Title: The Lost Mistress
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series
Rating: NC-17 overall for violence, sexual situations, torture, and character death.
Pairing: UST Willow/Angel in general, multiple pairings through out the story including Giles/Jenny, Drusilla/Spike, and Cordelia/Xander.
Word Count: 50K+ and unfinished but two thirds done.
Setting: Three months after the events of Porphyria's Lover, roughly Becoming 1 & 2 in the storyline which has been dramatically altered from canon. The canon of Angel the series is changed as well by Angel leaving for LA a year earlier.
Summary: Willow might be home but that doesn't mean she's out of danger. Sheila and Ira move the family to Los Angeles but trouble isn't far away. Its up to Angel and Wllow to clean up after the aftermath of Angelus' reign of terror as Aurelian intrigues threaten to ensnare them again. Sequel to Porphyria's Lover.
Series Notes: You may have heard me talk about The Lost Mistress under its working title, The Last Duchess. I restructured the plot after I began to sketch out the third and final story in this series and realized that the beginning of that story was really the end of this story. The titles didn't fit so I switched them. I had planned on finishing this before posting, but I wanted to make my spring deadline. This story probably wouldn't make much sense or have the same punch without reading Porphyria's Lover.
Chapter notes: I have edited and modified the first chapter from its original 'sneak peak' version that I posted way back in December at .
Porphyria's Lover Recap:
This story breaks off from canon pre-Phases in season two with the premise 'what if Angelus took a different tack in tormenting Buffy?' He reforms his own sect of the Order of Aurelius and summoned vampires from his past- Penn, Sam Lawson, and Franz Pieterzoon- to his nest along with Spike and Drusilla. Angelus kidnaps Willow. Buffy and the Scoobies find themselves forced on the defensive as they struggle to find a way to go up against six master vampires and over a dozen minions. Willow finds herself left in the civilized Franz's care while Angelus deals with the schemes and in-fighting between the madly beautiful Drusilla, besotted Penn, and impetuous Spike. The Scoobies find a way to soul Angel and Willow returns home to a reformed Sheila and Ira.
In the minutes before Willow woke, she knew she was dreaming. Unafraid, she walked down the dirty hidden stairway to the kitchen of Angel's mansion, passing Buffy and Xander as the two ate donuts and sat cross legged on the counter. Spike and Drusilla, in futuristic spacesuits, floated together on the ceiling. Giles and Jenny kept putting books and cables into a old fashioned cauldron on the electric stove. Franz stood with his hands behind his back, disconnected from the scene, but watching it all. Willow waved to them. Franz ignored her to trail a vampire in a red dress who raced through the kitchen to the outside. Willow watched them go before she followed into the garden and found herself in the nightgown that she had been kidnapped in. The vampire couple had disappeared and instead she faced Angel.
The vampire stood in front of an ivy-covered wall as the fall leaves swirled behind him. His face flickered from human to vampire. Blood dripped from his wrist.
Looking down at herself, she tugged at the collar of the gown and ripped it off. Under was an outfit that her mother had indeed gotten at Sears just as Cordelia had guessed so long ago in their freshman year. She shook her head, this wasn't hers anymore. It had never really been.
"We're all orphans in the end." Angel drew her attention. "I saw you already. Old costumes and new wigs don't mean anything to a vampire."
Willow opened her eyes to another day on the hellmouth as her clock radio played the Top 40 pop hits. Sunshine streamed through her balcony curtains. Rolling over, she flopped her arms out and calculated the hours until patrol tonight. Buffy wanted to see her telekinesis in slay mode. There was something to be said for the thrill of knowing that her actions would be saving lives. She was done being the damsel in distress and now she wanted to be a hero. Soon enough, grumbling, she got up and ready for school. She stepped down the stairs and towards door with a goodbye to her parents who sipped coffee and read the paper in the living room.
"Are you going out with that Buffy tonight?" Sheila Rosenberg set down her paper. Red hair pulled in a bun, her expression was serious and Willow felt like her mother would actually listen to her response. What a change from how this conversation would have gone on months ago.
Willow nodded with her hand on the door. "Yup, I'm going to be eating over and then I'm going to get into tutor mode and help Buffy with her math. The number is by the phone." She smiled, lying through her teeth just like she learned during her captivity, forcing herself not to bite her lip. Vampires weren't good for much, but they did make a girl learn a poker face.
