A/N: This was my first ever attempt at a Dark Shadows fic, and since I could never look at this without shuddering, I just HAD to completely redo it. So now the characters are hopefully in-character, the sex won't be so lewd and tasteless, and the plot won't be so lame and predictable. Here's to correcting past mistakes!! lol

CH 1: Rejected

He had watched her from afar for many a year now, always looking, but never having. To Willie Loomis, this was the ultimate blow to the heart, yet he understood that a woman of Maggie Evans' stature would never give him the time of day even if he was what the locals viewed as normal. Although they had grown considerably close over the past few months, he still feared that he would awaken one morning to discover that she detested him just like everyone else in Collinsport. After all, why would someone so warm and beautiful willingly be seen speaking to some crazed, neurotic oaf?

And to say that Maggie was beautiful was an understatement; Willie viewed her as the ultimate paradigm of traditional loveliness, what with her long, shiny auburn hair, rosy cheeks, and bewitching amber eyes. Every time she entered a room, Willie couldn't help but clam up or prattle on about absolute nonsense, either way leading to disaster since neither action lead to him basking within the warmth of her sweet, sheltering embrace. Not that he had ever been able to stay in her arms for very long, but those precious moments back in the Old House's cellar where she'd clung to him in fright had been absolute heaven for him.

Despite the mere fact that he was constantly saving her life, Willie was never rewarded with anything other than a simple 'thank you'; sometimes not even that. Regardless of this seemingly never-ending ingratitude, the servant was completely willing to stay by her side since he was as devoted to her as an artist to his canvas. Even if she never loved him, just being near her would be enough to satiate the burning longing within his heart. He was much too afraid to tell her that he cared far deeper than he'd ever before cared for an individual, but he decided that as long as she continued to be his friend, he would be content in suffering amidst his silence. Having Maggie as a friend, after all, was far better than not having her at all.

"Willie?"

He held his breath.

It was her...

Spinning clumsily about on his heel so that they were now face-to-face, Willie felt his bottom lip quiver upon the realization that she was wearing her hair up in a neatly done coiffure, a few stray ringlets caressing the collar of her dress and leading his eyes to drift down slightly lower. Swallowing, he greeted, "Uh…h-hi, Maggie. Nice day, uh?"

"What are you doing here at Collinwood?" she pried, completely ignoring his question as she gave him a naturally quizzical glance. "Are you by any chance waiting for Barnabas? I must speak with him right away."

Willie subconsciously clenched his fists. It was always about Barnabas; he was the one Maggie truly wanted. Although he would always remain loyal to his old friend, he couldn't help but feel his stomach lurch at the very thought of them embracing or, even worse still, making love.

"Well?" Maggie demanded, thus snapping him out of his miserable maelstrom of thoughts. "You never answered my question -- is Barnabas coming or not?"

Willie faltered, then anxiously shook his head. "N-no, Maggie, I-I came here ta see ya…b-by myself."

She smiled then, her lovely brown eyes twinkling with amusement as she nodded her head and held her notes from tutoring close to her bosom. As she did this, Willie couldn't help but admire the close-fitting, light pink button-up dress that currently adorned her shapely figure, his hands shaking as he suddenly broke out into a cold sweat.

Immediately noticing this, Maggie frowned in concern. "Willie" she uneasily began, "what's wrong? You look as if you could be sick at any moment!"

"Oh! Uh...n-nothin' Maggie" he recovered sheepishly, letting out an anxious laugh. "I, uh...just haven't gotten ta talk to ya in so dang long, a-and now that I am, I'm just all tongue-tied, I guess."

Maggie smiled. "Well I can assure you that there's no need -- would you like to take this conversation up to my room? I need to go up there to get something, anyway."

"Y-your room?" Willie reiterated, by this point absolutely flustered.

"Oh, well if it's a problem...

"No!" he immediately interjected. "I-I mean...of course not! I'd love to keep talkin' to ya!"

Maggie beamed. "Well, great! Come on up" she urged, her smile only widening in its intensity as she began to ascend the grand staircase one at a time in the foyer. Pausing to notice that the blonde was just standing there dumbly with his mouth slightly ajar, she gave a lilting laugh, then ushered him onward with her petite hand. "Willie, come on!"

His cheeks flushing a brilliant shade of scarlet, the servant nodded meekly, then, obedient as a puppy, he followed her on up the carpeted stairs and along the corridor for a little ways until they stopped before a tall, wooden door.

