The New Willow Rosenberg
Kaitelynn

Disclaimer: Okay, first off, let's get rid of all that legal 
stuff. They aren't mine. Willow and company belong to Joss and 
Mutant Enemy. Nikita and company belong to someone, don't know who 
but I think USA Studios. 

Section One Headquarters
Location Unknown

Michael knocked on the door to Operations office. When permission 
came, he entered to find Operations and Madeline going over his 
newest mission profile. They both looked up at him and Madeline 
signaled for him to take a seat. Once the pair were satisfied with 
what was on the PDA, they handed it to Michael to look over.
"This is your next mission Michael," Operations began. Madeline 
just stood by the desk, studying Michaelís reaction to what he was 
reading. "It will be a simple acquisition. We do not expect there 
to be much of a problem with the subject. By all indications, she 
is alone most nights, her parents are often away. She spends much 
of her time on her computer and is quite skilled."

Michael looked at the picture of the subject, mentally reminding 
himself not to show how he felt about this mission. The girl in 
the picture did not appear to be much older than 17. She had long, 
red hair and sparkling green eyes. He read the information about 
her and was surprised at some of the systems that this girl had 
managed to hack her way into. (My god, she almost hacked in 
Section. No wonder they want to recruit her.) Michael looked back 
up at Operations.

"When do we go?"

"Tonight," this came from Madeline. "It will be just you, Nikita 
and Birkoff. We do not want to frighten her too much at first. You 
leave in two hours. Go prep them."

With this, Michael stood and left the room wondering how Nikita 
and Birkoff would take this mission. (Damn, Nikita has a soft spot 
and seeing this little girl being taken will not sit well with 
her.) Michael went in search of the other two to brief them and 
get ready to leave. Madeline watched him from Operations office.

"Well, how do you think he is feeling about this mission?" 
Operations asked. He knew he could count on Madeline to figure out 
what an operative is thinking.

"Heís not happy with it but he will perform within acceptable 
limits. I believe his main problem is with the girlís age," 
Madeline said, with a cool detachment.

"What about Nikita? Why did you insist on her being involved with 
this? We are still not sure where her loyalties are."

"That is exactly why I wanted her on this mission," Madeline said, 
turning to face the man. "Nikita will be invaluable in helping the 
girl adjust to Section and her role in it. I believe that Nikita 
will try and do everything possible to make sure she survives 
training and in the long run, will stay with Section to protect 
the girl."

Operations looked at Madeline and once again marveled at the way 
her mind worked. Of course, Madeline never let on that she 
believed in the long run, their newest recruit would probably also 
be a help to Birkoff and Michael, giving them both a stability 
that they didnít even know they needed. A reason to want to go on 
fighting. (Michael is so involved with protecting Nikita. This 
little one, will give him another reason to want to help Section. 
And this girl is also perfect for Birkoff.) While Section did not 
usually allow relationships between agents, Madeline knew that 
there would be no problem if Birkoffís performances stayed the 
same. (And with the talent this girl has, his evaluations will 
probably go up just from the challenges that she presents.) Yes, 
Willow Rosenberg, will definitely be an asset for Section.

Sunnydale, Ca
Rosenberg Residence
Later that night

Willow is on the phone with her best friend Buffy Summers. Her red 
hair is up in a ponytail and Willow is wearing her Winnie the Pooh 
nightshirt. As sheís talking sheís wandering around the room, 
picking things up from the floor. Finally, when satisfied that the 
room is once again spotless, Willow plops herself down on the bed.

"So, there was no sign of Angelus when you were out?"

"No," the girl on the other end of the phone answered. "Guess I 
should be happy about that shouldnít I?"

"Well, yeah. I mean, no Angelus, no staking right?"

"I know. Just makes me think that heís planning something and I 
donít like that feeling."

"I know. So are you going out to patrol again?" Willow asked, 
concerned for her friendís safety. Willow knew how much it hurt 
Buffy having to constantly fight the man she loved and Willow was 
afraid that Buffy would not be able to take much more of it.

"Nah, Giles gave me the night off. Thinking of actually studying," 
Buffy heard the snort come from her friend on the other end of the 
line. "Okay, maybe Iíll just veg with mom and give her some of 
that good quality time that sheís been harping about."

Willow nodded, "Yeah that sounds like a plan. So, are we still 
bronzing it tomorrow?"

"Definitely. Talk about it tomorrow morning in the library?"

"Okay. Giles wants me to stop in before class. Something about a 
prophecy," Willow stated. She knew what her friendís reaction to 
that would be and she wasnít disappointed.

"Another one," Buffy groaned. "Canít we go one week without the 
end of the world coming?"

"Nah, than it wouldnít be Sunnydale," Willow joked as both girls 
started to laugh.

"So true. Okay, gonna go and be with mom. See ya tomorrow Wills."

"Okay. Catch ya in the library," Willow said as she hung up the 
phone and went over to her closet. She pulled out a trunk and 
opened it, only to reveal her magickal supplies. Willow loved her 
nights off from researching the wonder that was the Hellmouth, 
because it meant that she could study her witchcraft. She knew 
that Giles didnít want her experimenting with magick, but she knew 
that she was meant to. She had done a few spells that have worked 
well and tonight it was just going to be a little protection spell 
for herself and her friends. (Hey, we need all the protection we 
can get with Angelus, Spike, and Dru hanging out around here so 
much) Willow never realized that soon, she wouldnít have to worry 
about the three master vampires.

Outside the Rosenberg home, sat a nondescript black van. There 
were no windows save the front one and that was heavily tinted. 
Inside were the three operatives from Section. None of them were 
that happy to be there either. Michael was correct in assuming 
that Nikita would not like this mission. She hated the idea of 
taking this girl away from her family and friends and giving her 
to Section. Nikita vowed to help this girl get through her 
training and she would make damn sure that nothing happened to 
her. Birkoff felt sorry for the girl, knowing what it was like to 
have Section interested in you at a young age. While she might not 
have had a strong family setting, unlike himself, she did have 
good friends if the two phone conversations that the Section 
agents had listened into had been any consideration.

"Okay, what is she doing now?" Michael asked, wishing to end this 
mission. He still didnít like taking this girl, but he would do 
it. He knew his life depended on it.

"She is just sitting in her room. She is off the phone."

The phone calls were another thing that bothered the agents. They 
had listened in on them both and could not quite figure out what 
they meant. When her friend Xander had called, he kept talking 
about someone named Deadboy and how he would like to turn him in 
to dust. And then there was the whole prophecy thing that Willow 
had talked to her friend Buffy about. (What did they mean, end of 
the world? We can find out later.) Finally Michael was ready to 
go.

"Nikita, go in through the front door. I will go through her 
bedroom window. Letís go."

Nikita was the first out, heading across the street toward the 
home. She could see Michael already out and climbing up to 
Willowís room. Nikita carefully picked the lock and waited for the 
signal to go ahead. Once it came she entered the home. Michael in 
the meantime knocked on the bedroom window. He was surprised when 
Willow came to it with a cross out, not looking out to see who was 
at the window. (I thought she was Jewish.)

"Angelus, you know I did the uninvite spell. Donít know why you 
think I would let you back inÖ," the rest of her speech was 
interrupted when she saw who was at the door. "Who are you?" 
Michael could see the fear on the girlís face but as he stepped 
into the room, her fear turned into anger.

"Why donít you come in?" she asked angrily. Michael looked over 
the teenager in front of him. Her face was full of righteous 
indignation at having someone enter her sanctuary without her 
permission. "I asked you who are you?" Michael could tell that 
maybe Section had underestimated their newest recruit. (She does 
have a fiery temper, this one. May be a handful.) He decided that 
the best course of action would be to tell her as much of the 
truth as possible.

"My name is Michael. And I assume that you are Willow Rosenberg, 
correct?" Willow just nodded her head as she stared at the man in 
front of her. (Well, canít say that heís all that bad looking, 
although the whole black thing is a bit much.) Her thoughts were 
interrupted by a knock on the door. 

"Come in Nikita. Itís safe," Michael called to his partner. Willow 
turned to face the newcomer and was surprised to see a beautiful 
blonde woman standing in her doorway. (And more of the black. Can 
we say going for the vamp look or what?) Willow turned back to 
face Michael. "Willow, this is Nikita. Nikita this is Willow 
Rosenberg."

Nikita looked over at the girl and could see the anger in her eyes 
mixed with a bit or fear. Her heart went out to the teenager 
immediately. "Hello Willow. Itís nice to meet you."

"Likewise Iím sure," Willow replied sarcastically. "Now that the 
pleasantries are done, can you please tell me what the hell you 
are doing in my room?" Willow noticed Nikita look over at Michael. 
(So heís the leader. Okay.)

"We would like you to come with us," he stated simply. He didnít 
want to frighten the girl anymore than necessary, but Willow could 
see something in his eyes.

"And I take it, I donít have much of a choice do I?" Michael just 
shook his head. "Okay, expected that one. And will I be coming 
back from this little adventure?" Before Michael could say 
anything, Nikita walked over to the girl and put her arms around 
her.

"No, you wonít be. But I promise that you wonít be harmed," Nikita 
lied. She knew the consequences if this girl did not perform up to 
Section requirements, but there was something in Willow that told 
Nikita there would be no problem with getting through the 
training. Willow looked at the blonde holding her. (What was her 
name again? Oh yeah, Nikita.) Willow knew that she had no choice 
but to go and she preferred to go willing than to getting roughed 
up.

"Okay. But I have a couple of conditions. Is that okay?" she asked 
not really believing that they would even accept what she had to 
say.

"Depends on what those conditions are," Michael answered warily. 
(It canít really be this easy.)

"Well first, I would like to be able to change," as she noticed 
Michael about to protest, she raised her hand. "Yeah, yeah, I 
know. Canít leave me alone. Thatís okay. Nikita can stay." Michael 
nodded his acceptance. "And, secondly, I get to take some of my 
things with me."

"Like what?" he asked.

"My trunk over there for one," Willow said pointing to her 
magickal chest. Michael looked it over at gave his nod of 
acceptance. "Some of my books and my laptop."

"You wonít need your laptop. You will have access to a computer 
where we are going." Willow took that information and stored it 
for a later date. (Well, at least Iíll have some stuff with me and 
I can still do some of my spells.)

"Okay. Then I have no prob going with you. (Like I really have a 
choice.) If you want to take down my trunk and all, Iíll be a good 
little girl and get changed." Michael grabbed the trunk and was 
surprised at the weight. (What is in this thing?) He left the 
women in the room to get the rest of Willowís things.

Willow walked over to her closet and grabbed a pair of her denim 
overalls and her red Mickey Mouse tee-shirt. Nikita watched her 
get ready to leave her home. (Sheís taking this awfully well. I 
wonder what has happened in her life to make her this accepting of 
strange things.) When Willow was changed, she began getting 
together the rest of the things she wanted to take, making mental 
notes to herself so that she doesnít forget anything. (Okay, 
thereís my magickal books. Wonder if I should leave the books on 
demons and such. Yeah I better. They may need them in the future. 
)

"Nikita, should I pack some clothes?"

"Some. Weíll provide you with some once things settle down."

Willow grabbed her suitcase and started throwing in some things. 
At the last minute she grabbed the stuffed frog that Xander had 
given her as a gag gift. (Need something to comfort me.) The last 
things Willow packed were her computer disks. (Still need to work 
on that restoration spell for Angel.) By the time that she was 
done, Michael had come back to join them.

"Everything is ready. Birkoff has called back and told Section 
everything. Are you ready?"

Willow wanted to ask what Section was, but thought better of it. 
(Sure Iíll find out soon enough.) Michael grabbed the box with all 
of Willowís books and Nikita took the girlís suitcase and lead 
them all out of the room. Before she left, Willow turned and took 
one last look at her room. With a sad smile, she allowed Nikita to 
pull her away. Nikita and Michael led her to the van that was 
parked outside of her home. As she went to go sit down Willow 
realized that the others would have no idea of what happened to 
her. (Goddess, theyíre going to worry so much. Canít think about 
that now. Maybe theyíll find me.) 

"Willow, " Michael said breaking her out of her reverie, "this is 
Birkoff." Willow looked at the person that had been sitting in the 
back of the van. (Gods, he isnít that much older than me.)

"Hey there," she said, feeling suddenly shy.

"Hello," he replied, giving her one of his rare smiles.

"Letís go," Michael stated as he started the van. Slowly, so as 
not to attract any attention, the Section operatives left 
Sunnydale and Willow Rosenberg left the rest of her childhood 
behind her. None of them even noticed the shadow that had hidden 
itself behind a tree watching them.

"Well, well, well. Little Red is leaving the nest. This could put 
a whole new spin on things around town. Now how should I use 
this," the blonde vampire thought before heading back to his lair.

Section Headquarters
Location Unknown

Willow had no idea where she was. As soon as she had arrived here, 
she had been led to a room that had no color at all. It was just 
white. (Okay, Iím thinking I like Angelís whole black thing a 
whole lot better than the hospital look.) Her things were taken 
from her and she was told they would be placed in her room. She 
still had no idea of where she was or why she was there. (Oh to be 
in the Hellmouth once again.) She grinned at her own morbid 
though. (Okay, I know Iím going crazy when I wish I was back at 
the Hellmouth than where I am.) Her thoughts were broken off when 
the only door in the room was opened to reveal a woman who 
appeared to be in her mid-thirties. She was dressed in a severe 
black skirt set. The woman had a smile on her face, but Willow 
noticed that it didnít reach her eyes.