"Have fun then, dear." Sheila picked up the paper again and asked from behind the newsprint, "What time is dinner at the Summers house?"
"'Round six. Its stir-fry night, I think." Willow waved again. "Well, bye then. Don't want to be late. And, hey look it's Xander." She exited and bounded down the steps to meet Xander. "Morning."
"Hey, friend-o-mine, we gotta beat feet before Warden Snyder gets us for tardiness again." Clad in a striped shirt and jeans, Xander put an arm around her shoulders and they walked to school while talking about Oz's next gig.
Willow felt that peculiar ooky feeling like someone was watching her. She looked back and saw a black SUV that she could have sworn that she had seen when they passed main street and then before on elm.
Xander tightened his hold on her. "What is it?"
The SUV turned off onto Stone street.
Willow smiled, covering up her nerves, and shook her head. "Nothing." Way to be paranoid of some soccer mom, Rosenberg, she thought. Hellmouths just made even the most mundane object that much more eerie, she guessed.
A red corvette rolled up to the curb with Queen C at the wheel, a latte in the cup holder and shiny new fake nails on her fingers. She pushed down her sunglasses and smiled. "You two are so pedestrian. Hop in."
When they got in, Xander in front and Willow in the back, Cordelia looked at Willow through the rear view mirror. "You should smile. I don't just let anyone in here. Took Harmony forever to make the cut."
Willow obeyed the cheerleader and made a cheesy grin.
"I'm thinking that we ought to head for the beach this weekend before all those surfer bums migrate back with their skanky pot and even skankier patchouli." Cordelia continued.
"We could go after Saturday defense class just when I'm at my manliest and most needing to soak in salt water." Xander replied.
Willow sneaked one peek behind them and saw nothing. She let herself relax. Cordy was right, summer was coming, and even evil seemed to take a vacation. Besides, even if it didn't, the scoobies were ready as ever for what was to come.
Willow swung her arms as she walked down the pebbled path, lined by saplings, in the first and longest used cemetery in Sunnydale. Buffy chatted and moseyed beside her. The moon and the solar path lamps provided dim illumination. Tombstones jutted from the ground in solemn rows beyond the trees. In the distance, the original frontier Sunnydale grave yard moldered under century old cottonwoods that swayed and drooped in the wind. Goosebump central, but Willow had gotten used to the town's veritable necropolis. Without the vampires around, it seemed peaceful draped in balmy night. That was the only weird part of the evening to Willow. The dinner bell had rung but none of the vampires were picking up their forks. They had been to four different cemeteries before this and found zip. Clear skies, fair weather, and there were even still people wandering around Main street the last they checked. Where were the demons?
Buffy crossed her arms, pouting, as she shook her head. "Did evil take a holiday? There isn't even any baby vamps rising up. How boring."
"Heard anything about the Mayor's latest dastardly deed this week?" Willow asked.
Buffy sighed. "Nope."
"At least we're walking off all those egg-rolls." Willow shrugged when Buffy raised an eyebrow. "What? It's called a bright side." She said primly. "Besides, only one of us has super-metabolism."
"And, slaying is only second to Tae-Bo in burning calories." Buffy scanned the still quiet cemetery. "Well, sometimes it is."
Willow took a small leather pouch of crystal shards out of her jean pocket and pulled out an amethyst. "Pop quiz then. What'cha call this?"
Buffy took it and turned to look at it in the glow of the short lamp posts. "Amethy-dead guy, ten o'clock."
"What?" Willow asked before she saw the vampire charge at them. She stuffed the pouch back before pulling a stake out of her back pocket. "Holy cow. Is this one mine?"
"Correct, grasshopper, I'll supervise." Buffy stepped aside with her stake ready.
Willow remembered her defense class and moved herself into a more balanced position as the vampire got into arms reach. She kicked him between the legs, causing him to groan and hunch over, before pushing him back.
The vampire, dressing in a funeral suit, snarled in his awakened hunger even as he threw his arms back as he fell.
Staking him before he could react, Willow jerked the stake back out before stepping away. The dust drifted in the weak illumination, swirling in the gentle breeze, as a car alarm went off in the distance. It had been the first time she had killed a vampire on her own since Penn. Her grip tightened on the stake before her reverie was broken by Buffy's slow clap.
