Summary: Willow's online life is about to merge with her 'real' life.
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership over these characters. I am merely borrowing them from Joss et al.
Distribution: whichwillow, my site, my LJ, anyone with previous permission. Anyone else - just ask.
Feedback: Yes please! It makes me happy and keeps me writing.
Thanks to Lisa Kelley & mrsdrake for looking this over.
Note: This is written for the Which Witch Ficathon. My assignment: If Willow met one of the Scoobies online and did not know it was them, what would happen?
"C'mon, Will," Xander begged his best friend. "You can't leave me to suffer my mom's cooking all by myself on the one day a week that she experiments with torture."
Willow laughed at his antics, having heard the same plea every week for as long as she could remember. "You know I enjoy an antacid dessert as much as the next person, but I can't tonight."
Xander gave her his best puppy-dog eyes, which hardly ever failed to get Willow to do what he wanted. "Please?"
"I am immune to your charms, Mister." Willow bumped shoulders with Xander as they continued walking towards her house. "And I really can't go tonight. I kinda have plans already."
"Got a hot date?" he asked, waggling his eyebrows.
"No," Willow said defensively, her cheeks flushing. "Not a date. Not exactly. I just have plans to meet up with someone...online."
Xander shook his head. "How many times do I have to tell you that those people on the internet aren't real? They're just a bunch of geeks and porn fiends."
"Geeks like me?" Willow asked.
"Yes!" Xander's face lit up in agreement, then fell as he realized what he'd agreed to. "Hey, now, you know that's not what I meant."
"So you don't think I'm a geek?" Willow asked, trying not to sound so hopeful.
"Of course, you're a geek. I meant that you're not a porn fiend. Unless you're hiding some deep, dark secret that should remain hidden."
"Yes, Xander, I'm a closet porn fiend," Willow said, somehow managing to maintain a straight face.
Xander shivered at that mental image. "Okay, new topic. So, what did you think of the new girl?"
"Buffy?" Willow asked, as if there was another new girl at school. Willow shrugged. "She seems nice. She didn't ask me to move at lunch today, so I'm inclined to like her."
"Yeah, me too," Xander said dreamily, not noticing the small frown on Willow's face.
"Well, this is my stop," Willow said as they reached the path up to her house.
"Already?" Xander looked around, as if not realizing they'd made it to her home so quickly. "And what time can I tell Mom you'll be over?"
"I know, I know. Can't blame a guy for trying though," Xander said. "See ya at the Bronze later?" With a wave, Xander set his skateboard on the pavement and took off towards his own home.
Willow watched him go, a part of her wishing she could have gone to his house for dinner. Granted, his mom had no business being anywhere near a kitchen, but it pleased her that Xander wanted her to come over. On the other hand, Willow really did enjoy chatting with her online friend, who would be signing on any minute now, she realized with a look at her watch.
She quickly unlocked the front door and rushed up to her room, tossing her backpack on her bed as she moved directly to her computer. She turned it on and anxiously waited for it to boot up. It felt like it always took longer when she was planning on meeting someone online.
She'd barely had time to realize that all of the start-up processes had run when she heard the ding of an instant message popping up on her screen. Grinning, Willow made herself comfortable at her desk.
Angelic1: I was starting to think that you wouldn't show up tonight.
Redgeek: Sorry, Xander was trying to get me to come over for dinner.
Angelic1: Mom cooking?
Redgeek: Yep. LOL. Guess I've mentioned it before.
A1: Only every week since we started talking.
RG: I must be so predictable. It's Tuesday, so Xander's mom cooks, and he begs me to come over for dinner.
A1: Don't knock a good routine.
Willow realized that they had met due in part to her routine. She'd gotten in the habit of cruising some of the internet help forums when she finished her homework for the day, offering advice where she could.
She'd noticed that this one person seemed to ask a new question every few days. He freely admitted that this was his first computer and didn't fully understand how things worked. After she'd noticed that other members ridiculed him, Willow took pity and gave him her AIM screen name so that he could contact her directly.
He, as he'd confirmed fairly quickly that he was male, was grateful. He'd eagerly begun asking her more questions about Windows, the programs on his computer, and using the internet. He'd been very proud of the fact that he'd figured out how to find the help forum in the first place.
