Facing the Clock: Part Three: Willow
Willow had been Angel's captive for exactly one year as of today.
It felt like forever. She could hardly believe it had been only a year. There were days when she found it almost impossible to recall Xander's laugh clearly, when Buffy's smile was fuzzy, when Oz's eyes were dim in her memory. Those were the terrible days.
"Can I have a computer? You can sit here and watch while I use it. I won't even sign up for an email account. I just want to go online again. Please?"
"You need to get out of this room more. I've been neglecting you." Another non sequitur.
She wants to scream in frustration and anguish. Doesn't he care that her fingers ache for the feel of a keyboard beneath them? That she's tormented at the thought that all this time has ticked away and technology might have passed her by, leaving her little more capable than Cordelia was when Willow was yanked from her life and everything she held dear?
"Just an hour a day on a computer? Please?" She's almost kneeling before him, tears in her eyes and her voice cracking with emotion. She realizes that she *would* kneel for him right now, kneel down and suck his cock, do *anything* just to have that precious link to who she is. It's only the knowledge of what whoring herself to Angel would actually lead to that keeps her from stripping the last vestiges of dignity from herself and exposing the desperate state to which she's been reduced. "Once a week even?"
"A friend of mine is having a dinner party tonight. Just a small affair, but his house is filled with art. You'll love seeing it." He smiles at her in that hateful, patronizing way that makes her long for a stake. "Yes, that will be just the thing. You'll feel much better getting out and socializing."
With that, he leaves.
She throws herself on the bed and sobs. She hasn't cried so loudly or so violently in months, maybe ever. But hope is dead and another piece of who she is has been ripped out of her forever. Was this what it had been like for Marcie Ross?
There was no computer in her room or anywhere in the world for all she knew anymore. She hadn't asked again; the memory of what she would have been willing to do to get one was too degrading for her to endure feeling so ever again.
She'd had her first nightmare since being kidnapped that very night. In it, she'd let Angel do as he pleased with her and when it was over, he'd laughed…she had suddenly found herself in a barren cell with no books or comforts of any kind. She'd woken up with the sound of his cheerless mirth still ringing in her ears.
"You look beautiful." His voice is husky, filled with a desire that makes the bile rise in her throat.
She ignores him, not caring a bit that it's bad manners to let a compliment pass unacknowledged. She'd be ruder by far if she wasn't afraid of him.
If he's hurt by her coldness, he doesn't show it. He never does. One of many, many reasons that her hatred of him burns ever brighter.
"I have a present for you," he says. She refuses to allow herself to hope it's something that she wants.
But for a moment, hope *does* rise to dizzying heights within her as Angel wheels in…a television on a cart. She can watch the news again; figure out where in the world she even is. She's on the verge of being impossibly and painfully grateful…until she notices the absence of an antenna. It's not as if there's a cable hook-up in this room.
"We can watch movies together now, sweetheart," he nearly carols, as Willow notices the VCR built in to the set. One more torture she must endure, one more stratagem he's devised to inflict his company on her despite the silence with which she tries desperately to keep him at bay.
Somehow she knows that there's no copy of The Princess Bride in his newly-bought video library.
Willow hated him, hated his stifling presence, hated the 'friends' he forced her to meet and the sights he forced her to see, hated the movies he sat with her to watch and the books he gave her to read. If she ever escaped him, she would never look at great art or read a classic novel ever again. She would only read modern, trashy potboilers. She would collect Leroy Neiman prints and watch MTV all day long. She would embrace Ayn Rand and fawn over factories and ugly new buildings. She would buy a new computer and stay on it until she knew every site on the internet.
She would beg the Council to make her a Slayer and she would kill every vampire on the face of the Earth.
He's been careless tonight, hasn't managed to hide all traces of who and what he is. There's a smudge of blood at the corner of his mouth and Willow is transfixed by it. It's the only honesty she's seen in him since this whole tragic business began. It's the story of his life told in colour and texture right by the lower lip of that cruel, prevaricating mouth.
Of course, after a few seconds – seconds which seem unrealistically long and full and quiet – he judges the trajectory of her stare and wipes the truth away with the tip of a long, white finger. For a moment as brief as the seconds were endless, he seems unsettled. Willow wishes she could keep that moment for all her days. Seeing the haunted, uncomfortable look in those usually certain eyes was the closest thing to joy she's known…the closest thing she will likely *ever* know.
Now she understands why the gypsies gave him his soul. She thinks that his knowledge of the curse, his fear of being a demon again, is the icing on the cake of their vengeance. May he live in such terror forevermore.
She chewed the last bite of her cheeseburger and struggled to swallow it. Only Angel could take the joy out of one of her favorite foods. But then again, this gourmet rendition of the American classic had hardly been what she had in mind when she asked for a burger. She was tired of haute cuisine. As a normal American teenager, she craved sugar and grease and preservatives, not costly ingredients combined in unnatural ways. Whatever cheese had graced that patty, it certainly had never seen a moment wrapped in plastic in a supermarket dairy case.
The servants began to clear the dinner plates and Willow felt an odd sense of foreboding as she accepted the inevitable and got up from the table. Angel, ever the grotesque mockery of a gentleman, insisted on attending her.
There was something different in his touch tonight, though she couldn't name it, and his will more than her effort propelled her down the hall towards her bedroom.
"Happy Anniversary," he said, his voice low and his inflection alarming.
She held her breath as they got to her door and he opened it. He didn't turn to leave for Drusilla's room the way he usually did. She exhaled as she remembered the clause. Thank heavens it was there to protect her.
He followed her inside her bedroom and closed the door.