Brown eyes held green as Angel thrust into Willow slowly, deeply. She willed him to keep the eye contact, that by doing so he would see her and recognize that it was she he was making love to, but a part of her knew it was a foolish hope. As their releases moved ever closer, Angel closed his eyes and held her tighter, moving faster. Willow wrapped him close so he wouldn’t see the tears. When he came he breathed out a name and Willow bit her lip to keep from screaming in pain and frustration. When he kissed her and whispered he loved her before falling asleep she made a decision.
After carefully extracting herself from Angel’s embrace Willow started packing. Then she sat down and wrote him a letter. She placed it on her pillow next to him and kissed him one last time on the lips. He didn’t even stir. Willow picked up her bags and resolutely walked away. She told herself she wouldn’t look back, but at the door to their apartment she paused and sent one last sad look to the darkened bedroom. Steeling her resolve, Willow walked out on the man she loved and the ghost of her best friend that she’d come to hate.
Angel woke to the sound of the door closing. He listened, but couldn’t hear Willow’s heartbeat. Running a hand through his hair, he sat up and noticed the envelope with his name on it resting innocently on Willow’s pillow. He turned on the bedside lamp and slowly reached for it. Angel stared at his name for a long time, unease snaking through him. Finally, he took out the single sheet of paper and read:
I can’t do this anymore. I thought I could, but I can’t compete with a ghost and I’m tired of trying. A little piece of me dies every time you say her name.
I ignored it when you drew her picture for hours on end.
I ignored it when you shut yourself away and wouldn’t talk to me for days.
I ignored it when you would call me her name by mistake during the normal course of the day, but I couldn’t ignore it tonight.
Who were you making love to tonight, Angel? For just a moment, I held the hope that it was me, but when you called her name, I knew. My body is just a substitute for the one you really want and I’m worth more than that.
I love you and a part of me probably always will, but until you decide if you would rather live with a memory or a warm loving, living woman, I won’t stay. Don’t call me for a couple of days; I don’t want to say something I can’t take back.
Think really hard about what you want Angel. It’s been fifteen years and while I may always be around, I won’t let you hurt me forever.
Tears stained the paper by the time Angel finished rereading it for the third time. Fifteen years, Buffy’s been gone and he hadn’t even realized it. He also hadn’t realized he’d been so callous towards Willow, albeit unintentionally, that his little slips hurt her so much. Well, no one ever said he was the most aware individual.
Angel wiped away his tears and dressed automatically. He went into his study and flinched at what he saw. It was no wonder Willow refused to come into this room. It was a veritable shrine to a dead woman. Angel sank down into his chair and brought out his memories of the girl he’d changed his life for. He went through each one then gently let it go. Then he gathered up the drawings and pictures that covered most of the available surfaces. He thought about tossing them all, but decided to keep the ones that also held his Willow. They were of happier times and he wanted to keep those memories and reminders.
After that was done, Angel sat down to plan. He had hurt his lover and friend in ways even Angelus couldn’t fathom and Angel was determined to set things right. He had a witch to win back.