I Remember Now
Cordelia groaned from her place on the mat. Willow had thrown her yet again. She cursed the vampire who sat in the corner - chuckling at her expense, no doubt - who had suggested the girls practice basic fighting techniques.
"Cordelia? You okay?"
Willow's face swam into upside-down view. "Huh?"
"Beige. We should paint the ceiling beige." Sitting up slowly, Cordelia fixed the redhead with a mischievous grin. "I think it would be perfect with the overall décor of the room. Don't you agree?"
Willow laughed. "Yeah, Delia. Beige would be great. What do you say, Angel? Should we call in the decorators and have them paint the ceiling beige?"
Angel had been watching the two girls spar - though he would have vehemently denied he had "chuckled" at Cordelia's expense, no matter how many times she wound up on her back on the mat - impressed with the skill and grace in Willow's techniques. Drawn from his reflection by the easy banter, he greeted the expectant girls with a smile. "Sure. I'll call the decorators in the morning, and be sure to deduct the cost of them and the paint from Cordy's pay."
"Hey! Wait a minute- " but the vampire was gone, headed upstairs to answer the fortuitously ringing phone.
Willow sighed, flipping over another page of her magazine. Cordelia was still in the shower, Angel was still on the phone, and she was stuck without a proper distraction. Her traitorous mind, therefore, had chosen to plague her with thoughts of how close she was to the end of her vacation. In the past weeks she had barely spared a second thought to the events in Sunnydale. The time spent with Cordelia had been carefree and cathartic. And Angel.. what could she say about her feelings for Angel? Willow flipped another unseen page. Better not look into those particular feelings too deeply, she decided.
She jumped as the door to Angel's office slammed open. Finally- a distraction. Angel walked purposely by the couch, headed directly to the weapons cabinet. Pulling it open, he began gathering several of his favorite blades.
"Trouble?" Willow asked, stepping into her shoes and joining Angel at the cabinet. She tucked a small blade and several stakes into her pockets.
"Yes, I need to.. what are you doing?"
"I'm coming with you."
"No, you aren't." Angel insisted, nudging Willow backward before closing the cabinet door. "It's too dangerous."
"We obviously don't have time to argue, Angel. You know I can handle myself, and whatever this city decides to throw at us. Besides, it's been so quiet the past week; I need to get out."
Against his better judgment, Angel nodded and let the redhead follow him out of the hotel, stopping only long enough to leave a note for Cordelia.
The sounds of battle could be heard over a block away. Angel parked the car in an alley and motioned for Willow to stay behind him. Moving quickly, soundlessly, they approached the scene, evaluating the best plan of attack.
Vampires, gathered in a tight circle.. at least twenty of them. There were several demons hovering in the background, but they seemed content to allow the vampires to do their dirty work. Angel was about to give Willow instructions on how they would proceed when, without warning, a quarter of the vamps caught fire; in the momentary confusion the others pulled away, revealing the target of their attention.
A smallish woman barreled through the burning vampires, knocking several into a pile of wooden pallets just before the fire took them over completely and they fell into dust. She turned, facing the remaining vampires, putting her hands on her hips and almost daring them to attack. Angel couldn't help his smile; did all redheads inherit that 'resolve face'? Attitude flowed from this one in waves, overpowered only by the magic she possessed. The description matched what he'd been given over the phone, but this woman was clearly far from helpless. Although outnumbered, she was managing to hold her own. However, she was fighting minions, easily defeated if rumors about this woman were true, but the demons hadn't even entered the fight yet.
"Time to even the odds." Angel whispered to Willow. "Stay back from the demons- just take out the vampires. And please be careful."
Willow pulled out a stake and bottle of holy water. "You too, Angel. See you in a bit."
With that, the witch and the vampire joined the fray.
The fire sparked by the first vampire victims was spreading, quickly taking over the warehouse. Even as he fought, Angel kept one eye on the flames, gauging how long they had before escape would prove impossible. He had been right; the minions were no match for Willow and the stranger. Last he saw, both were sporting minor wounds, but they were still standing and the majority of the minions weren't. Beheading the last demon, Angel turned to help dispatch the remaining vampires. They still had a little time to get out of the building, though it was becoming unbearably hot and not a little dangerous. He scanned the room for Willow, freezing as he located her.
She stood pressed against the body of a tall, blonde vampire, arms pinned behind her back. The fire serving as a backdrop allowed him to see the bruises and blood covering her and the fear in her eyes. Her hair blew around her face, fanned by the gentle breeze of the flames.
A gate that had been closed and bricked up for over two hundred years suddenly burst open.
..'i can create a world.. i can create a world right here, that's just like this one, but it will be just for you and me..'
Beautiful green eyes.. men's breeches, laughable when he learned her secret.. a silver claddagh ring, polished to perfection.
..'can i give you a name? one that only i can call you?'..
..several men who were scrambling about, collecting wood and putting it under her feet.. the pile grew higher and higher until she was up to her knees in kindling..
..'but, my dear fellow, she's a witch, is this one..'
..he turned to one of his men.. 'light the wood'..
A tear slipped from Willow's eyes as the vampire bent his head to her throat.
"NO." Angel's howl tore through the air, and he charged.
Seconds too late. For as Angel rushed toward Willow, the blonde vampire bit down into the tender skin of her neck. Angel's name was on her lips, a plaintive cry, then suddenly the vampire was gone, dust, and Willow was caught up in the strong arms of the female stranger.
Angel reached them at that moment, his rage and desire for vengence almost causing him to tear apart Willow's savior. Their eyes locked, golden to gray, before the stranger backed down, handing the limp body of Willow to Angel. "Go. Get out, now."
Angel didn't need a second prompting. Clutching Willow tightly to his chest, he ran from the burning building toward the safety of his car. Easing them both to the ground, he paused to take stock of her injuries.
Her eyelids fluttered, desperately fighting the blackness her mind was being pulled toward. Angel watched her lips move, but even with his acute hearing he could detect no sound coming out of the tiny witch's mouth.
"Oh, Willow.. please, please be okay. Just hold on, I'll get you to the hospital and they'll fix you.."
Angel froze, his grip on Willow tightening. The redhead was speaking, but it wasn't her. Rather, the voice coming from his best friend's body was a voice he hadn't heard in centuries, hadn't even allowed himself to remember until moments ago, and it used the language of his childhood.
"Toilich.. ad domh.. mise leòn, aingeal."
Tears gathered at the corner of the vampire's eyes as Willow sank into unconsciousness.
"Callieach.. mo annsachd. Is cuimhne leam.. Is cuimhne leam na tha agad. Is cuimhne leam sibh, meanbh-aonar.
His urge to get to the hospital momentarily forgotten, Angel buried his face in Willow's hair and wept.
Translations: Toilich.. ad domh.. mise leòn, aingeal: Please, help me, it hurts, Angel.
Callieach.. mo annsachd. Is cuimhne leam.. Is cuimhne leam na tha agad. Is cuimhne leam sibh, meanbh-aonar: Callieach (Willow), my love.. I remember now. I remember everything. I remember you, my pixie.