nodded. “Thank you so much, Angel...”
He nodded back. “Look, Red, are you Ok? I mean, physically. What about your ankle?”
She looked down at it. <Yeash, I’d forgotten about that! But look, it’s really swelling.> “Umm, I don’t know. I kinda forgot about it.” She gingerly stepped forward and winced. “Oh yeah, it hurts a bit.”
“Red.... oh Red. Why did you do that? Here, this time I’m not giving you a choice.” He again lifted her and cradled her like a baby. He gingerly carried her all the way back to his apartment.
Buffy and Xander sat
at the library table while Giles paced around anxiously. Oz and Cordelia
had long since left in disgust. Buffy looked indignant- Xander looked guilty.
Giles was mad, and it was obvious. He let them sit for a few minutes in
silence before he spoke. “GOD DAMMIT!” He pounded his fists into
the table, making both Buffy anf Xander jump. “I hope you both are
happy! Willow’s your best friend. She’s put her life on the line for both
of you multiple times and you do this to her. She doesn’t deserve
this, you know. First she sees you together, which,
I’m sure is bad enough- but then, THIS! THIS! Buffy, I’m ashamed of the way you acted. Your actions wrong and terrible- Buffy, they were downright hateful. You let your jealousy for Angel take over- you didn’t stop to think once about Willow’s feelings, did you? Did you?! Let me remind you that YOU broke up with Angel. As in, he didn’t break up with YOU, as in, your not a couple. He is free to do whatever he wants, be it become friends- or more- with Willow. It’s not your business to pry or anything more. You have Xander now, don’t you? You handled this situation pretty terribly, I hope you realize that.”
Buffy was unmoved by
Giles’s speech. Although it hurt that he was mad at her, it didn’t help
to change her opinion in the matter. <She doesn’t belong with him. He
doesn’t belong with her. Why can’t anyone else see
that?> Still, she knew that she wouldn’t get out of the library until Giles was sure that she was sorry and would go groveling at Willow’s feet for forgiveness. So she gave a sad half smile and dredged up some old acting lessons she knew would come in handy sometime. “Oh my gosh! I feel soooo terrible. My best friend, and look what I did! Giles, I need to go apologize to her. I’m so sorry, I hope you can forgive me...”
Giles smiled. <There, at least she has some sense in her...> “I’m glad you realize that you were wrong, Buffy. Now please, go apologize. Xander, you are free to leave, too.”
Xander nodded, numb with shock from all that had happened. <I don’t believe this, I don’t believe this...>
“Thanks, Giles. We’ll be here bright and early tomorrow morning!”
After Buffy walked
Xander home, she headed in the direction of Angel’s apartment. <I can’t
believe this is happening! I can’t believe he would,could ever want to
be friends with her. That lying little back-stabbing...> She let her thoughts
trail off as she fingered the stake in her back pocket. <God dammit,
if I can’t have him, neither can
Angel unlocked his
apartment and tiptoed inside. He looked down at the redhead that was now
sleeping in his arms. <Poor girl, she doesn’t deserve this..> He entered
his bedroom and gently layed her down on his bed. Talking of both his and
her socks and shoes, he layed down next to her and pulled the covers over
both of them. He then allowed himself to drift off into a restless sleep....
Buffy crept up to the
door to Angel’s apartment. She wasn’t sure just how she was going to handle
this, but she knew she had to do something. She was surprised when
the knob turned easily in her hands. <Guess Angel
got a little distracted, a little careless...> She crept silently through his apartment, relieved to find that he was sleeping. <With Willow.> Buffy stared, shocked at the sight before her. <Willow and Angel, on the bed, sleeping together.> If she wasn’t sure what she was going to do before, she knew now. She crept over to Angel and pulled the stake out. She silently and swiftly raised it above her head and was about to lower it when she heard him mumble something. Afraid that he was awake, she leant over him and tried to make out what He mumbled again. “I love you, Willow.” Buffy turned red as she shook with anger. She raised the stake again and brought it in a deadly arc straight towards his heart.
Just before the stake pierced Angel’s chest, Buffy stopped short.
