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Author's Chapter Notes:
To the mods at nha_fic for offering this prompt challenge, to shannon730, and velvetwhip for her excellent beta skills and her friendship and support.
The taste of Oz’s kisses still lingered on her lips as Willow pressed her head against the crook of his arm. One of the movies he had picked out was playing on the television and the fireplace was still burning warmly, despite the eighty degree temperature outside.

At the sound of the first shrill telephone ring, however, Willow leapt to her feet. If someone was calling at this hour, it could be assumed that the Slayerette alarms had been sounded and her evening with Oz would be cut short.

“Hello?”

“Willow, I need your help.”

“What is it, Buffy?” Willow asked.

“It’s about Angel. Are you at home? Is Oz with you?”

“Yes, but…” Willow started.

“Stay there. I think there’s something wrong with Angel and I don’t want you or Oz getting hurt.”

“Buffy, I…”

The phone clicked off and Willow let the receiver drop to her side. She looked up at Oz, who appeared concerned.

“What is it, Willow?” Oz asked.

“It’s nothing. I have to go out for a bit though. Can you stay here till I get back?”

Willow didn’t like lying to Oz, especially now that he had just started to trust her again. But there was something in Buffy’s voice that made her feel like someone needed to find Angel and keep an eye on him and Willow felt compelled to be that someone. Maybe it was an aftereffect of the Restoration spell, maybe it was the need to reach out to a person in need. Willow wasn't quite sure about her reasoning, but tonight- reason be darned.

“Are you sure you wanna go out there by yourself?” Oz asked, slowly rising to his feet.

“It will only be a few minutes. I promise. I’ll be back in a jiffy.” She gave him a quick kiss and headed out the door.

The streets of Sunnydale were pretty much deserted, although Willow guessed that had everything to do with the fact that it was getting close to sunrise on Christmas Day. As she walked, she pondered where Angel might be and she realized he could be anywhere. It would take hours to find him without heightened Slayer senses. She shook her head, feeling slightly stupid for thinking she could be the one to find him.

But then a shadow moving across the top of the giant hill by her parents’ home caught her eye. There was a chance it was Angel. There was also a chance it was some sick, twisted, psycho serial killer who liked to chop up little girls and eat them with fava beans. Willow shivered at the thought.

“I’ll take my chances,” she muttered, slowly ascending the hill. When she reached the top, she sighed heavily.

“Angel.”

The shadowy figure turned and looked at her, disappointment crossing his features.

“Willow, you shouldn’t be here. You need to st-stay away from me. I-I’m not myself.”

Willow frowned and stepped towards him. “I get it. I bet if I was your slayer in shining spandex, you wouldn’t tell me to go away. What is it with you two, anyway? Last time I checked, you have a soul, a big, shiny, glowy soul that I gave you so what’s this dangerous dilemma of yours that I just don’t seem to be clued into right now?”

“Willow, please. I need you to--, I don’t want you to see this.”

“See what, Angel?”

Angel was silent and turned around towards the horizon.

“Oh.” Willow suddenly put two and two together. “Sunrise is coming, right?”

She walked up beside him and placed her hand on his shoulder.

“Willow, please. Go home.”

“Angel, no. You see this face? It’s my resolve face. I’m not leaving you here to die alone so just accept it, okay?”

They stood there in silence for a few moments before Angel finally spoke. “Why did you come find me, Willow?”

Willow chewed on her bottom lip, thoughts of Oz drifting through her muddled brain. She had walked away from her evening with him to come find Angel. It still seemed like a strange decision, but she knew in her heart it had been the right thing to do. “Honestly, your guess is as a good as mine.”

Angel peered down at her, his eyes locking with hers. Willow felt butterflies fluttering around in her stomach. No guy had ever looked at her like that, not even Oz, not even Xander. It seemed as if he was seeing her, all of her, inside and out: Willow and all the Willow’s in between.

“Angel.” Willow’s voice was soft, hesitant. She leaned in towards him and their lips brushed ever so slightly. It wasn’t a romantic gesture- at least, she never meant it to be. More a caring, compassionate sort of thing.

Angel turned his eyes towards the horizon again and then back at her. “You don’t make me feel like a monster.”

Willow was stunned by his words. That was not the confession she was expecting at all. “Angel, I…”

He pressed a finger to her lips and pulled her into a tight embrace, pressing his lips against hers in a much more romantic, sexy, tingles-all-over sort of way. “You taste like the sunrise.”

“Angel, I can’t…Oz…and…and Buffy” Willow felt tears brimming in her eyes. She couldn’t do this to Oz again. She couldn’t let someone else into her heart again. She couldn’t give a new piece of herself away that Oz would never get to touch. It just wouldn’t be fair to him. “Come on, we need to get you inside. The sun’s coming up.”

She wiped the tears from her cheek and reached for his hand. “You can stay with me and Oz till Buffy gets back.”

Angel stood still, his eyes never leaving hers.

Willow felt a small chill against her cheek and she looked up at the sky. It was snowing. There wasn’t going to be a sunrise.

“ANGEL!” Buffy’s voice echoed through the darkness as she came sprinting up the hill and threw herself bodily into his arms. “I thought I was going to lose you.”

Willow saw the look in Angel’s dark eyes and felt chilled. She had once said that her relationship with Angel was a forbidden love. She never realized how right that observation was until now. She disappeared down the hill, letting the snow obscure her from view. It was better this way, it just had to be.

*FIN*
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The authors own nothing. Joss, UPN, WB, etc. own Buffy, the show, the characters, the places, and the backstory. The authors own any original plots.