Take Me Walking In The Rain

Part 8

After the large lunch she'd had, Willow opted for a salad for her dinner. Angel waited patiently for her at a table as she placed her order. He still couldn't believe that this vibrant young woman had chosen to spend time with him rather than call her friends.

Willow joined him at the table with a glass of water for herself and a cup of decaf for Angel.

"What's this?" he asked as she placed the mug in front of him.

"Decaf," she lightly told him. "To keep up appearances. Don't want people to wonder why you're just sitting there watching me eat."

"Oh, right. That was very thoughtful of you."

"No big," she shrugged.

"How was your day with Cordelia?" Angel asked, an amused undertone to his voice.

"You mean aside from exhausting? It was actually okay. She's not as bad as she was in high school."

"No, she's not," Angel agreed. "Being on her own has mellowed her a bit. So have the visions, I think."

"How did she get those by the way?" the redhead asked as her salad was placed in front of her. "That's definitely something new."

"Do you remember when I came to Sunnydale at Thanksgiving because my friend had a vision?" Willow nodded. "That was my friend Doyle. He sacrificed himself not long after that to save a group of demons from being destroyed. You see; he was half-demon himself." Angel looked up at Willow to gauge her reaction to the news that he associated with demons, or at least a half-demon. Her look was accepting and she gestured for him to get on with the story as she chewed. "Doyle had feelings for Cordelia and she was starting to reciprocate. Just before he died he kissed her, transferring his 'gift' to her."

"I imagine she wasn't pleased with his chosen gift," Willow commented.

"You have no idea," Angel laughed. "She kissed every man she met after her first vision, hoping to get rid of them."

"Even you?" Willow asked tersely.

"Even me," Angel confirmed. He barely caught the slight frown that passed over Willow's face as he added, "I didn't know why she had kissed me when she did it. I explained to her that I didn't feel that way about her, and then she explained that she was just trying to get rid of the visions."

Willow couldn't explain the flash of jealousy she felt when Angel said that Cordelia had kissed him. Even if it was only to get rid of the visions… she had had her lips against his before she did, just like with Xander. Why did she always beat her to the men she lusted after?

Angel broke into her musings by asking, "So what did you two talk about all day?"

"Well, in the stores we talked about what we were buying. But at lunch we talked about Tara."

"A little break-up commiserating?" he asked sympathetically.

"That's what I thought it was going to be," Willow laughed. "Instead I got the third degree about my sex life."

If Angel could have blushed, he would have. Instead he nearly choked on the mouthful of coffee he had just taken.

"Sorry," Willow apologized. "When Cordelia asked if it was okay to talk about Tara I thought she wanted to know how I ended up here. Instead she wanted to know all about how we met, what it's like dating a girl, am I only going to date girls now, that kind of thing."

"And are you?" Angel choked out, figuring he may as well know now if he stood of a chance with Willow.

"Am I what?" Willow innocently asked, knowing perfectly well what he was asking.

"Are you only interested in dating women?" Angel couldn't keep the hopeful look off his face that she would answer in the negative.

"I'll tell you what I told Cordelia." Willow paused to take a steadying breath. "The fact that Tara was a woman was irrelevant. It was her personality, her soul, that attracted me to her. So, I guess my answer is, No. If I am next attracted to a woman, I'll date a woman. If I'm attracted to a man," Willow met Angel's warm brown eyes as she said, "I'll date a man."

Angel felt as if time stood still as he looked into the green depths of her eyes. Her openness and ability to look past gender boundaries and see inside of a person awed him. It gave him hope that maybe, just maybe, she would be able to look past his demon to see the man he was inside. She said that she'd been attracted to Tara's soul… Could she find his soul attractive too?

A clattering from the kitchen startled the two roommates, breaking their eye contact. Angel cleared his throat. "So, um, what's on your plate for tomorrow?"

"Well, I need to go grocery shopping. We can't keep eating here all of the time," Willow pointed out, not noticing that she had said 'we' instead of 'I', but Angel did and smiled.

"You can take my car," he offered.

Willow blushed slightly as she quietly said, "Thanks, but I, um, can't drive."

"And here I thought you could do anything," Angel joked.

"Well, I know how to drive. I took driver's ed. I just never got my license." Willow retorted.

"We'll just have to remedy that situation," Angel informed her. "I'm sure Wesley or Cordelia would be happy to go with you to get a license. Although if it's Wesley you'll have to take my car because he only has a motorcycle."

Willow's jaw dropped. "Wesley has a motorcycle?" she asked in disbelief.

Angel nodded. "Yes, the first time I saw him in LA he was dressed in riding leathers calling himself a Rogue Demon Hunter."

Willow shook her head. "I just can't picture that."

"It was pretty funny," Angel admitted. "He doesn't wear the leather anymore, but he still has the bike."

"Geez," Willow observed as they returned to the apartment. "Everyone grew and changed so much since leaving Sunnydale."

"You've grown and changed too," Angel assured her, letting them into the apartment.

"No, I'm still just Willow. Nerdy, gullible, gets-left-behind Willow."

Angel stopped just inside the door, placing his hands on her shoulders after lifting her face to meet his. "That's not true," he insisted. "You've changed a lot from the shy sophomore I met years ago. You've faced and survived more horrors than any human should have to. You're so much stronger now. You've become an adept witch, you're a whiz on the computer, you don't limit your friendship choices based on a person's humanity. You are an amazing, beautiful, young woman. Never doubt that."

Willow involuntarily shuddered under the ferocity and sincerity of Angel's words. She had a hard time believing what he said, but wished that that was how he truly saw her.

With tear-filled eyes, she said, "I'll try."

"Please do," Angel said, placing a chaste kiss on Willow's cheek.

Backing up nervously, overwhelmed by the sudden wave of longing she had for this man in front of her, Willow said, "I-I think I'm just… gonna go to bed now… long day you know."

"Yes, I know," he quietly agreed, fighting his own urges to pull Willow back into his arms and kissing her dizzy. "I'd say you've earned it. Good night, Willow."

"Good night, Angel. I'll see you tomorrow. Some of the deliveries might be coming during the day, so I'll ask them to be quiet."

"Don't worry about it," he told her.

Angel headed into the kitchen to warm up a mug of blood as Willow returned to her bedroom, both wondering how they were going to be able to live together when there seemed to be a growing attraction.


Willow woke to a sunny morning. She rolled over and picked the clock up off the floor, wishing she had remembered to pick up, or even order, a nightstand the day before. She was surprised to find that she had slept until after 10.

After washing her face and brushing her teeth, Willow decided to forego showering until after she cleaned the apartment. She walked around the apartment, looking in closets and cupboards to see what had been left behind by the previous tenants. She was excited to find that one of the closets housed a washer and dryer. That would definitely come in handy after a messy demon fight.

She was also happy to find an old broom and dustpan. She'd have to buy a small vacuum for the living room and hallway, but her room had a wood floor and the kitchen and bathroom were tiled.

Willow took a break to run down to the café to grab a coffee and bagel with cream cheese. She found out that there was a convenience store up a couple of blocks, so after she finished her meal she took a walk up to the store. For the first time she was really able to observe her neighborhood. There was a mixture of small apartments and small businesses.

She easily found the convenience store, picking up some paper towels, bathroom cleaners, Windex, and some more sponges. Wandering around a couple of blocks on her way home, Willow also came across an old bookstore that looked like it had a decent occult section and a small grocery store, where she bought an assortment of fruits and yogurts and chips.

Weighed down with her purchases, Willow arrived back at the apartment just as a Crate & Barrel truck pulled up. She eagerly led the delivery guys into the apartment, depositing her purchases in the kitchen.

The delivery guys took the old, dust-infested couch with them on their way out. Willow quickly used her new dust buster to 'vacuum' the space the couch had covered and pulled open the dark curtains. The movers first brought in the new couch, placing it in front of the window. Next they brought in the chaise, which was placed on the wall next to the door. The entertainment center went on the wall across from the couch. Finally the coffee table was brought in and the cushions placed on the couch.

After tipping the delivery guys, Willow squealed in delight as she collapsed on the chaise.

Angel came rushing out of his room, afraid that Willow was in trouble. "What's… wrong?" he started to ask until he noticed that his roommate lying on the chaise with one arm thrown behind her head and one leg on the floor, a happy smile on her face.

Willow leaped off the chaise and over to Angel, admiring the nearly naked vampire's form as discretely as possible.

"Look," she eagerly babbled, "the furniture came. What d'ya think?"

Angel took in each piece of furniture, his eyes returning to caress the sofa. Willow's smile grew as Angel walked over and sat on the couch. He sighed in contentment as he sank into the cushions.

"I knew you'd like it," Willow grinned. She practically bounced over to the couch to point out, "Look, there's a pull out bed too."

"This is wonderful," Angel agreed, pulling Willow to sit next to him. "You did a good job."

"Oh, and I did some wandering this morning," Willow began.

"Alone?" Angel interrupted.

"Yes, alone. I'm a big girl, Angel. And it's broad daylight, I was perfectly safe." Angel nodded his head in defeat, motioning for Willow to continue. "Anyway, I found a convenience store and bought some cleaning supplies. I also discovered a small grocery store and a nifty old bookstore."

"That all sounds wonderful," Angel agreed.

"You wanna go exploring with me tonight?" Willow asked.

"You don't want to do it during the day?" Angel queried.

She shrugged one shoulder. "I can always go back. We will be living her for a while. But exploring's more fun when you do it with someone."

"Then I'd love to." Angel shifted, relaxing back even more. He enjoyed the feel of the soft leather against his skin. His skin? Angel nervously looked down and realized for the first time that he was only wearing his boxer shorts.

Angel stood quickly, wishing Willow had picked up some throw pillows he could use to cover himself. "I'm just… going to go… get dressed."

"Okay," Willow laughed, admiring his rapidly retreating form.

Angel returned in sweats and a t-shirt and offered to help Willow finish cleaning the apartment. They stood in the kitchen together as Angel drank his breakfast and Willow ate a light lunch. They spent the next several hours cleaning, joking and flirting.

By the time they finished it was late afternoon. Willow hopped in the newly clean shower quickly before calling her friends. Angel took his time showering and dressing while Willow was on the phone. They couldn't go out until it was dark anyways.

Willow decided to test out her balcony while making her phone calls. She called Buffy first, but she was out with Riley. Willow left a message with her new cell phone number. Xander was next, but he couldn't talk long. He was only home to shower and change out of his sweaty construction clothes before going over to see Anya. Giles was home too, but he appeared to be in the middle of some pressing research. He lamented that Willow wasn't there to help and politely inquired after her settling in with Angel. Willow could tell he wasn't really paying attention to what she was saying, so she let him go.

She was leaning against the railing when Angel knocked on her bedroom door, having not heard her voice for a while and assuming that she was finished with her calls. Willow called out for him to come in but made no move to leave her perch.

"Did you reach your friends?" Angel politely asked, staying clear of the open door as the sun began to dip below the horizon.

"Xander and Giles were home, but they couldn't really talk long. I left a message for Buffy with my number." Willow sighed, still not looking at Angel. "I've only been gone a couple of days and they don't even miss me."

"I'm sure that's not true," Angel insisted, willing the sun to finish its decent so that he could join Willow on the balcony. "Like you said, it's only been a couple of days. They haven't had time to miss you yet."

