Author: kallie_kat (a.k.a. KallieRose or just plain Kat)
Summary: Set vaguely in late S1 or early S2, before Buffy and Angel have declared themselves "soulmates," although they're definitely interested in each other.
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters and claim no responsibility for anything other than this story, from which no profit is made.
Author's Notes: Although I am posting this for joss10k, this story is dedicated to Lisa Kelley. Thank you so much for all of your help, beta work, and most of all, your friendship. I hope you like this. Thanks also to dragonydreams for the beta (and all the other stuff, too!).
I promised an update, and here it is! Hope you all enjoy. If you want to refresh your memories, you'll find the rest of the story here.
“Absolutely not. I will not compromise Willow’s welfare for a—a discussion with Angelus. There are just far too many things that could go wrong.”
Willow gave a great sigh of relief as she listened to Giles’ words, thankful that he agreed that having her meet with Angelus was a bad idea. After her dream last night, Willow had been unable to shake Angelus from her mind. He intruded upon every thought she had, and her preoccupation with him had left her tired and distracted all day. Hearing Giles say that they would not be encouraging her to meet with Angelus made her feel much better, and finally her panicked mind was able to move onto other less terrifying subjects.
“I agree,” Angel added, glancing at her briefly and then turning away. He rarely made eye contact these days, and Willow felt absurdly guilty about that fact. She knew that they would probably feel more comfortable with each other in time, but right now things were...awkward.
Giles grabbed a book from the shelves and headed back towards his office. “We’ll simply have to keep researching. I’m sure the answer to sending Angelus back exists in one of these books. We just have to keep looking for it.”
“While you guys hit the books, I’ll hit the cemeteries,” Buffy announced, sauntering towards the door. “I heard rumors today about ‘something’ that attacked a couple of members of the Pep Squad last night. Maybe it was just bad karma coming back to haunt them, but I’d probably better check it out, just in case.”
Buffy had managed to kill the ‘something,’ but her victory was not without cost. The demon, whose name they never did learn, managed to break her arm in two places before Buffy had beheaded it. Slayer healing powers had kicked in, but she was still taking it easy the next day.
“See, now I have an excuse for making Angel patrol with me,” Buffy told Willow as they walked down the deserted halls, on their way to the library for another round of after-school research.
“And a good excuse, too,” Willow agreed. “Not at all like the time you told Giles you needed Angel’s help because you were afraid to get dirt on your new jeans.”
“Hey, those were two-hundred dollar jeans! My mom would have *killed* me if I had gotten grass stains on them.”
The girls were still giggling as they entered the library, their smiles suddenly wiped off their faces when Giles shot them with a blast of annoyance. Willow grimaced, and then mimed locking her lips shut and throwing away the key. Buffy merely ignored him, her eyes searching the room for Angel. It was still light out, but sometimes he used the sewers to come by early and help out.
Today, however, was not one of those days, much to Buffy’s regret. Instead, the two girlfriends sat at the table, their faces falling almost comically when Giles plopped a pile of books in front of each of them.
“But—but I’m gonna slay tonight. Can’t I do something else until then?” Buffy whined.
Giles sighed and glared at her, but his glare was no match for her lip-quivering pout. “Fine, if you must, I suppose you could do your homework instead.”
Obviously that was not the answer Buffy had been hoping for, and Willow smothered a grin as her friend pouted even harder, but this time to no avail.
“Well if you’re going to be mean, I guess I might as well research,” she finally grumbled, pulling a book from the stack and opening it to a page at random. Willow noticed that she was using her uninjured arm, and wondered if the other one was still bothering her.
“How’s your arm?”
Buffy shrugged. “It hurts a little. Kinda sore, but I think it’ll be okay. It’s my left arm, so at least it shouldn’t affect my staking. I’m a right-handed staker, so that’s good.”
They researched for a couple of hours, joined eventually by Xander, whose mother wouldn’t let him leave the house until his chores were done. Since his chores mainly consisted of cleaning his room, Willow wasn’t sure whether she was really buying the excuse, but she kept quiet, knowing that they couldn’t force Xander to research if he didn’t want to.
At nine o’clock Angel dropped by, and Willow was amazed by how quickly Buffy grabbed his hand and dragged him out to ‘patrol.’ Then again, if she had a hot, sexy vampire boyfriend, she’d want to be out from under Giles’ disapproving eye, too.
Such thoughts led her right back to Angelus, who—while sexy and a vampire—certainly wasn’t her boyfriend. She slammed down mental roadblocks because she wasn’t going to let that thought develop any further.
A couple of hours later she and Xander were both still researching, but growing weary. “I wish we knew more about what we were looking for,” she groused. “I mean, there’s all sorts of information on portals and rifts and..and stuff. But we don’t know how it opened in the first place, so it’s hard to know what information is important and what isn’t.”
It remained unsaid that Angelus could impart that information to them, if they were willing to pay his price.
“Plus,” she added, “I think my neck is permanently stuck in the ‘down’ position.” She giggled slightly, then groaned when Xander grabbed her chin and forced her head up. “Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!”
“Whiner,” he teased.
“Slacker,” she shot back.
“Children!” Giles contributed, yelling the word from inside his office. Then he poked his head out the door and looked at the clock. It was later than he thought, and he sighed with regret. “Time for you two to head home. I swear, I don’t know what your parents think, with the two of you out until all hours of the night.”
