Name: Charity a.k.a. BOB1
Disclaimer: I own nothing, Joss owns all. Please don't sue 'cuz I'm poor.
Rating: PG. A bit of minor cussing, that's it.
Classification: Willow/Angel
Summary: Angel reflects on stuff. Angst.
Spoilers: The Wish
Distribution: My site and whoever else wants it.
Feedback: Please, or else I'll get EVIL! You've all seen it. You know I can. Dedication: To everyone.

Night has fallen.

When I was human, I loved the night. Well, to be honest, I more loved the fact that the day was over than the actual night itself. Days were filled with work if my father could ever find me. I spent the majority of my days hiding from him. The nights were fun. My friends and I would go out drinking and carousing all night long. The days were for avoiding my father and sleeping off my hangovers.

After I was brought across the days seemed to be just a stupid waste of time. I was a predator and I reveled in the shadows of the night. The night was my ally and I rejoiced in the coming of the dark. Back then, the night and I were perfectly matched. I was as dark as the night. Hell, I *was* the night.

When I was cursed with my soul, I hated the night. I longed for the day and cursed myself for wasting the time that I could have had in the sunlight. The night was for monsters and it was a constant reminder of what I was, what I still am. It was a curse in and of itself.

Now I have conflicted feelings about the night. The night means an end of the pain, at least for a little while. Not the emotional or spiritual pain, that is constant, but of the physical pain that is inflicted on me daily. The night gives me solitude to be alone with my thoughts and it allows my body to heal from the latest torments it has been forced to endure. But still a part of me longs for the sun to rise. When the sun rises *she* returns. My beautiful tormentor. My evil angel.

She always comes in only a few hours after sunrise, even as a human she never slept much; bored to tears and looking for a diversion. I am more than willing to entertain her, no matter how much it hurts. It's nothing more than what I deserve.

I first came to Sunnydale to help the Slayer. Buffy. I had thought that I loved her. Rather insipid and not real insightful for me. After all, I'm over 240, I shouldn't believe in that whole 'love at first sight' nonsense. I was attracted to her, and who knows where that might have led, if she had ever shown up that is. But she didn't and after waiting a few weeks, my hormones had begun to cool. I still wanted to help though. I wanted to atone for my past. Ha! That's a laugh! I could spent the rest of eternity in penance and it would never be enough. Never enough to make up for my crimes when I had no soul and never enough for the biggest crime I had ever committed. There could never be enough atonement for allowing her to die, for failing to save her from becoming a demon.

I first saw her at the Bronze, a few days before the Harvest and the Master's release. I was there looking for the absent Slayer and she was there, lurking in the shadows. She was almost as good at it as I was. She looked like she was incredibly shy and that if anyone noticed her she might pass out. It was cute. She also looked so sweet and young. She was wearing a big bright fuzzy oversized sweater and overalls. I miss the overalls and the sweaters. She's into tight black leather now. Wouldn't go near the clothes she used to wear, not even if her unlife depended on it.

She was the epitome of innocence. She was everything I longed for and my demon took so much pleasure in destroying. She was also every vampire's wet dream; she was young, beautiful, innocent and shy and self-conscious. How she had managed to survive so far was a mystery to me. Had I been soulless, I'd have wasted no time in taking her and would have delighted in breaking her spirit, defiling her innocence and turning her into my eternal lapdog. And every other vampire I have ever known would have felt the same way. Yet somehow, she had managed to keep breathing. Or at least at that point she had, I had yet to fail her.

I followed her home that night. I don't know why. I just did. And it's a good thing I did, too. She was walking home alone and she looked so sad, like her best friend had just died or something. She was completely oblivious to her surroundings, and didn't notice that she was being followed. Unfortunately I wasn't the only one following her. Apparently I wasn't the only one to notice her at the Bronze. A pair of vampires started following her as well. They were fledglings, so I was able to take them out with a minimum of fuss and she didn't even notice what had happened only a couple of blocks behind her. After I got rid of the vampires, I continued to follow her home. I stood guard over her house until the threat of the sun forced me to take cover. Again, I don't know why, I just did.

It was while I was watching over her house that *the thought* came into my head. It wasn't a real bright thought on my part, but it made sense to me and made me feel a little bit of hope, a rare and precious commodity to me. *The thought* was simple. If I could keep this one pretty, sweet, shy, innocent girl safe then I would not be a complete and total monster. I didn't fool myself into thinking that if I could keep one girl from the terrors of the night that I would be totally forgiven of my sins, but possibly, just possibly if I could do this one thing, I might have someday in the future been able to atone my crimes against humanity. In retrospect, it seems rather stupid and shortsighted of me, but I had to do something. Besides, protecting one girl while waiting for the Slayer to show up made me feel slightly better about myself.

