"So, we're clear. When I call you Angel, you can go back to your cute, loveable self," Willow said, absently stroking his hair as he lay snuggled against her. "But when I call you Angelus, I am woman, hear me roar. Grr."
Angel laughed. "Nice roar, Red. Remind me to work on that with you."
Willow growled again and swatted him playfully, then started to get up. "Come on. We still have to come up with a plan to stop Jonathan."
"First, we should get a layout of this place," Angel said as he pulled on a pair of pants. He winced as the material rubbed against the cuts from their recent play. "See what type of security we need to get past, the easiest way in and out, that sort of thing."
"I can pull up the blueprints of the building from Jonathan's computer," Willow said. "Try to find the likeliest place the drug would be."
"And then we'll have to figure out a way to keep this drug from him without getting ourselves killed," he added. "I really don't want a bunch of vampires to be able to go out in the sun, like me."
"Oh, oh!" Willow exclaimed suddenly. "That's it!"
"I have a plan," she said excitedly.
"Here you go, Lady," Angel said as he entered her room several hours later. He had taken part of the pack out on a reconnaissance mission earlier while Willow pulled up the blueprints to the place to try and ascertain the most likely location of the drug. Her plan within a plan called for them to continue their roles as evil vampires. Although it would be easier just to sneak up behind Jonathan and stake him, that wouldn't dismiss the drug from other vampires minds and it would only be a matter of time before some else tried for it.
"Thanks," Willow said, accepting the smuggled glass bottles. She gestured to the papers in front of her. "I think this is where it would be held. What's the easiest way to get in without getting a lot of people killed?"
"Through here," Angel said, pointing to the loading docks. "It doesn't look like the large door is alarmed. A group of us should be able to lift it enough to get inside."
"Ok. I can cast a mass protection spell over the people inside the building so they can't be killed, but that won't save them from being hurt. Plus, because of the size of the building and because I'll have to do the same spell earlier in the evening on the group hunt, I'll really be stretched to my limits," Willow said. "You're going to have to take complete control of the pack."
"Not a problem. Now, what about Jonathan?"
"He won't be coming with us," she answered. "Which is perfect for the second part of Operation Sunlight."
"You got a problem with that, Angelus?" Willow asked sweetly.
"No, Lady," Angel said, bowing his head.
"Good," she said. "Besides, it's better than Willow's Stupid Plan, part Deux." She started to giggle at the expression on his face. "Come here, Angel. We have a few hours before it's time to go to sleep, and I can think of several ways I'd like to spend them."
"Listen up," Angel called out as he and Willow entered the rec room that following evening at sunset. The collar and leash were once again around his neck. This was to make the others believe he was not feeding because she was controlling him via the leash, not because with his soul once again in place, he didn't want to feed off humans.
He stepped aside once the room fell silent so Willow could speak. "Lady," he said, nodding his head to her.
"Tonight, we hunt together. Your instructions are to feed off the first human you find, then return here immediately," Willow said in an authoritative voice. "At midnight, we have a mission to complete for Master Jonathan. I will give further directions after the hunt. Understood?"
Choruses of Yes, Lady's echoed in the room. She gestured for the others to proceed, taking up the rear with Angel. As they headed towards the Bronze, the red head continuously cast the protection spell over the victims of the hunt. By the time they reached the crowded club, the pack had been cut down to fifteen, the rest having fed and returned to the old school as instructed.
Willow and Angel separated from the remainder of the group at the Bronze, heading for the alley. Once there, Willow concentrated on casting the protection spell over the entire club and the surrounding area. She could already feel her powers being taxed.
Suddenly, the back entrance to the Bronze opened and the vampires of the inner court hurried out. "Lady," Carter said, running up to her and Angel. "It's the Slayer."
"Crap," Willow said under her breath as she looked past him and the others to see Buffy, Xander and Cordelia come out the back door. "Carter, you and Jordan take the rest of the pack back to the school. Go."
"Yes, Lady," Carter said, turning and running with Jordan towards the front of the building.
"Richard, Linda, Matthew," Willow addressed the other three. "How would you like to take on a Slayer?"
Their game faces came forth and each of them smiled. "With pleasure, Lady," Richard said. Willow granted permission for them to attack, then turned to Angel once they were out of earshot.
"Why are they back? They're not suppose to be back. This is so not good. It's bad. Very bad," she said.
"We have to continue with the plan, Willow," Angel told her, keeping one eye on the fight.
"Grr," Willow growled. She looked behind her and saw several members of the pack watching.
