imastara3.gif (980 bytes)

etana.gif (2825 bytes)etana.gif (2825 bytes)For Once In My Life etana.gif (2825 bytes)etana.gif (2825 bytes)

By BeMu

DISCLAIMER: All of these characters and all of the background belong to Joss Wheden, Mutant Enemy and the WB. I’m only playing with them.

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Part I
"Explain to me exactly what you mean when you say Spike has Willow?" The Slayer had both of her hands wrapped tightly around her boyfriend… ex-boyfriend… boyfriend’s neck.

"Buffy, let me go and I’ll explain."

Buffy released her death grip from Angel’s throat and he slumped to the ground.

"I thought you weren’t trying to kill me anymore…"

"Don’t change the subject…"

"All right, all right… the word on the streets is that Spike just grabbed her walking home from the Bronze last night… what the hell were you doing letting her walk home alone?"

"Hey, don’t turn this around on me… You’re the one that told me that Sid and Nancy left Sunnydale…"

"I’m sorry, Buffy, I didn’t mean to snap at you… we have to get her back. They’re going to change her, if they haven’t already."

"WHAT?! Why?"

"What better way to get back at you and me both? She’s your best friend, and she’s the one that almost lost her life giving me my soul back…"

"Oh, God… Angel, where are they?"

"I don’t know, Buff… I’ve lost track of them."

"We’ve got to find them now. It’s time for Spike and Dru to not be anymore."

"I’ll hit the streets… you go call Giles."

"And Xander, and Oz… oh, shit," The Slayer began to sniffle.

"Buffy," Angel gently shook her, "Get a grip…"

Part II

Two hours later, Buffy was sitting on the library floor, head in her arms. Giles was pouring through stacks of books, Cordelia looking over his shoulder trying to help. Xander sat in Giles’s office, staring at a spot on the wall, as Oz paced from one end of the library to the other.

Angel burst in the door. It was now only about an hour before sunrise. It had been a month since Angelus became Angel again, thanks to Willow and her dedication. Buffy and Angel were desperately trying to recapture the love that they had before The Change, but it was becoming apparent to both of them that nothing could ever be the same. Giles, although he put on a good act, would never be able to forgive him for killing Jenny. Xander had always hated him, but more so now after Willow almost lost her life at his hands. Angel knew that Buffy would never be able to see him the same way again, and he couldn’t blame her. The guilt he was carrying on his shoulders was heavier than ever. He was withdrawing into himself the same as he had years before, when the gypsies originally restored his soul. He remembered all the hideous things that he had done, from killing Jenny, to Willow’s fish, the torture of Giles, and every nasty thing he said to Buffy, and the guilt was almost overwhelming.

The only person that still treated him like Angel was Willow. She had been the one that refused to give up on him. Willow was so open and innocent that somehow, despite all the evil that she had witnessed on the Hellmouth, she still saw the good in everyone, and now, after regaining his soul, Willow was the only one that could look him in the eye and still see Angel, and now she was gone.

"Buffy…" Angel cried out as Buffy jumped up from her spot on the floor.
Everyone immediately knew that something was wrong.

"Angel, what is it? Where are they?" She grabbed his arms and began to shake him.

"It’s… it’s too late. They’ve changed her."

"NO! God damn it, no!" Xander tore from Giles office and tackled the much larger Angel, pummeling him in the chest with his fists.

Angel didn’t even try to fight back. This was his fault. This was all his fault. If he had stayed away from Buffy in the very beginning… if he hadn’t fallen in love with her, none of this would be happening.

To his surprise, it was Giles, not Buffy, that pulled Xander off of him.

"Giles, what are you doing? He’s the monster that started all of this. He killed Jenny, for Christ’s sake, and now Willow is… is… she’s… Oh, God… she’s one of them." He fell sobbing into Cordelia’s arms.

Oz left. He was in love with Willow, but he couldn’t be with the others. He had never really been a full part of their inner circle. He saw Willow in a way that none of the other’s ever had. From the moment he laid eyes on her, he was smitten. Not like Xander who couldn’t see her beauty if it bit him on the ass. Not like Angel who saw her only as Buffy’s smart little friend. Not like Giles, who saw her as the hacker. In their world, Buffy was the center. In Oz’s world, it was Willow. He needed to grieve on his own.

Angel remained in the floor. Willow. Sweet Willow. His heroine. Gone.
After a few minutes of silence, Cordelia spoke.

"Why don’t we just do the ritual thingy on her?"

Four heads spun to stare at her.

"Why do you all always look at me like that?"

Part III

"We can’t…" Giles began.

"Why the hell not? It worked on dead-boy over there…" Xander screamed, seemingly oblivious to the glare he was receiving from Angel.

"Because… because it’s just too dangerous. And she still won’t be Willow. She’ll still be a vampire…"

"We could help her, Giles," Buffy told her Watcher.

"It… it… we can’t do it anyway. None of us knows the ritual. Willow had memorized it and got rid of the disk after… after…" he nodded towards Angel.

"No, she didn’t. I have the disk," Angel spoke quietly.

This time everyone turned to stare at Angel.

"She came to see me after I became… me… again. She wanted to check up on me, see how I was, and she brought the disk with her. I wanted her to destroy it, but she wouldn’t. She wanted me to have it for some reason. She was adamant about it. Maybe she knew something… I tossed it in a drawer and hadn’t even thought about it until now."

"Then lets do it," Xander hissed.

"It’s not that easy, Xander," Angel finally spoke to him, "Do you have any idea what it will do to her to get her soul back?"

"Screw you, Angel. If it was Buffy, you’d be all for it."

"He’s right, Xander," Buffy told him, "this is Willow we’re talking about here. Willow. Imagine how she will feel?"

"Could you kill her, Buffy?" Cordelia spoke again, "You couldn’t kill Angel, and I know that you love Willow just as much. Could you kill her if you had to? Would you all please stop staring at me?"

"My God, she’s right, Buffy," Giles said, "None of us could kill her… I… I… I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to try. Angel, we’ll need your help."

"Of course… I know where she is. I’ll get her away from them… and… uh… I-I can help her… after the change."

"Tonight," Buffy said, "We have to do this tonight… before she gets her first kill. She couldn’t live with herself if she killed someone."

"Right. Let’s get started."

Angel looked towards the windows and saw the sun starting to rise. Buffy noticed.

"C’mon, Angel, I’ll go back to your place with you to get the disk. You can meet us back here right after sunset tonight."

The rest of the day was spent in preparation. Giles was familiar enough with the ritual to understand the basics of what was going to happen. The rest of the gang spent the day studying it with him.

Angel spent the day pacing his apartment. Rest was out of the question. He knew what was about to happen to Willow. Being changed into a vampire isn’t that horrific because you lose your soul. You lose the ability, the desire, to care about what happens. Your whole life instantly becomes a quest for blood. The demon is in control. But what was going to happen tonight would be so different. Willow, if the ritual was successful, and if they were early enough, wouldn’t have the guilt that Angel carried with him. She had never harmed a soul in her life. But, realizing that she could never be the same person she was before would devastate her. And Angel knew that he was the only person on Earth that could help her.

As soon as the sun went down, he returned to the library. A sense of urgency surrounded them all. Angel left immediately to find Willow… to get her away from Spike and Dru. The night before, he had discovered their lair. He waited in the shadows until the threesome emerged.

A shock jolted Angel as he looked at Willow. She was no longer the same Willow that saved his soul. Hungry for her first kill, she was already wearing her game face. It appeared that Dru had dressed her. She looked like a Victorian porcelain doll with a monster’s face.

He noticed Drusilla sniff the air. She would know that he was near.

"Angel? Angel, my love? Come out, come out, wherever you are… come meet your little Willow…"

Angel stepped from the shadows.

"You know I’m not letting you take her."

"C’mon, Angelus," Spike told him, "Dru and I are both strong now… you can’t defeat both of us. Give it up, old friend… you lose."

"Not without a fight, Spike. You know me better than that," With that warning, the fight began.

The three vampires were engaged in battle, with neither side gaining any ground when suddenly Spike jumped back.

"She’s gone," he said.

Angel and Dru stopped fighting and looked around them. Willow had disappeared off into the night.

"Oh, I’m so proud of her," Drusilla drawled, "Our little Willow, going off on her first kill all by her lonesome…"

Angel took off running. He knew that the ritual would have begun by now, and he had to find Willow before she regained her soul. He knew that she couldn’t be alone when that happened.

Part IV

The ritual was in full force. Buffy was guarding the door, as Giles, Xander, Cordelia and Oz performed the ritual. A few more minutes and it would all be over.

Willow flew into an alley, unable to ignore the searing pain anymore. All she wanted was blood. All she wanted was to kill. She was nearly paralyzed, though. Slumping to the ground, she didn’t notice the figure standing at the mouth of the alley watching her… watching what he had gone through only a month before.

Angel began to hear the sobs, watching her body shake as the realization dawned on her. He knelt beside her, and pushed her hair from her face.

"Willow?" he asked gently.

"Angel?" she looked up into his face, "Oh, Angel, what’s happened?" she wailed.

He took her in his strong arms, "Shh… Willow, shh… I know, I know."

Willow cried for what seemed to be hours, while Angel held her tight. Gradually, her cries subsided as she wore herself out. Angel knew that she would be hungry.

"Willow, you’ve got to eat."

"NO! No, Angel, NO!"

"Willow, you have to… c’mon, I’ll take you back to my place…" Willow was too weak to protest any further. Angel helped her to her feet, and held her in his arms as they walked back to his apartment. By this point, Spike and Dru would have figured out what had happened, and he felt certain that they would be coming after them soon. Thankfully, the same rules applied for vampire homes as well as mortal homes. Spike and Dru wouldn’t be able to enter his apartment without an invitation.

Once they reached the apartment, Willow curled up on the couch. Angel went to the fridge and grabbed a pint of blood for her.

"No, Angel… I can’t."

"Willow, you have to. I know you don’t want to, but you have to. I know it’s hard to understand now, but you’ll feel better afterwards, I promise," he pleaded with her.

"No… no, Angel," he waved the cup under her nose, and she began to smell it.
Angel knew her resolve was weakening. The scent of the blood would be too much for her to resist. She looked so pale and frightened, and alone. Angel left her with the cup in her hands, knowing that she would drink, and went to the phone. He dialed the library and Buffy answered the phone.

"Angel? Do you have her? Is she OK?"

"She’s… the ritual worked, but I wouldn’t exactly say that she’s OK."

"Why? What do you mean?"

"Buffy, she’s just realizing that she’s a vampire. I’m afraid that she’s going to need some time before she can face anyone… you should just go home. All of you. Spike and Dru are going to be incredibly pissed off, and I don’t think any of you are really safe right now. I’ll take care of Willow…"

For some reason, Buffy was suddenly overcome with pangs of jealousy. She knew that Angel didn’t feel anything but friendship towards Willow, but she still didn’t like the thought of her being alone with him. She shook it off, though. This was Willow she was talking about, after all…
 

Part V

Angel was right. She did feel better… more human again, if that was possible. The taste wasn’t as bad as she thought it was going to be. < Because I needed it. > She looked around the apartment, taking in the surroundings. Angel was whispering into the phone. She watched as he talked. He looked different to her now… she had always felt a bond with Angel. Same with Buffy. They were all outsiders, none of them wanted to be who they were. But this was different. She felt that she was a part of Angel now. And she felt so distanced from Buffy. And the others. Oz… she realized that there was no connection there now. Xander… she felt pangs in her heart when she thought of Xander. Would he hate her the same way he hated Angel?

Angel hung up the phone and went back to the couch with Willow.

"Um, well, Angel… thanks. I guess I should be going home…" she started to rise from the couch.

"What?"

"Home, Angel, I’ve got to go home…"

Angel grabbed one of her hands, pulling her back down on the couch, "Willow, you can’t go home. You know that."

"But-but… where will I go?" she began to sniffle again.

"You’ll stay here with me… for forever if necessary."

"Angel… I can’t stay here."

"Willow, calm down and talk to me. I know what you’re going through. I can help you. I will help you."

"Angel, I can’t do this to you. I can’t be your burden. You’ve got too much other stuff going on than worrying about me. I’ll be OK… somehow…"

"You saved me. I won’t let you go through this alone. Don’t you realize how important you are to me?"

"I’m just Buffy’s friend…"

"Oh, come on, Willow… you are so much more than that. You’re the one that’s always had faith in me. Even after Buffy lost it, you held on. You kept searching for the restoration ritual. You almost died performing that ritual. For me. And you did it twice. For me. Willow, you’ve been there for me when no one else was. When I didn’t deserve it. There’s no way I’m letting you go through this alone."

"Angel, that’s really sweet… but you’re still trying to put your own life back together. I-I don’t need you to baby-sit me."

"Willow, would you stop being so damn stubborn? You can’t do this on your own. You don’t know how. I know you’ve seen a lot over the past couple of years, but you just really can’t imagine how hard it is to be a vampire. Have you even stopped to consider this? The sun… remember the sun? You’ll never be able to see that again. Mirrors… forget seeing your reflection ever again. Your family, Willow. You can never, ever go home again…"

"Angel, stop it," Willow cried, "Stop saying those things…"

"See, Willow?" he took her into his arms again, "You can’t do this alone. You just can’t. Please let me help you…"

"I want to die…"

Angel knew that this would be coming. Once the realization of what she was started to set in, her first reaction would be to want to commit suicide. It was only natural, and perfectly understandable. Willow was dead. She still had her body and soul, but she was dead. Her heart no longer beat. She would never see daylight again. Never be married, never have children, never see her family. Never have any semblance of a normal life again. Of course, she wanted to die.

"Willow, you can’t… I know what you’re thinking, and believe me, I understand, but you can’t…"

"Why not, Angel? Tell me why not! You have a reason for living," she sobbed, "you have Buffy. I have nothing."

"Bullshit! For starters, I don’t have Buffy… things haven’t been the same between us since I returned, and they’ll never be the same again. We feel responsible for each other, but what we have is not love anymore. And you have Oz… and Xander, who’d never admit it, but he loves you, too. You should have seen him last night…"

"But Oz and Xander both loved the old Willow… God, Angel, you should understand that better than anyone. I’m not what they fell in love with… Angel, just let me die."

Angel grabbed Willow by the shoulders and shook her violently, "I can’t let you die, Willow. I can’t. Don’t you understand that I need you, too? I’ve never before had anyone that really understood me. Someone that knows what it feels like to be a vampire with a soul. I need you. I need you to stay by my side, to help me get through this, too. We’re… we’ve got this bond. Please, Willow. Please, just try."

Willow’s sobbing subsided as she absorbed his words. Angel needed her. Angel wanted to share his world with her. Willow. Frumpy, dumpy second banana Willow.

"I’m so tired, Angel," she rested her head on his chest.

She had never felt this close to anyone before. Not even Xander, over all the years that they had been friends. Angel belonged to Buffy. She knew that what he was asking her for was nothing romantic. Angel wanted a friend… a friend that understood him, and that was Willow. Maybe that bond was there even before she was changed into a vampire. At this moment, Willow was too tired to think anymore. The only thing she wanted was sleep.

"Take the bed, Willow. I can sleep on the couch."

"Oh, no, Angel. You’re a lot taller than I am. You sleep on the bed. I’ll be fine on the couch."

Angel grinned at Willow, "I’m two hundred and forty-two years old. I still believe in chivalry. You have to sleep in the bed."

Willow smiled back at him, smiling for the first time since Spike had changed her. She walked into the bedroom and crawled into bed. Angel followed her, and tucked her in like a child.

"If you need anything, I’m right in the next room. I won’t leave you alone, Willow."

As Angel turned to leave the room, Willow mumbled, "Buffy’s so lucky."

"What was that?" Angel turned to look back at her, not hearing what she had said, but she was fast asleep.

Part VI

The next few days, Angel and Willow didn’t leave the apartment. The days were spent sleeping, the nights were spent talking.

