Spoilers: Nothing real specific for Buffy, as for AB, I’m thinking anytime pretty much after Burnt Offerings, but again, nothing real specific.
Summary: Willow makes a painful decision.
Disclaimer: Joss owns all things BtVS, Anita Blake belongs to Laurell K. Hamilton
Author’s Notes: I’m not really in an angsty mood, but this just came to me, so I had to write it. This is my first Richard story, so hopefully it won’t be bad.
Feedback: I live for it!!
The house was painfully quiet, a worrisome stillness in the air. It was the middle of the day, a typical Tuesday, the sun still high in the sky. But to Willow, nothing about that day felt typical. Richard was at school, per the usual, doing his job and loving every minute of it. He had a passion for teaching that Willow admired greatly. She understood it, could truly appreciate it. That was one of the many things about him that attracted her in the beginning. Not to mention the fact that he was drop dead gorgeous. And the best part about that was he didn’t even seem to realize it most of the time. He was sweet, generous, and caring. And he was head over heels in love. Too bad it wasn’t with her.
Sniffling pitifully, doing her best to fight back the tears that threatened to spill from her glassy emerald eyes, the redhead moved slowly down the hall of Richard’s almost ranch-style house, the one she had been sharing with him for the past three months, and headed for their—no, his bedroom.
On a normal day, the usually exuberant witch would be sitting in Dr. Fane’s class at Washington University, listening intently to everything that Louis had to say. Personally, she found the man fascinating. They had, had many conversations since Richard had first introduced them and she loved to pick his brain. But today she skipped her class at the university; she had important things she had to do. She would be back on Thursday to see what she missed and catch up on her lecture notes.
Shutting his door gently behind her, she headed for the closet, pulling out a blue and black duffel bag. Laying it on the bed, she unzipped it and pulled it open. Shuffling her feet, her legs feeling heavy, she opened the dresser drawer that had been designated as her own and started collecting her things. Her clothing didn’t take up too much room in the bag; she had never been one to follow the latest fashion trends. Instead, her luggage consisted of a few blouses and t-shirts, as well as some flowing skirts and a couple pairs of jeans.
Her hands began to tremble slightly from sadness and stress as she nearly finished her packing. Her decision to leave, not only this house but her entire relationship with Richard, was killing her, but she couldn’t do this anymore, she was so tired of being second best.
She had always known about Richard’s relationship with Anita Blake, the Executioner and human servant to the Master of the City. She had heard all about their rather doomed love affair, their failed engagement, and all of the pain and heartache she caused when she chose Jean-Claude. And Willow had known he had been deeply in love with her. And as time passed, she slowly began to realize that he had never fallen out of love with the petite brunette.
It was the little things. Richard would perk up when Anita’s name was mentioned. When they were in the same room together, he was so angry and hurt, but when she left, he looked lost, his expression one of longing. But the night before had been the final straw. Richard had called a small pack meeting at his house, only a handful of wolves attending. Anita had been there as well, as the pack’s former lupa and now their Bolverk, it was to be expected.
After business had been discussed, they all remained seated in Richard’s living room talking amicably. Sylvie and Gwen were seated together, just feet away from Jamil and Shang Da, Anita was sitting straight across from Willow and Richard. The Ulfric and his Bolverk were conversing in a surprising civil manner for once. As long as they steered clear of the issues revolving around their former engagement and Jean-Claude all was well. Willow had thought nothing of it at first. His arm was resting firmly on her shoulders and she was tucked comfortably under his strong arm. She had looked up, seeing the guarded and yet unbelievably happy and content expression on his handsome face, and studied him. His gaze never wavered from Anita, not even when the redhead moved to sit up a little straighter. He simply let him arm fall away, his rapt attention solely on the renowned animator.
Willow had done her best to shrug it off, but it stung that he was content to completely ignore her. Still, she wasn’t too bothered. That was until she turned, catching the look in Sylvie’s eyes before the wolf could look away. It was pity, with a little sympathy. She was rather familiar with that look. Buffy used to get the same expression on her face when she caught the then amateur witch staring dreamily at Xander. The one that said he would never really be hers.
She had come to realize as she grew older that Xander, in a way, had belonged to Buffy in the beginning, having fallen for the blonde at first sight. Then, as he matured a little and moved past his crush on the slayer, he had belonged to Cordelia, and later Anya. But even during their minor tryst junior year, Willow had never presumed to call him hers.
And Richard would never be hers either. No matter all the pain she had brought him, no matter how much anger still remained; Richard Zeeman’s heart would always belong to Anita Blake. After all, they were tied together for eternity, even Willow couldn’t deny that.
So she was packing. The last of her clothes were in her duffel bag already, but she hesitated before zipping it up. Her gaze fell to a small snapshot, taken two months ago. It was of her and Richard, standing amongst an amazing collection of irises and lilies. It was from their visit to the Botanical Gardens, a place she nearly had to beg him to take her to but in the end he had loved. A sad smile crept across her face as she reached for the flimsy piece of film paper, fingering it a moment before slipping it into her bag and zipping it shut.
She left his bedroom at a quickened pace, eager to be done with this, to not prolong her suffering. Her steps paused a couple feet from the front door. She reached into her pant’s pocket, finding the house key he had given her when she moved in.
She turned to the side-table to her left, placing it on top of a piece of blank paper. Biting her lip contemplatively, she let out a heavy sigh and reached for the pen lying beside it. Scribbling a quick note, she left it there; no doubt he would see it when he got home that night.
Taking one last look back, she brushed a stray tear from her cheek and stepped out onto the porch, the front door closing behind her. She heard the automatic click of his locks as they fell into place, a new security measure the Ulfric had added just to be safe. Hitching her bag up higher on her shoulder, she straightened her back and gave herself a determined nod. It was time to go.
And that night, a devastated Richard came back to an empty house, a forgotten key, and two hastily written words…