Under My Thumb Ch. 7bybadgirl298©
Willow inspected herself in the bathroom mirror. The tear tracks were hardly noticeable now. She bent down and splashed some cool water on her cheeks and took a deep breath. The first Scooby meeting since Angel had gotten back his soul would be tonight. She needed to compose herself before she faced Buffy and the others. She didn't want to break down in front of them and then have to lie to cover up her emotions. She hated lying to them, she'd done enough of that to last her a lifetime.
She smoothed her red tresses back, tucking them behind her ears and took deep, calming breaths. Since she'd resouled Angel she hadn't seen him, it had been two days. Truthfully, they never had much contact before he lost his soul so things were already going back to normal.
Besides, she didn't want to see him now. She could only begin to imagine his horror and disgust with her after he remembered how she had behaved with his soulless counterpart. Not that she was afraid of running into him at the meeting. Giles and Xander had made it absolutely clear that they held Angel responsible for the acts Angelus had committed. She new he wouldn't be welcome there.
No, what she was afraid of was Buffy's reaction. She hadn't heard from the Slayer either, which usually meant that she was with Angel. She didn't think she could bare to see Buffy bound in the room filled with enthusiasm for Angel's return, her boyfriend's reappearance. Yet she also could stand to see Buffy still angry at Angel, punishing him for the things his demon had done. Willow couldn't win either way.
For all intents and purposes Willow and Buffy had fallen for the same guy. The major problem was that they shared one body. Willow knew that she had loved -- was in love with Angel's darker half. She looked at her wan face was once more. "You can do this, Rosenberg. You have to." She exited the bathroom.
Giles was lost in his own conjecture. "Perhaps he spontaneously regained his soul. The curse was merely interrupted by some force."
"I really don't care whether he has a soul or not." Xander said, his dark eyes looked fierce. "Angel's still a vampire and he tried to kill all of us! He did kill Miss Calender. We should kill him."
"This isn't your decision, Xander." Buffy said quietly. "It's mine. I'm the Chosen One."
"Who just happens to be the killer's boyfriend." The young man said sarcastically.
"What's with all this Chosen One stuff all of a sudden? Before, you wanted to be Miss Normal." Cordelia contributed. "Somebody has a god complex."
"Enough." Giles said. His tone precluded any arguments. "Buffy must decide this on her own."
Willow was worried. So far she hadn't said a word, didn't want to draw their suspicions. Buffy was contemplating killing Angel again? She had to stop this. "I resouled Angel."
"You resouled Angel?" Giles asked incredulously. "How?"
"Uh, Miss Calender's notes." Willow grasped the knapsack and handed it to him.
He fumbled with the zipper but finally got it open. Inside, written in the Gypsy's own hand was the curse. "Jenny." Giles whispered softly. She had saved them. He viciously tamped down on his emotions. He had work to do, this was no time to break down. "And you, uh, performed the ritual?"
"Yes. Miss Calender told me she was working on it. She didn't want anyone else to know, didn't want your hopes to be dashed if she failed. I was. . .worried about you and Buffy. I wanted to do it. . .just in case. " Another lie. The main reason she had performed the spell was to preserve Angelus' body. She believed Buffy and Giles to be more than a match for Angelus.
"I see." Giles read over the spell carefully. "Willow, this was risky. You may have inadvertently opened a door inside yourself. Once you've let magick flow through you--"
"I knew the risks. I've asked Miss Calender about it often enough. I wanted her to train me in witchcraft."
Buffy had remained curiously silent during the discussion. Giles concluded the meeting and they all went there separate ways. The Watcher went into his office with Jenny's knapsack, presumably he needed some time alone. Xander and Cordelia went out to her car, they were going to take in a flick. Buffy offered to walk her home, then the Slayer was off to patrol. They walked in silence for a block until the Slayer was ready to speak.
"You. . .you did that? You restored his soul?" Buffy was awed.
"Oh, Willow. And you were keeping this to yourself! Giles and I were wondering. . .were you worried that I would be angry?" She faced her best friend and then embraced her."I'm not. You can't imagine how. . ." She pulled back and kissed her cheek. "Thank you. You're a good friend."
I didn't do it for you, not completely. Well, at least my thoughts are completely truthful. Thank God Buffy wasn't a mind reader. "You're welcome."
" I know that I can't. . .be with Angel." Buffy appeared to be lost in thought. "I didn't want him to die though. I can have him as a friend. . .he can still be in my life somehow."
"Yes, he can still be in your life now." Willow said sadly. But Angelus could never be in her life. They finished the walk to her house without uttering another word.
That night, Willow was idly surfing the net. She looked at nothing in particular. She just went from site to site following links, paying little attention to the contents of the sites she visited. She was searching for a distraction. Seeking a net-induced oblivion. There was a peck at her glass.
She went to the doors and saw Angel standing there. He opened the door and leaned against it. "Willow, can I–"
"Of course." Angelus would have just walked right in like he owned the place. He didn't lurk like Angel. She moved out of his way and he entered, looking around the room.