"Hello Willow, my name is Madeline," the woman stated pleasantly. 
"I hope your trip was okay."

"Oh yeah," Willow replied sarcastically. "I just love being taken 
out of my home at night and not told where Iím going. Just makes 
me feel so happy." Willow knew that she shouldnít be so sarcastic, 
it wasnít her normal behavior, but that didnít bother her right 
now. The other woman just continued to smile at her.

"Yes, well, Michael and Nikita both told me that you didnít bother 
arguing with them. In fact, you even packed a few things with you. 
I must saw, what you brought was rather interesting." Madeline had 
just come from looking over the things that Willow had packed and 
was surprised to see what appeared to magickal supplies and books 
in the trunk that the young girl had insisted on bringing.

"Yeah well, Iím an interesting girl," Willow stated, tired of the 
whole conversation. "So where am I and what do you want with me?"

Madeline contained the laugh that she felt coming. (My, my, my 
this girl is definitely going to be a handful, but she will be 
useful. I wonder if we underestimated her value to Section.)

"This is Section One." Madeline saw Willow take that information 
in. "We are a highly classified government anti-terrorist agency. 
Most of our agents have been taken from death row and other jail 
sentences. Occasionally we find someone, much like yourself, whom 
we believe would be a good recruit and we bring them in. Here you 
will be trained to help our operatives complete their missions."

"And what happens if I refuse?" Willow asked, already afraid of 
what that answer would be.

Madelineís smile left her face. "If you refuse, you will die." 
Willow nodded. (Well, good thing Iím a Slayerette. Go with the 
flow. And it they are on the side of good, hey just like staking 
some vamps. Except these would be real people. Stop it Willow. Do 
or die.)

"Well, isnít that just such a fine choice," Willow said 
sarcastically. "So when does my training start?"

"Tomorrow. Now why donít you get some rest." With that said, 
Madeline left Willow in the room to ponder what was happening to 
her.

The next day came entirely too soon for Willow. She woke up to 
find Birkhoff standing over her. She gave him a weak smile.

"Morning already?"

"Yes. Why donít you get changed and cleaned up and then your 
training will begin," he said, looking over Willow. He didnít get 
a good look at her the night before and now that he saw her in the 
light, he couldnít help but stare at her. Her red hair was messed 
up from the sleep and her eyes still had that drowsy look in them, 
but there was an intelligence there that he found intriguing. He 
left the room to give her some privacy. About 15 minutes later, 
the door opened and he found himself staring into a pair of green 
eyes that he thought he could lose himself in. (This is not usual 
for me. What is it about this girl that effects me this way?)

Birkhoff brought Willow to another room that was set up with 
various computer equipment. Willow though that she had died and 
gone to computer heaven. Birkhoff set her down at one of the 
terminals and brought up a mission profile.

"This is what I want to do," he began, knowing that this would be 
her first test. "Here is a mission profile that I want you to look 
over. I want you to go through the computer and pull up all 
relevant data that will be needed to make this mission feasible."

Willow nodded her head, never taking her eyes off the screen in 
front of her. (Okay, hacker girl, to the rescue.) She looked over 
the PDA that Birkhoff had given her, and quickly discovered what 
she would need to begin the mission profile. Birkhoff sat back, 
watching Willow get comfortable with the system, before beginning. 
He was the one who originally did the mission profile, so he had 
an idea of where she would need to go and how long it would take 
to get there. He also knew how difficult it would be to hack into 
some of the systems that she would need. He prepared himself for a 
long wait. She took a quick glance at him before starting. (Wonder 
if he realized how many systems Iíve truly hacked into already.)

"Okay, here ya go," Willow surprised him by saying. He looked at 
his watch. (An hour? How in the world did she do all that in an 
hour?) He went over to see what she accomplished and couldnít 
believe that she had found, not only the information that he had 
for discovered for the mission, but also some other things that he 
hadnít even thought about. "Out of curiosity, did this mission 
work?"

"Yes it did," he answered, wondering why she was asking.

Willow just nodded her head, "Cool. Wasnít sure because the way 
you had it all worked out, it seemed like there was a high 
probability of losses to Section."

"There was a 65% survival rate," he replied trying to figure out 
what was going on in her mind. Willow just looked at him. She had 
a feeling that he was the one that had gathered the intel 
information for Section and she wasnít sure if she should tell him 
what she discovered. That decision was taken from her when he 
asked his next question.

"Why were you wondering about survival?"

"Well, it just seems to me, that if you had one or two members of 
your team enter through this shaft in the basement, you could have 
taken out at least three or four of the guards without raising any 
alarms," Willow explained. :"That would bring up your survival 
rate to at least 85%." 

Willow moved away from the computer allowing Birkhoff a chance to 
look over what she had pointed out. He saw what she was talking 
about and was surprised at how simple her plan was. (Simple, but 
damn if it wouldnít have worked.) Birkhoffís admiration for Willow 
increased as he realized that he had finally found someone who was 
his equal. (Sheís gonna be competition. This will be fun.)

Sunnydale

Spike had come in just before sunrise and avoided his sire. His 
mind was working on why the slayerís little friend had been and 
how he could use that information to his advantage. He still 
hadnít come up with anything by the time he awoke later that day 
and had searched out Angelus to let him in on what he had 
discovered.

"Spike, what is it?" Angelus asked as soon as Spike entered his 
room. "Whatís on the mind of yours?"

"Itís the slayerís red-headed little friend," answered Spike. 
Angelus appeared to be in thought for a moment.

"Willow, what about her?" he replied with a dismissive tone.

"I saw her last night being taken away from her home. It appeared 
that she was not planning on returning."

"Taken?" Angelus asked with sudden interest. "What do you mean, 
taken?"

"There were two people. A man and a woman. They were taking the 
witch away. She had a trunk, box and a suitcase."

"What kind of vehicle were they in?"

Spike was taken aback by the question. (Who cares what kind of 
vehicle they had.) Then it occurred to him that Angelus might know 
who was behind Willowís leaving. "A van. Black. No windows. Do you 
know who they were?"

Angelus took this information in. (So Madeline decided to recruit 
little Willow for Section. Interesting. ) It took him a minute to 
realize that his childe had asked a question. "You could say that 
I am familiar with those that have taken her."

"Will they be a problem for us?" Spike asked, concerned that the 
slayer and her friends may gain some more allies.

"No, I donít think so. I donít believe that they know about 
vampires, nor anything else that is here at the hellmouth. And I 
donít think the witch will tell them anything. Not if she wants to 
stay alive." Spikeís interest in this group was piqued. 

"What do you mean?"

"Section is very select in who they take. If you fail any part of 
the training, you will be canceled." At Spikeís confused look, 
Angelus elaborated. "She would be killed. This group is not one 
that accepts failure."

"Sounds like a fun group. Maybe we should visit them sometime," 
Spike mused.

"No," snarled Angelus. Spike was surprised at the vicious tone in 
his sireís voice. "Let them be." Spike backed away at the tone in 
his sireís voice.

"Okay, I got it. Leave them alone," the blonde vampire conceded. 
"How do you think the slayer will react when she finds out that 
Willow is gone?" 

Angelus knew exactly how the slayer would react. She would be 
highly pissed off. (And sheíll think that we took her. Sheíll 
cause us more problems than the little witch is worth.) "If I know 
Section, they will make it look like Willow just disappeared. With 
the mortality and disappearance rate in Sunnyhell, no one would 
suspect anything different. But the slayer, " Angelus hissed, 
"will believe that we have taken the red-head as a way to get back 
at her."

"You know, as much as I like a good fight, I would prefer it be 
over something I actually did." 

"Then we will make sure that they know that we arenít responsible 
for the witchís disappearance," Angelus said. "Leave so I can 
think of how I want to use this information. We wonít have much 
time." Spike left his sire knowing that whatever Angelus had 
planned for his former girlfriend, it would do nothing but hurt 
the girl. (This will definitely be an interesting turn of events. 
Wonder what this Section is and what Angelus hates it so.) If 
Spike had thought about it anymore, he would have realized that it 
wasnít hate that was in his sireís voice, but fear. 

Sunnydale High Library

Buffy pushed open the library doors harshly as she searched the 
room for her friend. When she didnít see the red-head anywhere, 
she yelled out for Giles.

"Giles, have you seen Willow?"

Giles came out of his office, his head in a book. He looked up 
when he saw Buffy. "W.. what did you say?"

"I asked if you had seen Willow today?"

"Why, no. She hasnít checked in yet. Why?"

Buffy flopped into one of the chairs in the library. "Well, she 
hasnít been in class all day and Iím not getting any answer when I 
try her house." Giles took this information. (Where could that 
girl be? Itís not like her to not be in school or at least tell us 
where she is going?)

"Do you think Angel had something to do with it," Buffy said, 
interrupting Gilesí thoughts.

"I donít think so. Considering his history, it would seem more 
than reasonable to expect him to tell us if he had done something 
to Willow," he replied, coming over to the table. "It would make 
sense that he would make sure that we knew that it was him if he 
had anything to do with Willowís disappearance. Iím afraid that 
this may be something completely different."

"But what? Willow said something about a prophecy but she didnít 
elaborate," Buffy began, worry clear in her voice.

"Well, I thought there was a new prophecy," Giles explained, "but 
when I looked it over more, I realized that it wouldnít happen for 
a few years. There hasnít been anything that would suggest 
something sinister was coming."

"You mean, other than the usual vampires and such?"

"Ummm, yÖyes," Giles stuttered. Suddenly the library doors slammed 
open to reveal a very upset Xander. Behind him came an upset 
Cordelia.

"Is she here?" Xander asked. Buffy knew exactly who he meant.

"No, Xander, she hasnít been here all day," Buffy answered. "I was 
about to go over to her house to see if maybe she was there and 
she just wasnít picking up her phone."

"Thatís where we just came from and sheís not there," Cordelia 
explained. Buffy was surprised to see the concern on the 
cheerleaderís face. "And, according to Xander, a whole lot of her 
stuff was missing." This brought Giles attention to the teenager 
in front of him.

"What exactly do you mean, some of her stuff was missing?" he 
inquired.

"Exactly that," Xander said. "Her magickal trunk and some of her 
books. Some of her clothes and her computer disks. Even that 
stupid stuffed frog I gave her. Itís like she was going away and 
not planning on coming back." Xanderís emotions were playing havoc 
with him. (Sheís my best friend and I donít even know where she 
is. What could have happened that would make her leave?)

"Do you think she could have run away?" Buffy asked tentatively. 
The thought of her friend, alone, scared her more than she wanted 
to admit. Vampires and demons she could handle, but a friend 
missing and possibly in trouble was too much. The teenagers looked 
at Giles, expecting him to have all the answers. What they didnít 
expect was the voice that came from the stacks.

"She ran away, but not by choice," Angelus replied. After thinking 
about everything that Spike had told him, and what he knew of 
Section, he had decided that he wanted the pleasure of telling the 
slayer and her friends what had happened to the little hacker.

"Angel," hissed Buffy. "What are you doing here and what have you 
done with Willow?" He watched as the group moved as a one into 
attack positions. He couldnít help but laugh at them.

"I havenít done anything to your little friend, but I do know who 
did," he answered. When he saw them waiting for him to continue, 
he went on. "She was taken by something that not even you can do 
anything against. Theyíre human."

"Human," Giles asked, flabbergasted. (What would humans want with 
Willow. Unless itís to prevent Buffy from doing something.) 
Angelus could see where the watcherís thoughts were leading him.

"Yes, most definitely human and it has nothing to do with your 
little pathetic group of slayerettes. She was taken for her 
computer skills. I know all about the little group that Willow is 
a part of now."

"So what exactly are they," Buffy couldnít help but inquire. She 
didnít trust Angel, but for some reason believed him when he said 
that he didnít have Willow.

"They are called Section and they are the most elite of anti-
terrorist group in the world," he explained. "Most recruits have 
come from life sentences, sometimes even death row. Occasionally, 
as in the case of Willow, they will bring someone from the outside 
if they show an aptitude for something. In her case, that would be 
computers."

"What happens if she doesnít want to join," Xander asked. (I canít 
believe little Willow would willingly work for an organization 
that would kill people. Itís not like her at all.)

"Thatís simple. If she refuses to cooperate, or they are not 
satisfied with her training, she will be canceled." With that last 
bit of information, Angelus disappeared back into the tunnels that 
had brought him to the library. In his wake, he left a stunned 
group of friends.

Chapter 3

Section Headquarters

Willow followed Birkhoff as he showed her around more of Section. 
She was impressed by the technology that she saw. She couldnít 
wait to get her hands on some of it. (If only it wasnít used to 
help kill people.)

"Hey Birkhoff, have you seen Michael or Nikita?" Willow turned to 
see what she would term, an old biker dude calling out to her 
guide.

