parts 21 to 24 (the end)
Cordelia sighed as she applied a coat of metallic gold to her toenail. Everything had been going so well, she'd had a part, learned her lines, coped well with Nesmith's ad libs, and even looked very impressive in her costume. It could have been the high point of her acting career so far. But then, that... monster had attacked. Yeah, she'd know that it would because of her vision, but it had attacked during her filming. Ruined her scene. So much for her chance of a return appearance... maybe even her chance for this one to actually make it onto the air. At least she'd already been paid. There was that much out of it anyhow.
Although Nesmith was a really good kisser. She'd have those memories as well. Kissing a handsome man that wasn't an evil demon, the momentary illusion of power and wealth... There had been a few bright spots.
Which reminded her, what was up with Willow and Alex Dane, and with Angel and Gwen DeMarco? Did someone need to have talk with Angel about that nasty clause?
Putting her nail polish aside, Cordelia went to find Willow, certain that now would be a good time to figure out what had been going on between Willow and Alex Dane. After all, she was Willow's friend, it was practically her solemn duty to pry into things like that. Okay, maybe it was the sort of privilage of friendship that she took considerable delight in, but still, what else were friends for?
Especially since she was certain that her... whatever they'd been doing with Jason Nesmith was over. They hadn't been dating, maybe flirting, but not dating. It probably didn't even mean much to him... And that idea made her feel partly miserable and partly furious.
Opening the door on the room where Wilow was allegedly doing something called 'defragmenting' on the computers, Cordelia smiled at her friend. Willow was sitting on the floor, staring at some cables that lead into a tangle behind the desk. "So, Willow, what's the deal with you and Alex Dane?"
"Deal? We... umm... I really sort of... Well, maybe it doesn't matter now." Willow's response was difficult to follow, and she sounded like she'd spent the night crying instead of sleeping.
Settling on the single abandoned chair, she looked at Willow. "Care to try that again, with complete sentances?"
Willow looked at her, her face pale and her eyes still darker than normal. "We sort of... kissed. Several times. And I really like him, Cordelia. When I'm with him, everything feels all warm and light inside, like there's... well, peaceful I guess. And his voice... it's just so tempting."
"But... what about Tara? I sort of thought you were gay now?" Cordelia felt like something had changed, and she'd missed it.
Willow sighed, moving the cables in her hands. "I... when I was with Tara, I thought that I was. But, she's gone. She'll never be back, and... I never stopped thinking that some guys looked really good, you know? I just... I didn't want the hassle of guy thoughts, which can be really confusing. And I hadn't met anyone that just... well, nobody made me think that maybe I wasn't so gay. Not until I met Alex. And the way he makes me feel... definitely not gay. But that might not matter."
"Should I ask why not? Haven't we got you past that whole not knowing that you look good part?" Cordelia felt like screaming. The last thing they needed was for Willow to backslide into the shy girl that she'd been before they'd met Buffy.
Willow gave a little chuckle, and a small smile. "Well, there's the whole killed a demon in front of him, which most people try to repress. And anything that would remind them of it. Plus... he saw me do magic, Cordy. He saw me looking all black eyed after the mojo, and that really scares people away."
With a painful sigh, Cordelia slumped a bit in the chair, before remembering the rule about good posture. "Yeah, I can sort of see your point. The scary events are not good for your social life. But... what was that about Friday anyhow?"
"We'd made some plans. He was going to take me out for dinner. Pick me up at eight from the set, go to this nice Italian place he knows... But that might not be on anymore." Willow's voice had this hopeful softness, tinged with worry.
"Because of that thing. Sometimes, real life just sucks." Cordelia sighed, wondering if that would have an impact on her relationship with Jason before remembering that there wasn't a relationship. And she didn't think there would be one. Except... that part of her thought that they could have been good together. "Entirely changing the topic, what do you plan to wear for your date?"
Willow blinked, lips parted. "But... but... what if there is no date anymore?"
"How about this, we make you look good, and if you still have your date with Alex, he'll never forget the idea of Willowy goodness. And if he turns out to be an overgrown puppy, you'll be ready to go clubbing with me." She did not plan to spend the whole night moping about this.
end part 21.
Willow felt caught between anxiety, dread, and hope. Alex had planned to take her to dinner tonight, but... that had been before the orange demon had attacked during Cordelia's big scene. What if he'd decided that he didn't want anything to do with her now? What if he'd decided that she was some scary freak of nature? What if he was afraid of her now? What if...