Willow experienced a thousand different emotions every second that she was awake and it confused the hell out of her. She missed Buffy, Oz, Xander, Giles, and Cordelia, but she didn’t want see them. It was as if they were all gone, a part of her former life, which they were. It didn’t seem to matter that they were only minutes away. She missed her family more than anything, and mourned for her lost parents. She knew that she could never see them again, and allowed Angel to hold her as she wept for them. She was trying to become used to her new powers. Angel was guiding her along. He taught her how to do that disappearing thingy that she used to be so intrigued by when he’d do it. He was teaching her how to control the incredible new strength that she had. Each day that passed, she felt slightly better. Angel was responsible for all of that.
There was nothing that she could say or do that seemed to shock him. He was by her side every time she needed him. And when she needed to be alone, he disappeared. It was as if he could read her mind. He could.

"Angel, I don’t get it."

"Get what?" he asked.

"Why you always know just what I need when I need it."

"Willow, look at me."

They were sitting in the floor, and Angel was telling her about his life when he was mortal. A silence had fallen over the room as they both began to grow tired.

"I am looking at you, silly."

"No, Willow, sit here right in front of me and look me straight in the eye."

Willow sat cross-legged and stared into his eyes.

"Don’t think about anything, OK, Willow?"

"All right… I’m blank," she joked.

< You can hear me, can’t you? >

"Of course I can hear you. You’re sitting right in front of me."

< Willow, I’m not talking. >

Willow jumped out of her skin, "Stop that! Don’t do that!"

"I can’t help it, Willow, and neither can you."

"You can read my mind," Willow was horrified.

"It’s not exactly like that. It’s not mind reading. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. It must have something to do with the ritual. I can only hear thoughts that are directed at me, and you can only hear thoughts that I direct at you. I can’t just tell what you’re thinking."

< Thank God… > Willow thought.

"I heard that."

"Stop it, Angel, I mean it."
"Then stop thinking thoughts that are directed at me," he replied, slightly bemused.

"Don’t you dare laugh at me, Angel, or I’ll… I’ll…"

"You’ll what, Willow?" he was laughing now.

< I’ll turn you into a toad as soon as I figure out how… >

"We’re vampires, Will. Not witches…"

< Did he just call me ‘Will’? Has he ever called me that before…? >

"Did you hear that?" she asked.

"Hear what?"

"Oh, good," she sighed, "I was thinking to myself. And anyway… one of us is a witch."

< This could be fun, Willow… and it could come in handy sometime… > He thought

< How about if we’re having a conversation, and we don’t do this, OK? > She thought.

"It’s kinda creepy," she spoke.

"As you wish," he sighed with a smile, "Hey, when are you going to want to see everybody. You know that they’re all concerned… you’re going to have to do it sometime."

"I know, Angel. I’m just so scared. What are they going to think? Will they be repulsed? Will they try to act like nothing has happened? I-I don’t even know if I want to see them again."

"I understand… I really do. But you really have to see them. They love you."

"They loved Willow… and I’m not that same Willow anymore."

"Yes, you are. More than you realize. You are still inside there… the demon took over, but it never got the chance to take hold of you. It never got a chance to affect who Willow is."

Willow sat silently with her thoughts for a few moments, "Maybe tomorrow night? Do you think it’s safe for us to leave here?"

"I’ll protect you… and you’re a lot stronger than you realize."

< I won’t let anything happen to you… >

"Stop that!" Willow laughed.

Part VII

Angel made sure that Willow was sleeping before he called Buffy. He wanted the others to be expecting her tomorrow night, so that it would lessen the trauma of the experience for her. The less shocked they seemed to see her, the more comfortable she’d be.

"How is she, Angel?" Buffy asked.

"Getting better… still not great. She’s actually laughed a couple of times. I think that seeing you guys will do her good. She’s so worried about what you’re all going to think of her."

"She’s still Willow, though, right? I mean, basically?"

"A very melancholy Willow, but still Willow."

"Come early… you were right about Spike and Drusilla being pissed. They’ve been wreaking havoc all over town the past couple of nights."

"I figured as much. We’re going to have to figure out something to do about those two."

"As soon as I can get close enough to them, they’re dust, I swear."
"I’ll see you tonight, Buffy."

"I miss you, Angel."

"I miss you, too."

After he hung up the phone, he realized that he was lying. He didn’t miss Buffy. He had hardly thought about her the past few days, which was really a relief. Worrying about Willow as much as he was, he didn’t have time to feel all the guilt about Buffy and everything he had done. Buffy would always be a constant reminder of his demon. And he knew, although she’d never admit it, that he would always be a constant reminder of his demon for her, too.

His thoughts were punctured by screams coming from the bedroom. He knew immediately that Willow was having a nightmare. He raced into the room and shook her awake.

"Willow… Willow, wake up. You’re just dreaming."

She woke up still screaming and shaking in his arms.

"Hey, come on, calm down… it’s OK, I promise… It’s not real."

"Yes, it is, Angel. It is real," she sobbed, "I’m a vampire. I am a vampire."

"Willow, I know it’s hard to see this right now, but there are worse things than being a what we are."

"Yeah, like what?"

< Like having no soul… >

"Oh, Angel… I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to…"

"It’s all right. I’m just thankful that you never got a chance to be what I was."

< Did you think that I’m as horrible as you seem to think you are? > He asked her silently, unintentionally.

"Angel, no… I never thought you were horrible, except, when, uh, you know… you were Angelus."

"I didn’t even mean to ask you that, Willow… that was unfair… it’s just that you and I are the same now, I guess, and I’m watching you every day, beating yourself up, thinking you’re such a monster, and you never thought that about me. At least, I don’t think you did. Maybe you did without realizing it."

"No, I didn’t. You were always so caring and so concerned about Buffy. I swear, I didn’t think badly of you. I didn’t."

< I wished I were Buffy… >
"Oh my God…" she said, "Did you hear that?"

"No," Angel lied, "Hear what?"

"Nothing… I didn’t know vampires had nightmares."

"I have them all the time… Like mortals, sleep is just another state of consciousness for us. We sleep, we dream, we have nightmares…"

"Great. The one part of being mortal that I hated is the one part that I get to keep."

"Lie down and go back to sleep," Angel smiled warmly at her, "I’m right in the next room… If you have another one I’ll be right here again," he started walking towards the door.

< Don’t leave me, Angel. >

Angel turned back to face her, mouth slightly open, not knowing what to say.

"Angel, I didn’t mean to do that… It just happened. Sorry."

"Willow, if you want me to stay here with you, just tell me."

"No, I’m fine, Angel… just a little scared. I’m fine, though."

< Liar… > He thought at her, pulling back the covers and climbing into bed beside her.

"Angel, you really don’t have to do this… I mean, you know, I’ve never been in bed with a guy before, not even Oz, even though I thought about it a couple of times, OK, maybe more than a couple, and Xander of course, I mean, I didn’t sleep with Xander, well, we did when we were kids, but, wait, no, that’s sounds gross, Xander and I slept in the same bed, but we didn’t sleep together, you know…"

"Willow, shut up," Angel laughed, turning to face away from her, "just go to sleep."

< Thank you. >

< You’re welcome. >

Part VIII

The next evening, as soon as the sun went down, Willow and Angel went to the library. Willow had changed her mind, and was trying to worm her way out of it, but Angel wouldn’t let her, practically dragging her.

Pulling her through the library doors, she and Angel came face to face with the Slayer, the Watcher, and the Slayerettes. Willow felt totally unconnected to them, no sense of anything familial. Buffy was the first to approach her, putting her arms around Willow’s neck and hugging her tightly. Willow responded, lightly, not knowing how tightly she could hug a mortal, not understanding her strength.

She was next approached by Oz, who tried to kiss her.

"No!" she pulled away.

"Willow, wha…?"

< Get me out of here… >

< Hey, I don’t really want to be here either. >

< Then let’s leave… >

< No, Willow… we can’t just run away. You have to face this. Even if it is for the last time. You have to have this closure… >

< But… >

"What are you two doing?" Giles voice interrupted their thoughts.

"Nu…Nothing," Willow replied.

"You can read each other’s minds, can’t you?"

The others in the room stood silently staring at the threesome.

< Angel? > Willow pleaded.

"We’re not reading each other’s minds, Giles, we’re talking," Angel tried to explain.

"What do you mean, talking?"

"I mean that we can talk to each other…"

"Telepathically," Willow helped out.

"Oh, this is great," Buffy muttered.

"What?" Angel turned to face her.

"My boyfriend has a psychic connection with my best friend."

"Buffy…" Angel said.

"No, don’t. This is all too creepy."

"Thanks, Buffy," Willow interjected, tears beginning to creep from her eyes, "You think this is creepy for you, try being me…"

"Hey, if I were, maybe I’d get to spend a little time with Angel…"

"Buffy, shut the hell up," Oz popped out of his trance.

"Oz!" Buffy shot back.

"Hey, everybody just calm the hell down," It was the first time that Xander had spoken.

He walked over to Willow and put his arms around her.

"Xander, please…" She pulled away and disappeared in an instant.

"This was a bad idea," Angel said, "Willow was ready for this, but I can see that you guys weren’t."

Angel disappeared, too, leaving the library door swinging on its hinges.

He caught up with Willow before she got more than two miles from the school.

Grabbing her by the shoulder, he spun her around to face him.

"Angel…how…"

"You’re fast, Will, but I’m still faster than you…"

"God, Angel, that was horrible."

"It was. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have dragged you along."

"No, it was necessary. I needed to see them all like that. Together. Without me."

"Willow…"

"No, Angel… now I can move on. I want to leave Sunnydale."

"Just like that, huh?"

"Angel, everything’s changed. If I stay here, I will never escape them. I want… need to be away from the Hellmouth. Away from all this evil. I have to go someplace where I can learn to be me… the new me."

"Maybe you’re right… but you just can’t leave like this. You have to talk to them. Despite the way they acted back there, they do love you."

"Maybe I should go see them individually… try talking to them alone."

"That would probably be a good idea. Let’s get back to the apartment and you can start thinking of where you want to go."

"I already know… I want to go to Wales. I’ve always wanted to live in the Welsh countryside, Angel."

He smiled at Willow… Vampire or not, she was still every bit Willow, "You’ll love Wales. It’s beautiful. It’ll suit you perfectly."

When they reached the apartment, Angel wanted to explain to Willow what would be involved in moving to Wales.

"I thought that you’d just pack me up in a big box and Fed-Ex me over there."
"No, Willow… there are much easier ways for us to travel…"

"Us? You’re not going!"

"Of course I am."

"Well then I’m not going. Or I’ll sneak off without you," Willow plastered her most stubborn look across her face.

< You aren’t responsible for me. I don’t need you feeling sorry for poor little Willow…>

"Will, I’m going because I want to go. Because you need me, and I need you, and a big change of scenery will do us both good."

"What about Buffy? You’re just going to leave her?"

"Yep. You have to admit that I’ve caused her nothing but trouble. Nothing is the same between us anymore, Willow. I want to get away from her… from here."

Willow knew that he was serious. He wasn’t doing this for Willow. This was something that he needed to do for himself.

"So, Angel, how do we get there?"

"We sail."

"On a boat?"

"Yep… for a couple hundred bucks we can stow away on a big tanker. We can pack enough blood to feed off of until we get there. Sleep in the bow during the day, and we can prowl the decks at night. I think you’ll enjoy it. The ocean is beautiful at night."

"Angel… are there many vampires in Wales?"

"You scared of them, aren’t you?"

"I know that Spike and Dru would love to kill me."

"No, there aren’t many in Wales. And they’re mostly very old vampires that only hunt for food. But you are right to be scared of Spike and Dru. I’m afraid that they may try to follow us."

"What are we going to do?"

"Buffy is probably out hunting them right now…"

"Buffy probably wishes that they would kill me. Why is she so jealous of me?"

"Because deep down inside, she knows that I don’t want her anymore. And if she looked a little further inside of herself, she’d discover that she doesn’t want me anymore, either."

"But why, Angel. You two were so in love. How could all of that just suddenly change?"

"There was nothing sudden about it, Will…"

< Why do you suddenly keep calling me Will? You never called me that before I changed… >

< Because I like the way you blush when I say it… >

"Buffy and I started falling out of love the second you restored my soul."

"But why? What you had was so strong…"

"All the things that happened while I was Angelus drove a wedge between the two of us that can never be removed no matter how hard we try. I know that and she knows that. She’s just a little more reluctant to give it up than I am. So, leaving town will be best for all of us."

"Angel?"

"Yeah?"

"I want to not have to worry about Spike and Drusilla coming after us…"

"You want to try and kill them, Willow?" he chuckled.

"No," she replied seriously, "I want to restore their souls."

Part IX

"You’re nuts."

"Angel!"

"Sorry, Will, but you are."

"C’mon, what makes it such a bad idea?"

"Everything!"

"You’re going to have to be a little bit more specific than that…"

"Look, Willow, Spike never had a soul to begin with. He was a mean son of a bitch from the start. I doubt that restoring his soul would do much of anything."

"But, it wouldn’t hurt to try…"

< Wouldn’t hurt to try, my ass… remember what happened the first time you tried it on me? Hurt like Hell, didn’t it? >

"And restoring Drusilla’s soul certainly won’t make her sane again. Don’t forget that she’s nutty as a fruitcake."

"Angel, we’ve got to try… it’s the only way to be free of them."

"Willow, let’s just move to Wales and try to forget about them for a few centuries, OK?"

"No, Angel, not OK. Most definitely not OK. I’ve made up my mind and I’m going to do this—with or without your help."

"You’re going to need more help than I can give you. You’re going to need Buffy and Giles."

"So, you’re going to let me do this?" she asked gleefully.

"I didn’t think you were giving me a choice!"

"I’m not…"
 

"I got a visit from Angel and Willow last night…" Giles told Buffy.

"What? Is she OK? Are they OK? Where are they?"

"Calm down, Buffy. They will be paying you a visit, too."

"What’s going on?"

"They’re leaving the country."

"What?"

"They are leaving the country. And I honestly believe that it’s for the best."

"How can you say that, Giles?"

"Because neither of them can have any sort of a life here."

"Bullshit, Giles! I can’t believe that you’d support this…"

"Buffy, sit down now and you listen to me!" Buffy had rarely seen Giles this angry.

"Maybe you do love Angel… and maybe you don’t. But the fact is that when he became Angelus everything changed, and he… nothing will ever be the same again."

"OK, Giles, fine… I’ll give you that one. But what about Willow?"

"Staying here would be nothing but a constant reminder of her life. The life that she can never have back. She couldn’t stay here, watching you and Oz, Xander and Cordelia grow up and grow old… watching her family, knowing that she can never be a part of that again. Buffy, think about this logically and clearly. She can’t stay here."

Buffy was crying silent tears now.

"That’s not all, Buffy. They need your help before they go."

"Help with what?"

"They’re going to attempt to restore Spike and Drusilla’s souls."

"No way. No. I will not do that for them."

"For who? Angel and Willow?"

"No, Spike and Dru. They don’t deserve to have souls. They deserve to be dusted."

"I’m afraid Willow has her mind set on it. No one has had any luck, uh, dusting them yet, and she doesn’t want to have to try learning to be what she is now with those two constantly chasing them around the globe."

"Jesus, what’s she gonna do… go running around saving the souls of all the vampires that I’m supposed to be slaying?"

"Very Willow of her, isn’t it?"

Buffy spun around to see Angel standing there. She hadn’t heard him enter the library.

"Angel…"

"Hey, Buff. I take it Giles has filled you in on Willow’s plans?"

"I don’t like it, Angel. I won’t be any part of it."

"Giles, could I talk to Buffy alone?"

"Certainly…" Giles went into his office and shut the door.

"So, where is the little woman?"

"Buffy, would you get over this loony jealousy thing? This is Willow we’re talking about."

Buffy sighed, "I know, Angel. But, you know, my world is falling apart here, too."

Angel chuckled, "You’ll excuse me if I don’t feel a lot of sympathy for you right now.
Willow is the one that this is affecting, remember? Willow—sweet, na´ve, innocent Willow is a vampire now. Do you think that just maybe you could quit thinking about yourself for a little while?"

"When did you quit loving me, Angel?"

"Buffy… let’s not do this right now."

"No, Angel, let’s do. I think this is a perfectly good time to talk about this. When did you stop loving me?"

"It’s not that simple. I love you, Buffy, and I always will, but not in the same way as before. Everything has changed…You know that as well as I do."

"Angel, why?" Tears sprang to Buffy’s eyes.