<I can’t do this to him....> God, he loved Willow. <When did this happen? Where was I?!>
Mentally, she cursed herself. <You were with Xander. Behind everyone’s backs. Hurting your two best friends in the entire world...>
Realization of the past few weeks events dawned on her. <Oh God, what have I done? The Xander thing... and then how I treated Willow at the library.... and now this? They’ll never forgive me....>
A stream of tears rolled
down her face and silent sobs racked her body. As quickly and noiselessly
as possible, she left the room and exited the apartment.
Angel sighed in relief
as soon as Buffy was gone. He might have been distracted and careless,
but Angel certainly wasn’t stupid. And his vampiric senses wouldn’t allow
him to sleep when a Slayer was around, especially when he knew what that
Slayer was capable of. It wasn’t very hard to figure out what she was planning
to do- it was his reaction that had caused him problems. He could either
confront her to ensure his safety or he could wait to see what she did.
He didn’t really thing that she could kill him, especially after she failed
to do so while he was
Angelus, but he could never be sure. His first strategy would ensure his safety for now but wouldn’t stop her from trying later- the second was very risky. One wrong decision and he was dust.
<And, there is that saying. Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned...>
Realizing that she was about to stake him anyway, he blurted out the only thing he could think of and inwardly cringed.
<That was good, Angel. Why don’t you piss her off even more, huh?>
When he felt her lean over him to catch what he was saying, he screwed it all and repeated himself.
<Oh well, going out with a bang...>
He could almost fear
the anger radiate of her in waves and sensed her raise the stake above
his chest. He squinched his eyes shut at waited it to pierce his heart,
but was surprised when nothing happened. He could
feel a change in chemistry, and he knew that she was waging an inner battle with herself. Then, much to his surprise and obvious relief, she turned and fled.
Willow was laying still in bed, reviewing the night’s events in her heard. Everything was still such a shock that it hadn’t quite sunken in yet. That fact, combined with the horrible nightmares she was having about her friends hating her forever, made for a very mucked up, confused Willow. She was trying to sort out dreams from reality when she heard Angel stir, and then say something. Cautiously, she listened closer.
“I love you, Willow.”
<He what? He whats? What?!> Then, much to her surprise, he repeated it.
“I love you, Willow.”
<I love you too, Angel.> She almost jumped back in shock, but restrained herself. <Where the hell did that come from?!!! And he does sooo not mean that. He can’t mean that. He probably is just dreaming... wait, dreaming of me?> She smiled with pride, still careful not to move. <Oh Goddess, I can’t wake him up! Or, what if he is up and finds out that I heard that? Oh, how embarrassing...>
Her thoughts, jumbled now more than ever, slowly lulled her into a dull, still sleep.
When Angel woke up,
Willow was still sleeping in his arms. He unconsciously took a small section
of her hair and twirled it around his fingers, thinking over the events
of the previous night. He rubbed the red strands gently between his fingers,
thinking about the beautiful redhead and about his confession, out loud
and in front of her no less. <It’s not like she heard, but
still. And then Buffy...> He thought about Buffy, his old love. <What’s
happened to her? She’s not anything like the woman I used to love.....
Thank God, at least, that she didn’t stake
me....> He again looked at the girl sleeping in his arms. <Poor girl, this is so much to handle for her..... too much, too fast. I can barely keep it all straight.... Thank God she didn’t see what happened last night with Buffy, I don’t think that she could deal with it....> Keeping her best interests in mind, he silently decided that he wouldn’t --
couldn’t -- tell Willow what had happened. He went back to playing with her hair, concentrating solely on the beauty before him.
Willow woke to the
sensation of someone playing with her hair. <Mmm, that feels so good..>
She shifted a little in order to give Angel a better grip on it, and smiled
when he subconsciously tightened his grip around her. <Like a protective
brother... or father... or, well, in Angel’s case, great-great-great-great-great-great
smiled. “Mornin’ Angel...”
“Mornin’, Red. How are you feeling?”
She answered truthfully.
“Terribly crappy, but it helps a lot that you are here with me. You make
me happy, you know.” <Whoa, where did THAT come from? I guess maybe
I’m getting a little more gutsy? Especially after his little confession
last night...> If it wasn’t surprise enough that she said that, she just
couldn’t believe she pulled it off without blushing or showing and other
obvious signs of embarrassment. <And, come to think of it, I’m really
not all that embarrassed. It’s the truth, right? Hmmm....> She could almost
see his smile, even though she had her
back to him. She shifted again and this time he let her up.