She'd worn something nice enough that she wouldn't feel awkward at the restaraunt, but not so fancy that she'd feel awkward while waiting. She was pacing a bit, worried that he wouldn't show up, worried that he would but only to tell her that she was some horrible thing that he didn't want near him, or... She had dozens of unhappy 'or's going through her mind. But this wasn't something that she could fix by worrying, or pacing. Or anything. She couldn't do anything else to determine if Alex Dane would show up, or if he would still want to spend time with her.
But she really hoped that he did. She remembered the feeling of his lips on hers in the elevator. Remembered the scent of him, the feeling of his arm under her hand... She remembered how his voice made her feel warm and light inside. She remembered the way his eyes seemed to get lighter when he smiled.
"You did come. I'd wondered a bit..." His voice rolled like soft velvet over her, coming from the doorway to the building that housed most of the sets.
Willow turned, looking at him. "Why wouldn't I be here? I mean, it's not... oh, just... I'm not even managing to babble."
Alex had smiled, placing one hand on her arm. "I wasn't certain that you'd want to come back, not after the Kreemorian Fangor Beast attacked us. You looked very upset..."
Hope flared inside of her, maybe he wasn't planning to run screaming, maybe he wasn't terrified of her... "You looked pretty shaken by the whole thing too."
"I wasn't so upset that my eyes changed color. What did you do to it?" He sounded curious, but there was something, almost like a slender barrier, a distance that hadn't been between them before.
She felt the cold tendrils of worry and doubt grow a bit stronger. "Just... a little magic. And the eyes... wait a minute, a Kreemorian Fangor Beast? Isn't that something that was just... made up for the show?"
"errr... Well... Some of the things on the show... a few things aren't quite as fictional as they are presented. It was a very real Fangor Beast. But... magic?" He sounded awkward, hesitant and almost embarrassed.
Willow felt almost dizzy. "A real Kreemorian Fangor Beast? But... but... does that mean there's really a Protector? Really aliens? Aliens?"
"You... aren't? I couldn't imagine how else you could have stopped the Fangor Beast. You and Cordelia... that just didn't seem normal." He sounded as if he was as confused as she felt.
Willow managed a bit of a smile. "So... there are really aliens? And that orange thing was a Kreemorian Fangor Beast. Okay... sort of in the I'm still confused. Cordelia and I are both from right here in California, and both human. But... umm.... magic is real, and so are some other things that got turned into legends and fairy tales, although they didn't always get things right. Frowning, she remembered Hansel and Gretel, Oz, and so many other things from Sunnydale. "So, are you human then? Is Nesmith? Gwen?"
"The three of us are quite human. As far as I know, all of the cast except for Laliari are entirely human. There.. it's a rather long story." He paused, tongue flicking over his lips briefly. "For now, let's leave it at aliens are real, they thought the original series were historical broadcasts, and we had a bit of a trip, and Laliari stayed here with Fred. But, magic? That sounds so..."
"It doesn't sound that much weirder than aliens." She glanced down, and back up, trying to smile. "So... do we still have a date for dinner?"
"Magic still sounds much harder to understand than aliens with their superior technology, sweet Willow. It will take a lot more than a few minutes to convince me of that. Maybe you'll be able to over the next few months?" He was smiling, his thumb rubbing over the back of her hand.
Hope burned away the doubts, and she smiled at him. "Months, hmm? So, shall we start with dinner? And did they decide to keep the farewell reception even though... well, it didn't go as scripted?"
"They liked it. Somehow, most of the people have convinced themselves that it was a complex animatronic that went a bit out of control, and have expressed hopes for Jason's swift recovery. Benny and Marty loved it. There might even be a return appearance of Mirabanna and her handmaiden being discussed." His smile made everything seem better.
Willow smiled. Maybe everything wasn't ruined after all. "Cordelia will be delighted to hear that."
He looked at her, questions dancing in his eyes. "What about you? Does that make you happy?"
"Sort of, but not for the same reason. I didn't come to Los Angeles to make a career in acting. The whole stage fright thing. But... I'm glad that I might get more time with you."
"I think that can be easily arranged." There was a pause. "I might be... there's a possible sub plot with Laz being a secret admirer for Tawny..."
Willow smiled, wondering if he was afraid she'd be jealous. It must mean that he sort of cared what she felt. "Great! I mean, Cordy's let me know that more screen time is generally good, Laz could use someone to make him less alone, and anything would be better for Tawny than mooning over Taggert for the next three seasons."
Alex laughed, and pulled her hand closer. "Shall we go to dinner now?"
