* * * * *
Buffy dragged Willow onto the dance floor. "No friend of mine is going to be sitting by herself moping." Willow let herself be drawn along, enjoying the music and company despite herself. Things couldn't be that bad when she, Buffy and Xander danced together.
From the shadows, Angel watched them, a smile playing around his lips as he saw Buffy's fingers brushing against Willow's hips as they danced. At first it looked accidental, but it kept happening. Nobody else would even have noticed it, but he knew how she moved, he knew her. Angel had hated the voyeurism and loneliness of watching her before when he had a soul. Now he loved the power.
"Dear Buffy, so preoccupied, I could walk right up to her and snap her neck and the first thing she would notice would be the fear in Willow's eyes."
Outside he watched as Buffy walked arm in arm with Willow, Xander lagging behind trying to be surreptitious as he checked Buffy out. Angel let the woman he was draining slump to the ground.
Angel knew that he was an artist, others used words, canvas, buildings, he used lives. He could sketch out the tragedy of human existence in the fragile mortals. Their lifespan was short, dull, mundane, but he could take a human to the pinnacle of suffering and beyond. Dru was his greatest work, but Buffy; with her he had an opportunity, she had loved him and anything he did to her would be so much more exquisite for it. All he needed to do was decide how to start; so far he had just sketched the outline, now he wanted to add the colour.
* * * * *
Xander had gone home, Buffy was just walking Willow to her door. With Angel around, she needed to get her back safely. Just one girl looking out for her friend
"Thanks for walking me back, Buffy"
Willow took a step forward, stopped. Buffy reached out her hand to touch the redhead's shoulder, wondering what was wrong, as she did Willow turned. Buffy's hand brushed Willow's cheek.
"Sorry, I was just making sure you were, you know, all right"
"Buffy, I just wanted to say..." she hesitated, then hurriedly said, "I'll see you tomorrow, bye." Willow turned and hurried into the house.
"Bye," said Buffy quietly. She walked slowly off, never seeing the dark shadow watching her.
* * * * *
Buffy woke and smiled, remembering her dream; things were so much simpler when the real world wasn't involved. She was trying to recall the exact details when she saw the piece of paper folded up lying on the pillow next to her. She picked it up slowly and unfolded it. A picture of her, sleeping.
* * * * *
Giles hadn't got much sleep. After he'd started researching Angel's past, he had started to have nightmares. Even he was too close to this, what must Buffy be feeling? For Buffy sleep must be even harder. When she had come to him and told him that Angel had left a drawing of her he had tried to keep her calm, she deserved that much. But he couldn't even think how it would feel; to know that a demon obsessed with her had spent the night watching her, in her room. Revoking the invitation ritual should be possible, although a dark voicein the back of his head couldn't help but point out that it may never have been an issue before with how vampires usually acted when they could get in. The watcher finally found the spell in the Chronicles of Elijah, it was simple really. Just invoking the spiritual protection, re-blessing the house. Pretty obvious really. Buffy would be able to sleep a little more easily.
* * * * *
Buffy moved food around her plate, she knew she had to give her mum something. She couldn't just shut her out, about this.
"Yes, Honey?" Joyce Summers took a moment to look properly at her daughter, immediately she saw this was serious, her stomach clutched as the possibilities ran across her mind, expulsion, drugs, violence. She knew it wasn't fair and tried to not let it show.
"Do you remember that guy, Angel?"
"The one who was tutoring you in history?" Oh, I should have known, Boys!
"We, erm, well," she took a deep breath, "we're sort of dating, were dating, going through a serious offy on stage right now"
Joyce smiled. She knew this one
"Don't tell me, he's changed, he's not the guy you fell for."
"In a nutshell, anyway since he, uh, changed he's been kind of following me around. He's having trouble letting go."
"Buffy, has he done anything?"
"No, nothing like that, " Buffy lied. Her mom deserved to know something, but she couldn't afford her to go to the cops. "He's just been hanging around a lot, sending me notes, that kind of thing" Her mom wasn't smiling anymore. "I just don't want to see him right now; if he shows up I'll talk to him but don't invite him in"
Joyce sighed; If only her daughter could show more judgment with people, spend more time with friends like Willow instead of creepy older men.
* * * * *
"So you told her, huh, how did she react?" Willow wandered around the room with the phone.