"You know all the reasons. You’re the slayer. My presence in your life is a distraction.
How many times have you almost died because of me?"

"I’ll die without you, Angel…"

"Buffy, stop it. You were without me for months and you survived. Quit fooling yourself… we’re not the same as we were before, and we never will be again. We need to be away from each other. Can’t you see that?"

Buffy threw her arms around his neck, "I’ll never forget you, Angel. I’ll always love you."

"Will you help us, Buffy? Will you help us restore Dru and Spike’s souls?"

"Yes."
 

Part X

"This is so much harder than I thought it was going to be…"

"Will, you can still change your mind…"

"I guess even a vampire woman has the prerogative to change her mind, huh?"

Angel placed his hands gently on her shoulders, "So, do you want to change your mind?"

A heavy sigh escaped Willow’s lips, "No, Angel, I don’t. The only things I want to change, I can’t. I can’t be mortal anymore. I can’t get a tan. I can’t have babies… Oh, my God…"

< I’m still a virgin… >

Angel laughed, "Willow, in case you’ve forgotten a very important detail in my past history with Buffy, vampires can still have sex."

"Yeah, but who’d want to? I mean, I don’t mean who’d want to have sex with you, I mean who’d want to have sex with me? Nobody wanted to when I was mortal, so who would want to now that I’m not? It’s not exactly like I can just hang out in single’s bars and pick up guys, right? Or can I…?"

"You could, but I hope you won’t," he chuckled, "That’s not you, and I hope it never will be."

< I can’t believe that I’m talking to you about sex, Angel. >

< Does it make you more comfortable if we don’t talk about it out loud? >
He smiled warmly at her.

< Well, yes, a little… although it does seem kind of silly. >

"Angel, if we restore Spike and Drusilla, will they talk to us this way, too?"

"Probably… but I think it only works when we’re in close proximity. When you were running away from the library the other night, could you hear me calling you back?"

"No…"

"I think that’s probably because you were too far away from me. So… unless you’re planning on traveling the world with Spike and Dru, we should be safe from their thoughts."

"Shew… I really don’t like the thought of sharing my brain with Drusilla. She’s spooky."

"That’s putting it mildly…"

"Angel?"

"Yeah, Will?"

< Please try not to ever go so far away from me that you can’t hear me… >

< I won’t. I promise. >
 

Two weeks later, the entire group found themselves in the library again. Word had spread through Buffy and Giles of Willow and Angel’s plans to restore Dru and Spike and leave the country. A sad fog hung over everyone, especially Oz.

"I’m gonna miss you, Oz…"

"Then don’t go, Willow."

"I have to… you understand, don’t you?"

"No. I didn’t bail on everyone when I found out that I’m a werewolf."

"This is so different. I’m a vamp 24/7, not a couple of nights a month. I’m dead. I will never, ever again have any semblance of a normal life. I have to leave here, Oz… not because I want to, but because I have to."

"I’ll wait for you then. I’ll wait until you come back… until you feel at home in your, uh, new skin…"

"Oz… I’m not coming back. Ever. I’m so sorry… I hate hurting you," Willow began to sniffle.

"Willow, don’t cry… I’m sorry. I’m just being my selfish werewolf self. I love you and I don’t want to lose you."

"This is beyond my control… and yours, too. It just… it just has to be this way."

< Will… > Angel interrupted her talk with Oz.

< What? >

< We have to get this ritual started… there will, hopefully, be time for good-byes afterwards… >

< I’m scared, Angel… >

< There’s still time to forget about this and hop on the boat… >

< NO! No, we’re going to do this… I’m going to do this. >

"Um, excuse me…" Giles vocally exploded into their quiet conversation, "Would you two mind letting the rest of us know what’s going on?"

"I’m starting the ritual," Willow answered, "The rest of you just guard the doors and windows…"

The ceremony was performed without a hitch. No vampires, no Spike, no Drusilla. Nothing to try to prevent the ritual from taking place. Whether it was because the ritual didn’t work or not, no one knew.

"Well, that was disgustingly uneventful," Buffy said, "Think it worked?"

"Yes," Willow spoke up quietly.
"How do you know for sure?" Cordelia asked.

"Because Spike is her sire," Angel answered for her, "She can feel him, just as I can feel both of them because I created them."

"They have their souls?" Xander asked, "This should be interesting…"
All members in the room felt that they hadn’t heard the end of Spike and Dru.

"Interesting or dangerous… As I told you all before the ceremony began, Spike never had much of a soul in the first place. And Dru is completely insane, soul or no soul."

< We have to go, Will… say your good-byes… >

< Oh, God, Angel… I don’t think I can… > Blood red tears began to form in Willow’s eyes.

< You have to, Willow. This was your decision, and it was the right decision. It’s going to be all right. We can’t change our minds now…you know that. >

"Willow, what’s wrong?" Buffy asked, noticing the tears beginning to stream down her friend’s face.

Willow and Angel hadn’t told anyone that they were leaving that night. The pain would be too hard for everyone to deal with, and the ability to concentrate on the restoration ritual would be broken.

"We’re leaving, Buffy. Tonight. Now."

"No, you can’t," Xander leaped from his chair, "It’s too soon."
"I’m sorry, Xander, but we have to," Angel spoke.

Willow couldn’t stand it any longer. With her newly honed disappearing skills, she was suddenly gone from the library.

Buffy jumped up to run after her, but Angel stopped her, "Buffy, don’t. She’s not strong enough for this emotional of a goodbye. She’s right outside waiting for me, and she wants me to deliver her good-byes for her."

Willow was speaking to Angel, sobbing. It broke his heart to be able to hear and feel her misery.

< No, Angel, I can’t do it… not even from here. I can’t. Please, please just tell them that I love them all, and that I will miss them so, so much… Please, Angel, please, don’t make this any harder for me… >

< Hang on, Will. Hold it together for me. Give me two minutes and I’ll be out there with you, OK? Willow? Tell me you’re OK. Will? >

< I’m not OK, Angel. I’m not. > He could feel the sobs wreaking her body… < But I will be, Angel, as soon as we are away from here… Hurry… >

"I-I’m sorry, guys," Angel muttered, "She just can’t say goodbye right now. She says to tell you all that she loves you and that she’ll miss you…"

"What about you, Angel?" Buffy asked, tears streaming down her face, "Will you miss m… us?"

"Buffy, I thought that we went through this already. You know how I feel about you… how I’ll always feel about you…"

"Angel?" Buffy whispered, but he was already gone.

He stood in front of the school, holding Willow in his arms as she wailed.

< It hurts… Oh my God, it hurts… > she cried to Angel over and over.

Part XI

That night, Angel ushered Willow away from Sunnydale. They drove to the coast, to the harbor where Angel had made the arrangements for their departure. Just before dawn, he led her aboard a huge oil tanker that was getting ready to sail around the world to the United Kingdom. Willow was going to be traveling through parts of the world that she had only dreamed about, around the coast of Mexico, Central America, through the great Panama Canal, and across the Atlantic Ocean to their final destination. And the only thing she would be able to see would be the black ocean at night.

Angel had painstakingly planned every detail of the expedition, wanting the journey to be as easy on Willow as possible. Arranging for their accommodations aboard the ship had been costly, but would be worth it. The crew of any major vessel such as this was a surly bunch, and the amount of money waved before their faces by Angel’s lawyers assured the pair of uncommon luxury about this tanker. The trip would last nearly a month, and they wouldn’t be able to leave the ship at all during this time. A huge bedroom had been quietly installed, quietly hidden away deep in the bowels of the ship. A gigantic bed. A television, with a wide assortment of videos for her to watch. Books, a computer. Angel would be bringing their supply of blood on board himself. As far as the crew of the ship were concerned, Angel and Willow were a couple of too rich school kids out looking for adventure. They were too stupid to question why a lawyer would be involved with this ridiculous story. None of this mattered to Angel. The small fortune that he had spent would be worth it, if it made Willow’s life any easier.
The money was insignificant to him. Bill Gates could fool himself into believing he was the richest man on earth, but, in truth, there was several dozen vampires around the world that had amassed huge amounts of money that would make Gates look like a pauper. Money that would never be noticed, never be missed, scattered around the four corners of the world in forgotten bank accounts and trusts and businesses waiting to be claimed by their masters. Angel wasn’t one of the wealthier vampires, but he had enough money built up to spend several lifetimes in the lap of luxury, and the interest alone on these accounts could keep him for several more lifetimes.

Angel hadn’t told Willow many of the details of the trip, other than he promised her it wouldn’t be horrible. He led her into the area in which they would be living for the next month. Even though she no longer needed to draw breath, she couldn’t contain the gasp that escaped her lips. The walls had been painted white, and lamps and lights were placed everywhere, trying to give the room a bright, airy feel. The huge king size bed was draped with a white comforter and white pillows. There were vases of fresh flowers that Angel knew wouldn’t survive more than a few days, but he didn’t care. There was a huge desk with a massive computer for Willow, and a bookshelf full of books and movies. Willow couldn’t believe her eyes, and that Angel had done all this for her…

"For us," he said, reading into her thoughts as he dropped the huge cooler full of blood onto the floor, "Mostly for you, but I want to be comfortable, too," he winked at her.
Willow managed a melancholy grin at her companion. She had cried herself to sleep once they left Sunnydale, and had slept all the way to the harbor. She hadn’t spoken much as Angel led her to their quarters, barely saying a word to him.

"Angel, I’m sorry I was such a poop-head back at the library…" she told him as she went to sit on the big bed.

"Poop-head? Did my traveling companion just refer to herself as a poop-head?" Angel teased as he followed her to the bed and sat beside her, taking one of her hands in his.

"It’s just… it was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be…"

"I know…" he traced small circles on the back of her hand with his fingers, "it was difficult for me, too. They… you included… are the closest thing I’ve had to a family since I was embraced…"

"Angel, I’m so sorry for taking you aw…"

"Shh… no, Willow, you’re not taking me away. My life in Sunnydale, for all intents and purposes, ended when the curse was broken and I became Angelus. Even if this hadn’t happened to you, I would have still had to leave."

"Angel, it’s just not fair…"

"Willow, nothing that has happened to either of us has been fair. But, it’s time for us to start over, and maybe, just maybe, together the two of us can find a little happiness."

Willow laid her head on Angel’s shoulder as he continued caressing her hand. She closed her eyes, slowly feeling herself beginning to drift away inside of Angel’s touch,
"You’ll be sick of me by the time we reach Wales… you’ll leave me behind as soon as you can escape from this ship…"

"Never… won’t happen, Will. We’re bonded, you and I. I know that we weren’t thrown together by choice, but, Willow, don’t you know what you mean to me?"

"I’m the geeky, mousy friend of the love of your life…"
"Wrong. You’re my friend. My only friend. The only one that never gave up on me. Twice you performed the ritual to bring me back. You never lost faith in me, when everyone else did, including Buffy."

Willow unconsciously snuggled against him.

"Willow, I’m going to tell you something that I’ve been keeping to myself, and it’s probably going to make you madder than hell at me, but I need you to know."
The serious tone of his voice made Willow sit up and take notice. She looked Angel in the eye, waiting for whatever bombshell he was about to drop on her.

< I spied on you… >

"WHAT?! What do you mean?"

"As Angelus, I used to lurk outside your bedroom watching you, listening to you. You were supposed to be my first target, remember? I knew that it would hurt Buffy the most if I killed you first…"

"Don’t say ‘I’, Angel. That was Angelus, not you…"

"Will, it was… I watched you, every night. Maybe it was Angelus, but I was still inside this body, too, and I saw everything that he saw."

"You saw me naked," Willow drew away from him, shocked.

Angel couldn’t stop the chuckle that escaped his lips, "Yes, I did, Will. Many times. But, Willow, that’s not…"

"Oh my God," she cut him off, "Nobody has ever seen me naked," she buried her face in her hands, mortified.

Angel rose from the bed and knelt on the floor in front of her, pulling her hands away from her face, "Willow, I am so, so sorry. It was a horrible thing to do, but you have nothing to be ashamed of. God, you’re beautiful. You have a beautiful, exquisitely perfect body…"

"Stop it, Angel. Don’t lie to me…"

"Damn it, Willow, you have spent so many years pining away for that idiot Xander that you can’t see yourself for what you are. So many years of rejection from that moron that couldn’t see what was right in front of him. Willow, you have to believe me. Not only are you the most beautiful person I’ve ever met on the inside, but you are beautiful on the outside, too. Willow, look at me," he released his grip on her hands and took her face between his hands instead, forcing her to look at him, "You are beautiful. You are. Please, believe me," he pleaded.

"Why are you telling me this?" she asked as red tears began to spill down her cheeks.

"Will, it gets worse. Much, much worse. I saw your most private moments. Things that you thought that no one would ever see, ever know about…"

Willow lurched away from him suddenly, launching herself to the far side of the bed, "Oh! Oh, no, Angel, tell me you didn’t…"

"I’m so sorry, Willow… I swear, if I could take it all back I would…"

"You know, don’t you?"

"Yes," he answered quietly.

"I hate you."

"Will, please let me explain…"

"Explain? How the hell can you explain that? You watched me mastur…"

Willow wasn’t quite the person that everyone in Sunnydale thought that she was. She had a dark secret, that, until this moment, she thought was entirely unknown to the rest of the world. From the moment she met Angel, she had dreamt about him. She never seriously had any feelings for him. She loved Xander. Then she loved Oz. But Angel was always in the back of her mind. She was a teenage girl, and when she thought about sex, it wasn’t Xander or Oz. It was her best friend’s vampire boyfriend. Even after he became Angelus, Willow still fantasized about Angel. And this secret… the secret Willow planned to never reveal, was suddenly exposed.

"Willow, there is nothing wrong with what you were doing…" Angel foolishly tried to dissuade her anger, "Even vampires do it…"

"God, Angel, do you think I’m that big of an idiot? I know that there is nothing wrong with masturbation. The wrong part comes in masturbating to thoughts of your best friend’s boyfriend…"

Angel couldn’t hide the smirk on his face.

"Don’t you dare laugh at me, you son of a bitch," Angel was shocked. He had never heard Willow speak with such vehemence.

"I’m not laughing at you, Will. It’s just…" Angel stopped and looked at the extremely embarrassed and pissed off Willow, "There is nothing I can say right now that’s going to make you feel any better, is there?"

Willow shook her head at him.

Angel sighed, "We should get some rest. The sun is rising and the ship will be sailing soon."

Willow lay down where she was sitting on the bed, and rolled over to face away from Angel.

< Willow, I’m sorry. >

< Fuck you. >
 

Part XII

Willow didn’t sleep. She was fairly well rested from the sleep she had gotten during the trip from Sunnydale to the ocean, and her mind was spinning. Angel hadn’t tried to speak to her any more, realizing that she needed time to work through her anger at him, and had drifted off into a fitful sleep.

Willow rolled over to watch him, trying to talk herself out of her anger. Angelus, not Angel. Angelus, not Angel. She reminded herself over and over that Angel had been an unwilling participant in everything that Angelus had done. Angel would never intrude on her, or spy on her like that. Only Angelus. But it didn’t help. Angel had seen a part of her that she never wanted anyone to see, especially not him. She had never felt so humiliated or embarrassed in her life.

Many nights she had brought herself to a shuddering climax, with thoughts of Angel dancing in her head. Angel’s lips, his hands, his eyes. And, even though Angel hadn’t said anything about it, she knew that in these, her most private moments, she could be very vocal. The thought of Angel watching her while she lay alone on her bed, sometimes on her back, sometimes on her stomach, her hands thrust between her legs, fingers plunging as deeply as she could inside herself, crying out his name through clenched teeth, mortified her.

Eventually, Willow rose from the bed and pulled a book out of the bookcase. She climbed into a big easy chair on the other side of the room, and tried to read. All she could do was stare at Angel’s sleeping form on the bed, and wallow in her embarrassment.

Many hours later, Angel opened his eyes, immediately focusing on Willow watching him from across the room.

< Willow? > He called out to her.

She lowered her eyes and went back to trying to read the book without answering him.
He shook his head and got out of bed, walking over to the large wardrobe. He opened the doors and pulled out some clean clothes for himself.

