Title: Carpe Diem
Author: Laura Fones
E-Mail Address: rb46528@aol.com
Distribution: You need only ask.
Spoilers: 1st Season of Angel
Rating: PG-13
Classification: Willow/Angel
Summary: After Buffy’s death, Willow goes to LA to away from it all, when she finds she can’t escape her feelings.
Disclaimer: I own nothing in relation to the show Buffy the Vampire slayer, Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy own all except for the story idea.
Feedback: I love it. I thrive on it.
Author’s note: In this story, I switch perspectives from Willow’s in the beginning for like an introduction and then to a third person’s, so try not to get confused. And, oh yeah, Angel’s soul is permanent.

Carpe Diem. That’s what I had once said, just saying that made me loose one friend to the monster wearing the mask of an Angel. Angel, I can only say this with bittersweet recognition now. Yes, he’s still here. I still love him, I can’t tell him, but it’s there. Bittersweet, his name is now, because he’s lost the one thing he loved, and it’s not me… I know I shouldn’t say that, Buffy was my friend, I was her friend. But jealousy is a powerful thing; it makes you forget loyalty, camaraderie. Inwardly at least.

I miss her, maybe not enough. But I feel no guilt, it wasn’t my fault. She was the slayer, but it just wasn’t her time, or maybe it was, who knows. But seeing her, lying in a pool of her own blood, but not the cause of some satanic demon. But instead by her own hand. I remember the note she left, ‘I’m so sorry, I couldn’t handle it, I’m weak. Please forgive me.’ All I could think was, bitch, you took the easy way out, what about us, your friends, we have to deal with your selfishness.

Then, at the funeral, I just felt this release from her. I knew that I was stronger than she ever was. She would take her own life because of Riley’s death. Sorry Buffy, I really am, but you’ve lost friends, now you’ve just left us with more grief than you needed to spill your own blood. I guess that was resentment, I missed her, yes, but I was so angry with her. She takes her life and leaves us to clean up after her. And not just the blood, the pain. Doesn’t she know how much we loved her, how much she hurt us. Even Spike, who always said she was such a pain in the ass, said he’d miss her. She broke up the gang for good.

That’s why I decided to leave, to LA. I know, what a cravenness way to get away. Well, guess what Buffy, you’re not the only weak one, but I’m not going to be here to pick up the pieces of the Scooby gang that you left to us.

I called Cordelia, telling her about everything, she said Angel was really broken up and wouldn’t even come out of his little apartment in the basement. She invited me to stay with her, so I could be away from it, so I could step back and get over it. I accepted, and there I was, standing outside the door, looking absentmindedly at the sign, ‘Angel Investigations.’ Over and over, my eyes raked the letters, building my nerve. I sighed and turned the knob.

Click, I knew my world would change the moment I walked through the entrance of the office. Swoosh, I opened the door and walked into the office. Cordelia? Oh, there she is, I saw her through the clear pane of glass that was mounted on the door. I sat down in a chair next to the filing cabinet. Oh, good, she noticed me, she walked over, breathe.

“Willow,” Cordelia smiled as she hugged me, “It’s been so long.”

“Only an hour since we last spoke,” I smiled back, hoping to get through the greetings quickly, and then get settled in.

“Yes, but you’re the only one who could actually get Angel out of the dark shell that is his dreary living quarters he calls his apartment,” She motioned to the office, “Come on, let’s go see if we can actually get Angel to speak in double syllables.”

She led me into the office, where I saw a very plain work area, just a standard desk, lamp, chair. Pretty basic. Then I looked up and saw a very broody Angel and…Wesley?

“Wesley?” I couldn’t have been more unprepared or tickled, “What are you doing here, council boy, did you get canned?”

“Yeah,” Cordelia cut in, “Apparently since Buffy left the council, they didn’t want dearest Wesley here, so we brought him in as a stray.” Wesley stepped forward in his usual timid, British way.

“Good to see you again Willow,” He offered out his hand and I shook it. I silently wondered if Angel was even going to talk to me, he looked so far off.

Cordelia grabbed Wesley’s hand and led him out saying only, “Let them catch up.”“Cordelia,” Wesley said when she had pulled him out of the room and out of earshot, “Why did you insist on our leaving, we could have stayed in there and helped with the uncomfortable silences a conversation with Angel is known to have.”

