Disclaimer:  Joss Wheldon, Mutant Enemy, and Fox own the characters of BtVS.  No Copyright infringement intended.

Twist of Fate
by Laura

Willow’s bedroom: 4:00 p.m.

She glanced at clock. Four? Already? She sat up, let her feet dangle over the edge of her bed and ran her hand through her hair.

“I’m not supposed to sleep until four,” Willow mumbled to herself, “I’m Willow, the early bird.” Willow’s voice went up in mock enthusiasm at the last part. She blamed her late hours to her Slayer for a best friend. Sure, she enjoyed it. Not like her parents cared, maybe if they were actually here. No, they probably wouldn’t, she was used to it.

Willow slid off the bed and dragged herself into her bathroom. She glanced into the mirror. She noticed how much she’d changed. Sure, she’d gotten taller, and curvier, but her eyes were the most changed. The shade of hazel seemed much more knowing than before she’d met the Slayer. Before there were demons, before she knew what the bump in the night was, before she cared.

Willow scrubbed her face and brushed her teeth. She was no longer, ‘Innocent, little Willow’. She was now ‘Willow the witch’. <Willow the witch> she smiled to herself <I like that>. She slipped on a black sweater and jeans. Her taste had changed too and her clothes had gotten darker. If her parents were here, they’d realize that their only, Jewish daughter had taken to wearing crosses.

 “Time to meet Buffy,” Willow announced and walked out her door.

Angel’s mansion

Buffy slammed him into the coffee table, “Sorry,” She said and knocked him to the ground.

“It’s okay,” Angel growled and counter attacked by pulling her down in his place.

“Not so fast,” She flipped back to her feet and kicked him to the floor. Then she mimicked the motion of a stake and hit his chest, right over his heart.

 “She’s good.” Buffy stood back up and allowed Angel to get to his feet.

“Buffy,” Someone yelled, “Angel?” Willow walked into the living room, actually, it was just like the other rooms; stone walls, stone floors, it reminded her so much of a medieval castle. The only way it differed was the fireplace and the couch.

“Hey Will.” Buffy walked over to her best friend.

Willow noticed the fire burning in the fireplace, “It’s in the middle of June and you have a fire going?” Willow shook her head at Angel.

“I can’t feel heat.” Angel replied simply.

“I deal.” Buffy shrugged, “Oh, Will, I forgot to tell you. My mom is taking me shopping today, she did her famous ‘I want to be a part of your life’ routine, so I had to go.”

“Oh,” Willow sounded disappointed, “I thought we were going. Tomorrow, maybe?”

“Definitely,” Buffy said cheerfully, “I’ll call you when I get back, Will.” She glanced at her watch, “Oh, I’ve got to go, Mom said to be home by 4:30. Bye. See ya’ on patrol, right, Will.”

“Not tonight,” Willow replied, Buffy shrugged. She kissed Angel on the cheek and left.

Willow waited two beats before saying, “Not accepting it, huh.” She made herself comfortable on the couch.

“She doesn’t realize we need time apart,” Angel clarified, “I mean, she’s broken it off with me almost four times, I respected it, but the moment I decide we need space, she thinks we’re still an item.” Willow nodded, she’d never experienced herself, the only person who ever loved her was Oz, god she wished for Buffy’s problems: ‘how do I fit all these guys into my busy schedule?’

“That’s Buffy, alright,” Willow sighed, “Her idea of a relationship is ‘I tell you when we’re together and you obey.’” Angel smirked and nodded <don’t I know it. >

“I love her,” Willow chided, “I do, but, her stringing everyone along like this really has to stop; she thinks every guy in Sunnydale is under her spell.”

“But it’s true,” Angel said grimly, “Even Giles, he loves her like a father and every other male in Sunnydale has a thing for her, even Oz.” The second Angel mentioned Oz; he wanted to take it back, poor Willow.

Willow’s eyes welled with tears, she tried to fight them, but they came, “Please, Angel,” She sniffled, “It still hurts.” Willow’s mind floated back to a few months ago when she saw Buffy and O z kissing. She’d loved him so much, and he broke her heart for Buffy. <Buffy has hurt me so many times, how can I continue to be her friend? >

<Because you’re afraid, afraid of having no one. > A voice told her.

<You know the minute you leave Buffy, the others will desert you> another voice reasoned <They’ll all desert you, even Xander. >

She knew it; she never wanted to admit it to herself. Before Buffy, Willow only had Xander, but since she came Willow had Angel, Oz, Giles, Amy, Cordelia and Jenny <Well, actually, she didn’t have Jenny anymore because of Angel> Willow pushed the thoughts back, It’s not Angel’s fault, it was Angelus.

