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By Ruby D


Rating: PG-16

Disclaimer: Joss owns all.

Summary: Willow discovers she's being watched.

Archive: My usual haunts.

Feedback: Yes, please!

Dedication: For Alicia, who requested a W/A fic and has been patiently waiting since somewhere close to forever. I hope a W/A/S fic is close enough, and that this one doesn't disappoint!:-)

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Part One

"I am. I promise!" Willow spoke into the telephone receiver as Buffy quietly invited herself into the redhead's dorm room.

Willow whirled around, her eyes wide in surprise, and breathed, "I've got to go. Bye!"

"Geez, Will. You didn't have to hang up on account of me. I suppose that was another guy chasing after you," Buffy grinned.

"Uh, no!" Willow answered and felt her cheeks warm with a blush. "Just a--a--friend."

"Okay, if you say so. I have to tell you, though, I don't know how you keep them all straight. College sure has done amazing things for your social life. No wonder Oz decided you both needed some space."

"That isn't why! It's different now that we're on our own, more or less. He just thought--"

"Willow, take it easy. I'm joking! I think it's great that you have a dozen guys pounding on your door," Buffy laughed.

"It isn't great. It's weird," Willow mumbled.

"Yeah, right, and you're hating every second of it," her friend teased.

"Okay, it's pretty cool," Willow admitted with a grin. "So, did you just drop by to give me a hard time?"

"No. Actually, I wanted to weasel out of our movie-fest tonight. Riley wants me to go with him to buy a new CD player, and you know how I hate to give up a chance to go shopping."

"And the fact that it's shopping with Riley has nothing to do with it," the redhead smiled.

"Of course not!" Buffy giggled. "He's pretty great, isn't he?"

"Anyone who makes you this happy it pretty great," Willow agreed.

"He does make me happy. I wasn't sure I ever would be again, but--" the slayer shrugged.

"I'm glad for you," Willow said sincerely. "You deserve a chance to get on with your life."

"And to have a normal relationship," Buffy added. "It is kind of nice. So, who was that? A hot date?"

"No! I told you; it was just a friend."

"Okay, be all mysterious, then. I've got to get going. I'm meeting Riley in less than an hour."

"See you later," Willow said as Buffy stepped out of the room and pulled the door closed.

Willow sighed and sank down onto her desk chair. The conversation she'd been having with Angel before Buffy broke in replayed itself in her mind. How--or why, for that matter--he had kept such close tabs on what she was doing was beyond her understanding. When he had first started phoning her at the beginning of the semester, Willow had thought it was just a round-about way to keep track of Buffy. But over the course of the last couple of months, the weekly calls had turned to daily calls. Angel rarely even mentioned Buffy's name, and Willow, fearful of opening fresh wounds, never told Buffy that he was phoning her.

Angel did, however, question the redhead relentlessly about the guys Willow was seeing, and these interrogations had gotten worse after she'd let slip that she and Oz were no longer dating. The vampire had been particularly persistent about a couple of her dates, and had even referred to them by name. Willow had found this strangely disturbing, especially when he refused to explain how he knew who the men were.

This afternoon's phone call had really alarmed her. Angel had hounded her for twenty minutes about Aaron, the guy who had been pestering her to go out with him for the past three weeks. Angel had threatened to come back from L.A. if the guy refused to leave her alone, and Willow had had to hang up on him before she had gotten a promise from him that he would stay where he was. She spent the rest of the afternoon trying to call him back, only to be told by Cordelia or Doyle--whichever happened to pick up--that Angel was unavailable. *** Willow grabbed a bag of pretzels and a diet soda from the vending machines in the cafeteria lobby and went outside to sit down on a bench.

"That's your idea of dinner?" a male voice asked as a young man approached from the sidewalk.

"Hi, Aaron," she smiled, sliding over so he could sit. "I'm not very hungry tonight, and it's too stuffy indoors."

"It isn't much better out here."

"Not much," she agreed.

"So, how about taking a walk with me?" he suggested. "I'll buy you an ice cream, and we can walk through the park."

"Thanks, but it's getting dark, and I really want to study for--"

"You study too much. You know you're going to ace all your finals. Anyway, there's only two weeks left until break, and you still haven't agreed to go out with me," he persisted. "Why is that?"

"I invited you to eat with Buffy and me--any time," she reminded him.

"I don't want to see you in a crowded cafeteria with your friend. I want you to myself," he argued.

"Why is _that_?" she asked him.

"Why not? It isn't so strange for a guy to want to spend some time with a pretty girl."

"There are lots of pretty girls on this campus," she pointed out, crumpling the empty pretzel bag and tossing it and the can of soda into the trash bin beside the bench.

"They aren't you," he stated. "Come on. Let's go for a walk."

"I really can't," she refused.

"A short one--around campus," he insisted.

Willow pulled away as Aaron reached out and curled his fingers around her arm.

"The lady said no," a man spoke from behind him.

The young man stood and turned to look up at the dark face of a tall, obviously angry, man.

"Angel!" Willow squealed, rising to her feet.

"You--you know this guy?" Aaron asked, backing away from the vampire.

"Yes. What are you doing here?"

"Teaching this idiot the meaning of the word no, apparently," Angel answered and glared down at Aaron. "Have you got it, yet?"

"Yeah," Aaron's voice shook. "I've got it."

Willow's gaze followed him as he made a hasty retreat down the sidewalk.

"Do you make a habit of sitting alone, in the dark, on campus?" Angel questioned her, his irritation evident in his tone of voice.

She turned to face him, "What if I do? How is that your business?"

"Willow, you know how damned dangerous that is! I think this new-found popularity of yours has warped your good sense."

"I wasn't in any danger!" she told him.

"And you know this because--"

"Because--I just do!" she answered lamely. "What are you doing here, anyway? You're supposed to be in L.A."

"I left right after you hung up on me. There's a lot to be said for tinted windows," he answered.

"Well, you shouldn't have!" she glared up at him. "Look, Angel, I appreciate your concern, even if I don't understand where it's coming from. I can take care of myself. I'm a big girl."

Angel pulled himself up to his full height and looked pointedly down at her, "Not really."

"Very funny! You know what I mean!"

"Who is this Aaron character, anyway? Do you even know?" he resumed his former angry questioning.

"He's just some hormone-ridden guy who's been trying to get me to go out with him--which I have NOT! How do you know his name, anyway? Or Paul's name, or Stephen's? You're way off in the big city, so who's spying on me and reporting back to you?"

"That would be me, pet," Spike answered as he melted out of the shadows of the trees across the street.


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