I don't own the characters, I just make them do strange things. This is set before Season 2 of Angel and Season 5 of Buffy. Send feedback firstname.lastname@example.org
Willow knew she had to get out of Sunnydale. She needed to get away for a while, think about everything, consider what to do next. She hadn't told Tara she was leaving, but her relationship with Tara these days was disintegrating rapidly. In fact, it was one of the reasons she'd had to leave. That, and Riley.
Willow shivered and shook at the thought of it. Riley was Buffy's boyfriend, he was a good guy, she'd never imagined he could be so cruel. She knew that for as long as she lived, she'd never forget last night.
She'd been alone in the room when he'd knocked on the door. She'd invited him in, wondering why he wasn't out on a date with Buffy like she'd thought. Riley had said something about things not working out the way he'd hoped, and then moved closer to her. He'd kissed her, softly and gently at first, and she was so shocked that she couldn't respond. By the time she'd realized that she had to get him to stop, he was becoming rougher and rougher, pinning her onto the bed, forcing himself on her.
Rape. It was the worst thing anyone could do to another person, the violation and invasion of their bodies. Willow hadn't thought Riley capable of such a thing, but he'd proved her wrong.
She hadn't been able to sleep all night, and at five a.m. she'd begun packing. Now, loaded down with a bag, she made her way onto the bus, and sat back and tried to enjoy the journey to LA.
Willow had intended to stay with her cousin Erica in LA, but instead she found herself heading towards the apartment block where she knew Cordelia lived.
She wasn't sure exactly why she was going in that direction. After all, she and Cordelia hadn't been exactly the best of friends in high school, and they hadn't seen each other in over a year. And yet she knew she could tell Cordy about what had happened between her and Riley, and the way things were with Tara at the moment, and that was something she didn't think she could share with her ditzy airhead cousin.
And since when is Cordelia not a ditzy airhead? Willow asked herself, smiling. She hadn't realized her respect for Cordy had grown ever since she'd found out that she was working for Angel and helping people.
Cordelia was just leaving the apartment as Willow arrived. "Hey! Willow! What're you doing here?" Cordelia smiled.
"I needed a break," Willow said. Her tone gave away more than she meant it to, because Cordelia looked at her closely, concerned.
"Is everything OK?" she asked.
Willow's eyes were rapidly filling up with tears as she remembered the events of the previous night.
"Hey, come on in," Cordy added, reopening the door of her apartment and leading Willow inside. Willow left her bag down on the floor and sat down on the sofa. Cordy sat next to her.
"Now, Will, tell me, what happened?" Cordy asked gently.
The tears began falling from Willow's eyes, and Cordy hugged her. "Hey, it's OK, it's OK."
Willow bit her lip nervously before beginning. "It was Riley - you know, Buffy's boyfriend? Last night he came into my room and - I didn't know what to do, he was so strong - I couldn't fight him off, you know?"
Cordelia had never been so horrified or disgusted in her life. "Buffy's boyfriend - he…"
"Raped me. I think those would be the words you're looking for."
"Oh God, Willow, are you OK? Did you tell Buffy or Tara or anyone?"
"You think Buffy would have believed me? She's in love with the guy, he can't do anything wrong in her eyes. And, well, things with me and Tara aren't exactly going great."
"Did you two have a fight?"
"Not so much a fight, just…I don't know, lately it's like there's a communicating problem. Like we talk, but we don't tell each other anything important. It's as if we're acting in a play, it doesn't feel real anymore." Willow sighed. "Everything in Sunnydale has changed. It's like there's no one I can talk to, really. Xander has Anya, Buffy's got Riley, Oz is gone, Amy's still a rat, and the one person I could share everything with is acting weird."
"That's gotta be rough," Cordy said sympathetically.
Willow nodded. "Yeah. I really needed to get away from it all. I guess running away doesn't really solve anything but…"
"…in this case, having some time away from it all might help," Cordelia finished.
"Yeah. Exactly," Willow smiled.
They were still talking two hours later when the phone rang.
Cordy leaned over and picked up the phone. "Hello?"
"Hey, Cordelia, is everything all right?" Angel asked. "Because you didn't show up for - "
"Work," she remembered. "Yeah. I know. Sorry." She looked over at Willow and mouthed, "Angel. Can I tell him?"