"I guess you're right," Willow reluctantly agreed. "I guess I'm just feeling a little homesick."

"Are you not happy here?" Angel nervously asked.

"What? No," Willow briskly turned to face the vampire. "I'm thrilled to be here. I am so happy and comfortable here, a part of me feels like I was always meant to live here, ya know."

Feeling the same contentment, Angel agreed, "I know."

"It's safe now," Willow commented, holding her hand out for Angel to join her.

Angel smiled as he stepped out onto the balcony. Willow turned back to admiring the view as Angel stood behind her, admiring how perfect she looked.

"It's beautiful," Willow observed, watching as the sky faded from purple to black.

"It is," Angel agreed, his eyes never leaving Willow.

Willow turned around, finding herself face-to-chest with Angel. She hadn't realized he was standing so close behind her. She looked up into his face and inhaled sharply at the lust in his eyes. Willow placed a hand on his chest, unsure of what to do. Part of her wanted Angel to lean down and kiss her, but she also knew it was too soon. Her hand could either slide up to his shoulder to bring him closer or she could push him away. She found herself pushing back and stepping around the vampire.

Angel mentally cursed, afraid that he'd scared her. She'd turned too abruptly for him to cover the lust he was feeling. And when she looked at him… he almost thought that she would have welcomed his kiss, until she pushed him away.

"Willow…" he started to apologize, turning to face her again.

Willow was peering across the small balcony. "You know what we need to do?" she lightly asked. Without waiting she answered, "We need to go to Pier 1."

"What?" Angel asked, thoroughly confused. "You want to go to the docks?"

"No, silly. It's a store," Willow informed the vampire. "I just realized that what this balcony needs is a chair… and table. I like it out here and I'd like to be comfortable."

"What about exploring the neighborhood?" Angel asked, having been looking forward to walking around with Willow.

"We can do that later, or tomorrow. Tonight we need to go shopping."

"If you insist," Angel mock-sighed. "And you can drive."

"What? Really?" Willow asked hopefully.

"Well, you need to practice if you're going to get your license." Angel said, heading back inside to get ready to go out.

Willow threw her arms around him from behind, hugging him. "Thank you, Angel. No one ever wanted to take the time to let me practice before."

"I'll always have time for you," Angel told her, turning in her arms so that she could see the sincerity in his eyes.

Willow released her arms, stepping back. "We'd better get a move on."

"After you," Angel gestured, following the redhead out to the car.


Part 9

Willow sat curled up on her new wicker loveseat on her balcony, grateful that the roof extended a couple of feet past the edge of the balcony so that she could remain outdoors during the thunderstorm that was currently raging around her. As she got settled in her mind drifted to the previous evening.

It had amused Willow to have Angel follow her around Pier 1 the night before. He'd patiently stood and watched as she explored the store until she found the loveseat she'd been looking for.

"I thought you wanted a chair," Angel asked when Willow finally stopped roaming the store.

"Chair, bench, loveseat… they're all things to sit on. This way you can sit out there with me," she pointed out.

After picking out cushions, pillows and a blanket to match the greens in her bedroom, Willow moved on to find a small table for the porch. She also found a suitable nightstand for next to her bed.

'No more clock on the floor,' she happily thought.

Willow's greatest amusement came when she began to pick out some candles. No college-aged girl, let alone one who was a witch, should be without a suitable collection of candles.

Angel was baffled that Willow was buying for fun what he had always used out of necessity. He had to wonder when lanterns went from practical to decoration. Willow pointed out that she would be using them for their intended purpose – burning candles. She picked out a couple of lanterns in different sizes and glasses along with some other candle holders for her room and the living room. She also bought an assortment of scented and unscented candles to fill her new candle holders.

By putting the top down on the convertible they were able to take all of their new purchases home right away. After setting up Willow's balcony furniture she dragged him back out to go grocery shopping at a supermarket. Angel had hoped that they'd go for that walk, but he was happy to at least be spending time with Willow.

Willow was now taking a well-deserved rest after having spent the morning helping Cordelia and Wesley clean the office downstairs. Luckily there was a lot of furniture already in there, so they wouldn't have to buy much – just a desk for Wesley, some bookcases for the library, a lockable closet for the weapons, and the computers. Still, they had a lot of dusting, sweeping, and straightening (the place had been left a mess) to do.

Wesley helped Cordelia to hang the lightweight curtains she had bought to cover the front window so that their boss would be able to join them during the day. Cordelia informed Willow that it was her job to ask Angel to paint their business name in the window since he was the resident artist.

Willow had protested the job being delegated to her, but Cordelia assured her that she'd be able to do it, with a wink. Cordelia knew that the reason she had barely seen her boss for the last several days, and it had everything to do with his new redheaded roommate.

One of the things the girls had found while cleaning out Cordelia's new desk were some trashy romance novels left behind by the previous office's receptionist. Not that she would ever admit it aloud, but Willow would occasionally indulge in the guilty pleasure of reading a romance novel. Which she was now about to do.

Willow had discretely pocketed the book about the tragic dark-haired hero who despite the many hardships in his life, some of them at his own hands, opened up his home and his heart to the fair maiden who had also suffered. For some reason it seemed to call to her.

She had made herself some coffee and brought it out to her balcony just as the storm got under way. She lit the two lanterns whose flames remained safe from the occasional gust of wind that made it through the trees, around the building and under the roof to her balcony. She snuggled under the blanket and quickly lost herself in the book. Willow couldn't even remember the last time she had read, not for school or research, but for the pure pleasure and relaxation of it.

This was how Angel found her after his breakfast and 'morning' shower. He had smelled the approaching storm even in his sleep and woken to the sound of thunder. He could tell through the curtains in the living room that it was dark outside, despite the early hour. He listened for the sound of Willow's heartbeat, which led him through her open bedroom door to her balcony.

Willow had pulled her short hair up into a little ponytail in preparation for the possible wind. The wind that had reached her had pulled many strands of fiery hair loose to frame her face. Angel couldn't help but think that this is how her hair might look when she woke, or after being made love to.

Angel cleared his throat after Willow hadn't acknowledged his presence after a couple of minutes. Her only motion had been to turn a page in the book and absently take a sip of coffee from the mug on the table before returning it to its place. However, the sound was lost in the storm.

Not wanting to startle her, Angel slowly closed the distance between him and Willow. She still didn't look up when he was standing beside her, so he lowered himself to a crouching position in order to see what book had her so completely captivated. It was his bark of laughter that finally got through to Willow.

Upon hearing Angel's laugh, Willow jerked her head away from the engrossing words in front of her and into the laughing brown eyes of her roommate.

She squealed before admonishing, "Angel, don't do that!"

"Don't do what?" he laughingly asked as Willow tried to hide the book under the blanket.

"Sneak up on me like that!" she indignantly replied.

"I didn't sneak," Angel corrected. "I was standing here for at least five minutes before you noticed me. I cleared my throat and everything."

Willow had the grace to blush, "Oh, sorry."

Reaching under the blanket Angel pulled out Willow's book as he said, "So what do we have here?"

"I-It's just a book I found in a drawer in one of the desks in the office downstairs," Willow babbled. "It's not what I'd usually choose to read, but I'm kinda lacking in the fun reading material department at the moment."

"But 'The Champion'?" Angel teased.

"You should have seen the one Cordelia took," Willow retorted. "It was even cheesier-looking than this one."

"Aren't you uncomfortable reading out here?" Angel asked.

"I like it out here. There's enough light… Ohmygod, Angel, you're outside, during the day. What are you doing out here?" Willow worriedly exclaimed.

Placing his hands on Willow's shoulders, he sat next to her on the loveseat. "Willow, calm down, it's okay. Thunderstorm, remember? No direct sunlight. I'm perfectly safe, unless of course the clouds were about to part, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen any time soon."

"Oh, right."

Willow relaxed with his words and Angel relaxed his grip, but didn't remove his hands. Instead he turned to lean against the back of the couch, pulling Willow to lean against him. She shifted until she was comfortable, pulling the blanket to rest over Angel's lap as well and resting her head on his shoulder.

They remained like this possibly for minutes, possibly for hours, watching nature at work. Angel's hand mindlessly traced patterns on Willow's shoulder until Willow suddenly pulled back, looking at him.

"What…?" Angel started to ask, already missing her warmth from his side.

Willow shook her head. "It's just… this is the closest I'm going to get to seeing you in daylight. I don't want to miss it."

Angel wordlessly nodded as Willow studied him. He could almost swear that he felt himself heating up under her gaze, but he knew that it was physically impossible.

Willow noted that his skin seemed paler in natural light. Granted, the light was pale to begin with. She unabashedly traced the lines of his face and chest with her eyes. She could feel Angel watching her look at him, and it made her blood race.

She wanted to touch him, to feel that cool skin against her own. He looked luminous, with a light she wanted to believe was for her. It seemed to radiate from him, pulling her in.

Angel's eyes drifted closed as Willow's left hand moved to his forehead. He sucked in an unneeded breath at the first touch of her warm, delicate hand. Her fingertips grazed over his forehead, tracing his hairline down the side of his face and along his jaw. Then her right hand touched the bridge of his nose, trailing down to the tip, his nostrils flaring at the scent of her so close. Those same fingers lightly traced his slightly parted lips as those of her left trailed down his neck. It was taking every ounce of control to remain still under her torturously wonderful caresses.

After a false start, Angel managed to quietly ask, "So, how do I look?"

He opened his eyes to find lust-darkened green staring intently into his own.

Willow had to lick her lips before she was able to purr, "Perfect."

Angel's eyes darted down to those perfect, pink lips before moving back to her eyes, silently begging for permission. The hand on his neck urged him closer and Angel wasn't about to deny it. He unclenched one of his hands from the blanket and rested it on Willow's hip as he began to lean towards her waiting mouth.

'Soft… cool… gentle… teasing… home…' Willow couldn't think. Words flitted through her brain as Angel kissed her, as she kissed him back. The hand on his neck wound its way into his hair, holding him close, never wanting to be separated from this delicious sensation, as her other hand held onto his bicep for dear life.

'Warm… soft… teasing… demanding… home…' Angel couldn't believe the sensations running through his body. He'd known that kissing Willow would be unlike kissing any other woman, but he hadn't been prepared for how Right it would feel. He never wanted to leave the warmth of her arms, the taste of her lips.

Willow panted, desperately pulling air into her oxygen-deprived lungs, when Angel relinquished her lips to explore her face with his. He made a mental note that as hard as it would be, he'd have to try to shorten the length of the kisses so that Willow could breathe.

Once she felt sufficiently re-oxygenated Willow recaptured Angel's mouth. Now that she'd tasted his lips she never wanted to stop. After one taste she was completely, hopeless, addicted to him. She ran her tongue along the seam of his lips, needing to taste more of him.

Angel eagerly opened for her, as desperate for a more satisfying taste as she was. Her tongue was like fire, heating him from the inside, her warmth rubbing off on him as her tongue caressed his. The heat amplified ten-fold when he returned the favor and explored her mouth as thoroughly as she had his.

It was only the prickling sense of impending death by sunlight that pulled Angel away from Willow.

