Wow! And I thought you guys might not like it when I first posted =D Really glad I was wrong. Thanks so much for the reviews! I hope I don't disappoint. *hugs*
"I know where she is," Angel said suddenly as they were gathering out in front of the house. He closed his eyes and turned, his 'game face' flickering in and out almost unconsciously. "She's safe, but she's in pain and calling me."
"Go, we'll follow," Carlisle told him unnecessarily, then they were running.
Fifteen minutes later, the Cullens came to a halt. They'd reached the boundary bordering the La Push lands. Angel slid to a stop and looked back at his friends. "We can't go any farther. This is wolf territory. Go on ahead, the treaty doesn't extend to your kind."
Angel nodded and forged ahead, Faith right behind him. Xander had stayed behind with Alice just in case they were wrong and Willow wandered back. It was a nice thought, but he knew Angel wasn't likely to be wrong. He didn't want to admit that he thought he'd be more of a hazard than a help with the way his head was splitting. The painkillers kicking in hadn't helped much, taking the edge off but making him feel fuzzy. He figured he'd do more good holding down the fort than tripping over his own feet in the woods in the middle of the night.
Another ten minutes of running full speed had them coming out in front of a cabin, all the lights burning despite the late hour. Angel was at the door in seconds, pounding at the thick wood. The man who answered was tall, a good four inches taller than Angel's own six-four. His shoulders were massive and he looked to be power personified. Deeper than that, the souled vampire recognized another predator. Wolf, just under the surface. He could smell Willow on the other man, faintly, but it was there. Barely biting back the urge to snarl and growl, he opened his mouth but was stopped when the other man spoke first.
"She's been calling for you. Do you mean harm to me or mine?" Intense black eyes pinned him in place as the proper questions were asked bluntly. Nostrils flared and Angel knew that the other man would know if he lied. Not that he had a reason to lie.
"No harm meant. I am... different from the others of my kind." It was an effort to remember that the wolf meant well. His witch was inside that cabin, hurting and calling him. The demon inside roared and rattled at the cage, infuriated at the barrier keeping him out. He kept his human mask on, but barely.
"Angel's got himself a shiny, guilt-ridden soul," Faith said, making her entrance, sliding up beside Angel. She touched the vampire's shoulder, feeling the building tension in his muscles. She looked the wolf up and down deliberately, measuringly. She allowed some of her own primal power to leak into her eyes as she finally allowed eye contact. Expression deceptively calm, she told him, "The woman you're helping is the one who gave it back to him. He might be the only one that can actually do any good in saving her."
"And you are," the man demanded, his tone not really harsh, just thick with authority. He crossed his arms over his chest, purposely blocking the doorway. The message was clear. No one was getting inside without him stepping aside.
"Faith. Slayer," Faith told him simply. She kept eye contact, almost daring him to argue. She didn't want it to end with violence, but at this point she was willing to do almost anything to see with her own eyes that her friend was safe. Angel wasn't the only one riding the thin line of control. "You can feel the truth, wolf, so don't deny it and make a fuss."
"And you vouch for a blood-sucker?"
A half-scream sounded from inside the cabin and all three of them tensed. "No time," Angel said, his voice thick and slightly strangled sounding. His hands bunched at his sides. "Please. I can't prove to you that I am who and what I say. But I need to go to her. I mean no harm."
"Angel, come inside," the wolf said formally, moving aside after a long moment. "But know that if you move to harm mine, I will rip you apart."
"No worries," Faith answered for Angel, who was already past and almost to the bathroom where he could hear Willow's heart pounding almost impossibly fast. Some of the tension drained out of her body and she allowed herself a deep breath. Still on her guard, she followed the man into the huge living area of the cabin.
"Angel," the tiny redhead sounded out of breath and weak, her voice making his stomach tighten in fear as he pushed through the door to the bathroom. The boy kneeling next to the bathtub growled menacingly at him as he came near and Angel had to fight the urge to return the favor. But the sight of Willow in the cold water, her skin deathly pale and her entire body shuddering made him hit his knees next to the young werewolf.
"Little One," the vampire responded, his voice thick as he reached for her. She grabbed at him with a sob, her hands so hot they literally burned his skin. The fever was burning hotter than before and he had to bite back a gasp at her heat. She brought his hands to her face and closed her eyes with a sigh. "Willow."
"Please, make it stop. It hurts so bad, burning me up. Too much," she whimpered and opened glazed eyes. "I'm sorry. So, so sorry. Spike- I know you felt it when he went to ashes. I did too. I felt it. Elena, Rona, Vi, so little, so happy to fight. Pretty girls, Angel. Pretty, pretty girls. Little bitty things, so young. I pulled them into the fight. I killed them. Not with blade or fist. But I did it."
"No," Angel told her, standing up abruptly and pulled her out of the water, not caring that he drenched himself and the wolf. She needed to be outside, on and surrounded by the earth. Instinct was guiding him, moving him like he was a puppet. Their connection had strengthened to the point of being painful. The goddess had chosen her protectors, and they were rather powerless to fight it. Not that Angel had any intention on fighting the pull of his witch. He'd long since given up that battle.
The boy, man, whatever he was, was part of it. Angel turned brown eyes gone amber at the young werewolf. "I am a part of her, as are you," he told him formally, speaking almost unconsciously, as if something else was using his voice to communicate. "Accept my role now or back away forever."
Heart thudding hard in his chest, Jacob stared at the dark haired vampire and knew he didn't really have a choice. He looked down at Willow, not surprised to see her eyes on him. He tried to smile reassuringly but knew it was trembling. He couldn't back away from her. There was no time to think it through, no time to even blink. Just like everything that had happened to him in the last year, this had blindsided him, sideswiped him off a cliff into the unknown. It felt right. Two hours after her finding him on the cliffs, Jacob Black was willing to do whatever necessary to keep her alive and with him.
"I accept your role in her life, as I accept her into mine," Jacob answered after what seemed like forever, his formal words matching Angel's. Things kinda blurred after that and Jacob found himself following the vampire outside.
Angel ventured into the trees, letting his senses guide him until they came into a small meadow in the old growth. He knelt down, gently setting Willow on the damp grass. They still had several hours before dawn, the events of the night far from over. Willow shuddered again, and whimpered as she buried her hands in the grass, fingers digging into the earth below.
Jacob felt awkward and odd, not quite sure what was expected of him. He longed to kneel down next to her, like the vampire, but wasn't sure. "Jacob," Willow whispered, looking up at him with glazed eyes. He knelt down on the opposite side from the vampire. He reached out and touched her face, the pale softness pulling him in. Willow grabbed Angel's hand and brought it up to the other cheek. The second both of them were touching her, there was a bright flash of blue-white light and they were gone.