Touch of Evil
Part 16 **Silence now the sound my breath the only motion around Demons cluttering around my face showing no emotion Shackled by my sentence expecting no return Here there is no penance my skin begins to burn So I held my head up high hiding hate that burns inside which only fuels their selfish pride We're all held captive out from the sun A sun that shines on only some We the meek are all in one** **"My Own Prison"- Creed** Willow struggled against his kiss to no avail. Her arms were useless, tied above her head securely, her body effectively held captive by his own. She tried to keep her mouth tightly shut so he wouldn't be able to deepen the kiss but as the seconds turned into minutes, Willow's need to breath won out against her stubborn pride. Gasping for breath, Angelus took the opportunity to move his tongue into her mouth. He moved his hands down to fondle her breasts, his fingers forceful and bruising as he twisted her nipples between his thumb and forefinger. Willow cried out in pain, but the sound was lost within Angelus's mouth. Before she knew what was happening, his hands were at the clasp to her jeans. He quickly unbuttoned them and somehow managed to yank them down without pausing in his exploration of her mouth or in removing his body too much off of hers. With a quick agility of one who had practice in such areas, he kicked her jeans off with his feet. As they fell to the floor, he broke away to stare into her eyes. He searched them with his own, which were darker than usual from his lust. He drank in the fear reflected from the green depths, knowing that he could easily banish such emotions, replacing them with the lust she was keeping hidden from him. Her body was a bundle of nerves, which, if played just right, could yield exactly the response he wanted. Angelus began to remove her top as he spoke. "I can make this nice for you, Willow. A girl's first time is special, and I can make sure you enjoy every second of it- minimal pain." Willow stared up at the cruel, handsome face above her. A portion of the fear inside her began to be replaced by a burning rage. Snarling, she spat at him, "I suppose I should be grateful you have so much experience with virgins." Angelus tilted his head in a sign of acknowledgement to his past, choosing to ignore the sarcasm in her tone. "You've been doing your homework, little girl. Guess you couldn't keep your mind off me during your stint with the Watchers, huh. You should never trust Watcher propaganda, although in this case it is accurate. I doubt the Diaries mentioned what a sensual lover I can be- incredibly considerate of my partner's needs and desires. Of course, the opposite is also true. I can be very cruel and selfish. I can make it extremely pleasurable for myself and less so for you, as I'm sure you remember. But it's your choice Willow. If you let me love you, allow me to possess you the way your body already wants me to," with that last comment he moved a hand between her legs, lightly caressing her through the wet fabric of her panties, "then we'll both be happy." Willow shuddered against her own body's betrayal. Gritting her teeth she answered him. "I hate you. Do you understand me- I will always hate you. No matter what you do, I'll never be yours. You may possess my body- I know I can't stop you from that- but you'll never possess my heart. You'll never possess my soul." His eyes took on a strange glint, scaring Willow further. "Oh, don't worry, little girl. What I have planned for you, your soul has nothing to do with." As the implication behind his words sunk in, Willow's body grew colder. The blood churning through her veins felt like ice water. Angelus just kept on smiling, drinking in the emotions that played across her face. He reached a hand up to caress her cheek. When he continued, his tone was reassuring. "Don't worry, dear. I don't plan to turn you for a few years. I have to admit I'm addicted to the feel of your warm body beneath mine. And your blood! I know we can't keep that virgin taint for much longer, but you still have other innocent, delectable qualities to your mortal blood that I'd hate to lose so soon." Willow stared evenly into Angelus's eyes. "Do as you wish, but I will never be yours- not completely. Not even if you kill me." Willow bit her tongue, cursing herself for speaking before she thought. Angelus seemed to be considering her suggestion. Willow held her breath till he spoke again. "Of course. I'm surprised I didn't think of this earlier. How can you commit your heart to me when that pretty boy watcher you've been shacking up with is still alive. Well, that's an easy enough problem to rid ourselves of. Here." Angelus reached up to untie Willow's bonds, freeing her hands. Surprised, Willow moved to massage each wrist, eyeing Angelus warily from the corner of her eye. The dark vampire lifted himself off of Willow and tossed her a robe that had been draped across an armchair next to the bed. "Get dressed, we've got some business to take care of before