"Nope, havenít seen them today," Birkhoff replied. He turned to 
Willow. "Willow, this is Walter."

"Hello cookie," Walter said, taking Willowís hand and kissing it. 
"I see Nikita has finally found some competition."

Willow was confused. "Competition?"

Walter grinned at the red-head. "Yes. As the most beautiful women 
at Section." Willow blushed at the compliment.

"I heard that Walter and I canít believe youíre already replacing 
me." Willow looked over at Nikita, as she joined the trio.

"No one could ever replace you, sugar. But you know I always 
appreciate beautiful women." Nikita gave Walter a smile that made 
her whole face light up. "Whatís up Nikita."

"Nothing. I just wanted to see how Willow was doing," Nikita put 
her arm around Willow. "I hope everything is going okay." Birkhoff 
answered Nikitaís question for Willow.

"She did great," Nikita noted the proud tone in Birkhoffís voice. 
(Looks like someone may have a crush. Good for him, he needs 
someone in his life.) "Her time on the London sim was excellent 
and her survival rating was above what we had calculated." 

Nikita looked at Willow, a new respect forming in her eyes. "Way 
to go." Willow was surprised when Nikita gave her a hug.

"Whereís Michael?" Willow asked. She knew she shouldnít trust the 
man or woman that took her away from her friends, but she found 
herself wanting to know more about this group.

"Heís training with some of the others," Nikita answered. "If you 
want, I can take you to watch." Willow nodded and said good-bye to 
Walter. She followed Nikita and Birkhoff, who lead her to what 
appeared to be an exercise room.

Michael was at one end, sparring with someone. There were about 5 
others watching them. Nikita, Birkhoff and Willow went over to 
join the crowd. Willow was watching Michaelís moves. She noticed 
him looking over his opponent, watching for any sign of weakness. 
(Just like Buffy when sheís fighting a vamp.) 

Willow had taken to training with Buffy when Angelus had come 
after her. She was surprised at how quickly she picked up the 
moves that Buffy had taught her, but Willow was careful not to let 
Buffy know how much better she was at fighting. Buffy and Giles 
werenít happy with Willow training so after a few weeks, Willow 
stopped training with Buffy and had taken to learning how to fight 
on her own. Willow had gotten good at it too, often going on 
patrols by herself. She never told the others what was going on 
and knew that they didnít suspect a thing. (Thatís because they 
only see me as the little net girl) she thought angrily. 

Willow noticed Michael deliver a blow to his opponent, forcing him 
back. Willow noticed his feet and realized that with the next 
blow, he would be down for the count. (Nice moves Michael. Set him 
up perfectly.) Michael delivered a side kick knocking his opponent 
down. Michael offered him his hand and helped him up. He almost 
jumped when he heard clapping coming from behind him. He turned to 
see Willow applauding him.

"Very nice Michael, although he would have gotten you if he had 
better foot position," Willow said. Michael was surprised by 
Willowís assessment.

"Do you think you could do better," he asked the red-head, 
positive that Willow wouldnít accept the challenge.

"I can always try," she replied quickly. She entered the sparring 
area and got into a defensive position.

"Iíll try not to hurt you too much your first time out," Michael 
said, actually grinning at the girl in front of him. He watched as 
Nikita and Birkhoff came closer to watch the match.

"Oh thank you for your consideration, kind sir," Willow replied. 
She waited for Michael to attack, which he did immediately. 
Michael led off with a kick to Willowís left side, which she 
easily dodged. "Oh please, is that the best you can do," she 
teased, getting into Buffy mode. Michael just smiled.

"Iíll see if I can do any better." He threw a fist at Willowís 
face, which she caught in her hands, at the same time that she 
kneed him in the side. Michael used his free hand to grab Willowís 
leg, knocking her onto the ground. She rolled to one side and 
jumped right back up.

"Always did like a man who could sweep me off my feet." Willow 
lunged at Michael, surprising him as she landed a series of 
punches and kicks to his body. Every time that Michael tried to 
attack her, she moved out of his way quickly. He had landed quite 
a few punches, but she seemed to just let them slide off her. 

Off to the side, Nikita and Birkhoff watched in amazement as 
Willow and Michael fought. They couldnít believe that the little 
girl who was brought in for her computer knowledge would also be 
an excellent fighter. And the fact that she kept making little 
comments made them snicker. Nikita had noticed Operations and 
Madeline watching the fight with interest and was worried that 
maybe they would make Willow go out on field ops instead of 
staying at Section. (If they do, I will be there to protect her. 
Although she may not need much protection.) Nikitaís attention was 
brought back to the fight as she saw Michael grab Willowís arm and 
bring it around her back. He shoved her to the wall with the 
intention of slamming her into it, but her foot shot out and 
stopped the motion. He tried again with the same result.

"Gee Michael, shall we go again? They always say third timeís the 
charm," Willow teased.

Michael tried to move her again, this time anticipating her foot 
coming out, but instead of stopping the motion, Willow seemed to 
be using it to her advantage. Her left foot hit the wall and she 
then threw her right foot to join it, in effect, climbing the 
wall. She did a flip back, making Michael release her arm as she 
landed behind him. She grabbed his arm and slammed him into the 
wall. She then made a staking movement.

"Oh, so sorry. I meant third timeís a charm for me," she said 
sweetly as she let go of Michael and headed over to Nikita, who 
was smiling proudly at the teenager. "So whatís next?" Nikita 
laughed as Birkhoff just shook his head.

"I think itís time for lunch," she said. She looked over at 
Michael who was staring at the girl that had just beaten him. 
"Michael, care to join us or is your pride to wounded." 

"Yeah, Iíll come. If for no other reason than to find out how 
Willow pulled that off," he replied. Michael joined the other 
three and they left the training area.

"Well, well, well, looks like we may have underestimated young 
Rosenberg," Operations observed. 

"Yes. Her numbers from the sim this morning were quite impressive 
as was that fight with Michael," Madeline answered. "Miss 
Rosenberg may become a much better asset to Section than 
originally intended." Operations just nodded his head as the two 
headed back to his office.

"Hey Wills, what are the plans for tonight?" Nikita asked the red 
head sitting at the computer at Ops. Willow looked up and smiled 
at her friend.

"My place, pasta and movies," she replied. "Howís that sound?"

"Excellent. Weíll be there around sevenish."

"Okay, see ya then." Nikita left and Willow returned to the data 
in front of her. She had made it through training in record time, 
excelling at everything that had been given to her. Even Madeline 
could not hide her surprise at the teenagerís ability to figure 
out the most complex machines. The fact that she was also a 
talented fighter helped in her evaluation.

Willow had been with Section for a little over 3 months and, while 
she still did not like the idea of killing humans, had learned to 
care for the people that she worked with. Nikita had taken Buffyís 
place as her best friend, Willow even began dressing a bit like 
the blonde woman. Michael had taken on the role as her big 
brother, trying to make sure that she was okay and protecting her 
from some of Sectionís nastier elements. Walter was like that 
black sheep uncle in every family. Willow couldnít help but smile 
every time she saw the flirtatious old man. Operations had turned 
into a semi-father figure, helping her adjust to her new 
surroundings. And then there was Birkhoff.

Birkhoff. Just his name could make Willow go all dreamy. The two 
of them had gotten together within a week of her joining Section 
and it was a relationship that Willow was glad for. There was 
something about the young man that grew up knowing Section that 
made Willow fall for him. He had a shyness about him, but it 
wasnít due to his personality, just the fact that he didnít know 
anything other than Section. Willow had made it her goal to expose 
him to things outside of Section. The two of them often went for 
coffee or a movie and she soon found herself knowing more about 
the life that he had lead. He was completely the opposite of Oz, 
who she had been dating back in Sunnydale. 

Willow found her thoughts often leading her back to the group of 
friends that she had left. She missed them and wondered if they 
were still all right. At night, she found herself searching for 
information on what was happening in her home town, sorry to see 
that the vampires were still wrecking havoc in force. She wished 
that she was there helping her friends, making sure they were 
okay. She knew that with Sectionís resources, Sunnydale could be 
cleansed of itís demon population, but she also knew that if she 
told Operations or Madeline any of her past as a Slayerette, odds 
are she would be canceled. The whole concept of vampires and 
things that go bump in the night being real was to foreign even to 
Section. So Willow did what she could, sending things to Oz or 
Giles via the computer, hiding any trace as to who was the 
provider of such information.

And Willow was still practicing her magick. Madeline had 
discovered her talent for the black arts Willowís first week and 
decided to allow the girl to continue. Willowís abilities had 
greatly approved and she often cast protection spells over Michael 
and Nikita whenever they went out on an Op. She wanted to do what 
she could to make sure that her friends would return to her 
unharmed. And she was always researching. In fact, thatís what she 
was doing right now.

She had already finished the sim that had been assigned to her and 
was taking advantage of the computer database to do some more 
background research on the Rom curse. Even though she knew the 
distance would hampen the effects, Willow still hoped to be able 
to give Angel back his soul. She knew that Buffy had still been 
unable to kill her ex-love, she had gleamed that information from 
the Watcherís Council database when she hacked into it and was 
worried about her friendís safety and mental stability. Finally, 
just as she was about to shut down the computer, she found it. (Oh 
great Goddess, itís the spell. Itís the spell) Willow quickly 
wrote down the address and finished closing down the program. Just 
as she did so, she felt two arms encircle her. 

"Hey there," She smiled, looking up to see Birkhoff. He gave her a 
quick kiss, knowing that affection between agents was frowned upon 
but unable to help himself. Actually, Operations and Madeline 
allowed the two of them leeway, knowing that they were increasing 
the otherís numbers.

"Hey there yourself. What have you been up to?" Willow asked as 
she stood and stretched out her sore muscles.

"Just talking to Michael about the Rio mission," Birkhoff 
explained. "Thought you might like to get some lunch."

"Sounds good. Iím starved," Willow grabbed the piece of paper that 
held the web address, quickly shoving it into the pocket of her 
coat. Birkhoff knew that Willow practiced witchcraft, but she had 
never told him about Angel or what her plans were in regards to 
helping him. Birkhoff, Nikita and Michael had all asked about her 
life in Sunnydale and her friends and Willow told them edited 
versions of her life, especially the last two years. She told them 
about Xander and her Barbie, Buffy coming to town and being her 
friend, Giles who had become a mentor to her. She didnít tell them 
about Angel though. She couldnít. It hurt too much. The pain of 
the loss of her friend. 

"Whatís going on in that head of yours?" Birkhoff asked when he 
noticed that Willowís thoughts werenít in the present. Willow took 
Birkhoffís hand and smiled over at the man who had found a way 
into her heart.

"Just thinking of a friend," she answered cryptically. (Man, Iím 
turning into Angel, doing the whole cryptic thing.)

"Which one this time?" Birkhoff and the others had become used to 
Willow losing herself in her memories and felt sorry for the girl 
who apparently had a lot more going on in her life than the 
Section had known about. He knew that she was keeping things from 
him and was somewhat hurt that she didnít trust him fully, but he 
hoped that she would given time. "Buffy? Xander? Oz?" Birkhoff 
hoped it wasnít Oz, jealousy was a thing that he wasnít used to.

Willow shook her head, "None of the above. His name was Angel and 
he was a good friend of mine." Her voice was tinged with a sadness 
that Birkhoff detected immediately.

"What happened?" He inquired gently. Willow shook her head, not 
wanting to tell Birkhoff about Angel. Wanting to keep him a secret 
for some reason. A part of her that Section didnít know about. 
"Willow, sweetie, canít you tell me about Angel?"

"Itís not that Birky, itís just tough talking about him," Willow 
tried to explain. "He was someone that helped me a lot and now 
heís gone. I just miss him, thatís all." Willow hoped that would 
be enough for the man beside her. Birkhoff looked at the red 
headed witch and realized that for some reason, he wouldnít get 
any information about this Angel person that was making her so 
melancholy. He decided not to push her for it.

"I understand, I do."

Willow smiled at him, "Thanks." Birkhoff decided to change the 
topic to something more upbeat.

"So what are we watching tonight?" Willow had taken it upon 
herself to catch Birkhoff and the others up on pop culture. To 
that extent, she often had them over to watch movies all night.

"I was thinking we could do a Star Wars thing. You know the whole 
trilogy." Willow and Birkhoff continued to the cafeteria, happily 
chatting about the plans for the evening.

As soon as Willow got back to her place, she instantly went to her 
computer, switching it on. She removed the address from her coat 
before hanging it up and quickly typed it in.. She grabbed a soda 
while waiting for it to load and then went to check over the 
spell. (Goddess, it needs to be done tonight)

Willow looked over the list of ingredients that she would need to 
complete the ritual. Luckily, she found that she had them all on 
hand. She started running around, preparing her work space and 
gathering her supplies. (I have to start this soon or else I wonít 
have the time to.) She knew that there was no way to explain to 
her new friends about what she was attempting to do without 
sounding completely insane. 