It didn't take long for their shop talk to shift to talk of a more personal nature. At first it was little things to fill in the time while one of them looked for something on their computer, but before long they were pinging each other just to say hi.
RG: Speaking of routines, mine was interrupted today.
A1: Really? How so?
RG: I think that I have my first girl friend.
A1: Whoa, wait a minute. Girlfriend? What about your undying love for Xander?
RG: *blushes* Not a 'girlfriend', a friend that's a girl.
A1: I'm just kidding with you, you know.
RG: I hope so.
A1: So tell me about your girl friend.
RG: Well, I still don't know that much about her. She just moved here with her mom. Her name's Buffy, and yes, that's her real name.
Angel leaned back in his chair, pressing his fingertips together in front of him. It couldn't be a coincidence. How many girls named Buffy could have recently moved to Sunnydale? He mentally laughed at the irony of his only friend meeting the Slayer he was meant to help.
Angel looked at the clock on the computer and noted that Buffy should be heading out on patrol soon. If he wanted to tell her about the Harvest tonight, he'd need to leave pretty soon himself.
A1: That's certainly a name you'll remember. As much as I'd love to hear more about your new friend, I have somewhere that I need to be tonight.
RG: Oh, did that job finally come through?
A1: Um, yes. My contact just arrived in town and I need to do a quick intro.
RG: That's great. Good luck!
A1: Thank you. I'll talk to you soon. Good night.
Willow looked at the clock as the computer showed Angelic1 sign off. It was still pretty early. Maybe she could swing by the Bronze, in case Xander actually showed up.
A couple of weeks later, Willow sat in front of her computer, anxiously awaiting Angelic1's arrival. When she finally saw his name show up as being online, she instantly sent the message she'd been waiting to send.
RG: I saw him!
A1: Hello to you too.
RG: Oh, hi.
A1: Saw who?
RG: The mysterious Angel. Who else?
So now she knew what he looked like, Angel thought. He'd seen Buffy arrive at the Bronze last night with a cute little redhead and a goofy looking boy. They must have been Xander and Willow herself. He smiled as he called her face up in his memory. His Redgeek. Pretending that he wasn't the 'mysterious Angel', he continued the conversation.
A1: So you've met Buffy's mystery man?
RG: Well, I wouldn't say that I met him; but I saw Buffy talking to some older guy at the Bronze last night who gave her his coat. Plus, later she said it was him.
A1: That certainly would do it. And what did you think of him?
RG: Well, I still haven't met him, so I can't say anything about his personality. Although, he does do that Man of Mystery, Cryptic Guy act pretty well, but he's just as cute as Buffy said. He has that whole Tall, Dark and Handsome thing going on. And you really don't want to hear about this.
A1: I asked, didn't I?
RG: But you're a guy. You don't want to hear me gushing about how hot some guy I haven't even met is.
A1: Why not? He's probably going to become a part of your group, if he's helping your friend Buffy out. I'm just curious about the people you associate with.
A1: Because you're my friend.
RG: Really? You consider me a friend, even though we've never met in person?
A1: Really. You're the closest thing that I've had to a real friend in a very long time.
RG: Geez, when you say it like that you make yourself sound ancient, not college-age.
A1: Sometimes I feel ancient.
RG: Yeah, me too. The burden of being intellectually superior to my peers, I guess.
A1: At least you're not bitter. :)
RG: Not in the least. I learned a long time ago that I was going to be more mature than most people my age.
A1: Just look at Xander, for example.
RG: Hey! You've never even met him.
A1: I know, but I feel like I know him from how much you talk about him, and the way that you talk about him. Does he have even the slightest clue that you fancy him?
RG: No, that would mean that he actually sees me as a girl.
A1: That's harsh.
RG: But true. I told you that he kept asking me for advice on how to ask Buffy out. He had no idea what that was doing to me.
A1: Teenage boys are idiots. Someday you'll meet a man worthy of your affection.
RG: I happen to think Xander is worthy.
A1: I guess that I'll just have to find some way of changing your mind.
RG: How do you plan to do that?
A1: You're just going to have to wait and see.
RG: Cryptic much? You're almost as bad as Angel.
Angel burst out laughing. Little did she know.
A1: LOL. You think so?
A1: I'll just have to see what I can do to live up to his reputation.
RG: Another night perhaps. I've gotta get to bed. School tomorrow.