"She seemed, you know, disappointed but supportive; of course if she knew that whole of it she probably wouldn't be so understanding."
"You didn't mention the whole soulless creature of the night thing then?"
"That would probably be a bit too much for her to cope with right now. It's just so creepy him being somewhere watching me, not knowing what he could do next."
"I agree with Giles, you've just got to not let him get to you, Angel's only doing this to make you do something stupid. I swear, men can be such jerks sometimes, dead or alive."
"I just hope Giles can find a keep out spell soon, I know I'll sleep easier when I can, well, sleep easier."
"I'm sure he will. He's like book man" Willow sprinkled fish food into the tank, watching the little fish all swarm to get it.
"Until then, try and keep happy thoughts and...."
She trailed off, there was an envelope on her bed, and it hadn't been there a few minutes ago.
"And what ...Willow?"
Willow pulled a folded up piece of paper out of the envelope. She unfolded it.
Buffy heard the phone fall to the floor and heard a sob. She was out of the window in five seconds and sprinting towards willows house. It took her five minutes at full slayer speed but it felt like an eternity. Possibilities thundering through her mind, Willow hurt, Willow dead, Willow hating her as Buffy would hate herself if something happened to her. She managed to stop herself jumping straight through Willow's window, controlling herself enough to open it. Willow wasn't in there. Buffy saw one of Angel's pictures dropped onto the bed and picked it up. It was a picture of Willow's parents sleeping.
She ran to the next room, rushed in, Ira and Sheila Rosenberg were there, Angel had made it messy, and there was no chance they were alive. Buffy flinched back from the sight. It was all fault ... it was all her fault. For a moment she couldn't breath. Then she saw Willow. Willow was just standing there her back to the wall by the door, and she was frozen like a statue. Buffy walked to her and put her hand on Willow's shoulder. Willow's head slowly turned to look at her friend. "Buffy?"
"I'm here, Will."
Willow threw her arms round Buffy, gripping with a strength Buffy hadn't thought possible.
"Don't leave me, Buffy."
Buffy managed to take Willow out of the bedroom; she led her to the kitchen and quickly phoned the police and her mom.
Buffy looked down at Willow clutched tightly in her arms
"They're dead; they're really dead."
"I'm so sorry, Will, I'm so sorry."
Willow started sobbing, Buffy pulled her closer, but there was nothing she could say to make it better. Nothing could make it better.
* * * * *
Joyce arrived before the police to find her daughter holding Willow. The police arrived a few minutes later. The rest of the night was a blur of questions and procedure and throughout it all Buffy never let go of Willow's hand.
* * * * *
Giles and Xander both met them at the police station. Joyce had called them and Willow was glad to see them, but Joyce insisted on her getting sleep. She took Buffy and Willow home and Buffy held Willow close all night. She never slept herself that night, just watched over Willow, stroking her friends red hair, trying to hold back the nightmares and swearing with all her heart that Angel would never again hurt anyone else. She was finally ready to kill.
* * * * *
Passion is the source of our finest
Buffy looked down at the girl in her arms. Willow's face was relaxed and she looked happy. It didn't last long; Willow woke and, after a moment of peace, remembered.
"I can't believe they're dead. At the moment, it just doesn't feel real. They spent so much time away that It just feels like they could come back anytime"
"You need to accept it so that you can deal with it, Will."
"I need time, I just need time to deal." Willow paused. "I don't want to get up, Buffy. I don't want to face the world yet."
"Then you don't have to. Not yet."
* * * * *
"Willow, I want you to know I'm going to kill Angel for what he's done."
"I know. Thank you."
"I am so sorry I didn't kill him before this. If I had just killed him when I had the chance none of this would have happened."
"It's not your fault, Buffy, You can't just kill someone that you love, even if they change, If you could have done it then I don't think I would have liked you anymore."
"After everything that's happened don't you blame me a little?"
"I'm trying to think with my head here. I know that there is nothing to blame you for."
"But in your gut you hate me?"
"I could never hate you, Buffy, but I feel hatred. I don't know how to deal with it. Mostly I just feel so guilty."
"There is nothing for you to feel guilty about."
"There's plenty, I invited Angel into my room, I meddled with the black arts. The love spell made Angel actually focus on me for the first time and I can't stop hating my mom and dad for never being there. Oh God, Buffy, I can't help it."