Willow nodded, and Cordy continued. "Willow's here, and she kind of needs someone to talk to."
"OK," Angel said, knowing enough not to ask anymore. "As long as everything's OK. We're not exactly busy here. Call me if you have a vision or anything important."
"Sure, I will," Cordy said. "Bye." She hung up.
"Maybe you should go into work," Willow said.
Cordy dismissed this with a wave of her hand. "It's fine. They don't need me that badly. Besides, I wouldn't leave you here on your own."
"Aw, thanks," Willow smiled.
Angel came around late that evening.
"Angel, hi," Cordelia said, opening the door.
"Everything OK? Is Willow still here?"
"Yeah, she's unpacking. I told her she could stay here for as long as she needs to."
"Buffy called me today to ask if I knew where Willow was."
"I told her I had no idea. I didn't know what I was meant to do. What's going on? I'm not trying to snoop or anything, but - I just hope nothing's wrong. Like seriously wrong."
"I don't know yet," Cordelia said honestly. "I think she's going to be OK. She just needs to get away for a while. And I'm glad she's here. It's nice to have company - and it's been really fun today."
"Worth missing out on our biggest case yet?" Angel asked with a smile.
"And what would that have been?"
"We sat around drinking coffee all day," Angel admitted. "Things are going pretty slow, so if you want some more time off…"
"Yeah, I'll see. I don't want to deprive you of my wonderful secretarial skills, but I don't want to leave Willow on her own either."
He nodded. "So, had a good day? Any visions?"
"No, unfortunately I didn't have the pleasure of getting an incredibly painful migraine. Willow and I were just talking all day. I mean, we discussed everything. High school, Xander, Doyle, Tara…"
"Who's Tara?" Angel asked.
Willow, coming out of the bedroom at that moment, heard the last question. "Hey, Angel. Tara's my girlfriend. I thought I'd told you. Sorry. I guess I'm not that great at keeping in touch, huh?"
"It's OK," Angel said. "Willow, Buffy called wondering where you were. I said I didn't know - I wasn't sure - "
"I'd better call her," Willow realized. "I guess they must be pretty worried. I kind of just took off this morning."
"Everything all right in Sunnydale?" Angel enquired.
Willow grinned. "Yes, Buffy's fine."
Angel looked sheepish. "That's not what I meant."
"Sure it wasn't," Willow laughed. "Yeah, I believe that. But she's doing great."
"Is that Riley guy treating her OK?" Angel asked.
Cordelia looked worriedly over at Willow.
"Yeah, sure," Willow shrugged, sounding casual. She knew she could have told Angel about what had happened between her and Riley, but she realized that Angel would probably go beat up Riley or something, and it would end up in a big mess.
Angel nodded. "OK. I guess I'd better be going now."
"See ya," Cordy and Willow chorused.
"Willow, I have the corniest idea ever," Cordy grinned.
"Girly sleepover fun?" Willow smiled.
"Yeah," she responded sheepishly.
"Tara?" Buffy knocked on the blonde wicca's door.
Tara opened it. "Hey, Buffy."
"I just got a call from Willow. She told me she wasn't able to get through to you, so I should go tell you I'd heard from her, let you know she's OK."
"Oh. Thanks. Do you know anything…about why she left…or where she is?"
"All she said was she needed some time to herself. She's in LA, staying with a friend of ours, Cordelia. Here's the number…in case you want to call."
"Thanks," Tara replied, pocketing the slip of paper. She was about to close the door when Buffy began talking again.
"Tara? I don't think you were the reason she left. It's got to be something else. Don't blame yourself."
Tara smiled. "Thanks, Buffy. I appreciate that."
Buffy turned away and left, wondering why exactly Willow had left. She really didn't think it was because of Tara. And nothing else had happened - or had it? But Willow would have told her…right?
"I feel like we're back in grade school," Willow laughed, as she lay down on the couch. Cordelia, on the floor, was getting her hair braided.
"Yeah, I know what you mean," Cordy grinned. "Except when I went to sleepovers, I never really had fun."
"Funny, you'd think Harmony and the others would be experts when it came to the art of slumber-partying," Willow commented, finishing off the braid and playing with it.
"Oh, they were. But it was always so superficial. Boys and bitching, that was basically it."
"I think we did our share of that today," Willow reminded her.
