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Dreams?

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Summary: Wrote this story five years ago and stumbled across it while cleaning out files on my computer. TTH didn’t exist when I first posted it, so I decided to dust it off and see what folks thought of it now.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Highlander > Willow-CenteredcnevaFR15426,135144,22624 Mar 0524 Mar 05Yes

8 to end

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Title: Dreams? 8/11

Angel let Cassandra answer the doorbell when someone rang it just
before twilight. Cassandra was closer to the door anyway. Willow was
at Giles' apartment, helping with research, and the vampire had decided
to read the journal that Willow had used to bind his soul to him. He
found it fascinating reading. The sorcerer was a good writer, and his
anguish over his daughter came through clearly.

Cassandra was a little startled to see Buffy standing outside the door.
The Slayer was wearing patrol clothes, her long hair back in single
braid. She looked a little uncomfortable -- on edge.

Buffy spoke nervously, fingers tugging the end of braid repeatedly.
"Um, are Willow and Angel here? I kind of need to talk to them." She
had come straight here from her mother's house. The Slayer had been
afraid that she would lose her nerve if she stopped to see Giles first.

"Willow went out, but Angel's here." Cassandra didn't ask what the
young wanted to talk about. Buffy didn't seem to intend flirtation,
and her actions a few days ago suggested her anger had abated. The
Immortal's student and Angel could handle it.

"Angel, Buffy is here and wants to talk to you. I've got to some
errands to run; I'll be back in a few hours." With that Cassandra
grabbed the light coat that carrying a sword forced her to wear even in
hot weather and walked out to her car. She'd caught a few hints that
there was another Immortal in the area and being unprepared was a
decidedly bad idea.

The vampire looked up from his reading with a startled look in his dark
eyes. He watched Cassandra leave with a slightly accusatory look on
his face. Buffy entered the room with an uncharacteristically hesitant
bearing. Her normal Slayer confidence seemed to have abandoned her for
the time being. Angel didn't move from the couch as the blond moved to
stand in front of him, although he did set aside the thick computer
printout, marking where he'd been interrupted. She paused for a
second, obviously unsure what she should do next. Finally, she pulled
Willow's chair away from the computer desk and sat.

Realizing that Angel wasn't going to do anything to make this easier
for her, Buffy took a deep breath and launched into speech, words
rapidly tumbling out one after another. She kept her eyes focused on
the floor. "Um, I just wanted to see you and Willow to tell you that
I'm sorry I've been such a jerk. My feelings were hurt, and I acted
like a kid whose favorite toy was taken away." She paused, swallowing
hard. "I was upset that Willow wasn't the same as in high school. I
wanted her to stay the same . . . be predictable. I wanted her to be
my best friend, whether or not that was what she wanted. And I ignored
that you didn't want to be more than friends because I didn't want to
accept that your feelings had changed." The slayer looked up from the
floor, facing Angel. "You two were a lot of what got me though
adjusting to being the Chosen One. I don't handle change very well,
and I didn't want to let go. I'm sorry."

Angel was briefly tempted to push Buffy out the door, make her suffer
more than she already had for the stress the young woman had put Willow
through. He quickly stifled that uncharitable and immature thought.

"Apology accepted." His voice was sincere, and he even smiled a little.
Buffy visibly relaxed.

"Thank you, Angel. I would have understood if you weren't ready to
forgive me." She glanced over at the computer. "I was hoping to talk to
Willow too . . . I can't expect us to become best buds again, but I
want to be friends. Do you think she'll let me get to know the new
her? I've been forcibly ignoring that there was a new Willow." She
looked at Angel with a slightly plaintive look.

"Willow's a forgiving person." He smiled. "That hasn't changed. She
always understood why you were upset anyway."

Buffy's face was covered by a rueful smile. "Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure," Angel wanted to be civil with the Slayer; Willow would prefer
it if there wasn't any extra division between herself and her old
friends. The other changes in the young witch's life were enough.

"If you don't what to answer, that's fine, but how long have you been
in love with Willow?" Her voice was neither angry nor hurt, although it
was a tiny bit envious. Buffy had realized, sitting across from the
vampire, that she had finally gotten over him. Talking to him and not
seeing any love in his eyes no longer hurt. Finally she had let go.
Now she was simply curious.

Angel looked at Buffy in shock. After a moment it settled in that she
wasn't the least bit angry. Then he realized that his shock wasn't
over the fact that Buffy thought he was in love with Willow, or that
she had asked about it. He couldn't brush the question off . . .
because he WAS in love with Willow . . . his best friend. Memories of
their year and a half of friendship flooded his mind. How ardently he
had missed her when he'd gone to LA to find redemption and distance
from a stubborn Buffy. He clearly remembered his intense fear for her
safety when he learned of the dreams. Angel wasn't sure when his
affection for the slender redhead had deepened into love. He had a sudden
urge to ram his head against the wall.