"Willow, it's natural to feel that way, everyone feels that way when someone dies."
"That doesn't help. It doesn't matter what I know, I can't help feeling it."
* * * * *
Downstairs, Joyce and Giles were talking.
"Poor Willow, I can't imagine what she's going through." Joyce had always liked Willow. She was everything a daughter's best friend was supposed to be.
"She has close friends all around, people she knows love her. She will be able to cope eventually. She's stronger than you think." Giles knew that Willow had been through a lot in her short life and she had been able to bounce back.
"I spoke to the police," Joyce said. "They think that it was some kind of wild dog that got into the bedroom somehow."
"Yes, that seems to be a favourite theory of theirs." Giles had once thought the Sunnydale police were stupid, but he had grown to realise that they covered up the evidence of the supernatural for god knows what reasons.
"Willow doesn't have any other family in Sunnydale. She's going to have to go and live with some aunt somewhere, but it seems so wrong to take her away from all her friends at a time like this."
"We'll just have to ask her what she wants, but she shouldn't be forced into any decisions just yet. She has a lot to deal with."
* * * * *
Spike rolled his eyes. Wasn't the stupid bastard ever going to shut up?
"I wish you could have been there, Spike, watching Buffy as she walked into the room. It's the look on someone's face as they open their present that makes it all worthwhile."
Spike was beginning to seriously hate everything about Angel. They had been tight in the old days, but recently he had realised that had just been because he had been subordinate. Now they were rivals and that didn't make for warm fuzzy feelings. Things had actually been easier since he had been forced to abandon the wheelchair, but he was still too weak to kill the arrogant bastard. "You're supposed to kill the bitch, not leave gag gifts in the friend's beds. I love a good slaughter as much as the next bloke, but all that's going to do is leave us with an incredibly brassed off slayer."
"Don't worry about it, bleach boy. I've got everything under control, you just need to concentrate on getting your strength up. You're still weak and it would be terrible if anything happened to you, and while you're resting If there's any responsibility I can take on...." He glanced, leeringly, at Drusilla. "Anything I'm not already doing that is."
Spike's fist caught Angel in the face
"Sorry, Spike, I really shouldn't call attention to your inadequacies. Maybe we should go to therapy and really learn how to communicate."
"I'll bloody communicate with you."
"You boys," Drusilla drawled, "fighting over me." She loved the attention. "Makes a girl feel all ... aaarrrr."
"What is it pet?" Spike rushed to her side. Drusilla clutched at her stomach. Spike knew that her visions could be painful sometimes.
"An old enemy is seeking help to destroy our happy home."
* * * * *
The door jangled as Jenny Calendar left the Magic shop. Her uncle had been right about it, it had a good stock even of things supposedly obsolete, useless. Maybe the orb of Thessala still was useless; the computer hadn't finished the programme yet. What if it didn't work? No, it had to work. If Giles was ever going to accept her again, she had to make it up to him, although after the death of Willow's parents even this might not be enough. After that, they might just want to kill him, but the option had to be there. Jenny really hoped that it was enough.
* * * * *
Xander sat alone on the bench he normally shared with Buffy and Willow. He stared into the distance trying to think about anything other than Angel. He hated him, he'd hated him since before he had even met him. After that, he'd hated him even more. It wasn't just because Angel had been who Buffy was interested in instead of Xander. Well ok, maybe it was a little bit about that, but he was a vampire, they were evil. He didn't need to justify himself anymore. He was right. He wished he hadn't been.
"How's Willow doing?"
Xander didn't need to look to see who was talking to him, but he turned anyway to see if her gang was with her. Cordelia stood alone and actually seemed to be thinking of someone other than herself for a change.
"How do you think?" He didn't mean to be harsh to her, but he felt too angry to be nice to her.
"I just thought.... Well, tell her if she needs anything then she only has to ask."
"I'll tell her." After a moment, he noticed that she was still there. "Anything else?"
"Are you ok?"
She nodded and started to turn to leave.
"It's just that I keep thinking that I knew that something would happen. I knew that it would turn bad, I should have done something."
Cordelia sat down next to him. She looked genuinely concerned. "There wasn't anything you could have done."
"Gee, that makes me feel a whole load better," he said sarcastically.
"I'm right though, there wasn't any way you could have known what would happen and nothing you could have done to stop it if you had, " Cordelia said it factually.
