So, I lied about posing when I got home from work last night... =) Sorry, but I was tired. Lol Hope this makes up for it. *hugs* thanks for the reviews, guys! Glad you like it
Xander woke up knowing things were going to be okay. His head still ached, and his body resisted moving too much, but his heart felt a little lighter. He opened his eye and looked around the room he'd crashed in last night, the soft light filtering in through the huge window. Faith was sprawled on the sofa across the room, one leg on the floor and the other on the sofa. One arm was flung above her head, and the other tucked across her stomach. It looked like she'd fallen asleep where she fell. At one point there had been a blanket tucked around her, but it was pooled on the floor where she'd kicked it off.
He had to smile at the picture she made. While not as little as Buffy and some of the other slayers, Faith wasn't exactly a giant. When she was awake and moving she seemed... bigger somehow. Not fat, no one with eyes would ever call her that. But she seemed taller, less... fragile. She didn't have that deceptive aura of vulnerability that the others seemed to put out. He hadn't put much thought into it before, but he'd seen male after male fall for it with Buffy. Guys just wanted to take care of his blonde friend, to protect her even after she proved she wouldn't have any problem lifting a car three feet off the ground and toss it like a pebble. Guys didn't bother trying to do the protector bit with Faith. She'd grown up different from Buffy. She hadn't had the same sheltered, rich background. Faith had grown up alot like him, actually. Only without Willow to mother the hurts and make things better.
Xander had never watched Faith sleep before, and it was an experience he didn't think he'd forget any time soon. To see her at her most vulnerable was an honor she didn't realize she was bestowing. Not to be misunderstood, Xander knew that if he made the mistake of touching her right now, he'd quite possibly lose his other eye.
She looked peaceful. He shook his head and sat up, pushing at the blankets someone had heaped on him during the night. He grimaced at the bad taste in his mouth and ran his tounge over his teeth. He needed to find his bags and a bathroom. A shower, clean clothes, and a toothbrush sounded like a good plan. After he was more presentable he could go about the business of finding out if anyone knew what happened with Willow and the others. If Faith was back, then they must have found Willow. Angel would most likely be with their witch. While that thought would have worried him once upon a time, it comforted him now. He knew Deadboy would never hurt his friend.
Wow. Things had changed way more than he'd thought. Trusting vampires. Who would've thought?
Her head was clearer than it had been in what seemed like years. The burning in her chest had eased, and she felt... almost normal. Sandwiched in the middle of two hard bodies, two strong sets of arms and legs wrapped around her, Willow woke up slowly. There was no confusion. She knew where she was, who she was, and who she was with. But there was an urgency that was more instinct than anything. The dawn was coming, and she needed to find shelter for her mates before Angel was burned to ashes. She didn't need to add another charred vampire to her list.
She pulled herself up and looked at the pale vampire that was facing her. His handsome face was peaceful in slumber, features strong and familiar. A thin hand reached out to trace the line of his jaw and she marvled at the feelings looking at him stirred. Willow felt like she'd always loved him, in one way or another. Even when he was Angelus, she'd been fascinated by him. The demon had known it too. Made it into a game. A game that he'd been careful not to take too far. He'd made sure she knew what he wanted of her. What he wanted to do when he was done with Buffy. As much as the demon had denied it, there was a bit of the soul left that had dictated that she wasn't to be hurt. The 'normal' courtship wasn't to happen. He didn't want another Dru. Her mind, strong as a steel trap, had been too valuable to waste.
Willow had resouled him before he could finish with Buffy. A little too late to save him from his trip to hell, courtesy of the slayer and his demon's stupidity. She'd been devastated when she'd found out. It had taken her three months to find the spell to drag him out. Another two to get the supplies and the courage to do it. No one ever found out it was her. Though she knew Angel knew. It was in the way he looked at her after that. Even when he and Buffy had tried and failed to renew their relationship, he never stopped watching her.
Before graduation, they'd become friends. She couldn't tell how, why, or where, but they had. Neither one said anything about her role in either returning his soul or bringing him back from hell. And neither one had told Buffy that his soul was permanently secured this time. Willow didn't because she figured it was Angel's place to say, and Angel because he wasn't sure Buffy was what he wanted anymore.
After graduation, he'd left. Willow hadn't tried to talk him out of it- she'd understood his reasons more than anyone else. A part of her wanted to go with him, but she knew she was needed on the hellmouth beside Buffy. The slayer wasn't quite as strong as everyone thought. She wasn't like the ones called before her. She depended on those around her, the friends and family that kept everything in perspective. They gave her the reason to keep fighting, and the support needed to succeed.
Dark brown eyes opened to see her watching him intently and she smiled. "Morning," she whispered, her fingers tracing his bottom lip. There was no awkwardness, no blushing. After everything they'd been through, it seemed they'd moved beyond that. He smiled and kissed her, a gentle pressing of his lips against hers. Dimly, Willow registered that this was their first kiss.
The other set of arms tightened around her, a warm face nuzzling against the back of her neck. She hadn't forgotten Jacob. The werewolf that had been drug into the whole mess by the fates. He'd been in her life for less than twenty-four hours, and he was already just as much a part of her as Angel was. He was young, seventeen years old- three years younger than her. But like her, he'd had to grow up quick.
"We need to find shelter," she whispered, "Dawn is coming."
Angel nodded and pressed another kiss to her lips. "We have time to make it back to Carlisle's. They have a room set up for me."
Jacob relunctantly let go of Willow and sat up gracefully. The thought of seeking shelter with the vampires he'd declared his enemies didn't set well with him, but he remember the words of the goddess. He needed to let it go. "I go where you go," he told his witch quietly, reaching for her hand. He craved the touch of her skin, more than he'd ever craved anything else.
"Then lead on, Deadboy," Willow told Angel with a smirk. She sounded so much like the old Willow that Angel had to pull her in for a hug. Things were gonna be okay.