"I need to talk to you." He said, his hands were in his coat pockets. He looked tense. Angel looked at her bed and then at the desk chair and then at the floor. He was searching for someplace to sit. Someplace safe. Clearly, being around her made him nervous.
"Have a seat." She said, indicating the chair and ending his indecision.
Angel sat down carefully. She sat on the end of the bed, looking at her lap. "Willow, I 'm not sure how to say this. I'm sor–"
She held up one slender white hand."Don't apologize." She didn't want to hear him do that. Willow treasured the memories of Angelus teasing her, laughing with her, making love to her. . .she didn't want to hear Angel's regrets about it.
"I raped you." Angel whispered, putting his head in his hands.
What? "No, you didn't. . .he didn't either." Willow said, she went over and dropped to her knees in front of him. "I wanted. . .I wanted him make love to me." She gently squeezed his arm, trying to take away his pain.
Angel met her eyes. "He's so much more experienced than you, Willow. You didn't stand a chance against him. He tricked you, gained entrance to your bedroom. He can be charming when he wants something and he wanted you. He seduced you."
"I didn't want to stand a chance, Angel. I wanted him. Why don't you understand that? You have nothing to feel guilty about." She took on of his cool hands in her own. So much like Angelus. She couldn't' help herself. The same hands. Cool, white marble-like skin that she. . . She dropped his hand quickly.
"But I do."
"What?" Then she saw the guilty look on his face. "Buffy."
"Yes, Buffy." He agreed. "I betrayed her. Not just with you, with Drusilla too."
"Oh." Willow felt tears sting her eyes. "He was . . .with Drusilla and with me at the same time."
"No." Angel cupped her chin and forced her to look at him. "Once he met you, he didn't want anything to do with her."
Willow tried to hide the pleasure that brought her. Angel couldn't deal with that now. "You aren't responsible for his actions, Angel."
"Buffy thinks I am, I feel like I am.."
"I don't." It was that simple.
He caressed her cheek, unconsciously. He had every one of Angelus' memories. They were like complex images, complete with technicolor, sound, and even taste. God help me, the taste of her. . . He shuddered. "You don't hate me? The others–"
"I know how they feel about you. I don't hate you, how could I?" He ducked his head. "Angel, do you know how many time you've saved my life? All of our lives? And more than that, I know that you aren't Angelus." A single tear drifted down his cheek. "You're nothing like him." Willow tried to keep the wistfulness out of her voice.
"You wish I was him, don't you?" Angel said quietly.
Yes. In my more selfish moments. "No. Yes and no. Part of me wishes he were here. I can't help that. But I also know how good you are, how you help people. And Buffy needs you."
"But you don't?" Angel said. He wouldn't look her in the eye.
"Well, no." He was making her very uneasy. Why did he care about that?
Angel stood suddenly. She was still on the floor as she watched him walk to the door. He paused, holding the doorknob and turned to look at her. "He did love you, If it helps. He loved you more than any other woman he has ever known." And then he was gone.
Willow stood up, still staring at the empty space he had occupied. "How strange was that?"
That night, Angel paced the floor of the mansion. He had moved there shortly after becoming resouled. Spike and Dru had left shortly after his battle with the Slayer. They were probably in Mexico by now. He had thrown away most of Angelus' possessions. He wanted no reminders of this time in his unlife. He had also burned every pair of leather pants his demonic self had purchased.
Angel was restless. He grabbed his coat up and went walking once more. He was playing his conversation with Willow in his mind over and over again. For some reason, when he saw her now, he saw her through Angelus' eyes. She was so beautiful and innocent and trusting. No wonder the demon wanted her. Why hadn't he, Angel, ever noticed her before?
Suddenly, he recognized where he was. He watched the light go off in Buffy's bedroom. She had survived another night as a Slayer and so had he. He closed his eyes, he truly didn't know what to make of his relationship with the young woman anymore. He had hurt her so much.
He still didn't know why he was back. What his purpose was. The myriad possibilities made him uneasy. Before his soul had been ripped away he knew with utter certainty where his future lie. With Buffy. He'd help the Slayer, stand by her side and defend the world from demons and vampires. Angel had always planned to walk into the sun the day she died. But he wasn't her lover, not anymore. He couldn't be. Nor could he imagine a friendship with her. It was frustrating and confusing to him. And here he stood on the sidewalk looking up at her window like some lovesick swain.
Angel walked away, heading into the shadows once more. He didn't deserve Buffy. He never did. She had so little time on this plain of existence, she shouldn't waste it on a monster like him. Yes, Angel had come to terms with the truth. He was a monster, there was more Angelus in him than he was comfortable with.
But Willow accepted that part of him. She even fancied herself in love with the demon. He couldn't help but be intrigued. She had come up close and personal with his deepest darkest secrets and she wasn't afraid of him. Wasn't disgusted. It was a heady feeling to know that someone else could accept him, fangs and all. There was more to Willow Rosenberg then met the eye.
He looked up at the sliver of silver moon in the sky. Maybe it was time to get to know her better.
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