I decided not to get close to her. I didn't even want to know her name. I knew that if I learned about her then I would want to actually talk to her, get to know her better. It was better that I kept my distance. I didn't want her dragged into my existence. That little decision was thrown out the window as soon as the Master was freed.

Once the Master was freed, things started to change on the Hellmouth. Vampires began to run rampant. But the inhabitants of Sunnydale took their time noticing it. I pulled the redhead out of a couple nasty scrapes before anyone noticed that anything was seriously wrong. The people here are kind of stupid. I think it's a Hellmouth thing. My redhead wasn't stupid and after the Harvest she rarely went out at night. The few times she did, usually because her best friend, whom I hate with an unequaled passion, would drag her out or be slow in getting her home. I swear the boy had a death wish. But because of the nasties that were taking over the night, I had to get closer to her to protect her. A mistake on my part? Yes, but frankly I don't care. If I hadn't gotten closer to her I wouldn't have learned the wonder that was Willow. I still lurked in the shadows. The girl lived on a Hellmouth, she had enough problems without throwing a depressive ensouled vampire on the heap. But that didn't stop me from learning everything about her. That didn't stop my feelings from changing. That didn't stop me from loving her. *Nothing* could have changed that. Once I got closer to her, I longed more than anything, more than my quest for atonement. more than seeing the sun, to do nothing more than to talk to her, share my feelings with her, be with her. But that was never to be. At least not while she was alive.

For two and a half years I followed my innocent little angel, watching out for her, guarding her house, loving her from afar. I mourned in her sadness and delighted in her joy. And then I lost her. I failed her. I failed us both.

My failure was a bout of incredible stupidity. Her best friend, that insufferable bastard Xander, did it. I was standing outside her house and he just walked right up to the door and she invited him in. No warning bells went off in my head. In fact, I thought nothing of it except to make a comment to myself that the boy was an incredible idiot. I should have sensed the fact that he had been changed, should have dusted him before he got within fifty feet of her house. I let my guard down and she paid for my mistake.

I thought I knew anguish before. I had stupidly believed that I could never feel as bad as I did when my soul was restored and I realized all the evil I did. I was wrong. Nothing could have ever felt as bad as the soul crushing pain that swept through me when I realized that she had been taken from me. I lost it then. I went a little mad. Well, actually, I went a lot mad. I declared war on the Master and his minions and swept through Sunnydale like an avenging angel. I'm actually a little proud to know that no matter how many of his minions came after me they couldn't stop my vengeance. Until he sent her. I didn't even fight when she came. I allowed myself to be knocked out and thrown into a cage rather than fight her. That's what secured her position as one of the Master's favorites. She would have risen high in the ranks anyway, her brains alone would have done it for her, but not as far or as fast. But she had done what no vampire had *ever* been able to do, she managed to subdue the mighty Angelus, she had turned 'the Angel of Death' into a docile puppy. Of course the Master adored her after that. And that little weasel Xander managed to become a favorite simply because he had sired her. I really hate him.

Since she is a favorite and she was the one to capture me, she's the only vampire that's allowed to 'play' with me on a regular basis. The Master occasionally comes to taunt me and try to persuade me to switch sides again. I know he'd love a return of Angelus. It won't happen though. At times I almost wish it would. It would mean that I could take my redhead, be with her in the way that I couldn't while she lived and I can't while I still have a conscious. But unless this damn curse is lifted I just can't make myself do it. The only other vampire that 'plays' with me is that bastard Xander. The only times he comes are when she's here, and even then he doesn't do much. Once in a while he'll join in the festivities, but most of the time he simply has his hands all over her while I'm forced to watch. I'd rather have him physically torturing me than have to see that. But still, I endure.

I have to. Not because I'm locked in. There have been chances where escape was possible. The Master, who I think is getting senile in his old age, has occasionally left the cage unlocked. And once or twice that little prick Xander has gotten her distracted enough that she's forgotten to lock me in. I don't think that they're too worried about it. I think that they assume that I'm in too much pain when they leave to notice, but I always do. Escape has been possible, but I'm going nowhere. I won't leave her. I can't. Not because I feel guilty; but because once in a while, not very often but it's enough, when she's alone with me, she'll drop her guard and a hint of the old Willow, the Willow that I love, will surface. Those rare and precious moments are what I live for. They are the only reason that I survive with my sanity mostly intact.

The sun will rise soon. She will be here soon after. I dread and rejoice her return. I can't help it. I love her.