"Inside," he panted, looking up to see that the storm had in fact passed and the clouds were preparing to break.

Willow looked nervous and apologetic as she said, "Angel, I want to, really I do, but I'm not ready yet."

Briefly recapturing her lips in reassurance, Angel clarified. "No. Storm's over. I need to get inside before you're kissing dust."

Willow looked over her should to see that the rain had indeed stopped. As she stood to lead Angel back into the apartment she joked, "I guess the storm didn't want the competition."

Angel laughed, relieved that was able to find humor in the situation and not condemn him for his shortcomings.

Back inside, Angel captured her face in his hands. "You're amazing," he sincerely told the woman in front of him before kissing her again.

Willow's hands slid around his back, caressing the muscles beneath his shirt. Her fingers itched to pull the material out of his pants and explore his bare flesh, but her mind reminded her that she wasn't ready for that yet. It was too soon.

Willow pulled out of the kiss this time and with a smile led Angel out of her bedroom (and the temptation of her bed) and into the living room.

"We should, uh, probably talk," she explained as they sat on the sofa, fingers entwined.

"We probably should," Angel agreed. "I'm not going to apologize. I've wanted to kiss you since you agreed to move in with me. I don't know what's happening between us, but I'd love to explore it if…"

"I do," Willow confirmed. "But I need to go slowly. It's only been a week since Tara… I want you, I do," she assured him. "I think a part of me has always wanted you, but you were Buffy's…"

"Not anymore. I moved on a while ago, as did she. I'll go at whatever pace you need, Willow." Angel reached out with his free hand to cup her cheek and Willow leaned into the caress. "Besides, this will give us time to find a way around that pesky curse of mine."

Willow nervously bit her bottom lip as the rose in her cheeks. "Okay, now please don't hate me…"

"I could never hate you."

"…but um, I may have forgotten to tell you that your soul is permanent."


Part 10

Angel stared at the nervous girl biting her lip next him. He had clearly heard what she had said, but he couldn't wrap his mind around it. The longer he remained silent the more agitated Willow became.

Finally Angel said, voice devoid of emotion, "What did you say?"

"Your, um, soul is permanent?" Wide green eyes looked up to meet questioning brown ones.

Angel stood and began to pace, running a hand through his hair, mumbling, "That's what I thought you said."

Thoughts were running rampant through the vampire's head. 'It's permanent. I haven't needed to restrain my every reaction and emotion for fear of becoming too happy. Although I suppose that even if I had been "perfectly happy" that nothing would have happened. But since I knew, or thought that I knew, what could cause me to lose my soul I did everything possible to avoid it. Including staying away from Buffy. Even if I'm not in love with her anymore, I was. Or at least I thought I was. Distance certainly didn't make my heart grow fonder… just the opposite. Although if I'd known that I wasn't going to lose the soul again before I left Sunnydale, Buffy and I would probably still be together. But then I wouldn't be with Willow now…'

Willow didn't know if Angel's pacing was a good sign or not. He didn't seem upset with her for not telling him sooner, but he could be working up to that. Just as Willow was about to ask him how he was taking the news, Angel spoke.

"How?" he asked, pausing his pacing to look at the redhead. "When?" He moved to sit next to her again. "How long have you known?"

Willow sighed in relief, there was no accusation in his tone, only curiosity and disbelief. She took one of his hands in hers to keep from fidgeting.

Staring at their joined hands, Willow hesitantly admitted, "I've known all along." She paused to grin sheepishly up at Angel before continuing. "You see, when I gave you back your soul I was able to do it without the 'perfect happiness' clause. I didn't tell anyone I'd done that. And we didn't know for a long time if the curse worked since Buffy had taken off after she sent you to hell. I thought it had worked, I felt it go through me, but since it was my first big spell I couldn't be sure. Then when you came back, it had been so long that it just kinda slipped my mind that the soul couldn't go away…" Willow trailed off, her voice growing quieter at the end.

"For two years?" Angel questioned.

"Well…when Buffy came back and she knew that your soul had been restored when she sent you to hell she felt so guilty that I didn't want to make her feel worse by telling her the soul was permanent. Then by the time we found out you were back I had forgotten that no one else knew about the permanency of your soul."

Looking back up at Angel she tentatively asked, "Are you mad at me?"

"What?" Angel asked in shock. 'Disappointed and frustrated; yes. But angry?' he thought. He kissed her quickly. "No. Willow how could you think I'd be mad about you making my soul permanent?"

"Well, you didn't know. You could have been happy. You could have been with Buffy…"

"Don't feel guilty about that." He insisted. "I think you and I both know that Buffy and I never would have worked out."

When Willow was about to protest again, Angel captured her mouth with his, kissing her deeply. Using his lips, tongue and teeth, he tried to convince her how grateful he was that she had made his soul permanent in the first place. And there was no one else he'd rather share his soul with than her.

When Angel released Willow's mouth, he brought their joined hands to his lips, kissing her fingers. Looking into her glazed eyes, he asked, "Do you believe me now?"

"Uh-huh," Willow absently responded, still dazed from that kiss. She shook her head to try and refocus. Smiling she reiterated, "I really didn't mean to not tell you."

"I know," Angel affirmed, caressing her hair.

Willow started to lean forward to kiss him again when there was a loud knock at the door. Both of them groaned at the interruption.

"Delivery," they heard from the hallway.

"Coming," Willowed called back as she stood to open the door.

Willow spoke briefly with the delivery man who went back down to the truck to get the furniture. Willow turned back to Angel and bounced as she said, "It's the rest of my bedroom furniture."

Angel merely smiled as he leaned back on the couch to watch Willow direct the deliverers to her room with her dresser and desk. He found it adorable that Willow could get so excited about new furniture. He wanted her to feel comfortable in their apartment. Although with the new knowledge he had regarding his soul's permanency he hoped that before long they'd be sharing one bedroom.

Angel was still sitting on the couch with a dreamy look on his face when Willow thanked the delivery guys and closed the door behind them. She crawled onto the couch next to Angel who was still lost in his thoughts. She ran a hand through his hair and behind his ear as she whispered, "What'cha thinking about?"

Angel turned his head and gave her a very Angelus-like smirk, causing her heartbeat to speed up.

"Are they gone?" he silkily asked.

Willow nodded; she'd never heard him use such a sexy tone before – at least not with the soul.

"You want to show me your room?" he purred, running a hand along her arm. Willow shook her head, inching closer to him. "No?"

"No." Willow confirmed against his lips. She briefly licked her lips, licking his as well; such little space was between them.

With a growl Angel closed that miniscule distance, wrapping his arms around Willow and pulling her onto his lap. Her hands went around his neck, playing with the hair at the base of his neck. Angel's hands ran over Willow's back, occasionally straying to her hips as they continued to explore each other's mouths as only a new couple could.

Once again it was a pounding on the door that finally broke the couple apart, both panting for breath, whether they needed it or not.

"Yo, Angel. You in there?" Gunn called from the hallway.

Willow slid off of Angel's lap, trying to compose herself as Angel stood to answer the door, willing his erection away.

"What?" Angel virtually growled when he opened the door to the young demon fighter.

"Don't you growl at me. You were supposed to meet me half an hour ago to go kill that Mevlenore demon."

"We were going to meet just after sunset," Angel pointed out.

"Yeah, which was over half an hour ago," Gunn agreed, stepping into the apartment. He saw Willow sitting on the couch, blushing and nervously smoothing her hair and clothing. Grinning he said, "Well, I can see you were otherwise occupied."

Angel held a hand out for Willow to join them. "Gunn, this is Willow Rosenberg. Willow, this is Charles Gunn. He found the building."

"Call me Gunn," the young man insisted. "So, you're Angel's… roommate."

Choosing to ignore the implication, Willow said, "Yes. It's so nice to meet you, Gunn. You did a great job. I absolutely love this place."

He waved the complement off. "It was nothing. I'm glad you like it. Angel was very specific with what he wanted in an apartment. You did a good job furnishing the place."

"So what's this about a Mevlenore demon?" Willow asked the men. "They're not nice guys."

"There's one trying to set up shop in my neighborhood. Angel here said he'd help convince it to move on." Gunn said. "You've seen one before?"

"Yeah, there was one hanging around the campus. He was always trying to lure people into the old science building so that he could rip off their toenails. He'd eat them in order to maintain his human appearance." Willow shivered with the memory, leaning into Angel's side and he wrapped an arm around her.

"Yeah, well, that's what this guy's been doing. Only he's using an abandoned house."

"I'm going to go help Gunn get rid of this guy," Angel informed Willow. "Will you wait here?"

"And do what? Keep reading my book?" she asked with a quirk of an eyebrow.

Seeing an argument in the making, Gunn decided to give himself a tour of the furnished apartment.

Angel silently thanked Gunn's good sense. He quickly tried to figure out a way out of the hole he had just dropped himself into.

"You could finish unpacking now that your dresser's here," he suggested. He immediately winced at the hard, angry glare in the redhead's eyes.

"You want me to stay here and do housework?" Willow coldly asked, crossing her arms over chest.

"That's not what I meant," Angel hastened to explain. 'How am I going to get out of this?' he asked himself. "It's just… There's not going to be anything for you to do if you come along. You've seen these guys. It's just a quick slice and dice. I'll be back before you know it."

"Then why did Gunn ask you to go along in the first place?" Willow demanded.

Deciding to take pity on his friend, Gunn answered, "Because Gunn didn't know it would be that easy to kill it."

Willow spun to face Gunn, her face immediately losing its harshness. "Sorry. I didn't mean to insult you or anything."

"Nah, s'okay. All I knew was there was this guy torturing my friends. If it's just a slice and dice I can handle it on my own." Heading to the door he added, "Besides, it looks like you two have some serious talking to do."

"Thanks," Angel grumbled.

"I'll catch up with you later. Willow, it was a pleasure meeting you."

"You too, Gunn."

The second the door closed Willow was glaring at Angel again. "He was right. We need to talk."

Trying to head off the storm, Angel started, "Willow…"

"No, don't Willow me. If we are going to have a relationship then there are a few things you'd better learn, and quick." She poked him in the chest with a finger. "Number one: You DO NOT tell me where I can go. I have been fighting demons and vampires alongside the slayer for four years. I know how to hold my own and I've got magick to defend myself. I am not going to let you go all macho on me and try to protect me like some weak little girl."

"I never meant to imply that you were," Angel calmly said. He had to control his amusement, and arousal, at seeing Willow stand up to him. "I know how strong you are, and how long you've been fighting." Willow began to relax her defensive stance. "I promise that I will do my best to try to not keep you protected. It will be hard though. I don't want anything to happen to you, especially now." Willow took a step closer to him and rested her palm on his chest and Angel wrapped her lightly in his arms. "But you need to understand also that I have been around for a lot longer than you have. There will be times when it isn't safe for you, despite your abilities, and I'll need you to trust me."

"I do trust you," Willow affirmed. "I'm sorry. I'm just so used to everyone thinking they need to protect poor little Willow."

"You're not her anymore. I know that, even if they don't."

"Then why were you going to go kill this thing without me?" Willow pouted.

"Well," Angel looked almost ashamed to admit, "Sometimes a little meaningless violence can be fun. Besides, when I agreed to dispatch the Mevlenore you and I weren't a couple." He tapped her nose with a finger. "How was I supposed to know I'd have more important things to do tonight?"

