At least, that’s what Buffy’s letter said, over and over again. Willow Rosenburg continued her research. "Let’s see: How to Call a Lesser Demon; How to Call of Minor Demon; How to Call a Large Demon; How to Call a Major Demon; How to Call a Master Demon; Ten Easy Lessons for Demon Casting."
Willow shook her head. "Ugh! This is getting me nowhere!" She slammed another book shut and added it to the teetering pile on the library table. She had been looking for any information on retrieving a soul or, in this case, a whole vampire, from Hell. So far, she could call a plethora of demons, get them to do whatever she wished (she made a note to remember that one), and ten thousand ways on how to cook chicken. It was beginning to get on her nerves.
Picking up another book, she tried to tell herself why she was doing all this research on her own. "It’s for Buffy," she said out loud, trying to sound convincing. But back in her mind she knew that was a lie. She was trying to get Angel back for herself.
"Ours is a forbidden love," she once said to Xander. Little did Xander know that was true. Willow didn’t know when she fell in love with Angel. She had been in love with Xander for so long it had come as a shock to her to realize her feelings toward Angel. Not that she ever acted on them. Her love for Angel was pure, and all she wanted was for him to be happy. If Buffy made him happy, then she would do anything in her power to bring them together. If Buffy still wanted him.
Buffy. She’d been gone for several months now. Willow only received that one letter from her, postmarked Topeka, Kansas. Since that letter, Willow had been researching non-stop. She couldn’t stand by idly as her best friend suffered. But, so far, nothing. Zip. Nada.
Willow stretched her arms above her head and sighed. "A short break is what I need," she said as she stood up. Her legs started to protest, reminding her of the accident. She’d only been out of the wheelchair for two weeks, just in time to see Oz leave on tour with his band.
Oz. She smiled at the thought of her former lycanthropic boyfriend. His hair was purple when he said good-bye. They had decided it would be better for both of them not to continue seeing one another. After all, Oz thought she was still in love with Xander. Little did he know it was for Angel that her heart longed.
Her feelings did not change when Angelus tried to kill her and all her friends. Even when he killed Jenny Calendar, Willow knew that the murderer wasn’t her friend Angel, but the monster who possessed his body, just like Xander wasn’t the hyena pack leader or Amy her mother.
Deep down, Willow knew that her friends felt the same way. Xander may be a jerk at times, but he is a decent person and would forgive Angel in time. The same for Giles.
Willow made her way down the hall to the vending machine. Depositing the correct change, she selected her favorite soda, and took a long swallow. Wiping her mouth with her sleeve, she returned to the library for another round of ‘Let’s Rescue Angel.’
Willow looked down at the book she knocked onto the floor while she was re-shelving that night’s reading. The fading brown embossed cover looked up at her, begging to be picked up and read. Setting down the pile in her hand, she bent over and retrieved the fallen object.
"Curious," she said, looking at the cover. There was no title or author listed on the outside. Willow opened the dusty book carefully. On the very first page was a picture with words written beneath it.
"One wish with pure love will be granted, so choose it well. But you cannot wish for another wishing spell," she read. "Hmm. Interesting. I wonder what I would wish for if this were true."
Willow thought about that. She could wish for Angel to return from hell. After all, that was what she’d been trying to accomplish all along. She could wish for Angel to have never become a vampire. "But, then he wouldn’t have been alive to rescue us from the boiler room or any of the other numerous times he helped us," she told herself. "And he and I would never have met."
She sat there for an hour, thinking of all the possible wishes and discarding them in turn. Then, the light bulb went on above her head. She closed her eyes and said her wish. "I wish I could change the original Rom curse, so Angel’s soul would have been permanent."
Willow blinked rapidly, trying to see who was shaking her awake. "Go away. I’m tired," she mumbled.
"Willow? What are you doing on the floor of the library?" the voice asked with concern.
Willow focused her eyes and looked around. She was, indeed, on the library floor. She looked up to see Giles leaning over her. "Hey, Giles," she said. "Must’ve fallen asleep researching."
Giles helped her stand up. "Find anything interesting?"
"No luck. I know there has to be some way to rescue Angel! If only…" Willow said.
Giles looked at her strangely. "If only, what?"
"Oh, nothing," Willow brushed her hair from her face. "I’m going to go home and get cleaned up, then I’ll come back and help you put the rest of the books away."
Giles nodded his head and Willow left the library for home.
"Just what I was thinking," said a voice from behind her. Willow whipped her head around in time to see her assailant morph into his demonic face. She then did what any normal teenager did in times of crisis. She screamed.