"There’s a bathroom just down the corridor, and your clothes are in the wardrobe, too. I’m going to take a shower…" he voice trailed off as he noticed Willow wouldn’t even look up to acknowledge him.

He returned twenty minutes later. Willow couldn’t help but glance up to see him as he entered their room again. She admired his wet hair, and his white tee shirt and the way his jeans fit his body as he sat on the edge of the bed, pulling his shoes and socks on. He pulled a jacket out of the wardrobe and put it on.

"I’m going up on deck for a while," he started to walk out.

< You’re leaving me down here alone? >

Angel stopped in the doorway, but didn’t turn around to face her.

< You hate me, remember? I figured that you wanted me as far away from you as possible. >

< Fine, then. Go ahead and leave me. >

Angel turned back into the room, and pulled another jacket out of the wardrobe. He walked past Willow’s chair and grabbed her hand, dragging her out of the chair and out the door with him. By the time they reached the deck, Willow was almost running to keep up with him. He turned and tossed the jacket to her, even though neither could feel the cold temperatures. He strolled over to the guardrail and looked out over the dark ocean. The moon was shining brightly on the sea, and Willow was immediately hypnotized by the millions of stars in the sky over their heads. The pair stood in silence for many long minutes before Willow finally broke out of her trance and spoke to him.

"Why?" she asked.

"Why what?" Angel turned to look at her, leaning back on the railing.

"Why did you have to tell me? Why couldn’t you just go on letting me be oblivious to the fact that you know all my dirty little secrets? Why’d you have to embarrass me so badly?"

"Will, I wasn’t trying to embarrass you. I was trying to make a point…"

"What point? That I’m a pervert?"

"You are not a pervert. I was trying to tell you how much you mean to me."

"That is a damn weird way to show it, Angel."

"In retrospect, you’re completely right. Look, Willow, here’s what I was trying to say to you last night… I know how you feel about me…or, at least, how you felt about me, and I wanted to let you know that it’s OK. That I’m OK with that. That you mean the world to me. Jesus, I sound like an idiot… We have so damn much in common. We’re both lost souls. We’re both looking for some sort of unconditional love. We both can never go home again. We’re both desperately lonely, and have been pretty much our whole lives. And yet, we’re completely different, too. You’re optimistic, and bubbly, and you try to see the best in everyone that you meet. I’m just the opposite. Except you’re infectious. When I’m with you, and Willow, this hasn’t changed as long as I’ve known you, you make me want to be more like you—hopeful, and open and accepting. You make me smile—even better, you make me laugh. Even though I hate what’s happened to you, I’m so very thankful that I have you. You make me want to live. Do you understand now?"

Suddenly, a huge grin broke across Willow’s face, "I make you happy?"

Angel felt a huge wave of relief wash over himself, "Yes, Will, you do. Giddy, and silly, and deliriously happy."

"You’re laying it on too thick," she teased, "I’ve never seen you giddy."

"On the inside, then," he grinned back at her, "Giddy on the inside."

Willow crossed over to where Angel was leaning on the railing and curled herself into his open arms, which quickly engulfed her in a tight hug, "Willow, I have so much to teach you and show you about the world and about being a vampire—a souled vampire. It will take us a lifetime to even scratch the surface. Have you really given much thought about what it means to be immortal?"

Willow squeezed him tightly, "Not tonight, Angel. Being immortal means that we have forever to talk about this, and tonight, for right now, I just want to think about being Willow, and being with my Angel… M-My friend, Angel, I mean…" she stammered.
Angel threw his head back and laughed, pulling her closer to him, "I know what you mean."

Willow felt more relaxed and comfortable than she had in months, maybe years, since she discovered that vampires were real. She was in a place with the one person that she trusted implicitly with her life, someone that she loved, a place where, for the time being, no vampires could reach them, going to a place far away from the monsters of the Hellmouth. She was happy. And feeling brave. Whether is was something having to do with being a vampire, or whether it was something to do with being in Angel’s arms, she didn’t care.

< Angel? >

< Yes… >

< Can I kiss you? >

Angel didn’t answer, and for a moment, Willow thought—hoped—that he didn’t hear her. But then he slowly released her from his embrace and took her upper arms is his hands, pushing her slightly back away from him. Willow felt a bolt of searing pain shoot through her heart, thinking he was rejecting her.

But then he gently placed two fingers from his right hand under her chin and pulled her face towards his.

Willow’s eyes drifted closed and her lips parted waiting for the kiss she knew was coming, as he tilted her face back leaning in to press his lips against hers.
It was a gentle, tender, chaste kiss, but it felt incredible to her. She didn’t move a muscle as Angel continued to press his cold lips against hers. He drew back slightly and slowly traced the edge of her lips with his tongue. Willow opened her lips a bit more, allowing her tongue to softly meet his, drawing him into her mouth. It was all happening in deliciously slow motion, their tongues deliberately snaking together in a sensual dance. It felt so erotic, so hot, that Willow thought that she would pass out at any minute. Then Angel tenderly bit down on her lower lip, causing Willow to loudly gasp against his mouth, her body arching against his, bringing her back to life. She threw her arms around his neck, pulling herself roughly against his hard body. She entangled her fingers in his still damp hair, forcing his mouth violently against hers. Angel slipped his arms around her small waist, his fingers clawing against her back through the jacket she wore. Feelings Willow had never experienced before began to rip through her body, something feral and savage, and she knew that Angel felt it, too. Their tongues hungrily, angrily fought against each other, jockeying for the better position to taste the other with. Their hands tore at each other’s bodies, lost in a violent, erotic tango.
Suddenly, Angel’s words ripped into her head.

< Willow?! Willow, stop! Pull away… >

She heard him, but couldn’t stop. Didn’t want to, couldn’t even try.

< Willow? Please, stop. Please… >

Angel roughly pushed Willow away. Angrily, she rushed at him again, lost in her passion, but he caught her, and held her at arms length.

"Willow! Willow, look at me!" he shook her.

As he shook her, the fog in her head began to clear, and she focused on Angel’s face.

"Oh, my God…" she mumbled, reaching up to touch her own face.

She realized that sometime during their kiss, they had both slipped into their game faces. Ashamed, she turned away from him.

"Willow, please don’t hide from me," he wrapped his arms around her shoulders, tightly embracing her from behind, "This is what we are. This is what happens when vampires make love… you’ve got so much to learn about. You’re just not ready for this yet…"
She sniffled, struggling to hold back her tears, as she felt her game face disappear, "I wasn’t ready for it as a human, and now I’m not ready for it as a vampire… Am I destined to be the immortal virgin?"

Angel gently kissed the top of her head, squeezing her tighter in his arms, "Will, I can promise you with almost one hundred percent certainty that you will not remain a virgin forever. I know you know all about the birds and bees, but with vampires, it’s different…"

"It wasn’t different with Buffy, was it?"

He felt her body tense in his arms, "I… it… Willow, with Buffy… God, I don’t know how to explain this to make any sense to you… I had sex with Buffy in the very technical, clinical sense of the word, but it wasn’t… there wasn’t…"

"You broke the curse, Angel. You experienced complete happiness."

"Willow, sex is… even bad sex is still pretty good. I am a guy, after all," he spun her around to face him, both of their faces back to normal.

He took her hands in his, and continued, "If I had made love to Buffy, real vampire love, I would have killed her. You felt it… you felt what was just coursing through your body. You wanted to rip me apart, limb from limb. The more we clawed at each other, the more violent we got, the more aroused you got. Me, too. Willow, when we make love, I want you to know exactly what to expect. I don’t want you to be shocked by anything that you do to me, or anything that I’m going to do to you. Do you understand me?"

"So, is there like a sex-ed book for vampires?" she forced a weak grin.
Angel threw his head back and laughed, a real laugh, and held Willow in his arms, "You do make me happy, Willow. You really do."
 

Part XIII

The next several weeks passed in a blur. Willow and Angel had both thought that they would be bored to tears on the boat, but it turned into an experience neither of them would ever forget. The days were spent sleeping, on opposite sides of the bed, or reading or, for Willow, surfing the net on the computer. The nights were spent on deck, usually sitting or lying on a blanket, talking for hours and hours. Willow wanted to hear every detail of his two hundred and forty plus years, and Angel was delighted to finally have someone to tell all his stories to, both the good ones and the many, many bad ones. She felt she was learning every possible thing she would need to know to live immortally as a vampire. Angel felt that he finally had a partner. Not some psycho like Dru, or a mortal like Buffy that he could only spend a few years with, but someone that he could be completely open with. He had reluctantly told Buffy from stories from his past, but she had mostly learned about him through Giles and his books. With Willow, the openness seemed natural. He felt that there was nothing that he had to keep from her, and it made is heart soar. And Willow genuinely wanted to hear every word he had to say, both because she knew that he needed to unburden himself, and because she knew that she needed to hear it all for her own good. Not to mention that Angel was a fascinating storyteller. The Angel that she knew before was quiet and sullen. It was like pulling teeth to get him to say a complete sentence. Willow’s Angel was eloquent and passionate. He spoke with a quiet authority that demanded her attention and she loved him for it.

Physically, they kept their distance, aside from a few simple kisses shared when their eyes locked onto each other. Willow wanted Angel badly, and she knew that he wanted her, too. She also was beginning to understand, though, the need to wait. Willow still had so much to learn about the passion that would be involved in their lovemaking, and she still held certain doubts about whether or not he truly loved her, or loved having someone to be with. She had no doubt that he cared deeply for her, but she also knew how much he had loved Buffy. Angel had lived with his curse for years, having his soul. Willow had never asked him, but she couldn’t imagine that he wouldn’t know what it would be that would end the curse. She had no doubts that he had loved Buffy enough to be willing to give up his soul for her. He had to have known the danger inherent in making love to Buffy. Willow knew that the restoration ritual she had performed was fixed so that it was irreversible. Making love to Willow wouldn’t take his soul away again, but she wanted to be secure in the knowledge that he would give up his soul to love her if that’s what he had to do.

It was way too early in the relationship for her to broach this subject with him. There would be plenty of time for that later, once they were settled in Wales, and once she was certain of his commitment to her. She still didn’t understand exactly what Angel meant when he told her that he wanted her to understand the things she was going to do to him, and the things he was going to do to her during their lovemaking. The thought scared her. All her young life, she had imagined what her first time would be like… gentle, and loving. What she knew that her and Angel would share would be nothing like that. And she wasn’t entirely sure that she would ever be ready for that.
One night, near the end of their voyage, they were lying on the deck, watching the stars. Among many of the things that Willow was learning about Angel was the he was a master astronomer. He pointed out the stars and constellations, pointing towards far away galaxies. Gingerly, in the dark, he reached out and grasped her hand, holding it to his chest.

"Will, you know we can still touch each other without it during into some violent, erotic lovemaking session..."

"You might be able to, but I’m not sure that I can," she giggled nervously.

"You’re strong, but not strong enough to take me without my consent…" she saw his grin in the darkness, "You have learned so much in the past month. You’re going to be fine, with or without me…"

"Angel," fear shot through her heart, thinking he was wanting to leave her.

"Shh… Willow… you’ll never have to do it without me. I’m staying by your side forever. You have my word on that. But if you had to, you could…"

"Don’t talk like that, Angel. It scares me."

Angel released her hand, and rolled over on his stomach to look into her eyes. Leaning on his elbows, he gently caressed her cheek, "Will, I’m never leaving you. I want nothing more at this moment in time than to live a quiet, humble existence with you somewhere in the Welsh countryside. You know that we can’t stay there forever, but wherever we go, it will be together. I don’t want you to be scared of anything ever again."

"I don’t know what to say, Angel…"

"Will, do you know that you talk to me in your sleep?"

"What?!"

"While you sleep… I don’t know if you’re dreaming, or if it’s conscious or not, but you pummel me with questions. I don’t know, I might do the same thing to you…"

"God, it must be miserable for you listening to me babble all night…or day… or whatever…"

"I can’t hear you when I’m sleeping. Only when you’re asleep and I’m awake, and only when you’re in a very deep sleep."

"What do I ask you, Angel? Or am I going to be horribly embarrassed again?"

"Everything, Will. Your mind fascinates me, and I can’t wait to start exploring all the dark recesses of your mind, learning everything that makes you tick… but, mostly, you ask me about sex…" he grinned at her.

Willow clasped her hands in front of her face, "Could I be anymore the horny teenager?"

"Is there anything that you want to ask me, Willow? Now, when we’re both conscious?"

"Very funny…"

"I’m being serious… ask me what you need to know."

"I can’t, Angel… it’s too embarrassing. I can’t believe I ask you questions in my sleep."

"I’m glad that you do, Will. Because you’re holding back from me. You have questions and fears that you’re not confiding in me."

Willow sat up from her lying on her back, "Angel, I…"

"Shh…it’s OK. I understand. You don’t trust what I feel for you, and I don’t blame you. I will always love Buffy. But, Will, I’m not in love with her. I love you, right now, as strongly as I ever loved Buffy, and I am rapidly falling in love with you. And I know that’s just words, and that I have to prove it to you. In time, I will. But until we get off this boat, there’s not a lot I can do but try and reassure you. You are everything that I could ever want in an immortal partner, someone to live through eternity with. And I don’t have to be afraid to love you. You are what I am. You are a part of me. I can love you as freely and as openly as I want, and it’s something that I’ve never had before. I’m not going back to Sunnydale, and I’m not going back to Buffy, ever. Period."

"It’s not about you going back to Buffy, Angel. It’s about you loving me, for me. Not because I’m here, not because I’m a vampire, not because I have a soul. It’s about putting me and Buffy, side by side, or any other woman for that matter, and deciding that you love me more than anyone else."

Angel grew silent in thought for a few moments.

Willow felt tears beginning to sting her eyes, "I’m sorry, Angel. That’s unfair of me… it’s too much to ask you…"

"No, Will, it isn’t. You deserve that, and a hell of a lot more… and I wish I could tell you that, but I just can’t… yet, Willow. Yet."

"I understand…"

"No, you don’t. I can hear it in your voice and see it in your eyes… Willow, I do love you. As a friend, I’ve always loved you. And it just seems natural for the two of us to be together now, but you deserve to have someone that will love you with all the passion and roses and champagne and moonbeams in the universe… I’m sorry, Will… I just can’t give you that, yet."

Tears began streaming down Willow’s cheeks as she tried to jump up and run, but Angel grabbed her arm and pulled her back down , "Don’t, Will… don’t run away from me. I’m sorry I can’t give you the love that you want right now… but can you honestly say that you love me? I mean, the way that you want me to love you? Think about Oz, and Xander. You loved them, remember? I was Buffy’s boyfriend. You may have had sexual fantasies about me, but that wasn’t love."

"But… it’s… I…"

"Talk to me, Willow. Whatever you’re thinking right now, tell me. Don’t close yourself up."

"I want you to make love to me."

"No. Willow, I can’t… you don’t understand."

"You’re right," she cried, "I don’t understand. Show me…" she was yelling at him now, "Show me what I don’t understand."

"It wouldn’t be right, and I won’t do that to you. You’re a virgin, and you’re first time should be with someone that you love with all your heart and soul, and someone that loves you back. Willow, we could have sex, the way humans do, and it would be all sweet and tender… but it wouldn’t satisfy you. It would be so wrong…"

"How could that be wrong, Angel…?" she sobbed.

"Because vampires feed off of each other during sex, Willow. Are you ready for that? Could you stand it if I sank my fangs into you? Could you do the same to me? You’ve never fed off of the living before… it’s violent, and dangerous, and ugly. But that’s the way we get our most intense sexual release, Willow… could you do that? Do you even want to?"

Willow hung her head and sobbed.

"Please, Willow, listen to me… I don’t mean to be harsh, but you have to understand…"

"No, no, I won’t," she cried, "You’re telling me that no one will ever make love to me… I’m immortal, and no one is ever going to love me…"

"That’s not true, Willow," Angel grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her, "You’re not human anymore. Making love doesn’t mean what it used to for you. But you have to become used to what you are first. It’s the same as humans not having sex until they mature. You need to mature as a vampire before you can think of having sex. That day will come, Willow. I promise. I swear."

Willow fell into Angel’s arms and he held her tightly, "Will, please, don’t try to rush this. Don’t try to do something that you—we’re—not ready for. It’s going to happen. Let’s just get used to each other… give ourselves time to fall in love."