"You know what I mean. It was all they could talk about. With you, it's different. We can talk about serious things."
"Yeah, discussing Xander's dancing was real serious," Willow kidded.
Cordelia turned around to face her, and bit her lip. "Do you think I'm shallow?"
"Come on. Am I shallow? Yes or no. Have I changed at all since high school? Because if you tell me I'm still the same superficial bitch that I was back then, I'm gonna have to do something about that."
"Cor. You're not shallow. And you have changed. You know that. Otherwise we wouldn't be having this conversation right now. You'd be dissing my fashion sense or something." Willow said it lightly, but the message got through to Cordelia.
"I was a bitch, wasn't I." It was a statement rather than a question.
"Yeah," Willow agreed. "But you've changed."
"I just…I don't know, I don't know why I did it. Well, maybe…I guess I was trying to stop people from seeing the real me."
"And who is the real Cordelia Chase?" Willow asked.
"I don't know," Cordy said softly.
"It's been a week and she's still in LA. What's she doing?" sighed Buffy.
"Well, let me just channel my psychic abilities…" muttered Xander.
Pretty much all of the Scooby Gang were at Giles' house, with the exception of Willow.
"Buffy, don't worry about her, I'm sure Willow can take care of herself," Riley said.
"I hope Cordelia hasn't killed her, or eaten her, or something," Anya commented.
"She might actually do something like that," Xander mused.
"Have you called her since she left?" Giles asked Buffy.
Buffy nodded. "Yeah, a couple of times. She says everything's fine but she won't say what's wrong."
"What about Tara?" Xander asked.
"Tara? She left for LA about an hour ago."
"Do you think I should tell Buffy about what happened with Riley?" Willow asked Cordelia. They were at a bar, waiting for Angel and Wesley to join them.
Cordelia thought about it. "I guess she has a right to know. But like you said, she might not believe you. Still - if it was my boyfriend, I'd want to know."
"Of course," Cordy continued, "it's been so long since I've actually had a boyfriend that my opinion doesn't really count."
"You just haven't been looking in the right places for Mr Right," Willow advised.
"Yeah. I've found plenty of Mr Wrongs, though. Maybe I should - oh, I don't know."
"Nothing. I don't know. I just want to find someone to love me. Is that too much to ask for?"
"I'd have to say yes," Wesley offered his opinion, coming up from behind.
"Hey! Be nice, or I may have to whip you," Cordy warned.
"Strangely enough, I think I might enjoy that," Wesley responded.
Willow smirked at Cordelia, the message clearly being: "Hmm, possible Mr Right alert!"
Cordelia answered this with, "Hell will freeze over before I have sex with him."
"How devastating," Wesley remarked.
"Where's Angel?" Willow asked.
"He's coming soon," Wesley informed her.
"He's here," said Angel, appearing behind Cordelia and making her jump.
"I hate people who sneak up on people," said Cordy.
"I'm just warning you, I'm planning to get really, really drunk," Willow warned them.
"Yeah, me too," Cordy informed them.
"Now the reason you picked a bar a block away from your apartment becomes clear," Wesley muttered.
"Well, I can't say they didn't warn us," muttered Wesley to Angel two hours later.
"They're dancing on the tables now," Angel commented.
"At least they're having fun. I don't know what happened with Willow in Sunnydale, but it must have been something pretty bad for her to just take off like that."
"She and Cordelia are getting pretty close."
"Well, she's been staying at her apartment for a week now. That's got to make them closer and you're thinking it's much more than friendship, aren't you?"
Angel sighed. "Yeah. I think Willow's falling for Cordy. And I think she's going to get hurt."
Cordy and Willow were stumbling back to Cordelia's apartment later that night, Wesley and Angel playing the gentlemen and making sure they got home safely.
"Thank you very, very, very much, Angel," Willow thanked him profusely, slurring her words slightly. "You are such a nice guy, you know that? Why you and Buffy aren't still together is a mystery. You'd be much better for her than that Riley."
"Riley's mean," agreed Cordy.
"Yeah. Real mean," Willow nodded. "You know, he's why I had to leave Sunnydale. That bastard." She started crying.
"What did he do to you?" Angel demanded.
"What did he do to her?" Cordy laughed hysterically. "He only raped her, that's all, Angel. You know, he's not a nice guy. Not a nice guy at all."
