Raising Connor by Persephone

Chapter 1

Willow Rosenberg came to an abrupt stop just before Angel’s Office. Her green eyes widened as the conversation began to register in her mind.
“I just don’t see why we need mousy little Willow Rosenberg’s help,” Cordelia’s sarcastic voice pointed out. “It’s not like she can do magic really.”
“It’s not like I’m thrilled about it either Delia,” Angel’s voice pointed out wearily. “However, Wesley and Giles both agree that Willow is the best person for the job.”
“Well, don’t expect me to make nice or even talk to her,” Cordelia told him. “I have work to do and she’ll just be a nuisance.”
“Like I have the time to play babysitter either,” Angel gritted out. “I’ve got enough to worry about with Wolfram & Hart and Darla running around.”
“Then we’ll just have to make sure she leaves as soon as possible,” Cordelia said with smug complacency.

Willow took a step back, her bright green eyes dull and shocked. Her lily-white face was ashen as she fought back the pain. Her arms wrapped around herself as she tried to make sense of this new betrayal. Her mind raced in circles, she had been so happy when Giles and Wesley had informed her, she was needed. More and more often she was feeling left out with the old gang. Especially since her problem with Magic and Buffy’s revival, only Spike had been talking to her. Wesley had been so sure that there would be no problems with Cordelia and Angel accepting her. It seems that he had been wrong and she was now unable to stay here. What was she going to do now?

Suddenly her face hardened and her eyes flashed with a dark light. A cold smile touched her lips as she whirled around. If she were a hindrance then she would just remove herself. After all, it was obvious that Angel and his crew could handle it and the Scooby gang would never notice. Her sandal clad feet made no sound as she spun around and her long green skirt swirled around her long legs. Her slight figure hummed with determination and anger as the very air seemed to crackle around her. With nary a sound she went back into the night. She herself had no fear of the things that went bump in the night. In fact she almost felt relief at finally being free of old expectations. With a contented smile on her face, she lost herself in the darkness.

Chapter 2

Spike was as angry as he could ever remember being. His pace took him around the massive lobby of the Hyperion Hotel, his long leather duster fluttered around his legs. His long, nimble fingers shoveled through his bleach blond hair as he tried to wrap his mind around what his poof of a sire had told him. Red wasn’t here. Spike had dropped her off at the door just a couple of hours ago. He had watched her slight figure walk up the steps and into the hotel. Where could she be? Spike tried to think like the red haired witch. With a vicious frown at his sire and his little gang, Spike gave up.

“What exactly did you say, Peaches?” Spike’s voice was testy and impatient as he caught his sire’s brown-eyed gaze. For a moment Spike caught the flash of guilt and contrition in the poof’s eyes.

“Nothing that would really matter,” Angel said evasively as he looked down at Cordelia, whose eyes seemed to hold no remorse, in fact there seemed to be a smug contentment. Angel shied away from that thought. Willow had heard him. That thought kept chasing around and around in his mind. The guilt that he felt was worse than anything he had felt up till now. Even Angelus had stirred angrily within the cage when they had found out that Willow had come and gone. He glanced around at the group gathered in the lobby. Fred and Gunn were watching everyone with wide eyes. Neither of them had ever heard of Willow before, but even they knew that something was wrong.

“Obviously it had to be something that would matter,” Spike bit out as he stalked towards Angel. “Red never leaves a friend hanging.” With a mocking twist of his lips he continued, “not even if they’ve tried to kill her or kidnapped her.” With sudden move he grabbed a handful of Angel’s shirt and yanked him up. Now they were standing with their noses almost touching. Glacier blue eyes met warm brown eyes and battled. With a disgusted sound he threw Angel away from him and stalked towards the door.

“Where are you going?” Angel asked as he smoothed his black t-shirt and ran a hand through his black hair.
“I’m going to find out where Red is,” Spike bit out.
“The sun’s about to rise,” Angel pointed out tiredly. “Wait until tonight and we’ll all look.”

Spike came to a halt, his hands clenching. He didn’t want to take the poof’s advice. After all, he told himself, the poof had obviously done something to hurt Red’s feelings. Hurt her enough that she had decided the darkness in a strange city was more welcoming than staying here. But what could he do during the day? He was going to have to listen to Angel. His shoulder’s slumped slightly then straightened before turning to face Angel and his crew. “Fine,” he snapped. “But you had better have a bloody good apology for the witch or I’ll see that she turns you into a rat.”

Chapter 3

Willow stood across the street from Wolfram & Hart. The day was still new and the dampness from night still hung heavy in the air. Her red hair curled gently around her shoulders and shone brightly in the sun. A smile was touching her lips as she contemplated her latest plan. Her bright green eyes twinkled mischievously as she ran her hands over the skirt and blouse she wore. The dark blue skirt twirled invitingly around her knees and the light blue shirt skimmed over her breasts. The plan was reckless and would probably result in someone’s death. But at least this way, she could thumb her nose at everyone and remove at least one complication from Angel’s life.

As she stood there she couldn’t help but remember her one secret from when Angelus had been running free. Her friendship with Druscilla, the insane childe of Angelus, had been the one secret she had kept from all of her friends. Willow and Druscilla had met shortly after her and Spike had arrived in Sunnydale. Often Willow had spent time in the warehouse with her when Spike was off creating trouble. Willow felt a fond smile touch her lips as she thought of the insane vampire. She and Druscilla had understood each other and the loneliness that they both felt. When she had re-cursed Angel, it had been a decision between her and Druscilla. Even Druscilla knew that Angelus was insane to try to send the earth to hell.

Willow mentally shook the memories away and straightened from her position against the wall. Willow glanced quickly around before crossing the street and into the law office. As she stepped across the threshold, Willow felt a trickle of awareness pass over her skin. She knew that her arrival had not gone unnoticed. Somewhere alarms were ringing due to her magic abilities. As she crossed the huge tiled lobby, Willow kept the sweet smile on her face.

The receptionist glanced up with a welcoming smile, her face warm and inviting. Willow barely kept the shudder from racking her body as she felt the emptiness rolling off the woman. Whatever she was now was not human and it took all of Willow’s willpower to smile and not burn her into oblivion. “Can I help you, Miss?” The receptionist asked brightly.

“I’m here to speak with someone about Druscilla and Angelus,” Willow smiled brightly at her, Willow’s own tone calm and assured.
“Do you have an appointment?” The receptionist asked.
“Well, I’m not sure…” the receptionist began apologetically before Willow interrupted.
“I’m sure that Lindsey will be able to see me if you just call and ask.” Willow kept smiling cheerfully at the receptionist.
“I really don’t think so Miss. Mr. McDonald is a very busy man and doesn’t see anyone without an appointment.” The receptionist informed Willow smugly.

The smugness of the woman’s tone reminded Willow of all her ‘friends’ telling her that she couldn’t be trusted. Instantly Willow decided that she no longer had to be polite. She had come here to get Druscilla and by her goddess, she was going to walk out with her.
“Listen, I want Druscilla,” Willow told the woman firmly, the smile now gone. “And I am going to get her. Now it can be easy or I can take this building apart piece by piece.”
“I’ll call security,” the woman sputtered at Willow.
“Please do,” Willow invited with a challenging grin as she watched the receptionist reach for the telephone. “I need to work out some of my tension.”