we can be together." Willow stared at the silk robe in her lap as if it were a live snake. "What do you mean?" She was relieved Angelus had stopped his twisted seduction but had a feeling that what was coming wasn't much better. Angelus stood by the door, waiting for her to join him before answering. Cupping her face in his hands, he placed a quick kiss on her lips. His voice was thick with desire as he spoke. "You will love me, Willow. As much as I love you. And if the only way to ensure that is to kill that would be mortal lover of yours, so be it." Too horrified to respond, Willow allowed herself to be pulled out of the room by Angelus. She barely noticed the other rooms as Angelus led her to their destination. To Willow it was all a maze, her mind and body too numb to process any external stimulus beyond Angelus's tight grip on her hand. Willow collided with the solid wall of muscles of Angelus's back as he stopped short. Yanking her by the arm so that she emerged from behind him to stand at his side, Willow fought to keep her balance. The room they had entered was considerably darker than the rest of the house, lit only by a few sporadic candles, which threw distorted shadows on the walls. It took a few moments for Willow's vision to clear. Once it had, her heart leapt into her throat, concern and fear for Adrian's safety morphing into shock and bitter jealousy. Less than 5 feet in front of her, Adrian was tied to a plush, queen size bed. Willow could barely see him- in addition to the lighting her view was obstructed by Buffy, who sat straddling his lower body, her chest draped over his as their lips met in a passionate kiss. Willow was too enraged to even notice if Adrian was kissing her back. As she took in the juncture where their lips met, her eyes travelling down the smooth planes of Adrian's bare chest, Buffy's words from earlier came back to Willow, replaying in her mind like a broken record. In a moments time, months of growth and a strengthening of self confidence were laid to waste, transforming Willow back to the timid girl with zero self esteem she had been during her early high school years. As if forgetting who was behind her, Willow took a step backwards, leaning against Angelus for support and comfort. He noted the unconscious movement with satisfaction, pulling her closer to him as he wrapped his arms around her. Willow was too caught up in her own pain to care who was holding her. All she knew was the arms around her were strong and kept her otherwise limp body from slumping to the floor. Angelus watched his Childe with pride. She was playing her part perfectly. He'd known that all Willow needed was a voyeuristic glimpse of her love screwing his Childe to break her will. Judging by her reaction to the scene before them, it wouldn't take much more prodding on his part to truly vanquish his competition. It was all almost too easy- he couldn't help but feel disgusted at how weak willed the Watcher was. The stupid bastard had made the same mistake Angelus had been smart enough not to- he chose Buffy over Willow. He wondered if the fool even realized just what he had sacrificed in favor of the blonde bimbo. All it took was one lustful moan of Buffy's name and Willow broke down, uncontrollable sobs tearing from her throat. As she buried her face in Angelus's chest, soaking the silk of his shirt with her tears, Buffy tore her lips away from Adrian's and glanced over her shoulder at the intruders, instinctively slipping into her "Game Face." While she relaxed, dropping her defenses at the sight of her sire, her lips curled in a self-satisfied smirk, Adrian had the opposite reaction. Angelus could see him clearly now. He noticed the dilation of his pupils a physical manifestation of the drugs coursing through his system. The sound of Willow's crying combined with the sight of her pressed against Angelus was enough to snap him out of his drug-induced haze. Angelus enjoyed watching the shattering in Adrian's eyes as his mind caught up with the rest of his senses, comprehension dawning within him as he took in his surroundings and realized what had just happened. When he moaned, "Oh God, Willow, no," Angelus felt shivers of delight travel up his spine. Careful not to let his inner pleasure show, Angelus stroked Willow's hair, whispering comforting words in an attempt to get her to cease her crying. Adrian, meanwhile, was forcibly trying to remove Buffy from his lap, a task made difficult due to the incapacitation of his arms. He writhed underneath her hips, managing to knock her over with strength doubled by his near hysterical will. Distracted, Buffy fell on her side, shooting Adrian an annoyed glance before turning her attention back to the hysterical girl in her sire's arms. Placing a possessive hand on Adrian's thigh, which he immediately attempted to shake off to no avail, Buffy couldn't resist tossing off a verbal taunt. "I knew it wouldn't take him long to forget a little nothing like you. It's like I told you, Will- you're not half the