Willow walked down the street, rubbing the back of her neck gingerly. < Aah, that feels good. > She thought. It had been such a long couple of weeks, and the future didn’t look like it was going to get any easier.
She reached her house
just as the sun was setting, and hurried to unlock the door. She
stepped inside and took a deep relaxing breath as she looked around. The
house was empty, as always. Her parents were out of town again. Willow
didn’t mind. She was used to it. The thing that bugged her was that she
was so used to it that she
didn’t even bother to remember where they actually were. They had missed her graduation. < Surprise, surprise. > She thought dryly.
She walked into her room and greeted her good friend with a smile. “Hi Amy.” She walked to the cage and played with the rat for a minute. “I brought you a present.” She said, and dropped a toilet paper roll into the cage. “Yeah, I know you’d rather have Mel Gibson, but he was unavailable.”
The rat regarded her with beady eyes before attacking the toilet paper roll with joy. Willow giggled and started her dinner.
As Willow went through
her evening routine, she thought about the events of the past couple of
weeks. Being kidnapped had not been the highlight of her senior year, that
was for sure. She still didn’t quite believe that Buffy had killed Faith.
< I could never do her job. > thought Willow with a shudder. Her thoughts
turned to her and
Oz. < Oz… > she thought dreamily.
She was brought out of her dreaming by a knock on the door. She jumped, startled, and turned to see Buffy at the door, tears streaming down her cheeks. Willow left the pot of soup on the stove and opened the door to let her friend in. Buffy immediately flung herself into the small girl’s arms, practically knocking her over, and sobbing hysterically.
< Oof. > thought Willow as she grabbed at the counter for support. “Ok, Buffy, what’s wrong?” She asked.
“He’s…..he’s……he’s….” her friend choked out between sobs.
“He’s……what? Buffy?” Willow asked.
“He’s…….GONE!!!” The girl wailed.
< OH, we’re talking about Angel. Ok, now everything makes a lot more sense. >
Willow laid her hand on Buffy’s back and rubbed circles on it comfortingly. “I know, I know…”
Buffy stayed for a couple hours, sobbing like a baby, and Willow did the best she could to comfort her. She gave her soup, listened to her. When Willow looked at Buffy, it seemed that she could see her spirit in two hundred pieces, scattered around her. She had broken. No one could really blame her. But it scared Willow. Buffy was so strong…if she broke, what would happen to everyone else?
Buffy left around midnight, and Willow sat in her kitchen drinking some tea. “If only there was some way she could help her friend. Broken phrases of Buffy’s pain drifted through her head.
He just left…said it was too hard to be near me.
He’s never coming back…
He didn’t even tell me where he was going…
I wish I had never met him!
Willow stood up. < Maybe he left a clue at the mansion…I mean, no one can just disappear into thin air, right? >
< Willow, this is Angel we’re talking about. Disappearing what he does best. >
< Good point. >
Willow shook her head, her red locks bouncing with the force of the movement. “Ok, this is a little disturbing. I’m having a conversation with myself in my head.”
< Well, it’s worth a try… >
With that final thought, she grabbed a cross and a stake and headed out the door.
The mansion was gloomy. Of course, she couldn’t really remember a time when it hadn’t been gloomy. And dark. And…menacing.
Willow took a deep breath and pushed the frightened thoughts out of her head. < Come on! You can do this! For Buffy. >
She marched into the decrepit mansion with her resolve face firmly in place. < Yuck, cockroach… > she thought as she wrinkled her delicate nose in disgust.
She searched the bottom floor thoroughly, but found nothing, so she headed to the second floor with determination. It looked pretty empty, which made sense. < There are too many windows up here…I probably should have searched the basement first. Oh well. >
She turned into a large room and looked around. It was pretty much empty, excluding only a large book on a stand and a box. Willow gazed at the box curiously and took a step toward it, then stopped.
< Ok, opening boxes is a bad thing in terms of history. Look at Pandora… > caution warned her.
< But it could contain a clue! > another voice protested.
“Enough!” Willow said aloud, exasperated. She walked over to the box and looked at it closer. It was beautiful, made of polished cherry wood and carved with all sorts of interesting designs that danced before her eyes. After a moment’s hesitation, she grabbed the top and opened it.
