Title: In the Arms of a Monster
Author: Laura Fones
E-mail Address: rb46528@aol.com
Distribution: You need but to ask.
Rating: PG-13
Classification: Willow/Angel
Summary: From Angel's point of view on Willow
Disclaimer: I own nothing in relation to the show Buffy the Vampire slayer, Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy own all.
Feedback: I love it. I thrive on it.
Author's note: I've completely disregarded any of 4th season BtVS and 'Angel.' It's my damn story, deal with it.

How could I have not noticed her before? Oh yeah, Buffy. The slayer bitch. Oh, yes, I call my ex-love a bitch. I guess I hadn't really realized how much her sending me to hell created a grudge against my 'true love.' I guess that part of Angelus stayed with me, the hatred. I used to just seethe for hours after in the mansion after kissing her and after leaving her at graduation. That's right, I never left for LA, I just left Buffy. True, I had thought about leaving. Leaving Buffy and her friends, who already ostracized me. Except for Willow. She always accepted me. That's why I didn't leave, I couldn't leave her.

Because I held her the most dear of the 'Scooby gang', I went say good-bye to her. I had to. But the moment I saw her sitting next to her computer in her oversized T-shirt, I knew I couldn't leave her, I couldn't help but feel drawn in by her innocence and sweetness. Her overwhelming sweetness. I had tapped on her window and she looked up at me with those huge green orbs of her eyes.

She had whispered, "come in" and I told her I had decided not to leave for LA. Not the reason, just the action. She asked me why, but I couldn't tell her. I guess I am still a guy deep down there, buried under hundreds of years of experience. I couldn't tell her how I felt about her, which I was sure then that it was deep protective caring and nothing more. Boy, have I learned.

She just stared at me for a while, awaiting my answer, then when it didn't come, she asked me questions about how I planned to stay in Sunnydale without Buffy knowing. Well, gee, in the two seconds of my decision, I hadn't given it much thought. I told her I hadn't really decided, then she offered suggestions like moving from the mansion and into an apartment farther from Buffy. But, I mean, I really loved that place, it had so many memories, Angelus' reign of terror, being sucked into hell for a couple hundred years, how could I leave THAT place. After hours of speaking with her on the subject, I had decided that a place closer to Willow's would probably be best, considering she could cover me when Buffy was around.

Personally, after I left her house and jumped from her balcony, I had no idea what was to come of this. Let's face it, sometimes even a 200-year-old vampire can be completely blind to the signs.

A few weeks had passed after 'the talk' and I bought that big old house a block away from the Rosenburg residence. The funny thing about being a vampire is after about two-hundred years of collecting interesting things like I did, they become priceless artifacts, so you can do whatever the hell you want with your money. I think that's why I became fascinated with collecting art, Darla had taught me that she lived from the earnings of selling her own collected items. She had said 'You buy a vase when it's band new, wait 500 years and it's a valuable antique.' It's an easy way to live, whenever you run out of money, sell one of the many trinkets you picked up along the road; a vase, a painting, or perhaps even a gold-plated mirror, lord knows we don't need them.

Anyway, I moved from the mansion, which I later learned was a good idea. It turned out Buffy had gone back and visited the place time and again after I left. "I just can't believe he's really gone," she had told Willow. You have to give Willow credit though, dealing with her friend's hysterical sobbing fits. I use the word 'hysterical' because it's true; I had always known Buffy wasn't all there in the sanity section. Hell, Faith probably was more sane than Buffy. It almost cracked me up, you know, telling the mayor, "I like 'em sane.' The only reason that stopped me from kissing her was I could sense Buffy was near, she doesn't realize my ability to feel her presence and god it's annoying, but it helps, so I shouldn't complain.

Once again, I am getting away from the point. When I moved, only Willow knew who I was, not even the real estate agent had ever met me. To him I was just Mr. Smith, weird rich guy who bought a house. But with only a block distance away from me and that red-hair goddess, it was only inevitable that we would spend a lot of time together. It turned out that Oz had decided to tour with the band a month into summer, so there was no were-boy to keep her preoccupied. We started a tradition, every Friday night we'd hang out, you know, rent a movie, play games, or just talk. I could talk to her for hours; she's probably the only person I could do that with. Even with the hundreds of years of experience and tales Darla told couldn't keep me entertained that long. And Buffy had nothing to talk about except demons and her problems, and Drusillia was completely loony, so when I spoke to her, she talked about Miss. Edith, god I hated that doll.

But Willow, I could just listen to the sound of her voice, watch her lips move for hours on end. It was only after millions of times doing this, I realized I had a started to think of her as more than a friend should have. I realized this when she was talking and I suddenly just wanted to seize her in a bruising kiss. I suppose love is too strong of a word for what I felt, but infatuation isn't right either, I was at that middle ground where if she just had said she had feelings like mine I would easily fall deeply in love.