woman I am." Adrian attempted a growl at Buffy's words, but the drugs had left him dehydrated, his throat producing a sound that resembled more of a kitten's growl, and the effect was lost. It took all of Angelus' will power not to laugh at his now vanquished foe. The scenario before him was causing him to consider the benefits of keeping the Watcher alive longer than he had originally planned. It might be fun to watch the spirit leave this one as he was forced to watch the woman he loved in the arms of the man he hated. Buffy's words seemed to be absorbed by Willow without question. The two vampires knew that in her mind she was expanding upon them, creating a carefully constructed picture of just how worthless she was and how little the love she and Adrian had shared had meant to him. Angelus knew Willow wasn't worthless, that the man who received her love received a gift beyond measure, but it was necessary she thought she was if he was going to break the connection between her and the man she thought she loved. He would repair her damaged ego when this was all done and he could take her somewhere more private. Then he'd show her exactly how beautiful and precious she was. Buffy had played her part, and with no more for her to do, Angelus ordered his Childe out of the room. Giving Adrian one final kiss, Buffy complied. The room was silent for a few moments as Angelus allowed the tension to build. Disgusted, he realized Adrian was crying. "Willow, please listen to me. It's not what you think. Just let me explain." Deciding to have some fun with the cliched scene being enacted, Angelus delivered his lines with enthusiasm. "Look, don't you think you've hurt her enough. Leave her alone." Staring at the vampire with unabashed hatred, Adrian struggled against the rope binding his wrists. Startled from the noise of the headboard banging against the wall, Willow let out a whimper and snuggled closer to Angelus. Realizing he was scaring Willow, Adrian kept still, but not before snarling at Angelus, "Keep your hands off of her or so help me I'll make you kiss daylight." Clutching Willow to him, Angelus made a motion as if to leave. Changing his mind, he turned back to address Adrian with one last dig. "You're not worthy of her." Adrian bowed his head in a reflection of Angelus' own earlier motion. "You're right. But neither are you." "That's where you're wrong. Me and her, we're perfect for each other. I need her in ways you never could. You know the old saying- light to my darkness, innocence to my evil. We were made for each other. Besides, if I thought for a second you'd know what to do with her, I might be worried, but you've already proven to be completely ineffectual in everything you undertake, especially loving her. You always did fail at everything you ever tried." Adrian's entire body froze, warning alarms going off in his head. "What are you talking about?" Angelus laughed, a short bark riddled with disdain. He was tired of playing games. "I mean, you were always weak- flawed; even when you were mortal. You had so much potential, but you were too busy pissing it away on women, card and liquor. You used your intellect to continue securing your reputation around town as a typical, worthless, drunken, whoring nobleman's son. What's that wonderful modern expression to describe your type? Oh that's right- you were a typical trust fund baby. And the worst part is, even as you gave in to your baser instincts you did it as an aristocrat. You never really let yourself go. Your existence added nothing to the world- till I came. I made you a better person, releasing all that potential within you, utilizing it as intended. I fulfilled every pathetic desire you had ever had but had been too spoiled, too proper, too drunk to act on. I'm twice the man you are, Angel, therefore I definitely deserve her more than you." Angelus laughed at the utter shock in his human counterparts face. The little girl in his arms didn't move or make any sort of reaction. He wondered if she even heard his revelation or if she had retreated too far into her shell. "That's right, Angel," he spoke the name as if it wasn't something to be said in polite company. "I know who you are. I've known for awhile. Once Dru started ranting about how the bad daddy was back and now there was two it didn't take me long to decipher her vision and find out the information I needed." He couldn't help snorting at Angel's total surprise. "I guess you're not as smart as you thought you were. Or perhaps I'm just smarter than you thought I was. I know how the Powers That Be gave your soul a chance to redeem itself for all the crimes I had committed by placing it within the body of this young Watcher as he was on the verge of death. I must admit, I'm a bit iffy on the details, but I imagine it went something like this: his soul out, your soul in and voila, you're human again. And let me guess, the only price you have to pay for the gift you pinned for these last 90 years is to protect the witch and murder me. Now, is