Buffy looked at the shocked and zoned look on Angel's face with some
concern. He didn't even seem aware that she was still here. "Uh,
Angel, are you okay?"

Angel snapped back to reality, still mentally kicking himself. "I'm
not sure when it happened. It was so gradual . . .. I didn't even let
myself realize how I felt until you asked me."

Buffy realized he needed some time to himself. Willow probably
wouldn't be out much longer, and Angel clearly wanted time to think.
"It's almost dark now; I need to go patrol." She got up and strode to
the door. She turned before leaving. "I hope every thing works out for
you. Please tell Willow I came by and that I'm going to call her.
Angel nodded absently in reply, eyes distant. The Slayer let herself
out the door and headed for the graveyard.

Angel stayed seated as she walked out; he collapsed against the couch
back, letting his head fall back to rest along the top edge and stared
at the ceiling. Images of Willow continued to bombard his mind. Angel
began to have a strong urge to cry or scream. He loved her, but it
would never work. he told himself firmly. Finally, his
thoughts drove him off the couch and into nervous motion. He stalked
to the door, turning out the lights as he went. Angel walked out the
door into the night, hoping that a long walk would help him restore
some order to his thoughts -- before Willow got home.

Willow scooped the last of her sundae out of the bowl then dropped the
dish into Giles' sink. Xander had arrived bearing gifts of food to
make the research go faster. Anya and Giles had left just a little
while ago to replace some magic supplies that turned out to be
necessary, and the two friends had stayed behind to straighten up and
finish off the ice cream. Actually, Xander had eaten most of the ice
cream while Willow put books away. The young witch was beginning to
suspect that Xander had gotten Anya to get Giles out of the house
deliberately. The young man obviously wanted to say something but
wasn't sure how to say it. He was distinctly jumpy.

"Ok, Xander, we've finished every last drop of sugar, so spill," the
redhead demanded. She sat down on the couch and looked at him
expectantly. "Is this about Angel?" It had been a couple
of days since they had destroyed Angelus; Willow worried that Xander
was having second thoughts about accepting Angel.

Xander flushed and ducked his head. He had been hard on Angel for a
long time. No wonder Will thought he wanted to complain some more.
"No it's not about Deadb. . .," Xander quickly corrected himself,
"Angel. I can see that he is a good friend to you. I'm not happy that
you hid the fact that you guys were friends, but I understand why you
did." He paused, "I actually wanted to apologize."

"Apologize? For what?" Willow was clearly confused.

A bit embarrassed, Xander quickly continued. "Um, for following you
and for eavesdropping that first day you were training with Cassandra."

Surprised, Willow yelled. "You what! How much did you hear?!" She
jumped off the couch and glared at him.

"Pretty much everything. Including the little trip to Hell you
neglected to mention." He shot her a mildly reproachful look then his
face softened. "It explained a lot, like how you and Angel got so
close, and how you trusted him so quickly after that whole 'been in
Hell for three hundred years' thing."

Willow gaped, speechless. She flopped back onto the seat.

"I just didn't want anymore leftover secrets hanging between us. We've
been friends too long for that."

Willow managed to gather her wits. "You aren't mad? Are you going to
tell Buffy?" Her voice rose on the second question.

"No on both counts. I've gotten over it, and it's old news so I don't
see why Buffy would need to know."

At that point Giles and Anya returned. The former demoness looked at
Xander pointedly, clearly wanting to know if he'd gotten the chance to
talk to his childhood friend that he had needed. He nodded, and she
smiled. Willow didn't notice the exchange. Giles noticed, but he
decided it wasn't any of his business.

Noticing that it had been dark for awhile, Willow stood up. "I need to
get going; there's some e-mail I need to take care of before it gets
too late." She hugged Xander, smiled at the others, and then walked to
the door.

"Do you need a ride?" Giles queried. He still regarded her as one of
his charges and wanted her to be safe.

"I'll be fine. I can take care of myself now." She smiled again to
take any bite out of her firm words, then headed out the door.



Title: Dreams? 9/11

Willow walked quickly; it was nice out, but she was looking forward to
discussing the journal with Angel. He had mentioned spotting some
smaller spells of interest to them in the book. Discussing texts with
Angel was always fun, and Cassandra frequently joined in. A few
minutes clearing up her email then they could talk into the night.

Lost in her cheerful thoughts, the young redhead didn't notice the
shadow moving in the trees behind her.

She was surprised to find the mansion dark and empty. Disappointed, Willow grabbed a
soda and plopped in front of the computer. Quickly she was absorbed
into her e-mail. She had called Joe yesterday while Cass was out
jogging and had asked for Methos' number. The Watcher had given her an
email address where the Immortal could be reached. Willow had sent a
short but effusive thank you note. He had responded, clearly pleased
that the book had proven so useful.