The vampire descended upon her, grabbing her around the neck and pulling her close. She fought valiantly in her own mind, but to no avail. Just when she had given up all hope, she stumbled forward as the hand gripping her neck disappeared in a puff of dust.
"Willow, how many times have I told you not to walk home alone?" the blond headed girl asked.
"Buffy?!" Willow screeched. She charged at her friend and threw her arms around the girl in question. "You’re back! When did you get back! I missed you so much!"
"Whoa, girl," Buffy said, disentangling herself from Willow’s embrace. "When did I leave?"
Willow’s eyes became huge. "What do you mean? You’ve been gone for months! We’ve been so worried about you, especially after I got your letter about Angel."
"What about Angel?" Buffy asked.
"You wrote that you sent him to hell. I’m sorry I wasn’t fast enough, Buffy. I tried to get Xander to tell you to stall Angelus…" Willow said in a rush.
"Have you been drinking coffee again?" Buffy said, looking into her friend’s eyes. "You have, haven’t you?"
"What? No. I haven’t had coffee in a long time," Willow said.
"Well, you must be on something, because you are acting really strange, even for you," Buffy said. "Why don’t you start from the beginning and tell me what’s happened?"
"Ok. I’ve been trying to get Angel back from hell. So far, no luck," Willow said.
"Angel’s in hell? When did this happen?"
Willow looked at her best friend in amazement. "You sent him there when Angelus woke Acathala, remember?"
Buffy shook her head. "Drucilla opened Acathala."
"Yeah, remember? She captured Angel and made him tell her how to do it and Spike allied himself with me to stop her. This was only last week, Willow."
Willow stared at Buffy, her mouth open. "But…but…" she sputtered.
"I think we’d better get you home. Maybe you just need some sleep," Buffy said, taking Willow’s arm.
Willow let herself be led home, her mind running in a million different directions.
The next morning Willow wondered if what happened was all a dream.
Deciding to test her theory by going to the one place she always felt closest to the one she loved, she headed for Angel’s apartment.
She let herself in with the key Buffy had given her when Angelus returned. Looking around, she noticed nothing out of place. She sat down heavily on the leather couch and buried her head in her hands. "It was all a dream," she said to herself, tears running down her face. Soon, sobs racked her body as she cried for Angel.
Willow was crying so hard, she didn’t feel the person gather her into his arms.
"Shh, sweet Willow," the man’s voice said while rocking her. "I’m here."
Willow leaned into the embrace, letting her tears fall freely as the man comforted her. Calming down somewhat, she slowly moved away. "Thank you. I don’t know what’s gotten into to me," she said. She wiped her eyes with her sleeve and looked up at her consoler.
"A-Angel?" she asked in a whisper.
Angel smiled at her, using his thumb to rub a stray tear off her cheek. "Who do you think it was?"
Willow just stared at him, dumbfounded, for a moment. Then she launched herself into his arms, raining kisses on his face. "Angelangelangelangelangelangelangelangel."
Angel pulled back from her. "Willow, what is it?"
"Of course I’m here. It’s daytime. I can’t very well be outside working on my tan," Angel said with a smile.
"But…but…you were in hell! How did you…why are you…" Willow tried to get out.
Angel cupped her face with his hands, looking into her eyes. "Willow. I don’t understand what you are saying. Why don’t you start from the beginning."
Willow took a deep breath and then told Angel about everything that had happened since the night he lost his soul up until she woke up on the floor of the library. When she had finished, she slapped her hand to her forehead.
"Of course! The book! With the wish! I wished that the Rom curse would give you a permanent soul! That means you couldn’t lose it!" she said, then grabbed Angel into another hug.
Angel wrapped his arms around Willow’s small form, feeling her small breasts press against his naked chest. He felt himself becoming aroused.
"Um…Willow. I…uh…think I should go and put a shirt on," Angel said as he breathed in the scent of her hair.
Willow nodded into his chest and let go. Angel quickly stood up and moved into the bedroom. "This is Willow, Angel. Sweet, innocent, naïve, fiery, passionate, beautiful…" Angel trailed off, knowing that reprimanding himself was getting him nowhere.
Out in the living room, Willow sat on the couch smiling. "It worked! The wish really worked! Angel’s back!" she said to herself. Then her smile faded. "Oh. I guess this means Angel and Buffy are still a hot item."
Angel returned to the living room. "Would you like anything?" he asked.
"Actually, I know this is going to sound weird, but can you tell me everything that has happened since Buffy’s surprise party and you guys…you know?" Willow asked.