It only took seconds for Willow to be surrounded by building security. Willow turned lazily to face them, lounging against the receptionist desk, arms stretched across the desk. Her face was alight with laughter and excitement as the first security guard approached her. Her head tilted questioningly to one side as he stopped in front of her. The security guard felt nervous about this slip of a girl. He had learned that in this job that nothing was what it seemed.

“You need to leave miss,” he told Willow firmly. Then took a step back, as Willow straightened and looked up at him from under long dark lashes. The security guard was caught up in those bright green eyes and the light shining from them.

“I’m trying to be nice,” Willow told him. “I want Dru. No more and no less. I give less than a rat’s ass about Angelus or Angel.” Willow smiled at the group. “And if I don’t get what I want, I will pull this building down around you.”

One of the guards snickered and Willow turned to face him. The smile was gone from her face as she watched him. Her green eyes held the guard captive. There was a momentarily sense of uneasiness that crawled over everyone present in the lobby. Her eyes suddenly went murkily black and her mouth twitched up in a smile. “Up,” The whispered word was barely a breath of sound and yet the effect was instantaneous. The guard who had laughed took a step back; his eyes wide and as he slowly began to rise off the floor. The guard began to panic as he shot straight up and then was dropped. His scream echoed through the reception area and stopped just before he hit the floor.

Everyone watched in silence as the he was once again settled onto the floor and then back at the red-haired girl. She was still smiling, a sweet innocent smile, and her eyes still swirled black as she met their gazes. As one the guards took a step back, their eyes wide and disbelieving as they tried to understand how one so innocent could do have that much power and what else could she do. The tableau was suddenly broken by a voice screaming out.


Chapter 4

“So where should we start?” Gunn asked as the AI gang gathered once again in the lobby. The sun had just set only moments before and now the crew was trying to figure out the best strategy.

“I don’t see why we have to find her,” Cordelia said testily. “After all she’s the one who couldn’t stand the truth.”

Spike moved before Angel could even blink. One second Cordelia was standing and the next Spike had a hand wrapped around her throat and she was dangling in the air. Her hands clawed at his and her eyes stared fearfully into his. “Listen to me you stupid bint, you would have been dead long ago if not for her.”

“Drop her,” Angel ordered as he moved next to Spike. For a moment blue eyes and brown warred. Cordelia was dropped to the floor and lay there gasping. Angel stooped for a moment and ran a considering glance over her. “Delia, are you okay?”

“No I’m not,” Cordelia snapped as she pressed a hand to her throat. She coughed harshly and gasped for breath. “I only spoke the truth.”

Spike opened his mouth only to shut it again as his cell phone rang. With a scowl he took it out. “’ello.”
Whatever he heard caused him to turn his back on the AI gang. “Gotcha, luv. I’m on my way.” With a smile he turned back to the AI gang, “no offense to you bunch but I’ve got my own lead and I’ll be following it.”

“Don’t you think one of us should go with you?” Angel asked as he straightened. Angel had a niggling sense that if he let Spike out of his sight he would never see either him or Willow again. Right now Angel couldn’t handle not seeing his red-haired witch again and apologizing to her. Angel didn’t know why it was so important to him but suddenly that meant more to him than the growing need for redemption.


Everyone turned toward the noise and watched as Wesley tripped down the stairs. His face was shell shocked and brimming with excitement. “Have you turned on the news yet?” He continued on without waiting, his words running into each other. “It’s the most amazing thing.”

“What is it Wesley?” Angel asked as he shoved his hand through his hair. He was just barely hanging onto his patience. Angelus was rattling at his cage and he was having a hard time ignoring him.

“Wolfram & Hart’s building blew up this morning,” Wesley told them as he came to a stop beside Fred. “Of course the authorities are currently stating that it was a gas leak ignited by a spark,” Wesley was explaining as he wandered over to the television.

“WHAT?” Everyone exclaimed at once. As a group they stared at Wesley as if he had suddenly announced he was a transsexual and was having a sex change operation.

“Blew up,” Wesley repeated as he snapped on the television. The television instantly filled with the picture of the smoking building. There was a huge hole in one side of it and it was starting to collapse in on itself.

“Oh, my God,” Fred breathed as she took in the destruction. There were still people milling around staring up at the building. Angel and the crew gathered around the television to listen to the announcer.

“Now Cheryl, has there been any update from the authorities about what might have caused that huge explosion this morning?”
“Not yet Charlie. The authorities are just as confused as we are, however there has been some speculation that it could be a direct result of the minor earthquake early this morning.” The woman pointed out.
“After all the epicenter was directly under this building.”
“And has there been any word on survivors?” The disembodied male voice asked.
“Actually there was no loss of life.”
“That is some good news, Cheryl.”
“Very good news, Charlie.”

Angel and his gang exchanged looks after the new switched over to other interests. Angel knew that there was something going on that he was missing. The rest of his crew was wearing shell-shocked expressions and trying to come up with an explanation. Angel suddenly realized that someone was missing.

His troublesome childe was missing.

“I can’t wait to see what Miss Rosenberg has come up with,” Wesley told the group. “Do you know that Miss Rosenberg is considered the most powerful Wiccan in the Western Hemisphere and if there is any magic involved she’ll know.” Wesley smiled at the group and rubbed his hands together. He glanced around before looking at Angel. “So where is she? Giles wants to speak with her as soon as possible.”

“She’s not here Wesley,” Angel told him. He stared into Wesley’s confused gaze and felt the guilt grow a little more. “We don’t know where she is. We were getting ready to go look for her when you showed up.” He gestured to the group. “Of course now that Spike is gone, I think we don’t have much of a chance.” Angel dragged a hand through his hair and tried to calm Angelus down.

“How can she not be here?” Wesley asked. “We had to practically beg her to even leave Sunnydale and that was only on the condition that she would remain in the Hotel.” Wesley tilted his head to one side as he watched Angel struggle to come up with an explanation.

“For goodness sake,” Cordelia broke in. “It’s not like she would have been that much of a help anyways. She was just a loser in high school and could barely do magic.” Cordelia stood up and walked towards her desk. “As far as I am concerned it’s good riddance to her and Spike both.” With a toss of her long dark hair Cordelia picked up her nail file and contemplated her nails.

Chapter 5

Spike drew his car to a stop beside the alley where Red had told him to meet her. For a moment he couldn’t see anything and then a flash of red darted towards him. From behind her two other shadows moved to keep up. The back passenger door was opened and two figures slid into the car and then the passenger door opened. Spike glanced at the red headed girl that slid onto the seat next to him. He didn’t say anything as the girl glanced at the other two passengers before turning towards him.

“Hi Spike,” Willow smiled at him brightly. For the first time since they had left Wolfram & Harts’ this morning she felt safe. Spike would understand and come with her.

“’ello Red,” Spike smiled back at her, relieved to find her safe and unharmed. “What’s the plan?”