"I'm more important than ridding the city of demons?" Willow coyly asked.

"Oh yes," Angel confirmed as he leaned down to show her just how much more important she was to him.


Part 11

The next day Angel woke to an empty apartment. His first instinct was to find Willow, having sensed immediately that she wasn't home. A small smile appeared on his face as Angel padded to the kitchen for his morning mug of blood. He loved the way that Willow and home fit together in a sentence.

When he moved to place his mug in the microwave Angel found a note from Willow.

Good Morning Mr. Sleepy Head,

As you've probably noticed, I'm not home right now. Cordelia and I are going to go office shopping this morning, but we'll hopefully be back by the time you wake up. Wesley said he'd come by with some of the books you left at his place around 1. So come on down when you're up and dressed and fed. I'll see you soon.



Angel numbly drank his breakfast as he stared at Willow's signature. Did she have any idea what she had done? 'Yours' to a vampire was not necessarily the same to a human. She could have just been trying to be polite – more intimate than a 'Sincerely' and not so intimate as signing 'Love'. But all Angel could think, or at least his demon, was 'Mine'. Willow had committed to paper that she was his. His to love, his to possess, his to protect.

The demon roared in joy at the simple word. Too long had it suffered under the weight of the soul, unable to claim what was his. And now it would never have control again.

That thought brought both a sense of relief and anxiety to the vampire. For so long now he had worked so hard to repress his inherent vampiric nature. Yes, he drank blood, but not from a human, and only as a matter of survival. Otherwise he surrounded himself with mortals – he worked with them, he protected them, and now he lived with and has fallen in love with one. Yet he is now, and will remain, a vampire.

Last night he and Willow had talked about his soul. They'd talked about Willow's need for time, and the fact that the last person she'd dated had been a woman. But they hadn't discussed the reality of a vampire/human relationship.

In truth, the only human that Angel had dated had been Buffy. Before her, mortal women were for food and sex. Even so, Angel had always felt like he had to hide, repress, a large part of himself when he was with Buffy. Yes, she knew he was a vampire, but she'd never been comfortable with that fact when they weren't fighting other demons. At those times she was grateful for his enhanced speed and fighting abilities. But when they were alone… Angel tried to never let the demon show itself. Sometimes it would take an incredible amount of control to maintain his human visage. Especially the one, and only, time they'd made love.

Buffy had never fully understood how important blood was to a vampire. She knew it was how they fed. That they attacked and most often killed humans in order to feed. But she never wanted to know about the more pleasurable aspects blood could be used for. Even a little blood during foreplay could be extremely erotic… for both parties.

Angel could only hope Willow that would be open to his desires… his needs.


Cordelia was helping Willow unpack one of the bookcases they had bought. It was a put-it-together-yourself kind. They were getting the materials in order while they waited for Wesley to get back from the hardware store with a hammer and screwdriver set.

"Okay, now I've been patient all morning, thinking you were going to break down and share, but obviously you're not. So spill," Cordelia insisted.

Willow refused to meet the brunette's eyes. Her blush made her words an obvious lie. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Uh-huh, and why don't I believe you?"

Willow shrugged.

"Willow, you're positively glowing, and I want to know why," Cordelia bubbled.

Willow was momentarily saved by Angel opening the door and walking into the lobby. Her eyes immediately brightened and a smile spread across her face. An identical smile was on Angel's face, Cordelia noticed, when she looked between the two. She could practically hear the silent communication between the two.

Approaching her boss, the ex-cheerleader said, "Well, it's about time you showed your face in here. I haven't even seen you since a certain someone moved in upstairs."

"Sorry, Cordelia," Angel said, never removing his eyes from Willow's. "I've been busy."

"I can see," she teased.

"You got my note?" Willow softly asked.

"Yes, thank you," Angel acknowledged.

All he wanted to do was sweep Willow into his arms and kiss her soundly for being so thoughtful and giving. Plus, she looked adorable sitting on the floor in jeans and a t-shirt surrounded by boards and nails and paper. However, he had a feeling such a gesture wouldn't be appreciated at the moment. He didn't know if Willow wanted to tell everyone they were a couple now.

Feeling the temperature rise between the two roommates, Cordelia definitely wanted answers, now.

"Well, since you haven't been here to help with the clean up, I think you should go fix up your office." Cordelia gave Angel a gentle push in the direction of his office.

Although not pleased with being dismissed, Angel went, knowing that Cordelia was on a mission for information, and he honestly thought that Willow would be able to handle her better than he would.

Once they were alone, Cordelia spun on the redhead. "Okay, now something happened, I know it did." When Willow still didn't say anything, Cordelia asked, "Did you two sleep together?"

"What? No," Willow said. Her blush began to return as she admitted, "We just… kissed."

Raising one eyebrow, Cordelia asked, "Just kissed."

"Mm-hmm," Willow nodded, "A lot."

"I guess that answers that question," Cordelia commented.

"What question?" Willow countered, now confused.

"That you're still interested in men."

"Or at least vampires," Willow giggled.

Leaning closer, Cordelia asked, "So how was he? Is a good kisser? I've always wondered about that?"

"I thought you'd kissed him," Willow said.

"Yeah, but it wasn't because I wanted to kiss him, I was just trying to get rid of these visions. Besides, it's not like he kissed me back. Sorry, nice trick, didn't work, now start talking."

Angel had his ear pressed to the door, waiting for Willow's answer. He knew it was wrong to eavesdrop on his new girlfriend, but he couldn't help himself. Besides, Cordelia had shoved him into a basically empty office where there was nothing for him to do.

Willow's eyes glazed over slightly as she recalled kissing Angel the previous day. "He is an amazing kisser. I swear, I never before felt a need to curse my need to breathe before. I got so lightheaded from some of those kisses," Willow confided.

"Wow," was all Cordelia could say. She had never been kissed to lightheadedness.

Now that she had started on the topic of Angel, Willow couldn't stop. Besides, it was nice to be able to confide in a girl who hadn't dated her new boyfriend. "I mean, these were just kisses and they had me dizzy. Can you imagine what else he could do with that mouth with his whole not needing to breathe thing?"

Both girls, and Angel, took a minute to imagine all of the delicious things he could continuously do with his mouth and not have to stop in order to take a breath. All three had to suppress their groans at the imagery now plaguing them.

Cordelia was still staring off into space when Willow came back to herself. Deciding that instead of just fantasizing about Angel when in fact he was just in the next room, Willow stood and walked down the hall.

Angel was sitting on his desk, having moved to a more stable place once the girls stopped talking. He heard Willow approaching, but made no move to get up.

Willow opened the door, eyes still glazed and darkened with lust. She slowly walked up to the vampire, an extra sway in her hips. She rested her hands on his thighs as she huskily said, "I didn't get to greet you properly today," before she promptly kissed Angel.

Her lips were instantly parted, both already hungry for the other from their mental wanderings. Angel's hands came up to cup her face, holding her close, holding her in place. Willow stepped between his legs, pressing her body against his, her hands sliding up his back, pulling him close, losing herself in the kiss.


Wesley waltzed into the lobby, calling out, "Never fear, the hammer is here."

He looked around and only saw Cordelia leaning against her desk, eyes slightly glazed.

"Where did Willow go?" he asked his co-worker.

"Willow?" Cordelia absently asked, pulling herself out of her little fantasy of a faceless man who didn't have to breathe exploring her body with his mouth. She looked around, realizing for the first time that the redhead wasn't with her. "She's probably back in Angel's office."

Wesley started to head back in that direction, but Cordelia placed a hand on his arm to stop him.

"I don't think you want to go back there," she warned. If Willow's mind had been on the same track hers had been, then there would definitely be something happening in that office.

"Why ever not?" Wesley questioned.

"Let's just say that last night, those two roommates got a lot closer," Cordelia winked.

"You don't mean…" Wesley began.

"Yes," she nodded. "Major smoochies."

"I had no idea," Wesley murmured. "Wait a minute, isn't Willow gay?"

"I guess not," Cordelia commented. "She told me she wasn't going to limit her options."

"Apparently not," Wesley agreed. He looked around at the materials lying around him on the floor. "Shall we get started then?"

Cordelia looked at him funny before noticing that he was looking at the bookcase parts. "What do I look like? A carpenter? I was just planning on watching and handing Willow what she needed."

"Fine," Wesley sighed, removing his blazer and rolling up his sleeves. "Where are the instructions?"

"Here." Cordelia handed the paper to him. As Wesley began lining up the top, bottom and side boards, Cordelia mused, "You know, I think they'll be good together. They've both been hurt by the people they loved before. They deserve to be happy."

"Just not too happy," Wesley commented, as he glued the little wooden pegs in their holes and fit the boards together.

"Right," Cordelia casually agreed. "They should be happy. Just not perfectly happy."

The two exchanged a look and grabbing the hammer, they both ran down the hallway and into Angel's office. The sight before them caused their eyes to nearly pop out of their heads.

Angel was lying on his desk, his legs hanging off the side, with Willow straddling him. Their mouths were locked together in a passionate kiss as their hands roamed each other's bodies.

Wesley's yelp of shock startled the couple. Willow sat up so quickly she slid off of Angel's body and landed on the floor next to his feet with an "oomph."

"Haven't you heard of knocking," Angel growled, sitting up and reaching down to help Willow stand.

"We were just… concerned… for Ms. Rosenberg's safety," Wesley hesitantly replied.

"You thought she needed to be kept safe from me?" Angel asked, obviously hurt by the idea.

"Not you," Cordelia explained. "Angelus."

"I take it you didn't tell them either?" Angel asked the blushing girl at his side.

"I didn't get a chance," she admitted.

"Tell us what?" Cordelia demanded.

"My soul is permanent. No more Angelus." Angel happily declared.

"When? How?" Wesley asked, venturing further into the room, the watcher in him wanting to know Angel managed to secure his soul.

"Willow did it when she returned my soul to me," Angel proudly said.

"You mean you've known all this time your soul couldn't go poof and you didn't tell me?" Cordelia demanded.

"I didn't know," Angel told her. "Willow just told me last night."

Cordelia glared at the redhead.

"I kinda forgot that no one knew about the soul being permanent thing," Willow meekly offered.

"You forgot?" Cordelia scoffed. "How do you forget something like that?"

"Alright, that's enough," Angel said. "We've answered your questions for now. We'll explain more once you've calmed down a bit. Now out. Go back to whatever you were doing."

Angel ushered his employees out of his office, closing the door behind them. Turning back to Willow he said, "Remind me to buy a lock for that door."

"I should probably go help them. I'm the one who wanted to get the do-it-yourself bookcases." Willow suggested.

"I think they can handle it," Angel said, wrapping his arms around Willow.

"So I was only hired for my body," Willow teased.

"Your body, your brain, your experience, your company," Angel placed a kiss on a different part of her face with each phrase.

"Well in that case…" Willow captured his mouth as it moved to pass hers again. 'I really think I'm gonna like this job,' Willow thought as she lost herself in the kiss.


Half an hour later Cordelia hesitantly knocked on the door to Angel's office. She called out, "If you want to actually be able to use those bookcases you might want to come out here before Wesley destroys them."