"Thanks, Cor, I don't know how I've managed without you around."
"Obviously not very well. You're just being self-indulgent"
"Why are being like this?"
"Because despite what you might think, I do care about you and if you stay like this you're going to do something stupid and get yourself killed."
Xander bit back an angry retort and shook his head.
"Sorry, I guess I have been a bit selfish about this. I should be thinking about Willow, not myself."
"Poor Willow, she didn't get on very well with her parents, but she loved them a lot."
Xander thought about his own dysfunctional family, evenhe couldn't stand it if something happened to them. At least Willow had Buffy to comfort her, not so long ago he would have been the one comforting her, but Buffy had gotten closer to her than he was so quickly.
"Willow will get through it. She's tough," Cordelia interrupted Xander's thoughts.
"Yeah, but it won't be a fun time. It's not the kind of thing that you ever really get over."
"She has got people around her who care, that's more than a lot of people could say."
The loneliness in her voice caught Xander's attention, he studied her for a minute, unsure how to respond. "You've got a lot of friends around you."
"Yeah." Cordelia sounded very unconvinced. She wasn't stupid, she knew that people wanted to be around her because she was popular and none of them really cared about her. She hadn't really felt it so much until she started to spend time with the Buffy and the people she thought of as geeks and not much more. With them she had seen the affection between them and felt that they were a family. Being popular was nice but she was starting to wonder if it was worth it. She realised Xander was looking at her.
"Cordy, I just realised something, it's hot out and the football players are in season, but you've been wearing tops with high necklines every day recently."
"What of it?"
"Well, I just noticed that you were wearing a necklace under there."
Cordelia put her hand up to the heart necklace Xander had given her which she still wore hidden from sight.
"Just thought that was interesting, that's all."
"As long as you didn't think anything else."
"Want to go get some lunch?"
They hurried off to find a broom closet
* * * * *
"Consensis riccisis est, there that should do it," said Giles. "The house should now be secure."
"The spell's finally finished? Thanks, Giles, I just wish we had thought of it sooner."
"Now, Buffy, you can't blame yourself for what's happened. I know it sounds harsh, but grief is a luxury you just can't afford right now."
"Oh, right now, I'm allowing myself the luxury of intense rage; Angel is going to die, tonight."
"Do you want me to come with you?."
"No, I think I want to face him alone."
* * * * *
"I'm coming with you." Willow looked resolved.
Buffy sighed, Will could be so stubborn sometimes. "It's too dangerous; I don't want you to get hurt"
"Well maybe the danger doesn't matter, maybe what's more dangerous is me living my life always fearing the monster that killed my parents. I need closure on this. Buffy, please, think how you would feel."
"It's different for me; I'm the slayer. I'm the one who does the protecting."
"Buffy, I need this, please let me do this."
Buffy knew that she wasn't going to win this argument, Willow's face was resolved and she knew what that meant. "You've got to promise me that you won't do anything stupid. Let me do the fighting."
"I will, let you fight that is; I just have to be there."
"Ok, you take the holy water, the cross and this stake. All set?"
"Yes, as I'll ever be."
"Ok, I'll go out the window first and you follow."
"Why the window?"
"Do you feel like explaining to mum where we're going?"
"I see your point."
"You didn't have a plan, I thought you had a plan."
"Well I just thought Angel, pointy stick. That pretty much took up enough of my brain that I forgot the rest."
"So you were just going to walk into the factory and fight Angel, Spike, and Drusilla?"
"How about we wait near the factory and follow Angel when he leaves and then take him on his own?"
"You're not just a pretty face are you?"
* * * * *
"There he is. He's heading towards the west cemetery."
"That's the direction to Giles house. God, he must be going to kill Giles."
"Don't worry, Buffy, we're going to get him before he can do anything."
The graveyard was deathly quiet. The two girls sneaked after Angel, his duster flapping in the breeze ahead of them. They turned a corner and suddenly he was gone. They walked forward a little, but there was no sign of movement
"This doesn't look good," Buffy whispered to Willow.
"Oh, I think it looks perfect. Seeing the two of you together really touches my heart."
Willow turned. Angel was standing by a mausoleum a short distance away. His face was human and he had a sly grin.