I'm not really sure how I reached that point, but after I realized it, I started to fall back into my lurking habits. I would hang out in the rafters of the bronze and watch her with Xander and Buffy. I knew she felt me, she would always turn around and look up, trying to see me, but only finding the mass of crowds I disappeared into. Granted, it was kind of unfair to watch her and not allow her to know, but I didn't want her to know my feelings for her (I know, we men are complete morons). But, I felt a need to be there, looking in at what I knew I couldn't have, I guess I'm kind of a masochist in that respect. Maybe that's why I was with Buffy so long, the pain was almost pleasurable. I'm just punishing myself again; the way Willow would hit me for doing.

I guess the next day will be burned into my memory forever. Even though I hated the bitch, I wouldn't go as far as wanting her dead. I wasn't there; Willow just sobbed the incoherent details to me. Apparently Giles found some prophecy hailing the end of the world (yeah, huge surprise there) and it had something to do with the master's vessel, yeah Luke, 'coming back from the ashes shall burn a new rite' kinda thing. Anyway, Giles did his normal sputtering, saying that she'd never faced such an evil and she should take more seriously. But Buffy—who faced the demon mayor, the master and well, every other comprehensible evil being and was still standing— figured that it was normal run-of-the-mill evil didn't really get too worked up. Well, on the appointed day, she spent hours convincing Giles and the "Scooby gang" she could handle it herself went to the find the "vessel" and ended up ripped to pieces by some of Luke's minions.

That night, after Giles and the gang had discovered her body, Willow ran to me and threw herself into my arms and sobbed for hours about the loss of her best friend. I probably enjoyed it too much, the demon in me immensely happy and my soul, rejoicing in being able to hold her. I held her all that night; the weather seemed to mirror her mood as rain pounded down on the roof under which her own tears created a storm. Even as her eyes were bloodshot and puffy they held unspeakable beauty to me. The verdant color begging for the comfort I was providing, that I was enjoying, reveling. That night was a dream to me, my arms encircling her, my body pressed against her slight form, kissing her hair and her head lying on top of my chest as she slept, exhausted from her tears.

I woke up before her that morning, probably because she was so worn out from the crying fit of the previous night. Before I actually got up, I just watched her. Studying her breathing, the way her body rose and fell against my still one. She was so warm, kind of like a cat when it lies upon your stomach, like a little ball of heat sending it's own warmth through your body. I had found myself petting the side of her face, taking pleasure from her skin's softness. She's so beautiful, well all the time, but especially when she sleeps. It always makes me smile, watching her drift to sleep. Her lips open slightly, giving her the look of a little girl blowing foam from her hand in a tub full of bubble bath and the way her hair always frames her pale face perfectly on a pillow, or in this case my chest.

When I finally did pull myself from my little red headed she-god, I realized soon enough that I really had no food for her with the exception of what Willow considered god's greatest gift, chocolate. I knew it was too early for me to travel to get her anything, compliments of the sunny California weather, so I hoped the chocolate would suffice, bearing in mind she thought of chocolate as a cure-all. I also knew I would have to eat before she awoke. So I popped one of my ever-famous blood bags into the microwave and ate only minutes before she reached out, half-awake, for where I had slept a while ago. I almost felt my heart beat, seeing her like that, like she needed me.

"Angel," She stretched and looked towards me, blinking the sleepiness and remnants of tears from her eyes.

"Hey," I moved towards her and dropped next to her on the couch.

She smiled at me before glancing at the clock and insisting she had to leave. I remember asking her to stay, to talk to me about Buffy, provoking a pained expression on her face. She assured me that she was going to be fine, that she'd talk to Xander about it. And for the first time in a while, I envied him. She left that day and didn't come back for months. Probably my fault, I never went to see her, although I wanted to more than anything.

Those months were probably the hardest on her, I should've been there, to console her. Faith came out of her coma and reconciled with Xander and Willow, that was all that was left of the famed slayerettes. Giles found a way to close the hellmouth before he was called back to England to train the slayer who had replaced Buffy. Her name was Fiona, I think. But in any case, Willow was devastated to have lost two friends in such a short time. I remember feeling ripped apart from the inside, almost as if I could feel Willow's pain. Unfortunately, I was the real source of her grief, somehow Xander found out about me, and he'd always made it abundantly clear, he hated me with a fiery vengeance. So when he did take notice that I was still in Sunnydale, he was far from happy, he sulked and wouldn't talk to Willow for a while.

That's when she finally came to me, to confide in me, even though I was the source of her dolor. She always amazed me that way, her ability to forgive. She can look so helpless, when she was in my arms I kept thinking how small and frail she seemed. It seemed fitting though, she's gone through so much; demons, monsters, Buffy's death, Giles' leaving and…me. I still barely can believe it, an innocent in the arms of a monster. I knew in those moments, I had fallen in love with her. The question was what was I to do about it.