Willow’s face was wet from tears, “Oh my god,” Angel hugged her comfortingly, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to…”

“It’s okay,” Willow cut in and pulled out of his embrace, “It’s Buffy who’s to be blamed, she caused the wound, and she continues to pour salt on it. You, Angel, are the only person who doesn’t obey Buffy’s every whim, you wouldn’t desert me like Oz.”

Angel hung his head and spoke softly, “I would have… Before…You saved me.”<I would have left you and everyone else for Buffy, before you saved me, you must know that Willow. She’s hurt me too, more than anyone could imagine except you. I know your pain. >

“I know,” Willow said, “You would have impaled me with a stake for her, before Buffy sent you to hell.” Angel didn’t want to say it, but she was right, her used to be so blinded by Buffy that he probably would have.

“It’s true,” he looked at her with a pained expression, “I was so in love, she would tell me to jump, I’d ask how high. I would have done anything for her, I was….” He didn’t want to say it, “Pathetic.”

“No you weren’t,” Willow hated when he did his self-hatred trip, “Angel, you have never been pathetic, you were madly in love, you still are. You were blinded, is all, that’s what she does. You belong to Buffy, you just….”

“I hate when people say that,” Angel growled, “I do not belong to Buffy, just as you didn’t belong to Oz, and I don’t care anymore. I loved her; she proved she didn’t love me when she sent me to hell. All she had to do was cut my hand and throw the sword into the vortex. And after I was gone, what does she do, starts dating Scott almost the minute I leave. You, Willow, went hell, just to get me out, a selfless act which is made by one of an Angel, Buffy didn’t even try to bring me back, she just…” He added softly, “Forgot me.” Angel hadn’t realized he was so close to Willow, their faces were inches apart. They stared deep into the others eyes; stared into the others soul.

“I never forgot you, Angel,” Willow said and looked away, “I never let myself forget you.”

Angel smiled and whispered, “I know.” He knelt his head down to kiss her, but was surprised when she pulled away.

“Willow,” Angel apologized, “I was just caught in the moment and I…”

Willow shook her head and said, “It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just Buffy loves you and I could never do that to her.”

“Why,” He was about to regret his next words, he knew it but let them go anyway, “She did that to you, with Oz and Xander, how could you allow her to walk all over you like that.” Willow was crying now.  “Because I was scared,” Willow screamed and bawled even louder, “I knew everyone would take her side and leave me. Because I knew I would have no one left.” She collapsed and cried into the hard stone floor, Angel rushed over to her and rocked her back and forth, trying to calm her down.

“Shh...,” He whispered, “It’s gonna be okay.”

Willow scrambled away from him, “Don’t comfort me like a child,” She raged hopelessly, “I know I let her walk all over me, I know I’m just the part of the group that doesn’t matter, I know I just stood by and watched, but so did you. You had no will, just what she gave you and you may be 200-hundred years older than me but you’re no smarter, you made the same mistakes as me and you cannot tell me it’s going to be okay when you are just another strand in her web. You’re worse than me, you loved her.”

Angel was awestruck, was Willow really saying this? He knew she was right though, she always was. He had to face it sooner or later; Willow had just made him realize that he loved her, not Buffy. They were so the same, they needed each other to realize how utterly alone they were. They needed each other, just to feel something other than loneliness.

Willow was just as surprised at her out burst as Angel, her sub-conscience had taken over and let her say what she knew but couldn’t say. Her tears subsided and she just looked at Angel, knowing he felt the same. It was if they shared one mind. She knew Angel’s guilt, his pain, his love for Buffy then and his hatred for her now. He knew her sorrow, her betrayal and her small hope she wouldn’t always be alone. He knew she wouldn’t, she’d always have him.

“Willow,” He said, “I love you, not Buffy, and I know you love me, I can feel it.”

Willow shook her head slightly and looked straight into Angel’s eyes and whispered, “No, Angel,” a single tear rolled off her cheek, as she finished, “you don’t.” Angel put his hand on her cheek.

“I do,” He protested softly, “I love you.” He tried again to kiss her but she moved his hand off her cheek and stood up.

“I don’t want you to.” Willow’s voice reduced to a hoarse whisper.

She walked out the door, defeated; he watched her leave and whisper to himself, “Yes, Willow, you do.”

Willow’s Bedroom: 8:15 p.m.