There was a huge flash of blinding light and a deafening sonic boom. Willow jumped back and fell to the floor from the force of it.
< What is going on?! >
“Willow Rosenburg!” a loud voice boomed. “As a member of the Ancient Souls, you have released the powers of time.”
< WHAT?! >
“I, Marios, writer of the timelines, now send yea pure of heart back, so that yea may right a wrong…”
< This can not be good… >
With that, there was another flash of light and another boom, and everything changed.
Willow looked around, startled. She was outside. < What in the… >
“Watch out, milady!” someone cried, and a blurred figure ran to her, pushing her out of what appeared to be a street full of…carriages?
After much pushing and shoving, she found herself standing on the side of a cobblestone road, clear of the carriages. She turned to her rescuer, who was staring at her intently.
“Yea shou’na stand in the streets like that, lass. How are yea faring?” the young man said.
Willow finally found her tongue. “Oh, Lord in heaven…” she exclaimed. “It’s you!”
With that, she passed out.
Angelus lunged to catch the young woman before her head hit the street.
“Delicate little lass, aren’t yea?” he asked the unconscious girl. He looked around, uncertain what to do, until he spotted an inn across the street. < Ah, I shall take her there and hope she recovers! >
He lifted the girl up gently and proceeded across the street. After renting a room for the girl, he carried her into it and set her on the bed. He then pulled a chair up and studied her. She was quite a beauty, with dark red hair that shone like gold and pale ivory skin. He had only caught a glimpse of her eyes, but he seemed to remember that they were the most striking shade of green he had ever seen, much like a brooch his mother owned that was made of jade.
He was startled out his daydream when she moaned softly and her eyes fluttered open. Yes, they were just that color. Jade.
“What happened?” she asked softly, glancing around the room. “Where am I?”
“Yea fainted, lass.” He answered softly. “I brought you to an inn across the street. Yea are quite safe. Does your head hurt?” Angel asked, concerned.
Her eyes flew to him
and studied him with shock. “Oh, it wasn’t a dream, it really is you!”
She exclaimed. She jumped up and hugged him fiercely. “I’ve never been
so glad to see anyone in my entire life! I went looking for you and then
there was this box and a big boom, and then I was in the middle of a street
where I thought there
were carriages, of all the silly things…”
Meanwhile, Angel was becoming more confused by the second as he listened to her rambling. Suddenly she pulled away from him.
“Angel, you’re breathing! I can feel your heartbeat! But…that means…oh no!” she sat down on the bed, trying to figure things out.
“Pardon me, lass, but aye must admit that I’m a wee bit confused. How did yea know my name? And why were yea looking for me?”
She stared at him, and seemed to come to a decision. She sighed. “Before we get into all that, can you please tell me the date?”
Angelus looked at her strangely. “’Tis the 27th of May, in our Lord’s year of 1756.”
She sighed. “That’s what I thought.”
< I’ve traveled in time. Yikes. Not good. > She looked at Angel who was still confused. < Angel’s human… > She searched her brain for those pieces of information she knew about Angel’s life before he was embraced. Luckily, she had an incredible memory, and she and Buffy had spent a lot of time with his file when they had stolen it from Giles’ office.
“I…um…well…” she didn’t know how to field this question.
“Yea seem to be a little confused.” Angel said kindly.
“Yes…I’m sorry if I scared you, with that hug and such. For a minute there, I thought you were my brother. You do look like him.”
Angel smiled. < Oh, she was just confused. Poor thing. > “Well, I’m a forgiving person. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Angelus Keiran O’Malley. Who might yea be?”
Willow smiled. < He certainly was…is a charmer. > “My name is… <Willow’s a weird name for a girl in 1756. > Um…my name is Willimenia Anne Rosenburg. My friends call me Willow.”
Angel winked and smiled. “That wan’na so difficult, was it?”
The girl blushed and shook her head. < Flirt! >
“I am sorry about earlier.
