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Third Time's The Charm

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This story is No. 1 in the series "A Willow in Thorns". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: This is the prequel to my story "A Willow in Thorns". The story of how Willow and Cole fell in love and became man and wife.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Charmed > Willow-Centered > Pairing: Cole TurnerzillagirlFR15721,43913112,41325 Aug 0618 Aug 07No

Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven

Disclaimer

I do not own any of the characters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, or Charmed.

Summary

Giles is concerned about Buffy and Willow and confronts Angel.

Chapter Seven

Part One

Giles stared absentmindedly at the ice swirling in his gin. He sighed as he listened to the different noises the hotel made as it settled. The old girl had a lot of mileage on her. As do I, he mused. He had to make sure he got this right. He couldn’t make another mistake. He’d made so many. Most of all the mistakes he’d made with Willow and her magic. She should never have started. What really struck him was how powerful she was. Her natural magical potential must be immense!

He closed his eyes and groaned. There were so many problems facing them. First of all, he couldn’t leave all the Slayers alone for long. He had to restart the Council. He had to start training Watchers. It was a huge task he had in front of him. But it was vital.

The problem was he couldn’t leave his “children” alone at this time. Xander was probably fine. Well as fine as Xander ever was. He may be a little obtuse, but he was full of such potential. His researching skills might be lacking, but Giles was positive when it came to field craft and instincts that he was a perfect candidate for a Watcher. But, he knew that Xander couldn’t go anywhere until they took care of the girls.

Yes, Buffy and Willow were the real issue. Giles would prefer it if he could get just get them out of here. He hadn’t wanted to come here in the first place. If Angel hadn’t been killed outright in his battle, then he’d have no doubt that Angel would’ve pulled through. He was a vampire, after all. He snorted as he took another drag on his gin. Not just any vampire, either, he was Angelus. Not bloody likely to just roll over and give up, that’s for sure.

Then there was Willow and this demon. It was apparently the same demon that the three of them had found on their way here. He’d nearly had a stroke when he’d found out they’d released a demon from a hellmouth. And, now, it had fixated itself on Willow. He needed to find out exactly what this demon was. It was unlike any demon he’d ever seen. Even Buffy had said that. After her confrontation with the demon, she’d been quite disturbed by the experience. There was something different about it and he didn’t like the effect it seemed to have on Willow. It really disturbed him.

It disturbed Buffy and Xander as well. The experience in the cave with the hellmouth had demonstrated that. They didn’t seem to think that the demon had had enough time to exert any undue influence on her. Yet, somehow it had, both there and here. And now he had followed her here. But, why wait so long? It had been over two months since their experience. So, why now? And, why her? And just what was he using to influence her?

Giles played the confrontation back in his head. It could’ve been so much worse. If Angel hadn’t been there… His eyes shot wide open at the thought. Standing up suddenly, he dropped his now forgotten gin, vaguely registering the sound of the ice spilling out of the glass as it dropped to the floor. His head cleared as he realized that Angel knew something, if not everything. If he was right, Angel knew exactly what – maybe even who – that demon was.

Part Two

Willow thrust the scientific journal from her in disgust as she jolted from the bed. She ran her fingers through her hair and nearly screamed in frustration. She had to figure a way out of this. This guy—no! this demon! – could not just walk in on her and –

OOF! While pacing, she collided with something quite solid and fell down to the ground. She looked up to see what she crashed into. She would’ve remembered something that tall in the middle of the room. Towering over her, there he stood – the demon that put so much turmoil in her life – with a very silly smile on his face. She groaned and tried to struggle to her feet.

Cole smiled as he looked down at Willow struggling. He reached down to help her and was shocked to find himself hurt when she flinched from him. He stepped back keeping his hands behind his back. He’d just come to talk and he needed Willow to know that she had nothing to fear from him. He backed up until he was leaning against the wall next to the dresser. He watched Willow organize herself and her thoughts.

She was really nothing like any woman he’d ever gotten himself involved with before. Even under orders from the Source or the Brotherhood. Even then, they tended to send him after females that were at least his type. Not that she was a bad type. Just not one that he’d ever have been interested at first sight before. She almost seemed to be a child. She was so small and delicate looking, actually quite shy. But all that masked a core of steel, a strength and power that staggered the imagination.

Willow, for her part, had moved past shock to outright anger. She was really, really pissed off. It was bad enough how he had been manipulating her recently. But to just appear in her room? She bristled at the outrage. What really made her angry was the fact that just his appearance drew her to him. She could feel the dark magicks stirring just underneath the surface. She shuddered, as she tried to dispel the feeling, and set her gaze on him. She glared.

“What. Are. You. Doing. Here?”

Cole, too, was feeling the stirring as well. He could feel her magicks reaching out to his own. He knew that he had to get her to understand. The potential was frightening. He didn’t know why this particular witch had managed to stay under the radar of both the Underworld and the Elders, but it wouldn’t be for long. Soon, they would find out about not just her, but him as well. And he certainly didn’t want the Elders to know about him just yet. He’d survived the Charmed Ones quite a few times already, but he wasn’t going to survive being vanquished forever. He raised his hands palms up in a peace-making manner.

“Willow. I only came to talk. That’s all. There are things I need to tell you. About what you’re feeling. About what I’m feeling. It’s important. There are other forces out there that are going to be very interested. And we both need to be ready for it.”

She furrowed her brow in confusion. Other forces? Ready? Ready for what? She needed to go get Giles— she stepped towards the door when he moved to block her path.

“No, Willow, please. Let this be just us for now. You can bring the others in later.” He noticed her willful expression and tried for his best and most convincing smile. He blanched when he noticed her expression change to one of scorn. What? What happened? It always worked with—

“Yeah, right. Does that smile work on all the girls?” She snapped and tried to push herself through him to the door. For some reason, she hadn’t decided to just attack him. Pushing at him, it was like pushing against a wall. He hardly even moved. He wasn’t trying to grab her or pin her down. He just wouldn’t let her get at the door.