She stared into her mirror and brushed her hair, allowing her eyes to become unfocused while she went into an almost trance-like state and thought about what had happened at the mansion. She still got a weird feel when she was in that place. The world had almost been sucked into hell in that living room and Spike and Drusillia’s vibrations still echoed from the wall. But now the weirdest occurrence of all had happened: Angel had told her that he was in love with her.

She didn’t want to admit her feelings; that she’d loved him ever since she was sixteen. He didn’t understand she went into hell to save him because she loved him, or maybe he did know; with him you can’t always tell. Those dark emotional eyes could be so hard to read sometimes <those dark, glorious, soulful…. Bad Willow. >

Willow’s thoughts wandered from Angel to Buffy. How could Buffy be so cruel without realizing it; taking Willow’s boyfriends and crushes, canceling on her at a moment’s notice. She could be so evil; she would earn herself an F in best friendom. And now Willow had a chance to hurt Buffy the same way she had hurt Willow <revenge, how sweet. >

<No, Willow, it would be unfair to Angel, playing his emotions like that. >

<But you do love him. It wouldn’t be playing his emotions. >

<You’d have fun and get back at Buffy, subtly, of course. >

<We’re agreed, then. Dismissed. > Willow chuckled at her internal debate.

As if an answer to her thoughts, a knock played on her window. It was, of course, Angel. She immediately opened the door to her balcony and let Angel in.

The moment Angel stepped across the threshold, he began to apologize, “Look, Willow, I just came to apologize. I was totally out of line. I shouldn’t have told you I loved you, even though it is true. And I shouldn’t…” Willow stopped him short by giving him a passionate kiss.

<This feels so right. > Willow and Angel thought in unison.

Willow broke the kiss, panting slightly and smiled up at Angel, “Angel, don’t apologize,” She almost stopped herself, “I love…”<come on girl, tell him the truth. > “You.” Angel looked shocked for a moment, then embraced her.

“I love you, too.” He lowered his head and kissed her. Tender at first, then grew with increasing intensity.
<Buffy, take that. >

Angel’s mansion

Angel shuffled around the living room, pacing in front of the fireplace. He kept playing the scene over and over in his head. <Willow loves me. > He smiled, but that smile soon faded, <Buffy, how is she going to take it? >

<Does it really matter? >Another voice asked.

<Do you love her anymore? >

<No, but...>

<Then why does it matter? >

<I don’t want to hurt her. >

<It’s a little late for that don’t you think. >

<Stop it. >

<I have so many voices in my head, you’d think I was insane. > Angel laughed at himself, <I have way too much free time; I need to get a hobby. > He chuckled and found a book. He stretched out on the couch and read.

<Maybe I should check on Buffy. >

The graveyard

Buffy crept behind a headstone and saw nearly 20 vampires huddling over an open grave. It looked to her as if they were trying to raise the corpse.

She stepped from behind her hiding place and faced the vampires, “This raising the dead thing has got to stop,” She pulled out a stake, “If you want them, bite ‘em when you get the chance.”

She jumped onto the vampire nearest her and began to fight.

Willow couldn’t sleep, so she’d decided to take a walk, stake in hand, of course. She could tell she was ten minutes from the graveyard <maybe I’ll help Buffy on her patrol. > She continued her pace.

Buffy was seriously injured, she’d taken out 4 of the vampire group, but she was way out-numbered. She knew it, the vamps knew it, and she was fighting for her life. A vampire grabbed hold of her and pushed her into a tree.

Willow heard sounds of fighting in the graveyard, she ran to the mausoleum, just as a vampire was banging Buffy into a giant tree.

“Willow,” Buffy screamed hopelessly. The vampire grabbed her neck, not even noticing Willow.

“No one can help you Slayer,” The vampire growled.

<This is it, > Buffy whimpered inwardly, <Angel, I love you. > That was her last thought.

Willow watched helplessly as the vampire snapped Buffy’s neck, “Buffy,” Willow screamed and fell to the ground, sobbing uncontrollably, “NO.”

The vampires paid her no mind and left the graveyard. Willow watched them leave, she couldn’t believe the scene she had just witnessed; Buffy, the slayer, her best friend, was dead.  Willow had wanted nothing more than revenge on her friend, for Oz, Xander. Now, all she wished was for Buffy to be with Angel, happy, alive.

Her eyes were bloodshot; she couldn’t stop her tears. Willow limped weakly to her best friend’s lifeless form, “Buffy,” She held her friends mangled body and sobbed into it, “No, Buffy, you can’t be dead, you can’t. I need you too much. Please Buffy. Stay with me.”

Someone stepped out of the shadows; he knelt next to Willow and brushed bloody wisps of hair out of Buffy’s face.