Willow glanced around her living room, making sure that she hadnít 
forgotten anything before going to take a shower in order to 
cleanse herself. Once that was done, she put on the clothing she 
had made just for such a major working. She stood in the middle 
her working area and started calling the powers that would be 
needed for the spell. She could feel the power as it went through 
her, surprised at the strength of it. She had never felt anything 
like it before and she lost herself in the feeling, letting the 
power take over control, somehow knowing that it was there to help 
her. She quickly lost herself, not even realizing that her friends 
were gathering outside the door for their get together.

Michael, Nikita and Birkhoff all arrived at the same time. Michael 
held a bottle of wine in his hand, while Nikita had brought over 
desert from Willowís favorite bakery. They both smiled at the 
young man who was holding a bouquet of flowers for the girl who 
had finally made him so happy.

"Roses, very nice Birkhoff," Nikita commented. She was happy for 
the young man that was like a brother to her. He deserved whatever 
Willow could give him and then some. She was glad to see the 
changes that had taken place in him since the girl had come to 
Section.

"Do you think sheíll like them," he asked the blonde woman 
nervously. 

"Sheíll love them," Nikita replied, giving him a small kiss on the 
cheek.

"Flowers always are a good thing," Michael joined in, looking over 
at Nikita. Willow had even effected Michael in a way that was 
unexpected. While he was still the same enigmatic person while at 
Section, he was much more easy going when he was with the others. 
"So shall we?" Michael knocked on the door and waited for a 
response. When there wasnít one, he tried again.

"Where is she?" Birkhoff asked, worried about his girlfriend. "She 
left Section hours ago."

"I donít know. Maybe she had to step out for a minute," Nikita 
reassured the boy.

Michael was just about to knock again when suddenly they heard 
something in the apartment. There was a chanting that was growing 
louder with each passing second. 

"What the hell is that?" Nikita asked, suddenly frightened for 
Willow.

"Itís Latin," Michael stated, "but I canít understand whatís being 
said." The chanting had suddenly grown to a loud yell. Michael 
pounded on the door, trying the knob to see if maybe it was 
unlocked. "Willow, open the door. Willow," he shouted. Finally 
when it was obvious that there would be no answer from the 
teenager inside, he pushed a worried Nikita and Birkhoff aside and 
kicked the door open. The three operatives stop in their tracks at 
the sight that greeted them.

Willow was sitting in the middle of the floor, seemingly in a 
trance. Around her, they could see a circle of blue light. 
Birkhoff tried to run to the girl only to be forced back by the 
energy shield that had erected itself around her. Willowís eyes 
snapped open, looking but not seeing her friends. With one final 
shout, they watched as something they couldnít describe seemed to 
pass through Willow. Just as quickly as it came it left her. The 
energy in the room seemed to decrease, as did the shield around 
her. Nikita, Michael and Birkhoff raced to their friend, concerned 
at what had just happened. Birkhoff was the first to reach her as 
she suddenly slumped forward, completely drained. 

"Angel, I did it for you. Iím sorry I was too late," she 
whispered, not loud enough for the trio to hear her, before she 
passed out.

"Willow? Willow, can you hear me?" Michael was hovering over an 
unconscious Willow as Nikita did her best to calm Birkhoff down. 

"Whatís wrong with her?" the young man cried. "Why isnít she 
waking up? What was the glow that we saw?" Birkhoff was riddling 
questions off without even waiting for an answer, but that was 
okay since Nikita and Michael didnít the answers anyway. They had 
never seen anything like the ball of energy and the fact that the 
red head wasnít waking up was not making any of them feel any more 
comfortable with the situation.

"Willow, itís time to wake up now. Come in you can do it." Michael 
was relieved to hear a moan come from the teenager on the floor. 
"Thatís it Willow, itís time to get up. You got Birkhoff all 
worried about you and you know how much you hate that."

"Yeah, canít stand a person who broods. Already have one in my 
life," was the weak reply. As soon as he heard her speak, Birkhoff 
ran and knelt by her side. Michael sat back in order to allow him 
more room. Birhoff helped Willow sit up.

"Let me guess, I passed out right?" Willow said when she saw the 
worried faces on her friends. When they all nodded, Willow put her 
head down. "Damn, hate when I do that. How long have I been out?"

"About fifteen minutes," Nikita answered joining the others on the 
floor around the girl. "You had us worried."

"Iím sorry," Willow said giving the blonde woman a reassuring 
smile as she felt her energy returning to her. "I knew the spell 
would take a lot out of me but I thought that I would have time to 
recover before you all got here. I didnít realize how long it 
would take." Willow tried to stand and felt slightly dizzy as she 
got up. Birkhoff held her, along with Michael to the couch.

"What exactly were you doing?" Birkhoff asked, concerned over the 
girl that had taken his heart.

Willow could see the worry that was in the otherís eyes but 
couldnít bring herself to tell the truth. (How do you explain that 
you had to help a friend by giving him back his soul?) Willow 
looked down at her hands, unable to stand the looks of concern 
that they had for her. (They are so worried about me and I canít 
even tell them the truth. Iíd be canceled in a heartbeat just 
because, who would believe me about Sunnydale. I mean the whole 
vampire and slayer thing is a bit much if you never knew those 
things existed.)

"Willow, what was the spell for?" Nikita asked gently, sitting on 
the couch beside the young witch, taking her hand in her own.

Willow shrugged. "It was just a protection spell. You know, for 
when you and Michael go out on a mission," Willow lied. She was 
never very good at it and she could tell that the others werenít 
sure if she was telling the truth. They didnít know a lot about 
magick, but they were pretty sure that what they saw was not part 
of a protection spell. There was too much power.

"Willow," Michael was about to admonish the girl and get her to 
tell him the truth when he got a good look in her eyes. Michael 
had seen that look too many times, it was a look that Madeline had 
perfected. It was one that said that no matter what, they would 
not be getting any more information out of her. Michael sighed as 
he reached out and pushed a lock of hair out of Willowís face. 
"Next time just be careful okay. I donít like the idea of you 
doing something that could be dangerous to you."

"It wasnít that dangerous Michael," Willow lied. "I was perfectly 
safe. Iíve done that spell a few times now." Willow hoped that 
they wouldnít question her anymore since she felt bad enough about 
lying to them.

"Are you sure," he asked again, still not sure of her well being.

"Yeah, Iím fine really." Willow turned to Birkhoff, who was 
sitting by her side to see him still looking worriedly at her. She 
put her hand against his cheek and he covered it with his own. 
"Iím fine Birky. I really am." Willow placed a kiss on his lips, 
reassuring him.

"I was so worried when I saw you pass out and then when we 
couldnít wake you, I felt as if I had gone numb." Birkhoff was 
near tears and Michael and Nikita looked at each other, surprised. 
They had never seen so much emotion from the boy that had grown up 
with Section being his only family. They credited the young girl 
in front of them with finally giving Birkhoff what he needed most. 
Love.

"I know and I promise that I wonít do that particular spell 
again." (Well, thatís not exactly a lie. I felt the spell work. I 
saw Angel and felt him get his soul back. I just canít believe I 
was too late.) The other three took Willow at her word. "So I 
guess tonight is a bust huh?"

"Well, I really think that you should get some rest," Nikita told 
the girl as she went into her nurturing role that often occurred 
when she was with Willow. "We can get together another time."

"How about tomorrow. Same bat time, same bat channel." Michael and 
Nikita laughed while Birkhoff just looked confused, not really 
understanding the joke. Willow continued laughing as she walked 
with the others to the door, her arm wrapped around Birkhoffís 
waist. "Iím really sorry I worried you guys. I didnít mean to."

"Just be careful next time," Birkhoff replied. "I donít think I 
could stand it if I lost you."

Willow gave Birkhoff a light kiss. "Donít worry, I donít plan on 
going anywhere. Really Iíll be fine." Birkhoff nodded his head, 
realizing that Willow was indeed okay, even though he knew that 
she was hiding something from him. He gave her another light kiss 
before heading out the door, waiting just outside for Nikita and 
Michael.

"I want you to take care of yourself," Michael admonished the 
young girl before giving her a hug. "Donít make me have to kick 
your ass."

Willow snorted, "Like that would happen, old man." Michael just 
grinned as he placed a kiss on her forehead. Then it was Nikitaís 
turn.

"If you need anything, just call me. Iíll be right over okay?" 
Nikita told her, taking Willow into her arms.

"I will, not get. The night is still young, so go have fun. Donít 
worry about me." Nikita smiled, also placing a kiss on Willowís 
forehead. The three operatives left, Willow locking the door 
behind them, finally allowing herself to take a deep breathe. 

Willow walked over to where she had performed the ritual. Tears 
began to form as she remembered the sight that had greeted her as 
she felt Angelís soul go through her. She started to clean up the 
items that she had used as the first tears began to fall. With 
every ingredient that she picked up, Willow felt another piece of 
her composure break down. Finally Willow collapsed on the floor, 
both from exhaustion, the energy she had used for her spell, and 
the knowledge of what was happening in Sunnydale at the same time 
that she was performing the spell.

As she was performing the spell, Willow had felt Angelís soul go 
through her, and with it, she had seen what had happened since she 
was gone. She had seen Angelus taunting Buffy as the two of them 
were fighting with swords in front of a blue statue of some kind 
of demon. Acathala. She saw Angel as his soul came back to him as 
he looked over at Buffy. A vortex was appearing behind him. She 
saw Buffy cry as she gave him a kiss and asked him to close his 
eyes. She felt the sword as it entered him. As Willow fell back 
into unconsciousness, the only thing she could think about was 
that she had been too late to save her friend from a fate that she 
would never have wished on him. She dreamt that night of an angel 
in hell.

The next morning found Willow staring in the mirror, the obvious 
signs of a restless night on her face. She had been awakened often 
with images of Angel being tortured and she felt as if she was 
taking in some of his pain. It had hurt, knowing that he was going 
through that torture because she hadnít been able to find the 
spell for his soul sooner, even though she knew logically that she 
did the best that she could.

Sometimes, when his tormentors had finally left him alone, 
probably so that he could heal only so they could torture him all 
over again, Willow could swear that Angel would look directly at 
her. His eyes pleading forgiveness for his actions as Angelus. 
Willow would try and comfort the sobbing man. Try and give him 
added strength to help him get through his ordeal. And it had only 
been the first night.

Willow carefully applied her makeup, hiding any evidence of the 
distress that she had been feeling. She knew her friends were 
already worried about her because of her reaction yesterday to the 
spell that she had performed and she didnít want to deal with 
their concern over the fact that she hadnít been able to sleep. 

Willow entered Section and walked over to her station, grateful to 
see that Birkhoff was not in his normal seat. She wasnít sure what 
she would tell him if he asked her more about what had happened 
the night before. She hated lying to him, he meant so much to her, 
but she didnít think she had any other option. She had never told 
anyone in Section about the real reasons she was so good at 
fighting, not only with her hands, but with a staff and crossbow. 
She just let them assume that it was self protection against the 
hazards that seemed to be a normal occurrence in her hometown. 
(Yeah, they were self defense all right, just not against humans.)

This brought her thoughts back to Angel. She didnít blame him for 
what had happened when he had lost his soul. That wasnít her 
friend Angel, that was the demon that was Angelus. She knew the 
differences between the two more than anyone, even Buffy. That was 
one of the reasons why she had continued searching for the spell 
to restore his soul, even after she had been taken by Section. She 
wanted to give her friend his life back. But now that life was in 
torment and it hurt her more than anything.

"Willow?" Nikita asked, scaring the young girl who was lost in her 
thoughts. "Sorry, didnít mean to scare you," Nikita said, "I tried 
calling you but your mind must have been on something else."

"Yeah, you could say that," Willow replied.

"What were you thinking about?"

"Just a friend," Willow answered, not even thinking about it. 

"Really, anyone I would know," Nikita was intrigued. While Willow 
had told them a little about her life before Section, she knew 
that there were things that the normally open girl was keeping to 
herself. Nikita wondered why Willow felt the need to keep her past 
a secret. Granted, Section was generally full of people with 
secrets, but Willow was a normal teenage girl before coming here. 
What could be so awful that Willow didnít feel like she could tell 
the others?

"No, no one that Iíve told you about," Willow answered.

"Really, who then?"

Willow didnít know what to tell Nikita. She was afraid that if she 
kept everything inside, she would probably go mad, but she wasnít 
sure how to tell anyone about Angel, without sounding like she was 
already completely off her rocker. Nikita could see the indecision 
on Willowís face.

"How about we talk about it over coffee?" She offered.

"Iíd like that," Willow replied, meaning it. She and Nikita had 
become almost like sisters. The blonde woman accepted everything 
about Willow, happy when she noticed the changes that were taking 
place in the young witch since she had joined Section. Willow 
stood up and followed Nikita as the two headed to the cafeteria in 
silence. Willow took the time to think of exactly how she would 
explain her relationship with the souled vampire. The two poured 
themselves some coffee and found a seat away from the others.

"So who were you thinking about back there when you were ignoring 
everything around you," Nikita probed. "Was it a man?" Willow 
blushed slightly at the innuendo in Nikitaís voice.

"Yeah, heís a friend from Sunnydale that I miss a lot," Willow 
began. "His name is Angel."

"Angel," Nikita said, a smile crossing her lips. "Interesting 
name." Willow nodded her head as she looked down at the mug in her 
hand.