“Willow. Please.” Cole strained to make his features as neutral as possible. “Let’s make a deal. Let’s make it just us for now. I promise to answer any questions Giles or any of your friends later. I just want to make this just us right now. It’s rather personal, really. There are some things I’m not comfortable talking about in front of strangers. Especially vampires.”

Now that did make Willow pause. It was the way he said the word. Like vampires was some kind of vermin or some lower form of life. It was very strange. But the personal thing, that made sense. She really wasn’t very comfortable discussing the feelings she was having in front of anyone but Buffy really. Even with her, she ended up blushing far too much. She took a large step back away from his broad chest and took a deep breath. “Okay. We talk. Just talk. No touching. No magic. No big red guy with claws. Okay?”

Cole smiled at her and moved back as she went to sit on the bed. He also took a deep breath. He relaxed as she agreed with him. He hadn’t wanted to deal with the others. It would add to much prejudice against him. He knew that his future was with her. Once they were together, he would be safe. Safe from the Underworld, the Elders… even the Charmed Ones. He didn’t love her. He knew that. But it didn’t mean they wouldn’t deal well with one another.

“Now, what did you mean about other forces?”

Part Three

Angel drank his dinner of pigs’ blood in uncomfortable silence. He shifted nervously in his chair, his legs crossed at the ankles. It was hard to not think about how Buffy’s blood had tasted, had felt as it swirled in his mouth. It would’ve been hard enough if it had just been human blood. But it had been hers. He shifted once again as he thought of her lying in her bed in one of the floors above.

The hotel was quiet. Everyone had retired to one of the rooms on the upper floors. Except for Giles, though. He was still up in the new library. He hadn’t had the heart to tell Giles and Xander that it was probably a bad idea putting the library there. Placing anything that you wanted to keep on the ground floor was always a bad idea. He’d probably had a big fight in every room on the ground floor. Nevertheless, he’d held his tongue. They would learn eventually.

Besides he wanted to keep Buffy here. No matter how painful it was, it was much, much worse with her elsewhere. And the way to do that was to keep her friends here. If Giles was comfortable here… He shook his head at that. What was he thinking, Giles wanted her out of here and he wanted Willow out as well.

He chuckled at that. There was nothing Giles could do about Willow’s problem. If he was right about what was after Willow, there was nothing to do. Only Willow could have any impact on it. The rest of them could only get hurt if they got in the way.

He finished his meal and decided to have a whisky. Looking out the window, it was still many hours to dawn. Not even close to time to seek his own bed. Not much else going on either. He paused as he heard something from Giles’ direction.

He was moving around. Sooner or later, he was going to seek Angel out. He didn’t delude himself. Giles was intelligent enough to realize that he knew more than he had said about the demon. However, he had decided to keep silent on the subject for the time being. But, if Giles sought him out, he would tell him as much as he could. He heard a glass hit the ground. He heard Giles moving around. Angel sighed heavily. Giles had made his decision and was coming.

Then he heard a thud from upstairs, followed by some insistent voices. The demon had returned. Damnation! What timing. He heard Giles getting nearer. It was all academic. There was nothing he could do about Willow and the demon. Que sera sera. What would be would be. There was nothing any of them could do about it, and only a fool would try. He just hoped that no one else found out that the demon was back and did something foolish.

“Ah, there you are, Angel. I thought it was far too late for you to be asleep.”

Angel looked up to see Giles in the doorway. He smiled at the older man. “Of course, Giles. I had just been noticing that dawn was quite a ways off. I think even the ghosts have settled down.”

Giles frowned, looking around. Of course, Wesley and the other ghost. He knew they weren’t there, of course. The atmosphere got very charged when Wesley was around. He turned to Angel. “Of course. I get the impression that Wesley doesn’t like to have me around. Do you actually see the ghosts?”

Angel nodded, motioning for Giles to sit down. “Yes, I see Wes. Not Fred. I think there’s something wrong with her. Would you like some whiskey?” He indicated the bottle and glasses as Giles sat down and nodded. The Watcher’s restraint was incredible, he thought. He obviously had more on his mind than the ghosts. He brought the bottle and glass over and refilled his own glass as he filled Giles’. “Now, I know that you didn’t seek me out to discuss the ghosts. What’s on your mind?”

Giles smiled coolly. Of course, Angel knew exactly why he was here. Both of them knew exactly what this was about. “Yes, Angel. I’m here because I think you know quite a bit about this demon problem. How dangerous is it?”

“Potentially? An immense danger, I would say.”

“Then it needs to be destroyed. Yes?” As Giles spoke, he looked into Angel’s eyes and was surprised by what he saw there. He was looking at him like… well, like Giles would look at Xander after one of his more inane suggestions. “I see that you seem to know so much more about what is happening, don’t you? Just how much do you know? Do you know who this demon is?”

Angel took a drink and then shook his head at Giles’ final question. “No, I don’t know him specifically. However, I know what he is. More importantly, I know what is happening – with him, and with Willow.” He paused – a bit overdramatic for his taste, but he felt the situation called for it – he watched as Giles processed what he had said so far. There was a lot of information for Giles to process and he was not going to like what Angel had to say. However, he was extremely thankful that it was just Giles. Trying to tell Xander what he was about to tell Giles would be impossible.

Angel had his complete attention now. For some reason, he was happier knowing that the vampire did not know the demon personally. It was hard to say just why. However, now, hopefully the truth would be exposed. Though, he was sure the truth wouldn’t make him any happier.

 

The End?

You have reached the end of "Third Time's The Charm" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 18 Aug 07.

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