Angel looked at her strangely, then shrugged his shoulders. "Sure. Let’s see…We stopped the Judge using army equipment. Oz is a werewolf and we saved him from a hunter. Xander tried to cast a spell on Cordelia only it backfired. Lucky for him I didn’t hear about it until after the wackiness ensued," he said with a smile.
Willow smiled back, blushing at the reminder of what she told Xander that night.
"What else? Oh, there was those ghosts at the high school that possessed Buffy and me, Buffy stopped that monster in the hospital when she had the flu, then there were the fish-like creatures, and Acathala. That about sums it up."
Willow sat and thought. Everything so far was the same, except for…"Ms. Calendar!"
"What about her?" Angel asked.
"Is she alive?"
"What? Of course she’s alive. Unless you know something that I don’t?" Angel said, looking at Willow.
Willow’s smile brightened up the whole room. "This is so great! You’re not Angelus, Ms. Calendar isn’t dead and Buffy is home! Life is good!" she exclaimed, then made a sound best described as geeker joy.
Angel laughed at Willow’s excitement and obvious joy. Angel then did something he normally wouldn’t do. He grabbed Willow up into his arms and spun her around the room.
Willow continued to laugh as she and Angel spun, delighted beyond reason. Angel set her down slowly. "Willow, you bring the greatest joy into my life. Thank you," he said, smiling. Then he leaned down and kissed her gently on the lips.
"He’s kissing me, he’s kissing me, he’s kissing me," Willow’s mind said over and over. Knowing that she may never get the opportunity again, she tentatively stuck her tongue out and tasted his lips.
Angel reacted with a shock, his body becoming rigid and very aroused. He responded to Willow’s tentative tongue by deepening the kiss.
Willow sighed in pleasure as they kissed. This is what she wanted for awhile now. She moved closer to Angel, pressing her body up against his.
Angel wrapped his arms around Willow and held her close, running his hands up and down her back.
Willow shivered at his touch. "Oh, Angel," she said in her mind. "Don’t stop." But he did.
"Willow?" Angel said as he broke away.
Willow looked up at him, her eyes filled with desire and trepidation. She inhaled deeply. "I know. Buffy."
"What does Buffy have to do with this?" Angel asked, confused.
"Well, since you and Buffy are an item, we really shouldn’t…I mean, I shouldn’t…oh, god," Willow said, covering her flaming cheeks with her hands.
"Willow, Buffy and I aren’t an ‘item’ as you put it," Angel said, taking her hands in his. "Where did you get that idea?"
"But…but…I thought that you…that she…well…loved each other," Willow said.
"I do love Buffy, but as a friend," Angel said, squeezing her hands. "The night after her 17th birthday I decided not to continue our relationship. Something in my mind told me that it was not the love I was seeking. Did I ever tell you about the Rom curse that was put on me?"
Willow nodded her head. "I know a little about it. It’s the curse that gave you your soul."
"Correct. But there is more to the story. The Rom wanted to put a vengeance curse on me for killing one of them. A curse that hinged on my never finding happiness. But, for some reason, they didn’t. Instead, the cursed me with a permanent soul." Angel shrugged. "I asked one of the gypsies that still spoke with me after what I did, and he said it was because of a wish."
Willow’s heart leapt into her throat. "A…a wish?"
Angel nodded. "That’s what I was told. I always wondered who could have made that wish. After all, I had been Angelus for a hundred years."
Willow moved away from Angel and sat on the couch. "It can’t be true. It can’t be," Willow said to herself.
"Willow? What’s wrong?" Angel asked.
"I…um…that is…I think I made that wish," she whispered.
Angel looked flabbergasted. "What?"
"I said I think I made that wish. Last night, I found a book while I was doing research to get you back from hell, where Buffy had to send you because Angelus woke up Acathala and inside it said to make a wish, and I wished that the Rom curse placed on you would be for a permanent soul, then I woke up on the library floor and ran into Buffy, who was back from wherever, although I guess she never left in the first place, then I got up this morning thinking it was all a dream and I came here and started crying then you were here and I cried more and I’ve never been so happy to see anyone in my life," Willow said in one breath.
Angel chuckled at Willow’s run on sentence. Then he sat next to her and took her hand. "Willow. I think I understood everything you just said, but I have one question. Why?"
"Yes, why? Why, if you could wish for anything in the world, did you make a wish for me?"
"Be…because Buffy needed you and you wanted to be with her," she said quietly.
"You made your wish for Buffy?"
"No," Willow shook her head fiercely. "I made it for you. I just want you to be happy and if Buffy made you happy, then…"
"Oh, my sweet, kind, wonderful Willow," Angel said, pulling her into another hug. "You are the most unselfish, caring people I have ever met. And I have known a lot of people."