“The plan is for you to drive,” Willow told Spike as she reached for the seatbelt. “I’m expecting a telephone call from a demon to tell me that we all have papers ready and waiting.”

“Where to?” Spike asked as he put the car in gear and pulled out into traffic. He ignored the two shadows in the back of the car. He had a pretty good idea who they were and for the moment he was content to ignore the implications.

“Out of this state,” Willow told him firmly as she turned to face him. Her green eyes glowed warmly at him as she watched him navigate the streets. “We really want to avoid everyone for the time being.” Willow smiled at him when his blue eyes turned to her.

“I was at the poof’s when you called Pet.” Spike told her as he reached for his cigarettes, needing the nicotine to calm his nerves.

“There is nothing to worry about Spike” another voice interrupted. “Angel will not find us for several years. The stars told me so.”

Chapter 6

“Willow is the most powerful Wiccan in the Western Hemisphere?” Fred questioned as she looked back toward Wesley.

“Why yes,” Wesley told them as he looked back and forth between Angel and Cordelia. “What happened and why did Miss Rosenberg leave?”

“Uh….it’s hard to explain Wes,” Angel started to explain.

“Please,” Cordelia interrupted impatiently. “None of us wanted her here and she just happened to over hear the truth,” Cordelia continued to file her nails. “Really, Wesley what kind of magic could she possible be able to do.”
“She’s strong enough to bring Buffy back to life,” Wesley told her with a sigh. “And Mr. Giles is never going to forgive any of us.”
“I really doubt that Willow is that powerful Wes,” Cordelia said with any airy wave. “Losing her isn’t really a hindrance and it will be much easier without her.”
“Actually, that means that Willow was probably the one that took out Wolfram & Hart today,” Wesley sighed. “I had better call Mr. Giles and see what he says to do.”

Wesley sighed and headed for his office telephone. For an instant he felt like he was being called back on the floor at the main office of the Watcher’s Council and being told he was fired. He knew that telling Mr. Giles that Willow was missing due to the fact that she had been treated horribly here would not be easy. After all, he and Giles had all but sworn that the Willow would be safe and welcomed at the Hyperion Hotel. For an instant he could see Willow’s face as he and Mr. Giles told her the problem.

“I’m sorry guys, but I don’t really see how my going could be beneficial.” Willow’s green eyes were haunted and shadowed as she met each of their gazes. “It means magic and we know that the simplest spells are causing me to go black,” Willow reminded them both as her hands twisted together.
“There wouldn’t be any trouble and you would be quite safe at the Hyperion Miss. Rosenberg.” Wesley smiled at her and reached out to touch her hand.
“You’re the only one with a enough power to be able to do this,” Giles told her as he cleaned his glasses. Willow looked back and forth between the two of them for long moments. Her green eyes filled with worry and indecision. Finally she nodded. “I’ll go. But only on the condition that I don’t have to leave the Hyperion and that I won’t be harassed.”
As Wesley hurried to assure her, she interrupted, “Cordelia, Angel and I have never been friends. I doubt that they have a very high opinion of me and I won’t be humiliated by them.”

Wesley had assured her then that there wouldn’t be any problems. After all, Cordelia and Angel had grown so much since coming to Los Angeles. Wesley had been sure that nothing could possibly happen. Now he wished he or Mr. Giles had accompanied her to Los Angeles. Wesley had a hunch that they would never be able to find her now. As he picked up the telephone to place his call he wished he was being fired again. Anything would be easier than telling Mr. Giles that the AI gang had chased Willow into the darkness.

Angel had moved into the office after Fred’s question. He knew without a doubt that Spike knew where Willow was and that he would never see either of them again. That was enough to bring tears to his eyes.

Chapter 7

“Which brings me to my next question pet,” Spike replied as he merged into traffic on the freeway. “Why do you have Dru and Darla with you?” He glanced over at the red-haired girl that when he had first arrived in Sunnydale he had completely discounted. Now she was the only one worth spending any time with.

Willow smiled at Spike and then glanced at the two women in the backseat. Dru was smiling at her with love and understanding. Darla’s cool blue gaze still held suspicion but buried deep under all that was affection and a need for something to hold onto. She glanced back at Spike and understood the questions in that pale blue gaze. “It’s very simple Spike. Dru and I have been friends since your very first foray into our lives.” She laughed softly at his obvious surprise and disbelief. “It’s true you know.”

“Oh yes, my Spikey.” Dru leaned forward to rest her arms on the back of the seat. “I met my Willow kitten while you were out playing with the slayer.” Dru smiled at Willow and touched her hair. “The stars told me that there would be a red tree that would be my friend and then I found her. We had so much fun together.”

“Darla has come along for the simple fact that Dru wanted her to,” Willow explained as she took one of Druscillas’ hands and placed a kiss on her palm. “With everything going on, I really didn’t have time to argue.”

“Kitten is very special,” Druscilla explained with a smile at Spike before returning her attention to Willow’s hair. Druscilla delighted in the sensation of the blood red hair running through her fingers. For her it was a familiar routine and one that brought back delightful memories of Willow being her only friend. A friend that didn’t roll her eyes when Druscilla talked about the stars or the dolls. A friend to have long tea parties with and would allow Druscilla to braid her hair. Druscilla sighed softly and began to braid Willows’ red hair being careful not to pull or tighten too much. Kitten had a headache. Druscilla began to hum softly and felt Willow relax even more into her grasp.

Willow leaned into Dru’s caress, her green eyes falling half closed. Her head was pounding with all the magic she had been doing. Contrary to popular belief, there were always consequences tied to her magic. Tara, her ex-girlfriend, had thought that Willow didn’t understand that. Unfortunately Willow had understood better than anyone else. When a Wiccan gave herself over to the dark arts there was a rule to follow. The rule of three, whatever you do in the dark arts will be visited thrice upon you. Willow had learned that a very long time ago. She still had the scars to prove it.

Willow knew she was going to pay for everything she had done at W&H. She always paid, not that anyone ever saw the consequences. They just wanted the spells. Willow sighed and let her eyes completely close, losing herself in Dru’s attentions. Her head came to rest on Spike’s shoulder and as she found herself losing to the darkness Willow felt his arm wrap around her shoulders and knew that she was home.

Chapter 8

Wesley hung up the telephone with a sigh, his blue eyes closed as he tried to decide the best way to approach the rest of the AI gang. To say that Mr. Giles was displeased would be like comparing a ruby to a piece of cheap glass. Giles was absolutely livid and had made Wesley feel like an apprentice Watcher again. Wesley winced as he remembered what Giles had promised to do with his entrails if the AI gang didn’t have a better explanation and leads on where Willow was by the time he and Xander arrived. Wesley’s’ lips quirked into a smirk, it would seem that the Ripper was still alive and well in Giles.

