Author: Dark Star
DISCLAIMER: All characters, etc, belong to Joss Whedon
TIMELINE: Angel’s Season 1
Characters: Angel, Willow, friendship
Angel prowled through the dark streets of LA on one of his nocturnal visits for vampires. As he passed a large museum, he heard scuffling from a nearby alley. He headed into it, detecting two beings; human and vampire. Some one was in trouble.
He saw a girl pressed tightly against the wall, grappling with a male vampire intent on feeding from her. Angel grabbed her assailant and hurled him unceremoniously across the alley. Following rapidly behind, there was a brief struggle until his stake found it’s target and the vampire became a pile of dust.
“Go home,” Angel told the girl, facing away from her. He didn’t want to frighten her with his vampire face.
Startled, he spun round and was surprised to see the diminutive form of Willow Rosenberg.
Angel walked Willow back to his car, she was shaking and her blouse was torn. It looked like she had put up quite a struggle.
“What are you doing in LA?” he asked, as he drove her back to his place.
“I came to LA with Giles,” she told him. “There was a exhibition at the museum we wanted to see.”
“Yeah,” she replied with enthusiasm. “Witchcraft through the ages. It was really good. Giles stayed for a while but he had a meeting to go to. I wanted to see more of the displays, so I told him I’d meet him back at the hotel.”
“What went wrong?”
“I came out to hail a cab, but our friend back there found me first.” Her voice faltered. “If you hadn’t come along…”
“Glad to help,” he assured her. He cast a sideways glance at her and was disturbed by what he saw. She was pale, edgy and close to tears. He knew she’d had a fright, but she had also fought vampires and danger before, and not looked so lost.
“You okay, Willow?”
She glanced back at him. “Sure, just fine.”
They drove the rest of the distance to Angel’s apartment in silence.
“I like your place,” Willow said politely when they arrived.
“Thanks,” Angel replied, taking her jacket. He realised she was clutching the remnants of her tattered shirt.
“Can I lend you a shirt, or something?” he asked, doing his best to look elsewhere.
“Please. I feel kind of exposed here.”
Angel showed her to his bedroom and found her a shirt that might not swamp her too much.
“I’ll phone Giles,” he told her as he left the room.
Giles hadn’t returned to the hotel when Angel called, but he left a message at reception for him. Willow hadn’t put in an appearance and Angel decided she needed a little time to herself.
After a while he grew concerned and went toward the bedroom. He could hear soft sobs from inside.
“Willow?” he called, “Are you all right?”
After a brief pause, Willow called back “I…I’m fine. I’ll be out soon.”
Angel went back to his living room but kept on alert in case Willow needed something. He heard her gentle sobs gradually growing louder and he restlessly paced his apartment, trying to decide what to do. He only knew that when he was hurting, his instinct was to be alone; to seek out somewhere dark, private. He realised then, that would be the worst scenario for Willow. For some one as friendly as she, some one who craved company the way she did – to be alone with your pain would be hell.
He returned to the bedroom, he knew now what course of action to take. He felt better to be doing something, anything, than be forced to listen to her distress.
“Willow?” There was no response so he slipped quietly into the room. She sat on the edge of his bed, swamped in his shirt; She looked dejected, her head bowed and fingers clasped tightly in her lap. He went quickly to her and crouched down in front of her. “Willow?” he repeated softly. She didn’t move, didn’t even acknowledge his presence and he hesitated before putting a comforting hand on her shoulder.
She looked up then, her eyes red and swollen from all the tears she had shed. With a small moan she buried her face in Angel’s shoulder as great sobs overtook her and she clung fiercely to him.
Angel slid his arms round her, uttering soothing words and trying to calm her. But he wasn’t unmoved by her distress. The raw pain she unashamedly showed him affected him deeply and he struggled to control his own emotions.
Willow eventually pulled away from him and tried to smile.
“I must look awful.”
“You look fine,” he assured her.
“I suppose that’s one advantage of not having any mirrors,” she muttered under her breath, producing a hanky from her skirt pocket.
Angel moved away from her, he could sense that she was trying to distance herself from him. Perhaps she was embarrassed at being comforted by her best friend’s ex-boyfriend.
“Can I get you something, Willow? Coffee?”
“Thanks. Do you have any tea?”
“Sure.” He left her alone in the bedroom and went into the kitchen to make the drinks. He liked Willow; when he first arrived in Sunnydale and joined Buffy, Willow was the only one of her friends who accepted him for what he was. She trusted him simply because Buffy said he was OK
Willow arrived in the kitchen just as he put the mugs on the table. She was looking calmer, and a little sheepish. She accepted the tea, but just sat looking at it, lost in thought.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Angel asked, gently.
She shrugged, the single gesture so unlike the chatty Willow that it concerned him. He wondered briefly if he should ask Cordelia to come and talk to her, but decided against it.
“Is it Oz?” he tried again.
Willow looked up at him slowly, her eyes wet. “Does it get any better, Angel?”
“You learn to live with it,” he replied, as gently as he could. “But I can’t lie, Willow. It isn’t easy. There’s no magic cure and we all have to find our own way to deal.”
Willow’s eyes glistened with unshed tears and Angel felt a twinge of irony. He was trying to advise her on a painful break-up when his own recent experience was still new enough to be unbearable.
“I don’t understand why he had to leave. He said he loved me.” Willow paused, then added, “I don’t want him to be alone.”
“Being alone isn’t necessarily the worst thing, Willow. Trust me on this one.”
Willow nodded, reluctantly. She looked at Angel and wondered what he was really thinking. She knew how much he loved Buffy, how much he must be missing her. But there was no sign of it on his face, except perhaps he looked sadder than usual. It also disturbed her that he understood Oz’s need to protect her, understood in a way that she never would. What must it be like to lose yourself in what you are? To have no control over your actions? To not care who you hurt?
Angel shifted slightly under Willow’s intense scrutiny. He was saved by a loud knock at the door.
“That’ll be Giles. You okay?”
“Yeah,” she smiled shyly at him.
Angel opened the door. Giles was looking worried. “How is she?”
“She’s fine,” Angel replied, wincing as he remembered the last time he’d said those words to Giles.
Giles followed Angel through into the kitchen, his thoughts in turmoil as he kept a small distance between them. He didn’t really like being with the vampire; he had tried to accept him for Buffy’s sake. He’d had a certain amount of success, too. Until the Angelus business that is. He knew he would never trust Angel the same way again. He thought of Willow alone with him; if Angel was himself, she couldn’t be in safer hands. If he wasn’t…Giles shuddered, pushing thoughts of Jenny out of his mind. Now wasn’t the time.
“Are you all right?” he asked Willow, feeling very relieved to see her looking well.
“I’m fine, Giles. Thanks to Angel.”
“I’m just glad I was there.”
Angel knew that Giles was wary of him, knew also that he would never allow his personal feelings to interfere with his professionalism He couldn’t. blame the man really, considering what had happened between them.
Later, after Giles and Willow left, Angel went up to his dark office, his favourite brooding place. His conversation with Willow had upset him; all the pain of leaving Buffy came flooding back, feelings he’d tried so hard to put behind him.
So he sat, in his dark room, lost in painful memories of the girl he’d left behind.
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