A minute later a very flushed and breathless redhead opened the door. "I'll be right out Cordy."

"You better. I swear, I thought men were supposed to know how to do these kinds of things. Then again, when has Wesley ever been considered a real man."

Willow laughed. "I promise, I'll be right there. I've put together lots of these things before."

Willow closed the door, turning to Angel. "I'm sorry. I told you I should be out there helping."

"I understand. I suppose it's selfish of me to want to keep you all to myself."

Taking his hand, Willow pulled the vampire back out to the lobby. She surveyed the boards spread all over the place and shook her head. Willow took the hammer from the frustrated man on the floor with an apologetic smile.

"I'm sorry Wesley, I shouldn't have left in the middle of a project." Willow helped Wesley to his feet and away from the workspace.

"I don't understand," the frustrated man said. "It looks simple enough."

"That's okay," Cordelia said in a tone that was both comforting and condescending. "It takes a trained monkey to put these things together."

"Hey," Willow and Wesley objected; one because she could do it and the other because he couldn't.

Willow double checked that the sides were properly glued to the top and bottom boards. Satisfied, she found the cardboard back and unfolded it, fake wood side down, over the back. She had Cordelia hold the board in place at one end and the guys on the sides. Willow then moved around the bookcase nailing the cardboard in place. Once finished, the men stood the bookcase up and Willow placed the shelf pegs in their holes, making sure they were evenly spaced apart. The men then carried the bookcase into the library where the girls placed the shelves on their pegs.

"See, that wasn't so hard," Willow commented as she stuffed the padding and plastic back in the box.

"Ah, no, it wasn't," Wesley admitted, still embarrassed that he couldn't do it himself.

Working together they quickly finished the four remaining bookcases. One for Angel's office, one for Wesley's and the last two were for the library.

Next on her list of office chores was for Willow to set up the computers. She had already arranged to have the cable internet for the office connected to the cable in the apartment so that the entire building could have access to one network. The workmen had already been there to install a cable jack under Cordelia's desk, in the library and in the apartment.

Once the computers were unpacked and set up, Willow set about creating a network between the two office computers and her laptop (which was already set up with a wireless network card so she could use it either in the apartment or in the office). This way they could be on all three computers and search through files on any of them.

By the time she had finished, it was nearly dark out. After making sure the bookshelves were sturdy, Wesley had unpacked the books he had brought with him making the library an official library. Once finished he took off, as he was no longer needed.

Cordelia tried prodding more details out of Willow and then Angel about their new relationship, but they were now being extremely tightlipped. On her way out, Cordelia motioned towards the window and then from Willow to Angel. Willow nodded, knowing what Cordelia wanted.

"What was that all about?" Angel asked after the door closed behind Cordelia.

"Oh, Cordy wanted me to ask you to paint the business name on the window," the redhead casually said.

"Why didn't she just ask me herself?"

"I don't know, maybe she thought you'd actually do it if I asked you." Willow shrugged.

Angel was silent, then asked, "Would it have to be something elaborate?"

Smiling as she wrapped her arms around him, Willow said, "I'm sure just a nice lettering of 'Angel Investigations' would be fine."

Angel looked into Willow's smiling face and knew why Cordelia had asked Willow to ask him to paint the sign. "All right," he reluctantly agreed.

His agreement earned him a wide grin and a kiss.

"How about we take that walk now and go find some dinner?" Willow suggested.

"Tired of the café already?" Angel smiled.

"No, I'd just like to take a stroll with my boyfriend and see what else is around here."

"Just let me run upstairs and get some dinner first," Angel requested.

"I'll come with," Willow offered. "I can unpack the TV while you eat."

"You bought a TV?" Angel asked as they headed upstairs.

"And a DVD player," Willow grinned.

Angel heated his blood as Willow unpacked the TV.

"You sure that's a TV?" Angel asked. "I've never seen one like that before."

"It's an HDTV screen," Willow stated. At Angel's puzzled expression she explained, "High Definition TV. The picture quality is much better and it's the best way to watch widescreen DVDs, which is the only way to watch a movie."

"I don't usually watch much TV," Angel said with a shrug of a shoulder.

"I don't either," Willow admitted, "But when I do, I want it to be the best quality. Besides, sometimes it's nice to just rent a movie and stay at home, snuggled with your honey."

"I see your point," Angel agreed. "But let's still go for that walk."

"I didn't mean now, silly," Willow said with a playful slap to his chest.

"Good, I wanted to take my girl out to dinner."

"And so you shall, but first, you go get rid of your blood breath." Willow gave him a push towards the bathroom.

As Angel swished the mouthwash around his mouth he was reminded of his morning musings. He knew she was teasing him when she sent him to cleanse his breath. But he couldn't really blame her; pigs' blood didn't taste very good, so he could only imagine how it smelled to her. He didn't think she'd be so objective if it was her own blood on his breath.

When Angel returned to the living room Willow was just finishing attaching the DVD player to the TV in the entertainment center.

"Ready?" she asked.

"All set." Angel held the door open for Willow before following her out.

Willow could tell there was something he wanted to ask as they walked. He kept looking at her like he wanted to say something, but then closed his mouth and continued walking.

"What is it?" she finally asked.

"What?" Angel countered, unprepared for her question.

"You want to tell me something, or ask me something. What is it?"

"Am I that obvious?" he questioned.

"You're stalling," she pointed out.

"I just don't know how to bring this up," he admitted.

"Is it about us?" Willow questioned, having a feeling it was.


"Is it bad?"

"That's what I'm not sure about." Angel took an unnecessary breath. "I'm a vampire."

"I know," Willow interrupted.

"And you're human," he continued.

"Also a given."

"Can you please stop interrupting?" Angel requested.

"Sorry," Willow held up her hands in acquiescence.

"Have you thought about what it means to date a vampire? Do you think it's something you'll be comfortable with?"

"Well, I've dated a werewolf and a witch. How different could dating a vampire be? Aside from the whole no going out in the daylight thing, of course. I mean, hey, at least I don't have to lock you up in a cage for three nights every month. That was the main drawback to being with Oz. Well, that, and we had to make sure he didn't bite me."

"That's actually what I wanted to talk about," Angel admitted, not looking at her, hands in pockets.

"Biting?" Willow asked. Her eyes went wide as she realized what Angel was getting at. "You want to, like, feed from me?" she slowly asked.

"What? No, not feed, just… maybe… nip… while… playing," he hesitantly explained, having a hard time voicing his wishes, desires.

Willow was silent as they continued walking, contemplating what he was proposing. She'd read the Watcher Diaries that Giles kept on the top shelf next to the magick books he didn't want her to read. She knew vampires got off on a little blood play during sex. She'd actually had quite a few fantasies about it; especially since she'd had a boyfriend whose teeth she had to be careful with. Still, she couldn't believe they were talking about this.

Stopping to look up at him, Willow shyly asked, "It wouldn't hurt, would it?"

Angel cupped a cheek, rubbing it with his thumb. "No. Well, maybe a little, but only in the most pleasurable way."

The huskiness in his voice was making Willow melt. She almost asked him to show her, but remembered they were on a public street.

"Promise?" she asked with big, trusting eyes.

"Promise," he agreed, completely overjoyed at her almost consent, but somehow managing to keep an even voice.

Willow pulled her bottom lip between her teeth as she quietly assented. "Okay."

Angel pulled her into a passionate kiss, expressing his excitement, his pleasure, his relief at her agreement. All he wanted to do was run home and show her how good a little biting could be, but he didn't think she was ready for that, yet.

They finally pulled apart when a passer-by mumbled, "Get a room." Arms around each other they continued their walk. Angel felt that a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. Willow on the other hand now had butterflies in her belly at the thoughts of what it would be like to feel his fangs on her.

Her butterflies turned to hunger pangs when they began to pass an Italian restaurant. The smells of pasta cooking were incredibly enticing.

"Can we eat here?" she asked hopefully.

"Anything you want," Angel agreed, following the redhead into the restaurant.


Part 12

After a leisurely dinner, Willow and Angel continued their walk around the neighborhood. They strolled down the streets, arms linked, enjoying the warm summer evening, like any other couple. Willow pointed out the bookshop she had found a few days earlier and they agreed that they'd have to come back and explore it some night.

Their conversation died down the closer they got to their apartment. The silence was comfortable as they allowed their thoughts to take over. Angel felt more at peace than he could remember being in decades.

Willow's thoughts, however, were running rampant with new possibilities. She was still feeling a bit overwhelmed with the turn her life had taken lately. To go from being happy and in love with Tara to being dumped, moving to LA, and then falling in love with Angel… it hardly felt real. She did know that she was happy here. She felt truly alive with Angel, and she knew how strange that sounded – alive with a vampire. And the things he wanted to do with her… her heart raced as she tried not to think about it. It both frightened and excited her. She knew that Angel would never hurt her, she trusted him with her body and her heart. She just needed to move past the teeth-aversion she had developed when dating Oz.

Angel was finding it hard to convince himself to take things slowly with Willow when he was assaulted with the scent of her arousal. He wondered what she was thinking about to make her smell so wonderful. He hoped it was because of their earlier discussion.

As they turned the corner onto the block their apartment was on, Angel unlinked their arms to extend his around her waist. He leaned down to whisper in her ear, "What are you thinking about, Little one?"

Willow shivered at the sound of his voice after their silence. Did she want to tell him the truth? Oh yes. "I was just wondering when you wanted to, um, play?"

Angel ran his hand teasingly over her belly as far as he could reach. "Whenever you are ready. I told you I wouldn't rush you, or pressure you into doing anything too soon."

Willow was silent again as they neared their door. She knew she wasn't ready to make love with him yet, but that didn't mean they couldn't play in the mean time.

Angel held the downstairs door open for her, as a gentleman should. Willow paused in the open doorway to take out her apartment keys. She looked up into Angel's eyes and innocently said, "I don't see why we can't start playing tonight," before running up the stairs.

Angel stood frozen in shock at her statement. A wicked grin spread across his face as he gave a growl of excitement and dashed up the stairs and through the open door. He caught Willow around the waist and she squealed in delight as he carried her to his bedroom.

He set Willow on the bed, laying her down, and sat next to her. He reclined on an elbow to meet her hungry eyes, his free hand again tracing patterns on her belly.

He virtually purred, "And when you say play…"

Willow brought a hand up to trace his human features, knowing that it would be a very different face that would soon be giving her pleasure. She didn't want to ruin the playful mood with a serious conversation, so she said with a sultry grin, "I'm not ready to make love, but anything else is fair play."

If she had anything else to say it was soon forgotten under the intensity of Angel's kiss. His mouth descended on hers as soon as the word 'play' had left her lips. It was at first forceful and demanding as he was overcome with emotions. With Willow's hands now fisted in his hair, his lips soon softened and teased with the same intensity as the kiss had originated.

Knowing that he now had free reign over her body, Angel set about learning what secrets Willow has kept hidden. Without breaking the kiss, the hand on Willow's belly began to pull her t-shirt out of her jeans. As soon as it was able, the hand slipped under the material, traveling back up towards her breasts, bringing the rest of the shirt with it.

Angel finally broke the kiss in order to let Willow breathe. He also took the opportunity to pull her t-shirt over her head.