“It’s my fault,” Willow moaned and rocked her friends body in a sitting position. Willow’s tears staining Buffy’s shirt as she cried into it.

“Willow,” Angel touched her cheek, “You did nothing.” He tried to kiss her; she pulled away from him and noticed his eyes were dry.

“She asked me to go on patrol with her,” She knelt Buffy’s head onto a protruding tree root, “And you don’t even care, you don’t care that the love of your life is dead.” Angel tried to hold Willow, but she moved away.

“Don’t touch me Angel,” Willow’s tear-stained face glowed in the moonlight, “I-I can’t be around you.” She ran away from him, the graveyard, to her room, the only place she felt safe.

Angel watched her go, he wouldn’t-couldn’t stop her. He bowed his head and kissed Buffy’s forehead, “I’ll miss you.” He picked her up and carried her to the open grave, the headstone stated simply:

The Slayer

The vampires had known they’d kill her tonight, he rested her inside it and said good-bye.

Willow’s bedroom

Willows pillow was wet from her crying. She couldn’t believe Buffy was…Dead. With that thought she let out a loud sorrowful moan.

“Buffy.” She whispered and cried out a loud sob. <If I only went on patrol with her. ><Willow, it’s not your fault. > Angel’s word floated into her head.

<It is my fault, maybe not for her death, but you should have been with her. > She silently cursed at Angel, for not loving Buffy, for loving Willow. <It’s not his fault, you know that. > Her conscience told her; <It was inevitable. She had to die someday, you know that. >

“Not tonight,” She said aloud.

A light tapping on her French doors interrupted her thoughts. Angel stood on the balcony. She broke down in tears again and rubbed her face into her pillow. Angel immediately was at her side.

She felt his arms encircle her, she flew off her bed, “No,” She told him, “Buffy...”

“Is dead,” Angel finished for her and tried to move toward her.

She stopped him and glared at Angel, “How can you dismiss this so easily?” She asked frantically, “My best friend, your girlfriend is dead.”

“Buffy wasn’t my girlfriend,” Angel wanted to touch her, to comfort her, “I love you Willow.”

“She loved you,” Willow started to sob again, “And you just dismiss her as though you didn’t know her.”

“Willow,” His eyes were filled with unspoken pain, “I killed my family, loved ones, I’m used to pain, I bottle it up. You have to know I want her back, but I don’t want you to go through this without me. Don’t think I don’t understand the pain you feel.” He wrapped his arms around her; she made no move to stop him.

“I feel like I can’t breath,” She cried into his chest, “I feel like I’m going to die.”

He petted her hair and lifted her face and touched her cheek with his finger, “I feel like I’m dying all over again,” His voice was tight with emotion, he choked back tears, “I loved her, remember, I wasn’t in love with her, but I did love her.”

More tears spilled from Willow’s eyes; “I did, too.” Her resolve broke and she sobbed uncontrollably into his shirt. He ran his hand through her hair and comforted her.

Angel hadn’t realized he’d fallen asleep in Willow’s bedroom until he felt searing pain on his arm <Sunlight! > He jumped behind her bed and realized he had to find shelter from it.

He ran into Willow’s closet and caused so much noise it woke her, she then realized it was daylight and… <Angel! > She leaped out of bed and closed her block-out curtains.

“Oh my goddess,” Willow apologized, “Angel, I’m so sorr… Hey, where’d you go?” She examined her room; he was nowhere to be found.

“Oh, Willow,” Angel walked of the closet, “I’m sorry, the sunlight and, you know.”

Willow paid no attention to his apology and said, “Are you hurt?” She looked at his arm.

“No,” Angel was touched by her concern, “I ran in time to...”

Willow stopped him and said half-teasing, “Why were you still in my room?” She crossed her arms and waited for his answer.

“I fell asleep,” He explained, “I guess I was…”

She was unconvinced and cut him off, “Why were you really?” A sly grin crossed her face.

“Okay,” He admitted, “I wanted to watch you sleep. You’re so pretty.” Her grin turned into a full smile <Why is he so, so, unbelievably charming. > She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him.

It was incredible, but the moment she stepped away Buffy’s dead image invaded her memory, “No,” She whimpered, Angel looked at her, confused.

Her eyes welled with tears; she backed away and collapsed on the floor. She started to cry. <Not this again. > Angel thought and lowered himself to embrace Willow.

She tensed at his touch, then relaxed and kissed his shoulder, “I can’t help it,” Willow whimpered, “My mind won’t allow me to forget.”

“Neither will mine,” Angel whispered, “I can’t forget anything.”