"Fantastic." Buffy smiled. "I'll make a slayer out of you yet."
"Really?" Willow asked.
Buffy opened her mouth to quip before her brow furrowed and she realized something. "I dropped your amethyst."
"I think we'll have to find it later. It looks like there another one popping up beyond those two trees in the old bone yard." Willow pointed with her hand still holding the stake.
"Time for the second lesson then. Now you can show me your witch-fu." Buffy gestured her forward with a quip. "I'll just do my usual fu."
The two girls ran between tombstones to the overgrown cemetery. When they slowed, approaching the old cottonwoods, it was obvious that something had disturbed the gnarled foliage beyond the small paths inside. Tall grasses were bent and broken around a patch of bare dirt. Two fists pushed out of the soil as a vampire struggled for unlife. Another stood still under a tree, hands on his chest as if he had been brushing the dirt off himself, his nostrils quivered as he stared at them.
"How nice, he brought a friend." Willow said and grinned.
Buffy looked at Willow, returning the grin. "Lesson number two, double your slay, double your fun."
Sheila Rosenberg had been fighting the urge to do this for weeks. Every time she read an obvious cover-up in the newspaper archives, she had to bite her tongue from going to Willow and demanding the truth. Every face in the obituaries, made her wonder and doubt. Every runaround that the police gave her made her believe more and more than there was something rotting at the heart of Sunnydale. Her daughter hadn't been the first victim and hadn't been the last. Awkward tension at dinner parties and odd comments by her neighbors seemed more and more like pieces to the puzzle. All she found after months of research was rumors and dark hints. Though, the town had been strange from the start.
When they had first moved from their small apartment in Los Angeles to Sunnydale, the welcome wagon had been a perky woman in an Easter themed vest who insisted they call her Pat. She carried a basket of cookies, coupons, a cross (Sheila and Ira raised their eyebrows over that), three tomatoes and curious a garlic wreath. Sheila was so perplexed by the garlic that she didn't even remember to speak up about their Jewishness and give the cross back.
Ira picked up the garlic. "This is unusual. Someone have a garlic patch around here?"
"Oh my, yes, there is a neighborhood garden club as well as a book club..."
Sheila hung the garlic in the kitchen which they both agreed was a pretty decent gift after their first dinner in their cardboard box filled house. It was much more pertinent to their interests than the cross. Hurricane lamps and candles illuminated the kitchen. They joked about how they had either they moved into a Italian neighborhood or there were vampires around. Willow, a toddler in overalls, sat beside her on the floor because they hadn't gotten the tables or chair out of the truck yet. It had been a good night. Sheila couldn't have guessed the pain that this town would cause her family in that golden moment.
Tonight was not a good one however. All those questions and fears drove her to follow her daughter around all of Sunnydale. Once the girls walked to the first cemetery and then the next and the next, Sheila felt a bit of the mystery that was Willow fall into place. The dark hair, the darker clothes, and now cemeteries?
Willow had become a goth.
Sheila knew that Willow knew much more than she let on but she didn't know how to get Willow to confide in her. Following Willow wasn't the best course of action, but it might just make Willow talk even if it was from anger. In either case, Sheila didn't know what to do. She could never tell her editor but Willow had parented herself for many years. Ever since Willow had come home, Sheila couldn't stop the sinking feeling that she was a fraud.
Sheila tried her best to sneak into the Old Town cemetery parking lot, after parking her car half a block down at the Unitarian church, and finding cover to hide behind.
Willow and Buffy were walking down a path with their backs to her. They talked and Willow pulled something out of her pocket to give to Buffy who examined it in the light.
Drugs? Sheila asked herself. That was when she saw the man sprinting at them. She began to call out when she saw Willow kick him in the groin and then jab him with something. Then Sheila must have hallucinated because she saw him disappear into a puff of grit. She staggered against a car and jumped when the alarm sounded. Racking her brain for way to make them not investigate, she made a high pitched cat yowl and immediately questioned her judgment even as she scurried to hide behind a Buick. She made sure not to press her back against the vehicle and waited until she heard their voices fade in the distance. Emerging from her hiding place, she walked over to where they had been standing by the low path lamp. Her eyes scanned the ground as she paced the spot before she saw it glint in the lamp's glow. She picked it up and examined it much like Buffy had before.