As Angel's eyes roamed over her mostly bare chest, Willow wished that she had worn sexier lingerie today. When she dressed that morning she had worn her more comfortable cotton bra and panties since she had planned on doing manual labor. The darkening of Angel's eyes assured her that it probably wouldn't have made a difference. She arched her back and slid a hand under her body to release the clasp on the bra, pulling it off as her hand resurfaced.

Angel's eyes were glued to her luminous pale skin. He watched her chest rise and fall as she panted for breath after the kiss. And then she was completely bare to him from the waist up. He growled in appreciation.

Willow tensed slightly when she heard Angel's growl. She wasn't entirely certain how to interpret it. Did he growl in disgust? In appreciation? Hunger?

"You're perfect," he murmured, leaning down to taste her skin. Starting at her neck, Angel teased his way down her body. The silk of his shirt brushed against her hardening nipples as Angel licked and kissed her neck and shoulder. He gently pulled the skin over her racing pulse between blunt teeth, gently tugging, causing her heartbeat to speed up even more.

Angel worked his way down, between her breasts, resisting temptation, to kiss and lick her belly. Finally he returned to lavish attention on her breasts. He took a moment to admire her gentle curves, the darker coral of her puckered nipples. In what felt like slow motion, Angel lowered his head to take her entire breast into his mouth.

Willow couldn't contain her moan of pleasure after all of Angel's teasing. His mouth wasn't nearly as cold as she had expected it to be. And the things he was doing with it… as he suckled her nipple his tongue was bathing the underside of her breast.

Not knowing what else to do with her hands, Willow began to unbutton Angel's shirt. Her fingers fumbled with the buttons as she tried to concentrate on what she was doing and not what Angel was up to. She finally got down to the last button before the shirt dipped into his pants. Willow desperately pulled the material out and freed the last buttons. Now the hard part came… freeing the shirt from Angel's body.

Angel was only slightly aware of Willow's actions. He was completely lost in the taste and feel of her skin. He moved to see if her other breast was as delicious as the one he had been feasting on… and found himself on his back.

He looked up at Willow's proud expression with confused eyes and a pout on his lips at losing his treat.

"My turn," Willow informed him huskily.

Seeing the look in the redhead's eyes quickly made Angel change him mind about protesting. He stripped off his shirt and rested his hands behind his head.

Willow admired the way Angel's pectorals flexed and rippled as Angel removed his shirt and made himself comfortable. She licked her lips as she her head lowered to taste him, placing a wet kiss near his bellybutton.

Angel hissed at the touch of her soft, warm, wet lips so near his straining erection.

Willow smiled against his skin, pleased with his reaction. She licked and kissed her way up his firm abs straight up to his neck where she continued to nibble at his flesh above his non-existent pulse. Angel lowered his arms, pulling Willow closer against his body.

Willow licked a trail from Angel's neck to the nipple below it, laving the already pebbled nub with her tongue. Angel's fingers twisted in her hair, encouraging her actions. Not one to refuse such an invitation, Willow took the nub between her lips and began to worry it with her teeth. She didn't spend nearly as long as Angel had with her, and successfully switched her attentions to his other nipple.

When he couldn't take her teasing any longer Angel pulled Willow up to his mouth. The kiss was searing, so much lust and desire having been built up over the evening.

When Willow pulled back, panting, Angel asked her with gold flecked eyes, "Is it my turn to play again?"

Nibbling her lip, Willow nodded and lay back on the bed.

Wanting to take no chances with her, Angel confirmed, "You know you don't have to do this."

"I know." Raising a hand to caress his cheek, Willow said, "I trust you. Now go grr."

With eyes locked, Willow gasped as she saw her beloved's brown eyes turn yellow. The hand on his check moved up to trace Angel's ridges. She'd never really paid much attention to Angel's demon before. Usually when she'd seen him like this it was when he was soulless – not happy memories. But now…

Willow could see the concern and nervousness etched across Angel's face. This was Angel, just as much as he was Angel in the face he preferred to show the world. It was like when Willow's eyes turned black when she did magick, only not nearly as pronounced. Willow raised her head to briefly kiss Angel, still a little wary of his fangs.

Angel pulled Willow into a tight embrace, whispering, "Thank you," into her neck. Willow stroked the back of his head, returning the embrace.

Pulling back, Willow said, "This is you, just as much as you're you when you're not all grr." The wicked gleam returned to her eyes as she said, "Now weren't you supposed to be showing me something about how blood can be fun?"

Angel answered with a smirk and leaning down to kiss her again. This time he purposefully nicked her bottom lip with a fang, pulling it into his mouth. He moaned at the first taste of her blood. It was as magnificent as he expected it to be – warm, rich, coppery, with a healthy dose of magick to spice it up.

Releasing her lip when the blood stopped, Angel moved down to the breast he had been pulled away from reaching earlier. He purposefully bypassed her neck, knowing that as accepting as Willow was being that that would be a bit too much for her right now.

He could still feel some tension in her body, so Angel began by lapping at her nipple as his hand gently rolled and pinched the other one. When Angel could once again scent her arousal he grazed a fang against the side of her breast, not enough to break the skin, but in order to acclimate her to the sensation. When she didn't push him away, Angel repeated the action, this time drawing a faint line of blood.

Willow gasped at the sensation of Angel lapping up her blood. She had barely felt the scratch that had drawn blood – the pain had been imperceptible. Then there was his tongue… Before when he had licked her skin it had been short, gentle laps. Now – Willow moans as Angel moved to scratch the other side of her breast – his tongue was firm and insistent, the entire flat of his tongue pressed against her breast, laving her with long, firm strokes.

One of her hands curled into his hair as the other traced patterns on his back as far as she could reach. Willow arched her back in pleasure, accidentally causing Angel to nick her a little deeper than before. He eagerly lapped up the extra blood, the taste of her an aphrodisiac.

Angel moved to switch his attentions to her other breast, wanting to give it equal treatment. By leaning across her body he was now involuntarily rubbing his arousal into her hip. He thought he'd been hard for hours, her blood drawing him ever closer to needing release.

Willow couldn't believe how aroused she was. She never would have believed that she could be so turned on by being repeatedly scratched deep enough to draw blood. Then again, she'd never imagined having a vampire for a lover before either. She could feel Angel's erection rubbing against her hip and twisted her hips so that he'd rub against where she needed the attention.

Angel groaned against her skin, moving again to lavish attention on her belly. He slid a hand down her body to the button of her jeans and deftly unbuttoned and unzipped them. Willow raised her hips for him to take them off, but instead he slid his hand under her panties, through her curls until her reached her clit.

"A-Angel," Willow moaned, thrusting up to meet his hand. She was on edge as it was from his teasing and didn't think she last much longer with the additional attention now being paid to her throbbing nub.

Willow began to mumble her pleasure. "Please… Angel, oh God… please… so close…" Her broken phrases degenerated into a wordless keening and the scent of her arousal became overwhelming to Angel.

Knowing what it would take to push her over the edge, Angel eased his fangs into the breast he was currently teasing and gave a final flick to her clit. Willow's breath caught in her throat as the wave of pleasure shot through her before coming out in a wail of ecstasy, calling out Angel's name.

Just as he knew that biting her would bring Willow release, it also brought his own. At that moment he didn't care that he'd come in his pants. To have his senses filled with the smell and sound of her arousal, plus the taste of so much of her blood… what vamp could resist? Angel eased his fangs out of her breast, lapping at the blood until the wounds closed.

Willow sighed in contentment as Angel lapped at her breast. Her entire body was limp as she came down from her sexual high.

Angel watched Willow as he licked his fingers clean of her release, a great sense of pride that he was the cause of such a look of contentment. His face shifted back to his human features as he leaned down and brushed his lips against Willow's before lying next to her.

When she found her voice again, Willow rolled to her side and looked at Angel. "That was… I mean I never thought… I had no idea…" She finally settled on, "Thank you."

"No, thank you," Angel insisted, pulling Willow down to rest against him. "I haven't enjoyed myself so much in ages."

"But you didn't… I mean you were so focused on me…"

"I did," he cut her off.

"You did," she looked up at him quizzically.

"Let's just say that I'm going to have to get up soon to change," Angel explained.

"Oh. O-oh." Willow's eyes widened as the truth dawned on her. "But I barely touched you," she whispered.

"Oh, you touched me plenty," Angel countered. "You may not have been initiating the action, but you were definitely touching me. Do you have any idea how intoxicating your blood is?"

Willow shook her head.

"It's like the finest wine, ambrosia, and a powerful aphrodisiac all rolled into one," he grinned.

Willow blushed at the compliment.

"Can I… can I stay in here tonight?" she nervously asked.

"I wouldn't have it any other way," Angel informed her. Feeling the wetness against his skin, Angel added, "Although first I think I should jump in the shower and, uh, change."

Willow's blush deepened. "Um, yeah, right. You, uh, go do that and I'll just go change into my pj's."

Angel kissed her again before they reluctantly parted to take care of the necessities before bed. Willow grabbed her shirt and bra on her way back to her bedroom.

She tossed them in the laundry and opened the closet door to look in the mirror. She took a deep breath with her eyes closed before opening them to stare at herself. She examined the thin lines covering her breasts and torso in her reflection. Her eyes kept being drawn back to the bite mark on her breast. She lifted a hand and brushed her fingers over the puncture marks. She shivered at the touch.

Willow was a little surprised that she didn't feel shame about having let Angel bite her. Granted he hadn't asked before he did it, but it had been implied when she gave him permission for the other stuff.

Hearing the shower turn off, Willow quickly pulled off her jeans and panties and moved to her dresser to pull out a pair of boxers and a tank top. She slipped them on and waited for Angel to emerge from the bathroom, needing to take care of a few things as well before turning in.

Willow openly admired the vampire as he opened the bathroom door in nothing but a towel. Trailing a hand over his damp chest she said, "I'll be there in a minute."

Angel dumbly nodded as she closed the bathroom door, staring at it for a minute before returning to his room to finish drying off. Normally he preferred to sleep in the nude, but he didn't think Willow would appreciate that tonight, so he pulled on a pair of black silk boxers. While he waited for Willow, he made sure the apartment door was locked and all of the lights were turned off.

Angel was reclining under the covers when Willow approached the door. She gently knocked on the door as she entered. Angel lifted the covers for her to join him. This was all the invitation she needed. Willow closed the bedroom door and jumped onto the bed with Angel, sliding up against his side and resting her head on his chest.

They lay together in silence for several minutes, but Angel could sense that there was something Willow wanted to discuss.

Finally she asked, "Angel, what…"

"Shh," he cut her off. "There's going to be time enough for questions and plans. Let's just enjoy being with each other tonight."

Willow let out a sigh of relief – Angel had questions too. "That sounds heavenly." She turned her face up for a kiss, which Angel eagerly bestowed.

Willow broke the kiss with a yawn and immediately apologized.

Angel chuckled. "That's okay. You've had a busy day today. I'd say you deserve a little sleep."

As she was starting to drift off, Willow mumbled, "I didn't cry last night. It was the first time since… since that day that I didn't cry myself to sleep."

"I know," Angel softly admitted, having agonized over her nightly crying each night since she'd arrived. He ran his fingers through her hair as she snuggled closer to him. "Good night Willow. Sweet dreams."