it just me or does it sound like the PTB's got the raw end of that deal. I mean, I'm only one little old demon- a very destructive one, if I do say so myself- but in the grand scheme of things, still just one of many. What is it I'm doing, or will do, that is so important that the PTB's would grant you this enormous gift to stop me? You don't mind my asking do you- cause quite frankly, I'm immensely curious." Angel, furious over having his unmasking occur in this manner, to have Willow learn of his betrayal of trust from his demon, kept silent. Angel refused to give Angelus any information he could end up using to his advantage, especially when it could end up putting Willow in danger. Angelus stared into the eyes that now housed his soul, trying to draw the information he wanted out of them. He perceived Angel's protectiveness and pounced on it. "Is it the little witch? Is she the reason the PTB's sent you on your Holy Grail mission?" Angelus stared down at the frail, broken creature in his arms, the enigma of her importance unfathomable to his mind. "I will find out, Angel, one way or another. I'm sure you can imagine just how much I'll enjoy finding out." Angel ignored his demon, his heart twisting as he looked at Willow. She had stopped crying and appeared to have gone into shock. Her left arm hung limply around Angelus's waist, her right hand balled up into a fist near her face, the thumb partially encapsulated by her lips. Her eyes were unfocused, starring at some point on the far wall. She made no reaction as he called her name, desperately pleading for her to look at him. More than her hating him, Angel feared he had damaged her with his deception. Not even when she had found out about her parent's murder had Willow appeared like this. It was almost as if her body was an empty host, her mind and soul having escaped to some far away place where she could be safe from the pain of reality. Turning his attention back to his demon, Angel stated with deadly calm, "This isn't over." "No, of that you are correct. This is far from over. I'll be back to deal with you later. Right now I need some time alone with my woman. Seems I've got some damage control to do. I'll do my best to help her forget all about you and your deceptions before the nights over. Then I'll be back." With those parting words, Angelus led the catatonic Willow out of the room, leaving Adrian alone to mourn the loss of everything he held dear in the world.
Part 17 **Hey, what's the point of this Hey, what's your favorite song, maybe we could hum along Well, I think you're smart, you sweet thing Tell me your name I'm dying here Got you where I want you Got you where I want you** **"Got You Where I Want You"- The Flys** Willow remained catatonic for two straight days. She didn't move, speak, or eat the entire time. She merely laid on the bed she shared with Angelus, her eyes lifeless as they stared at some distant point. As the third night dawned with no sign of change, Angelus began to worry. While Willow was ill, Angelus was uncharacteristically kind. He spent great portions of his time with her, looking after her, waiting for her to recover. He wanted to be with her when she revived. Angelus also refused to touch Willow, intimately, while she was in this state. Instead, he waited out her recovery, relieving his tension and taking out his anger through torture. His days and nights were spent alternating between his time with Willow and his time punishing his human doppelganger. Angelus took pleasure in letting his soul think Willow was alive and well, too busy fucking him to even remember Angel or his deceptions. The motional death and physical torture he brought to his soul helped him forget his worries and take pleasure in the pure release of his demon's ultimate desire to wound the one that had kept him prisoner for a century. It was on that third night that Willow began to show signs of life beyond her continued breathing. Returning from a particularly satisfying session with Angel, Angelus made sure he washed away all traces of the blood he had helped shed, the expression on his face devoid of the cruelty that had marred it only a short while ago. Entering the room, Angelus froze at the sight of movement. Willow's head was rolling from side to side, her eyes closed with the lids fluttering. Relieved, Angelus moved to the side of the bed. Capturing her hand with his, his thumb traced reassuring circles in her palm as he murmured her name in hopes of fully rousing her. She began to mumble softly and he strained his ears in an attempt to make out her words. As he reached out a hand to her cheek, stilling her head's movement, Willow's eyelids flew open. Her eyes were trained on his face and for the first time in days she appeared to actually be starring at rather than through him. Not waiting for her to speak, Angelus leaned down to press a rather chaste kiss to her lips. "I'm glad to see you're awake. I was starting to worry, lover. I was beginning to wonder if you were ever coming back