A1: Sweet dreams.
RG: You too. Bye.
Another week passed before Angel had an opportunity to see Willow again. He had gone to the Bronze to try to get Buffy to go stop the Anointed One from rising. His plan had been to simply encourage Buffy to take her role as the Slayer more seriously. He hadn't planned on the shock he felt at seeing Willow pretending to be on a date with that idiot Xander.
He was jealous.
He, Angelus, was jealous of some blind, foolhardy teenager. Now that he'd finally seen Willow up close, he could see why a boy like Xander would prefer the overt beauty that someone like Buffy possessed, but he knew better. Willow may have a quiet beauty, but she was beautiful.
The next time that Willow mentioned that she was going to the Bronze with her friends, Angel made sure that he would be there too, only not on business; not this time. No, it was time for Willow to know who he was.
He spotted her easily when he walked through the doors of the club. She was sitting alone at a table, watching Xander and Buffy bopping around on the dance floor.
"Hello, Willow," he greeted her as he approached the table. "Why aren't you out there?" he asked, gesturing to the dance floor with his head.
She shrugged. "Three's a crowd? Plus, I wanted to finish my drink."
Angel noticed that she had an empty glass in front of her. The straw was bent and twisted, like it had been chewed on for a while.
As if he'd planned it, a slow song began to play, and Angel couldn't stop the smile that formed on his lips.
"Would you like to dance?" he asked her, holding out his hand in invitation.
Willow looked at his hand, then up to his face. "With you?"
"Yes, with me."
Willow's forehead crinkled in confusion. She'd thought that he was interested in Buffy. "But, what about Buffy?"
"What about her? She seems content out there with Xander." Angel paused and took a deep breath, an act he still found calming after all of these years. He brought his face closer to hers and said in a low voice, "And I was rather hoping to dance with my only friend."
Willow gasped, her eyes flicking up to meet his. She could feel her heart speed up in her chest.
"Angelic1?" she whispered in disbelief.
Angel gently brushed a strand of hair behind her ear. "It's me, Redgeek. Would you care to dance?"
Willow numbly nodded and followed Angel out onto the dance floor. Her arms wound around his neck as his hands settled on her hips. Her mind was reeling. Angel was Angelic1. Her confidant was Buffy's mysterious helper. The stranger who knew her better than almost anyone was standing here in front of her, tall and handsome and looking at her with an expression she'd never seen on a boy's face before. At least not directed at her.
"How are you here?" she asked.
"Originally, I came to Sunnydale to help Buffy. It's a long story that I'm not ready to get into now. You can't imagine how surprised I was when you said that you were friends with her. Talk about a small world. My self-appointed charge was friends with the girl I was talking to nearly every day."
Willow's face fell. "You've known for that long?"
"I knew that you knew her, but not that you knew who she really was. You were very careful to keep that a secret, even from me."
"Well, Giles is always telling us how important it is to keep the Slayer's identity a secret," Willow pointed out, feeling guilty for the lies she'd had to tell him.
Angel squeezed Willow's waist gently to show his understanding. "I'm not reprimanding you. I'm impressed at how loyal you are to your friends."
Willow blushed. "It wasn't as noble as you make it sound."
"Loyalty and nobility are good things."
Willow giggled. "You sound like him."
Angel smirked. "I should hope so." His face grew serious. "You're not upset with me, are you?"
"For turning out to be someone who lives in my town and wants to dance with me in front of everyone?" Willow shook her head in disbelief. "No way."
"Is it really so surprising that I'd want to dance with you?" Angel asked, slowly running one hand up and down her spine.
"I've told you how the boys at school are. They don't see me as someone to date. They all want girls like Buffy or Cordelia. They don't want girls that look like me."
Angel ran his eyes over Willow's body. Granted, the colors and style weren't the most flattering for her figure, but she definitely had a figure hiding beneath the layers. She may not blatantly show them off like other girls, but that only made them more appealing, to him.
"They're fools," he said, lust showing in his eyes.
Willow couldn't contain her gasp at the look of blatant hunger she saw in his eyes, for her.
"Y-you really see me, don't you?" she asked.
"Maybe it took seeing you without my eyes first, but even after seeing you in person, I know that you are special."
"Angel, are you going to kiss me now?" Willow breathily asked.
"I was thinking about it. May I?"