Affaire du Coeur
Thanks for the note, Valerie. My French is sort of nonexistant :)
Title: Affaire du Coeur (Love Affair)
Pairing: W/Asher, possible W/Asher/Jean-Claude, I’m not sure yet.
Disclaimer: Don't own them. Whedon owns BTVS, Hamilton owns AB. I’m just borrowing them, I make no profit.
Spoilers: Through the finale of Season Six of BTVS, Narcissus in Chains for AB, just in case. Angel, Season Three but no Connor.
Summary: Willow abandoned Sunnydale after losing Tara, leaving to join up with Angel Inc. in Los Angeles.
Notes: Tara was killed by Warren, but Willow didn’t go all nuts and kill anyone, so it’s AU from there on. More will be explained in the story.
Prologue: So much the better, so much the worse
Sometimes she wondered what would have happened if she had done what she wanted to, if she had hunted Warren down like the animal he was and truly made him feel her pain. She wondered if it would have helped her heal at all, but in her heart she knew it would have done no such thing. She had thoughts like this every so often, on days when the loss of Tara felt so raw and all she wanted was revenge. Most days she would find Angel and they would have long talks about how pointless vengeance really is, about how it wouldn’t make things better. But today she didn’t feel like bothering him. Besides, she had to sound like a broken record by now.
Leaving Sunnydale wasn’t so much a personal decision she made, it was something she needed to do. If she had stayed, if she had remained on the hell mouth any longer, the darkness would have swallowed her. Not that Los Angeles didn’t have its share of darkness; any city or town did. But things were different here. The crew in Los Angeles had been through a lot, but they didn’t have to fight Glory, they didn’t live through the hell they had lived through a year before. She could talk to any of them and they didn’t judge her and her choices, they didn’t compare her experiences to their own. They just listened and made her feel like a part of the group. It was more than she could have asked for.
Willow tried to shake off all her lingering wonderings and doubts as she sat back in Cordy’s office chair, manning the receptionist’s desk in the lobby of the Hyperion. Delia was out shopping with Fred, Willow had begged off their little trip. She had never been one for spending hours in the mall, it just wasn’t her thing. Wesley was holed up in his office, reviewing some texts he had just got in from one of his sources. Gunn was in the basement practicing some of the new maneuvers Angel taught him the night before. And Angel, well, Angel was heading towards her right now.
“Penny for your thoughts?” he said with a tiny smile. She grinned in return and shook her head.
“Nothing interesting up here,” she replied, tapping the side of her head. He scoffed and leaned against the desk.
“That I don’t believe, your thoughts were always so interesting, if a little strange,” he argued with a smirk.
“Hey my thoughts aren’t strange!” Willow said haughtily, arms crossed over her chest, lips in a pout. “Anyway, it’s just the usual stuff today. You know, what am I doing with my life? Have I made the right decisions or is my entire life utterly pointless? Blah, blah, blah…”
“Since when has your life been utterly pointless?” he snorted with a slightly reproachful look. “Is saving the world pointless?”
“Sometimes I think it is,” she sighed. “Ignore me. It’s just one of those days.”
“You feel lost,” Angel said with an understanding nod.
“Sorta,” she admitted with a tight smile. “It’s just, I feel like I should be *doing* something, you know? Other than when you guys need me for some research or witchy stuff, I just sit here. It seems like everyone else has something to do. Wes always has his nose stuck in a book, looking up possible prophecies. Cordy is content to shop between her visions from the Powers. Gunn is happy just fighting. And Fred is just happy to *not* be stuck in an alternate dimension. Sometimes I feel…unneeded.”
“Do you…do you want to go back to Sunnydale?” Angel asked softly. Truthfully, the redhead had become a good friend the past few months and he had no desire to see her go, but if it was what she wanted, he would even help her pack.
“No,” Willow sighed, pasting on a smile. “Buffy’s got her life with Dawn and Xander is working on getting back together with Anya. They are getting their lives on track and there just isn’t really a place for me there. Plus, you know, all the bad memories…”
“I know,” he assured her, pulling her out of her chair and into a loose embrace.
“Don’t mind me,” the redhead said as she took a step back, smiling gratefully up at him. “I’m tired of being mopey. Besides, you brood enough for the both of us.”
“Hey!” Angel pouted as she giggled. His face became serious once more as he gazed down at the slight but powerful redhead. “What do you want to do Wills?”
