Not in the Know

Another night at the Bronze with her friends and Willow's doing her usual seat-warming routine while everyone else dances along with way too much thinking, which you'd assume would be impossible in a place where the music's this loud, but hey, she's Willow and thinky is pretty much her normal state. What is she thinking tonight? She's thinking that she doesn't know what's going on.

Angel's back from Hell. That's good – except for the part where Buffy lied to all of them about it – and she's glad he's not trapped there, with his soul, suffering for crimes he committed without it, because that just doesn't seem fair at all. But he's been… weird.

She doesn't get it. Yeah, okay, maybe he's still going through some kind of post-traumatic stress thing, which makes sense, since, hey, hell, but still… No, he's giving her a wiggins.

Like the other night. Okay, he saved her life from that evil Gwendolyn Post lady, and that was really cool of him and all, but there was something about… Or maybe she's just weird about him. That could be it. Maybe deep down she hasn't processed the fact that he's not the same vampire who killed Ms. Calendar – and her fish.

But as much as she tries to tell herself that it's all in her head, she can't quite get herself to completely believe it. He keeps looking at her, and not in the 'these are my eyes and they're wandering and they happened to land on you' way. Not in the 'I'm looking at you because I know you' way either. No, he's been looking at her in this intense, creepy way that makes her think of that night in the hallway when he lost his soul.

It suddenly occurs to her, though, that maybe there's a whole other, equally unsettling explanation for her wiggins – guilt. Because of the Xander-smoochies.

Oh god. She's totally projecting her own evil onto Angel. That's it. That has to be it.

So okay, as soon as she gets the whole inappropriateness out of her thoughts and actions, not only will she be a good person and a good girlfriend again, but – bonus! – she'll see Angel as just Buffy's totally impossible soul mate and the gang's occasional undead ally who barely knows she's alive even though she gave him back his soul. Phew. Because truthfully? That's the way she likes it.

Getting up after finally finishing her soda – and can she just say that it's especially watered down, even by the Bronze's record standards – she heads for the ladies room.

Before she can get there though, she's confronted in the dark hall between the restrooms and the door from the alley. "Willow."

It's him. Angel. He's just gonna ask her where Buffy is, she's sure of it, so she gets there ahead of him. "Buffy's out there dancing. Not with anybody," she hastens to explain, "She's just dancing."

There's this silence for a moment and then Angel asks, "Are you okay?"

Why is he asking her that? "Why are you… don't I seem okay?" Why no, you seem like a big, spazzy dork.

Angel doesn't say that, though. He smiles, sort of, and, because her thoughts no longer make sense where Angel is concerned, she's not happy about it. He takes her arm, pulling her into the darkest corner. Huh? What's going on?

Just when it seems like her paranoia is going to seem totally not paranoid at all, she's saved as someone else enters the hallway. "Hey. I was looking for you."

"Oz!" she cries, almost leaping into his arms. Is he the most wonderful boyfriend in the world or what? Because as of now, he gets her vote. She turns to where her creepy companion was standing, but he's gone.

Good riddance.

"What did Angel want?"

"I don't know," she shrugs. It's true too. She doesn't know.

She doesn't want to know.

Taking Oz's arm, she vows to make him the center of her life and her thoughts from now on. There won't be any room for anyone else. No more Xander-kissage… and no more worrying about Angel.

Xander should be an easy fix. After all, he has Cordelia and, like her, he doesn't want to ruin his life over some weird fluke-thing.

Angel should be even easier, because that's all in her head… right?

She keeps telling herself that as she and Oz head back towards the crowded dance floor, her original mission forgotten and no longer needed. Because dark corners? She really wants to avoid them now.

Of course, it's easy to keep out of them in the Bronze. If only it were that easy to escape the ones in her head.

The End