"That sounds wonderful." Willow felt as if everything had come together, as if there was hope for tomorrow. Hope that she wouldn't spend the rest of her life entirely alone.
end part 22
Alex had been worried, nervous that Willow wouldn't be there, wouldn't want to go to dinner with him anymore. She'd come to the set to fix the computer, and then been dafted into being in front of the camera, which had left her shaking. There had been nothing in the quick little contract that she'd signed about fighting a deadly monster that shouldn't have even been on the planet.
What if she'd decided that he only brought trouble? What if she decided to retreat from the memories of the Fangor beast and him as quickly as possible? The idea didn't sit well with him, leaving him noticibly cranky the whole day. Gwen was still shaken by her most memorable fan, and as for Jason... Everybody put his foul mood down to being attacked by that 'rogue animatronic'.
It was with trepidition that he went outside to see if she was waiting. At first, he didn't see her, and then a flicker of movement caught his eye. It was Willow, but not as he'd seen her before. Her hair rippled like fire, and her long legs were hugged by dark green leather, while a paler green blouse flowed over her breasts, the hem resting just over her hips, showing this thin peek at her stomach as she moved. She looked wonderful.
Questions just seemed to tumble out, his worry that she wouldn't be there, his confusion over her eyes going dark... Was Willow some sort of alien? She certainly couldn't have been another Thermian, but that didn't rule out the possibility. Until she said the word 'magic'. Until she hadn't known that there was anything real to the Protector, about the Thermians, about the Fangor Beast.
He'd never even considered magic to be real. Never considered it as a possible complication to his life. Was her not dating related to her magic? Would it prevent them from dating? Surely she wouldn't have accepted the dinner invitation if that would be a problem...
But her smile when she'd said that dinner sounded wonderful... it was beautiful. Almost radiant, actually. That was a smile to go to war for, or at least to boldly go to dinner, despite the vast amounts of confusion and uncertainty that the whole idea of 'magic' inspired. She wasn't here for a film career, wasn't her to become famous... maybe she could be here with him?
Granted, it didn't mean picking out china patterns, or even making certain that all the dirty laundry was tucked out of sight, but dinner... Dinner was a good start. It meant that she was willing to take a chance. That there were possibilities.
He liked the idea of a future with Willow, even if it might be one filled with strange and unexpected things. Offering her one arm, he started towards the parking lot. "So... does this mean that you wouldn't panic at the idea that there are really aliens out there? That there might be aliens here?"
She looked at him, her eyes filled with spinning thoughts. "The idea isn't that much of a surprise, I sort of knew that humans weren't alone. As for does it freak me out, not really. Does it bother me? In general no, in specific... I suppose it depends on what they're up to and what they eat. That Fangor... that bothered me. That was scary."
"I would have gone more for terrifying, myself." He wondered what had happened in her life that that vicious beast was 'scary', not terrifying, not inducing a fit of panic.
She shook her head, eyes downcast, sorrowful. "No.. it was a beast. Large, sharp teeth, it wanted to kill to feed. Nothing more. That's scary, but in order to be truly terrifying, well, it would either have to be a lot bigger, or a lot smarter. Generally, scary evil with big dark nasty plans is much much worse than just... you know, scaly and hungry. There has to be... I suppose you could call it an inner darkness."
"It sounds as if you've given the matter a lot of consideration." He didn't like the implications of that consideration. How much had she seen to cause that thought? How many terrfying creatures, how many dreadful beasts?
"Maybe too much consideration.... So... umm, aliens?" She looked at him, something like the shadow of tears making her eyes shimmer like pools of cool water.
He gave a small smile, recognizing a plea to change the subject when he heard one. "Yes, aliens. They're called Thermians. Sort of shape shifters, although they normally looked like humans when we were there... I have no idea how they manage that. They watched the old series, and they thought that it was a historical broadcst, that we really had a ship, that we were highly trained heroes."
"They... had a problem, and came looking for the heroes to save them, didn't they?" Apparently, she'd seem enough things in her life to guess that much of the story.
"Yes." He swallowed, wondering how she could know, how she could have so much wisdom and sympathy in her eyes. How her eyes could look so old in such a young face. "We... managed to avert the crisis, but... there were deaths. We weren't heroes, we just... played them on the television."
"Will they come back?" She rested on hand on his arm, her slender fingers looking so pale, so fragile. "Do they still consider you heroes?"
"I don't know." He gave a feeble smile, trying to remind himself that he was here with a lovely woman. "Perhaps... that's enough somber words for tonight? We can discuss... Japanese food, and the possibility of dancing."