Thank you for pushing me out of the road. And bringing me here.” Willow
stood up, and only then realized that she was dressed for the times, in
an expensive-looking gown of green. There was a handbag clutched in her
hands, and she opened it to find a good amount of money. < Well, whoever
back in time was kind enough not to leave me totally hanging. >
“T’was nothing. You are not from around here, are you?” asked Angel.
Willow shook her head. “No, I’m from out of town. I just recently moved here after my husband passed away, wanting to be near more people. I’ve been staying in an inn across town, but I get very lost sometimes. I was looking for…for a library! Yes, a very large library! I love to read.”
< Maybe there will be something at the library that can tell me about Ancient Souls or Marios, the writer of time lines. Or better yet, a Watcher! Who was the Slayer in 1756? >
Angel smiled. This girl was quite unlike any he had ever met. She liked to read? “Well, yea aren’t too far from it. Shall I escort you to it? Or to your hotel?”
“You wouldn’t mind?”
“Mind spending me day with such a beautiful lady? Of course not!” With that, he held out the crook of his elbow and willow accepted it with a smile as they headed out the door.
< This is too weird! > thought Willow as she listened to Angelus flirt with her.
“Is something wrong, m’lady?”
“Huh?” Willow was startled out of her deep thought to find Angel staring at her. “Oh, no. Everything’s fine.”
“Then why don’t I believe you?” he asked suspiciously.
She grinned. “Because you are much too clever, Mr. O’Malley.”
He chuckled. “The lady has many secrets. Shall I ever know any of them?”
She winked. “Maybe, if you behave yourself.”
They arrived at the library and Willow turned to Angel. “Thank you, kind sir, for escorting me here. I shan’t be long, if you care to wait…” < Geez, this kind of talking is going to drive me nuts! >
“It would be my pleasure, m’lady.” Said Angel with a grin. He grasped her hand and kissed the knuckles lightly, his eyes never leaving hers. Willow felt her knees go weak. < Bad Willow! > She decided to play the worldly socialite and laughed.
“I believe that you are flirting with me, Mr. O’Malley.”
He laughed. “Call me Angelus. Is it working, lass?”
Willow made a tsking sound. “Well, a woman’s heart is a very private thing, Angelus. I suppose you’ll never know."
With that, she headed toward the main desk and stopped a librarian. He looked disturbingly like Giles.
“May I help you, miss?” said the man, revealing a heavy English accent.
Willow looked around and saw an inkwell and a scrap of paper. “Yes.” She took the quill and drew the Watcher’s guild symbol on the parchment as best she could. “Does this symbol mean anything to you?”
The man looked at her with wide eyes and paled three shades.
“I…I mean…I…” he didn’t know what to say.
Willow felt the first stab of hope. “Wonderful! You are a Watcher! You had the look about you. Listen, I need your help.”
The man looked around and then pulled her into his office. “How do you know about the Watchers?” he asked her.
Willow sighed. “It’s a really long story and I don’t want to get into it right now. Listen, I need you to do me a favor. Find everything that you can about two things-the Ancient Souls and Marios.”
He regarded the strange young woman suspiciously. “Why should I trust you?”
Willow cursed under her breath. “Listen, I know lots of things, and I don’t belong here. I really need your help, ok? Um, will it help at all if I told you the name of the current Slayer? I think it was…um…< Willow searched her mind frantically > Marie Frangier!”
The poor guy’s eyes practically popped out of his head. “You know about the Slayer?” he asked in a whisper.
“Yes!” <Reminder to self-Thank Giles for making me memorize all those past slayers. > Willow looked through the window and saw Angel getting bored. “Now will you help me?”
The Watcher hesitated, then nodded. “Wonderful!” exclaimed Willow. “I’ll be back in two days to read over what you’ve found.”
Willow walked back to Angel, a grin on her face.
“Where’s the book you wanted to get?”
“The book? Oh, the book! They didn’t have it in right now, so I have to come back in two days.”
“Ah. Shall we?” She took his arm and they proceeded to walk to her hotel. Willow figured that they’d just walk until she saw a nice one, and then not let him go inside.
“So, tell me about your brother. When did he die?” Angel asked.
“Oh, about a year ago. I got tired of that big house in the country, so I moved here.”
“Had you been living with him long?”
“No, only about a month. Before that, I lived with my grandparents.”