Sheila put the shard in her pocket and slunk back to her car. Her baby had decided to empower herself through fantasy and superstition to cope with the kidnapping, Sheila had theorized before. Now, she wasn't sure what to think. What had she even seen and why was Willow even out here?
Could she even tell Ira about this?
Sheila didn't know what to say when she came home. Ira was in the living room, sitting on the couch, as he watched the television. He turned to look at her but what could she say? She said hello before rushing head long into a more mundane topic. "I've made up my mind, Ira. I think we have to tell her tonight. We have been talking and talking but we have to do something."
"What brings this on?" Ira asked. He turned away from the sitcom he was watching. "I thought we would tell her once school was over in a week?"
Sheila's mind raced to come up with an answer that didn't include tonight's events or any possible flights of fancy. "Well, I realized that she might want to talk about it to all her school friends and get used to the idea."
Ira nodded. "That is true."
The door opened and she could hear Willow trying to tiptoe into the house. She called out, "Willow, we need to talk."
Willow stepped into the living room with a frown. Sheila took Ira's hand as they sat on the couch together. "Your father and I have come to a decision."
"What is it?" Willow asked, frowning, her expression grew blank and disconnected more like a blackjack dealer than a teenage girl.
Sheila took a deep breath before she said, "We're moving to Los Angeles."
Willow sat in the backseat leaning on the car window with her yearbook closed in her lap. It had only been a week since school ended but she still hadn't gotten tired of flipping through the pages occasionally. The scribbles of her classmates were longer this year probably because she was moving. Willow didn't know how she could explain some of those references to outsiders: Mass hallucinations, snakes in the meatloaf, gangs on PCP, Snyder. Sunnydale definitely was a place you had to experience to understand. Her face pressed up to the glass as she dozed, curled up, with her hands under her chin. It had been a boring drive through stop and go traffic since they had arrived in Los Angeles. She had finished her other book, The Subterraneans, before they had even gotten near the new neighborhood and the lull of the road made her drowsy. They had been driving through neighborhoods lined with small apartment buildings, corner stores, donut shops, and ranch style homes but Willow couldn't orient herself. Los Angeles was only two hours from Sunnydale but it might have been two worlds away. The hellmouth was on a small town that had little more than gullible citizens and two strip malls. Los Angeles sprawled over the landscape with buildings and billboards everywhere. Willow felt small in the city of millions.
Her parents couldn't stop talking about how this would be a fresh start. Her mom kept mentioning all the museums near by and her father thought she would have a better chance getting into a good college at her new high school. Her parents had gotten an apartment in an area in West Los Angeles off Fairfaz Avenue near one of her uncles where there was a nice Jewish community. Her father was happy about that and couldn't wait to check out her uncle's synagog. Her mother had gotten into a huge fight with Sunnydale's rabbi about the role of Israel in middle eastern affairs and she refused to go back. It had been a point of spiritual contention between them for years. LA would resolve it, they explained. Then her mother talked at length about some vegan diner that did take out that Willow managed to tune out. They couldn't stop listing off all the positives about Los Angeles in great and unnecessary detail ("There is a IKEA nearby! You like Swedish Meatballs, don't you?") Willow didn't care about any of that, she just couldn't stop missing her friends.
She never really appreciated Sunnydale the town and now that she was gone, she couldn't help but longingly reflect on the movie theater and the ice cream shop. She even missed the greenery of the cemeteries in a cement city like Los Angeles. When Xander and Buffy had hosted a small farewell party at the library, Willow teared up in the beginning because despite it all, she would miss the place. The smelly books and Giles' confusion about his computer, it was all so familiar. What would Willow do without being able to walk five minutes to get to either of her best friends' houses? Willow had hugged them all tightly, even Cordelia, and made sure everyone knew her new phone number and her primary and backup email addresses. Buffy promised to call as much as she could and Xander said that they would let her in on all the most interesting evil. Cordelia volunteered to help her get her wardrobe ready for Los Angeles. It had been a good day even with Ms. Calendar's lecture about magical responsibility. They had all joked about getting out of that town but when she finally had, it just felt like an end of an era and not the beginning of a new one.
When the Rosenbergs pulled up to the new apartment building, Willow stepped out and looked around with a sigh. Would she ever belong here?