Cordelia waved her hand toward the office, “You don’t get it, Angel wanted to be alone with her. You know how he’s been acting really weird lately, it’s because he’s got like this total crush on Willow and he knew she was coming. And I know Willow has the hots for him. But, it’s their issue, not ours.” Wesley opened his mouth to respond but Cordelia shushed him with a finger to her lip. She motioned towards the door so they could hear what was going on in the room.Willow swayed back and forth on her heels, hoping Angel would break the tension that seemed to envelop the room. She glanced down at her shoes, then up at Angel, praying Cordelia would come back into the office.

Angel looked down at his fist and decided it was stupid to just stay in silence, even if he didn’t know how to act around Willow. He stood up and walked towards her, making her gaze travel from her feet to his face.

“How are you,” Angel asked, “I mean in general, not just with the… well, you know.”

“I’m okay,” Willow tugged on the end of her sleeve, “I guess. I mean, it’s not everyday your best friend commits suicide and leaves you to pick up the shattered pieces of your close to surviving semi happy existence.” She said each word as if it were fact and not some bitter pretense.

Angel placed a soothing hand on her shoulder, “I know. It’s hard.” He hesitated a moment before embracing her, though it was as much for him as it was for her.

Willow stood stunned for a minute, then brought her arms around his back, nuzzling into his chest. If this was the only way to get Angel to hold her, then she would have to enjoy it. She sighed slightly; backing away before it became too difficult to let go.

Angel was reluctant, but let the little witch out of his fond embrace; “You should go with Cordelia.” Angel looked away from her for a moment and added, “You need to get settled in.”

< Oh, of course he wants to get rid of me. Fine then. I’ll go. > She nodded her head and turned to the door, slowly turning the knob and walking out of the office.

Cordelia saw the mournful look on Willow’s face as she exited Angel’s office. All she could think was,

“Come on Cordelia,” Willow flashed a smile that was less then convincing to Cordelia, “I need to get unpacked.”

“Yeah,” Cordelia led Willow out of Angel Investigations and down to her car, determined to find out what that senseless dead head had done to upset Willow. “Let’s get you settled in,” Cordelia said as she helped the shaky Willow out of the passenger seat of her car.

“I wasn’t aware it was legal to drive like that,” Willow’s eyes were wide from the traumatic experience that was driving Miss. Cordy.

“You’d be surprised what you can get away with in LA, I murdered someone just last week and no cops yet.” Cordelia smiled as Willow’s eyes bugged out, “Kidding.”

“I knew that,” Willow said in a way that was reminiscent of Xander’s old remarks. She opened the trunk and Cordelia helped her with her giant suitcase.

“God,” Cordelia lifted the piece of luggage, “And I thought I packed too much.”

“My wardrobe habits have changed a bit,” Willow smiled and pulled at the bottom of her clingy tee shirt.

“So I’ve noticed,” Cordelia motioned over to the stairway to her apartment, Willow in tow; “It’s like Willow chic…without the fuzziness.”

Willow held up her finger to make a point, “No way. That’s a trademark.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Cordelia pulled out her keys and opened the door; “Come on I’ll show you your room.” Cordelia placed her keys down on the table and then the keys were lifted and put on the hook beside the door; “Thanks Dennis.”

“Are you aware a poltergeist just hung up your keys,” Willow pointed over to the key rack and then turned back to Cordelia.

“Yeah,” She put Willow’s bags into the guestroom, “That’s just Dennis. He’s kinda my ghostly roommate, it’s a long story, but the just of it is: Dennis was trapped in that wall over there, Angel and I freed him and now he lives with me, and, well, now you.”

“Yeah,” Willow smiled, “I guess.” She looked down at her bags and added, “I should probably unpack. You know, get settled in.”

“Oh, no you aren’t,” Cordelia grabbed her arm and dragged her into the kitchen, “You’re not doing anything until I know exactly what went on in that office, and why you were so depressive when you left.” She sat down in a chair and made Willow do the same.

“If I must,” Willow looked down and began, “You know I’ve always had this thing for Angel….”

“That prick,” Cordelia said when she had finished, “Willow, guys are so dumb, especially undead guys. Bloodsucking or not, they are the evil gender. And Angel, 200 years and he still has no clue about women, and especially you. He has intimacy issues I swear, but Willow I’m surprised you didn’t recognize it… Angel has a huge crush on you.”

“Yes, of course,” Willow droned sarcastically, “How could I have missed it, because that always happens to me. Yep, a gorgeous man who makes Greek gods jealous has the hots for mousy little Willow. I’m so very sure.”