. . . .I only remembered that it was about vampires. I haven't run
across a vampire myself in years. If I run across any other relevant
texts I'll send them to you. I am glad that your friend has been
helped. That must have been a very tense situation. Could you tell me
a bit more about that curse? I've never heard of such a thing before.
Good luck to you in all of your studies. Feel free to contact me; you
run across a lot of information in 5000 years. I understand if
Cassandra doesn't want you to. Cassandra will tell you that I have
been an evil man -- a murderer. This is nothing but the truth. But I
am no longer that man.
Methos

A small sound behind her broke Willow's concentration. She turned.
"Angel? Cass? . . .Who's there?" A tremor of fear shot down her spine when no one responded
to her question. She heard movement again and dashed to the middle of
the room, forgetting Angel's instructions to keep her back to the wall.
Willow barely had time to respond when a man appeared out of the
shadows beside her, swinging a sword at her neck. Fortunately, the lessons Angel had drilled into the young
witch made her react automatically -- preventing the urge to freeze.
Dropping to the floor, she kicked her attacker's feet out from under
him. He fell against the side table. The table and a lamp went
flying, knocking out half of the light in the room. The sharp sword
sliced through the air above Willow's head.

"What the hell do you want!?" She yelled as she rolled away, dodging
his grabbing arms and sword. The attacker got to his feet quickly,
pursuing the slender woman.

"Just your head, Coppertop." Marcus Costior
grinned through his fury. The girl had looked to be an easy mark, and
she was making him look ridiculous. Not yet Immortal and unaware of
the fact that she would be; the bitch shouldn't have known how to fight
back. She should have died with the first stroke of his sword.

Willow vaulted over the couch, grabbing the second lamp with her mind
and launching it at the nameless attacker. The light in the room died,
the only illumination the pale blue light of the computer screen.
Marcus chased after her, the lamp only a minor distraction. Attacking
again, he sliced into her side, leaving a long gash. The witch was
aware of the impact and of dull burning in her side. She refused to
think about it. Quickly she threw a filmy
illusion of an attacking demon in front of the man. It was a half-
baked effort, falling apart almost as soon as it was finished. But it
worked; Marcus recoiled, yelling. "What the hell was THAT!" Willow
grabbed the sword that Cass practiced with. It was heavier and longer
than the novice was used to, but it was closer to hand. Her attacker's
choice of weapon, combined with the fact that he didn't seem to be
either a vampire or a demon, let her know what she had to do. Cass had
told her about headhunters.

Willow had proven to be a naturally talented fighter, but she lacked
experience. For a few minutes she fended off his blows. Then her
guard slipped, and his sword rammed through her chest, puncturing a
lung. This wound she couldn't ignore. Looking at the man's smug and
victorious face, she threw her power at him without conscious thought,
briefly stunning Marcus. Willow raised her arm and swung Cassandra's
sword --- using her magic to strengthen the blow. His head flew across
the room. Willow watched it's gruesome arc numbly. The world was
rapidly going dark and blurry. There was no time for her to enjoy her
victory. Still impaled on her attacker's sword, Willow fell to the
floor. She stared at the wall, unable to move, and blood dribbled from
her mouth. Around her blue
lightening danced, exploding the computer. Willow was vaguely aware of
the power dancing through her. Moments later, she died, drowning in
her own blood.

Angel walked slowly back to the Mansion. He was calm now, emotions
firmly back under control. It was nearly midnight. The vampire had walked nearly across town in his
need to think. Looking up as he walked up to the door, he noticed that
Cassandra's car was still gone. Then he noticed that the lights were out as well.
A little worry began to gnaw at him. Willow had planned on being home soon after
dark. Angel hurried through the front door.

The smell of blood hit him the minute he stepped inside. Panic rushed
through him, making his dead heart contract. Eyes searching
frantically in the darkness for the source of the overpowering smell,
he almost tripped over Marcus's head. He stared at the grisly thing,
horror growing; Angel rushed into the room, all caution forgotten.
"Willow." His only thought was that she had gotten home on time --
alone. His sharp night vision allowed him to clearly see the shambles
the room was in. He could also smell Willow. Then he found her, still
next to the rest of the body of her attacker in a pool of both of their
blood. Blood covered her from the wound in her side.

His anguished scream echoed through the dark Mansion. Kicking Marcus's
body aside, Angel fell to his knees and pulled Willow into his arms.
Violently, he pulled the sword out her chest. He threw it across the
room, where it hit the wall with a clang. Gently, he pushed the hair
out of her starring eyes. Her body was still warm;
he leaned his head against her chest -- no trace of a heartbeat -- not
even the faintest murmur for his sensitive hearing to detect. It was
too late to turn her, but the lingering warmth in her pale skin let him
know it had only been minutes. Angel held her tightly against him, his
blood tears mingling with her lifeblood as he sobbed. He sobbed
uncontrollably, beyond thought and completely lost in his pain. An
animal-like keening filled the room. The grieving vampire sat unmoving
with the slender girl in his arms for hours.