Wesley rubbed a weary hand over his face, trying to wrap his mind around the way everything had gone to hell in a handbag. If Willow had gone to Wolfram & Hart to help before disappearing, which Wesley strongly suspected she had done, then Willow had accomplished even more than Wesley and Giles had believed she could. How much power did that young girl have? And where was she going now?
Wesley didn’t know but he had a strong suspicion that they were all going to find out soon enough. With a sigh he pushed himself up from his chair and went to find the rest of the AI gang, Wesley needed to prepare them for Giles and Xanders’ arrival. Angel and Cordelia needed to have a better explanation than what they had given him or the two men might just kill them both.

“Guys,” Wesley called as he walked out of his office. “We need to prepare for Mr. Giles and Xander’s arrival.” He came to an abrupt stop as he realized he was the only one in the office. His brow furrowed in confusion as he wondered where everyone had gone.

Angel was currently staring up at the ruin of Wolfram & Hart. He had been determined to see if there was any type of hint about Willow or even if she had even been here. Gunn, Fred and Lorne had decided to accompany him. As Angel took in the hole in the side of the building and the destruction surrounding the scene, he came to the conclusion that Willow was as powerful as Wesley had stated. With a frown, Angel had to admit that maybe Willow was even more powerful than even Wesley knew.

It was so hard for him to believe it of the shy young girl he had met all those years ago. Even taking into consideration that Willow had grown up on the hellmouth and had been spending all of those years helping the Slayer and picking up the slack when the slayer was gone, it was amazing to see the results of that power.

“This was caused by the girl that you didn’t want to come to LA because she would a hindrance, sweet cakes?” Lorne asked as he looked up at the building.
“Yes,” Angel admitted grimly.
“I think I’m thankful she decided to go after the law firm rather than go after us,” Lorne pointed out as he watched another piece of the building break off and fall to the ground. “The fact that everyone survived is fantastic. The power and control that girl is capable of is something that I am sorry that I am never going to see.” Lorne mused before beginning to turn away.
“What do you mean?” Angel asked as he caught Lorne’s arm and pulled him around to face him.

Lorne studied Angel’s face for a long minute; debating about whether or not he should mention what he had seen the last time Angel had sung for him. At the time it didn’t make any sense, Lorne had never seen the red headed girl with the swirling black eyes before. But she had been front and center, with images flickering behind her. Now with the building smoking in front of him and the description he had been given, Lorne finally understood what the Powers That Be were warning him about.

“A few months ago, you sang for me when you first started seeing Darla,” Lorne paused and Angel nodded. “There was girl, I thought at the time it might be Darla but she was blond and this girl was red headed.” Lorne shrugged and glanced back at the building. “I didn’t think too much of it at the time, it really didn’t make any sense. The girl was in the background and there were lots of scenes flashing through my head.” Lorne took a deep breath and turned away from Angel and the still smoking building, “now standing in front of the destruction that girl caused, I finally understand what they were saying.”

Lorne’s foot kicked at a loose pebble and he looked up at the night’s sky before finishing. “They were warning me of what would happen if you rejected the girl. I very much doubt we will ever see her again and if we do, I think we might be on opposite sides.” Lorne’s fear hung heavy in the silence and no one had a reply for him.

Chapter 9

Willow watched the ground slowly disappearing beneath her as the airplane began to lift away from the ground. She scrubbed warily at her face, closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the chair. The engines revving slammed into her head and the pressure built in her ears. Her head was still pounding and her vision was coming and going. Willow felt the airplane begin to level off and breathed a sigh of relief as the engine settled into a steady thrum. Distantly she was aware that the others in the plane were beginning to move around and that Druscilla was exclaiming over the airplane. A smile touched her lips at the joy and the excitement in her friends’ voice.

She decided then that she would heal the damage to Druscilla’s mind. While Druscilla would always be a joy, she wanted to make sure that if anything ever happened to any of them that Druscilla would be able to take care of herself. A hand suddenly caught hers and Willow’s eyes snapped open. For a moment she saw only the dark swirls of magic that she had used and then with another blink of her eyes, Spike’s face came in focus. He was frowning down at her, his pale blue eyes concerned. She smiled and squeezed his hand, before bringing it up and placing a kiss on his palm, nipping at the pad of his fingers. Willow smiled as his pale blue eyes darkened and heated as desire flooded his system.

“No fair pet,” Spike complained as he dropped into the seat next to her and tugged her closer.
“What’s no fair?” Willow questioned as she snuggled her head next to his throat. Her hand began to slowly run up and down his chest.
“Pushing my buttons like that and then not following through,” Spike complained testily. His arm wrapped around her shoulders and his hand began to run through her hair, trying to massage away the headache.
“I would never do that to you Spike,” Willow protested sleepily, her eyes already beginning to drift close as she relaxed into his embrace. His arm was warm and heavy around her and his hand was soothing the pain away. Her face snuggled deeper into his throat and she pressed a kiss there before falling back asleep.

Spike gathered the sleeping woman closer, and tried to reach for the blanket just above his head. When his hand missed he bit back a curse and tried shifting a bit, Willow instantly whimpered and her hand tightened on his t-shirt. Suddenly a blanket was thrown over Willow and tucked securely around her. Spike glanced up and was surprised to see that it was Darla. His pale blue eyes met her dark blue eyes and he saw a reluctant affection in their depths.

“I would say that Willow is probably suffering from the effects of doing dark magic,” Darla said quietly as her eyes traced Willow’s face. “She used some pretty dark stuff to deal with the law firm and to get us out during the day.”
“Probably,” Spike agreed as he tucked the blanket more securely around Willow’s neck.
“She’s an unusual girl,” Darla pointed out. “I almost wish that she had caught my eye in Sunnydale. She would have made a fabulous vampire.”
“Better this way,” Spike told the other vampire. “Willow was never meant to be a vampire and I won’t allow her to be turned.” Spike met his great grandsire’s eyes squarely. “I’ll kill anyone who tries it.”

Darla met his gaze for a moment and read the truth there. She nodded and leaned back in her seat, content for the moment to watch her grandchilde and the girl sleep. Her mind turned inward and she couldn’t help but wonder how she came to be a part of this rag tag group. Ever since Wolfram & Hart had brought her back, Darla had known that something was wrong. She had felt empty, as if something had been missing. When she had first seen this young woman in the lobby, that feeling had disappeared. By now Darla was beginning to see why Druscilla and Spike were so enamored of the girl. Willow was the type of person that made everyone around her feel loved and cared for. Darla had finally found her place in the world and was now determined to protect this girl.

Chapter 10

Mid-afternoon had everyone once again in the lobby of the Hyperion. The group was struck with a slight case of déjà vu as Giles and Xander paced back and forth in front of them. The two of them had arrived just after sunrise and had yet to quit raging at the entire group. Their anger had been explosive and without mercy.

Xanders dark eyes where cold and hard as he stared at Cordelia. The vain girl was currently doing her nails, her face more amused than upset. “What’s so funny Cordelia?” Xander rasped out.

“Please Xander,” Cordelia replied archly, flicking a glance up at him. “You can’t mean to tell me that you think Willow is really that good at magic.

“No I don’t think,” Xander replied his arms crossed over his chest. “I know that she’s that powerful. I’ve seen her do it.” Xander paused and then when Cordelia did nothing but laugh, his hands grabbed her and pulled her upright. “Listen to me you stupid little bitch,” Xander spit into her face. “You are nothing more than a two bit whore and not even worth my time. But I’ve seen things that you would never believe or understand.”