Willow’s sobs began to subside as Angel smoothed her auburn hair down her back.

"Shh… it’s OK, Will… shh… I do love you… I never meant to imply that I didn’t. We just… we’ll both know when the time is right, Willow… I promise."

"Angel, I need a little time alone… please."
"The sun will be coming up soon, Will… you should come down below…"

"Just a few minutes… OK?"

"OK…"

Angel gathered their blanket and went below deck to their compartment. Willow leaned out over the railing and stared out over the vast ocean, recalling everything that had happened to her in the past six weeks. Six weeks… it seemed like much longer to her. She had barely mourned for her past life. Being with Angel made it all seem so much easier. Everything that he was sharing with her fascinated her. The stories, the lives he was carving out for them. Willow couldn’t imagine why he was doing the things he was. She knew from Buffy just how passionately the two of them had loved each other. Willow had always felt that the two of them were meant to be. Why was Angel running so far from her? Things had changed. No one could deny that. Maybe they had changed too much. But if Buffy, and Sunnydale, would prove to be a constant reminder to Angel of the things Angelus had done, why didn’t Willow serve as the same reminder?

Willow was more confused than she had ever been in her short life. Could Angel ever love her the way he had loved Buffy? Did Willow even want that sort of love? It was a tortured, tormented, passionate love, and it had hurt them both very deeply. Willow never wanted to cause Angel that sort of pain, and she knew that Angel cared for her enough to not want her to experience that sort of pain, either. As miserable as her own life was at this point, she knew that Angel’s two hundred forty years had been much, much worse. She loved him. She really and truly did. Maybe not in the same way she had thought of love all her life. It certainly wasn’t anything like she had ever felt for Oz or Xander. It was something deeper, something more real. She didn’t want to be a burden to him. She loved the idea that she could make him happy, make him smile. She knew that she was tormenting him now. She was in pain, and he felt that he was the cause of it. The hardest part of their journey was still ahead of them. They had to begin their lives in Wales. Willow didn’t want to make this a dark time in their lives. The lighter she could make things between them, the easier this transition would be for them.

Willow could feel the sun starting to rise as she made her way below deck. Angel had changed into the silk pajama bottoms that he slept in and was sitting on the bed, his back against the headboard, reading a book.

He glanced up as Willow entered the room, wearing the nightgown that she had changed into as she stopped in the bathroom on her way down the corridor. He could sense a change in Willow immediately, a change from the distraught, unhappy young woman that he had left on deck earlier. She felt him watching her as she crossed the room and climbed into the giant bed beside him. She lay on her side, facing him, head resting on a pillow. A huge grin spread across her face as she watched him curiously scrutinize her.

Laying his book on the table beside he bed, he spoke, "What has suddenly gotten into you?"

"Nothing," she smiled at him.

"Don’t give me that," her infectious grin spread to him, "what’s made you so happy all of the sudden?"

"You."

"I wasn’t making you very happy a little while ago."

< Angel, ever since I was embraced… you’ve been there for me every minute of every day. I don’t know why… I don’t want to know why. I just know that you’re here. And that’s all that’s important. >

< Come over here closer to me. >

Willow slid over to Angel, who opened his arms to her. Putting her arms around his waist, she rested her head on his chest, feeling his strong arms encircling her, his cheek rubbing against the top of her head.

< Will, you are so important to me… >

< Angel, listen to me… this is so difficult for both of us… maybe even more difficult for you than it is for me. You told me once that I make you happy. I don’t want our relationship to become something dark and heavy… a burden. I want us to feel good together. I want to make you smile… >

< You do. You do make me smile. >

< I love you, Angel. Just let me love you. >

< Willow… >

Willow lifted her head from his chest to look him in the eye.

< Don’t say anything else right now, Angel. Let’s just leave it right here, for now… >

< Whatever you say, Will… >

Angel leaned forward to kiss Willow, his upper lip catching hers, his bottom lip gently pushing hers down, opening her mouth just slightly, just enough for him to slip his tongue inside her mouth, brushing softly against her tongue before pulling back and ending the kiss. He reached over and shut the light off next to their bed, and slipped further underneath the covers, holding Willow against his body, where they slept tangled in each other’s arms until late in the afternoon.
 

Several days later the massive ship upon which they had been sailing arrived at Port. Just before midnight Angel hurriedly whisked Willow from the boat, away from the dock, and into a taxicab. The cab drove for hours seemingly in no direction. Willow was tired, she leaned her head against Angels strong shoulder. She was scared but excited of the same time. The most exciting adventure of her young life was just beginning, and she couldn’t imagine a more wonderful person to share it with than Angel. She turned her face up to look into the eyes of the man that she could well be spending immortality with. Angel looked into her eyes returning the glow that she felt. Silently he spoke to her.

< It’s all going to be all right, Willow…I swear. >

Part XIV

"Oh, my God, Angel…" Willow stood at the gate, stunned, "It’s a castle…"

"A little castle…"

"A castle! We’re going to be living in a castle?" she stared at the massive structure, disbelief written all over her face, "Where did you find this?"

Angel chuckled, enjoyed his new companion’s awe, "Will, the castle has been here for four hundred years… I didn’t just find it."

"But how…? When…?"

"I’ve owned this place for a long time. I like to pretend that it’s my family estate. The fact is, I acquired it during my… Angelus years, through less than noble methods… but I love this place."

Angel led Willow back into the car that had been waiting for them at the hotel that they spent the day in. They had driven most of the night before arriving at this massive estate in the Welsh countryside. They drove through the gates, and up the long drive to the front of the house.

As Angel ushered her through the enormous front doors, Willow’s eyes grew wide, taking in the foyer of this grand house that she would be calling home.

"I feel like some sort of a princess, Angel. I don’t deserve to live in a place like this…"
Angel dropped their bags on the elaborate marble floor before taking Willow’s hands in his own.

"Will, you deserve all of this and much, much more. I only wish that you… and I… could see how beautiful this place is in the daytime. You can’t tell from the outside, but all of the windows are sealed. No sunlight can enter the house… But, at night, Willow… wait til you see the gardens out back… unless my gardener’s have been slacking, they are filled with all sorts of night-blooming flowers, and beautiful trees and fountains… it’s my favorite part of the estate."

Willow immediately grew excited. She loved the outdoors, and was thrilled that she would have a massive garden for her own. It would give her a fabulous way to fill her nights while she grew used to being a vampire.

"Oh, Angel, can we see it now…? Please?"

"I wish we could, Will… but it’s almost sunrise. We can spend the whole night exploring it tonight, but we really need to get some rest… you need to get some rest. C’mon, I’ll show you your room…"

He took her by the hand and led her up the huge staircase and down the long hallway, pausing before a set of double doors. In a grand gesture, he threw the doors open, revealing to Willow the most incredible room she had ever seen in her life.
The first thing that struck her was the brightness. It was obvious that Angel had decorated the interior of the entire castle to feel as light and airy as possible. The walls were a delicate shade of white. The floor was, once again, marble, with light colored oriental rugs strewn about. The curtains covering the sealed windows were perfectly matched to the walls. Dozens of colorful flowers were set upon almost every open surface in the room, and the walls were decorated with beautiful portraits of outdoor landscapes. The room was huge, with it’s own sitting room, and bathroom leading off to the side. The focal point of the room, the centerpiece, was the bed. It was in the very center, against the back wall. King-sized, Willow knew that she would need the footstool beside it to be able to climb into it every night. The white, feather-filled comforter that covered it seemed to Willow like a huge white cloud, inviting her to sink down inside.

"Like it?" Angel whispered into her ear.

"Oh, Angel, this is the most beautiful room I’ve ever seen… it’s… it’s perfect," she sniffled. Blood red tears began threatening to dribble from the corners of her eyes.

"Hey, I didn’t mean to make you cry…"

"I’m not crying… I’m just happy. I love this room, Angel… I love this house."

"Wait til you see the rest of it tonight… the rest of the house is just as beautiful, along with the gardens, and the fountains, and the pool, and the stables…"

"Pool? Stables? We… you, I mean… You have horses?"

Angel chuckled again. Hearing Willow’s excitement and seeing her smile lightened his heavy heart by several pounds.

"We have horses, Will… what’s mine is yours… But right now, you need to get some sleep! My room is right across the hall, if you need anything…"

For an instant, Willow’s smile left her face, "It’s going to seem odd, not sleeping in the same bed as you all of the sudden…"

"I’ll be right across the hall, Will… you’ll be fine."

"I just… it’s just… I liked having you next to me," she stuttered, immediately regretting her words.

< You’re probably glad not to have to share a bed with me anymore… > she thought at him, unconsciously.

"Willow! How can you think that?" he pulled her into his arms, "The next time we share a bed, I want us to be sharing our love, completely," he kissed her gently, "For now, I want you to get some sleep so you’ll be well rested tonight when we explore the grounds…"

He released her from his tight hug and left the room, closing the doors behind him.
Willow went into the bathroom to change clothes. Once again, Angel had everything stocked for her. Perfumes, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and scented oils, and more flowers. The colossal bathtub in the middle of the floor beckoned her, and she began filling the tub. She poured some of the scented oil into the water, and, while waiting for the tub to completely fill, she explored her room a little further. Opening her closets, she found them full of the most beautiful clothes that Willow had ever seen. If she were worried about constantly trying to fill Buffy’s shoes, the thoughts now abandoned her. The clothing was pure Willow. Somehow, Angel had managed to convey exactly who she was to whomever it was that picked out the clothing. Angel knew exactly who Willow was, and he loved her for it.

Willow removed her clothing and slid into the tub, languidly reveling in the pleasure.

< Angel? >

< Yes, dear… > Willow could hear the mocking, sweet tone of his voice in her head.

< Nothing… just wanted to make sure you could still hear me… >

< Loud and clear… why aren’t you sleeping? >

< I…I’m taking a bath… this tub is incredible. >

< You’re naked?> he teased her.

Willow giggled, feeling naughty < Does that excite you? >

< More than you know… I’m tuning you out now, and I’m going to try to get some sleep … not that that’s going to be possible with the thought of you all naked and wet… >

< ANGEL! >

< Hey, you started it… sleep tight, Will… I can’t wait to see you tonight… >
Angel rolled over onto his back, releasing the erection that was steadily growing during his brief conversation with Willow. He struggled not to lower his hand to release the tension. Somehow, he thought, that would be like being unfaithful to Willow.
< Mind over matter, mind over matter, mind over matter… > he silently repeated the mantra to himself until he finally began to soften. Rolling back over onto his stomach, he violently fluffed the pillow underneath his head, and let his thoughts drift back to Willow.

< My Willow… Where did she come from, and how come I never noticed her before? She’s exquisite… that hair… those big, expressive eyes! And she has nothing to hide… she’s so open and honest. When she smiles—that smile that lights the whole room—she’s smiling because she’s genuinely happy. And when she frowns, and she gets that adorable little pout, and the bridge of her nose gets all crinkly, there’s not a damn thing that I wouldn’t do for her to return that smile to her face. Am I falling in love with her? Am I already in love with her? I AM! Oh, my… Willow… >
Again, Angel felt his erection growing. Frustrated, he rolled over on his back again.
< It’s going to be a long damn day… >
 

Part XV

That evening, Angel woke up and got dressed… He went into the kitchen and prepared a glass of blood for himself and for Willow. Draining his, he placed the glass in the sink and carried Willow’s upstairs to her bedroom.

Quietly, he opened the doors and slipped inside.

Willow was still asleep, snuggled in the giant bed, the huge comforter pulled tightly around her neck.

Angel tiptoed to the bed and sat the glass on the bedside table. He grabbed a yellow rose from the vase on the table, and delicately began tickling her nose with the flower.
One of her small hands snaked from underneath the covers and brushed the flower away. Silently giggling, Angel tickled her nose again. Again she brushed it away.

< This isn’t working > he thought to himself.

He sat beside her on the bed, and leaned over her sleeping body. Tenderly, he licked her earlobe. Willow squirmed under the covers, but didn’t try to brush him away.

"Willow…" he murmured, lightly kissing her jawbone.

Unconsciously, she turned her face more towards his.
He planted a series of soft, wet kisses on her throat.

"Oh! Angel…" she was now awake.

"You are a very sound sleeper, cicaro…"

"Cicaro? What’s that mean?" she asked, reaching up to run her fingers through his dark hair.

"Darling, in Latin…" he leaned into her caresses, as she yawned, "You want to go back to sleep, lazybones…?" He asked gently.

She shook her head no, and pulled his face towards hers. Placing her arms around his neck, pulling herself closer to him, she captured his mouth with hers.

"Angel…" she moaned against his mouth.

He slid his arms around her waist, holding her body tightly against his.
Their kiss grew more passionate, more fiery.

"Willow, I want you… God, you know I want you… but we’re not ready yet…"

Willow pushed him away, and shook herself, trying to shake the erotic thoughts from her head.

"Grrr…" she said.

"Willow, I’m sorry… please don’t be mad…"

Willow laughed, and pulled herself out of the bed, "I’m not mad, Angel… we’re not ready."

"Then why the ‘grrr’?" he asked, watching her walk towards the bathroom.

She returned to the bedroom, carrying her hairbrush. She sat on the bed facing Angel. He took the brush from her hands, and directed Willow to turn her back to him. She did, and fell back against him as he started to brush her long, red hair. He was gentle, and loving, being careful not to pull. His touch with the brush was a caress.

"So?" he asked again, "Why the ‘grrr’?"

Willow laughed, "Remember a long time again when I asked you how you change faces? And I referred to it as the way you go ‘grrr’?"

"Yeah…"

"And, now, when you and I make love, the most special thing that two people can do together, we’re both going to be going ‘grrr’…"

Angel threw his head back and laughed, a full, deep guttural, natural laugh that Willow loved to hear. There was nothing fake or forced about the way Angel acted with her. As he continued to brush her hair, she allowed herself to lose herself in thought.
< Mmm… damn that feels good. Damn I want you… Oh, this is so much more than just sexual… I don’t even know what sexual is… This, though… this, I’m pretty sure is sexual, though… God, Angel, I might not quite be strong enough to take you, but if this keeps up, I’m going to try like hell… >

"Oh, God, you heard every word of that, didn’t you?"

"Yep," he sighed against her neck, "Every single word…"

"God, I’m so embarrassed…"

"Shhh…" he sighed, pressing his lips against her hair, "You never, ever have to be embarrassed about anything in front of me…"

"Yeah, but, you’re so in control… and I’m still just a typical teenage girl, full of raging hormones that I can’t control…"

Angel chuckled, remembering how he spent the last 10 hours.

"Is that what you think?" he asked her, "That I’m in control? Will, I tossed and turned all day in bed, trying to not think about you, and how much you turn me on, for ten minutes so that I could get some sleep. You’re making me crazy… being this close to you drives me mad."

He dropped the brush and put his arms around her shoulders, pulling her tightly against his body, "Do you feel that? Do you feel how much I want you right now…? And you think I’m the one that’s in control here?"

Willow could feel Angel’s hardness pressing into her lower back. It terrified her, and excited her all at once.

"You make the call, Willow… this is up to you," Angel thrust his hips forward, pressing himself further against her back, growling into her ear, "I want you, more than anything. If you want me, and you think we’re ready for this, I’m yours."

He removed his arms from around her shoulders, and slid them around her waist. Pressing back against him with all her might, she felt him begin nuzzling her neck. One of his hands began moving lower, against her stomach. Suddenly, he grasped her core, pressing against her wet panties, gently fingering her through the cloth.

"OH!" Willow gasped, jumping out of her skin.

It seemed as though every nerve in her body was raw. No man had ever touched her there before, or even come close. She had done it to herself many times, dreaming of Angel, but this felt completely different, even though it was the man that she had always dreamed of.

"No, Angel… as much as I want you, I’m not ready for this… I’m still expecting my first time to be all sweet and romantic… I still need adjust to it being something different," she sighed.

Angel removed his hand from her heat, and enveloped her in a tight hug.