He missed the first feeble beat of Willow's heart. Then she took a
gasping breath that shook her entire body. Angel bolted upright,
starring in shock at Willow's face. She began to cough, choking on the
blood that filled her lungs. The vampire turned her over and supported
her until the spasms ceased. Willow turned over in his arms; she
looked up at Angel with eyes full of confusion, her cheeks flushed.

Angel looked at her in wonder. He touched her side gently, sliding his
hand inside her torn shirt to touch the spot where the wound had been.
Willow's skin was smooth and unbroken. Then he
slid his hand to her heart, face full of reverence. He thought joyfully. Angel closed his eyes -- letting his
senses focus on her pulse -- its sound and the feel of it under his
hand.

Willow was definitely confused. She clearly remembered being run
through and dying. The corpse of her attacker was lying right next to
her and Angel. But the shock of being alive
was overshadowed by
the sensation of Angel holding her tightly and his hands running over
her sides. It made her heart beat wildly. Willow could tell he was
in shock even through the haze of her own shock. She reached up, after
wiggling one arm free of the tight embrace, and gently stroked his
cheek. "Angel, are you okay?"

His yellow eyes snapped open. Angel stared, stunned,
into her large green eyes, then pulled her to him -- forgetting all his
previous injunctions to himself to act just as a friend to her.

With the first touch of his mouth to hers Willow completely forgot
death and headless corpses. Her only coherent thought was a brief
notice that Angel was vamped out. The kiss was frantic, almost
desperate. Angel was reassuring himself the woman he loved was
actually alive, breathing in his arms. Then he realized, as he was
pushing her back against the side of the couch, that he was kissing his
best friend . . . and his fangs and ridges were out. He pulled back.
"I'm sorry, Willow. I love you." Angel put his human face back on,
feeling ashamed of his impulsive action. "I know you don't feel that
way abou. . . " Willow didn't give him a chance to finish his
sentence. The young witch realized that Angel didn't know how she
felt. All that
mattered was that he loved her. She shut him up by pulling him back
into the kiss. Both were quickly lost in the intense moment . . .
completely unaware of the world around them.

So, neither of them heard the car pull up.

Cassandra was in a truly foul mood as she paid the cab driver. The
immortal cut off her internal tirade as she neared the Mansion. She
could feel another Immortal . . . very close, and the front door was
standing wide open. Drawing her sword, she walked quickly into the
Mansion, already in a defensive stance. Inside the entry the light
switch failed to work. Back to the wall, she cast a simple spell
designed to light up a room for about a half an hour. The sight that
met her eyes made Cassandra almost drop her sword. The room was a mess.
There was unfamiliar decapitated head at her feet, the furniture had
been thrown around, and both lamps were knocked over. Next the couch
was the body, and the blood, to go with the head. Sitting in that
blood were Angel and Willow --- kissing like the world was about to
end. The Immortal buzz was coming from Willow, and it was quite
strong. Cassandra crossed the room, picking up the lamps and
plugging them back it. Surprisingly, both had escaped being broken;
she revoked the unneeded light spell.

"Willow?" Cassandra cleared her throat; neither of the kissing pair
noticed her. "Willow!" She was still ignored. "WILLOW!" The pair
broke apart with a jump, looking at her in embarrassed surprise.
Willow moved to get out of Angel's lap, but he refused to let her go,
keeping his arms firmly wrapped around her slight frame.

In a much calmer voice, Cassandra continued, "Do think that could
wait? We need to talk, and this place is a disaster." She looked
pointedly at the blood. Willow and Angel suddenly realized they were
still on the blood-covered floor. "Eww!" was Willow's first reaction.
Reluctantly, Angel let go of her and stood, helping her to her feet.

Let's go in the kitchen --- less blood." Cassandra walked away, and
they followed.

Sitting at the kitchen table, holding Angel's hand, Willow's brain
function finally resumed. "Um, Cassandra? I'm Immortal, aren't I? He
was a headhunter. It's the only thing that makes sense."

"Yes you are. I was hoping that this wouldn't happen for a bit longer."

Angel immediately exploded. He stood up, his chair falling to the
floor behind him, and he leaned across the table. The vampire grabbed
Cassandra. "You KNEW Willow was Immortal! And you didn't even mention
it!" he roared. He vamped back out, reacting to his fury.

"We generally don't tell! When someone
knows they're Immortal it alters how they deal with life; they take
crazy risks!" Cassandra yelled back at him, shoving him back to sit on
the upper edge of his fallen chair. He had to grab the edge of the
table to keep from toppling backwards. Angel glared at her and moved
to stand back up. Cassandra started speaking again, this time turning
to Willow. "You tend to do just about anything for your friends,
right?"