"There goes Matthew," Angel commented as the vampire became dust.
"Great," she said. "We have an audience. Remind me to kick some vampire butt when we get back."
Angel glanced over his shoulder, then growled loudly. "They want to see if we can take out the Slayer," he said.
"Tonight's operation is more important than Buffy," Willow said, putting on her resolve face. "Follow my lead, Angelus."
Angel noted the use of his full name and knew things were about to get mighty interesting. "Yes, Lady."
"Richard, Linda! Break off, now!" Willow yelled down the alley.
Five heads turned towards her as she began walked slowly forward, Angel next to her on the leash. She watched her friends eyes widen when they came into the light, taking in Willow's outfit of black leather vest, her tight matching pants and combat boots, her hair hanging over her shoulder in a single braid.
"Willow?!?" Buffy gasped as Richard and Linda backed away from the Slayer.
Willow ignored her and looked at the other two vampires. "Take those at the head of the alley back to the school. I will deal with their insolence later."
"But Lady..." Richard began.
"Now!" Willow snapped, activating the vampire glamour. Angel moved as far as the leash would allow and growled at them, his own game face prevalent. Richard and Linda ran down the alley as Willow turned to her friends. The expressions of horror etched across their faces made her feel awful, but she needed to make sure the pack was under her control for the night. "Angelus, are they still there?"
Angel looked down the alley. "One or two, Lady," he answered.
Willow growled in a very convincing way and dropped Angel's chain. "Stay," she commanded, then stalked towards Buffy.
"W-Willow?" Buffy asked in a trembling voice. "Oh god, no."
Willow grabbed Buffy before she could do anything and pulled her close, her spell cast strength far superior to the Slayers. She pulled Buffy's head to the side by her hair and bent to her neck. "Buffy - tomorrow, noon, old boarding school, bring lots of stakes," she whispered before using the spell that made it look like she was feeding.
Buffy slumped unconscious in her arms and Willow dropped her to the ground, licking her lips. She let the glamour fade and winked at Xander and Cordelia who were standing petrified by the wall. Without another word, she turned, picked up Angel's leash and headed out of the alley. The vampires who witnessed her ‘killing' the Slayer were long gone. *They probably went to spread the news,* she thought. Once they were out of sight of her friends, Willow shook her head and groaned.
"You did right, Willow," Angel whispered as they headed back to the school.
"They're probably freaking out," Willow moaned.
"We'll explain later. Right now, we have a Master vampire to stop."
Willow was correct in predicting that she'd be taxed to her limits. She tiredly accepted the drug from Angel and slipped it in a hidden pocket in the vest she wore. "Anyone hurt seriously?" she asked.
"Not really," Angel replied. "A few of the guards got knocked out, but most of the people hid."
"Good," she said. "Let's get back so we can put an end to this mess."
Jonathan was waiting expectantly when they walked through the door twenty minutes later. "Well?"
"Here it is, sire," Willow said, extracting a glass bottle from a pocket in the vest.
"Excellent," Jonathan said, holding it up to the light. "We shall test it as soon as the sun rises."
"If I may offer a suggestion, sire," Willow said. "Angelus and myself volunteer to be the test subjects."
"Really?" Jonathan asked, arching his brow.
"It would be an honor, sire," she replied.
"Perhaps I will take you up on that offer," he said. "Meet me here at dawn."
"Yes, sire," Willow said and watched as he walked off. She turned to Angel. "I hope he goes for it."
"Me, too," Angel replied. They started towards Willow's room, passing the hushed conversation of the other vampires without a glance. Once they got behind closed doors, Angel chuckled. "They were talking about you, Red."
"What about?" Willow asked, tiredly stretching out on the bed.
"Killing the Slayer," he said. "If they didn't respect you before, they do now."
"At least they will until Buffy shows up tomorrow, alive and slaying," she replied with a grin. It turned into a yawn.
"Why don't you go to sleep, Willow," Angel said, pulling her into his arms as he lay next to her on the bed. "I'll wake you up when it's time to meet with Jonathan."
"Thanks," Willow said, snuggling closer. "You're a nice vampire."
"Shh! Don't let it get around," he said in an exaggerated whisper. She giggled, then let her body claim her in sleep.
Willow crossed her fingers behind her back as she waited for Jonathan's decision. She looked nervously at Angel, who stood next to her by the door to the outside, and he nodded. "Master, it is time," he said to the Master.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Jonathan asked, looking between the two. "I'd hate for it not to work and lose my best people."