"It fit him. His full name was Angelus, Ďman with the face of an 
Angelí and boy did he. He was so handsome. Half the girls at the 
Bronze would have done anything to date him." Willow looked up at 
Nikita and the operative was surprised at the sadness that was in 
her eyes. " He had these brown eyes that could look into the 
depths of your very soul if they turned their gaze on you. He 
disappeared about a month before Section had recruited me."

"What happened?" Nikita gently asked. She knew that Willow still 
missed her friends and life in Sunnydale, but the way that she 
talked about Angel gave her an indication that she had a 
particular fondness for the man. Nikita hoped it wasnít because 
Willow was in love with him. It would hurt Birkhoff if the red 
head had those kind of feelings for someone else.

Willowís voice became a whisper as she recalled the events before 
she was taken. "It was the night of Buffyís seventeenth birthday. 
Some unexpected party crashers showed up and Buffy and Angel got 
rid of them and what they had brought." Willow noticed Nikitaís 
confused face. "Buffy and Angel were sort of an item. Actually 
they were pretty much head over heels for each other. You could 
see it just by the way they looked at each other."

"By the way you are talking, it sounds like you were pretty close 
to Angel, also," Nikita mentioned. Willow smiled slightly as she 
shook her red hair.

"Not really. Angel isÖwell..Angel," Willow couldnít find the right 
word to describe the vampire. "I donít even think Buffy was all 
that close to him. There was a lot about his past that he didnít 
talk about because of how he was then. But I never held it against 
him. It wasnít who he was now and that was what was important to 
me. And it didnít hurt that he had saved my life once or twice," 
Willow said nonchalantly, throwing Nikita off balance for a 
minute.

"What do you mean, saved your life?"

Willow hadnít meant for that part to come out, but she hadnít been 
able to help it. Reminiscing about Angel made her want to talk 
about some of the things that he had done for her. She searched 
through her memories for something that she could tell Nikita. 
"Well, there was this one time when I was in the school and got 
overcome from fumes that was coming from a gas leak. Another time 
was when a group of vam, gang members decided that they wanted to 
have a little late night fun. Both times, Angel came in like a 
knight in shining armor to save the damsel in distress."

"Sounds like a good man to have around," Nikita observed.

"He was..is," Willow amended. "I mean, we were never close, but 
there was a connection, not romantically or anything, just 
something that said that we were the same underneath it all."

"So what happened to him?" Nikita questioned again. She could tell 
that Willow needed to get something off her chest and was willing 
to be there for the girl that had grown to mean so much to her.

"Well, like I was saying, it was Buffyís birthday and she and 
Angel had to leave to take care of something," Willow explained. 
"They got caught in the rain and, by the time they got back to 
Angelís, they were both soaked. Well, apparently one thing led to 
another and the two of them, well, you know." Nikita watched as 
Willow turned an interesting shade of pink. Everyone in Section 
found it refreshing that Willow could still be embarrassed by some 
things considering the nature of the business that they were in. 
Willow took a deep breath and continued her story. "Well, anyway, 
that was the last anyone had seen Angel. He disappeared right 
after that."

Nikitaís heart went out to the hacker in front of her. She could 
hear the hurt that was in Willowís voice as she thought about the 
disappearance of someone that apparently had meant do much to her.

"Have you tried finding him?"

"Yeah. And I thought I had succeeded last night," Willow said, 
without thinking. "But I was wrong."

"So we did hear right," Nikita stated. Willow looked up at the 
blonde, shocked. "Right before you passed out you said something. 
You said ĎSorry Angel, I was too late.í We didnít ask you about 
it, because it became obvious that you werenít going to talk about 
it. You know, no matter how hard you try, you are still a lousy 
liar when it comes to friends of yours."

"Yeah, well, Iím sorry about that," Willow apologized. "I just 
didnít think that I could tell you exactly what I was doing. I was 
afraid that you all might think I was crazy."

"Crazy? Why would we think you were crazy because you were trying 
to help a friend," Nikita asked. 

"I donít know," Willow shrugged. "Look, can you just please do me 
a favor and not mention this to Michael or Birky. Theyíll go all 
overprotective of me and I donít think I can handle that right 
now."

Nikita nodded in understanding, "Sure thing Willow." Nikita looked 
at her watch. "We better get you back to your post. Donít want 
anyone saying that you are slacking off or anything." Willow and 
Nikita laughed at that. It had become common knowledge that no 
matter what the problem was, Willow could figure out the solution 
within a few hours, if that long. 

"Yeah, I guess so," Willow and Nikita headed back to her terminal. 
They parted when they reached her computer, Nikita going in search 
of Michael. Willow was surprised to see that Burkhoff was still 
not at his desk, but she figured that he must of been called into 
a meeting or something. She sat down and looked at the screen in 
front of her. She took out the address that she had found 
yesterday. The one that had the restoration ritual on it. As 
Willow had been talking to Nikita, she had figured out what she 
had to do. So Willow went to work trying to find a way to bring a 
person back from the pits of hell itself.

"Angel." 

Angel heard it again. The voice that haunted his dreams. The voice 
that came to him when his tormentors had finally left him alone. 
The voice that helped ease his pain. He knew that if he opened his 
eyes, he would see her there, in front of him. Her red hair, 
longer than he remembered it, falling over her shoulders. Her 
green eyes looking at him with all the compassion of the world.

"Angel, open your eyes," the voice begged. He could deny her 
nothing. He cared too much for her. Not in the romantic sense, but 
the way that someone cares for a person whom you want to protect. 
And he wanted to do nothing but protect her. Protect her from the 
evils of hell and earth. Both in the daylight and in the night. 
She was his friend and he had very few of them. He didnít want 
anything to happen to her.

"Willow?" he croaked, his voice harsh from the screams that had 
been coming from him earlier.

"Yes, Angel, itís me," she said as she came closer to him, 
reaching out to touch his face. He instinctively moved away from 
the touch, although he knew that she wouldnít hurt him. She gently 
cupped his cheek, tears rolling down her cheek.

"Oh, Angel, I am so sorry," she cried. He looked at her, amazed at 
her apology. She had nothing to be sorry about. She had done 
nothing to him but be friendly to him and look what he did when he 
had lost his soul. Terrorized her and all that she loved. Even 
killed her fish.

"You have nothing to be sorry about, Willow," he told her as blood 
tears streaked down his face. She wiped them away with her hand.

"Yes I do Angel. If only I had found the spell earlier, than you 
wouldnít be here," she told him. Angel knew that she was the one 
that had restored his soul but he couldnít hate her for it. He 
cared too much and was touched that she had still wanted to give 
him that gift when he had done so much harm to her.

"Not your fault," he replied. "Youíve done more for me than I 
would ever have had the right to ask you for. You gave me my soul 
back. You give me the strength to deal with what has happened to 
me. Youíre the reason that I can handle the torture that I go 
through."

"Oh, Angel," Willow cried, "you shouldnít be here at all. You 
donít deserve this."

"Yes I do, Willow," Angel stated. "Iím a monster that deserves 
this and more."

"No, Angel," Willow shook her head. "Youíre not a monster. Angelus 
was the monster."

"But Angelus is me. We are the same," The vampire insisted.

"No, they arenít," Willow said angrily. "Youíre my friend, Angel. 
You are the same person that saved my life more times than I can 
count. Without you I would have been vamp food a long time ago. 
You do not deserve to be here and I will find a way to get you 
out. I promise."

"No, Willow. I donít want you to risk your life anymore. Just you 
coming to see me here in your dreams is dangerous. If something 
happened to you here, there is no guarantee that you would be able 
to get out." Angel was afraid for the teenager that stood in front 
of her. He knew she was no longer the shy, awkward girl that he 
had first met two years ago. She was stronger and more in control. 
He didnít want her to do anything to harm herself and he had a 
feeling that if she attempted to get him out of hell, it would 
cause irreparable damage to her and he didnít think he would be 
able to handle that.

"Angel, but I want to help you," Willow told him. She helped him 
to sit on the floor, wincing as she saw the marks on his back from 
the times he was whipped. "I need to help you. Thatís who I am."

"But, Willow, you shouldnít have to put yourself through it. Not 
for me. Especially considering what you are going through." Willow 
looked at the vampire in front of her.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, with Section." Willow looked at Angel, shock apparent on 
her face. "I know all about them, Willow. Spike saw Michael and 
Nikita come for you that night. He told me all about it."

"But how did you know that it was Section? I mean, itís not like 
they advertised or anything," Willow inquired.

Angel was silent for a minute. "Well, letís just say that when 
Whistler first found me, I wasnít exactly homeless at the time." 
Willowís eyes went wide.

"You worked for Section didnít you," she exclaimed as she suddenly 
realized what Angel was telling her.

"For ten years. I was undercover when Whistler found me, so I just 
disappeared," Angel explained, hoping that he had gotten Willow 
away from any thoughts of getting him out of hell.

"I didnít think anyone could get out of Section. Thatís what I was 
told."

Angel actually managed to chuckle a bit before having to draw in 
an unnecessary breathe. "Yeah, well, they never knew that they had 
a master vampire in their midst." Willow smiled at the fact that 
despite everything, Angel still had the strength to laugh.

"So you faked your death," Willow stated. Angel nodded his head.

"Yeah, it was relatively easy. I mean, technically I am dead.?

"True. And then you came to Sunnydale."

"And you know the rest," Angel finished. "Youíre the first person 
who has known so much about me in a long time. No one in Section 
knew about my being a vampire, for obvious reasons. Would rather 
not have ended up in the lab." Willow understood that feeling. 
"And no one in Sunnydale ever knew about Section. Didnít think you 
guys could handle it."

"Yeah I can see your point. I mean, Iím in Section and there are 
times when I donít think I can deal with everything." Willow told 
him. "I mean, staking a vamp or two is one thing, but to kill a 
human being. Definitely not something I planned on doing with my 
life. But, surprisingly it hasnít been all bad."

Angel was surprised by Willowís comments. He knew that she had the 
strength needed to survive in Section, but he didnít expect her to 
actually like any part of it. Then he remembered some of the 
people that he had left behind, a certain blonde in particular, 
and he knew exactly what Willow had found to like.

"Nikita" he said simply.

Willow smiled. "Yeah, Nikitaís great. Me and her go shopping all 
the time and we talk about everything. I even told her about you. 
Not the vampire part, but how I missed my friend and how I wanted 
to help you and all."

"Yeah, Nikita was always like that. She can be pretty easy to talk 
to. Iím glad that she is still there for you." Angel had always 
liked the blonde operative and was pleased that she hadnít been 
canceled yet. He was also surprised at that fact. Nikita hadnít 
been there all that long before Angel left Section, but he could 
remember how much trouble she liked to cause. It was one of the 
things that he liked about her. That and the fact that she could 
get under Michaelís skin like nobodyís business.

"Yup, especially since she and Michael have finally been allowed 
to be together openly."

"Wait a minute. Michael and Nikita? Together? Wow, things have 
changed."

"Yeah. Apparently they have been sneaking around for awhile now, 
but Ops finally told them that they didnít have to anymore." 
Willow was glad for her two friends in Section. They deserved the 
happiness that they had discovered in each other.

"What else had changed in Section that I might want to know 
about?" Angel was curious. It seemed that what he remembered from 
his time in Section were no longer true. He wondered if any of 
that had anything to do with the red head in front of him. She had 
a way to make even the most stubborn people bend to her will. 
Madeline probably hated her for it.

"Well, Iím guessing that Walter has always been a horny ole 
bastard." Angel laughed his affirmative at Willowís description of 
the weaponís expert. "Madeline is pretty tough to figure out. I 
mean, she may smile but it never reaches her eyes. Freaks me out 
sometimes."

"Yeah, she can be that way." Madeline had a way of seeing into 
someone that made even Angel want to avoid her.

"Ops is pretty cool. He lets me get away with a lot of stuff, 
including my witchcraft. They even brought in someone to teach me 
stuff," Willow told Angel.

"What about Birkhoff?" Angel had been found of the then teenage 
boy who had grown up knowing nothing but Section. Angel noticed 
the wistful look on Willowís face as she thought of the child 
prodigy. "Willow?"

"Birkyís good." Willow blushed as she saw Angelís brow raise. "He 
and I, ummmm, kinda got together. Heís so sweet and caring and 
thereís just something about him that makes me want to take care 
of him."

"Yeah, that sounds like the Birkhoff I remember. So you are happy 
then?"

"Well, as happy as I can be. I mean, I wish I had more freedom 
than Section allows, but they are more willing to accept the 
changes that Iím going through. Buffy and the others never would 
have been able to do that."

"No, maybe they wouldnít," Angel admitted, a haunted look entering 
his eyes at the thought of the girl that he had loved and who had 
sent him to his tormented existence in hell.

"The only thing that would make my life perfect is if I can find a 
way of getting you out of her," Willow said.

"Willow, I told you I donít want you to do anything that may 
endanger your life. You are too important to me," Angel nearly 
begged.

"Sorry, Angel, youíre my friend and I will get you out of here and 
back where you belong. Look," Willow pointed at her face, "resolve 
face is on." That was when Angel knew he might as well give up. 
Willow would do whatever was necessary to help him, so the only 
thing he could do was to help her.