"Mmm, dream," she sighed.


Part 13

Willow woke slowly the next morning. She was a little disoriented at first in the dark room and unfamiliar bed. The unfamiliar bed sensation wasn't a new one since she arrived in LA, however this one was not the unusual bed she was used to. The feeling of being unable to extract herself from said unfamiliar bed was also a new one. As she became more alert she realized that the reason she felt pressed into the mattress was because she was.

A goofy grin spread over her face as she turned her head to look at Angel. His face was buried in her neck and he had an arm resting across her torso and a leg thrown over one of hers. Willow could see that his eyes were closed, but since he didn't breathe, she wasn't sure if he was awake or not.

Willow raised her free arm to caress his sleep rumpled hair, which wasn't very different from his regular look. Angel began to purr, tightening his arm around her and nuzzling her neck. As Willow's gentle caresses moved down to his back and arm, Angel began to stir.

He opened his eyes and smiled at the sight of Willow's mouth curved up in contentment. Her smile grew when she realized he was awake. Angel shifted slightly in order to kiss his girlfriend's lips.

"Mmm, now that's how I should wake up every morning," Willow sighed when they parted.

Angel shifted so that he wasn't laying half on top of the slight woman in his arms. Brushing the hair off her face he sincerely offered, "You can, if you want. You can keep your room for your things and when you need some time alone, but I would love it if you'd spend your nights in here, with me."

Willow's eyes began to shine with unshed tears. That was exactly what she wanted. Aside from the fact that she wasn't used to sleeping alone anymore, Willow didn't want to be apart from Angel for longer than necessary.

"Good, because that's what I want too," she admitted with a smile.

Willow lifted her head to meet Angel's descending one in a passionate kiss. Just as their first kiss of the morning has been perfectly innocent and loving, this kiss was intense and heated.

As Willow's body refilled itself with air after the kiss broke, it also reminded her of some of her other mortal habits. Namely her bladder began to yell at her and her tummy growled.

Angel laughed at her growling belly. "Now I know that wasn't me growling."

"Sorry," Willow sheepishly said. "I guess I'm a little hungry."

"That's understandable, you used up quite a bit of energy last night."

Willow blushed at the reminder. Her hand unconsciously moved to cover the breast Angel had bitten.

Following her hand's movements, Angel felt a need to ask, "You're not upset about that, are you?"

Willow looked at him confused for a moment. She noticed the direction his eyes were trained and she quickly moved her hand to turn his face to look at hers.

"No, of course not. I mean I was a little shocked at first, but it, uh, felt surprisingly, um, good."

The devilish smile returned to Angel's face. "I knew you'd like it."

"Well aren't you the Mr. smarty-pants," Willow teasingly pouted.

Unable to resist, Angel lowered Willow's tank top to reveal the mark he'd left on her breast. He swooped down and flicked his tongue over the closed wounds. Willow gasped as she felt a ripple of sensation rush from her breast to her core. She arched her back when Angel repeated the action, this time slowly dragging his tongue over her breast.

Angel's hand began roaming over her torso in long, firm strokes. As he made a pass over her abdomen Willow's bladder loudly complained at the external pressure, causing Willow to regretfully push Angel off of her. He looked at her with eyes full of confusion.

"Sorry," Willow apologized as she moved to stand, "But I kinda need a short break."

"Was it something I did?" Angel reached for her to prevent her from leaving, wanting to know what the matter was.

"No, I just, need to, um, go to the bathroom," Willow whispered in embarrassment.

He immediately released her wrist and motioned for her to leave. "Sorry, by all means…"

Willow smiled her thanks and tried not to run for the bathroom. This was just one more of those human habits Angel was going to have to remember now that he had a human lover.

As soon as the bathroom door closed Angel heard knocking on the front door. Reluctantly he slid out of bed and pulled on a pair of pants to send whoever was there away.

Angel was not prepared to see the person on the other side of the door. He stood open-mouthed, staring at the blond woman taking in his barely-dressed body.

Stepping around the prone vampire, Buffy teased, "Damn, it's a good thing Willow's gay now or else I might have to object to you running around in nothing but a pair of pants."

Buffy luckily didn't see Angel's nervous swallow of guilt as he closed the door. He was about to say something when Willow's voice drifted down the hallway.

When she noticed Angel wasn't still in bed she headed towards the kitchen, calling out, "Angel, who gave you permission to get out of bed? I said I'd be right ba-"

Willow stopped short when she saw the blond slayer standing in the living room next to a very nervous looking vampire.

"Buffy, what are you doing here?" Willow asked, trying to sound happy, but only making her sound guilty.

Buffy took a step back to look between her best friend and her ex-boyfriend. They both radiated guilt.

"What's going on here?" she skeptically asked.

"Nothing." Willow and Angel both instantly answered. They exchanged a look that screamed that it was a lie.

"Are you two sleeping together?" Buffy asked, not accusingly, just curiously.

"No." They both answered again. Willow pointed out, "I have my own room."

"Let me rephrase. Are you two having sex?"

Once again, two quick responses of "No."

"I'm not a dentist, quit making me pull teeth." Buffy flopped down on the couch in frustration.

Willow looked over at Angel, a pleading look on her face, knowing she had to tell her friend the truth. Angel nodded in understanding.

"Do you want me to stay?" he mouthed to Willow. She shook her head. Angel smiled weakly and headed back towards his room.

"Where's he going?" Buffy asked, having observed the silent communication between the two.

"He thought we could use some privacy to talk," Willow informed her.

"Then there is something going on between you two," Buffy stated.

"Yes, there is," Willow confirmed. The redhead wasn't blushing or trying to hide within herself. She sat next to Buffy on the couch, shoulders squared, resolve face at the ready.

Buffy surprised Willow by sighing, "I had a feeling this would happen."

"What?" Willow couldn't have heard her correctly. She'd had no idea anything could possibly happen between her and Angel, so how had Buffy?

Buffy smiled compassionately. "You've got too much in common, Will. You're both the quiet, helpful types. You've been hurt by the people you love and find the strength to go on. I can't imagine Angel asking anyone else to live with him, especially someone who at the time was just a friend. Besides, you're both so easy to love."

"Love? Buffy I don't…" Willow tried to deny.

"I can see it, Will. You're positively glowing. And Angel isn't all broody. I know you; you wouldn't sleep with someone you didn't love."

"But we haven't…"

"Maybe you haven't had sex, but don't try to tell me there hasn't been any hanky-panky in this apartment," Buffy teased. Willow's blush confirmed her statement. "And knowing you, you're already working on a way around that happiness clause in Angel's curse."

Willow's reddened cheeks immediately paled. "Um, Buffy… about Angel's soul…"

"It's permanent," a deep voice said from the hallway.

Both girls looked up to see Angel standing at the entrance to the room. Willow smiled her relief to Angel for not having to explain this one alone. Buffy merely stared in surprise.

"Permanent? But how?"

Feeling more confident now that Angel was here, Willow answered, "When I gave Angel back his soul I did it without the happiness clause."

Angel moved to sit next to Willow, wrapping an arm around her waist to pull her back against his chest. Staring at his ex, Angel warned, "Don't even think about giving Willow grief about not saying anything. You had left town without even bothering to tell anyone I'd been sent to hell, so Willow had no way of telling you that it was permanent."

Willow picked up the narrative. "When you came back you insisted on moving on with your life. And we had no way of knowing if or when Angel would return. And it's not like I knew when he did."

Buffy knew they were trying to remind her of secrets she'd kept so that she wouldn't be angry with theirs. It was working. Looking up at the couple in front of her Buffy couldn't deny how perfect they looked together. She was happy now with Riley and while she may often wonder about Angel, she knew she was no longer in love with him. How could she deny Willow the happiness that she knew Angel could give her?

A very loud and rumbly tummy broke the silence. Willow blushed as Buffy and Angel looked at her.

"I haven't had breakfast yet," Willow admitted to her friend and reminded her boyfriend.

"Why don't you girls go down to the café for a bite to eat?" Angel suggested.

"Trying to get rid of us?" Willow teased.

"Yes." Angel agreed with a grin.

"Okay, fine." Willow stood and looked down at what she was wearing. "But first I'm gonna get dressed."

"I'll wait here," Buffy said before Willow could ask if she wanted to come with. After a cautionary look, Willow shrugged and headed for her room.

"Are you really okay with this?" Angel asked, knowing how hard it would be for Willow to continue a relationship if she thought Buffy had issues.

Buffy smiled. "I am. I'm hoping that now when I say that I am over you, us, that you won't take it so harshly." Angel smiled slightly. "I know you don't like to hear it, but I really am happy with Riley. And I know that you and Willow can make each other happy. You deserve it, both of you."

"Thank you, Buffy. That's going to mean a lot to Willow, and to me."

Willow walked back into the room, fully dressed, and saw the soft expressions on the faces of the former lovers. "Am I interrupting something?" she asked, a light, teasing tone to her voice.

"Nothing at all," Angel assured her, standing to move to her side.

"You ready?" Buffy needlessly asked as she rose to her feet as well.

"Yep. I'm absolutely starving."

Buffy headed towards the door and Angel took the opportunity to give Willow a quick kiss before she left.

"I'm going to take a shower and head down to the office. Meet me there after Buffy leaves?"

"Sure." Willow kissed him again before following her friend down the stairs.


While Willow inhaled her bagel and coffee Buffy caught her up on what had been happening in Sunnydale since she'd left. When those two minutes were up Willow asked, "So what brings you to LA? Why didn't you call first?"

"I wanted to surprise you, silly. And it looks like it worked."

"More than you know," Willow agreed. "You're really not upset about me and Angel?"

"Only in the my-former-lover-doesn't-want-me-anymore way," Buffy assured her. "I'm always gonna care about Angel, ya know? He was my first… everything. Just like a part of you is always gonna love Oz."

"Yeah, I guess you're right."

"But what I wanna know about is this instance that you were 'gay now'." Buffy teased.

Willow looked abashed. "That was more for Tara's benefit than actual truth. Tara was always a little insecure about the two of us because she knew I'd loved men before her. I knew that I was attracted to both. As I've told everyone else in LA, I'm not making my dating choices based on a person's gender but because of who they are… their soul."

"Well, that definitely includes Angel," Buffy grinned.

"That it does," Willow agreed. "He's been so great to me. Giving me space when I need it, keeping me company when I'm lonely, letting me buy whatever I want. He even gave me a job for the summer, as in he's gonna pay me to do research and magick."

"Okay, now I'm jealous," Buffy pouted. "Think I can get Giles to pay me for slaying? Nah, he's jobless, I probably shouldn't pressure him for money."

"That might be a good idea," Willow agreed.

Brightening, Buffy plowed ahead. "So tell me how it happened. How'd you and Angel get together?"

"It was perfect," Willow sighed. Tossing her napkin on her plate Willow stood and pulled Buffy along. "C'mon, I gotta show you something."

Willow led Buffy back up to the apartment, into her room and out onto the balcony.

"Wow, this is sweet," the blond whistled.

"I fell in love with this balcony the moment I saw it. I even dragged Angel to Pier 1 to get the loveseat and stuff so I could sit out here."

"You took Angel to Pier 1?" Buffy giggled, imaging Angel's horror and boredom.

