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All The Better To Eat You With, My Dear: Writing Willow-Angelus

by Medea


Innocence and Evil.

Two great tastes that taste great together? Well, they're definitely themes that have provided fuel for great stories, generation after generation. For writers who enjoy angst, suspense, and that delightful moral gray zone, this is simply one small part of the appeal of writing Willow-Angelus stories. Although they've had precious little onscreen time together, Willow and Angelus have a beautiful fit as the incarnations of innocence and evil, purity and corruption. Hence the endless possibilities from one brief 
snippet of dialogue from the Season 2 episode, 'Innocence': "But she's so cute and helpless; it's really a turn-on."

But this is just the beginning.

When you delve below the surface, interesting similarities between Willow and Angelus come into focus. Consider the fact that, in a way, they're both voyeurs. Angelus delighted in watching from the shadows, unnoticed. What was a wicked pastime for Angelus was often a lonely experience for Willow. She 
was the wallflower who watched Cordelia and her groupies lord it over the rest of the school, or sat by herself at the Bronze while others danced. Their voyeurism made both Angelus and Willow rather formidable students of human (and demon) nature. Both Willow and Angelus demonstrated a knack 
for seeing other characters better than they saw themselves. However, where Angelus used his insights to exploit human weaknesses without mercy, Willow more often than not used hers to help friends through emotional crises.

Stories that explore Angelus and Willow as voyeurs, watching and studying those around them, have tremendous potential for a writer in the mood to play around with psychology and mind games. But if your tastes run less toward introspection and more toward action, why not cook up a little apocalypse?

After all, of all the characters who started out as "good guys" in the Buffyverse, only Willow and Angelus ever tried to destroy the world. As team players on the side of Good, Willow and Angel can both be socially awkward, and they're paragons of self-denial. As the saying goes, it's always the quiet ones you have to watch out for. In both cases, the capacity for earth-shattering darkness was released by an intense emotional experience. Interestingly enough, for both Willow and Angel(us), it was a "morning-after" transformation -- the morning after they'd experienced love and intimacy after a long period of feeling somehow unworthy of love. Angelus and DarkWillow, then, are the embodiment of our darkest fears about love. In loving, one is vulnerable. For Willow and Angelus, a moment of pure, intimate, open vulnerability led to the nightmare of loss, pain, and death. The influence which made them good people was ripped away: Angel's soul by a clause in a gypsy curse, Tara by Warren's bullet.

One wonders what would happen if Willow and Angelus teamed up for a little mass destruction and chaos. There are deep enough scars and ample emotional pain for it to be conceivable that, one day, one or both of them might just snap.

I'll defer from saying much about one very popular theme in pairing Willow and Angelus; namely, the Sub-Dom, sexploitation genre. No doubt, for those who write it, the appeal stems from the Innocence-Evil contrast. As a feminist, I just can't go there.

But whatever your taste, although in canon there has been precious little interaction between Willow and Angelus, as characters they have some tantalizing similarities that are just begging to be explored.