“Ah, I see. Do you have any other family?”
“No, they’re all dead.” < May as well be. > Willow looked at Angel. “What about you?”
“What about me?” he asked with a devilish grin.
She laughed at his obvious flirting. “Do you have any family? Are you married?”
“I’m na married, and yea, I have a family. Two brothers, two sisters, and me parents.”
“Most of the time.”
They laughed. Willow saw a quaint hotel and said, “Well, that’s my inn. Thank you for walking me to it.”
“Any time, m’lady.”
She nodded and then said, “Well, goodbye.” She turned to go, but he caught her arm.
“Willow, might I call again sometime?”
Willow paused. < That would be like a date. Or whatever they did in 1779. But he’s Buffy’s… > She was determined to say no, but found herself saying, “I would like that.”
“Wonderful!” he smiled. “Perhaps tomorrow?”
Willow stared at him for a moment, then turned and walked to the hotel. < Inn! Get down with the lingo, girl! > The woman behind the counter looked up at her and smiled. She reminded Willow a little of her grandmother, or what she remembered of her grandmother.
“What can I do for ye?” she asked.
“I would like a room, please.” Willow said.
The woman was glad
to oblige, and they got to talking. Willow told the woman the false story
she had made up, and the woman, whose name was Mrs. Montgomery, seemed
delighted to have a long-term guest. When Willow
asked if she knew where she could buy some clothes, the kind woman closed up the hotel for a little while and took her shopping, so that she had some decent clothes to wear.
Later, Willow returned to her room and lay down on the bed. She was exhausted. < This is unreal. > she thought. < Time travel! And Angel… it’s weird that I ran into him here. >
A realization hit her and she sat up. “Oh no.”
< The 27th of May, in the year of our Lord 1779…that’s four days before…>
Willow gasped. < Four days before Angel was embraced. >
She had the chance to change history. What was it that Marios had said? ‘The chance to right a wrong…?’
< But if Angel doesn’t become a vampire, he’ll never meet Buffy… >
< But he also won’t kill all those people…he could have a normal life…get married, have a family… >
Willow hated hard decisions.
Angelus walked to his family’s house, deep in thought. < Willow… >
He found himself fascinated by the young woman he had rescued. She was different than most other noblewomen. She was spunky. She called him on his flirting, she read, she made intelligent conversation…
He was looking forward
to tomorrow so much, it almost scared him. It should scare him. He’d never
been this attached to a woman before. And the fact that they had just met
that day was even scarier. But strangely
enough, it just made him more fascinated.
< You want her. Admit it. > A voice in his head said.
< Of course I do. She’s sweet, funny, smart, not to mention gorgeous… >
< But you’re scared. This one’s different from the others. She might see the real you. And you might love her, given the chance. >
< Love? Don’t be silly, we just met! >
< Love isn’t based on that. >
< I don’t believe you. >
< Wait. > The voice said. < Spend time with her tomorrow. You’ll see… >
Then the absurdity of what he was doing hit him, and he laughed. “Angelus,” he said to himself aloud, “You have too much time on your hands.”
Willow made a sound of disgust. She could read five languages, teach computer classes, hack into almost anything on the Internet, play the piano, and sing, but she couldn’t put on a stupid dress?
She had managed the undergarments. Finally. But this stupid dress, with all of the impossible buttons had left her completely at a loss. She was tangled in the damn thing!
< Maybe my leg goes here… > she thought. Then, as she got even more tangled, she thought, < Guess not. >
There was a knock on the door and she jumped, startled. The jump ruined her precarious balance and she went crashing to the floor. Now eye-level with the elegant rug, she started laughing uncontrollably.
“Willow? Is everything ok?” Angel asked, concerned, from outside the door.
She just kept laughing.
“I’m coming in!”
With that, Angelus barged into the room. The scene astonished him. Willow was on the floor, laughing hysterically, tangled hopelessly in a gown.
“What happened? Why aren’t you dressed?” he asked, horrified at the indecency of the whole situation. < Oh, don’t lie to yourself, you know you love it! >
< Be quiet! > he scolded the voice.
