They Can't Take That Away From Me

They wanted her back. Now that they knew she'd been made whole again, that she no longer shook with the need for magick, they wanted her back. Buffy, Xander, that stuttering girlfriend of hers whose name Willow no longer cried out in her sleep, they thought they could just stroll into his home, as bold as you please, and take her away. They didn't understand, didn't have a clue.

She had been sent to him an outcast, wracked with pain and guilt and loneliness, cast out by her friends and her lover, begging him to help her, to save her from herself, and he had. He had held her through her agony, through her sobs, through her nightmares, had found the ones who could help her regain dominion over her powers, had shown her that nothing she had done was as unforgivable as she'd believed...had fallen in love with her. He had rescued her, both from herself and from the ones who'd pretended to care yet cast her aside at the first sign that she wasn't perfect, that she might need them to give her some of the help she had always so freely given them. The ones who hadn't even spoken to her during the infrequent calls they had made to him to check up on her, calls obviously made because they didn't trust her, or him, and were worried about themselves. He had been the only one who talked to her, who listened, who cared.

Yet now, here they were. Faces beaming and hypocritical cheer oozing from every pore. Between the lines, he realized that there was something they needed done that none of them was able to do and that they were oh-so-eager to have Willow ride in to the rescue; then they could shove her back into her former niche. Research girl, shoulder-to-cry-on-girl, go-to-girl for every task they didn't want to be bothered to perform themselves. It never occurred to them that Willow might have found a brand new niche, one in which she was far happier, Angel knew, than she had ever been with them. It never occurred to them that Angel wouldn't happily hand her over to her "friends" and just wave goodbye, casting a longing, love-filled look at Buffy, as they carted her back to Sunnydale. It never occurred to them that Angel was helping Willow for any reason but his still-smoldering passion for the Slayer. And it had certainly never occurred to them that Angel wouldn't even let them see Willow, let alone take her "home." But he didn't.

He would worry about how to keep the day's events from Willow later. Now he just basked in the joy he felt while throwing his former lover and her cohorts out of his hotel. For all of their time in Sunnydale, for all their experience with evil, for all the time Buffy had claimed to love a vampire and despite the fact that Xander was in love with a former vengeance demon, they didn't understand demons at all. They didn't realize that, having given Willow over to one, they couldn't just take her back. She was his now, and there was nothing they could do about it.

The End