“Angel, do you have anything I could wear? I’m not very comfortable in this dress, and I don’t really feel like going back home right now to get something. Well, if I’m not overstaying my welcome, that is..”
Angel smiled. “I’ll find something you can wear. Don’t worry about it. Tonight we’ll go to your house and get you some clothes. And, by the way, how’s your ankle and wrist?”
“Actually, I kinda forgot about them. So much going on and all....” She flexed her wrist and was surprised to find that, although sore, she had complete control of it. “My wrist is OK. A little sore, but nothing else. I’m not sure about my ankle yet...”
He nodded, and helped her sit up. Then he got up and went over to his dresser, looking for something suitable for Willow. <Hmmm.....> Finally, he picked out some sweats and another t-shirt and tossed them to her. “Here, these are going to be huge, but I don’t really have anything smaller...” He looked at her helplessly. “They’ll do ‘till tonight, though, unless you plan on going somewhere...”
Willow shook her head. “This is great. Thanks Angel.” She grabbed the clothes and tucked them under her bad arm while she used her good arm to hoist herself off the bed. She cringed in pain. “Looks like my leg isn’t doing so well. I guess I didn’t help it much with that stunt last night...” She admitted sheepishly. He was at her side in a second.
He tisked worriedly. “Willow.... you should be taking better care of yourself, you know. Here, you can sit on the bed and change.” He gently sat her back down on the bed and was startled to see a worried look on her face. “Is that ok with you, Red?”
She nodded and blushed. “It’s just, umm....” <Ohmygawd, he’s not going to stay here, is he??>
He looked at her, confused. Then, suddenly, realization dawned. Not wanting to embarrass her any further, he quickly cut in. “I need to feed, so I’ll be in the kitchen. You can call me when you’re ready, alright? Don’t try to come out by yourself, I don’t want you to get hurt any worse, kay?” She nodded and the blush quickly faded. “Thanks, Angel.” He acknowledged her with a nod and quickly left the room, silently thanking the vampire gods that vampires couldn’t blush.
Willow winced in pain. She was trying quite unsucessfully to change into Angel’s clothes, but it was no easy task with a minorly hurt wrist and a seriously injured ankle. Add that to the pounding headache she had probably gotten from crying, the soreness overcoming her body, and her seemingly endless fatigue.. well, kaboom. A totally helpless Willow. However, as much trouble as she was having, she wasn’t about to call Angel in to help her. No, she had at least a little pride left. It had taken her twenty minutes to get the damned t-shirt on, and when she finally had she realized that it was inside out. To top that off, the material was really itching her. Sighing, she decided to try the pants. Ten minutes later and no sucess, she finally lost it- she mustered all her remaining strength and threw them at the wall, screaming and cursing at them. Angel, hearing her screaming and cursing from the kitchen, ran into the room, scared for her life. It took all of his self-control not to laugh at the girl sprawled on the bed- his bed- wearing only his inside-out t-shirt. Thank the gods that the shirt was huge on her, covering anything the lack of pants did not. It was when he saw her immense frustration and the tears forming in her eyes that he became serious.
“Oh my God Will, are you alright?” She glanced up at him. Her words were bitter.
“No, I’m not alright! I feel like crap! I’m mentally and physically tired. Now I find out I can’t even dress myself!” Tears rolled down her face.
Angel looked at her grimly. <I guess the events of the past few days really are catching up with her..> He walked over to the bed and sat down next to her. “Willow, shhh..” He brushed her tears away gently and to his relief, she stopped crying.
“I always take care of myself, Angel. I feel like- like- some invalid, Angel.”
Angel brushed the strands
of hair off her face. “Shhhh, shhh. There’s nothing to be worried about,
y’hear? Just because you need a little help one day in your life is nothing
to be ashamed of. I shouldn’t have left you alone in the first place.”
As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Angel cringed, remembering
the events leading up to his leaving. He quickly covered his words.