"Willow, I’m sorry…"

"No, Angel, I’m sorry… I want to be your lover… God, I want you to make love to me… it will be a dream come true when it happens, but I’m just… it’s just…"

"Don’t apologize to me for wanting your first time to be perfect… drink your breakfast and go get dressed… I’ll be waiting for you downstairs so we can explore the gardens…"

Angel pulled himself away from Willow and gave her a quick kiss before leaving the bedroom.

< Damn it, Angel… > he chastised himself, < Just do if for her…>

For the most part, Angel had been truthful with Willow. Vampire sex typically was violent and dangerous. But, just as it had been with Buffy, it could also be tender and sweet. Angel wanted her to know what life was going to be like as a vampire… she wasn’t human anymore, and Angel needed her to know that, but he also wanted her to feel his love, and to feel comfortable with his love. He knew that he could make love to Willow and do it the way she had always dreamed, and that it could be wonderful for her… and, as a result, wonderful for Angel. But now that he had told her about the violence of vampire sex, he was afraid that she would know that he was holding back for her, and that she would feel insulted.

< Damned if I do, damned if I don’t… of course, I’m damned anyway, so I really have nothing to lose… except Willow… I could lose her, and I’d rather lose my life than lose her… >

Angel began to hatch a plan.
 

Part 16 (The Roman numerals were confusing me… I never meant for this to be so long…)

Half an hour later, Willow came bounding down the steps full of energy. She had found a pair of jeans and a white T-shirt and a pair of low black boots that she loved. Her beautiful red hair flowed around her shoulders, and her normally alabaster cheeks were slightly flushed from the blood she had just drunk.

Angel was sitting in the study, thinking of the plans he was making for the morning, after the sun began to rise. He looked up, watching Willow enter the room.

"You look beautiful," he told her.

"It’s just jeans and a T-shirt, Angel… don’t lay it on so think," she grinned at him.

"I’m not talking about the clothing, Will… I’m talking about you."

< Angel, you make me happy that I’m a vampire >

His face took on a skeptical air.

"That’s a weird thing to say…"

"Well, it’s true… when you look at me that way… well, not the way you’re looking at me right now, because right now you’re looking at me like I’ve got cooties, but, well, when you look at me the way that you were looking at me when I walked in the room, and when you touch me like you were touching me a little while ago, I’m glad I’m not human, and I’m glad that I’m not in Sunnydale and I’m glad that we’re here, and we’re alone, and that I get to… spend a lot of time alone with you!" she finished breathlessly.
Angel chuckled as he stood from his chair, watching Willow’s flushed cheeks grow redder.

"I said more than I should have, huh?"

"No, Willow, you didn’t."

He crossed the room to stand in front of her, sliding his arms around her waist, pulling her into a tight hug.

"You didn’t say too much, because, God help me, I’m glad you’re a vampire, too…"

The evening was magical. Angel ushered her over every inch of the grounds, and Willow was amazed. Only in her wildest dreams had she ever imagined an estate of such magnificent proportions.

From modern day luxuries such as the heated pool and lighted tennis courts... < Angel? Playing tennis? > ...to the centuries old stables and meticulously maintained gardens, it was a home that Willow couldn’t fully grasp belonged to her.
Being in his home brought Angel even further out of the shell that he had been in for hundreds of years. Willow was truly his soulmate, in that they were similar creatures, and she was slowly bringing him out on her own. Now that he was on his land, he opened up to her even further, with little prodding.

Stopping along the path to the stables, Angel pulled Willow to sit on a bench with him.

"I need to talk to you about something, Will."

"What’s wrong?" she asked, sitting beside him.

"Nothing’s wrong… I just need to ask you a question."

"What is it? You seem so serious all of the sudden…"

"I was going to surprise you when we got back to the house, but that doesn’t feel right. I need to ask your permission first…"

"Permission for what?"

"To make love to you."

"What?"

"Will, you’ve told me yourself, your entire life you’ve dreamed of what your first time would be like, and I've shattered that dream for you…"

"You haven’t shattered it, Angel… only changed the dream."

"No, Willow. You have expectations… expectations that I would like to try and meet. I love you… I know that we discussed this back on the boat, and I told you that I wasn’t ready to be able to say those words and mean them in the sense that you want me to say them. Now I can."

"Angel…"

"Let me finish this, Will… Your presence in my life has been a blessing, a gift. From the first moment that we met straight through til today. You never treated me as a monster. Even Buffy could never quite forget that I was her natural enemy. I guess a lot of that had to do with her being the Slayer. But you, Willow, you have always treated me as a human, which I’m not, and certainly never deserved."

Willow opened her mouth to speak, but he silenced her, placing a finger against her lips.

"I don’t deserve it. You know how it feels to have that demon inside you now. You understand what I mean when I say it is a part of me, don’t you?"

When she didn’t answer, he repeated the question, "Don’t you? You know how it feels to feel that you have something so inherently evil trapped inside your body?"

"Yes," she whispered, tears forming in her eyes, "I know… and I hate it. But, Angel, I’m not evil, and neither are you."

"You haven’t done the things I’ve done, cicaro. I’ve killed so many innocent people, and hurt so many others. I know that I’m a changed man. You’ve helped me see that. But it doesn’t change the fact that I did those things. We all like to talk about Angelus as if he were a different person. I guess it makes it easier for us to live with me... I know it makes it a little easier to live inside my own skin. But Angelus and I aren’t different people. Giving me a soul didn’t take away my blood lust. It only made me remember that killing is wrong. Will, if you had to, and didn’t have bags of blood available, eventually you’d have to kill for it. Your hunger would become too great. Having a soul doesn’t change what we are, it only makes us realize what we are."

Willow’s head hung low, her shoulders slumped as the misery of their situation swept through her body.

"Willow? Will?" Angel pleaded, "I didn’t mean to make you upset… I guess I veered off the path a bit, didn’t I?"

He took her chin in his hand, turning her face to look into his, "I love you, Willow. That’s the point I was trying to make. I love you… heart, body, mind, soul and demon. Every bit of you, inside and out. You are my beacon, my one bright shining light in a world that is nothing but darkness. Wherever you are is my home, whatever you want is what I want. When you cry, I cry, and when you’re happy, I’m happy. It’s a simple as that. I want you in ways that I’ve never wanted anyone," his eyes searched hers, "Do you believe me, Willow? Do you believe that I love you?"

She nodded slightly, hesitantly.

"Then let me show you. Let me give you want it is that you want. Let me make your first time everything you’ve dreamed about your entire life."

"You told me that we couldn’t do that…" she murmured quietly.

"We can… I can, for you. I want this to be your dream come true. It’s true that it probably won’t ever be like that again… we’ll both be wanting more, and that will happen, too."

"I don’t want you to hold back with me, Angel. I don’t… I don’t want to feel as if you’re not satisfied…"

"I… I wish I could explain this better to you. It’s incredibly confusing… I thought I’d have more time…"

"What? What do you mean ‘more time’?"

Angel chuckled over the worried look on her face, "I mean, Will, that I never expected to fall so deeply in love with you so quickly."

He planted a soft kiss on the tip of her nose, "I knew I was going to love you. There was never any doubt in my mind… if I had looked deeper into myself, I probably would have been able to see it a long time ago. If not before I lost my soul, then definitely after. Angelus was obsessed with you. Once he… I… found out what you were doing alone in your bedroom so late at night, it became a fixation of mine to watch you. It was so innocent and erotic, which is a tantalizing combination."

"Angel!"

He chuckled again, watching her become increasingly flustered, "It’s true, Willow. Which makes me wonder something now…"

"What?"

"Do you really love me?"

"How can you even ask me that?"

"Maybe I need to know, too."

"You do know. You saw it… me."

"I saw a young, innocent girl that was confused about her burgeoning sexuality. The way you felt with Oz, and even Xander, to a certain extent, was never the way you felt about me, was it?"

"That’s not fair, Angel."

"Yes, it is. You didn’t even know me until Spike changed you. We had never had a full conversation, had we? Just snippets here and there… so how could you think that you loved me? You may have loved an idea of what I was, but you couldn’t have been sure that was me or not… as a matter of fact, it probably wasn’t. Having sexual fantasies about someone and loving that person are two entirely different things."

Willow sat silently next to him, absorbing what he had said and what he was asking of her.

"You don’t love me, do you, Willow?" his voice was a combination of regret, shock and despair.

Willow shot up from the bench and took off running towards the stables. Angel stayed behind, playing over their conversation in his mind. He felt himself foolish and arrogant for never even exploring the possibility that Willow wasn’t truly in love with him.
She depended on him, needed him. She probably could survive on her own without him, but it wouldn’t be easy. That was all it was… need. Angel didn’t certainly didn’t think of himself as lovable. He was sulky, and depressed and constantly brooding. Usually, his presence meant something bad was about to happen. He was a good two centuries older than her, and acted much older than that. Fun was something that he didn’t allow himself, and even if he did, he wouldn’t know how to set about having some.

Maybe he was good-looking… he really couldn’t be sure. He hadn’t seen his reflection in over two hundred years. He had always assumed he was handsome from the way women reacted to him. But sexual attraction had never equaled love, and he knew that. Of course, Willow didn’t love him.

Willow was everything Angel wasn’t when it came to matters of consequence. The fact that they were both souled vampires was only a common bond that they shared. She was sunlight, even in the black of night. She was openness and loveliness and optimism. Willow always saw the bright side of every situation, even the most desperate, hopeless ones, and on more than one occasion it had been her sheer determination that had pulled her through. Where Angel would likely have given up on himself, Willow would only become more resolved to pull herself out of a bad situation.

Of course, she didn’t love him. And Angel loathed himself for making her feel guilty because of it. He had expected her to be understanding when he couldn’t spout words of love to her with all the meaning behind them that he had now that he had truly fallen in love with her. He would have to be understanding now for her.

With a crestfallen sigh, he started towards the stables hoping to somehow put things right between himself and Willow.

He saw her standing with her back to him, gently allowing a huge black stallion to nuzzle against her red hair, a horse that Angel knew from experience was not one to nuzzle anybody.

"Leave it to you to be able to tame the savage beast."

Willow jumped at the sound of his voice, then spun around to face him, blood-red tears streaming down her face.

"Will, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have…"

"You really think I don’t love you?"

"It’s too soon, Willow. This all happened to quick for you. I don’t doubt that you need me, and that you care about me, but for me to have just assumed that you love me…"

"I do love you, Angel."

"Yeah, but not…"

"Yes, Angel, in the same way. How dare you accuse me of not loving you?"

"But, Willow…"

"No buts, Angel. You are my world… I love you in ways I never thought possible. There is so much to you… You’re intelligent beyond belief… everything you’ve seen over the past two hundred years just amazes me. I want to learn every detail of everything you’ve seen. You’ve got this great black sense of humor, when you allow yourself. You’re heart is so big, with such a huge capacity for love. You’re compassion, your quiet dignity, Angel, everything. I do love you. And I can’t believe that you could think for one minute that I don’t."

Angel couldn’t believe what he was hearing, and couldn’t believe that he had doubted her. He had allowed old insecurities from his life before Willow creep into his mind. When he looked into her eyes, he saw the same reflection of Willow’s soul that he had always seen, and that soul was full of her love for him.

"I was just trying to…" he feebly tried to explain himself.

"Trying to give me an out?" she asked, "Angel, won’t you just let yourself be happy for once? You deserve that. We deserve that. Neither of us asked for the life we have now, but, you have to admit, it’s not so bad."

"Not so bad?" he chuckled at his confident Willow.

"We’ve been handed this sentence… we’re going to live forever. But, at least, we have each other. I have you, and, Angel, you have me. I’m yours."

Angel’s fatalistic mind searched for an argument for her, but found none.

"Are you sure, Will?"

"As sure as I’ve ever been of anything in my life."

She stood, waiting. The next move was Angel’s, and he knew it.

"Willow, that horse hates everybody."

"What?" she asked, bewildered.

"That horse… the one that was nuzzling you when I came it… he hates everybody. How did you get him to behave like that?"

"Am I the only one of us that sees the irony here?" she giggled.

"What?"

"I’ve tamed you."

"Tamed me, cicaro?"

"Don’t tell me that in all your years, you never read The Little Prince?"

"Antoine de Saint-Exupery?"

"You have read it?"

"Many, many years ago, but I really don’t remember much of it."

"You have to read it again, then… and maybe then you will understand that you are my rose."

"I’m a flower?"

"Read the story… you’ll get it."

"We need to be heading back to the house. The Sun will be rising soon."

Willow sighed, "I love this place, Angel. The house, the gardens, especially this stable. Maybe tomorrow night we could go for a ride?"

"I think we can do that. You’re not planning on riding Wicked are you?"

"Wicked? You named this poor horse Wicked?"

"Well… it seemed to fit him at the time…"

"He’s not wicked, just misunderstood. And, yes, I am going to ride him."

When Angel started to protest, she stopped him.

"Don’t you dare… I’ve taken riding lessons for years. He’s mine now, just like you are."

Willow hooked her arm through his and he led her back to the house.
 

Part Seventeen

"I’m going to get ready for bed, Angel."

The two were sitting in the huge study again, Willow snuggled into Angel’s lap on a huge easy chair.

Pulling herself out of his arms, she was halfway up the stairs before he heard her.

< Aren’t you going to come with me? >

< Willow? >

< It isn’t polite to keep a lady waiting, you know… >

Angel was out of his chair and up the steps as Willow placed her hand on the doorknob to her bedroom.

"Are you sure, cicaro?" he whispered in her ear, covering her hand with his.

"Don’t make me wait any longer, Angel. I want you. Tonight. Now."
Angel pushed open the door, and gently pushed her inside. She turned to him, running her fingers through his dark hair.

"Make love to me, Angel. As a human, as a vampire… it doesn’t matter. I can’t last another day without giving myself to you completely."

Listening to her purr, her fingers softly tickling the hair on the back of his neck, Angel began to harden.

He kissed her, his lips bruising hers with intensity. She never failed to surprise him, and now was no different as she forced her tongue inside his mouth.

It certainly wasn’t the first time their tongues had met, but with this kiss Willow let Angel know exactly what she was expecting of him. Urgency coursed through his veins, forcing his blood to rush rapidly to his growing erection.

Willow felt his hardness pressing against her stomach. Suddenly she pulled away from him and ran to the bathroom, throwing the door shut behind her.
Angel fell back against the bedroom door, rubbing his hands nervously on the legs of his jeans.

< Willow? Will… you ok? >

< I’m fine… just fine… >

< Then why’d you take off, cicaro? >

Silence.

< Willow? >

< It’s my first time, Angel. I’m scared. Nervous. What if I don’t do it right? >

< Impossible, Will. Trust me? >
 

< I… um…I think I’ll put my nightgown on, Angel. Just give a minute. Please? >

Angel gave her a minute. Then two. Three, four, then five minutes passed.

< Will, are you all right in there? >

No answer.

Angel charged towards the door and burst into the bathroom.

Willow was leaning against the counter, staring into a reflection that wasn’t there.

Naked.

Angel skidded to a stop at the sight of her pale body, his undead heart beating unnecessarily.

"Angel!" Willow gasped, trying desperately to hide cover herself with her arms.

"Wil— Oh, God, Willow…" Angel closed the distance between them, grabbing her wrists.

She dropped her head forward, trying to cover her face and breasts with her hair.

"What are you doing, cicaro? Don’t hide yourself from me… you are so beautiful," he brushed her hair back over her shoulder and out of her face.

"Look at me, Willow," he instructed, "Not at the floor… me."

Slowly, she lifted her chin to look him in the eye. He dipped his head, lowering his mouth to her neck. She was embarrassed, he knew. She didn’t intend for him to get an eye-full and now he intended to distract her from her embarrassment. Snaking his tongue out of his mouth, he suckled at her pulse points, knowing the pressure would excite her. His hands traced slow, lazy lines up and down her arms, giving her goosebumps. She began to relax against him.

< Ok, now, Will? >

< Just don’t stop… >

He scooped her into his arms and carried her from the bathroom. Planting a kiss on her forehead, he laid her on the bed. He stepped away, unbuttoning his shirt. Willow forgot her nakedness as she watched Angel slowly expose his body to her.

< Slower? Faster? > he asked.

"Faster, Angel… I want to feel you," she breathed.

He quickly finished his striptease, chuckling at the gasp he heard when he revealed his enormous erection to her.