"Um, well . . . Yes." Willow stammered. She was still rather stunned
and had been zoning out as Cass and Angel argued. She didn't have the
energy to break up the fight.

"So if you had know that you couldn't be turned into a vampire or
killed in most ways you would have taken on dangerous things to protect
the others?" Cassandra's tone was supremely reasonable.

Willow nodded slowly. Confusion faded from her face as she
started to understand what Cass was trying to point out. Angel,
however, was still growling. The redhead reached over to grab his hand
again. "Angel, calm down. It's okay." She looked at him pleadingly

The Immortal faced the vampire calmly. "I wanted Willow to live as
long as possible. I was hoping that she would make it to her mid-
twenties BEFORE she stopped aging. I
knew that Willow would take risks if I told her." Willow blushed as
Cassandra directed a wry glance at her student. "So I did my best to
prepare her without giving away that she was pre-Immortal."

Angel was starting to think again by the end of this speech. Forcing
down his need to defend Willow in some way, he resumed his human face.
Willow sighed in relief. He was going to cooperate. For now.

Cass looked the pair over thoughtfully. "Why don't you both go clean
up. You are both a disaster. I'll take care of the living room.
Somehow I don't think seeing you covered in blood is the best way to
break the news to the others."

Willow and Angel were both liberally covered with blood, and Willow's
shirt was badly torn. The young witch suddenly became aware of the
mess, her daze evaporating. "Ewww!" Willow took off for the shower.
Cassandra thought with a
grin. Angel trailed after her, trying to absorb Cassandra's
explanation.

Willow tossed the ruined clothing into the corner of her room, thinking
as she did so that she would need to burn the outfit later -- between
the blood and the tears it was a complete loss. She turned on the
shower as hot as it would go then stepped into the driving spray.
Quickly, Willow began scrubbing off the blood. It was everywhere, and
the water flowing down the drain in the floor was pink. Willow leaned
against the tile wall, watching the water as it swirled away. Finally
the rest of her stunned daze began to dissolve.

The small redhead slid to the floor, shaking. It was all just too
much. Learning to become a powerful witch had been exciting and much
desired. Cassandra's immortality had been a fascinating research
topic, and no more. Willow had wanted to know more about what it was
like. The young witch
was perfectly willing to admit that she was terrified, and she couldn't
yet absorb what effect this was going to have on her life. For a
while, Willow just sat on the floor, water hitting her head as she sat
and cried helplessly. About the time the water began to cool, the
hysteria began to wear off. She stood back up. This returned her to
more pleasant thoughts . . . reflecting on the intense embrace that
they had shared. However, Willow didn't let her thoughts or the warm
tingly feeling they gave her distract her. She wasn't ready to have a
worried Angel bursting in while she was still in the shower.

Hair dry and clothes clean, Willow headed back down the stairs to
rejoin the others. Cassandra was mopping up the floor when her student
walked into the room. Most of the blood was gone, and Angel was wiping
up the stray smears that were out of Cass's reach. The couch, still
stained, had been set to one side. The rest of the furniture had been
restored to order. The lamps looked rather squished. The blood-
covered carpet Willow and her attacker had fallen on was gone.

Looking around the redhead found it. It was near the front door. Cass
and Angel had rolled up the remains in it -- for disposal. The sword,
still bloody , was on top of it. Willow could take her eyes
off the misshapen bundle. she thought in shock.
Involuntarily, a shiver shook her.

An arm wrapped around her shoulders, holding her tight and giving her
the support she needed. Angel leaned down and kissed her forehead. He
had abandoned the clean up operation as soon as she had paled and
shuddered. Willow leaned into his arms, wrapping her arms around his
waist and burying her face against his chest.

Cassandra looked on in concern. "Are you alright, Willow?" Angel
glared at her, but relented a little when he saw the genuine concern in
the Immortal's face.

Willow straightened up. She had managed to avoid crying again, though
her eyes were red. She had just needed some support. "I'm fine, or I
will be once my head stops spinning." Angel squeezed her, and she
grinned up at him. The smile was open and unstrained. It was also
full of the love that the vampire desperately needed to see. He
grinned back at her, feeling the knot of worry in his stomach relax and
disappear. Cassandra, looking on, also relaxed. It looked as if her
student would indeed be all right, despite the shock.

Willow's face turned serious again. She turned to face her teacher,
leaning back against Angel. Her moved his arms to her waist, and she
placed her smaller hands over his. Her eyes flickered over towards
the carpet wrapped bundle. "I didn't have a choice, did I? About
killing him I mean," she quietly asked Cassandra.