Buffy suddenly spun, throwing the stake at his heart. Angel's hand darted and caught it, but it still stabbed an inch into his chest.
"Was it something I said?" Angel laughed.
Buffy never said a thing, but launched herself at him. She easily dodged the slash from her own stake, following up with a blinding punch and kick combination. Angel was backing away, trying to ward off the blows, not getting a chance to fight back. A kick from Buffy snapped his head back, and she quickly pulled out her second stake, again trying to ram it into his heart. Angel blocked with his arm, but the stake shattered the bone. He did a spin kick and knocked her down, she landed on her hands and kicked into his chest feeling ribs crush against her feet. He staggered back, and she flipped to her feet and relentlessly hammered into him. Her fists pounding into his face. She grabbed the stake stuck in his arm and yanked it out, preparing for the final blow, but suddenly Angel's head rammed into her face and for a moment she was thrown backwards. Angel rushed past her, and when she turned she saw him behind Willow, his good hand gripping the back of her neck. Willow looked terrified.
"Back off, Buffy, unless you want her to die."
"Get away from her!"
"Yeah, that'll work." Angel was backing away toward a particular crypt. Buffy recognised it as one that led to the electrical tunnels under the town.
"Don't hurt her."
"I'll try not to, but she's so fragile."
He was at the gates of the crypt when he suddenly her threw Willow toward Buffy. She caught Willow, but fell under her. Looking for Angel, she could see he was gone. "Willow, are you Ok?"
The redhead nodded, but her eyes were full of tears and she was shaking.
"I'm so sorry, Will; I should have never let you come."
Willow seemed to regain some control.
"No, Buffy, I insisted. I needed to come. It's my fault he got away."
"I will kill him, Will, but right now I'm going to get you home." She put her arm around the redhead and they returned to Buffy's house. Too late she realised she shouldn't have gone to the front door.
Her mom was waiting for them.
"Where have you been? I was worried sick."
"It's ok, Mom."
"Don't talk to me like that. You've been fighting."
Buffy touched a finger to her lip, feeling the blood there from Angel's headbutt. "It's not what it looks like."
"Well, it better not be because it looks like you took Willow out and got into a fight. I thought you cared about her."
"She does. She was trying to protect me! She was trying to kill Angel!"
Joyce stopped and stared at Willow, then Buffy. "You were trying to kill someone? Your ex-boyfriend?"
"It's not what it sounds like."
"It better well not be."
Buffy looked in her mother's eyes and could see that she wasn't goingto be able to sidle out of this one. She had to tell her mother something, but for the life of her she could only think to say, "I can't explain it now. It's all too complicated."
"I don't care. Something has been going on that I have a right to know about."
"Maybe you don't want to know. Have you considered that?"
"It doesn't work like that, Buffy, no matter what the truth is you have to stand up to it or you'll just end up getting hurt."
"Angel's a vampire."
"He's a what?" Her mother sounded incredulous
"Yes, Mom, he's a vampire and I'm a vampire slayer, look." She walked over to the kitchen counter and picked up a metal mug, she crushed it and gave it to her mom. "See, mom, I can do things: It's my job to protect the world from vampires."
Joyce looked over to Willow
"It's true, Mrs. Summers."
"Are you a slayer too?" she asked, unsure how to react. Was her daughter crazy?
"No, there's only one girl in the entire world. Buffy is the chosen one."
She turned back to Buffy. "Well, have you tried not being a slayer?"
"It doesn't work like that. I have tried to ignore it, but that costs people their lives. Willow would be dead if I hadn't accepted it."
Joyce sat down. "This is a lot to take in." She kept looking down at the mug in her hands. Buffy seemed so sure of herself and it would explain a lot. "This wasn't in the parenting books."
Buffy laughed, breaking the tension. "I'm sorry I couldn't tell you this before, I wanted to, truly I did, but it would have put you in danger. I didn't want anything to happen to you."
"I knew there were some things you weren't telling me but this is ... how am I supposed to react to this?"
"Trust me when I found out I was pretty freaked to. Willow took it surprisingly well though."
"Buffy, I went virtually catatonic."
"You accepted it quickly and asked how you could help. That's pretty impressive."
"Buffy, you said that Angel was a vampire. Wasn't he your boyfriend?"
"He used to be a good vampire. His soul had been restored, but then he lost it again and went bad."
"How did he lose it?"