“It’s no wonder,” Cordelia said and rolled her eyes, “I mean, look at how much you have in common, let’s see, belittling yourself at every chance, brooding nonstop in relation to your love lives…”

“I don’t brood,” Willow denied, “I belittle, yes; sulk, maybe; muse, definitely, but no brooding.”

Cordelia raised her eyebrows disapprovingly, “And you do of course realize that muse and sulk are synonyms of brood.”

“That’s beside the point…”

Wesley tapped on the door to Angel’s office, “Angel,” He asked, “Could I have a word.”

Hearing no answer he began to turn away from the door before hearing a mournful mutter, “Come in.”

Wesley nodded to himself and pushed the door open. He saw an unusually mopy Angel leaning to the back of his chair and staring up at the nothingness of the ceiling. Wesley sat down in the chair that was placed directly across from Angel and waited for his eyes to travel from the ceiling down to Wesley.

“You wanted something.” Angel said in a distant tone.

“Well,” Wesley began, “It’s not really about me as you can imagine, but rather about Willow.” Angel’s eyes glazed slightly, as if replaying a scene over in his mind. Wesley chose to ignore it, “When she walked out, she looked rather dejected. And I was just wondering, did anything happen in here that would make her feel cast down.”

Angel’s eyes roamed over Wesley’s for a while, examining the question inwardly, then he finally spoke, “I realized I loved her, I held her in my arms and I knew it. Then I had to let her go.”

“Well,” Wesley responded, “Since she feels the same way, I have no idea why she would feel discouraged if you told her so.”Angel’s eyes glowed when he heard the phrase “She feel the same way.”

“She feels for me too?” Angel said unbelieving.

The phone rang, abruptly bringing an end to Angel’s revelation. Wesley picked it up. “Hello.”

“Wesley.” Cordelia’s voice came from the other line.

“Yes,” He replied, “Hold on a minute.” Wesley transferred the call to the phone in the outer office; “I’ll take it outside.” Angel nodded, again detached.

Wesley rushed out the door, to the other phone and quickly picked it up. “All right, I’m not in Angel’s office any longer. What is it?”

“Willow just found out.” Cordelia said.

“So did Angel, I thought he knew.” Wesley held the phone on his shoulder and glanced back into the clear frame of Angel’s office.

“He didn’t, who would have told him. Anyway, we have to arrange something for them. They need to be together.” Her line crackled slightly from the house.

“What ever happened to ‘it’s their issue, not ours?’”

“That plan was scraped, we have to let them be alone together, and it’s what both of them need.”

“Since when did you become so caring of others.”

“About the same time you became self involved.”

“Fine, what do we do…”Angel heard the elevator move down the shaft and stop at his floor. “Cordelia?” He called, “Is that you?”

The doors opened to expose his short little redheaded object of lust; she was looking down at the floor. He got up and walked over to the open conveyance and led Willow out before the doors closed and the elevator was recalled up to the first floor.

“Hi,” Angel smiled, a rarity for him, and commented, “I wasn’t expecting you.”

Willow tilted her head to the side, puzzled, “But Cordelia told me you wanted to talk to me…”

“Not unless she’s psychic,” Angel looked pleasantly bewildered, “But I can’t say seeing you falls anywhere close to a bad thing.” He noticed they were just standing in front of the elevator so he motioned towards the couch, “Please, come in.”

“You know what,” Willow’s face looked pained, “I think I know what happened, I’ll just go back to Cordelia’s apartment. She’s just trying to… well, never mind.” She started to walk towards the elevator but was stopped when Angel grabbed her lightly on the arm, halting her attempted exit.

“Just trying to what?” Angel asked.

Willow bit down on her lip and looked down at her hands, “Well,” She chuckled slightly, “I can’t believe I’m saying this…you see, I told her that I had, kinda, a crush on you and…I should really go.” She headed once again to escape, but Angel pulled her close to him and kissed her with all the passion that had been building in him since he came back from hell.

When the kiss ended she stepped back to catch her breath and said in winded voice, “I guess I should take that as an ‘I like you too.’”

Angel smiled and shook his head, “No,” Her face fell for a moment and Angel’s arms pulled her back close to him, “You should take that as an ‘I love you more than life itself, and I have ever since I came back from hell.’ You should also take that as an 'I want you to be with me.’ Always.” Willow smiled contently and stood on her tiptoes to capture Angel’s lips in as passionate a kiss as he’d given her a few moments age.

She pulled back suddenly, “You know that this means you have to stock up on chocolate, right?”

He nudged her nose with his and said, “ I kind of guessed.”

“And no brooding.” She ordered.

“Agreed,” He chuckled and went back to kissing her again.