Twisting her key in the lock, Maggie opened it and clip-clopped across the threshold in her light pink high-heels, her bewitching smile only further reeling Willie in as she waved him on inside.

Grinning foolishly in spite of himself, the blonde followed her before tripping on the edge of the carpet and stumbling into Maggie's nightstand. Maggie tried her best to stifle her laughter at this, yet nonetheless managed to ask with a straight face if he was alright.

Absolutely mortified, Willie scratched the back of his neck as he shrugged his shoulders. He knew he must be blushing, but what was worse was the fact that he could never be the suave gentleman he wanted to be anytime she was in his presence.

Opening her mouth to speak, Maggie made the motion to strike up small talk when she noticed the slight amount of blood trickling down the servant's hand. "Oh!" she exclaimed, "Willie…you're bleeding!"

"Huh?" Glancing down at his hand, he was fairly surprised to discover that he'd nicked himself during his maladroit accident. Shrugging, he muttered dismissively, "Yeah, seems that way…a little spilt blood never killed anybody." Even as he said these words he couldn't help but shiver, brief images of the horrors he'd had to witness with Barnabas flitting across his vision like taunting phantasms.

Being the obstinate beauty that she was, Maggie took Willie by the wrist before calmly ordering, "Let me see it."

"No…I-I mean…"

"Willie, don't be ridiculous! Let me see it!"

Begrudgingly allowing her to examine the small wound, Willie felt a shiver run down his spine the moment Maggie's fingers delicately traced along the wound. "Well, it doesn't appear too deep" she decided after a moment's thought. "If you wait right here, I can go get you a bandage."

Before she could make another movement, Willie clasped his hand about hers amidst a newfound burst of courage, a tingle of excitement erupting deep within him once her dark, exotic eyes suddenly locked with his.

"Willie" Maggie gasped, her tone now soft and terribly inquisitive, "what are you...?"

Purposely ignoring her questions, Willie pulled Maggie in for a fierce and possessive embrace, his lips locking with her own in a passionate kiss that left his senses afire and initially longing for what was yet to come.

Surprisingly, Maggie allowed the kiss to consume and pull her under amidst its heated embrace, her thin wall of resistance crumbling, yet not nearly enough to prevent her from pulling away from Willie's arms, altogether.

"Willie" she breathlessly began, "I don't know what's come over you, b-but what we just did was wrong."

"But why, Maggie?" Willie demanded, pulling her dangerously close. "We've been becomin' pretty close lately, haven't we? I-I mean, maybe if you'd just give me a chance we could…"

"Willie, stop it! You're not making any sense!" Maggie sharply interjected, her gaze fearful and full of bewilderment as she wriggled free of his pleading grasp. "I don't know what's come over you, but I'm beginning to think that you should leave!"

Finally losing his sudden sense of courage, Willie sighed, then raked his hand through his oily blonde hair before bowing his head. "I wouldn't hurtcha" he insisted in a defeated whisper. "Surely you know that, uh? I-I like ya a lot, and I could never hurt anybody I liked…"

"Willie...I'm sorry, but this just won't work" Maggie insisted more forcefully now, stepping up to him so that they were now eye-to-eye. "Whatever intentions you had prior to our meeting, I highly suggest that you end them now before it's too late."

Willie's face suddenly became as overcast and dreary as the gray sky. "S-sure thing, Maggie" he agreed, stuffing his hands into his pockets before giving a stiff nod. "I know that I'll always be second best ta Barnabas, so why even try, right?"

Maggie's cheeks reddened. "Barnabas? Oh, Willie, you're delusional! We're merely very good friends!"

"Sure...I can tell by all the goddamned hugs and meaningful conversations!" he snarled sourly in response, his eyes fiery and full of life once more. "I know that we're just friends, Maggie, but you never give me any hugs or nothin'!"

Maggie burst into tears. "Willie you're scaring me! Why can't you just leave me alone?"

The servant gave her a pained look, suddenly regretting having sounded like such a competitive jerk. "Aw, Maggie, don't cry…I-I didn't mean nothin' by that. I just wanted ya to know I…"

"Please" Maggie urged, "just go."

Willie nodded brokenly. "Yeah…sure, alright. Um…g-goodbye, Maggie." When she didn't dignify him with a response, he disconsolately turned on his heel and headed for the door.