“I dunno,” she said softly.
“You could always try to go back to school, you know?” he offered. “UCLA would love to have you.”
“Yeah,” she considered with a frown. “But how do I explain to my teacher that my paper is late because I was up late the night before fighting a Chaos demon? People around here aren’t that understanding about things like that.” She retook her seat in Delia’s chair and grabbed a pen, playing with it idly. “This stuff: demons, vamps, apocalypses, that’s all I know.”
“I…” Angel started before hesitating, a look of surprise and remembrance on his handsome face. “I have an idea. There’s a school, Washington University that actually has a program dedicated to preternatural biology. You could get a degree in all things supernatural. I have an acquaintance who teaches there, Dr. Louis Fane. You’d like him Will, he’s an amazing teacher, and we all know you’re the world’s greatest student.”
“I don’t know,” Willow grimaced. “They actually teach preternatural biology? What kind of place is this anyway?”
“They’re a bit more…aware…there. Vampires and all things supernatural are common knowledge there. You’d fit in perfectly.”
Willow bit her lip, an obvious sign of her worry. “Would I still have time to help you guys if I started school again?”
“Um, well…you see…” he stammered and she looked at the vampire in curiosity, “the university is in…St. Louis…”
“Missouri?” she asked, jaw dropping. “You want me to move all the way to Missouri?”
“No,” he denied quickly, “I don’t want you to leave at all. But Wills, you’re not happy here, not totally. You need to do what will make you happy.” His brown eyes were worried, a mix of concern and caring as he knelt down in front of her, taking her hands in his own. “You know we love having you here, I’m not telling you that you *have* to leave. If you don’t want to do this, then don’t. But I know you, and I know you’ve been feeling restless. This could be just what you need.”
Standing up once more and taking a step back, Angel looked down at the small witch with a gentle smile. “How about this?” he cajoled, “I’ll call Louis and you can talk to him, let him tell you all about the school. If it sounds like something you want to do, he’ll pull a few strings and get you signed up for the next semester. Does that sound okay?”
“I…guess,” she sighed with a slight shrug. “What could it hurt?”
“Great!” he grinned brightly and she couldn’t help but smile in return. A happy Angel was a rarity and Willow didn’t want to do anything to dampen his spirits. “Now I just have to find his phone number. Where would Cordy have put it?” he mumbled, glancing at the file drawers in fear. Cordelia’s filing was legendary.
Seeing the tall brunette bent over the filing cabinet ruffling through the multitude of papers and muttering to himself, Willow couldn’t help but giggle a bit.
“Come on…come on…” Angel grumbled. “Is it L…no, not L. How about D for doctor…nope, not there either. R…oh! There it is!”
“R? The file was under R? What the heck for?” wondered Willow in confusion, brows knitted.
“R is for rat,” Angel answered absently.
“Rat?” she asked incredulously. “Is he a creep or something? Why would you call the guy a rat? I thought you liked him.”
She expected a response from him, but hearty laughter wasn’t it. She couldn’t help but frown as he straightened and sighed in amusement. “Wills, he’s a wererat,” he said, as if that made any sort of sense.
“I’m gonna go with…huh?” Willow squeaked.
“Wills, you know about werewolves, you did date one after all,” he reminded her pointedly. “Well, there are other kinds of shifters. There are leopards, hyenas, rats, even swans. You’d be amazed at all the different species.”
“There are *swans*!” she stammered. “You mean there are people who can turn into birdies?” He raised an eyebrow to her choice of wording but held in his laughter.
“Yes, but they don’t turn into actual birds. They shift into swans, but they still have features that are more humanistic. And…” he drawled enticingly, “you’d learn all about these different kinds of shifters if you studied preternatural biology…”
“Fine, fine,” she grinned, suddenly eager. “Go call him, shoo, shoo…” she prodded, waving him away. He smirked and vanished into his office.
Willow stood slowly, taking a moment to stretch, a little sore from sitting so long. Hiding an excited smile, she trailed behind Angel leisurely, taking some time to really think about his offer. There was so much she still didn’t know, which was especially evident after their previous conversation. And she always did enjoy school. Maybe this was the chance she had been waiting for, an opportunity to start over, to make a life just for her. Maybe, just maybe, St. Louis would be the place for her.