"Okay, Willow. You win." Angelís tilted his head as he heard a 
noise coming from outside the door. "You have to go. Theyíre 
coming back."

Willow stood up, helping Angel to his feet. She placed a light 
kiss on his cheek. "I will be back, Angel. Count on that. Please."

"I will, Willow. I promise." Angel watched as Willow slowly faded 
from his view, glad that she was willing to do everything in her 
power to help him. He didnít know what he had done to deserve to 
have a person such as her care for him, but he was glad that she 
did. He would do everything in his power to survive what he knew 
was about to come, buoyed by the knowledge that someone cared for 
him.

"So how did your training with Michael go?" Nikita asked, looking 
over at the flushed expression on Willowís face. Willow was 
breathing heavily from the exertion of the fight she had just had 
with Michael.

"Sheís getting better," Michael replied, grinning at the two 
women. "Pretty soon sheíll be ready to go out in the field."

"Oh please," Willow rolled her eyes, "I kicked your ass, once 
again, old man. Donít even go there." Nikita laughed at the 
exchange between the two people. It was a common occurrence, one 
that the other operatives in Section enjoyed seeing. Especially 
because it was common knowledge that the teenager often bested the 
older operative.

"Willow, you do realize you are only the second person to ever 
beat Michael?" Nikita pointed out.

"Really, who was the first?"

"A man by the name of Liam," Nikita replied, a touch of sadness in 
her voice. Willow watched as Michael put his arm around his lover. 

"Liam? I donít think I recognize the name."

"He was an operative about three years ago," Michael explained, 
remembering the man who he had worked with for ten years. "He was 
with Section for about ten years before he disappeared."

"Disappeared. I donít understand."

"We were on a mission. Searching out red cell targets in New York 
when word got back to us that he had been killed, but we never 
found a body," Michael explained. Willow swallowed a gasp as she 
started putting the pieces together. (Three years ago. New York. 
Angel. Liam was Angel. Well, duh, no wonder he could beat Michael. 
He is a vampire and all. Wonder why he used the name Liam. Iíll 
have to ask him tonight. But right now, I want to try and find out 
more about their friendship with him.)

"So, were you all close or something?" Willow inquired, trying to 
keep her voice from betraying her growing excitement over the fact 
that she had an opportunity to learn more about some of Angelís 
past. 

"Well, as close as you can get with people in Section," Michael 
observed.

"No comment," Willow teased, pointing at Michael and Nikita making 
them both smile.

"Well, back then," Michael amended. "Liam and I often sparred. He 
was one hell of a fighter. He knew moves that I had never seen 
before." Willow understood that feeling, considering how often she 
had seen Angel fight. But she also knew that someone who was over 
250 years old would have the opportunity to pick up a thing or 
two. 

"The man had the best survival rating in Section. He almost always 
succeeded and with the least amount of damage to his team. Even 
when they were made of people from Abeyance. He hated the thought 
of leaving someone behind."

"So he was a five percenter?" Willow questioned, having picked up 
that term from Walter when she first arrived. 

"Oh yeah, big time," Michael smiled as he remembered the one man 
that had truly garnered his respect, not only for his fighting 
skills, but also because of his humanity under the most extreme 
conditions. "I think he confused the hell out of Madeline and Ops. 
They could never figure him out, no matter how hard they tried. He 
would just come in and do his job."

"How was he recruited?" Willow asked, wondering how Section had 
first heard about Angel. (What was he doing that would have drawn 
their attention to him?)

"He was accused of murder." Willow started at that. She knew that 
without his soul, Angel was very capable of killing someone, but 
he knew enough not to get caught. But, when he was with Section, 
Angel had his soul and Willow didnít think he was truly capable of 
evil. "Section became interested in him because of the 
circumstances surrounding the case. They recruited him and he was 
here for ten years."

"Did he do it?" Willow wanted to know.

"He never said and it didnít matter. He was here for good," 
Michael admitted, remembering how many times Nikita had claimed 
innocence of the murder that had brought her to Section. "Liam was 
never one to talk about his past, but he always had this haunted 
look in his eyes."

"Not to mention the tall, dark, mysterious thing he had going for 
him," Nikita pointed out. "I mean, considering what we do here, 
everyone had the mysterious thing, but Liam had it in spades. I 
think he could have had any woman that he wanted in Section, and 
would even be able to get Ops to allow the relationship."

"Was he involved with anyone here?"

"No," Michael shook his head. "Liam tended to keep to himself, 
only allowing himself a few friends. Actually, the circle of 
friends that he had is the same one you do. He and Walter could 
sit for hours discussing weapons, and exchanging dirty jokes. He 
and I would spar and talk strategy. Liam looked after Birkhoff, 
treating him like a proud big brother would. And when Kita came, 
he made sure to help her try and adjust to her new life."

"It sounds like he was a good man to have around here," Willow 
observed, glad to see how much Michael and Nikita had apparently 
truly missed Angel. Angel didnít allow himself to open up to 
people, hence making it difficult for him to make friends. Despite 
that, these people cared for him. She was glad for that. It made 
what she had to do that night more important.

"He was," Michael agreed. They came to the room that Willow would 
use when she had to stay on site.

"Okay, this is my stop."

"Willow, I was wondering if maybe you wanted to do a bit of 
shopping tonight?" Nikita asked.

"I would love to, but I have a few things to do. Raincheck?" 
Willow answered. Nikita nodded her head. Willow said good-bye to 
Nikita and Michael, going into her room and quickly showering and 
changing. 

Willow was sitting in the middle of her living room, her eyes 
closed. To any casual observer she appeared as if she was in a 
trance, while in reality she was preparing both herself and the 
person she was communicating with for what was about to happen. 
Angel had been against her bringing him out of hell until she 
showed him the spell that she had found to do it. It was actually 
surprisingly simple. The only true needed actions were that the 
soul was in hell unjustly and that the person casting the spell 
had to do so willingly and with a pure heart. Both conditions were 
easily met.

"Okay, showtime Angel."

"Be careful, little one."

"Now remember what I told you. If this works, youíll find yourself 
back where it all began."

"Will we still be able to communicate?"

"I think so. The link seems to be a result of the restoration 
spell. Would you prefer it if we didnít talk?" Willow asked, 
suddenly unsure of her friendship with the vampire she was 
helping.

"No, I would miss talking to you if the link disappeared," Angel 
replied honestly.

"Okay, then. Letís get started. Time for you to return to Earth."

Willow started chanting in a language long thought dead. On the 
other end of the link, she heard Angel speaking the same foreign 
words. The two worked together towards their mutual goal. Getting 
Angel out of hell. Suddenly Willow and Angel felt a huge energy 
surge through their bodies, and Willow heard the angry voices of 
Angelís tormentors as they realized what was happening, but by 
then it was to late. For, in a dark and lonely mansion in 
Sunnydale Ca, a nude body appeared on the cold floor.

(My, how things can change in a year. This time, last year, I was 
fighting alongside Buffy as Angelus was terrorizing the people of 
Sunnydale, and here I am now, fighting alongside Section against 
the humans that terrorize the Earth.) Willow shook her head as she 
thought of everything that she had gone through over the past 
months. Her training with Section. Her friendships with Michael 
and Nikita. Her love with Birkhoff. And, Angel. The bond between 
that had been formed during the restoration ritual had only been 
strengthened when she returned him from hell.

The two of them often had long conversations, not only when they 
were asleep, but also when they were meditating. It was one of the 
advantages of the new bond. Angel told her about the reactions to 
his return. How Buffy had kept him a secret. About the new slayer, 
Faith. About Xander and Cordelia, which Willow still couldnít 
believe. And about everything going on in Sunnydale. Willow talked 
about her life in Section. How Michael and Nikita were actually 
living together, as were Willow and Birkhoff. How she was doing in 
her training. And how Michael and the others still missed their 
friend Liam. Willow still loved knowing about Angelís past as 
Liam. For some reason, the two of them were very comfortable 
around each other and he had found himself telling her all about 
his past, both as a mortal and as a vampire. She loved hearing 
them. The two of them were as close as friends could be. She just 
wished that he was able to find someone to care about him as she 
had.

Angel had told her how Buffy and he had tried to patch up their 
relationship. To move past what he had done when he didnít have 
his soul, but he knew that it wasnít going to work. That no matter 
what Buffy said or did, she would never be able to separate Angel 
from Angelus and that hurt Willow. Granted, she hadnít been there 
the entire time that Angelus had terrorized Buffy and the others, 
but she was the first one that he had tried to kill. If Willow was 
able to forgive him ,why werenít the others. But, then again, 
maybe Willow was able to see past all of that because of her 
involvement with Section. She had a feeling that her friends in 
Sunnydale would never be able to understand the changes that had 
taken place in the young hackerís life. No longer was she the shy 
quiet one, although she still had an innocence around her that 
made everyone love her. In her place, was a strong and confident 
woman who would do whatever was necessary to get the job done. 
Yup, what a difference a year makes.

"Okay, everyone knows that plan. We move in five." Michael and 
Nikita were in the back of the van, preparing there group for the 
attack on a supposed red cell headquarters that was holding some 
political prisoners. They were going over last minute details with 
Willow who was going to be working the comm for the mission. It 
was the third time she had been allowed on a mission by herself in 
the year that she had been with Section. It was the fastest any 
recruit had ever been put in the field and Willow was proud of her 
accomplishment. She knew that Ops, Birkhoff and Madeline were 
listening in back at Section, observing everything that was 
happening.

"Okay, I am only reading 3 possibly 4 targets around the area of 
the hostages," Willow told the operatives, pointing them out on 
the computer screen in front of her. "All five hostages appear to 
be in one central location."

"Fine. Letís move out then."

Willow was excited about the mission. For once, it wasnít about 
killing terrorists, although she knew that there would be humans 
killed. It was about rescuing the children of some high government 
officials that were being held for some reason that Section had 
yet to determine. Willow watched as her friends and the others 
went into the building, listening in as they reported their 
positions.

"Iím in position," Nikita reported.

"Michael?í

"In position," came the accented reply. Shortly after the others 
also confirmed that they had reached first position. Willow 
monitored everyoneís positions as they grew closer to the target 
area. Then she heard it. A scream of absolute terror from one of 
the men from Abeyance.

"What was that?" Nikita could be heard asking.

"Donít know," Willow replied, looking at the monitor to find the 
last position where the operative had been at. Where there should 
have been some kind of indication showing the body temperature of 
the man, there was nothing. Not even anything that indicated an 
attacker. "Not showing anything on the screen. Continue to 
targets."

"Copy." Willow continued taking in everything on the monitor, 
looking for any possible sign of trouble so that she would be able 
to alert the team. She had actually had a hand in planning this 
mission and she would be damned if something went wrong that would 
cost her friends their lives. Suddenly another scream came out, 
indicating someone had run into something unexpected. Willow saw 
another member disappear. She was not happy.

"Everyone, report in positions," she commanded, wanting to see who 
was still left. They hadnít taken many people in, figuring that it 
would be an easy mission. That was quickly changing.

"Nikita, position 4."

"Michael, position 4."

"Jones, positioÖ..," his report was cut off by the sound of a 
struggle, then gun fire. Then Willow heard silence.

"Jones, report." Nothing. "Jones." Damn, she had lost him.

"Nikita, Michael can you see the targets?"

"Affirmative," Michael answered in a clipped voice. Willow heard 
Nikita gasp.

"My God."

"Nikita, what is it?" Willow asked, a sudden uneasy feeling coming 
over her. 

"What are they?" Nikita whispered. "Their faces." Thatís when 
Willow knew. She could hear Ops and Madeline on the headsets back 
at Headquarters and realized that the secret that she had been 
keeping during her stay with Section was about to come out or she 
would have to risk the deaths of her two closest friends. Willow 
reached over to the bag that she always carried with her. A habit 
that she hadnít bothered breaking when she left Sunnydale. She was 
just better equipped to use some of the items in it.

"Describe them," Ops ordered.

"Deformed. Ridges on their faces. Eyes are yellow."

"Damn, damn , damn just when I thought I could leave this all 
behind me," Willow swore, surprising everyone that could hear her. 
She never swore, no matter how upset she was.

"Willow, do you know who they are?" Michael asked, concerned for 
Nikitaís safety. 

"Get the hell out of there now," Willow barked, hoping her friends 
could escape. It was the middle of the day, so she knew that the 
vampires wouldnít be able to follow. Then she heard a voice she 
thought she would never hear again.

"Well, well, well pet. It looks like we have some company."

"Michael, Nikita, Iím coming in," Willow grabbed her bag and 
sprinted from the van, ignoring the protests that were coming from 
her comm set. She had studied that blueprints to the building so 
much, she knew exactly were she had to go and the quickest way to 
get there. She also knew that one side of the room had a huge 
stained glass window, that blocked the suns rays. Thatís where she 
was heading for now. She could hear Spike taunting her friends, 
which made her run even faster.

"Did you come to save these poor little children?" 

"What are you?" Nikita asked as a vampire came up from behind her 
and pushed her and Michael closer to the blonde vampire in front 
of her.