to me." She stared at him, eyes wide, an expression of utter bewilderment and confusion darkening her features. She didn't fight his kiss, nor did she react to his choice of endearments. There was an internal struggle being raged in her eyes as she fought for recognition. Angelus wondered if perhaps permanent damage had been done to her psyche. If it turned out to be a result of the drugs Buffy had given her, he'd stake the bitch without a second thought. "Willow, are you alright? Say something if you understand me." Willow shifted on the bed, lifting her slight body up so she was half sitting, half lounging against the pillows. She made a sound with her throat as if to speak, but all that came out was a strangled croaking. Handing her a glass of water he'd left on the nightstand earlier, Willow drank deeply, wincing slightly at the lukewarm temperature. Once the cup was drained, she spoke around the soreness of her throat. "I hear you…" Willow paused, grappling for a name her mind wasn't supplying. Puzzled, she went on, "… but I don't understand." Angelus frowned. "What don't you understand?" Willow paused before answering. "Well, you called me a tree before and I'm not sure why. Also, I have no idea who you are or where I am, and to be quite honest, I'm not sure who I am either. Then you kissed me and I'm not even sure if I'm supposed to be kissing you- not that it wasn't nice, but, I mean, who are you? How do I know you're not some psychotic killer who's gonna rape and murder me. Not that you seem like one, or I think you are one, cause I don't think you are. You seem familiar but… I don't know. Everything's all fuzzy. My head, it hurts." Willow raised a hand to her temple, massaging the bone beneath her skin. She realized she was babbling and wondered if it was something she did often. Angelus couldn't help but smile at his good fortune. He'd never considered the possibility of Willow repressing the emotional pain she'd suffered and thus losing her memory. The possibilities now before him seemed endless. She was virtually a blank canvas on which he could paint whatever picture of the current situation he wanted. As Angelus contemplated his course of action, Willow stared at the vampire with curious eyes. In her mind, she was seeing him for the first time, and her appraising gaze quickly turned appreciative as she took in the dark good looks of the man before her. Her breath caught in her throat as her eyes lingered on the sculpted planes of his chest, clearly visible through the window afforded by his unbuttoned top. Willow had a sudden urge to run her hands up the wall of muscles, wondering if they were as hard and solid as they looked. Angelus noticed her noticing him and chuckled darkly. "You can touch me, Willow, if you'd like. Everything I am belongs to you." Willow considered his words. "What do you mean?" Angelus smiled a sexy little grin at her. "What I mean is, you and I are lovers. More than that, we're soulmates. Everything I have, everything I am is yours, and vice versa. You're free to explore me any way you desire." Willow wondered at this bit of information. Skepticism colored her thoughts as her mind processed the idea that this beautiful man was her lover. She had no memory of him, and the idea that she could forget what should be the most important person in her life frightened her. If he was her soulmate, how could she forget him so easily, so completely? Needing more answers to fill in the holes in her mind, Willow questioned him, "Is my name Willow?" Angelus nodded. "Yes. Do you remember my name?" Willow's forehead scrunched up as she ransacked her mind, trying hard to come up with the right answer. Failing, Willow shook her head, afraid he was going to be mad. "That's okay. You have amnesia. It's not your fault you don't remember. I'm sure everything will come back to you in time. But for now, I'm Angelus." Willow's eyes lit up as a sense of familiarity swept through her at the name. A single memory penetrated the dark fog of her mind, piercing the veil between the present and the oblivion of her past. "Angel!" She burst out, happy to have remembered something, even if it was only a name. When she tried to dig deeper and connect any specific feelings or memories to the name, she found her memories blocked. Angelus's expression darkened at the name that escaped from her lips, though he fought to keep the smile on his face so he wouldn't alarm her with his reaction. "See, you haven't totally forgotten me. But I don't go by that nickname anymore. It's an old one." Willow smiled innocently, "Why not. It's such a pretty name. I like it." Angelus gritted his teeth, fighting for control. "I just don't. That name brings up bad memories." Willow was immediately repentant. "I'm sorry, I'll call you Angelus then." The smile faded from her lips as she suddenly grew shy. "So, um, we're lovers?" Angelus leaned down to kiss her again, a quick peck so he wouldn't frighten her. "That's right. We've been together for a year. Your best friend Buffy