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etana.gif (2825 bytes)etana.gif (2825 bytes)Love Gives etana.gif (2825 bytes)etana.gif (2825 bytes)

By Lorelei

Disclaimer: All characters pertaining to the show Buffy the Vampire slayer are owned by Joss Whedon, the WB, Mutant Enemy, Fox et. all.  No copyright infringement is intended.  No profit is being made. Sequel to "High Above Me"

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  The package had surprised her and the item inside had shocked her even
more.  Willow had checked the address and name again, thinking that
such a lovely ring couldn't possibly be for her, but it was.

Holding it in her hand, she studied it and in doing so discovered the
infinity symbol engraved on the inside.  She looked for a return
address, but only found a Los Angeles cancellation stamp.  Her mind
immediately was filled with one person. Angel.

Willow had rolled it around in her brain for a long time, never
mentioning the ring, never wearing it.  Buffy would be hurt, Xander
disgusted, and Oz…well, Oz had turned out to be full of surprises, but
she didn't think he'd be thrilled either.

Why exactly did Angel send the ring? That was the foremost question in
her mind.  Willow would seesaw back and forth.  Was it a thank you
present for returning his soul? Or was it a friendship ring?  If so,
why didn't he acknowledge it with a note?

The one thought that always managed to leap to the forefront, unbidden,
was that Angel had feelings for her beyond friendship.  That idea left
her with mixed emotions: excitement, curiosity, a bit of nausea, and
not a small amount of longing. Angel was beautiful, to be sure, but his
darker side also intrigued Willow.  She felt a strange kinship.  Most
people took Angel at face value, never bothering to see what was
beneath his good looks and sharp clothes.  Willow had been judged in a
similar manner all of her life.

Finally, an opportunity came up for her to attend a lecture series at
UCLA and Willow took it. She’d loved Angel as a friend, just a friend,
she’d believed.  But the more she thought about it, the more she began
to realize that there was more to her feelings than friendship. There
was only one way to find out. Willow called Angel, her head spinning
and her hands shaking, practically inviting herself over.  She needed
to know though and she wanted…well, she didn't know what she wanted,
exactly, but she wanted a lot.

Now, here they were sitting in awkward silence on his sofa, brief
snippets of small talk sparsely spoken between long lulls.  After they
established that Buffy, Xander, Oz and Giles were fine and that his
'business' with Cordelia and Doyle was going well, they were lost for

Finally, Willow blurted out, "Why did you give me the ring?  I mean…you
did send it, right?  Because if you didn't, well, you don't know what
in the heck I'm talking about and I should go before I make a jackass
of myself…but…it was you, wasn't it?"

Angel answered quietly; "I sent it. I wanted you to have it."

"Thank you. But, why?  It's too expensive for a friend and we're just

Angel moved closer to her on the couch, taking her hand in his.

"Yes, we're just friends.  That's the way it is.  And I'll probably
hate myself for burdening you with this, but self-loathing is nothing
new for me."  He paused.  "You know I love Buffy."

Willow nodded, slightly distracted by his cool fingers rubbing the
pulse point in her wrist.

"Well, you…your beauty and intelligence, your kindness…I…you haunt me,
Willow.  You have for a long time.  I don't know when it started, but
it's not stopping.  Those things I said when I was dying? They were
meant for you, not Buffy.  I know I shouldn't tell you this.  I don't
want to hurt or confuse you, but I've just seemed to have figured out
that owning up to my mistakes and my feelings…” he paused. “Well,
confession is good for my soul.

Willow sat in stunned silence.  What he'd said was what she'd secretly
been hoping to hear. It was a revelation to her, she had hardly even
admitted to herself that this was what she'd come here for.

Angel waited.  He had all the time in the world to wait for her to say
something…anything.  As he'd revealed his feelings, he'd watched her
face flush and felt her heartbeat quicken.  All he knew was that he'd
either excited or upset her.

Willow finally found her voice.  "I think I knew it, deep down…and I
wanted that to be your answer.  I know it's wrong.  Buffy's my best
friend and Oz and I are still seeing each other.  I never expected to
feel this way, but I can't stop it…or stop wanting you."

She clutched her free hand to her abdomen, as if she were in pain. "I
want this."

**Just when I thought it was safe
You found me in my hiding place
I'd promised never again
I wouldn't give my heart, but then
Closer, closer I moved near you
The way I want you makes me fear you

Love breaks and love divides
Love laughs and love can make you cry
I can't believe the ways that love can give
And love can take away**

Angel cupped her face in his hand, "I can't say I'm not glad that you
care for me, that you want me.  Maybe I was wrong to ever tell you, but
I'm happy I did.  Willow…I know that this has to end right here.  I
can't be your lover in the literal sense that I think we both want.  I
can't be there for you, to give you what you'll need."

Willow spoke softly, looking down and refusing to meet his eyes, "See,
I think you can."