"That's not important right now."
"Buffy, you can't just brush me off. I need answers."
"Mom, I've just had a very tough battle with a very tough vampire. I think it would be better for everyone if we talked about this tomorrow when you've had a chance to let this sink in."
"Maybe you're right."
* * * * *
"I think she took it pretty well."
"Your mom is very understanding and you know she loves you. She'll accept it, just give her time." Buffy turned to Willow and could see the tears in her eyes. She was still fragile. Buffy held Willow close. "Your parents loved you, Will. I'm sure they're looking down now just thinking how much they love you."
Willow slept more peacefully that night. Buffy started the night watching over her as before, but eventually fell asleep as well.
* * * * *
"Rupert, I may have something. I don't want to put your hopes up, but could I come round your house tonight?"
"Of course." He smiled and left. Jenny Calendar went back to work on the computer programme. It looked like it was almost finished.
Actually, it was much later before the text was finally translated. She saved it onto disc and then set it to print. As the printer started, she looked up and started as she saw a figure in the shadows at the back of the classroom.
"Sorry, love, didn't mean to make you jump."
"You're Spike. How did you get in?"
"I was invited, the Latin motto on the front of the school, enter all ye who seek knowledge. Very useful."
"What do you want?"
"When did I get such a reputation for being an ogre? I just want to help out my good buddy Angel get his soul back. I want things back to the way they were before. Me and Dru against the world. Who asked him to interfere, bloody soul losing wanker."
"You want us to do the spell?"
"I just said that, didn't I?"
"Are you drunk?"
"I needed a little something to make me go through with it. It isn't easy coming to the enemy. Enough bloody chatter anyway, you've got the spell, so lets go."
"Wait I need the Orb of Thessala." She grabbed it from the desk
"Careful with that, I hear they're very breakable."
* * * * *
Spike drove Jenny to Giles' house
"If you tell anyone that I helped you, I will personally snap your neck, understand?"
"Yes and ... thanks."
"Don't mention it, ever."
He drove off, leaving her in front of the house. She walked up the steps and knocked on the door. Giles let her in.
"What was it you wanted to tell me?"
She didn't speak, just handed him the printout.
"The spell of restoration, is this what I think it is? My god, we can restore Angel's soul."
"I know that this doesn't make up for everything I've done, but--"
"Jenny, I never truly held you accountable. If I was short with you it was because I was feeling Buffy's pain so acutely. She is like a, well, she is very close to me and I have to be supportive."
"It's just that I can't stand being locked out of the life of the man I love." She saw the surprised look on his face. "Oh god, is it too late to take that back?"
"Do you want to?" he said quietly.
There was a knock at the door, "Hey, G-man, you in?"
There were times when Giles really hated Xander.
* * * * *
Buffy was glad when her mom let them get away. They had talked a lot that day and Buffy had managed to convince Joyce, if not to be happy with the slayer thing, then at least to be able to accept it more. She admitted that it did explain a lot of things and reminding her of the relatively recent incident when Spike had attacked her on parent/teacher night seemed to help, since she had seen then that Buffy could take care of herself.
Buffy had even managed to steer the talk away from how Angel lost his soul. That was not a discussion she needed right now.
Willow had remained quiet most of the time, only chipping in when really necessary. Finally, they had got away and were nearly at Giles house. He had called earlier on and asked her to come over.
He greeted them warmly, and she soon saw that not only Xander, but also Jenny Calendar was there as well.
"Hi, Buffy, Willow. I realise that you may not want me here, but I came to help. I managed to recover the spell to cure Angel."
"Give him back his soul?"
"Don't bother. I'm going to kill him."
"Buffy," Giles interjected, "I don't want you to be in danger. With the spell, we could bring Angel back."
"Angel can never come back." Her expression softened, and she glanced at Willow, who was looking at her sadly. "I do appreciate what you've done, but he has to pay."
"Do the spell," Willow said calmly.
"We'll go and fight Angel, but there needs to be a backup plan. If we fail we can't let him walk free."
"I'm coming with you again, Buffy."
"Last time you were almost killed."
"I told you before that I need this."
Buffy and Willow grabbed weapons. This time Willow took a crossbow. Giles and Jenny started to set up the spell while Xander was sent to fetch supplies from the magic shop.