"Me?" Spike queried. "Iím your host. And youíre my dinner." 
Suddenly there was a loud crash as the stained glass window was 
shattered into tiny pieces, throwing sunlight into the dark room, 
igniting quite a few vampires in the process, including Drusilla. 
"Bloody hell," Spike cursed as he turned to face the new intruder. 
He was surprised to see who it was. "You."

"Hello, Spike. Long time no see," Willow grinned at him. "Hope you 
donít mind me dropping in, but I was in the neighborhood."

"Willow," Michael said, "do you know him?"

"Spike?" Willow asked, not taking her eyes off the bleached blonde 
vampire as she walked over towards where her friends were being 
held. "Oh yeah, he and I go way back. Gee, how many times did you 
and the insane one try and kill me and the others."

"Not enough because here you are, still causing trouble," Spike 
growled. "So, is this where the slayer comes in to save you and 
your friends?"

"Spikey, now you know I donít hang with Buffy anymore," Willow 
taunted, finally reaching Nikita and Michael. She took something 
out of her bag. It was a water gun. She aimed it at the two 
vampires holding Michael and Nikita, wetting all four of them, but 
only harming the vampires. As the holy water burnt them, Willow 
quickly plunged a stake into their hearts, dusting them.

"Thatís right. Peaches told me about the group that took you," 
Spike said as he watched two of his minion try and sneak up on 
Willow. 

"Willow behind you," Nikita screamed. Willow turned quickly, a 
roundhouse kick connecting with the first vampire. She again 
quickly staked the second vampire, before turning the his partner, 
who had recovered from the kick. She hit him with a series of 
punches before dusting him also.

"Spikey, Angelus would be very disappointed in you for the minions 
that you have following you," Willow taunted. "I mean, really, not 
up to your usual standards."

"What can I say," Spike shrugged, looking for a way out. Willow 
had taken out the only vampires not destroyed by the sun. "They 
werenít mine in the first place. Only here for protection."

"Excuses, excuses. Thatís why we came in so unprepared. No body 
heat, no temperature readings."

"Yeah, well, red cell decided that they needed some added 
insurance," Spike said, finally deciding to just attack Willow, 
who dodged his attempted, hitting him on his back in return.

"Insurance for what?" Willow wanted to know. "What is so special 
about these kids?"

"For a little surprise for your friends back in good ole 
Sunnyhell, pet." Spike chuckled as he saw Willowís eyes go wide. 
"Letís just say, graduation will be pretty interesting." Willow 
ran straight for Spike, throwing punches left and right, him able 
to block only a few, while landing some of his own.

"What *punch* is *hit* going *kick* to *punch* happen?"

"Letís just say, a little ascension during the mayorís speech." 

"And Red cellís involvement?"

"To take out the slayer and that annoying group of hers before 
hand so they donít cause any trouble."

"Over my dead body Spike."

"I can arrange that," Spike morphed into his game face and 
attacked Willow. Michael and Nikita watched in horror as the 
vampire attacked their friend, unable to do anything about it 
because they didnít know what they were dealing with. They didnít 
bother answering the tense voices coming through there comms, 
instead focusing on the fight in front of them. Finally they saw 
Willow get the upper hand as Spike lay flat on his back, her 
straddling his chest.

"Well, at least I can say hello to Peaches in Hell. Iíll have to 
look him up," Spike grinned slyly, knowing that he was going to 
die, but not able to resist one last comment.

"Sorry, Spikey," Willow grinned back at the surprised vampire, "I 
got Angel out of hell a few months ago. Heís in Sunnydale and I 
canít wait to let him know everything you just told me." Spike 
screamed as he saw the stake hit his chest and then he was dust. 
Willow looked from where her enemy had been to see Nikita and 
Michael staring at her.

"Iím thinking that you want an explanation huh?" Both operatives 
nodded their heads. "Youíre never gonna believe me."

Nikita looked back at Willow, who was sitting in the back of the 
van, seeming lost in a trance. Willow had refused to answer any of 
Michael and Nikitaís question about what had happened on the 
mission, including what exactly they had just fought and what had 
happened to them. Not to mention, how Willow knew that blonde man 
or how to defeat them, only saying that she would explain when she 
got back to Section. Even going so far as putting on her resolve 
face, informing Michael that she would not be moved.

"Michael, what do you think will happen?"

"I donít Kita," Michael admitted. "Iíve never seen anything like 
that. If I didnít know any better, I would swear that those things 
were vampires."

"Vampires," Nikita exclaimed. "There are no such things as 
vampires. Theyíre just myths."

"Thatís what I always thought too, but how else do you explain 
what we just saw."

"I canít," Nikita replied. "But, what about Willow. She seemed to 
know exactly what she was dealing with. Even knowing the leader."

"I know and that worries me." Michael glanced in the rearview 
mirror at the young hacker that had found a place in his heart. 
"Ops and Madeline are not going to be happy about the fact that 
she has apparently kept more hidden about her past then we had 
thought."

"What do you think they will do to her?" Nikita was worried. 
While, if the creatures that they had just seen were truly 
vampire, she understood Willow not telling Section about them, she 
also knew that Ops and Madeline would not be as understanding 
about the secrecy. 

"I just donít know, Kita. I donít know." Nikita turned again to 
watch Willow, noticing that the girl was saying something. 

"Michael," Nikita whispered, "whatís happening to her?"

"Angel, come on, you have to hear me," Willow said as she entered 
the dreamscape. She needed to talk to the vampire about what had 
just taken place on the mission, knowing that he would be able to 
fill in the blanks about what Spike had told her.

"Willow, whatís wrong?" Angel asked, worriedly as he finally 
joined her. He had not been expecting to feel her presence and 
knew that something must have happened to make her contact him 
before they had arranged to.

"Something happened on that mission I told you about," Willow 
replied. "Something that I think you need to know about."

"What is it?"

"Spike."

"What did my childe do now?"

"He was working for Red Cell." Willow watched as Angelís face 
showed his shock at finding out about his childeís association 
with the terrorist group. "Hi and a bunch of other vamps were 
holding some kids hostages. We had gone in to rescue them, not 
knowing about the vamps. We lost three from Abeyance before I 
realized what was going on and went in to help Michael and 
Nikita."

"Are they okay?" 

"Theyíre fine. Slightly confused about what happened," Willow 
reassured the vampire. She knew how much he still cared about the 
people that he had befriended during his time in Section. 
"Luckily, my slayerette days are still ingrained in me and I had 
some supplies to help out."

"What about Spike?"

"Iím sorry Angel. Spike and Drusilla are both gone." Willow felt 
genuine remorse for her friendís pain. While he might not have 
liked what his childre were doing and would often fight against 
them, she knew that he still had feelings for the vampire couple. 

"You did it?" It wasnít an accusation, more of a statement. Willow 
nodded her head.

"Yeah. I broke through a window and Dru got instantly dusted. Then 
Spike and I fought. He didnít make it though. Surprised him when I 
told him you werenít in hell."

"I bet," Angel said as he thought about the blonde man he had once 
loved. "Do you know why he was helping Red Cell? Not exactly his 
style."

"Yeah, he made a point of telling me, figuring there was nothing I 
would be able to do to stop it," Willow explained. "Angel, whatís 
happening at graduation?"

Angel sighed, "The mayor is supposed to be ascending. Becoming a 
full demon. According to Anya, it isnít going to be pretty."

"Anyaís that vengeance demon you told me about," Willow inquired. 
"The one that Cordelia brought over when she found out about Faith 
and Xander."

"Yeah, thatís her," Angel confirmed. "Apparently she has seen this 
before and it wasnít a pleasant memory for her. Weíre not sure if 
weíre going to be able to stop it."

"Okay, then that explains Red Cellís involvement," Willow said 
more to herself than anyone else.

"What do you mean?" Angel asked.

"Red Cell is helping the mayor, I guess thatís who they are 
helping. Going to try and take out Buffy and the others so that 
they canít interfere."

"Damn it," Angel swore. ĎI canít protect them against Red Cell. 
Not anymore."

"I know." Willow seemed to think for a moment, before deciding on 
her course of action. "But Section can."

"Willow no," Angel protested. "You canít tell them. Youíll be 
canceled."

"Angel, Michael and Nikita saw Spike and the others and they know 
I knew him before. Besides that, Ops, Madeline and Birky were all 
listening in. I donít think I have much of a choice here. Besides, 
I mean, hello evil demon bad news for everyone."

"I know. I just donít like the idea of you being hurt."

"Angel, look at what I do for a living," Willow countered, already 
knowing that the vampire understood why she had to do what she was 
considering. "Besides, you need my help. I might not be in 
Sunnydale anymore, but that doesnít mean I donít care about what 
happens there. Itís where I grew up."

"I know," Angel conceeded, knowing that Willow was right. "But, 
make sure that if Section agrees to help, that they know you have 
to be one of the people that comes here."

"Angel, you know they wonít by that. They wonít like me going back 
to where people know me," Willow reminded him.

"Doesnít matter. Besides, Buffy and the others already know about 
Section. They wonít be too willing to help unless you are a part 
of the group. If only so they know that you are all right."

"Point taken," Willow said. "But, what about you. If I go, odds 
are so will Michael and Nikita. Theyíll recognize you. Itís not 
like youíve changed all that much in the past three years."

"I know," Angel sighed again. "Tell Section. Tell them 
everything."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"Okay." Willow felt the van slowly down and realized that they had 
arrived back at headquarters. "Angel, I have to go. Weíve 
arrived."

"Be careful little one," he told her.

"I will."

Willow and Angel broke off their connection and Willow opened her 
eyes to see Nikita and Michael looking at her from the front of 
the van. She smiled weakly at her friends, knowing that what was 
about to be said was going to change that relationship, whether it 
be good or bad, she wasnít sure. Suddenly the side door opened, 
startling Willow out of her thoughts. She turned and saw an irate 
Ops and Madeline staring at her.

"What the hell happened?" Ops said, his usual composure nowhere in 
sight.

"Long story, so how about we go somewhere so I can tell it." 
Willow said, hopping out of the van and walking past the stunned 
operatives. She saw Birkhoff waiting for her and smiled, going 
over to him and giving him a kiss. He looked at her, hurt in his 
eyes. She felt bad knowing that she was the reason it was there.

"Willow?"

"I know, Birky. Come on and let me tell you about my hometown."

"Okay, Willow, care to explain about what just happened during the 
mission," Ops inquired as he, Madeline, Michael, Nikita, Willow 
and Birkhoff made their way into the conference room, taking 
various seats. Birkhoff sat near Willow, grabbing her hand. She 
smiled over at him, glad for the comfort he was offering. Willow 
took a deep, calming breath before looking at the others. 

"Its a long story," she told them. "It began about three years ago 
when Buffy Summers came to town and I found out that vampires, 
demons and other things that go bump in the night are real." 
Willow punched some things into the keyboard in front of her. A 
hologram photo of Buffy suddenly appeared in the air over the 
table. Willow had preprogrammed it into the computer, just in case 
she had a need to explain her past to Section.

"Vampires?" Madeline questioned, disbelief in her voice. "Do you 
really expect us to believe that?"

"Yes," Willow said sincerely, looking right into Madelineís eyes. 
For once, Madeline was the first one to turn her head. "Because 
itís true. Ask Nikita and Michael.. They just had an encounter 
with one of the most feared vampires in history and have survived. 
A feat not many can claim." Willow turned to her two friends. "You 
canít deny that those things back at the house where vampires, can 
you?"

"I donít know what they were," Michael admitted as he felt 
Madeline and Ops attention turn to him. "But I know they werenít 
human."

"So, vampires are really, and you discovered this before you even 
came to Section," Madeline said in disbelief, but not as obvious 
about it this time. "You knew the one that was in charge. I 
believe you called him Spike. How did you know him?"

"He was in Sunnydale at the same time that you came and recruited 
me," Willow answered easily. "He tried to kill me and my friends a 
few times. He was unsuccessful." Willow grinned at the thought 
that she had actually manage to kill William the Bloody, while 
Buffy had been unsuccessful. Nope, she wasnít the same little 
hacker she used to be.

"You said that you found out about vampires when this Buffy girl 
came to town. How did you learn of their existence?"

"I was attacked one night at the Bronze. They killed my friend 
Jessie," Willowís eyes teared a bit at the thought of her late 
friend. "Buffy saved me. And I helped her after that. We called 
ourselves the slayerettes."

"Slayerettes?" Birkhoff asked, wary of what his girlfriend was 
telling them.

"Yeah. Or the scooby gang, just depended on that mood we were in."

"How is it that this Buffy person was able to rescue you from the 
vampires?" Ops inquired, trying to get back to the topic at hand.

"Okay, this part was always Gilesí favorite thing. ĎVampires and 
demons have been on this planet forever, and as such, there was a 
chosen one. One girl who was given the ability and strength to 
fight against the darkness. She is the vampire slayer.í Buffyís 
that slayer," Willow explained. "She fights vampires and demons 
and we help her with research or going on patrol with her or just 
hanging out when she needs some down time. Weíre one big slaying 
family."

"Whose part of this family?" Nikita had a feeling that she already 
knew the answer considering the people that Willow was always 
talking about, but she just wanted to confirm her suspicions.

