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...Willow's music still haunting his heart...

TITLE: Music in the Night
AUTHOR: Annanara / (Yes, there is an "n" missing in my addy
DISTRIBUTION: Ask permission first, please.
SUMMARY: Willow gets some visitors one summer night.  First story in a small
DISCLAIMER:  I don't own any of the BtVS chracter, but Joss Whedon and the WB
do.  And they are doing a mighty fine job too!

Music in the Night
by Annanara

Angel walked down the street past Buffy's house. Normally, he would have checked in on her, but the house was empty. He knew he would miss Buffy when she was away, but not that it'd be this hard. She had gone on a trip with her mother for the summer and with things quiet, he was missing her company. He continued to walk around Sunnydale, making sure everything was quiet. He walked past the house of one Xander Harris and heard the faint sounds of country music. He didn't exactly dislike Xander. He respected the kid, especially after the defeat of the Master. However, Xander's love for Buffy made him a bit jealous at time. If Angel added the fact that he and Buffy had decided that they could never truly be a couple and that they couldn't stop the feelings each of them had, it was the most painful thing he had ever experienced. Unrequited love, he though, it was harsh. He continued his night walk, feeling a bit lonely. But then, that was a feeling that he should be familiar with by now. He was so intent on his thoughts that he was startled when he heard a bittersweet piano playing softly in the night. He followed the sound to the Rosenberg house. The music drew him, tugged at something inside him. He approached the house and looked through a window, what he saw surprised him. Willow sat at the piano. Her face was sad, reflecting the music she was playing. He continued watching and listening. The music contained the sadness and hope he had for his relationship with Buffy. It felt as if the music was slowly wrapping itself around him. He could feel every emotion the song held. He was surprised when the music stopped abruptly. He looked back into the house and saw Willow staring at him through the open window. She had a slightly sad smile on her face as she said, "You look like you could use some company. Come on in." Angel nodded and went to her front door. She opened it and he just stood there. "Willow...I didn't mean to interrupt your music..." Willow tried putting on her best smile, but it didn't quite make it. "Don't worry. You can listen to me play if you like. I...uh...guess I could use the company. Without Buffy around, things have been a little lonely." She led him to the room she was playing at and motioned for him to sit. She started playing softly again, this time something new. "What about Xander?" Angel asked. Willow stopped abruptly again, then continued playing. "He doesn't come around much anymore...," was all she said. Angel decided it was best if he didn't say anything more, lest he say something he would regret later. He just listened. The song she was playing was again sad and dark. Bittersweet. He didn't recognize the piece. "Willow, who wrote this?" he asked softly. He suspected he knew the answer, but wanted to be sure it just wasn't some obscure piece. "I wrote it. Am writing it...does it even really matter?" Willow said, equally soft. "You're the only person to ever hear parents don't even hear my playing," she said quietly. Then in a quieter voice added, "not even Xander..." But Angel heard and the music suddenly became sadder. He realized what it was she was playing; she was playing straight from her heart, what was in his own heart. He didn't know whether to laugh or cry that someone else knew the pain he felt. Angel knew Willow was in love with Xander and he didn't know it and never returned it. Xander was in love with Buffy and she knew it but couldn't return it. Buffy loved him and he loved her, but it just wouldn't work. He sighed and mumbled, "Maybe Buffy would be better off with him." Willow stopped her playing and stared at Angel. He could see the tears yet to be shed in her eyes. She had heard him. She turned away from him and put her head down on the piano. He got up from his seat and sat next to her on the piano bench. He pulled her into an embrace and tried to soothe her as she cried. After a few moments she jerked herself away and turned back to the piano. She started to play with a ferocity that surprised him. He looked into her eyes and saw sadness, anger, and something else he couldn't place, reflecting back. Something in her snapped. She played a fast and angry tune, one that matched her rising temper. He could hear her talking under her breath, "Stupid, stupid, stupid. How could I still like Xander when he's mooning over Buffy still. I should just give up on him and save myself the trouble. He's an inconsiderate, teasing whelp, I could just kill him. Since when did I become his doormat?! Never coming by anymore. Forgotten. It's always Buffy this, Buffy that, Buffy, Buffy, Buffy!" The last she punctuated by pounding the piano keys. She stopped, took a small breath, and started playing that sad tune again. However much she tried to stay angry, to feel something besides the pain he was now causing her, she couldn't. She loved him too much. She would always forgive him, she would always want him around, she would always consider him a friend. She was trapped. Angel felt a tear fall, then another. He quickly wiped it away. He felt Willow's pain and it matched his own perfectly. Willow was a nice girl, and she deserved someone better than Xander. He was about to tell her that when he noticed Xander staring at them from the doorway of the room. Willow continued to play, oblivious to her friend. "Buffy's gone so you thought you'd go after Willow, huh?" Xander said, sounding somewhat disgusted. Willow looked up and saw Xander. Anger flared in her eyes. "Xander, you know that's not true! Besides, I invited him in," Willow said angrily, daring Xander to say something smart. She got up from the piano and went to her friend. "What brings you over here? And what makes you think you can just walk in?! Besides, I thought you'd be at home, thinking about Buffy," she asked coldly. Xander was completely taken by surprise at this sudden change in his best friend. Sure, she had a right to be angry, he had been neglecting her lately, but he didn't see why she would be so upset. Suddenly feeling a little ashamed he said, "I...uh...I wanted to see if you wanted to hang at the Bronze tonight. I know we haven't done anything for a while..." "Hmpf, yah, like since Buffy left," she mumbled. Angel watched Willow's face soften, then saw the return of the cold determination in her eyes. He was worried. Willow was ready to completely lose it tonight. Xander stood completely clueless as he watched Willow pace like a cage animal, mumbling, "Now, why do I feel like a doormat..." Angel approached Xander and whispered, "I think we better go, Xander. She is -not- in a good mood, especially with you." Xander glared at Angel, as if he were the cause of this problem. That was, until he whispered, "Xander, I -really- think we should go, before she decides to say something to you she'll later regret." Xander stood, undecided. He wanted to help Willow with whatever was bothering her, but knew he was most likely the cause. Xander nodded and left with Angel. Willow didn't notice. ************ As they walked out the door, Angel and Xander heard Willow give out a small frustrated scream. Xander turned to go back in, but Angel held him back. He shook his head and the two walked uneasily down the street to Xander's house. "You mind telling me what was going on," Xander asked Angel. "I don't think it's my place to say. Only that, once she cools down, you might want to have a long talk with her. Be careful though, from what I've seen tonight she has quite a temper," Angel said quietly. Xander smiled. "Yah, it's always the quiet ones, huh?" he said, remembering the Maloch incident. Boy, had she been angry then. Angry enough to try to smash her "ex-boyfriend" even when she knew she didn't have a chance. Then it dawned on him. She seemed to be containing an anger greater than that tonight. Could she... "Angel...Willow, uh, she didn't mention if she, uh, liked me," Xander asked hesitantly. Angel thought carefully a moment, then said, "Not that I can say. Though we didn't speak much, I just listened to her play and...and even if she did mention it, it's not something I would tell you. Like I said, it's not my place to say." Xander sighed. He didn't know whether Angel knew or not, and he didn't know if he should be relived or disappointed, he felt both. They came to Xander's house and he decided it was time for him to do some actual hard thinking. Xander nodded to Angel and left. Angel watched Xander leave and continued on to his own home. I hope they work things out, he thought. Xander might not deserve Willow, but she needs him. He walked silently in the dark, Willow's music still haunting his heart until Buffy's return. -------------------- The End

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