"No you didn't. He was a headhunter and nasty one. Going after pre-
Immortals is seen as being without honor. If you hadn't killed him he
would have killed you without a second thought. Just knocking him out
or even injuring him severely wouldn't have been enough." Cassandra's
voice managed to be both deadly serious and reassuring. "I have gone
over the rules of the game with you, haven't I?"

"I think so?" Willow responded her voice unsure.

"We need to go over that. You must know certain things." She moved to
the kitchen, Angel and Willow following her. Cassandra dumped the
bucket of water, only slightly pink, into the sink and dropped the mop
on the counter. She dropped into a chair, tired although it was early
in the day. she thought wryly.
She continued speaking. "You'll need to start training seriously now.
Magic will have to wait for awhile. I want to be sure you can handle
yourself in a sword fight without magic first."

They sat down at the table, again, preparing to talk. Cassandra opened
her mouth to start when they all heard the front door open. There was
a brief pause then they all turned to the door and got back to their
feet. From the other room came a chorused yell. "What the Hell!?"





Title: Dreams? 10/11

The Mansion was completely silent after the initial yell of surprise.
The three new arrivals were standing in a shocked tableau by the front
door. Giles and Buffy were staring at the body, while Xander stared at
the bloody sword, which he had knocked to the floor. He'd tripped over
the body coming in and had nearly been knocked over by the others when
they came in. The blow had caused the ruined carpet to partially
unroll, revealing the headless corpse. Buffy, eyes still startled,
shook herself as Willow and the others came into the room. Noticing
her friends' shocked and confused expressions, Willow motioned for
Angel and Cass to stay behind. She wanted to handle this herself; it
was, after all, her story to tell. The two hesitated for a moment,
then nodded, and went back into the kitchen. Buffy completely missed
the by-play. She was focused on making sure that Willow was all right.
The Slayer rushed across to the redhead, visually checking Willow for
injuries as she moved. Fortunately, between Immortal healing and a
shower the young witch showed no obvious signs of trouble. However,
the Slayer's sixth sense, the one that let her know that there was
trouble in the area, was on full alert. Something was wrong.

"Are you all right? What happened?" She hugged Willow, partially
reassured that her friend was okay --- at least there was no blood.
The Slayer didn't completely relax though. Willow was unharmed but
clearly tired and dazed, and the redhead was getting that little line
between the eyebrows that she got when she was upset or frightened.
Something big had happened . . . but what?

"I'm fine." Buffy looked at her skeptically; Willow smiled and
continued. "I'm just a little shaken up. Why don't we go into the
kitchen, and I'll explain. It's kind of messy in here." Willow
indicated the battered room and the corpse in one sweeping glance.
Buffy nodded and followed. Opening the door to the kitchen both young
women realized that Giles and Xander weren't behind them. Both men
were still at the front door, staring at the unexpected corpse.

Willow thought with amusement. "Xander?
Giles?" Both men jumped, looking up at her. "Everything's okay. Come
into the kitchen, and I'll explain." Her steady voice managed to
conceal her own inner turmoil. She needed to seem calm and confident
for her friends. Having them panic didn't sound like a very good idea.


Willow sat, looking across the table at the others. The young witch
was nervous . . . there was no way to tell how the others would react
to this new change. She was also still a little dazed and was have
trouble pulling her thoughts together. Angel came up behind her and
rested a hand on her shoulder. His support and love seemed to flow
into her like a tangible thing. Her thoughts cleared, and she calmed. Cassandra stood to the side, leaning against the
sink. The Immortal's face was expressionless.

Willow decided to be blunt. She was too tired to draw things out, even
with Angel supporting her. "Okay. I killed the man out in the living
room. "

"WHAT?!"

Willow was fairly sure that people in Oregon and Mexico could hear
Buffy's stunned yell. Giles and Xander just sat there with their
mouths hanging open. Their Willow had KILLED someone?

She rushed through the rest of the story, not giving them a chance to
say anything. "I came home. No one was here. I was checking my email,
heard a sound, turned around, and this guy attacked me with a sword. I
threw a couple of magics at him. He stabbed me a couple of times. I
killed him with Cassandra's practice sword. "I died and got his Quickening at about
the same time. Then I woke up, no wounds, and Angel was here.
Cassandra got home, and we all cleaned up."

She stopped to take a breath. Xander found his tongue while she
paused. "You died!? Are you okay?" He looked decidedly stunned.

"I'm fine, Xander. I'm Immortal. I can die and come back . . . well,
I can as long as my head isn't cut off. That's what that guy was
trying to do. I guess he thought I would be an easy target . . .
that's why he followed me."