The final touch Buffy added was to grab some petrol Giles had stashed in his car. "I like to make an entrance," was the only explanation she would give.
* * * * *
"She's still alive. I'm very disappointed in you, Spike, my boy."
"Well, what do you expect me to do? She wasn't any of the places you said she might be. I trawled the town, even checked out the librarian's place, but nowhere."
"Do you realise what she could do?"
"Well, I find myself preferring the old Buffy-whipped Angelus myself. This one's not playing with a full deck. I mean, look where your great master plan left you." He gestured to Angel's bandaged arm and ribs.
"I've got everything under control."
A window smashed and a sheet of fire erupted on the centre table. Buffy appeared through the smoke, carrying a pole with a rag on the end. She dipped it in the fire as she passed and swung it, smashing the flaming end into Angel's face. He collapsed and she kept smashing it into him, beating him down. Out of the corner of her eye's she saw Drusilla start forward, only to be held back by Spike. Suddenly Angel's foot lashed out, catching her in the stomach. She staggered back and Angel sprung to his feet again, vampire face in full snarl. A crossbow bolt fired from behind Buffy sliced into Angel's shoulder, pinning him to a wooden pillar. Willow hurried forward, trying to reload the crossbow. Angel pulled out the crossbow bolt and threw it at Buffy, but she swatted it aside with ease. He turned to run, but shewas faster, kicking him in the legs and knocking him down. She pulled him up and against the pillar. She saw Spike dragging Drusilla away.
"Come on, pet, you know you shouldn't interrupt lover's quarrels."
Buffy pulled a stake and prepared to plunge it into Angel's heart, but then something went through him. He gasped and she saw his eyes glow brightly for a second and the vamp face morphed into his human features. He looked confused.
"Buffy, what's happening?"
She hardened her heart and started to plunge the stake into him, but Willow caught her arm and held it back. "Buffy no, It's Angel again. You can't kill him. It wasn't his fault."
"What? How can you think that, Will, after what he's done?"
"Buffy, I hate what Angel has done, but I know it was because he lost his soul. I've been thinking about this a lot recently, and I'm not going to let my anger get in the way of doing what's right. It's not for his sake, Buffy, it's for mine."
Angel still couldn't remember what had happened. "Buffy, it feels like I've been away from you for months. What's going on?" He reached out and touched her shoulder, but she knocked his hand away
"Get away from me." Taking Willow's arm, she walked out, leaving Angel alone in the flaming warehouse.
* * * * *
After the funeral, Willow seemed to have accepted the deaths of her parents. She had faced her demons, and her forgiveness of Angel seemed to have helped her to forgive herself, but she was still in a lot of pain.
She was with Buffy in Buffy's bedroom, thinking about everything that had happened between them. She had long before stopped trying to deny what she felt about Buffy. She was deeply attracted to the slayer and knew that she loved her with all her heart. She had found her home in Buffy and the happiest moments in her life had been when she had been just with Buffy, relaxing together as friends. She liked Xander, loved him as a friend and had had a major crush on him, but that had been just that a crush. With Buffy she knew it was serious. It was ... love; no other word would describe it.
So why had she denied it? One word. Fear. She needed to be close to Buffy, needed her friendship and she was sure that any declarations would push Buffy away. But Willow couldn't bear to live her life in fear anymore, She knew that Buffy wouldn't abandon their friendship. Her actions and comfort over that past few days had shown her that Buffy did love her. Was it so ridiculous to suppose Buffy might accept more than friendship from her? She just had to build up the courage to say it.
She had to be strong.
"I wanted you to know that ... well ... that I basically ... I kind of well .... " Willow's briefly lost her nerve as Buffy looked at her in puzzlement.
"What is it?"
Willow breathed for a second and trying not to think just said, "I love you." Willow took one look at the shocked expression on Buffy's face and turned away. "I'm sorry. I wish I hadn't said anything, I just, I've loved you for so long now and I've been fighting it. I'm so tired of being alone and so close to someone I love. Please don't hate me, Buffy. I'll never mention it again but please just...." She felt Buffy's hand on her chin, lifting her head up and looked into Buffy's eyes. They were full of tears but there was such a look of happiness in them
"Oh, Willow, my Willow, I love you too."
And they kissed and held each other tightly.
It speaks to us, guides us.
Passion rules us all, and we obey.
What other choice do we have?