“I know that Willow took on Wolfram & Hart,” Xander bit out, his glare intensifying as he stared into her startled brown eyes. “Because I know that she would never allow for a death.” Xander shoved Cordelia into her chair and stepped away from her. Xander whirled around quickly and confronted Angel, “And you, Willow gave you back your soul and this is how you thank her?”

“Xander,” Angel broke in gently. “It’s no good to yell at each other right now.” His voice was weary and his eyes tortured. “We can only try and find out where she went.”

“I think that is going to be quite impossible,” Giles interjected as he rubbed tiredly at his eyes. “Willow knows more about hiding and keeping herself concealed than any of us.” He sighed softly and looked around the room. “If she doesn’t want to be found, we are not going to find her.”

“Giles,” Xander protested as he moved towards the older gentleman. “You can’t be serious.”

“I’m afraid that I am Xander,” Giles replied as he waved around the lobby. “Look around you. These people put the last nail in Willow’s coffin. The final betrayal.” Giles shoulders slumped slightly. “Why would Willow come back to the group of people that caused her this much pain.”

“But…” Xanders eyes filled with guilt and tears. “Where would she go?”

“Where ever she is she has Druscilla, Darla and I believe Spike with her,” a new voice interrupted.

Everyone turned to look at the young man in the suit making his way down the stairs. The man moved slowly down the stairs, clutching a briefcase in his hand. He seemed oblivious to the way that the AI gang scrambled up and began to reach for weapons.

“None of that is necessary,” he protested and held up both hands. “I’m just here to deliver a contract.”
“What do you want Lindsey?” Angel gritted out.
“Just what I said,” Lindsey told them as he placed the briefcase on the desk and moved to open it.
“I don’t think so,” Angel protested and slammed a hand down on the briefcase.
“Now was that necessary?” Lindsey chided as looked at Angel. His expression was calm and non-threatening. “I’m completing the contract between Willow Rosenberg and Wolfram and Hart.
“Willow? What about her?” Angel asked suspiciously.
“She came to see us yesterday,” Lindsay continued, his eyes meeting Angel’s. “Willow is a very powerful young lady. Needless to say, we tried to brush her off but Miss. Rosenberg was quite insistent.”
“What’s that have to do with us?” Wesley asked.
“It’s very simple,” Lindsey told them as he brushed Angel’s hand off of his briefcase. “Miss. Rosenberg came to collect Dru. She also came to discuss the possibility of us leaving Angel alone.” Lindsey looked up and smiled at them, “Of course the senior partners laughed. Miss. Rosenberg let them laugh and then destroyed everything. She left behind this,” Lindsey held up the contract and tossed it onto the desk. “We’ve already signed it and the moment you do the contract becomes binding. The spell she put on the senior partners will disappear and everyone goes home happy.”
“You’re kidding me right?” Gunn asked in disbelief. “You’re telling me that a little girl has you guys running?” He looked at Angel, “I don’t buy it man. After all of this they are going to back off because of a witch?”
“Ordinarily I would agree but Miss. Rosenberg is anything but an ordinary witch.” Lindsay paused and looked at them, “whatever spell she used on the senior partners we can’t touch. They are trapped in something and none of our witches or warlocks can even touch. Every time one of them tries, it backfires and completely shorts them out. No more magic for them. ” He shrugged and looked around at all of them again. “I’ll leave the contract here for you to look over and I’ll leave you this,” Lindsey held up a videotape and then placed it carefully on the desk. “This is the tape from the security camera. It’ll answer any of your questions.” He closed up his briefcase and picked it up. “Have a good day.”

Everyone remained silent until his had left. They looked at each other in confusion and caution before Angel reached for the tape and Wesley picked up the contract. Angel moved away from the group and headed for the television, with a quick movement the tape was in and a picture appeared on the screen.

Chapter 11

“Mum!” A familiar female voice rang out in the lobby.
“Princess,” Willow smiled and held out her arms. Instantly Druscilla was slipping into them and holding her tightly.
“I’ve missed you so,” Druscilla told her, snuggling her face into Willow’s neck. “But Miss Edith told me that if we came to change Grandmum then we would get you back.”
“Really?” Willow questioned, enjoying having Druscilla back with her.
“Oh yes!” Druscilla drew back and caught Willow’s hands in hers. “Miss Edith promised me that we would be together for years and years without any pesky slayer to bother us or that nasty Angel.”

Willow smiled and brushed Druscilla’s hair back from her face and tucked it behind her ear. Her eyes still black as they met Druscilla’s brown eyes. She couldn’t help but enjoy Druscilla’s delight in seeing her again. A part of her had died with Druscilla’s departure.

“Mum?” Druscilla questioned after a minute.
“What is it Princess?”
“Why are you all black?” Druscilla leaned close and took a deep breath. “Smell all evil like and dark you do.”
“Black magic,” Willow replied easily.
“Goody!” Druscilla clapped her hands excitedly. “We’ll have so much fun together. You, me and grandmum/daughter.”
“Wait,” Willow held up a cautioning hand. “You want to bring Darla with us?”
“Of course.”
“I don’t know Dru,” Willow replied hesitantly. “They may let me take you but Darla? The one that they figure can bring back Angelus? I don’t think so.”
“It’ll be fine Mum. Trust me.”
“Always,” Willow replied and drew Druscilla close again.
“So this is the little witch that you’ve been talking about,” a female voice drawled from behind Druscilla.

Willow watched as Darla approached them, her blond hair falling in a shimmering wave to her shoulders. A smirk twisted her lips and her blue eyes were hard as they met Willow’s black gaze. Hate filled Willow for a moment and she had to control her magic from striking out. Willow had never forgiven Darla about Jesse and seeing her again brought all that pain to the surface. Fear flashed across Darla’s face before she regained control and started smirking again.

“I don’t see how this little girl is going to help us,” Darla continued contemptuously.
“Wait and see grandmum/daughter. You’ll be so surprised,” Druscilla told her with a smile. She turned and held out a hand for Darla to draw her close to them. “Mum is so very powerful. She can be quite wicked at times.”
“This girl?” Darla laughed in amusement. “I just don’t think so Druscilla. I think you’ve been spending too much time talking to your doll.”

Willow didn’t even blink as she struck Darla. Her hand caught Darla across the mouth and Darla went flying across the lobby. Willow pressed a kiss to Druscilla’s cheek before walking across the room to Darla. Darla watched her approach, a hand rising to wipe the blood from her lip. The red hair was slowly disappearing beneath black as Willow kneeled down in front of Darla. There was a mocking twist to Willow’s lips as she caught Darla’s hand in her own. She pulled Darla’s hand towards her and then licked the blood from Darla’s hand.

“Don’t ever speak to or about Dru like that again. Next time I’ll kill you.” Willow’s voice was a breath of sound against Darla’s cheek.