Buffy was listening to Willow, but she was watching Cassandra. Since
she was closely studying the Immortal, she'd noticed something that
filled her with rage. There wasn't the slightest bit of surprise on
the Immortal's face. Angel was wincing at Willow's dry recitation,
but Cassandra wasn't reacting at all. Maybe the guy out the living
room had been a surprise, specifically, but Willow's Immortality hadn't
been new. Cassandra had known that something like this was going to
happen. And she'd neglected to warn or tell anyone. Buffy jumped out
of her chair, angrily flinging herself across the table, and pinned
Cassandra against the cabinets before the Immortal had a chance to
react. "You Bitch!" The Slayer's eyes were filled with almost
incoherent fury at the danger her friend had unknowingly been in.
Giles quickly joined her, feeling the same rage that his Slayer felt.

Between the two of them Cassandra was quickly being throttled.

"Let her GO!" The yell startled the two enough that they let the
Immortal go. Cassandra slumped, gasping for air, and rubbing her
throat. She looked at her student gratefully.

With the fading of that initial shock, Willow's reaction time had begun
to recover. She stalked around the table, grabbed Buffy's arm and
firmly pulled her back to the table. The redhead then did the same to
Giles. They stood by the table, still looking rather startled.
Willow only rarely brought out the resolve face, and a slight but
unmistakable frision of magic was running through the air of the
kitchen. "SIT DOWN!" They sat. Quickly.

Willow took a deep breath, then sat down calmly. Cassandra cleared her
throat and quickly rushed through the same explanation that she had
given Angel. Buffy and Giles clearly wanted to interrupt at a couple
of points, but Willow firmly stared them down. Cassandra used the
help to good advantage. She threw in a couple examples of earlier
Immortals who had taken insane risks when they learned before their
first death that they would become Immortal . . . including one idiot
who managed to get himself beheaded. With a pointed look at Willow,
the Immortal calmly pointed out that they were on the Hellmouth, and
taking risks here was even worse than anywhere else. The slender girl
grimaced but said nothing.

Xander finally managed to find his tongue. "But why didn't you tell one
of us?" Although his eyes were decidedly accusatory, his voice was
level.

Cassandra thought. "Would any of you been able to avoid
telling her once you knew?" A small grin crossing her face, Cass looked
the group over. "If I hadn't been able to work in weapons training as
easily as I did, I probably would have told Giles." This seemed to
satisfy them. The group was still stunned but not angry. Except
Angel. He was still glaring a little. He had accepted the logic of
Cassandra's arguments, but he was still unhappy about being lied to.

Willow looked over at Cassandra and sighed with relief. At least this
part of the transition was over. Her teacher looked back at her
sympathetically.

Gesturing for Willow to follow, the older
Immortal walked back out to the fireplace. The other's followed,
trailing after the redhead. Angel stayed right at her side, arm around
her shoulders. Cassandra depressed a small stone on one side of the
fireplace and a panel slid away. Angel made a small sound of surprise.
In all the time he'd lived here he'd never found that compartment.

Willow looked over Cass's shoulder, curiosity eating her up despite the
number of surprises the day had already brought. A long, wrapped
bundle was tucked into the compartment, hidden safely away. Her
teacher lifted the object out with one hand and gave it to Willow.

"This is yours."

Quickly, Willow untied the cords that held the cloth closed. Then her
jaw dropped. It was a sword. This was as unlike the practice swords
they been using as possible. Although it wasn't heavily ornamented, it
was a work of art. It was smallish for a medieval sword, but the sword
was just the right size and balance for the small girl. Cassandra had
polished and sharpened it, and it gleamed in the low light of the
living room. The grip and the guard of the hilt were polished steel;
two gold covered finger guards curved gracefully out of the guard. The
round polished steel of the pommel was stamped with a symbol she didn't
recognize.

"This sword is a little small for me, but I thought of it when you
became my student. Joe bought it out when he brought my other things.
This is the sword you will practice with most of the time. I want you
to be able to fight with other weapons as well, but this is your
primary weapon. Keep it very close to you at all times. Near your
hand at home, even when you sleep, and outside of the house you wear
it."

Willow looked up, startled at the firmness that had come into
Cassandra's voice.

Her teacher's face was very serious. "A challenger won't wait for you
to arm yourself, and Immortals don't need an invitation."

Willow looked over at the gruesome bundle near the door. Cassandra
noticed the look. "Precisely."

Willow sagged a little, the stress of the morning and the shock of the
night before hitting her again. Cassandra watched, then turned and
began ushering the others out. "Angel, go tuck Willow in bed. She's
exhausted." Willow moved to put the sword down. Cassandra calmly put
the sword back in the tired girl's hands. "Even when you sleep, " she
repeated firmly. "Go rest. It will be easier to deal with when you're
not as tired."

Cassandra stood and watched Willow and Angel walk away. The others took
the hint and moved to leave. Then the Immortal turned her attention
back to the body. Giles was still near the door. "Giles, help me get
rid of this thing. Oh, and would you help me find a new place for
Willow, Angel and I to stay. One on holy ground."





