Angel watched from the shadows as Willow danced and laughed and loved in the flickering light of the smoldering remains of the high school. He watched as she gave everything that should have been his to another. Would the fool even know what a treasure he held? Would Oz realize that every time she gave herself to him, that every trick she used to bring him release was something that he had taught her?
Angel closed his eyes as he remembered the long hours he had spent with her in his bed after his return from hell. Willow had been so eager to help him, to make up for what she mistakenly presumed was her fault. Angel hadn’t blamed her for the return of his soul or his trip to hell. He had laid that all on Buffy where it belonged. That hadn’t stopped him for taking what Willow had so shyly offered, though. A hundred years in hell had gone a long way to hardening him and he understood more of Angelus now than he’d ever admit to anyone, including himself.
Willow had been a blank canvas, a block of unmolded clay waiting for the right artist to come along, and Angel was a master at his craft. Willow was an apt pupil and had blossomed under his tutelage. Angel’s eyes flickered with gold as the heated memories threatened to overwhelm him. Every night he drew her face in various stages of ecstasy and every morning, just before dawn, he burned the pages so that they only lived in his memory.
He damned the Powers That Be for Their interference and Whistler in particular for tearing them apart. His redheaded goddess didn’t remember a bit of their time together while he was forced to suffer with knowing what should have been; all for the sake of whatever game They were playing with his unlife. Unfortunately, he believed Whistler’s threat to Willow’s life and would never knowingly put her in danger. So, as much as he wished it could be different, Angel had let her go.
He would play the Powers’ game while Willow became the sun in someone else’s sky. Hopefully, by doing so, he would keep her safe and she could live the beautiful life that should be hers. If anything happened to her, though, all bets were off. The world had thought Angelus was a Scourge. They had no idea what Angel was capable of. He’d had a hundred years in hell to learn and he’d paid attention.
Angel melted into the night and let what should have been his world fade to black.