It would be so much easier if he could hate her. Or at least if her actions gave him the hope that she would one day destroy the hopeless passion he felt for her. But neither was true, or likely to ever be true. Because she was Willow, and she was everything that was kind and caring and decent; everything that he had fallen in love with; everything that he continued to love.
And with that pure and giving heart, that strong and shining soul that called to everything within him, she loved his cold, brutal grandchilde.
Maybe it was the guilt, the guilt and the magick and the despair, that made her give what Angel would have cherished as a pearl beyond price to an uncaring monster like Spike. Maybe it was because Spike had been there, there to manipulate her, there to pretend to empathize and understand her when she was alone and in pain, there for her when no one else was. Not even Angel.
Never had he regretted leaving Sunnydale more than he did now. He had thought he was doing the right thing. Leaving Buffy with her illusions of their doomed love, and leaving Willow safe with a boy he was sure could give her everything that he couldn’t. Oh, how wrong he had been. If only he had known what Spike now knew, he’d have snatched up Willow and taken her far away, he was sure of that. And she would have been safe; safe from Oz’s betrayal, safe from Tara and her hypocrisy, safe from magick, safe from her judgmental and hard-hearted friends, and most of all, safe from Spike.
But it was too late now, and Angel resigned himself to living with things as they were, not as they might have been if only... “If only” was just another way of torturing himself, and Angel was certain that even The Powers That Be would feel he was suffering enough already. And at least he had Willow; well, her body, anyway. He knew she cared for him, pitied him, understood his pain; and while that was a mockery of what he so desperately wanted, it was something- something Angel could never bring himself to give up. Even if it meant an eternity with Spike.
Spike. Another twisted thread in the fabric of his despair. Another “if only.” If only his body didn’t respond so strongly to the touch of his grandchilde’s hands, to his mouth, his fangs, his cock. If only he could bring himself to do the one thing he wanted to so badly...take Willow by right of sire and stake Spike once and for all.
He would never be able to bring himself to do that, though. Not because of the brutal ecstasy he found in Spike’s mouth, or buried in his tight ass. But because of the guilt. The guilt, not just felt by his soul, but by his demon as well. The guilt over Drusilla, and over abandoning both Drusilla and Spike when he was cursed with his soul. The guilt over being willing to kill Spike without a second thought to protect Buffy, the guilt over leaving him chipped and helpless and at the mercy of his one-time enemies. The guilt over torturing and twisting Spike into loving him when he was Angelus, and over not loving Spike now.
No, no matter how deep his love for Willow ran, it could never wash away the guilt, could never take its place as the preeminent force guiding Angel’s actions. Spike knew that, counted on it, and used it mercilessly. And even though Angel knew that, to the depths of both his soul and his demon, it changed nothing, did nothing to lessen his anguish, did nothing to change his passive acceptance of his fate.
His thoughts began to overwhelm him with despair as he lay next to his sleeping lovers and he reached over and brushed a stray lock of red hair off of Willow’s face, waking her. His need for her was too great at the moment for him to concern himself with the fatigue she must still feel after the previous night’s sexual marathon. Perhaps he was more like Spike than he wanted to believe, willing to use Willow’s guilt and pity to serve his own appetites, willing to take what he wanted, knowing she would never dream of trying to stop him. But there would be more than enough to time to wallow in misery over that truth later. For now, all he wanted was to be buried inside her warm, willing heat, to pretend that she was giving herself to him rather than simply allowing him to take her, to fool himself for a time into believing that she loved him and wanted him as much as he loved and wanted her.
As he caught sight of Spike watching him through half-lidded eyes, he cursed Spike again for everything he’d done; and, as he saw Willow glance over at the one who held her heart, he found himself cursing her, too. Because he loved her. Because she didn’t love him back. And because, all his fantasies aside, none of this would ever change. He could no more stop loving her than she could stop loving Spike. Even as her body responded to his insistent hands and she gave herself over to his embrace, he knew it was all hollow. Knew that no matter how loudly he could make her scream, no matter how much affection and devotion he showered on her, she would never be able to love him. As he entered her tight, wet heat, her moans carrying, as always, a hint of charity in their timbre, a part of him felt comforted by the fact that she, too, suffered the pain of loving someone who didn’t love her back. He might hate himself for the spark of ecstasy he felt when he saw the tears glisten in her eyes as she realized, yet again, that Spike was more than glad to use her as a whore to get what he wanted, but Angel was well enough accustomed to self-hate to allow himself to enjoy her anguish. If he couldn’t have Willow’s love, at least he had her pain. For a demon, after all, it was nearly the same thing. So he lost himself in the physical bliss of their coupling, knowing that, at least for awhile, she was all his own.