Willow laughed softly at that his attempted humor. Angel tilted her chin up with one finger. "Willow, you make me happy," he said and leaned down for another kiss.
Angel fell asleep on the couch, holding Willow in his arms. The had alternately kissed and talked and kissed some more. They learned more about each other in a few hours than most people learn in a lifetime.
Angel awoke first. Careful not to disturb Willow, he moved to the kitchen for something to eat. As he stood there staring at the contents of his refrigerator, he thought about the curse. And the wish.
Shortly thereafter, Angel changed and left a note for Willow, telling her that he went to the library. He arrived several minutes later, using the tunnel entrance.
"Over here, Angel," Giles said from his office.
Angel approached the man who had become his friend. "I need some information on the curse that was placed on me," he said without preamble.
Giles looked the vampire curiously. "Whatever for?"
"Well, Willow stopped by this morning and told me something extraordinary. I just wanted to see if it could possibly be true," Angel said.
"What did she tell you, if you don’t mind my asking?"
"She told me a whole story about how I lost my soul, becoming Angelus again, and terrorizing Buffy and all our friends, before Buffy had to send me to hell because I was the one to open Acathala. Then she told me that she made a wish to change my curse so that I would never lose my soul."
"Hmm. Interesting," Giles said, taking off his glasses and cleaning them. "Willow was here researching yesterday. I found her asleep on the floor with an open book on her lap." Giles stood up and moved into the library, picking up the book in question. "Here it is."
Angel took the book from Giles and opened it. The title was simply ‘Wishes.’ Leafing through the book, he came to a section entitled ‘On Making Wishes.’
"It says here that a person who finds this book with a pure heart and soul would be able to make one wish," Angel said, handing the book back to Giles.
"Willow does fit that description," Giles said about his young friend. "She is the most pure and giving person I know."
Giles opened another book, entitled ‘Vampire: Chronicles volume MCLV’, and read. "It says here that a wish was made not to put the vengeance curse on you. The Rom wrote: ‘because of the love behind the wish, the change was made.’"
"Did you say ‘love’?" Angel asked.
"Yes, indeed I did," Giles said, not looking up from his reading.
"Does it say who made the wish?"
"Hmm. No. It only makes reference to ‘the tree who cries with it’s soul.’" Giles replied.
Angel knew instinctively what that meant. "Weeping Willow," he said softly, a curious light in his eyes.
"What did you say?"
"Hmm? Oh, nothing. Thank you, Giles. You’ve been a big help," Angel said, touching the man’s shoulder.
"You’re quite welcome, Angel."
Angel let himself back into his apartment quietly. He looked over to the couch to find Willow no longer there. Sighing, he made his way into his bedroom and sat on the bed.
"Angel?" a small voice asked from the bed behind him.
Angel turned his head and saw Willow snuggled up under the covers. He smiled lovingly at her and moved his hand to brush the hair off of her face.
"Hi," he said.
"Hi," she replied shyly.
"I spoke with Giles. It was you who made the wish," Angel said.
"The book said that a wish could only be made by a person with a pure heart and soul, which describes you perfectly. Then, in the Vampire: Chronicles, it described the curse that was put on me and why."
"What did it say?" Willow asked.
"It said that the wish was made by ‘the tree who cries with it’s soul’ and the reason they changed the curse was ‘because of the love behind the wish.’"
Willow looked at Angel, afraid that her feelings were that obvious.
"Willow, do you love me?" Angel asked.
Willow held her breath for a few moments, not answering. Then, she slowly nodded her head.
Angel closed his eyes. Willow was really scared now. "Why did I tell him yes? Why? Our friendship is now ruined. He doesn’t love me back. Why? Why? Why?" she asked herself in her mind.
Angel opened his eyes and let the love shine through them. "Oh, Willow," he said. "You don’t know how wonderful that makes me feel."
Angel nodded and leaned closer to her face. "Because I have loved you ever since that night I saw you in your pajama’s, when I asked you look up Ford."
"’Ours is a forbidden love,’" Willow quoted.
"That’s what I told Xander about you and I the morning after you asked about Ford," Willow replied.
Angel smiled, then started to chuckle until he was full out laughing. He pulled Willow to him and kissed her soundly. "I love you, my shellagh lhoobagh."
Willow’s face lit up the room. "Really?"
"Yes, really," Angel replied. "Let me show you how much," he said.
Willow and Angel met physically, spiritually and emotional that night with the knowledge that one wish changed their world.
shellagh lhoobagh: Weeping Willow