Title: Dreams? 11/11

The room was cluttered with boxes and other packing gear. Almost
everything was ready to go. Cassandra and Giles had managed to find a
large, two-storied, and unoccupied house that suited all of Cass's
requirements. It's previous residents, some ten years back, had been
Druids, and the house qualified as holy ground. The house had been
built to be a meeting-house. The kitchen and all of the other regular
rooms were on the second floor, while the first floor was open except
for heavy wooden support pillars. Cass wished the ceiling was a bit
higher, but the resulting room was spacious enough for both magic and
sword practice. It was also close to one of the many graveyards Buffy
had to patrol and to the college, making it convenient for the Scooby
gang to operate out of.

After all, this was the place were
some of the most important events of her life had taken place. She'd
brought Angel back from Hell in this room . . . their growing
friendship had been hidden here. She'd become Immortal here. This
last event was what the slender witch's thoughts centered on. It was a
lot to take in. After the initial shock, Buffy, Giles, and Xander
seemed to treat her the same as they had before. She looked the same
and acted the same as before. Or maybe it was just that they had
gotten used to her changing on them.

Willow no longer had the urge to have hysterics, but she couldn't just
ignore dying, however temporary the death was, as insignificant. She
and Angel hadn't talked about it, kissing was considerably more fun,
but the fact the Willow wasn't an ordinary girl, or even an ordinary
witch, anymore was certainly on the vampire's mind. Every time he
looked at the spot where she had died his eyes would darken then nearly
go gold. He hadn't told her how he felt about the Immortality thing.
Willow thought that he liked it, but she couldn't be sure.

It made Willow's heart ache, but she knew that she wouldn't
be able to stay in Sunnydale for much longer. Cassandra would have
left right away, but both of them knew that Willow's friends would need
more time to get used to her leaving. So the beginning training would
be done here. The only person who openly discussed the change was
Cassandra, in her role as teacher. The dark-haired Immortal had firmly
gone over the rules that came with being Immortal. No fighting on Holy
ground, which was why they were packing to move. Combat is one on
one, and you never interfere with another person's fight.

So far, getting used to taking the sword everywhere was the hard part.
Willow still hadn't figured out how Cass made her sword just disappear
into whatever she was wearing.

Movement behind her brought her out of her reverie. She realized that
she'd been standing, unmoving, by a stack of boxes - tape still in her
hand - for several minutes.

"You all right, little one?" The voice was just the one she wanted to
hear -- Angel. Willow looked up to find his dark eyes watching her.

"I'm fine. Just thinking." She smiled, and he returned to happy
expression. He pulled her closer. The kiss was a wonderful as the
others . . . dizzying and completely overwhelming. For that matter the
kiss was a little too good. Willow wanted to talk to Angel, and he was
thoroughly distracting her. "Um,
Angel, could we talk?"

The handsome vampire tensed instantly and nodded reluctantly. Willow
pulled him over to the fireplace, then sat down; she pulled on his arm
until he sat down next to her. Unknown to Willow, Angel was
terrified. He had been for days. Willow returned his kisses
enthusiastically, and the smiles she'd sent his way were glowing. To
him it was like standing in the bright sunlight he was forbidden. But
he wasn't sure where he stood with her -- what their relationship was
now that she was Immortal. He knew without any doubt that Willow
considered him a friend, but she had never said 'I love you'. The
dark-haired vampire wanted those words more than anything else, even
though he was sure that he didn't deserve them. Angel was far from
sure that Willow wanted to spend multiple decades with him . . . the
decades were now available, but he wasn't sure that she wanted him
there as any thing more than a friend. Her tentative tone of voice
frightened him. But she didn't say the
words he feared.

"Are you okay with this whole Immortal thing? I mean, I was thinking,
maybe you don't want to have me around that long, and you just said
what you said 'cause you were upset, and you don't really want me to
love you - though I do, and you just want me around in a friend kind of
way, and . . ." Willow would have continued babbling but Angel gently
laid a finger on her lips, silencing the blushing redhead. The vampire
was smiling and fighting an urge to dance madly around the room.

"I meant it when I told you I love you. I do love you. And if you
think you can stand having me around, oh, for a few centuries . . . I
don't want to leave . . . EVER. Right next to you is where I want to
be." The steady forcefulness of his voice made Willow's face glow and
her heart pound. Angel pulled her onto his lap, cuddling her in his
arms. "You love me?" His voice was just a little plaintive, all the
steadiness gone. He needed the reassurance that his feelings were
returned.

Willow smiled. Touching his face gently, "I love you with all my
heart, and I most certainly want you around. For a really long time."
She laced her fingers in his hair and pulled him to her, trying to pour
every bit of love she felt into the embrace. It seemed to work,
because she could feel his love returning to her. And with Angel beside
her, it would.

THE END

Thank you for reading my story. Please tell me what you thought of the end. Pretty
please:)

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