Time seemed to stand still for long minutes, as Willow prepared the room and the two men waited, patiently and silently sipping rapidly cooling coffees, and the next thing that Xander and Andrew were aware of was a strange shimmer which swept through the kitchen, like some sort of split second disco ball lighting sweeping from one end of the room to the other, accompanied by a strange feeling in the pits of their stomachs. As quickly as it was there, it was gone again and they were left dazed, more than a little disoriented and slightly stunned.
A minute later, the kitchen door opened, and a white-haired Willow appeared.
"I will never get used to that feeling." she said, shaking her hair and her limbs out as she walked into the room and poured herself a fresh coffee from the pot. "I need this."
The colour swept back into her hair, like a wave, and she turned back around to the kitchen table to find both men staring, wide-eyed with confusion.
"Oh, right. Yes." she chuckled, remembering why she was here and they were there and what they probably experienced. She really had been affected by the spell.
"It's done, obviously. You might have felt the aftershock. I forgot to warn you that it sometimes travels a bit." She looked sheepish as she realised that both men had obviously been quite shaken by the effects and weren't really with it yet. "Yeah, I'm sorry." she added. Time had been of the essence, and she'd not really had chance to run through the entire spell beforehand
Neither man spoke for a couple of minutes, and Willow waited for them to shake free of the effect.
"Willow?" Andrew spoke first, shaking his head to clear it. Willow passed him a glass of water and placed another on the table for Xander, who recovered a moment later.
Willow sat down at the table, cradling her coffee.
"They're OK." she began, choosing her words carefully for her two friends, their concern evident in every frown line. "The spell went OK. Bit draining, powerful spell, but it seemed to work. The curse lifted. You probably felt the aftershock." She averted her eyes, dropping them to her coffee mug as they both groaned with the realisation that they hadn't been prepared for the extended effects of the spell. "We won't know how they are though until they've healed."
Andrew made to stand but was halted by Willow placing her hand on his arm.
"They're both sleeping now. The spell was adapted to put them both to sleep... well, to put Spike to sleep anyhow... so they can heal. There's still a lot of healing to be done. Especially for Angel." She looked from Andrew to Xander, and Xander saw something in her eyes. Something she wasn't saying.
"Will?" He looked at her inquisitively; knowingly. He'd known her long enough to know when she was hiding or deliberately not telling something.
"Umm, yeah." She emptied her coffee mug - a stalling tactic - but placed it down quickly, knowing this was something she would have to talk about sooner or later.
"There was something." she continued, trying to keep her head down but feeling compelled to look both Xander and Andrew in the eyes. It was unfair to hide something this important from them at this point. They had already done so much; risked so much to get the vampires home.
"There was something strange that emanated from Angel when the spell reached him. I don't know what it was. It was like... like there was something else in there. Something..." she paused, frustrated at herself for not being able to put the right words to the feeling she had felt, "... something else inside him. It didn't interfere with the removal of the curse... not exactly..."
"Not exactly?" Andrew was frowning. He looked at Willow and then at the kitchen door. He was desperate to get out there to check on his boss; his friend. Yes, he considered Angel to be his friend, even though Angel often seemed to wish otherwise.
"The curse was lifted. I watched it dissipate. Don't worry." Willow tried to sound reassuring, but neither were fooled much into thinking everything was OK.
"Then what?" Xander was losing patience now. If there was a problem... if that problem was with the spell... if it affected both vampires...
"I'm not 100% sure, Xan." Willow began nervously fiddling with her fingers on the table. "I think maybe it was something to do with the spell I used to fix Angel's soul. I think it did something, but I'm not sure what."
Andrew stood quickly, avoiding Willow's grasp as he crossed to the door. Xander watched Andrew leave the kitchen before he turned back to Willow. She looked pale and drained.
"Is the soul safe?" he asked, frowning. "I mean, he's not going to go all fangs and Angelus on us, is he? Are WE safe?"
Willow looked up, her face forcing a smile.
"The soul is definitely safe." she nodded, more believably than she had previously sounded, "but I'm not sure how much Angel will recover." She lowered her voice slightly, so as not to be overheard from outside the room.
"Now that Andrew isn't here, I can tell you. I think that the soul-fixing spell just kinda interfered a bit with the mojo of the Garchen's curse. The curse is lifted, but the interference might have some lasting effects on Angel. I just won't know what until he wakes up."
Willow slumped into the chair, exhausted from the whole experience. Xander placed a reassuring hand on her arm, giving it a gentle squeeze.
"Whatever it is, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, Will." he said, smiling at her fondly. "We had to do this or Angel might've died, and much as I've hated the guy in the past, he's done good, ya know? He's had a tough time, and he came through for Spike. We owed him to at least try. Whatever happens, it's not your fault. We've been through worse, I'm sure."
Xander had barely finished speaking when the kitchen door swung open and Andrew came flying in.
"It's Angel." he shouted, his voice panicked and edgy, "I think he's having some sort of seizure."