“Will it ever stop hurting?” Willow’s tears staining her cheek.

“Only if you let it,” Angel kissed her cheek, “It may stop hurting, but you’ll never forget it. Soon, you won’t want to forget.” Willow nuzzled into his shoulder.

“I don’t want to forget her,” She sniffled softly, “I just don’t want hurt.”

“Me, too.” Angel kissed her ear, “You helped me stop hurting, it’s my turn.” Willow nodded.

2 months later

Willow and Angel had seen each other every night. They would cry in each other’s arms and tell the other things about what they would miss about Buffy. Willow and begun to hurt less and less, Angel helped her the same way she’d helped him through his sorrow after returning from hell.

The police had found Buffy’s body and said she was a jogger who met a horrible end, so many in Sunnydale had.

Now looking back at the events of the past few weeks, Willow thanked the Goddess for having Angel with her.

“Angel?” Willow said, she was lying on the couch and staring at the ceiling in Angel’s mansion.

“Hmmm?” Angel looked up from the book he was reading.

“You know everything about my first love,” She said, “But you never told me about yours, what was her name?”

“Rachel,” He said wistfully, “She was a friend of the family.”

“What did she look like?”

“She had beautiful red hair, like yours, and her eyes sparkled when she smiled, like you.” He said she turned to him and smiled, “See.” He added, she giggled.

“There’s actually always been one question I wanted to ask you,” He closed his book, “About Xander.”

She tilted her head back and asked, “What?”

He face was serious when he said, “Why Xander?” She giggled slightly then rested her head on the arm of the couch.

“You know,” She laughed at herself, “I really don’t know.”

Angel smiled at her and said, “Neither do I.” He slid next to her on the couch and touched her foot.

She giggled and said, “Stop that.”

“You’re ticklish.” He grinned teasingly and acted as if he were going to tickle her again. She drew back, while he chuckled.

“What?” She was confused.

“Nothing,” He turned his face into a mask, “Absolutely nothing.” She took a pillow from the couch and hit him, “Hey.” He took another pillow and whacked her.

She grinned evilly, “Pillow fight,” she announced, hit him and ran down the hall.

Angel was quick after her and hit mid-run. She lost her balance, but Angel grabbed her before she hit the floor. She took advantage of this distraction and hit him upside the head.

“Dirty pool.” He chuckled.

“Wait,” Willow put her hand up and said, “Count to ten then try to find me, you have to give me a head start.”

“Fine,” He closed his eyes, while Willow ran down the hall, “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10- ready or not here I come.”

Let the games begin.

Willow’s Bedroom

“I know Xander,” Her eyes welled.

“Who told you?” He said on the other line.

“I was there. With Angel.”

“What,” He cried, “And you didn’t tell us.”

“I didn’t want to talk about it, it was too hard.”

“Willow, you didn’t tell us Buffy was dead.” Tears streamed from her eyes, “And you ran to dead boy.”

“Angel is helping me…”

“Sure,” Xander said sarcastically, “The moment Buffy’s gone, you start it with her boyfriend.” <That hurt Xander. >

“Xander,” She sniffled, “I didn’t, I mean, I didn’t mean to, they were over.”

“Buffy still loved him.”

“Oh, you know you liked them apart, you wanted Buffy, why should you care about me and Angel?”

“I do care,” Xander yelled into the phone, “You were hurting her by whoring around with her boyfriend.”

“I was not ‘whoring’ around anything.”

“Admit it Will, you were doing the slutty with dead-boy”

“I can’t believe you’re saying this to me, Xander, you’re my best friend.”

“It’s true though.”

“Xander, I still have my virginity, I could lose mine, but I choose not to, which is more than I can say for you.” She slammed down the phone, she couldn’t believe Xander, her best guy friend forever, had called her a slut.

<You knew that they’d take her side, even in death. >

She knew, just didn’t want to believe it. Tears streaked her cheeks.

Angel touched her shoulders and brought her close to him. She laid her head on his chest, unbelieving what Xander had said to her.
“Even when she’s dead,” Willow whimpered, “They still betray me.”

“They don’t know what they miss,” Angel lifted her chin to look into his eyes, “You hold them together, even though they don’t realize it. Without you, they can’t survive.”

“Giles was called away to England, Oz is on tour with his band, Cordelia skipped town for LA and Xander’s leaving to move in with relatives in New York. There’s nothing left for me to hold together.” Willow cried and brushed tears from her face.

“Yes, Willow,” He said gently, “There is.”

“What?” Willow sniffled.

He cupped her chin and guided his mouth towards hers while he said, “Us.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and sighed.