Darla almost snorted again but the swirling blackness of Willow’s eyes gave her pause. Distantly Darla could remember the young girl that had been in Sunnydale but this woman was nothing like that innocent girl. Evil swirled around her figure, clinging to her and yet there was innocence underneath all of that. A movement behind Willow caught Darla’s attention and she watched as Dru knelt down behind Willow and wrapped an arm around her waist. Dru rested her head on top of Willow’s shoulder and contemplated Darla with calm dark brown eyes. Darla was struck by how sane Dru looked it was almost as if Willow had a calming effect on her.

“Well?” Willow drawled calmly, her voice offhanded and relaxed. “Do you understand me?”

“Yes Willow,” Darla agreed. Her blue eyes were calm and collected as she met that swirling black gaze. “I understand you completely.”
“Oh goody!” Dru exclaimed. “It would be most difficult if you kept pressing Mummy. She would have to make you scream so.”

Willow smiled and relaxed back against Dru, simply listening to her rambling in her ear was calming and comforting. Even if the rest of the world turned against her, she would always have Dru. Willow was surprised to see a flash of longing in Darla’s eyes as Dru continued to hug her close. Without hesitating Willow offered Darla her hand. Darla paused for a moment considering before taking it and allowing Willow to pull her into the embrace. Dru’s other hand wrapped around Darla’s arm and Willow’s slid around her waist.

Darla found herself pressed against Willow’s breast, listening to the heartbeat that suddenly resounded in her head. It drowned out all other sound and Darla could feel herself calming down. It was like coming home again. The emptiness that had been plaguing her since her return left, leaving behind only serenity.

“Please Mum,” Dru begged again, her lips turning down into a pout.
“Now don’t pout Princess,” Willow chided. “I just don’t think that this is the right time to do that.”
“But I want to do it now!” Dru protested.
“Dru…” Willow’s voice trailed off as another voice broke in.
“Miss. Rosenberg?”

Willow’s head turned and watched as a young man was approaching across the library. Everything about his appearance shouted that he was a young up and coming lawyer. The dark blue suit with the power tie to the carefully groomed hair and the practiced smile all oozed snake oil charm. If Willow had seen him on the street she would have been tempted to give him a second glance. Instead she sighed and stood to meet him. She concentrated on him for moment and received conflicting impressions. Everything was normal until she got to his left hand and that didn’t seem to be his hand.

“Yes,” Willow replied coolly. Her hands stayed at her side despite the fact that the man offered his hand to her.
“You’re Lindsay McDonald,” Willow broke in. “I know.”
“Call me Lindsay,” he invited without a smile. He didn’t show how curious he was about this slip of a girl. There was nothing in their files on Angel or Buffy that even mentioned a Willow Rosenberg. And the partners had been very through in their search for the important figures.
“Let me guess…” Willow mused, “you have absolutely nothing on me right? Can’t figure out where I might fit in.” Lindsay started in surprise and opened his mouth. “Don’t worry about it,” Willow shrugged and offered her hand to Dru and then Darla. “I wasn’t that important anyway. Just ask Angel. The reason I am here is to get Dru and Darla.”
“Why don’t we go upstairs and discuss it,” Lindsay invited and then led the way to the elevators. “You do realize that the senior partners want Angelus very badly,” he explained as he led them into a conference room.
“I know,” Willow replied as she settled herself into one of the black leather chairs surrounding the long black table. A huge video screen filled up the wall at the front of the table. “If you guys think you can break Angelus free of the chains I put him in then have it. But don’t think that you are going to succeed.”
“That you put him in?” Lindsay smothered laugh and looked at the girl again. She had released her magic and was once again the red headed, green-eyed girl that had walked in. “You don’t think we are going to believe that you cursed Angel.”
“I don’t care what you believe,” Willow waved off the challenging words. “It doesn’t matter to me. What matters is Dru,” she leaned forward and rapped on the desk. “And because she won’t leave without Darla, Darla matters too.”
“What makes you think that we are going to give into your demands?” A new voice rasped.

Willow turned to look at the video screen that was now filled with a dark room with the figures in shadow. Her lips turned up and then she looked back at Lindsay, “In person or I don’t talk at all.”
“Miss. Rosenberg,” Lindsay started to protest only to be halted by the voice again interrupting.
“Consider it done Miss. Rosenberg.” There was a flash of light and then the seats to the table were completely filled. Willow smiled at the demon now sitting in the head chair but she noticed that Lindsay jumped a little before visibly getting control.
“So what exactly do you want?” A woman’s voice asked demandingly.
“I told you Dru and Darla. If you want to keep chasing your tails trying to get Angelus free, go right ahead. It won’t work.”
“You are saying that you cursed Angelus with his soul,” Lilah’s voice was disbelieving and her eyes mocking as they slipped over her.
“Yes,” Willow nodded her head, hands clenching in her lap. She bit back the need to strike out at the disbelieving faces in front of her. It was pushing too many buttons and reminding her of how her supposed friends had treated her. She wished that she had managed to find Spike before he had gotten to the Hyperion Hotel last night. She could use his support right about now.
“A gypsy cursed him,” Lilah continued.
“The first time yes,” Willow agreed. “Don’t you guys do research? How exactly do you think he got back the soul after losing it the first time?”
“Angel got his soul from the gypsies again. They were in town.”
“They may have been in town but they weren’t able to curse him again,” Willow’s eyes met the senior partners eyes.
“What if we decide that you have to stay here?” One of them challenged, “If you did curse Angelus then it would be in our best interest for you to remain here with us. So we can conduct….tests.” The man finished after a long pause before the final word.
“Then I would have to say that instead of taking Dru and Darla and walking away, you’ll sign a contract that you won’t go anywhere near Angel or anyone he cares about,” Willow replied calmly and turned her eyes to him. The green had disappeared beneath a swirling black mass. “And it will be completely binding. No way around it.”

Everyone in the room began to laugh. Darla shifted slightly but her attention was fixed on Dru and the fear that was slowly spreading across her face. Suddenly the building began to shake but Darla’s attention was fixed on Willow. The red hair was as black as night and a smirk were twisting her lips.
“You really don’t have a choice at this point in time. I am quickly losing my patience. So you either sign the damn contract or I will lock all of you up so tightly nothing will ever get you lose.”
“You don’t expect us to believe that you can do that?” The senior partner challenged, trying to ignore the way the building was crumbing around them.
“Why don’t I prove it?” Willow asked with a wicked smile. She gestured with her hands and suddenly a huge wall of blackness consumed everyone but her, Darla, Dru and Lindsay. Immediately screams began to come from the black mass. She turned towards Lindsay. “I didn’t throw you in there with them because I need someone to be able to do what I want.” She leaned across the table, ignoring the ceiling debris landing on it. A sheaf of papers suddenly appeared in front of him and a strange red ink began to inch its way across the paper. “That is the contract that you need to have signed. And you need to have Angel sign it. The moment you do that the spell holding them will disappear and the contract will become binding. If you ever attempt to break it, the spell will immediately come back.”
“How do I know you’ll keep your word?” Lindsay asked after a moment, not touching the contract that was now in black ink and read like a binding legal document.
“Because I am not you,” Willow responded. “I keep my word.”
“And how does this work?”
“The contract must be signed in blood and after that as long as you are good little boys and girls nothing will happen to you. If you dare to break the contract then the spell comes back into effect. And in case your thinking that my being alive has anything to do with it, don’t. Even if I’m dead the contract is in effect.”
“It’s written in my blood. So my power, my magic, my soul and everything is all wrapped up in that bit of paper. It can never be destroyed, never corrupted and will continue to function for as long as Angel is alive.” Willow shrugged and stood up; the building was slowly collapsing around her. She could now hear the screams of people as they tried to get out. “I would be leaving soon or the contract is a moot point anyway.” With that she took Darla and Dru’s hands and guided them over to where the wall had started to cave in and the sun was spilling in.
“Willow the sun…” Darla started only to stop as Willow held her wrist against Darla’s lips.
“Drink,” Willow commanded. Darla glanced at Dru only to find Dru’s fangs sinking into Willow’s wrist. With a shrug Darla let her fangs elongate and pierce her skin. As Willow’s blood flowed down her throat, Darla bit back a moan of ecstasy.