Willow was still laughing. “I seem to be having a little trouble with this dress. If you would get Mrs. Montgomery here, she can help me and I’ll be right out.” She said in-between chuckles.
“I’m afraid she just left. You’ll have to do with me.” He walked over to her, amazed at how tangled she was. “Why did you have such trouble?”
“Oh, I’m used to wearing
pants.” Willow said before she thought about it. Angel was dumbfounded,
and she scurried to explain. “I lived with my brother, in the country,
on a farm. I wore pants when no one was around
because it was more comfortable.”
He grinned at the uniqueness of this woman. “Most women would have a problem with that.”
“Well, I’m nothing like most women.” She retorted.
“You’ll get no arguments from me, lass.” With that, he started untangling her, then properly putting everything on.
“You seem to be awful good at this, Angelus.” Willow said teasingly.
“I’ve had lots of practice.” He said before thinking, then blushed when he realized how it sounded. “I mean, I have two sisters.”
“Of course. Your sisters asked you to help them get ready. Right.” Said Willow.
Angel turned her around, the dress now properly on. “M’lady, what exactly are you implying?” he asked.
“Who me?” she asked innocently.
He stared at her for a moment, and then they both started laughing. They continued to laugh as they headed out of the inn.
“Well, Angel, what do you have planned for me today?” Willow asked.
“Patience, m’lady!” he scolded her.
He led her down the street and she looked around, fascinated by all the things she could see. Everything was so different here, but the entire place gave her the strangest feeling of déjà vu, almost like she hadbeen there before…
She was brought out of her deep thought by the sound of Angel laughing. < God, he has a sexy laugh. > <Bad Willow! Repeat after me. Buffy’s, Buffy’s, Buffy’s… >
“What’s so funny?” she asked him.
“You.” He replied, still smiling. “You were a million miles away.”
She laughed dryly. “I’m sorry, I have a tendency to daydream.”
He leaned down next to her ear. “You want to know a secret?” he whispered, and she nodded, playing along. “So do I.” He finished and she laughed.
“We must be kindred spirits then.” She said.
Angel motioned for her to turn right, and she did. There was a man standing right in front of them, holding the reins to two beautiful horses. Willow gasped with delight.
“We’re going horseback
riding?” she asked Angelus, and he nodded. She hugged him on impulse. “This
is wonderful! I haven’t been riding in such a long time…” With that, she
grabbed the reins of the smaller horse from
the man. It was a handsome dapple gray mare. She stroked its nose gently, getting acquainted. “Hello there.” She cooed. To Angel, she said, “What’s her name?”
“Flash.” He answered. “She’s my sister’s but I borrowed her for today.”
Willow looked at him, her eyes shining. Angelus felt like there had been a punch to his gut and sucked in a breath. < She’s so beautiful… > “Thank you.” She said softly, catching his gaze. They stood there for a moment, staring at one another. Angelus thought he was going to get lost in Willow’s eyes. Then he blinked and she turned away, and the moment was gone.
Willow cleared her throat and turned back to the horse, a flush creeping up on her face. In her head, she frantically repeated what seemed to have become her mantra. < Buffy’s, Buffy’s, Buffy’s… > She took a deep breath, and then looked back at Angelus, smiling. “Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s go!”
She grabbed the reins and pulled herself up onto the saddle. Once she got settled, she looked over at Angelus, who was staring at her.
“What?” she asked him.
“You…you’re…I mean…” he stuttered. “You’re sitting astride.”
< Astride? Of course
I’m sitting astride! That’s how you ride! Oh, wait…didn’t they do that
sidesaddle thingy back then…or now…or whatever? Oh boy. > “I…um…it’s
easier this way. Do you mind?” she asked him,
putting on her best pleading face.
He softened. “As you wish, m’lady.”
They started riding, Angelus leading the way. “Where are we going?” asked Willow.
“You’ll see.” Replied Angelus.
After a wonderful day of riding through the city, sightseeing, and into the country, over grassy hills, and past wildflowers, where they could have long conversations full of laughter, he stopped. Willow looked around. They were in the most beautiful spot she had ever seen. They were standing…or sitting, as the case may be, on top of a cliff. Beside them, a stream poured down into a waterfall. They could see for miles. A picnic was set up on a large flat stone in front of them. Willow climbed down from her horse and looked around.