“I should’ve known that you were weak. I don’t want you to hurt yourself,
you hear? Don’t ever be afraid to ask me for help, Red. I’ll always be
here for you...” He reached over
gingerly and enveloped her in a gentle hug. He could feel her nod against his chest. “Alright, now. Here.” He gently got up and walked over to the discarded pants. He went back to the bed and helped her sit up, legs dangling over the side of the bed. Through shear will and a whole lot of luck, he managed to help her slip into the pants without hurting her or seeing anything he wasn’t supposed to. He couldn’t help seeing a whole lot of her long legs, though, and this made him ache for something he knew he could never have. He looked up at Willow, who was looking a little better. Her face turned miserable, though, when she thought of something else. A blush quickly crept over her face and she looked down at her hands. “What is it, Red?”
“myshirt’sinsideout” She mumbled softly under her breath.
Angel smiled. “S’ok. Here, hold on.” He crawled over the bed until he was facing her back. He gently tugged the shirt over her head, careful not to look down. Then he quickly reversed the shirt and helped Willow wiggle into it without seeing anything, again. They both let out a simulaneous sigh of relief. Both sat for a few minutes in uncomfortable silence.
Willow was the first to speak, a nervous phrase that popped out of her mouth before she could stop it. “Umm, thanks. You really are a great friend to do that.” She was aware how stupid it sounded, and wished like anything she could take it back. Angel, however, didn’t notice anything except for the fact that she looked at him as nothing more than a friend. He managed to plaster a fake smile on his face for her sake and responded.
“Best friends, Willow. Best friends always.” This time, she was the one to initiate the hug.
<I love you, Angel....> He, grateful of course for the wonderful gesture, hugged her back for what seemed like an eternity. Eventually, though, he pulled away and looked at her tired face.
“Willow, you look exhausted!” He refrained from adding an ‘again’ at the end of the sentence. After all, she had been through a lot, what should he expect. “I think you need a few more hours of sleep...” She nodded tiredly at him. She looked half ready to drop off right there, and she was still sitting on the edge of the bed. He adjusted her so she was lying down and covered her yet again. Then, as an afterthought, he crawled into the bed next to her and wrapped his arms around her. Gently, careful not to scare her, he leaned over and kissed her on the top of her head. She looked up at him, exhausted. He searched her eyes for her response, but didn’t find nearly as much surprise as he was expecting. The next words out of her mouth shocked her more than anything that he’d heard in the past two hundred and some plus years....
“I love you, Angel.”
Angel stared at the
girl in shock, utterly disbelieving. After she had said those four words
she had fallen asleep, leaving him toiling in a murky sea of his own emotions.
Love, hope, shock, and, finally, denial. <Look at her, she’s exhausted.
She obviously had no idea what she was saying. That is, if she even said
that!> Now determined that he had heard wrong, he tried to decifer what
words had really come out of her mouth. <It’s obvious that I only heard
the words I wanted to hear. Maybe she said, “I hugged you, Angel.” or,
“How dumb are you, Angel.” or, “I
rubbed you, Angel.” Err, no, that didn’t make any sense. And besides-> he pushed all the sick thoughts out of his brain. <That’s sick. She wouldn’t ever say that. Then again, it might be more realistic than her saying, “I love you, Angel.” But, hell, it’s a non-issue. She did NOT say that. Control yourself!> He rambled to himself in his head as he tried to figure out what had just happened. As much as he tried to push it back, he could not change the fact that the small part of his heart that was full of hope was growing, beginning to pose challenge to his brain. <What if she really said that she loves me? Could she possibly love me? Oh God, I want her to love me so bad... with all my unbeating heart and...> he almost winced at the choice of words- <soul. She gave me my soul, and I want so badly to love her with all of it... but I want that love to be returned...> He sat turmoiling with himself for hours,
reality and fantasy battling with one another, when Willow awoke. She looked at him through innocent eyes. <So innocent. She’s so young...> Mentally, Angel cursed himself. <Why do I fall in love with them? Why?> But grouping Buffy and Willow together was completely wrong, and he knew it. <Buffy was lust, Willow is...> He gulped, but even if he couldn’t think it, his subconscious knew the truth. He’d already admitted it, both to himself and out loud several times. <Willow is love.> She blinked at him, trying to gauge what his reaction to her words had been. He looked at her and suddenly felt more helpless than he had in hundreds of years. He swallowed. <Minus well just go for it...> “What did you say, Willow?” He clamped his eyes shut, scared to death that all she
said was that she had hugged him. When she remained silent for a few minutes, he opened his eyes to look at her. Her face was covered in a comically large, goofy smile. He looked at her questioningly.