Willow began to chant only distantly aware of the two vampires still drinking her blood. It was a necessary evil to make this spell work. As soon as the spell went into effect she pulled her wrists away and grabbed the two vampire’s hands. She walked to the hole in the wall and then stepped out into open air. For a second the three of them began to fall and then Willow was reaching out with her magic and they floated gently to the alley below.

She didn’t give them time to think about the fact they were out in the sun. She pulled them along after her and sent one last spell into the ground beneath the building. Instantly the ground began to shake and buckle, the building was falling down behind her. Willow didn’t pause to look, focused only on finding a place to wait for nightfall. Then she would call Spike to come get them. If the senior partners were intelligent they would sign the contract, if they weren’t then Willow had still removed one of Angel’s problems.

Chapter 12

Silence filled the lobby for a long moment. The images from the security camera had been shocking and a blow to all of them. After the way they had treated Willow she had still put them first.

“She really is that powerful?” Cordelia’s shocked and fearful voice shook everyone from their contemplation.
“We told you that she was,” Wesley pointed out.
“But I didn’t think…” Cordelia’s voice trailed off and she turned frightened eyes to Angel. “What if she takes it personally? What if she decides to get revenge against me?”
“What makes you think you are worth the time?” Xander’s voice was cool and calm as he glared at her.
“I can honestly say that Willow has never given a damn about you Cordelia.”
“Shut up!” Cordelia hissed at him and grabbed at Angel’s arm. Her nails dug into his arm through the fabric of his dark shirt. “You have to protect me!”

Angel stood up slowly and moved away from all of them. He ignored Cordelia’s shrill voice and the argument that broke out behind him. Instead he closed his eyes and pictured Willow in front of him. He had always blamed the demon for when he had hurt someone, but now he had no one to blame but himself. The girl had done too much for him over the years for him to treat her like this.

“We’re never going to see her again are we?” Angel finally asked.
“No,” Lorne replied. “You’re best bet is to sign the contract and honor her last gift to you.”
“I know.”

Willow shifted lightly in the airplane, her connection to the contract finally sealing into place. A smile touched her lips as she realized that Angel had signed the contract. Good. At least he had accepted her final gift to him. Spike’s arm tightened around her and she snuggled back into his chest, her nose breathing in his scent. He always smelled of cigarettes, alcohol and the rain. His hand ran through her hair and he began to hum under his breath, Willow let her eyes close again and drifted off to sleep.

15 years later

Willow stood in the rain and wondered how she had come this far. The house was silent this early in the afternoon, most of its occupants sleeping through the day. When she had first left the US she had not thought that she was going to be doing something like this. But when you live with a bunch of vampires and seem to attract others, you find yourself doing something you ordinarily wouldn’t do.

She turned away from the brilliant flash of lightening and the loud rumble of thunder. She left her room, shutting the large oak double doors behind her. Her bedroom was in the tower of the castle, her childer deciding that they wanted her room to be the most protected. As Willow had discovered that while she was Master and Sire there were a few things that they wouldn’t let her control. Her safety was one of them.

She headed down the long stone corridor; there were huge stained glass windows on either side before she reached the stone staircase. It was dark save for the lit lanterns that lined the wall, while Willow could have switched those to electricity; she felt that the burning lanterns were better. Most of the occupants of the house were more comfortable with the shadows.

She passed multiple other floors and ignored the moaning coming from most of the rooms. What good was having 10 feet thick walls when most of the residents didn’t need to breathe? She often complained and always received smiles and chuckles, along with the inevitable invitations. She soon found herself on the bottom floor. She walked from a tucked away entrance and made her way across the huge stone foyer.

Thunder and lightening continued to shake the castle and light through the stained glass windows. She paid no attention as she made her way towards her office. Her secretary looked up and smiled as she entered. The young man looked no older than 25 and had a reassuring presence in the office. His desk was always spotless and yet everything managed to get done on time and perfectly. Of course he had been doing it for over 250 years so Willow supposed he would be good at it.

At one time Frances had been a monk in France, he had been one of the scribes of the bible. His pictures and calligraphy were perfect. He spoke about 10 languages and could converse comfortably in 15. He knew how to deal with ruffled feathers and he never blinked an eye. Willow counted herself lucky that he had been one of the vampires that had just shown up. While the others in the house were perfect for their occupations, Willow had needed help with the business end of things. Frances had walked in and immediately started to help her get organize.

“Anything I need to worry about?” Willow asked as she paused by his desk for her messages.
“The President of the United States has been calling every hour,” Frances replied smoothly and stood to follow her into her office.
“What does she want?” Willow asked as she settled behind her huge mahogany desk. She had felt that is was too much when Spike had first bought it for her, but he had insisted that when you play this game the more powerful and intimidating you appear, the more people will listen. He had been right.
“She doesn’t say beyond it is extremely important that you call her,” Frances replied as he settled into one of the chairs in front of her desk.

Willow didn’t say anything as she continued to flip through her messages. She spotted several from local Master Vampires and a couple from the business in town. She held up on and an eyebrow flicked upwards in question.

“Apparently Michael and the others got a little over zealous in their celebration last night,” Frances admitted with a small smile.
“Hmm,” Willow shook her head slightly and sighed. “Did anyone die?”
“No but one of the girls got claimed,” Frances admitted.
“What?” Willow stared at Frances in shock. “They aren’t allowed to do that.”
“I know but it appears that Fiona was quite willing,” Frances told her calmly, dark eyes firmly fixed on her green ones.
“Not Fiona again,” Willow moaned and collapsed back into her chair. “That girl is the bloody village bicycle.”

Frances said nothing, simply waited for Willow to make her decision. For long moments, silence reigned in the office as Willow’s eyes fixed on the ceiling above her. “Whom was she claimed by?”
“The newbie?”
“Well that make things a little easier,” Willow mused.
“Yes Mistress,” Frances agreed and continued to watch the girl.
“What type of claim?”
“The claim was nothing permanent. At least not with you,” Frances admitted as he smiled at her.
“That’s good,” Willow returned the smile and motioned him out of her office. “Have them report to me when they get motivated. We’ll fix this and send her home.”
“She’s not going to be happy,” Frances observed as he began to leave the office.
“She hasn’t been happy since the day that Spike turned her down and it became obvious that the males here lived for my whim,” Willow told him dryly. “So I wouldn’t worry too much.”
“Yes Sire,” Frances bowed slightly and left the room.