"Yeah, you should have seen him fretting over the lanterns," Willow giggled. "Now do you want to hear about how we got together or not."

"Shutting up now." Buffy sat on the loveseat and Willow leaned against the balcony railing.

"It was the next day. There was a rainstorm that day. I was out here reading when Angel got up. Before you ask, the roof extends far enough that hardly any rain got under here. Anyway I was reading this really engrossing book and Angel had to come all the way out onto the porch 'cause I didn't notice him in the doorway. I started freaking because, hello, vampire outside during the day. But there was no direct sunlight, so it was okay. I was looking at Angel, really looking at him 'cause how often am I going to see him outside during the day. Everything just seemed to click into place and the next thing I knew we were kissing."

"Wow," Buffy sighed. "That sounds like the perfect kiss."

"It was. Until the storm ended and we had to run indoors so Angel wouldn't get all flamey."

"Your life seems so perfect now," Buffy sadly observed. "Are you going to be coming back to Sunnydale?"

"Why wouldn't I?" Willow asked, the idea never having occurred to her.

"Well, here you've got a spanking new boyfriend, a cozy apartment with a great balcony, a job that pays you do to what you love, and you can easily transfer to UCLA. Why wouldn't you stay?"

"I honestly haven't thought that much about the future. I've only been here a little over a week. It's all so new still. Can we not worry about that yet, please."

"Okay, you got it. Live in the now." Buffy nodded her agreement.


Part 14

Willow and Buffy sat out on the balcony until it was time for Buffy to go meet her father. Surprising Willow had been only part of her reason for the trip. She was spending the weekend with her dad on a guilt-induced bonding weekend.

Willow entered the offices of Angel Investigations, which was still without a sign, after walking Buffy out. It had been a lot of fun to hang out with Buffy and just indulge in some girl talk. Although right now, she'd prefer to spend time with the object of said talk.

"Hey Cordy," Willow greeted the brunette as she entered the office.

"Hi Willow." Cordelia looked up from magazine she was reading. "I hear you had a visit from a certain blond I-think-I'm-better-than-everyone-else slayer."

"She's just going by Buffy these days," Willow countered with a grin. "And yes, she made an announced visit today."

"And with her usual bad timing I hear." Cordelia gave a knowing grin.

"Just where are you getting your information missy?" Willow crossed her arms over her chest with an expression of mock seriousness.

"Angel was muttering something about ex-girlfriends interrupting perfectly good mornings in bed with new ones. Does this mean you have something to tell me?"

"Apparently not," Willow teased, knowing Cordelia was fishing for details. Willow started to walk towards Angel's office, knowing she wouldn't get far.

"Oh no you don't," Cordelia grabbed her wrist. "What were you doing in bed with Angel this morning?"

"Well… a person generally wakes up in the same place they, uh, fell asleep."

"Willow," Cordelia gasped, a smile growing across her face. "You go girl. I see Angel didn't waste any time taking that permanent soul knowledge for a test drive."

Willow blushed brightly as she denied, "No, no test driving."

"Uh-huh, like I'm gonna believe that with that blush." Cordelia raised an eyebrow.

Willow worried her bottom lip with her teeth and shook her head. She started walking backwards towards Angel's office. "All I'm gonna say is that from now on I'm gonna be sleeping in Angel's room."

Willow turned on her heel and ran the rest of the way to Angel's office, closing the door behind her. She rested her forehead against the cool wood, then turned to lean against the door.

Angel was looking at her with a bemused expression. "Something chasing you?"

"Yes, an extremely dangerous, single-minded, nosy, seer," Willow admitted.

Angel pushed his chair back from his desk and beckoned Willow to him. "Aw, poor baby. Want me to go set her straight? Dock her salary?"

Willow sat on Angel's lap, wrapping her arms around his neck. "No, that's okay. I like you here."

Angel's hands settled on Willow's hips. "You know, I like me here too." He met her lips in a soft, gentle kiss. "So how did it go with Buffy?"

"Better than I expected. She's okay with us, she really is," Willow excitedly said.

"I know." Willow gave him a questioning look. "Buffy and I had a little chat while you were getting dressed this morning. She's moved on and so have I."

Angel kissed her again, showing her how much he was over Buffy. His tongue sought entrance to her mouth and was instantly admitted. Willow moaned as the kiss deepened. Her hands slid up into his hair, tugging on the gelled strands, pulling him closer.

Angel's fingers gripped Willow's hips tighter. His tongue delved into Willow's mouth - exploring, tasting, claiming.

When Willow pulled back for air she panted, "Did you have some work you should be doing?"

Angel was about to say that nothing was more important than her when, as if on cue, there was a loud thump from the lobby accompanied by Cordelia's screams of pain.

"Vision," Angel explained as they rushed to assist the seer. "Willow, can you get the aspirin and some water from the kitchen?"

Angel helped Cordelia back into her chair as Willow fetched the pills. "Cordelia, what did you see?"

"Demons… 3, no 4, of them. They were destroying an occult shop… looking for something… An amulet! It's silver… an oval with a moonstone in the center and symbols carved around it."

Willow handed the pills and water to Cordelia who gratefully downed the tablets. Angel handed Cordelia a notepad and pencil.

"Can you draw it? Do you remember any of the symbols?"

"Um, yeah. Give me a second." Cordelia rested her elbows on the desk and her head on her hands, waiting for the pain to pass.

"I'll give Gunn and Wesley a call, get them in here to help research this amulet and then dispatch the demons." Angel announced as he headed back towards his office.

"I'll start looking up ovular amulets with moonstones and engravings on the computer in the library," Willow offered, heading into research mode.

"Wait for Cordelia to give you a drawing of it. It'll save time," Angel said, disappearing into his office.

"Yes, sir," Willow mock-saluted. She turned back to Cordelia, "How you feelin'?"

"A little better," she said. "And just ignore Mr. Order Giver. He gets that way when I get a vision. All business and single-minded."

"If you say so," Willow glumly replied.

"Now don't get all mopey on me. You know how these things work as well as I do. A new baddy makes itself known and everything else goes on hold until it's destroyed."

"I know," Willow insisted. "And I'm not all mopey. It's just been so great the last couple of days – you know, just the two of us being able to spend so much time together. I guess I wasn't ready for the real world to intrude on us just yet."

"I get that," Cordy sighed. "I love that encapsulated feeling at the beginning of a relationship."

"Me too," Willow agreed with a secretive smile.

Angel walked back into the room, taking in the dreamy expressions on the girls' faces. "Any luck with that amulet drawing?" he asked Cordelia.

"Getting right on that," she said, snapping out of her wandering thoughts.

Angel leaned down to whisper in Willow's ear. "Am I the subject of that wonderful expression on your face?"

"What do you think?" she whispered back, eyebrow raised.

"I think we better find out what that amulet is for quickly," Angel huskily replied.

"Uh-um," Cordelia cleared her throat. She held out her drawing of the amulet. "Here you go."

"Thanks," Angel said, taking the drawing without looking at Cordelia.

"Hello," Cordelia exasperatedly said, trying to break through to the couple.

"Sorry, Cordy," Willow apologized, taking the drawing from Angel. "I'll just go get started on this in the library."

"I'll come with," Angel offered, helping Willow to stand.

"Oh no you don't," Cordelia insisted. "I'm not leaving you two alone in a room. I'll be researching right along side you and I can't believe I'm offering to do research."

"You don't have to," Angel offered.

"Oh, yes, I think I do." The former cheerleader insisted. "You two need a chaperone and it looks like I just got elected for the job."

"We'll be fine," Willow insisted. "What do you think we are, two hormone driven teenagers who can't keep their hands off each other?"

"Yes!" Cordy exclaimed.

"Fine, whatever, let's just get started." Angel said, herding everyone into the library.

"Ooh, let me go get my laptop. That way Cordy and I can both surf the net for info," Willow suggested.

"Good idea," Angel agreed. Willow gave him a peck on the cheek and ran up to the apartment to get her laptop.

As soon as she left Cordelia started in on Angel. "Okay, now we're going to have to set some rules for proper office behavior."

"What?" he asked with a laugh in his voice.

"There is to be no hanky-panky in the office. No longing looks, no teasing whispers, no coupley behavior whatsoever."

"I can't agree to that," Angel said. "And it's not fair of you to ask."

"If it's going to distract you from your work, then ya, I do."

"My relationship with Willow is not going to affect my work," Angel insisted, knowing how hard it was going to be keeping his hands off of Willow when they were together. "How about this: we'll try to behave ourselves in front of you guys, but you can't expect us not to act 'coupley'. We're a couple! We're going to act all… coupley."

"Darn tootin'," Willow added, entering the library, laptop under her arm. To demonstrate her point Willow gave Angel a quick kiss before sitting next to him at the table.

Wesley arrived a short time later and was filled in on the vision and amulet. He pulled out the books he thought would be useful and he and Angel began searching for any useful information.

Willow got lucky an hour and a half later. She'd done a search of occult shops in the area and crossed it with a description of the amulet. After Cordelia verified that it was one and the same amulet, they both concentrated on identifying the demons in her vision and how to kill them. Wesley gloated another half hour later after having identified the demons in one of his books.

By the time Gunn arrived the sun had set, so the men weaponed up. As Angel was about to suggest that the women wait at the office, Willow beat him to the punch.

"Don't even think about asking me to sit this one out," she insisted. "First off, it's an occult shop, right? Being the resident witch I think I should learn where they are. Secondly, while you guys are fighting the demons I can get a hold of the amulet and deactivate it."

Recognizing her 'resolve face', Angel caved. "Alright, fine. But be careful."

"I will," she promised. She raised herself to her toes to whisper in his ear, "Now that wasn't so hard, was it? It just might earn you a reward tonight."

Angel grabbed her ass, pulling her flush against his side, "It better. And if you get yourself hurt, you may have to be punished."

Willow's eyes momentarily darkened with lust at the possibilities of being punished by Angel. A wicked grin spread across her face.

"Now don't go getting any ideas," Angel warned as they headed out to the car.

While the witch and the vampire were… talking… the other members of the AI team were deep in conversation.

"Hey, Cordy, this is the first vision you've had since the one about Red, right?" Gunn pointed out.

"Yes, thank God."

"I wonder why that is," Wesley mused aloud. "There usually isn't so much time that passes between visions."

"I was thinking about that," Cordelia admitted. "I think it's because the last vision wasn't finished yet." The men both gave her curious looks. "Here's the way I see it, no pun intended. The Powers sent me the vision of Tara being attacked after it happened so that Angel would be there in time for Willow's break-up. He then brings her to LA, where she is meant to be so that Angel can learn that his soul is permanent, just as he starts to fall for the witch who gave it to him."

"So you're sayin' that Willow and Angel are destined to be together," Gunn summarized.

"Duh, that's what I was explaining."

"The girl who gave him his soul, permanently, is the one he is meant to love. Two souls in pain who find happiness together. It's rather poetic isn't it?"

"Naw. It's perfect," Gunn said.

They turned to see Willow and Angel heading outside, arms around each other.

Angel called back over his shoulder, "You guys comin'?"

"We're right behind you," Gunn answered as he and Wesley followed him out the door.

"Good Luck," Cordelia called after the group.

The End

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