Climbing onto the bed, he covered her body with his, his cock pressing flat against her stomach. He kissed her deeply, and slowly, allowing their tongues to idly mingle together. Angel was determined to take this slowly for Willow. She was frightened as it was… to rush things would only confuse her more.

Finally, he felt her arms rising off the bed to hold him. Pulling away from her mouth, he lowered his head to her breasts, sucking one of her erect buds into his mouth. Willow gasped, digging her nails into his back as nerves came alive inside her body. Taking her free nipple between the fingers of his hand, he rolled it back and forth, cautiously twisting and pulling, gauging her reactions.

Her response was to rake her fingers down his back and across his buttocks. He took this as a good sign, and continued, burning a path further down her body. Her soft, pale skin glistened from the wet trail he was leaving behind. As he reached her nest of red curls, he paused to gaze up into her face. He was greeted by the lust-filled smile of his Willow.

< I love you, Willow… if I do anything that you don’t want me to do, please tell me…>

< God… Angel… please… lower, Angel… please… oh… yes… that’s… it… >

A warmth flowed into his body that he was unfamiliar with. Willow hadn’t a clue what she was saying to him. All she knew, and all he knew, was that she was enjoying herself, which was all Angel wanted.

He spread her legs a little further, and settled himself between them. Prying her nether lips apart with his fingers, he felt her shudder. He traced her heat, deliberately keeping his actions slow as he wondered where the heat was coming from. They were both radiating a warmth that was unnatural to the vampires, but not unwelcome. Willow arched her pelvis towards him, urging him to increase the pressure to her sex. He eagerly complied, sliding one finger into her slick passage. She welcomed this intrusion with a quiet moan.

With a controlled rhythm, be began to coax her first orgasm from her. He knew it wouldn’t take long… she was close already. Smelling her arousal, he longed to taste her nectar. He flicked his tongue at her swollen clitoris and she jerked beneath him, knowing he found her secret place. He slid another finger into her tight passage, and roughly dragged his tongue across her sex at the same time. Her hands were suddenly on his head, her fingers tangling in his hair, urging him closer. He thrust his fingers deep inside her, sucking her core into his mouth before gently biting down. Her muscles constricted around his fingers and she came with a cry.

Angel coaxed her along, guiding her through, lapping at her wetness.

< Angel? > she moaned in the quiet of the room.

< Mmhmm? >

< Please, Angel… more… I need more… >

He pulled himself back up her body, his face meeting hers again. He kissed her tenderly, his tongue tracing her puffy lips. Her tongue flicked at his, tasting herself. His erection pressed against her, seeking her heat again.

"Are you ready, cicaro?" His voice was barely a hoarse whisper.

"Yes, Angel…"

He guided his erection to her entrance, pausing briefly before pushing the tip inside. He paused again, making sure he wasn’t hurting her.

< Angel? Don’t stop… more… >

He pushed in further, reaching her virgin barrier. He covered her mouth with his own, and broke through. She released a scream into his mouth as he fully sheathed himself inside her. Pushing himself up onto his arms, he held himself above her, allowing her time to adjust to his intrusion. Supporting his weight on one arm, he tenderly stroked her sex. Her muscles began contracting around his cock and he slowly began to move inside her.

Her body was so warm and inviting to him. He had sex many times before with other vampires, but never made love as he was now. Maybe it was their souls, maybe it was something else, but Angel couldn’t imagine why they were both emanating heat, and he didn’t care. It was the first time in nearly two hundred fifty years that he wasn’t cold. Beads of unearthly sweat formed on his brow as he fought to control the demon that was hovering just beneath his skin.

Willow was writhing on the bed beneath him, the same glistening sheen covering her body. Her eyes were clenched shut, and Angel had a feeling that if she opened them, he would find her eyes glowing yellow as her demon fought for release.

He rocked against her sex with small thrusts that Willow met, urgently raising her hips off the bed.

"You’re holding back, Angel. Stop it," she suddenly commanded, raking her nails across his chest, leaving a bloody trail.

His face shifted, changing to that of the demon. He pulled himself from her heat, then thrust back inside, almost angrily, urgently. Grabbing hold of her hips, he slammed her body against his. With each thrust, she ground her clit against his pubic bone, longing for a release from her erotic haze. Angel scooped his arms underneath her body, pulling her up against him, changing their positions. Willow’s demon hovered just below the surface, itching to take over.

Angel tangled his fingers in her hair, and pulled her head back, forcing her to look at him. He saw the image of the demon reflected in her golden eyes.

"Let it go, Willow… release it," he growled.

She shook her head out of his grasp and buried her face in the crook between his neck and shoulder, grinding her body hard against his and he felt the ridges and contours of her vampire face forming. Without warning, she lifted herself off his erection, throwing her head back. Angel saw the face he hadn’t seen since the night of their first kiss on the boat. Willow slammed her body back down on his cock hard, sinking her fangs into his shoulder. As she sucked his blood into her body, Angel lost control.
His mouth clamped down on her neck, his fangs breaking the skin directly above a pulsating vein. As her blood rushed into his mouth, Willow screamed against his shoulder, her own teeth still buried deep within his skin as she came, her vaginal walls constricting around his hard cock with all her vampiric strength.
Angel rolled them backward onto the bed, never breaking the contact between their mouths or their sexes. He pulled her arms away from his body, pinning them above her head as he began thrusting with all his force. She mewled beneath him, fighting to free her hands and touch him.

He growled, holding her wrists tighter, which only made her fight back more. He reached the point where he could take no more, filling her tight channel with his cold semen.

He released her wrists and collapsed on top of her body, spent. Shifting back to his human face, he realized that she was still quietly lapping at the wound she had inflicted on him, nursing the last drops of blood until the puncture holes quickly healed over.

He pulled himself off the bed and went into the bathroom. A moment later he reappeared holding a damp, cool washcloth and gently washed the remaining blood from her neck, caressing his lover. Climbing into the bed, he pulled the huge white comforter over them, cradling her in his arms. Neither had spoken, and for the first time in a long time, he didn’t know what to say to her.

So intense were the feelings that still coursed through his body that he couldn’t even think to form them into words. He knew that Willow would need to talk, and would need to hear from him what their mating meant to him.

Placing a finger underneath her chin, he tilted her face to look at him. He brushed his lips against hers.

"Will?" he whispered.

"Was I ok, Angel?"

"What? Willow, you were perfect. I’ve never felt anything like that before. I’ve never loved anyone the way I love you."

"I love you, Angel. Please tell me that no matter what happens, you’ll never doubt that I love you again."

"Never. Willow, I can’t even think of the words to tell you how much you mean to me right now… what this meant to me."

She yawned, snuggling closer to him.

"Are you tired?"

"Mmhmm…"

"Then sleep… we’ll talk tonight. And you need to be well-rested if you’re planning on riding Wicked tonight…"

"I think I just did," she giggled.

"What?"

"Rode Wicked."

Part Eighteen
Willow woke around three in the afternoon. Angel had released his hold on her sometime during the early morning hours and she rolled over to gaze at him.

He was on the far side of the bed from her, lying on his back. Willow still hadn’t gotten used to the fact that his chest didn’t rise and fall, and it unnerved her slightly.
He had kicked the heavy comforter away from his body, and had only the sheet covering him from the waist down. Willow was able to follow the contours of his body, noting the long lines of his legs, and the bulge at the juncture. His stomach was rippled. Willow wondered what he had been doing before his change to be in such good shape. His chest was smooth and well muscled, his nipples standing out like hard little pebbles. His sleeping face looked serene and content… almost child-like. His long eyelashes fluttered briefly as he dreamed. His beautiful sleep-tousled hair almost beckoned for her to run her fingers through it.

Willow couldn’t believe that he was hers. For so long she had dreamed of this man, never once permitting herself to believe that he could ever feel the same way about her. He was right when he said that she had never felt the same way about Oz or Xander as she felt about him. She loved him more. Xander was the fantasy, not Angel. He was the one that never turned out to be the man that she had dreamed his was. Oz, for all his wonderfulness, never turned her on. He was a best friend that she occasionally kissed.
Angel was the best friend that she wanted to kiss all the time. Every woman deserved to have a man that could make her feel the way Angel made her feel. He made her feel beautiful, and intelligent. He never talked down to her, and when he looked at her, it made her feel as if she were the only woman on earth.

She inched her way closer to him, lying on her side. She propped herself up on one elbow, watching her lover. A thought occurred to her suddenly.

< What if…? No… couldn’t be… > she wouldn’t even allow herself to finish the thought.

She reached out to trace small circles on his belly, her fingertips barely grazing his skin.

< But…? One way to find out, Willow… one way to be certain… >

She slowly pulled the sheet away from his body, being careful not to wake him. His cock rested against his body, the paleness standing out against his dark pubic hair.
She moved her fingers lightly over it, brushing softly from the tip to the base, marveling as it grew beneath her fingers. Checking to make sure he was still sleeping, she increased the pressure. His head lolled to one side, but he showed no signs of waking. He grew harder as Willow continued to stroke him. Soon, his erection grew to its full length. Far too long and thick, it rested heavily against his stomach.

< It’s now or never, Rosenberg. You need to know… >

She cautiously straddled his body, being careful not to place any weight on him. Delicately, she took his shaft in her hands and positioned it at her entrance, the tip rubbing just inside of her.

Willow swallowed hard, unsure of whether she should do this or not, but she needed to know, and was far too embarrassed to be able to ask Angel about it.

With a deep breath she didn’t need, she heavily sank onto his erection. She cried out as he broke through her hymen again, claiming her virginity once more.

Angel’s eyes shot open as he heard her cry and felt her weight fall onto him. Instinctively, he grabbed her hips, confused.

He couldn’t even comprehend his arousal or what she was doing… his only thoughts centered on the evident pain she was feeling.

She fell over onto his chest, sobbing, and he wrapped his arms tightly around her, attempting to soothe her.

< Willow? >

"Will, what’s wrong?" he murmured, "What are you doing?"

His cock stirred as he wakened fully, his senses becoming clearer.

"Willow?"

"It healed, Angel."

"What are you talking about, Will?"

"Angel… I’m going to be a virgin forever…"

"Will, did you forget last ni…" Realization dawned on him, "It healed…" he murmured, stroking her hair.

Willow sobbed uncontrollably against his chest, "Every time we make love, Angel… forever…"

"I’m so sorry, Willow… shh…" he soothed her, "so sorry…"

He started to roll her off of him, softening inside of her, as he was more concerned with comforting her than getting laid.

"No," she cried, "Don’t…"

"But, Willow…"

"It’ll just heal again… I don’t want it to…"

"We can’t stay like this forever, cicaro," he answered, settling her back on top of him.

"Why not? I feed off you, you feed off me… we never have to move."

"It’s a nice thought, but I’m afraid it doesn’t work that way," he chuckled.

"It’s not funny."

"I know, Willow… I’m sorry."

"What now?" she asked.

"Well… we can try and figure out a way to make… um… penetration… as gentle for you as possible," he answered, "or we can never make love again."

"Not an option," she whispered.

"How bad is the pain, Willow?"

"It’s pain, Angel. It hurts," she answered, more sarcastically than she intended.

"Like a punch in the face, or like a scraping your knee, or like a scratch? And how long does it last?"

"It hurts like someone shoving a cucumber… someplace… but it only lasts for a minute."
 

"So are you saying it’s bearable, or unbearable?"

"For anyone else it would be unbearable…but I’d walk through fire for you, so, in comparison I guess it’s bearable."

"I love you, Will… I don’t ever want you to have to be in pain for me."
 

"It’s more of a shock than anything, Angel. It’s just another thing that I’m going to have to adjust to."

"It seems like you’re the one that’s having to make all the adjustments in our relationship. It doesn’t seem fair."

"It’s all right, Angel. I don’t mind."

"You are too good to be true. Why would you put up with all this for me?"

Willow raised her head off his chest, and he leaned forward, his lips meeting hers in a brief kiss, "Because I love you."

She casually rolled her hips against him, reminding him that he was still buried deep inside her.

"I… I’m not sure how to do this, Angel…"

Part Nineteen
"Do what feels good, Will…" he took her hips in his hands again, tracing soft outlines with his fingers.

Willow sat up and rocked forward, and electricity flowed through her body as her mound rubbed against his pubic bone. She wanted to rise and thrust against him, but knew that he had grown soft during their discussion, and was afraid that he wouldn’t remain inside her.

Her fears were unfounded, though, as she sensed Angel hardening inside of her, stretching her walls, filling her.

Now she was really confused… she could do whatever she wanted, whatever felt good to her. The only problem was that she wasn’t sure what that was. She knew that grinding against him felt delicious, but she wanted to please him, also.

Her eyes searched his, looking for the answer. Angel sensed her hesitation immediately, as if he could read her eyes.

He lifted her hips, gently, raising her slightly off his shaft before slamming her body back down against his. The warmth came back, filling his body, and hers, too, he knew. Willow, not knowing a thing about what they were experiencing, hadn’t a clue that the heat was odd. Angel pushed it to the back of his mind, deciding to look into it later.
Willow placed her hands on his stomach, using the leverage to lift herself off of him again. She held herself still, teasing Angel. Anxiously, he thrust up into her, pulling her hips against his. Willow was learning about her Angel. He enjoyed the teasing, because he knew he had the real power… the strength. He had shown it to her last night by pinning her arms above her head. He enjoyed when she struggled against him.
She was beginning to learn about her demon, about the blackness of it. Yes, it was evil, but it also loved to play. It loved naughtiness, and it was teaching Willow how to make the most of it. Angel had tried to explain to her about vampire sex, and now she was starting to understand. It was intense and passionate, much like what she had always imagined human sex to be like, but it was also bruising and violent. Angel’s reactions to the things she did confirmed this. When she scratched his chest that morning, he had changed into his game face. When she fought against his holding her wrists, he came. When she teased him now, it excited him further.

And it had the same reaction on her. The only difference was that she was afraid of it… Angel embraced it.

Willow decided to push what she already knew. Tickling her way across his stomach and moving higher, she pinched his nipples between her fingers, twisting them… hard. Angel’s eyes changed immediately as he arched underneath her body, changing from their deep chocolatey brown to gold. Lust surged through her body and she knew she was changing, too.

"Willow?" he hissed, questioning her actions.

"Shh…" she fell forward on his chest, her wet mouth surrounding his sore bud.
She felt her canines growing longer and bit harshly into his chest. His blood filled her mouth and Willow grew lightheaded at the pleasure rushing through her body. Angel’s hips were bucking beneath her like an unbroken mustang, tossing her on top of his body. Willow clamped her legs tightly around onto his body, holding him firmly between her thighs.

Angel twisted his fingers in her hair, forcing her face away from his chest. He pulled her face to his, forcing her mouth open with his tongue. He tasted his own blood in her mouth, and wanted more. Suckling her bottom lip into his mouth, he quickly pierced the inside of her cheek with his own fang, his face having changed completely when Willow bit him.

Her blood trickled into his mouth, exciting him beyond anything he’d ever felt. He quickly rolled them over, shifting the control back to himself.

He lifted himself up on his arms, hovering over her. She wrapped her legs around his back, trying to urge him to thrust inside of her. He grinned at her in the darkness, slowly shaking his head, refusing her.

"Angel, please," she growled.

Moving so slowly that she barely realized he was doing it, he sheathed himself in her wetness. Once his body was fully joined with hers, he rocked himself against her, giving her sex the contact that she desired.

Willow’s entire body trembled, shaking with passion. She grabbed hold of his forearms, digging her nails into his skin as she prepared for her orgasm. Just as she was ready to release, Angel pulled back and slammed into her body, nearly crushing her pelvis.

"Damn you," she groaned, trying to push him off of her.

She knew this was exactly the reaction he was looking for, wanting her to fight him. Angel wasn’t trying to make her come, he was trying to see which of them could come first.

Willow was learning to use her body, learning to use her new strength, and she was finally able to push hard enough on one of his arms that he lost his balance, and fell to the side. Willow easily pushed him off the bed, where he landed in a tangle of sheets on his butt.

Willow giggled, peering over the side of the bed. Angel calmed down just enough to realize how funny they both must look, naked, covered in bite marks and blood, and wearing their games faces.