"We are certain, sire," Willow replied. "With the others, once they get outside, they may run. We will not."
Jonathan thought about it for a moment, then nodded. "Very well. Angelus, you first."
Relief flooded through Willow as she watched the Master fill the syringe with the liquid from the bottle she'd given him last night, then shoot it into Angel's vein. "How soon should it work, sire?"
"Immediately," Jonathan answered.
"Angelus, you may step outside," Willow told him.
"Yes, Lady," Angel said, opening the door. Willow watched Jonathan's reaction as Angel went out into the morning sun. She almost burst out laughing at the giddy expression on his face.
"Sire, shall we make it two for two?" she asked, holding out her arm.
"Yes, yes," Jonathan answered quickly. He filled the needle again and shot it into her vein, as well.
With a nod to him, Willow walked out into the sunlight and winked at her love before she turned back to the door. "It is wonderful, sire," she called back to the Master vampire. "Please, join us."
The couple watched as Jonathan quickly shot himself in the arm, then walk out the door towards them. Angel acted immediately, circling around him to block the entryway. The Master vampire began to smoke, then screamed as he lit on fire. Willow pulled an impressive spin kick and knocked him further into the yard, then hurried back into the building with Angel.
It was just in time, too, because Richard and Linda came running down the hall to join them. "What is it, Lady?" Richard asked as he looked out the open door.
"The drug. The Master insisted on trying it himself," Willow told them, pointing out to the burning vampire. She bent and picked up the syringe and bottle from the floor where Jonathan had set them. "I guess that makes me the new Master," she said. Richard and Linda both looked at Willow in disbelief, and she arched her brow at them. "Is that a problem?"
"No, Lady," Richard answered, backing away with his head bowed respectfully.
"Good. Get me four fledglings. I want to try this drug on them," she instructed.
"Yes, Lady," both said, turning and running back down the hall.
"You know, they think you pushed Jonathan out the door," Angel commented.
Willow shrugged. "I'm about to prove that the drug doesn't work, and I couldn't do that with Jonathan here. I need to you get control of the group, please, so they don't try to overthrow me right away."
"I'm off," Angel said, heading down the hall to the rec room, his steps measured, his body language threatening. He growled at Richard and Linda as they passed with four fledglings in tow.
"Excellent," Willow said as they arrived by the door. She filled the syringe and motioned to the first young one. "I am going to give a shot to each of you. This drug should allow you to go into the sunlight." Once they each had the shot, she gestured to the open door. "Out."
Richard and Linda watched expectantly as the four went outside. Their faces turned to horror when they saw the vampires start to smoke, then burn in the sunlight. Willow looked over at the two and shrugged again. "Oh, well. I guess the drug doesn't work. Too bad, I really would have like to have power over the sun."
She began to walk back to the rec room, not waiting to see if the other two followed. When she got there, she noted that Angel had everyone under control. She headed back towards the southwest wing, motioning for him to join her. They bypassed the guards and made there way into the conference room, dismissing those who were standing in there. She closed the door behind them and then sat down. "I can't believe it worked!"
"Richard and Linda are probably telling the others that the drug is a bust right now," Angel said, taking a seat next to her.
"We need to have a few of them escape through the tunnels to spread the news," Willow said. "There's an entrance by the cells. None of the inner court, though. They're too powerful."
"I'll make sure at least a dozen get out," he told her. "What time is the calvary suppose to arrive?"
"Noon," Willow answered. "We have until then to get rid of the guards back here."
"Then we'd better get to work," Angel said, extracting several stakes from the jacket he wore. "By the way, good plan."
Willow blushed, even though it still couldn't be seen. "Who ever would have thought that I would not only come up with a good plan, but several of them and have them work?"
"Me," Angel replied, kissing her on top of the head. "But then again, I know you Sergeant Red."
Willow grinned as she stood and picked up a stake. "Alright, General. Let's kick some booty."
With the guards dispatched, Willow and Angel returned to the main room to see it mostly deserted, the vampires having returned to their rooms for the day. Willow plopped down on the couch and motioned for Angel to come and sit by her feet.
"Lady?" Jordan said tentatively from her end of the couch.
"Yes, Jordan," Willow replied, stroking Angel's hair in a play of power.
"I was wondering if I may join your inner court," Jordan said.
"Perhaps," she answered in a bored tone of voice. She picked up the remote and began to flip through the channels. They had roughly fifteen minutes until noon.
"Lady," Ramona, the vampire she'd first went shopping with, addressed her.