“Mine are never home, so they don’t notice,” Willow told him. “Xander’s just think he’s a red hot ladies’ man. So, there’s no need to worry.”
Giles suspected that her breezy words hid a multitude of pain for both of them, but knew that he wasn’t the one to delve into it. Some people, he thought, really shouldn’t be allowed to have children. “Regardless, it’s still late. Head home now, and we will start fresh tomorrow.”
They were halfway to the door when it burst open. Angel entered, making a beeline for the table, with Buffy held protectively in his arms.
“What the hell?” Xander yelped, getting out of Angel’s way.
“Don’t panic. There’s nothing wrong,” Buffy assured them calmly. “Well, nothing seriously wrong, at least. I just—well, I think I sprained my wrist.”
“Damn,” Giles swore, disappearing back into his office to grab his first aid kit.
“My right one this time,” Buffy told him, shaking her head in frustration. “Angel was just being a little...overprotective.”
Willow could tell by the dreamy look on Buffy’s face that she was actually enjoying the overprotectiveness. So, instead of teasing her friend, she asked, “What happened? What got you?”
“Something we’ve never seen before,” Angel answered absently, his eyes still on Buffy’s face. “Probably something from *his* universe,” he added bitterly.
They all knew to whom he was referring. “What happened?” she asked again, more quietly this time.
Buffy took up the conversation, wincing occasionally as Giles and Angel took care of her arm and wrist. “We were walking through Shady Oaks Cemetery and this—this thing attacked us. I saw it for just a second. And boy it was ugly. Dark green skin, lizard-like eyes, and a tail that stuck out about a foot. Scaly little creep, too. Anyway, just when I was getting ready to challenge it, it disappeared.”
“What do you mean, ‘disappeared?’ You mean it slipped out for a six-pack and never came back?” Xander asked.
Angel turned to glare at the boy, while Buffy merely smiled. You could always count on Xander to lighten the moment. Whether it needed to be lightened or not.
“I mean, disappeared as in, it was invisible. Then it reappeared right in front of me. Just—bam! And before I could react, it hit me. Not very hard, but it still hurt. Then before I could hit back, it disappeared again. It kept doing that to us both, over and over, until we finally gave up and took off. You can’t hit what isn’t there.”
Giles was putting the final touches on a makeshift wrist brace. “Wear this at all times tonight and tomorrow, do you hear me? You should be fine by tomorrow night if you do. And by all means, if you see that thing again—or rather, if you don’t see it...” He stopped, flustered, as he tried to figure out exactly what he was trying to say.
“We’ll leave it alone if we run into it,” Angel assured him, earning himself a grateful nod from Giles.
Willow couldn’t help but feel at least partly responsible for Buffy’s sprained wrist. After all, her logic went, Angelus and his stupid rift were responsible for the demon. And since she had refused to meet with Angelus to find out how he had gotten here in the first place, it was kind of her fault that they hadn’t found a way to close the rift yet. Therefore, she reasoned in her own unique logic, Buffy’s injury was at least partly her fault.
So, every time Buffy flinched while attempting to take notes in class, Willow felt guilty. Every time Buffy tried to grab something with her right hand and then had to stop in pain, Willow felt guilty. And when Buffy had to ditch PE because they were playing tennis this week, Willow finally had to come to terms with the fact that it was within her power to fix this. Well, not *this* specifically. But at least she could make it so that Buffy didn’t have to keep fighting demons she didn’t know how to kill.
She didn’t want to meet with Angelus. The very thought of seeing him again sent butterflies the size of giraffes cavorting around the pit of her stomach. But if Buffy was brave enough to go up against demon after demon with only a pointy piece of wood to protect her, then she, Willow Rosenberg, could summon up enough courage to meet with Angelus.
Besides, she thought, it wasn’t as if she would be completely alone. They could arrange things in such a way that the others were nearby, so Angelus couldn’t try to pull a fast one.
But the idea still scared her. However, fear or no fear, she needed to do it. She needed to find out how Angelus got here, so that they could hopefully someday send him back. Which meant that she would need to meet with him.
Her decision made, Willow finished the rest of the day feeling a lot less guilty. All she had to do now was figure out how to tell her friends about her decision.
The library was quiet, but that didn’t mean that it was unoccupied. Xander and Buffy were researching, ancient texts and shiny new snack food co-existing comfortably on the big round table that dominated the library. Angel was there as well, sitting next to Buffy, his eyes scanning a book of his own. She could also see Giles in his office, pacing and rubbing the bridge of his nose. His glasses were nowhere to be seen, and Willow wondered briefly what had become of them.
Jenny was sitting at Giles’ desk, tapping away at her laptop computer. Willow knew that the teacher had been helping them, but this was the first time she had actually seen her in Giles’ inner sanctum. Not for the first time, Willow thought about what a cute couple they would make. But instead of pursuing that line of thought, and making a mental list of Jenny’s positive qualities to share with Giles at a later date, Willow took a deep breath, straightened her spine, and dropped her bombshell.
“I’m going to meet with Angelus, and I need your guys’ help.”
She stood there quietly, while all hell broke loose around her.
End of Chapter 10