“You really don’t believe what you think you heard, do you?” Angel looked at her. <Is she really saying that she loves me? Err, rather, is she admitting to me that she admitted to me that she loves me... oh, drat it, this convo I’m having with myself is a bit confusing!>
“I honestly think I didn’t hear you, Red.”
She arched an eyebrow
at him “Ohh? Well then, let me repeat myself. Angel, I love you.” This
time, it was clear
as day and there was no doubt whatsoever to the truth of her words. It was then that Angel accomplished an amazing feat. While lying down in bed, Angel fainted.
Willow looked at the prone form of her cuddly vampire and burst into hysterical laughter. After a few minutes of laughing breathing started to become a problem, so she calmed down a bit. Realizing that she should probably get something for him, she got out of bed and painfully hobbled to his medicine cabinet. She found a bottle of smelling salts, which she grabbed and headed back to the bed. She was halfway there when a funny thought struck her.
a vampire keep smelling salts in his cabinet? Wonder if this fainting thing
is a fairly common occurrence ‘round here...> The thought promptly sent
her back into hysterical fits of laughter. <Big, bad vampy
is now reduced to nervous teenager. Ha!>
When she calmed down again, she thought about the reason he had fainted. She had been pretty shocked that she had said that, too. Twice, if you wanted to get picky about it. <It’s so totally unlike me...> Then again, it wasn’t like it was unprovoked. She knew that he loved her, and she also knew that he would never tell her. <Probably thinks he’s doing me a favor, protecting me> she thought disgustedly. In all truth, she was glad she had said it. It was the truth. She loved him. God, she loved him. <Oh, Buffy’s gonna be pissed....> She couldn’t help the evil half-grin that spread across her face and that little voice that kept telling her that Buffy deserved it. Of course, she kicked herself for the malicious thoughts.
<She is just gonna have to understand. I’m not gonna give him up just cause she’s jealous. And anyways, it’s not like she would for me.. just look at her and Xander!> She uncapped the smelling salts and passed them under Angel’s nose. He quickly sputtered and his eyes shot open. Then, his whole face twisted up in disgust.
“Uggg, that stuff smells terrible!”
She giggled. “Wake up, sleepyhead!”
He looked up at her, shock from the confession still evident on his face. “Why did you say that, Willow?” She looked at him, all seriousness.
“Because I do. You love me, too, don’t you?” It was more of an accusation than a question. He couldn’t believe it. <Can she really read me that well? *No one* can read me that well...> “How did you know that?” disbelief evident in his voice.
“So you do?” Her voice held excitement, but she didn’t give him a chance to answer. She just went on. “‘Cause you told me, silly.”
“What?” <What does she mean, I told her? I never told her... Uh-oh...> Realization slowly spread over his features. “You heard me say that?”
She nodded. “Yup. By the way, why did you say that *then*? Did you think I was asleep?”
<She was awake when Buffy was there? Wait, does she know Buffy was there? Does she know what almost happened?> He quickly reached a decision. <She doesn’t know. She would’ve said something about it.> “Umm, yeah, I thought you were asleep.”
Willow smiled peacefully. Well, I wasn’t. And I knew that you would never tell me face-to-face, so I decided to tell you.” Angel glanced down at the bed. The next words out of his mouth were full of pain. “Are you just saying this ‘cause of what I said? Like you have to, or something?”
voice was firm. “Look at me.” He sighed. <*drat*. I *have* to do anything
she asks me to...> He looked up. “Angel, I would never say anything like
that cause I felt indebted to someone. You should know that. Angel, I honest-to-God
love you, and not ‘cause I have to. *I* *love* *you*.” She emphasized each
of the last three words carefully. His eyes filled with blood tears. “Willow?”
“Mmmm?” “*I* *love* *you!*” A huge grin overtook her features and Angel
grinned right along with her. Then, he gently lifted her head and kissed
her softly on the lips, a kiss she gladly returned. Granted, it wasn’t
the first time they had kissed, but this was the beginning of something
new and wonderful.