"Wesley, make sure they get home OK," Angel instructed.
"Angel, don't do anything rash," Wesley warned him.
"I'll try not to kill the guy, but I can't guarantee I'll succeed," Angel informed him, before disappearing into the dark.
"I'm gonna have such a hangover in the morning," moaned Cordelia. She, Willow and Wesley made their way up the stairs to the floor her apartment was on.
"Hey, you don't live here," Cordy told the blonde girl that was waiting outside her apartment.
"I - I was just waiting for Willow," Tara said.
"Tara," Willow said. "Hi. I would've called but I've been having such a great time here with Cordy and all…"
"They're drunk," Wesley told Tara firmly. "Perhaps you'd be better coming back tomorrow."
"Hey, Tara, you can stay here," Cordy invited. "Yep, any friend of Willow's is a friend of mine…"
"It's OK, I've got a room in a motel, I'll come back tomorrow," Tara said, and slipped past them and descended the stairs.
"Ugh. Ugh. Yuck." Willow dragged herself into Cordy's kitchen.
"Remind me never to touch anything remotely alcoholic ever again," Cordelia groaned, pouring out cups of coffee for both of them.
"I think maybe it was the tequila that did. Or it could have been the vodka. Or possibly when we decided, wouldn't it be a fun idea to mix everything together?"
"I have only the vaguest recollection of that," Willow admitted. "How did we get home? I'm pretty sure I couldn't walk in a straight line. Or maybe at all."
"I guess Wesley and Angel made sure we got home OK."
There was a knock on the door. "And I guess that's them making sure we're still alive," Cordy continued.
"Remind me. Are we?"
Cordy smiled, and went to answer it. "Hey, Wesley. So, how bad were we last night?"
"Yes, I thought you wouldn't remember. There was dancing on the tables, for one thing, at which point Angel and I pretended not to know you."
"There's more. Then you offered your services as a prostitute to some elderly gentlemen…"
"I've gotta stop doing that."
"…who nearly took you up on it until we intervened. Some time later we were asked forcibly to leave. Angel and I were walking you and Willow home when the topic of Riley was brought up. I believe you were the one who explained to us exactly what did happen between Riley and Willow."
"Then Angel vanished into the shadows as he's so good at doing, and we can only presume he's headed for Sunnydale to beat up Riley."
"If there's more I may have to kill myself."
"Get me the dagger."
"Tara was waiting here for Willow."
"She what?" Willow walked out of the kitchen.
"She was waiting here for you last night. I think you may have said something about not calling as you were having so much fun here."
"Oh no," Willow murmured.
"You were very drunk. I don't think she took it personally. And Angel's gone to beat up Riley."
"Please be joking," Willow begged.
"I think I let it slip last night," Cordy admitted. "I'm really, really sorry, Will."
"Cor, it's OK, I know you didn't mean to. Wesley, when did he leave?"
"Last night, I presume."
Willow sighed. "So I guess Buffy knows what her devoted boyfriend has been doing behind her back."
"Angel, what the hell are you doing here?" Buffy demanded.
"Waiting for sunset and hoping Riley shows up," he replied.
"God, Angel, why? I mean, you just show up here, out of the blue, hanging around in Giles' house, waiting for Riley? Why?"
"Did Willow tell you why she left?" he asked.
Buffy shook her head. "No. She didn't. What are you saying…you think Riley had something to do with it?"
"I don't think, I know. Buffy, that precious boyfriend of yours is scum. What if I told you that the night before Willow left, she had a little nocturnal visit from Riley?"
"No…it's not true…you're making this up…"
"What if I told you that he forced himself on her? That he…"
"Stop it!" Buffy screamed. "Riley would never do that! You're lying!"
"I'm not lying. It's true. I know it's hard to accept, but that's what happened. That's why she ran away."
"No…no…" she began to cry, like a little kid that's just found out Santa's not real. "Why…how…he wouldn't…"
Angel held her in his arms. "I'm sorry, Buffy."
"Not as sorry as he'll be," Buffy muttered.
"Hey, Tara," Willow greeted her when she showed up at the apartment after lunch. "Sorry about last night…I was kinda…"
"Yeah. I know. It's OK. I hope you don't mind me coming around, but I really think we need to talk. Buffy gave me the address."
"Yeah, we should talk," Willow nodded. "You wanna come in?"