“Oh, Angelus…it’s beautiful!” she exclaimed.
“I’m pleased ye like it, little one.”
She looked at him, insulted. “Little one? I’m not little!”
He laughed. “Nonsense. You’re one of the smallest people I’ve ever met! Like a leprechaun or an elf or a fairy…”
She was becoming angry. She knew she was little, but she hated it when people pointed it out. “Take it back!” she warned him.
Angelus saw the murderous look in her eyes and started backing up. “Now,lass…”
She advanced on him. It made him nervous. “Little one, calm down!”
That did it. With a shrill war cry, she started chasing him through the woods. He ran from her, laughing as the bushes hit him. Half a mile upstream, she caught him and grabbed him.
“Gotcha! Do you yield?”
“Never!” he cried with spirit, enjoying the game.
“Then take your punishment like a man!” she cried, and laughingly pushed him into the stream.
He yelped as the cold water hit him and pushed his way back above water. There was no danger in this part of the stream, it was lazy and relatively shallow here. “Well, I never!” he exclaimed.
She just laughed at
the hilarious picture he made, soaking wet with leaves in his hair from
last fall. She turned to walk away, and Angelus grabbed her from behind,
hauling her into the water with him. She shrieked as they both plunged
into the stream. When she came up for air, he was already standing, laughing
at her. She growled and narrowed her eyes at him, then jumped on top of
him, attempting to push him under water. He fought back with all he had,
and they both got thoroughly soaked. After about twenty minutes of playing
in the water, they ended
up on land again, closely resembling drowned rats. Angelus was attempting to wring some of the water out of his fancy clothes when Willow picked up a stick and challenged him with it, as you would a fencing sword.
“This is far from over, swalywagger!” she cried.
“Ye woun’na kill an unarmed man, would ye lass?” he cried.
“Of course not.” She said. At the look of relief in his eyes, she added, “I shall just have to take you hostage!”
“Ye woun’na dare!”
“Aye, I would!”
He looked at her, trying very hard to repress his laughter. “Very well. Lead away.”
She led him triumphantly through the woods, back to the food. “Now, decisions, decisions…do I kill you or eat?”
“Well, every man should be entitled to one last meal, m’lady.”
“True.” She pretended to consider her options. “Very well, you shall join me for supper.”
“You are a true woman of mercy, m’lady.” He said, and they sat down for supper. It was wonderful. Wine, bread, cheese, fruit, some dried meat. < He put a lot of thought into this. > Willow thought. < For me… >
Angelus considered the woman across from him. She was so wonderful. The day had been amazing. He had taken her to all the famous sites in Dublin, because she had been so thrilled at everything she saw. Then he had led her right here, to his own family’s land. And the entire time, she was so…alive. They spoke of their families, their fears and dreams…she could joke like no other woman he had ever met. She wasn’t uptight and…frumpy.
As they ate, the sun set over the hills in front of them. Willow didn’t think she had ever seen a more beautiful sunset. < Maybe it’s just the company you’re keeping… > <Oh, do you ever go away? >
She looked at Angel, a little unsure of herself. “I should get back to the inn. It’s late.” She said.
Angelus’s face fell.
< She wants to leave me. I’m boring her. Why would a woman like her
want me…but things were going so well! > He sighed and said, “You’re probably
right.” Then he grinned. “But what are you going
to do with your hostage, m’lady?” he asked devilishly.
She looked at him, confused, until she remembered their game. “Oh! Well…I suppose I could be merciful and release you. You have been behaving yourself.”
He jumped up and kneeled beside her, taking her hand and kissing it gently. “You are most kind, lass.” Then he stood up and offered her his hand. ‘Shall we go then?”
She took his hand with a smile and began to stand up, but her foot got caught in a rock outcropping and she tripped. Right into his arms.