She continued her voice filled with misery. "Please don't be angry.  I
didn't tell either of you.  I couldn't.  I wasn't absolutely positive,
only about ninety-nine percent sure.  I couldn't put Buffy or you
through that torture.  I changed the wording when I did the curse. I
made your soul permanent."

Angel's mouth went dry as she spoke. She couldn't have, could she?
"You're sure?  Well, sure enough?"

Willow nodded. "Yes.  And if you want to throw me out and drive
straight to Sunnydale and Buffy, I'll understand."

Angel stood, his hands clenching and unclenching.  He paced for a few
moments as Willow watched him with growing apprehension.  Finally, he
turned to her and spoke. “Wait.”

The door closed with a bang.  Willow sat motionless on the couch, her
stomach in knots.  It had actually gone better than she’d expected. He
hadn’t immediately kicked her out after all.  Now she just needed to
wait for him to return, so she could apologize again and turn tail back
to Sunnydale as quickly as possible to give Buffy the news.

In the hallway, Angel continued his frenzied walking, his mind racing.
How could she have kept it from them?  She had no right!  None
whatsoever.  What had she been thinking of?  His step slowed down, but
his thoughts were in over drive.  He wanted to scream, to break
something, to grab Willow by the shoulders and shake her so hard her
teeth knocked together, leaving her breathless. Then he’d pull her to
him and kiss her hard enough to make her head spin and carry her into
his bedroom and make love to her until neither of them had the strength
to move. //Well, that came out of nowhere. //

Angel leaned against the wall, his head in his hands, and sank into a
sitting position.  He sat for over an hour mulling things over.  Curse
or no curse, he and Buffy didn’t belong together.  His leaving had been
inevitable.  Theirs may have been a love for the ages, but it wasn’t
one that could withstand their differences.  A slayer and a vampire
would never have had a happily ever after. Even if they had been able
to have sex, he’d still be exactly where he was at this very moment.
His eyes filled with sudden tears over the realization, while at the
same moment his heart leapt at the thought that Willow was waiting for
him.  Beautiful, sweet Willow, who cared enough to tell him the truth,
knowing that it might mean the end of something before it even began.
He rose and went back to her.

Willow was curled onto the couch, her chin up to her knees, her face
showing the evidence of her tears. She looked up at him with eyes so
full of sorrow it almost hurt too much to look at her.

“I’m s…sorry.  I’m so sorry. I’ll go know. I know that’s what you
want.” Her words ended and she hiccuped slightly, tears catching in her

"No. I don't.  Do you want to?  I know you and Oz…”

Willow visibly relaxed at his words and she interrupted, "Oz and I have
an 'open' relationship now.  His idea, not mine.  Oz has kind of
a…colorful…sexual past.  I'm not sure if it's for my benefit or his,
but we're allowed to date other people.  I don't know what I want,
beyond finding out how I feel about you.  I'm a little overwhelmed.
One minute, I'm Miss UC Sunnydale with out a care in the world, and the
next I'm on my way to becoming a vampire's mistress." Willow blushed,
surprised at her words. "I…I just want to be sure. I don't want anyone



"We're discussing the future of a relationship and we haven't even
kissed.  Could I?"


Angel moved towards her, gently pulling her forward, his hand on the
back of her neck.  The first brush of their lips together sent shivers
through her and made Angel's stomach muscles involuntarily tighten.
The kiss became more intense, Angel's tongue sliding into her mouth and
stroking hers.  There was sweetness, desire, sadness and promise of the
future in the kiss.  Both of them knew that it was more than just a
kiss. It was the closing of some doors and the opening of new ones…the
end and the beginning.  A tear slid from beneath Willow's lashes and
spilled down her cheek.

**I find it hard to explain
It's crazy, but it's happening
And I'm falling again
Much farther than I've ever been
I'm falling deeper than the ocean
I am lost in this emotion

Love breaks and love divides
Love laughs and love can make you cry
I can't believe the ways that love can give
And love can take away…***

They pulled apart and looked at each other, Angel brushing the tear
from her face.

"What now, Willow?"

She hesitated. "Uhm…I don't want to rush…I mean…I'm not going to do the
lecture series.  I'm going to tell them all I am, but I'm not.  I can
be here every weekend for the next month. We can feel each other out…”
Willow blushed at her choice of words, “Get to know each other
better…if you want…I mean, I know you're a guy, a vampire guy anyway,
and you haven't, you know, in a long time…but I want to take it slow
for awhile. Is that okay?"

Angel caressed her cheek. "I need to kiss you again. Or do you want to
take it slower than that?"

Willow shook her head and inched closer to him.  He turned her and
lifter her on to his lap.

"Good.  We'll go as slow as you need, though."  He buried his face in
the nape of her neck, losing himself in her scent, running his hands
down her back. Willow shifted in his lap, enjoying the sensation of his
hardness pressing against her. She let out a pained groan as he held
her near.

"Slow…I said slow.  Just keep reminding me…and don't hold me to it if I
suddenly change my mind."





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