Tara nodded, and they sat down on the couch together.
"I guess I owe you an explanation," Willow said. "I shouldn't have just taken off like that."
"You wouldn't have done it unless you had a reason."
"I had sex with Riley."
"It wasn't exactly my idea. He was just…I don't know…I don't why he did it…and he was too strong…"
"God, I can't believe he'd do something like that," Tara said softly. "Are you…are you OK?"
"I'm dealing. It helps being away for a while. LA's like a different world, you know?"
Cordelia was sitting cross-legged on her bed. Even though the door was closed, she'd heard the knock.
I know she's there. She and Willow are probably talking…maybe more. God, why does that thought upset me so much? It really shouldn't…unless…no, don't say it. If you say it, it becomes real. As long as you don't say it, you can pretend it's not there. Which it isn't. There's nothing there. Except…why don't you just admit it? No. I can't. But…what if she's going to go back to Sunnydale? I don't want that to happen. I can't let it happen. Because…and I really wish this wasn't the case…I think I may be falling in love with her.
"So, Riley," Buffy began, "were you planning on telling me you're the reason that Willow ran away?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Sorry, wrong answer. Now I'm going to have to kill you," she added brightly.
"Buffy - I've really no idea what this is about."
"Riley, you're not a very good liar. And as a boyfriend, you pretty much suck, too. And -" she effortlessly threw him across the room - "you're a wimp."
He dragged himself up. "I guess I'll be leaving now."
"I think that would be a very good idea," Buffy agreed. Once the door closed behind Riley, she sighed and bit her lip. "That was hard."
Angel stepped out of the next room. "You're better off without him."
"Angel, it's not gonna work out between us."
"I never said it would," he replied.
Five minutes later they were making out on the couch.
"This is wrong," Angel said.
"Mmm. Very wrong."
"Want to stop?"
"…and she's been really supportive, you know?" Willow told Tara. "In high school we weren't exactly the best of friends. In fact, I pretty much couldn't stand her. But it's weird how people change."
Cordelia glided out of the bedroom wrapped in a towel which barely covered her upper thighs. Her hair cascaded down her back, and Willow bit her lip. She looked fantastic.
"Willow, I was thinking we could go out again tonight…" Cordy began, and then looked over at Tara. "Oh. Tara, right? Sorry, I didn't realize we had company! Don't mind me, I'm just getting myself a cup of coffee." She disappeared into the kitchen.
Tara observed the interaction between Cordelia and Willow. And she surmised, from the lovesick look on Willow's face, that it was a little more than friendship.
"I think I should go," she said quickly.
"No, Tara, why?"
"You know why."
"It's not what you think. There's nothing going on between us."
"But you have feelings for her, right?"
"It's OK," Tara said. "I already know the answer." She got up and walked out. The only hint of her anger was the slamming of the door behind her.
"What happened?" Cordelia asked innocently, joining Willow on the couch with her cup of coffee in her hand.
The innocent look didn't fool Willow for one moment. "Tara left. She thinks there's something going on between us. Gosh, why would that be, I wonder? It couldn't possibly be related to the fact that you were parading around with a towel on, could it?"
"I didn't realize she was here," Cordelia lied.
"Oh, sure. You don't expect me to believe that, do you? I know you too well. You wanted her to think that I was having an affair with you!"
Cordelia sensed defeat. "Fine. I did. Yes, I wanted her to think that."
"Why?" Willow's voice was barely more than a whisper.
"Why do you think?"
"I think…I don't know what to think. I'm scared to think about it in case I get my hopes up."
"And what do you hope?"
"I…" They were staring into each other's eyes now, the awkwardness gone as they realized how the other felt.
Someone knocked on the door. Impatient and irritated, Cordelia jumped up to answer it.
"Yes?" she barked at Wesley.
"I've just heard from Angel - he told Buffy and she ended up beating up Riley."
"Good for her."
Wesley suddenly noticed she was in a towel. "Ah. Were you in the shower?"
"No, I threw this on to make Tara think I was having an affair with Willow."
"Right. Which you're not?"
"Not at the moment, no," Cordy said.
"Give us about five minutes," Willow added with a smile.
"So maybe you should leave us alone?" Cordy suggested. "Unless you want a threesome…"
"No, that'll be fine."
"Great!" Cordy said, and closed the door.