introduced us. It was love at first sight. We're even engaged." He lifted her hand up so she could see. Shrugging at the bare fingers, he explained. "You lost the ring the other night during your accident. But don't worry- I'll get you another one. All that matters is you're safe. I was afraid I had lost you for good." Angelus made his expression one of deep affection and sick fear, trying hard to impersonate the brooding looks of his souled half. Willow melted under his show of concern. "I'm sorry I scared you." She reached out to lay a reassuring hand on his arm. "I'm okay now. Nothing really hurts except my head, and that's only when I try to remember things. I don't even think I have any bruises." Willow glanced down at her body, blushing as Angelus did the same. She hadn't realized she was dressed in nothing but a loose T-shirt that fell only part way down her thighs. From what he had told her about their relationship, she was sure he'd seen her in a lot less, but since she didn't remember, it was a lot easier for her to get embarrassed now. Angelus seemed to take no notice in her discomfort over his gaze, which was openly lustful. Lying beside her so he could wrap his arms around her, Angelus whispered in her ear. "You can't imagine how much I've missed holding you like this. I feared I'd never be able to hold you again, never get to kiss you or hear your sweet voice again. The past few days have been hell on me. I want to make up for lost time, but I'd understand if you aren't ready." He added the last part as he felt her body tense as his arms tightened their hold on her. The effect was immediate. She relaxed, moving closer to his body. His arms were strong, making her feel safe and protected. The look in his eyes made her feel beautiful and desired, as well as incredibly loved. Willow tucked her head into the crook of his shoulder. "It's not that I don't want to." It was true, her body was responding to his, tingles of warmth spreading through her veins. "It's just that things are so confusing right now. There's so much I don't remember- so many blanks I need you to fill in. I want to reclaim my old life, but I'm afraid of what I don't remember. I'm sorry, but would you mind terribly if we waited awhile. Just till I know more about what's happened to me?" Angelus was the epitome of understanding, kissing Willow gently. He knew, if played right, he could press the issue and get her to submit to his every whim, but something held him back. The victory would be so much sweeter if she was the one to come to him. "Of course I don't mind. I'd do anything for you. I love you." Relieved, Willow allowed Angelus to cup her head and kiss her again, this time more passionately. They stayed that way for awhile, kissing and taking comfort in the closeness of their bodies. Inside, Angelus crowed in triumph. He was well on his way to having exactly what he wanted.
Part 18 **So I guess the fortune teller's right Should have seen just what was there and not some holy light But you crawled beneath my veins and now I don't care, I have no luck, I don't miss it all that much There's just so many things that I can't touch, I'm torn I'm all out of faith This is how I feel I'm cold and I am shamed lying naked on the floor Illusion never changed into something real I'm wide awake and I can see the perfect sky is torn You're a little late I'm already torn** **"Torn"- by Ednaswap** It was close to sunrise when Angelus finally emerged from his bedroom with a very dazed Willow in tow. It had taken him a couple of hours to recount their history for her. Every time he would reveal some other fantastical tidbit, such as how Buffy was the vampire slayer, now a vampire; that he too was a vampire and that she was an up and coming witch, he would be forced to stop and spend 20 minutes assuring her he was not playing a prank on her. He'd finally convinced her he was serious, but only after showing her his fangs, which he allowed her to explore with quivering digits. In the end, she'd accepted what he'd told her, figuring it would all make sense once she got her memory back, which Angelus maintained wouldn't take long. He promised her the best medical attention money could buy, since he was as anxious as she was to recover the lost memories. Angelus led Willow through the house, giving her the guided tour she'd missed out on earlier. Willow remained silent, absorbing where everything was located distractedly, wondering where in this labyrinthine house lay their ultimate destination. When they stopped in front of a nondescript wooden door at the end of a long, dark corridor, Willow felt her heart begin to race. Angelus paused with his hand on the knob. "Are you sure you're ready for this?" Willow bit her lip, nodding. As the door swung open, Willow held her breath, her eyes moving from the pretty blonde sitting cross-legged on the bed to settle on the figure she'd come to see. She entered the room with slow, deliberate steps, ignoring the girl she assumed was Buffy to stand before the man in