"Hmmm... no discussing the end of the world or alien visitations... just a night out with a handsome man. I think I can do that." She smiled at him, her eyes twinkling.
Perhaps this wasn't the decadent reenactment of any of his steamy fantasies, but it could be the start of something else. The start of a real relationship between himself and Willow. Someone that wouldn't look at him as if he'd escaped from an asylum if he mentioned his adventures; someone that could understand the pressures of people depending on you. Someone that he'd like to build a future with.
end part 23.
Angel sat at his desk, trying to look busy. He looked like he was brooding, most likely because he WAS brooding, again. Willow and Cordelia had both had quite the adventure on the set, something that he hadn't even known about until it was too late to help. They'd had to fight and kill a pony sized beast with fangs and claws, while he was talking to a disgruntled demon fan who was disappointed that Gwen's character wasn't involved with Taggert. Uggh. That had certainly made him feel... less than useful.
He'd enjoyed talking to Gwen, found her interesting. Even though he'd been able to smell her worry, her fear at the demonic fan, she'd stood her ground, remaining the same beautiful and confident woman that he'd been fascinated by. He was well aware that he had a weakness for blondes, after all, there was Darla and then Buffy... both of whom had been immensely important in his life. But he didn't think Gwen was the same sort of person. She didn't have the predatory edge of Darla, or the almost paranoid athleticism of Buffy, and she most definitely was neither Slayer nor Vampire.
Probably, he should stay far away from Gwen. She was nice, although not a desperately helpless sort of nice. She was charming and entertaining, and she had this incredible scent, almost like honey... He should definitely stay away. Especially with that stupid, horrible, vicious happiness clause in his curse. He couldn't pursue a relationship with Gwen, because if it went well, he might go evil and kill her. And her co workers, and his coworkers... No, he'd probably try to turn Willow and Cordelia. Maybe Gunn as well... Wesley would probably just die. All things considered, it would be best if he avoided Gwen in the future.
He just didn't want to.
Cordelia had said she'd be glad for the filming to end, to be away from Jason Nesmith. Except that he'd had well over two hundred years to learn how to read people, and he knew that even though she'd deny it, she was interested in the man. She found him attractive, and he kept her interest. He'd also managed to keep her on her toes, metaphorically, which was not the easiest of tasks.
They'd argued a lot, and it had been good for Cordelia. She'd had a sparkle in her eyes, and a flush, sort of a glow to her skin that made her look deliciously beautiful. She might not have been willing to admit it, but she'd enjoyed working with him, enjoyed 'having' to kiss him. She wasn't entirely thrilled with the end of her role as a princess either.
Willow and Alex... They were actually sweet. He'd been surprised by that, considering that Willow's previous loves had both been somewhat quiet people. But maybe it shouldn't have been such a shock - for all that Oz had been quiet, he'd also been in a band. Willow had been his biggest fan. The simple fact that she'd been willing to be in front of a camera to be with this guy... as well as that scene in the elevator... She was definitely interested in Alex Dane. And he was interested in Willow, at least, he had looked interested with his hands on her body and his tongue in her mouth like that. If he broke her heart, Angel would have to hurt him, and he knew several very painful methods... But that was beside the point. Beside any of the points.
Hopefully, things would go well for Willow and Alex. Maybe Cordelia would have more contact with Nesmith... He definitely wanted more time with Gwen, even if it was unwise to let anything particularly... close blossom. It was probably unlikely that he'd see her again. Unless Cordelia's part as the Princess became a recurring character. Then, he would have the chance to see Gwen again... Oh yes, he would hope that the writers and fans liked Mirabanna. It would be good for Cordelia... And he'd like to see Gwen again. If it was on the set, then they couldn't be quite private enough to endanger his soul... which while frustrating, would be a good safety feature. And maybe Willow or Wesley could find some sort of soul anchoring spell...
Willow had a dinner date with Alex Dane tonight. Perhaps they would have a future together. And just maybe, he and Cordelia would be able to find some company in their futures. Maybe Cordy and Nesmith could passionatly together, and maybe he and Gwen... well, best hope things didn't get TOO happy there. But he'd like a little something, even if all he could have for now was friendship.
Perhaps this had changed things for them. Giving them new contacts, a breath of... well, fresh might be debatable, but different air. A different sort of case. Yes, the future would be different now, he was certain of that much. He could only hope that it was brighter, a future that was aimed towards the stars.
end part 24. End With Special Guest.