Willow laughed as she watched him leave. After 10 years it was still strange to be referred to as Sire. She wondered how a human could be considered the most powerful Master Vampire in the world with over 2,000 vampires and demons calling her sire. Most of them were Angelus childer or of his family line. The others had just started to arrive after Willow started up the business. That thought brought Willow back to the message from the President of the United States. She needed to call and see what the President needed.

Willow picked up the telephone and when Frances picked up the other end instructed him to get the President on the secured line. With his acceptance the receiver dropped back onto the cradle and she turned to the paper work waiting for her signature. Ten minutes later Frances buzzed her to let her know that the President was on the line.

“Hello Sheila,” Willow greeted as she picked up the receiver.
“Hello Willow,” Sheila’s voice flowed commandingly down the line. It reminded Willow of a river, powerful and commanding and yet flowing gently over your ears. “It’s kind of you to return my phone call.”
“It is always an honor to hear from you,” Willow murmured in return, barely suppressing the urge to roll her eyes at the kiss up going on.
“You are too kind,” Sheila replied smoothly.
“What can I do for you today?” Willow asked after a couple more minutes of pleasantry.
“I need….help,” Sheila spoke hesitantly and softly.
“Ah I see,” Willow responded. “Please tell me who and when?”
“Lieutenant Sheryl Howard,” Sheila responded carefully.
“Why?” Willow asked.
“Some sensitive information is getting out,” Sheila told her calmly. “And unfortunately it could do more damage if we simply restrained her.”
“Of course,” Willow agreed. “Do you have a preference on when and where?”
“It will be your choice of course. I trust you implicitly.” Relief evident in her voice at Willow’s agreement, “we would prefer it to be as soon as possible.”
“It can be easily done. Fax me the particulars and I will choose the best suited for the job,” Willow told her.
“Fax is on its way,” Sheila replied and hung up the telephone.

Willow slowly returned the receiver to the cradle, her mind curiously calm for what had just transpired. When did it become normal to discuss someone’s death? Willow wondered idly to herself. At time it was hard to believe that she of all people was a mob boss of a bunch of vampires, who were basically assassins. As Willow sat there with her favorite green pen clutched in her hand, she remembered how this had all started.

It was raining again, Willow noted as she came down the stairs. Conner had been fusing for most of the day. Willow was pretty sure that he was teething again but that didn’t make it any easier when his wail climbed towards the ceiling again. Luckily it was late enough that most of the vampires were out and about this evening

Willow rocked Conner back and forth, humming a soothing melody as she walked towards the kitchen. The dark green carpet absorbed the sound of her footsteps and lightening let the way. She passed through the doorway and hit the light switch. Light flooded the huge kitchen, gleaming white tiles and marble countertops became visible. Willow moved over to the huge refrigerator and pulled open the door, ignoring the bottles filled with blood and the covered dishes that she didn’t want to know about. She pulled out the bottles that she had prepared earlier and closed the door with a quick movement of her hip.

Conner was still screaming, his face red with exertion, hands and feet pounding against her. At just over 7 months, he was a very strong baby. Willow cuddled him closer, pressing a kiss against the dark hair covering his head. A new scream rose from him as Willow twisted the top of the bottle off and stuck it in the microwave. Willow pushed the preset button and waited for the bottle to warm.

At times like these, Willow regretted the fact that Conner hated his pacifier. She brushed her tumbled red hair back from her face. It was getting kinda long, almost to her mid back and she was really considering getting it cut. Dru and Spike probably wouldn’t like it but they didn’t have to live with the headaches. Her t shirt brushed against the tops of her thighs as she reached across the counter and grabbed a glass from the cupboard.

Conner grabbed a strand of hair and tugged; Willow bit back a curse and gently pried his hand from her hair. The microwave dinged and Willow rushed to get the bottle. In seconds she had the nipple back on the bottle and was heading for the living room. She turned the light off and gave her eyes a few seconds to adjust to the darkness before moving down the hallway. She didn’t bother to turn on lights as she moved across the living room to the rocking chair in the corner that faced the window. Rain was pouring down and thunder was beating its rhythm through the sky.

She settled into the chair with a soft sigh and moved Conner around until he was tucked against her body. He was still screaming, his face red and tears tracking down his face. With a practiced move she caught his waving hand and placed the nipple into his mouth. Instantly, his hand curled around the bottle and he was sucking greedily. Pulling the blanket around him, Willow relaxed back into the chair as she started to rock.

“Wills?” A male voice breathed as a figured slipped into the room.
“Hey,” Willow whispered as Sean made his way across the living room to her. His blond hair was plastered to his head and clothes were dripping as he dodged around the couch to crouch in front of her.
“You look wet,” Willow teased with a grin.
“Yeah,” Sean agreed and looked down at the ground.

Willow’s eyes narrowed as he avoided her gaze and shifted uncomfortable in front of her. This wasn’t normal for Sean, the youngest of the childer and the only one who could claim that Angel was his sire. Willow began to look for little details, the tumbled clothing, a bruise on his cheek and a slight drop of blood on the neck of his t shirt.

“What happened?” Willow asked, still rocking Conner. Sean looked up at her and then down at Conner, a finger tracing his features before meeting Willow’s green gaze again.
“I did something stupid,” Sean finally admitted.
“I figured that out,” Willow told him. Conner finished the bottle and Willow placed it on the end table next to her. Conner snuggled against her, sleeping peacefully as she continued to rock. “The question is how stupid and what did you do?”
“I took money for killing someone,” Sean admitted. His eyes closed and he tensed as he waited for the explosion.
“You did what?!” Willow whispered as she stared at him dumbfounded.
“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” Sean told her sheepishly.
“I bet it did,” Willow replied and shook her head at him. “You know that we are doing our best to keep a low profile. No killings, feedings only in certain areas and nothing that can be traced back to us.”
“I know Willow,” Sean admitted. “But it was so easy.”
“Uh-huh.” Willow glared at the vampire. “Anyway it can be traced back to us?”
“Fine. Let me think about this. You go get changed before you get sick,” Willow told him.

Sean smiled at her and stood up, pressing a kiss to her forehead. “Thanks Mom.” Willow watched him go with an amused smile on her face. To think that a year ago the thought of killing someone would have been repulsive but when you live with 25 vampires, your thinking changed rapidly. How she had become the leader of this little band she hadn’t figured out yet.

As she continued to rock, Willow considered what Sean had told her. And slowly a plan began to form in her mind. It was definitely off the wall but when you considered the fact that she lived in a house filled with killers it made perfect sense. Willow even knew whom to call about getting started. A smile began to spread across her face and she looked down at Conner, “Mommy has got a plan to keep all your aunts and uncles busy.”


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