the corner. His arms were raised above his head, the metal cuffs digging into his wrists, drawing blood that ran down his arms in shockingly bright rivulets. He was naked except for his jeans, which were caked with both dirt and dried blood, the original blue coloring lost. Even his night black hair was matted with his blood, causing the wavy strands to clump together. The skin of his chest was torn open, every available inch of flesh covered with wounds, some fresh and leaking drops of blood like tears, others older, their lips curling into ugly, dark scabs. Something in Willow's chest tightened at the evidence of the torture this man had endured, but she hardened her face, repeating in her mind that he deserved it. As if sensing he was being watched, Angel pried his eyes open and found himself staring into two cypress colored pools of hatred. The eyes bore into his own, stark accusation and distrust probing his heart. Angel shut his eyes, his heart clenching in agonized defeat. He'd prayed with all his soul that he'd never have to see that hatred in her eyes, directed towards him. He'd screwed up, and now they were both paying for it. Self-hatred welled up inside of him over having hurt her. >From a distance, Angel heard his demon ask, "Do you recognize him, lover?" Lover. The word went through Angel's body like a bolt of lightening. He watched as the hatred in her eyes clouded over, replaced by emotions he couldn't read. It was almost as if a veil had descended, closing him off from her. When she spoke, her voice sounded strange to Angel's ears. He wondered if perhaps Angelus had punctured one of his eardrums earlier, and then realized that it was the tone that was disturbing him. There was a detachment he'd never heard from her before. "No, there's nothing… I… I can't remember." Angel sucked in his breath, wondering what her strange words meant. He tried to form words around the pain in his chest but found it too difficult. Unable to look away from Willow's eyes, Angel was caught off guard when strong fingers tangled themselves in his hair, yanking his head upwards. The muscles in his neck screamed in agony over the mistreatment. To his disgrace, he couldn't stop himself from moaning. Angelus stared down at him. "I can see how you might not recognize him. Adrian hasn't had much beauty sleep these last few days. He's also picked up a few scars since you've last seen him. I assure you though, this is the same man." Angel forced the words out of his throat. "What kind of game are you playing?" Angelus looked at him blankly. "No game. I'm merely reintroducing Willow to the man that tried to kill her. The man that's the cause of all of her pain, including her current state of memory loss." Angel blinked, his body in too much pain to react any other way. "She's lost her memory?" Angelus nodded, making sure his back was to Willow so she wouldn't see the self adulation in his gaze or the grin meant for Angel alone. "That's right. I had to explain everything that's happened to her: how you and your Council have been trying to kill me even though they know I have a soul; how they risked the life of the slayer to accomplish it, and then, when that failed and she was turned, how they sent you to get to me through Willow. She knows everything, even if she can't remember it right now." Angelus let go of Angel's hair to take a step backwards, a single arm held to his lower chest in a mock bow. Angel fumbled for words, his mind reeling from the twisted web of lies Angelus had spun for Willow. He felt a deep rooted need to scream, as if then this surreal scene being played out would come to an end and reality would return. Desperate to set things right, he pleaded with Willow. "Will, he's lying. That's not the way things are at all." Angelus answered for her. "Why would she believe you over her soulmate, Adrian?" He took Willow's hand in his, turning it over to place a kiss on her palm. "He's not your soulmate, Willow. Don't listen to him. He's twisting everything around to suit his own purposes, to get you to turn your back on me and go with him. Listen to you heart, Willow. I know it couldn't have forgotten what we shared, no matter what's happened." Willow took a step closer to Angel. For a second, her eyes seemed on the verge of recognition, a tiny seed of familiarity that sprang up as she stared into his face. But it was gone almost as soon as it came, unable to plant roots in her memory. Her expression once again became a mask for her anger and hatred. "I am listening to my heart, and it's telling me one of the only things I remember. You lied to me. I don't know about what or when, but my heart knows you're a liar. I won't let you lie to me anymore, and I won't give you the chance to destroy me." Having said what she needed to say, Willow walked away. With one last grin, Angelus followed, calling to Buffy over his shoulder. "Make sure you don't kill him, yet. I've still got some retribution I need to doll out."
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