Laughter overtook him, and Willow quickly joined him. Before she realized what was happening, Angel had grabbed her and pulled her onto the floor with him. He smothered her body with his own, covering her with kisses and soft nibbles, leaving a trail of tiny puncture wounds across her shoulders and neck.

Feeling his small bites, Willow’s arousal overtook her once more and, catching her off-guard, Angel smoothly spun her body around so she was lying on her stomach. He pinned her arms out to the side and more kisses and bites followed as he traced the path down her spine. Willow thrust her mound against the floor, desperately fighting for her release.

Angel nudged her legs apart and knelt between them, lifting her hips off the ground with his strong hands. He pulled her backwards, impaling her on his hard cock from behind. She was completely in his control now, and the game was over. He slid his arms around her waist, holding her tightly against his body as he thrust into her now red-hot sex. Willow could do nothing but hold onto his forearms, trying desperately to maintain a small grip on her sanity.

She lost that battle, too, as Angel abruptly slipped one of his hands between her legs, pinching and twisting her swollen clit.

She came with a shriek, a rainbow of colors washing before her tightly shut eyes. Angel leaned forward just as her orgasm ended, sinking his fangs into her back. Willow nearly fainted as another orgasm quickly tore through her body, not as intense as the first, but powerful all the same. With one more hard thrust, Angel came, too, draining himself inside of her.

After a few minutes, they both shifted back to their human faces, the bites and bruises already beginning to heal.

< Are you ok, Will? >

< Yeah… >

< Are you sure? Because that was… intense.>

"I didn’t hurt you, did I, Willow?"

"No more than I wanted you to," she mumbled.

"You’re sure?"

"Angel," she twisted beneath him, flipping onto her back, "I’m not a doll… you’re not going to break me. And if you do, I’ll heal."

"I can’t believe how easily you’re accepting this. Even I’m having problems with it."

Their passion exhausted for the time being, they easily slipped into being cozy and sweet with each other. Angel stood and carefully picked her up, placing her back onto the bed. Crawling in beside her, he cradled her in his arms, kissing and cooing quiet little words of love in her ear.

"Are you sure you can handle all of this, Will?" he asked, "I didn’t mean to get so carried away."

"It’s what we are, Angel, and, in case you missed it, I was just as aroused as you were. It might not be pretty, but it’s how we make love."

"I love you."

"I know."

"I’m never going to quit telling you that, and showing you that…"

"Mmmm…" she stretched, "There’s just one thing…"

"What?"

"White sheets are probably a bad idea…" she giggled, snaking her arms around his neck.

She pulled him closer for a tight hug, and felt him return it with a laugh.

"Can we go riding now?" she asked.

"You have the energy for that?"

"Uh huh… or I will as soon as I take a shower and have some breakfast."

"My blood wasn’t enough for you?"

"I’m pretty sure we burned most of that away…"

"Can I shower with you?"

"No way," she said, casually licking and kissing his neck.

"And why not…?"

"We’d never make it out of the house…"

Angel reached down and smacked her on the butt. Willow yelped and jumped out of the bed, heading for the bathroom.

< Is there any end to your surprises? > he asked.

< Nope. >

Part Twenty
Months had passed since Angel and Willow had arrived in Wales, and Angel could tell that Willow was growing restless never leaving the grounds of the estate.
For the first weeks, their nights were spent riding around the estate, walking the gardens, swimming and getting to know each other intimately. Willow had accepted her role as eternal virgin, albeit with some frustration and trepidation.

Angel grew to love her more and more each day. She was growing up and changing before him. Although physically the changes had ceased, she became more beautiful everyday in his eyes. So much had happened to her, from losing her life, moving to Wales, to falling in love with him. She had accepted these changes gracefully, maturing into her roles as both vampire and lover.

When she walked, she no longer bounced along like the carefree schoolgirl she had once been… now she carried herself with poise and elegance, floating along with an airy confidence that she had never known before.

Her emerald green eyes that had always shone with love and acceptance for Angel also glowed with resilience now. She almost single-handedly took over the estate, insisting on meeting with gardeners and stable hands just after dusk each night to ensure that her home and those that lived with her were taken care of according to her specifications.
Angel sat by and watched, bemused and delighted. Often, his eyes would capture hers for a moment from across the stable or the gardens, and for the briefest of moments, he would see the old Willow smiling back at him, almost as if to say, "Hey, look at me now!"

Although he knew that she would never admit it, she was proud of herself. Through the course of their many, many conversations, Willow would sometimes make a slip, releasing a piece of information about her past that she wouldn’t have wanted him to know. Angel respected the fact that she would come to him when she was really ready, and he never brought it up, but it was becoming apparent to him that she hadn’t been happy in Sunnydale.

It was true; he had never paid much attention to her back in those early days. She was Buffy’s friend, quiet and shy. Willow rarely spoke unless spoken to, and never initiated conversation with Angel. Somewhere during the course of her senior year, right before her change, Angel thought perhaps he had started paying a bit more attention. He remembered things about her that he hadn’t seemed to notice before. Perhaps it had been because she was the strong one, the one that had given him the gift of his soul back. Perhaps it had been the glimpse of himself he had seen in her when she and Anya had inadvertently brought vampire Willow into their world.

The vampire Willow hadn’t liked their Sunnydale, and made no secret of her distaste by proclaiming that their world was no fun. It had shocked Angel to his core when he heard Willow whisper back in a voice so low that only the vampires could her, "You noticed that, too?" Had her voice really been that low, or had the others simply have chosen not to hear it?

Regardless, it was small clues like that which showed Angel how much she really had changed, but not so much that she wasn’t still the same person that he had fallen in love with.

One dark, clear cool night, they went for a swim. Angel floated on his back, staring up at the stars, his pale, wet chest glistening in the moonlight. Willow swam around him making lazy circles in the water. Her black bathing suit, in contrast with her alabaster skin combined with her radiant red hair proved to be an intoxicating combination to Angel. He knew that if he caught sight of her green eyes their swim would be over, so he continued floating on his back, refusing to acknowledge Willow’s small circles growing smaller as she closed in on him.

"Angel…" she whispered.

"Hmmm?" he refused to look at her.

"How long do you think you can ignore me?" she teased.

"I’m not ignoring you. I’m perfectly aware that you’re going to pounce on me any moment."

"Pounce, Angel? Not very trusting, are you?"

"I trust you implicitly. I also know that you’re insatiable," he mused, making tiny waves with his fingers.

"You love every minute of it…" she continued circling.

"You know what I want to do, Will…?"

"What’s that?"

"Make love to you…"

"Don’t you already do that?"

"I don’t mean that way."

"What way do you mean?" Willow was curious now and stopped circling. She stood on tiptoe, her head just barely out of the water.

"Let me show you…" Angel flipped over, and swam over to Willow.

He scooped his arms around her waist, and began spinning them around in the water.
Willow could feel his erection pressing against her belly, and pushed herself away.

"No, Willow… no games," he admonished.

"But…" she was cut short as Angel pressed back into her.

His fingers hooked underneath the straps of her bathing suit, and slowly eased them down her arms, baring her breasts to him. Dipping his head, he took one swollen bud in his mouth, swirling his tongue around her areola. A surge of white-heat shot through her body and, with a gasp, she grabbed his head urging him to continue with his sweet torment.

His mouth never leaving her body, he slowly removed her suit. Willow easily freed him from his trunks, and they tossed their suits to the edge of the pool.
Wrapping her legs around his hips, she felt his hard cock pressing against her entrance.

"Ready?" he always asked before he entered her, making certain she was prepared for the pain.

"Uh huh," she nodded, bucking her hips against his.

With a quick thrust, Angel buried himself inside her, tearing her open yet again. Willow held herself against his wet body, her arms wrapped tightly around his shoulders. When she felt the pain ripping through her, she pounded her fists angrily against his back.

Angel stilled, surprised by her angry outburst.

"Willow?"

"I’m sorry, Angel… I just get so damn tired of going through that every time I want you inside me."

"I hate it, Willow. I hate that I have to do that to you."

"It’s all right. It’s not your fault, and once you’re inside of me, like now, it’s well-worth the initial discomfort," she sighed.

Angel thrust against her slowly. He backed them against the edge of the pool for leverage, using his arms to protect her back from being scraped against the rough ledge. Willow ground herself up against him, urging him to go faster.

"Willow? Stop…"

"What? Why…?"

"I told you that I want to make love to you. Don’t rush this… let it happen naturally…" he continued his small, slow thrusts, "Just let me enjoy being inside of you…"

Willow understood him. He didn’t want the bloodshed, and the clawing this time. He just wanted to be close to her, as close as he could possibly be, and what Angel wanted, Willow wanted.

 She melted into his arms and relaxed, caressing his back and shoulders with her hands. Angel delivered devastatingly slow, wet kisses to her, his tongue slowly pressing against hers, languidly enjoying the taste and passion of his lover.

Willow sank into oblivion with him, forgetting for the first time that she was a vampire. The way Angel loved her, the way he was satisfying her now, made her feel human again. For the first time, she really understood the depths of his love for her. Their sex was terrific. Willow had no complaints about their frenzied, hard sex, other than the pesky fact that she would always be a virgin, but this that they were doing now, they way Angel was holding her, was different. This was Angel telling Willow that he loved her without words, using his body to show her what words couldn’t adequately say.
Angel thrust into her especially hard, "Where did you drift off to, Will?"

"I was just thinking about us… and how much I love you," she planted small butterfly kisses along his collarbone, up his neck, and chin until she finally reached his mouth.
Angel was willing to make love to her all night long. The simple, complex feeling of being sheathed inside her unexplainable warmth was enough to sustain him until they would need to move away from the morning sun. His movements were slight, barely pulling out of her before slowly pushing back inside. Willow enjoyed his lazy rhythm, rocking along with him, scarcely grazing her clit against his pubic bone with each small thrust.

Angel knew he would last longer at this pace than Willow. While they continued to coo and whisper tender words of love to each other, Angel could sense her tensing ever so slightly in his arms.

"Want to come?" he murmured against her shoulder.

"No," she gasped slightly, "Not until you…"

"You know perfectly well that you can have ten to every one of mine… Let me make you come."

Willow nodded her consent as Angel slipped one of his hands between their bodies, finding her clitoris. He circled it lazily with his thumb, wishing to coax her into orgasm, not force her. He added a little more pressure with each cycle. Willow tightened her legs around his body, trapping his hand between them. He traced the shell of her ear with his tongue, knowing that one of her most sensitive spots was hidden just behind her earlobe.

He began laving the delicate spot with his tongue, alternately nibbling and licking, keeping time with his thumb, increasing the pressure on her clit. He felt her abdomen tense against his own stomach, and pinched her nub between his thumb and forefinger. She bucked against him, her slow climax washing through her body. Her lips sought his, barely touching, as she moaned against his mouth, her eyes never leaving his.

"Feel better now?" he spoke against her lips.

"Always… you always make me feel better…"

"Can I have my hand back now?" he teased.

She unclenched her legs, and Angel’s arm encircled her waist again, pulling her tightly against him. He resumed his small thrusts as Willow drowsily sank against his body.

"Going to fall asleep, Will?"

"No," she sighed, "I’m just disgustingly content right now. My life couldn’t be more perfect at this moment."

A glorious silence settled over them as they lost themselves in their lovemaking. Between the gently lapping of the water as it splashed against the sides of the pool, and the sounds of the horses neighing in the distance, the night was flawless.

When Willow finally spoke to Angel again, nearly an hour later, he quickly hushed her in silence.

< No talking, Will… Not out loud anyway… >

< This is so good, Angel… you make me feel so good… I wish there was a way … Oooh… a little to the left, please… a way to let you know what you mean to me… >

< You have nothing to prove to me, Will… I know you love me. >

< It’s more than that, Angel… I never thought that I could have a man like you… I don’t deserve a man like you… >

< I don’t deserve you… and we’re doing it again… >

< We’ve been doing it for close to two hours… and I need to stretch… Can you trade places with me? >

Angel spun them around so that his back was against the ledge and released his grip on her. Willow leaned back into the water, stretching her arms out to the side. Her hair fanned out around her head. Her legs still wrapped tightly around his hips, holding him inside of her. Angel reached out and ran his palms across her glistening breasts. Willow covered his hands with her own, guiding him to pinch her hardened nipples between his fingers.

Her back arched in the water, and Angel knew she needed another release. One hand continued to softly torment her breasts while the other found its way to her clitoris again.

< Not without you again > she informed him, clenching her legs around him tighter.
Involuntarily, Angel thrust hard against her.

"Willow…" he choked out, grabbing her hips.

Knowing Willow was going to hold back until he came with her drove him over the edge and he began thrusting harder against her body. Willow keened, a sharp spasm ripping through her belly as her climax began.

Angel needed leverage, and spun them in the water again. Willow reached behind her and held herself away from the ledge, allowing Angel to pump furiously into her body. He felt her inner walls tightening around his cock as she came, and he released his seed deep inside her, shouting her name as he came.

Willow threw herself back against his body and into his arms, still holding him inside of her.

"I’m seeing stars," she whispered against his ear.

"It’s a clear night… of course you see stars," he chuckled.

"That’s not the kind of stars I’m talking about. I don’t know anything about sex with anyone other than you, but I’m pretty sure you’d rate a ten on anyone’s scale."

He kissed her deeply, and gently started to pull away from her, despite her moans of protest.

"Will, we’re both turning into prunes… it’s time to get out of the water…"

"Don’t want to let go of you…"

"Then don’t," he easily carried her to the other side of the pool, up the steps and crossed to the garden furniture, finally breaking their contact as he laid her on a chaise.
Tossing her a towel, he sat in the chair next to her, drying his spiky hair with his own towel. He reached out and grabbed her hand, rubbing small circles on her palm.

"Angel, what did you mean when you said that we were doing it again? You almost sounded angry."

"I meant that we’re both so hard on ourselves… I think I don’t deserve you, you think you don’t deserve me. We spend half our time wallowing in our own self-hatred trying to force ourselves not to be happy."

Willow didn’t know what to say for a moment. He was right, of course.

"We’re happy, Angel. Is that such a bad thing?"

"Of course it’s not a bad thing, Will… I’m just not used to it, and a big part of me still thinks I don’t deserve it."

"Angelus did what came natural to him, like a wild animal following his instincts."

"I didn’t hunt just to feed and you know that."

"The urge to… hurt… was natural to him… you. An instinct is an instinct. You couldn’t fight it. I mean, Angelus couldn’t fight it," she quickly corrected herself.

"The line is blurring, isn’t it, Will?"

"I know the difference. I know who I’m with, and who I love. And who deserves to be happy."

"I love you. That’s all I’m sure of."

"And you’re happy. Admit it."

"I’m happy," he sighed, "I confess. You want to travel?"

"What?"

"Travel… you and me. Around Europe. Want to?"

"Can we?"

"Sure… the train system around Europe is incredible. We can easily travel at night."

"That’ll be expensive…"

Angel couldn’t help but chuckle, arching an eyebrow at her. Willow was perfectly well aware of how much money they had.

"Don’t laugh at me… I can’t help it if I’m not used to this kind of lifestyle," she pouted.

"Could have fooled me, the way you’ve been running the estate."

Willow shot up from the chair, "Oh, Angel, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to take over…"

"Shh…" he hushed her, "I love it. This place is yours as much as it is mine. It keeps you occupied and makes you happy. And you’ve done a wonderful job."

She pulled her towel around her, and sat in Angel’s lap, curling up like a tired little kitten. Angel wrapped his arms around her protectively, lovingly.

"How long until sunrise?" she asked.

"About an hour," he answered, glancing at the clock hanging on the fence surrounding the pool.

"We should head back to the house."

"Want me to carry you?"

"I can walk… just a bit bow-legged."

Angel threw his head back and laughed, a sound that Willow loved and a sound that she heard far too rarely.

He gently lifted them out of the chair and sat Willow back on her feet. She dropped her towel and grabbed her short, white terry cloth robe, pulling it on and tying it loosely in the front. Angel grabbed his trunks and slipped them back on, grabbing their towels and her suit and slung them over his shoulder.

He took her small hand in his and pulled her towards the house. Willow rested her head against his shoulder and he wrapped his strong arm around her shoulder as they strolled through the gardens back to the main house.

The End… for now…

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