Willow rolled over in bed, listening to the soft sounds of someone rustling around, putting things away, taking other things out. After a few minutes, the bed shifted as a new weight was added, the covers momentarily lifted on one side as someone slid under them and moved close to her. A strong arm wrapped around her from behind, and the redhead snuggled back against the tall form that had just joined her in bed.
"Happy hunting?" she murmured, and she sensed more than saw her boyfriend nod.
"Graham and I found a few. Just minion-types, nothing too dangerous. They're dust. Everybody's home safe now," Riley Finn assured her, and Willow nodded, closing her eyes once more. "Angel back yet?"
"Yeah. He came home when I was still working on my paper-"
"Did the notes I gave you help?"
"They were perfect as always. Sometimes I find it very annoying that you're smarter than I am," Willow told him, and Riley laughed softly, shaking his head.
"Sure I am. You're the one that was almost recruited by some secret corporation before you finished high school," the blonde man reminded her, and Willow shrugged, rolling over in his arms to face him, snuggling against him. Riley responded by wrapping his arms more tightly around her, making the redhead smile. Riley was so much larger than she was, practically a foot taller than her, and it was at times like these, when she was just lying here with him like this, that she just felt *so* safe. Like nothing could touch her.
"Well, it was probably an evil corporation," she told him, and he nodded.
"They usually are. Think about what I was recruited by," he said, and Willow winced. The truth was, the redheaded witch wasn't entirely sure that the Initiative - or at least a lot of its members - were truly evil, or just misguided. Dr. Walsh and some of her cronies had definitely crossed the line to evil, yeah, but most of the soldiers hadn't had a clue about the lines that were being crossed. It wasn't their fault they were being pumped full of drugs and lied to.
"That wasn't your fault. I mean, I thought Dr. Walsh was all fine and dandy, too... Until she tried to kill Faith and captured Angel and starting running those experiments on him," the redhead replied, cringing at the memories. By that time Faith and Graham had already been dating - something that had shocked them all - and Graham had instantly turned his back on the Initiative when he'd found out that Walsh had sent demons after his girlfriend. Then, when Angel had been captured, a man that Riley had known to be a good friend of Willow's, a man that had once saved Riley's life, Riley had left the group as well, realizing that everything Faith had said was true and that Walsh was clearly delusional... Vampire or not, Riley had already come to the conclusion that Angel was not evil. Thank goodness they'd gotten to Angel before he'd been chipped or experimented on very much. "Then I kind of thought she was an evil nutjob."
Riley smiled slightly. "Good call," he said, then leaned forward, pressing a kiss to Willow's forehead. "I knew I fell for the girl with the brains."
"Well, Cordelia's quite smart, too, you know-"
"Totally not my type. Not that she isn't a lovely girl, but she's definitely not my type. Perfect for Xander, though."
Willow laughed softly. "You know, there was actually a time when Xander and I were part of an 'I Hate Cordelia' club. He was the treasurer. Then I caught them making out in the stacks in eleventh grade," the redhead said, then sighed. "Hard to believe they've been together that long. It'll be four years soon."
"Almost two years for us. Maybe one of these days you'll make an honest man out of me," Riley teased, and Willow grinned.
"Maybe if there's a lull in the evil," she replied, and Riley winced.
"That'll be never," he said, then frowned, his expression growing more serious. "Do we have any more information?"
"From the research men? That would be a big no. The best we've got is a reference to 'that who must not be named,' but that's not exactly a lot to go on, if you know what I mean. There are a lot of evils that apparently were bad enough that people didn't want to name them. I even found a text that I'm pretty sure referred to the Master as 'he who must not be named' and Buffy killed him years ago," Willow said, her voice growing smaller as she spoke the last few words, and Riley sighed, drawing the redhead as close to him as he could without squeezing her too tightly. She was so small, so seemingly fragile, that there were times when he was afraid he would hurt her... Her tiny build made it all the harder to believe everything she'd been through, especially since she wasn't a Slayer like Faith was. It seemed that the things that hurt her the worst, though, were anything that meant mentioning Buffy Summers by name, and it was always worse when her name would accidentally slip into conversation.
"Well, we'll find out what it is... What's going on. I mean, we've got the research group on it. You're the hacker girl extraordinaire, and we've got not one, but two former Watchers. Angel can beat up or bribe contacts for information... We'll find something."
"It would help if we could still get information from the Watcher's Council," Willow muttered, though in all honesty, she didn't really blame Faith all that much for quitting the Council. The group was mean to Giles, which made Willow really annoyed, and then there was that whole thing where Faith just wasn't good with authority figures. It was a miracle that she hadn't quit the Council before she did.
"Well, if the world is going to end, then they might want to stop being stingy with the information," Riley muttered, then froze suddenly, both of them listening as someone moved through the house. It wasn't likely to be Angel getting up for a late night snack - the vampire kept his refrigerator of blood in his own room, not wanting to disgust the rest of them - and none of the wards had gone off which meant it wasn't anyone uninvited, so-
Willow groaned at the sound of a vase falling to the floor and breaking.