"Yes, Ramona," Willow asked with a sigh.
"I am to give you the message that the fledglings willingly follow your lead," Ramona told her.
"Very well," she replied, rolling her eyes. "That will make my unlife so much easier."
Ramona didn't know what to make of this, but bowed her head and then left the room. Angel turned and gave her a patronizing look and she scowled at him. "Shut up, Angelus."
"I did not say anything, Lady," Angel said, barely containing his smirk.
She smacked him upside the head and was about to say something rather scathing when she heard the door being kicked in. Turning her head, she looked at Jordan. "Go see what the ruckus is about, Jordan," she instructed.
"Yes, Lady," Jordan said, jumping to her feet and hurrying down the hall.
Jordan did not return. However, Buffy, Xander, Cordelia and Giles emerged from the hallway into the main room. The few vampires left in the rec room froze, waiting for the command from Willow, who continued to sit idly on the couch, running her fingers through Angel's hair. Her friends all halted when they saw the couple, confusion written across their faces.
"Hello, Slayer," Willow said with a smile. "Welcome to my humble abode."
"Willow, what the hell is going on?" Buffy asked, her tone serious.
"Not much," Willow said. "I've just been preventing another disaster from befalling Sunnydale."
She tapped Angel on the shoulder. "Time to let those few escape," she whispered to him. He nodded and stood, heading for the northeast wing. She then looked at the other vampires in the room, then back at her friends. "Um, Buffy? You can kill them anytime now."
That's all it took for the fight to be on. Chaos erupted as the hacker rose from the couch and joined her friends in dusting the vampires that came flowing out from the wing. She saw Angel lead several past the fracas to the hallway that led to the cells, making sure they didn't see her fighting the vampires. Once they passed, she sprinted over to block that hallway, using her strength to dust any that came that way.
It was over within ten minutes. Angel rejoined the fighting after he completed his task, and piles of dust littered the floor of the rec room. Willow was breathing heavily, but she felt exhilarated. All by herself, she'd created a plan, executed it, and the bad guys bit the dust. Literally. She started to giggle at her thoughts, then laugh as the strain she'd been under got to her.
"Red, what are you laughing at?" Angel asked, wrapping his arm around her and leading her towards the others.
"That's what I want to know," Buffy said, putting her hands on her hips. "Would someone please explain what's going on?"
Willow growled at the blond, then giggled before sinking to the couch. "Have a seat, guys. This may take awhile."
Willow sighed happily as she surveyed her reflection in the mirror. She had combined her new wardrobe with her old and found herself inventing a new style which suited her changed outlook on life. Glancing around the bedroom, she looked at all the packing boxes and bare spaces from where her things had been. The gang would be by momentarily to start loading the things into Oz's van, the guitarist having made the trip back from New York to attend her funeral.
She had officially ‘died' the week before, as scheduled. Currently, her parents had gone to be with her grandparents as they mourned the death of their only daughter. They would never know the real truth, that she was still alive, because Willow wanted to protect them from the hunters.
She had died valiantly, in her opinion, getting hit by a nice big truck. She had heard her funeral was beautiful, the body that they lowered into the ground having been switched at the last minute by Angel and Buffy. She had been hiding out at his apartment until they were certain everything had gone according to plan, including the reading of the will which gave Angel permission to take anything from her bedroom.
Willow had explained everything that had happened while her friends had been gone that day in the old boarding school, minus the part about her bringing Angelus back or her games with him. They had been both furious and amazed at her tenacity, agreeing with the former Master vampire's statement that she had balls. Big ones, to boot.
She had also given Giles the drug that she had still in her pocket. She'd had Angel secure several sizes of glass bottles and filled each with water, then hiding them in her vest. The idea had been to convince Jonathan that the drug worked by using their ability to walk into the sun, Willow because she was human and Angel because of the ring on his finger, so that he would voluntarily leave. If he had tested the water on any fledglings, they would have burned instantly, and the Master would still be around. All in all, it still would have been easier just to stake him, but her plan was much more unforgettable.
Now, she was leaving Sunnydale, perhaps forever. Willow Rosenberg was no longer alive. In her place was Annie O'Brien, soon to be resident of Los Angeles.
*Annie O'Brien, huh?* she thought to herself as she heard a horn beep. "Coming!" she yelled, pulling on a long, leather jacket over the top of her clothes before grabbing her motorcycle helmet. She took one last look at herself in the mirror, then smiled wickedly.
*Or Lady Red.*