Angelus almost groaned aloud from the pure pleasure of holding her in his arms. She was so soft, and wherever skin met skin, electric shocks ran up his nerves. He pulled her up slowly, staring deep into her eyes, searching for something. Maybe proof that the passion he felt was two-sided, maybe just permission. But it didn’t matter anymore. He just couldn’t stop himself-they were so close and her lips were so tempting…
Willow watched wide-eyed, as Angelus leaned forward. <Oh my lord, he’s going to kiss me! But he’s Buffy’s! > her thoughts protested. The voice butted in, <Oh shut up and enjoy it! >
All of the sudden, there was no more time to worry about it, or to stop it. His lips were on hers, softly at first and then fiercely as the world seemed to explode. Brilliant colors flashed behind Willow’s closed eyes as he deepened the kiss with a small moan, tasting her.
< God, this is incredible! > thought Angelus. The passion between them almost seemed to be a tangible thing…he just wanted the moment to last forever. When Willow finally got up the strength to rip her lips away from his, his moaned in protest and tried to pull her back. She almost let him, but then her pure side won out. < This is wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong! > “No, Angelus.” She said aloud, passion making her voice husky.
Angelus leaned his forehead against hers and took a few deep breaths. “You’re right, lass.” He said weakly, his voice raspy and deep. “Give me a moment.”
They stood like that for awhile, silent, then he pulled away and tucked a lock of auburn hair behind her delicate ear. "I’m sorry, lass. I got carried away. Forgive me?”
She took his face in her hands and looked into his eyes. For a moment, she looked like the Angel she knew, the one that was forever punishing himself for his actions, whether they were in his control or not. She hated that look and said to him, “I will always forgive you, understand? No matter what.”
He looked in her eyes, bewildered, as she said, “Always, always remember that.” Then she turned and walked to Flash, climbed on, and started back to the inn. He had no choice but to follow.
Mrs. Montgomery sat behind the desk of her family’s inn, busying herself with taxes. “Taxes, taxes, taxes.” She muttered.
The bell on the door rang, and someone stepped in. She looked up to see that charming young girl from last night, and smiled. “Hullo, lass!” she exclaimed. “Did ya have a pleasant day with that strapping young man? I see you did.”
The girl looked at her, confused. The woman behind the counter continued to talk as though she knew her.
“Lass, you look positively exhausted! He din’na run you around too much did he? Well, a good night’s rest will help all that. Go on to your room now, here’s your key, and get a good nights sleep.”
The woman handed the
girl the key and she studied it. She looked back at the woman, but she
was already returning to her muttering about the injustices of taxes. After
a moment of puzzlement, the girl shrugged and
proceeded to go to the room that the key was for, room 2.
Angelus sighed. “There’s your inn, lass.”
Willow stopped her horse and dismounted, petting Flash gently. She looked up at Angelus, stars reflecting in her eyes.
“I had a wonderful time tonight. Thank you. And thank your sister.”
“For what?” Angelus asked, puzzled.
“For letting me borrow Flash!” She explained patiently.
“Oh. I will.”
There was a moment of silence as they studied each other, then Willow said, “I have to go. I hope to see you again sometime.”
“As do I. Perhaps I could call tomorrow?”
She thought. “No, not tomorrow. But I would like to spend the day after that with you.” < I had better, it’s the only way I can stop Darla… >
He grinned that irrepressible grin. < She wants to see me again! > As he leaned over to kiss her cheek, he whispered, “As you wish.”
Then he straightened, mounted his horse, and left.
Willow sighed and rubbed
the bridge of her nose. It had been a wonderful day. Too wonderful. She
knew now that she had to stop Darla from turning Angelus into a vampire,
no matter how it changed history. He was just so
perfect. He should have children, and a wife, and grandchildren, and be happy…
She walked into the inn and said hello to Mrs. Montgomery as she passed her at the desk, heading straight for her room.
Mrs. Montgomery looked up, confused. “Wasn’t that girl just here?” she said softly to herself, then sighed and went back to her taxes. She was getting old.
Willow went to the door and was surprised to find it unlocked. < I was sure I locked it this morning… > < Oh well. > She went in, closed the door, locked it, turned around, and let out an award-winning shriek.
The figure sitting on the bed jumped up, saw her, and shrieked.
“Who are you?” they asked at the same time.
They both stood there
in battle stance, confused. < This can’t be happening. > thought Willow.
< She looks exactly like me! >