"Well, thereís Giles. Heís Buffyís watcher. Helps with her 
training and research. Then thereís Xander and Cordelia, who also 
helps with research. Oz, my ex-boyfriend,í Willow squeezed 
Birkhoffís hand as she talked about Oz. "Heís a werewolf, but a 
good one. Anya, who I donít know. Sheís a former vengeance demon 
who came to town because Xander, in his infinite stupidity, 
cheated on Cordelia with Faith, who I also donít know. Faith is 
another slayer." A picture came up as Willow spoke each name, 
allowing Section to get a glimpse of the people that Willow had 
cared about before coming to Section, finally allowing Nikita, 
Michael and Birkhoff a chance to see the friends that they had 
only heard about before.

"I thought you said that there was only one chosen one," Madeline 
said.

"Yeah, well, Buffy never was one who went for the rules. She died 
a little over a year ago, but only for a minute. Unfortunately, it 
was long enough to call out the next slayer. That was Kendra. She 
was killed a few months ago in Jamaica by some demon. After that, 
it was Faithís turn. Sheís been in Sunnydale helping Buffy and the 
others after her watcher was killed. So, now there are two 
slayers. And they need help." Willow stated, making sure that they 
knew exactly whose help they needed, knowing that the true test 
was about to take place. 

"What kind of help?" Ops said.

"According to Spike, and confirmed by someone else I know, the 
mayor is planning on becoming some kind of demon the day of 
graduation. According to Anya, who has seen this kind of thing 
before, it is not something that will be pleasant for anyone. Red 
Cell had gotten involved as a favor to the mayor. They have been 
hired to take out Buffy and the others before the ceremony so that 
they will be unable to do anything to stop it."

"What other source are you talking about? The same one that has 
helped you in knowing exactly what has been going on in 
Sunnydale?" Madeline asked. Willow could tell that the woman was 
not happy about the fact that Willow had kept something such as 
vampires being real from Section. Never mind that, unless the saw 
them for themselves, they would have thought she was crazy. Not to 
mention that is was obvious that, while Willow had not been in 
contact with any of her known friends in Sunnydale, that she did 
know someone that was able to get information to her. That meant a 
possible breach of security that Madeline did not even want to 
consider.

"A friend of mine," Willow said evasively, knowing that she had to 
tell Section about Angel, but not wanting to do so just yet. "He 
and I have kept in touch for the past couple of months and he 
tells me what is going on. He said that, right now, the mayor is 
indestructible. No matter what they try. And, Anya told them that 
the only thing that could kill the demon is a major explosion. The 
last one was killed by a volcano going off."

"And you feel that it would be beneficial for all if we went in 
and helped your friends out of their little jam?" Willow seethed 
at the smug look on Madelineís face, hating the woman for seeming 
indifference to the plights of the people of Sunnydale.

"I would say so," Willow told the woman. "I mean, the whole demon 
thing, not of the good. It would make the people we go against 
pale in comparison. Iíve seen what some of the smaller demons can 
do. Not pretty," Willow told the shocked group. She looked around 
at everyone that meant so much to her and watched as they tried to 
absorb the information that she had just given them. Madeline 
seemed to be unaffected, but Willow could see that the woman was 
bothered by it. Opsí face was a little more telling. He didnít 
know what was going on. Michael and Nikita were holding each 
otherís hands, not even bothering to hide it, as they sought 
comfort in each other. They loved Willow like a daughter, as well 
as a friend, and they hated what she had to go through before she 
came to Section. Birkhoff was the most affected though. He loved 
Willow with all his heart but couldnít understand why she had felt 
the need to keep something so important hidden from he. He knew 
that she had kept some things secret, as well as many in Section 
did, but he had no idea that it was something so major as the fact 
that she used to fight demons and vampires for a living. He looked 
over at the woman who shared his life and saw her watching him, 
concern and love written on her face and he suddenly didnít care 
about the fact that she didnít tell them. He loved her and he 
would do anything she would asked. Willow saw Birkhoff make a 
decision and she smiled at him, cupping his cheek in her hand, 
mouthing an ĎI love youí to him.

"Is that why you are so good at fighting?" Michael finally asked, 
breaking the silence that had engulfed the room.

Willow nodded her head. "Yeah. I didnít lie about the reason. I 
mean, it was for self-defense, just not of the human variety. 
Sunnydale is not exactly the safest place to go out at night, but 
considering what I did for fun, that was the only time for me to 
go out. I needed to be able to protect myself and my friends. I 
didnít have a choice."

"Willow," Nikita said, as she thought of a long ago conversation 
with the red head. She was trying to think of a way to phrase the 
question that was going through her mind, remembering another 
person that Willow had talked about once, but did not mention in 
her briefing. "who was Angel?" Willow stood up and walked over to 
the window, looking out over Section, taking deep breathes to calm 
herself. "You told me about him once. Said that he was involved 
with Buffy. Why didnít you talk about him?"

"Angelís a good friend of mine. He is also the love of Buffyís 
life, even though the two of them canít be together. He helps 
Buffy and the others by getting them information that they 
otherwise would not be able to find," Willow explained.

"Heís back?"

"Yes. I got him back a few months ago. Heís been helping Buffy 
ever since, trying to redeem himself in their eyes. According to 
him, it hasnít been an easy job. They arenít as willing as I to 
see past his previous actions."

"What do you mean, you got him back? You have not been away from 
Section since you have come in," Ops told the girl.

"Well, it goes like this. There once was a vampire named Darla. 
One night, outside a tavern in Galway, she found a young handsome 
man and turned him. That was the night, Angelus, the Scourge of 
Europe was born. "Michael, Ops and Madeline all gasped, having 
heard the name before. About the reign of terror that was 
attributed to him. They never knew he was a vampire. "Angelus was 
pure evil. Spike and Drusilla were two of his childre. Spike being 
the first and his favorite. Drusilla, Angelus had decided to play 
with. He killed everything that she loved. Her family. Her priest. 
And on the day she was to take her vows in order to become a nun, 
Angelus took her. That was after he had already driven her to the 
brink of insanity, a place she never came back from.

"Then about eighty years ago or so, Angelus did the stupidist 
thing he could have done. He found a young girl and had her for 
dinner. Unfortunately, this was no ordinary girl. She was a 
favorite among her gypsy clan. So they cursed Angelus, giving him 
a soul but yet retaining all the memories as his time as Angelus. 
That is how Angel was born."

"Angel is a vampire?" Nikita asked, remembering all of the things 
the Willow had told her about the man. She couldnít put together 
the two different images that Willow was giving her.

"Yes, but a good one. At least he has been, more or less, since 
that time."

"More or less?"

Willow started to fidget a bit as she remembered the events of the 
year before. "Well, apparently the Rom decided to put a clause on 
the curse without telling anyone. If Angel was to find a moment of 
true happiness, where his guilt would no longer be present, then 
he would lose his soul once more and revert back to Angelus. Last 
year, on the night of Buffyís seventeenth birthday, he had that 
one moment. Next thing we knew, he was holding me by my neck, 
threatening to kill me."

"But you said he was back," Birkhoff asked, looking at Willow, 
hating the tears that were threatening to run down her cheeks as 
she remembered her past.

"I got him back. Remember that time you all came over and found me 
past out." Michael, Nikita and Birkhoff all nodded, clearly 
remembering that night and how worried they were about her. "I 
lied about the kind of spell I was doing. It wasnít for 
protection, well not in the strictest sense of the word. I had 
found a soul restoration spell in one of the web sites that I 
always got to. Thatís what I was attempting to perform. But I was 
too late." The group watched as Willow allowed the tears to fall 
as her memories overtook her, even Madeline feeling her heart go 
out to the girl who had apparently been through more than anyone 
had even imagined. 

"He and Buffy were battling. Apparently Angelus was trying to open 
a portal to hell, one that would take over and destroy humanity. 
Buffy was trying to stop him. By the time that I had completely 
the spell, and Angelís soul was returned to him, it was too late. 
The portal was already opening and the only way for it to close 
was for Buffy to stab Angel and use his blood to close it. And she 
did, not only closing the portal but sending Angel to hell also."

"How do you know this?" Nikita said, getting up and going over to 
Willow, wrapping her arms around her, giving her a hug. Willow 
clung to Nikita for a moment, before regaining her composure. She 
pulled away from Nikita and took in everyone around the room.

"Well, the only thing that Angel and I have been able to figure 
out was because of the restoration ritual, we now have this bond, 
where we can talk to each other. At first, it was only in our 
dreams but now, we can do it whenever we concentrate really hard."

"So, Angel is in hell now?" Michael wanted to know as he watched 
Nikita take her seat again. Willow nodded her head.

"No. I did another spell some time ago and got him out. I had to. 
Through the dreams and the talks I knew what was being done to 
him. What he was going through. I couldnít leave him there. I had 
to do something. One day I found the spell and when the conditions 
were right I cast it. Angel returned to Earth that day, back in 
Sunnydale where he had first disappeared from. He has been there 
ever since and," turning to Madeline, "he is who has kept me 
informed of the situation in Sunnydale."

"Back in the van," Nikita started, "when you were in that trance. 
You were talking to Angel, werenít you?"

"Yes. I wanted to find out what he knew about the mayorís plans. I 
also wanted to tell him about Spike and Drusilla before he found 
out from someone else. They were his childre, no matter what he 
might have felt about them, he still cared about them. He told me 
about the Ascension."

"And you told him about Section." Madeline stated.

"No," Willow shook her head, walking over to the computer again, 
knowing that the time for the last surprise to come. "He already 
knew. Heís known youíve had me since the night Michael and Nikita 
came and took me. Spike had seen them come and went and told 
Angelus. He put two and two together, and had fun in telling Buffy 
and the others about my new life. He knew that the fact that there 
was nothing that they could do to help me would hurt far more than 
if they thought I was dead."

"He knew about Section? How?" Birkhoff asked. Willow smiled at him 
as she hit a button. A picture of Angel appeared in front of 
everyone, surprising them with the image. "Liam?"

"Willow, why do you have a picture of Liam?" Ops asked.

"Because Liam is Angel," Willow stated, matter of factly.

"Liam was a vampire? But he died four years ago," Michael said in 
disbelief.

"Actually, he died over two hundred years ago," Willow corrected 
the man, "he just faked his death four years ago. Thatís when 
Whistler, a good demon who works for the Powers That Be, showed 
him Buffy and told him that she was his destiny. He fell in love 
with her at first sight and so he went to Sunnydale to wait for 
her. Heís been there ever since."

"And he believes that Section should help this group in Sunnydale 
also?" Madeline asked.

"Yes. But, with one condition. That I be allowed to go with them," 
Willow quickly continued before she could be interrupted. "He 
knows that it is an odd request, but it makes sense. Buffy and the 
others know Section has me. They wonít be willing to accept any 
help unless they know that I am all right. Angel knows that this 
is my life now, he understands and accepts that. If anything, I 
would say he almost approves of it. He knew me before Section, and 
he knows me now and he likes the changes that have happened. He 
also knows that, no matter what happens in Sunnydale, that I will 
be coming back to Section, both because I have to but because I 
also will want to."

"And he accepts this? What if we also want to bring him back here 
now that we know where and what he is?" Madeline asked, curiously. 

"Because, he would be able to escape in a heartbeat," Willow 
answered smugly. "He often disappeared without Section knowing 
about it. He had to considering the cafeteria doesnít exactly have 
what he eats. Not to mention, he often did patrols in the area, 
getting rid of any vampires and the such. He had no problem with 
security." Madeline and Ops took that in, realizing the truth of 
the statement.

"I see your point. In return for our help with the Red Cell 
faction, what does Angel want in return?" Ops asked.

"Nothing. He just doesnít want to see them hurt, thatís all." Ops 
and Madeline nodded their heads. Willow saw this. "So does that 
mean that you are willing to help them?" Willow knew that she had 
taken a lot of chances with her friends lives, telling Section 
about Sunnydale, but she knew that unless the full truth was 
disclosed, that the odds were good that they wouldnít agree to 
help them.

"I believe that it would be for our benefit to help them," 
Madeline answered. "You, Michael, Nikita and Birkhoff will go to 
Sunnydale, as soon as possible to assist them. Inform Walter of 
whatever needs you may have." A cold look entered Madelineís eyes. 
"But, Willow, know this. You will not be allowed to stay in 
Sunnydale past the time of the mission. We will allow you to see 
youíre friends graduate, but after that you will return to 
Section."

"I understand," Willow replied, just happy that she would be able 
to see Buffy and the others at least once more.

"That will be all." Ops dismissed the group, who left silently. He 
turned to Madeline.

"What do you think?"

"It explains a lot of the missing pieces in her file. Her fighting 
ability. Her quick mind when planning a mission. These are things 
that she probably picked up from helping her friends."

"Do you think that we should being them into Section?"

Madeline thought a moment, "I donít believe so. I think they would 
be more trouble than they are worth, and if what Willow states is 
accurate, they are needed where they are." Ops nodded his head and 
thought about the young red head that just left and how she had 
managed to change everyoneís reality in such a short time. Yes, 
there was something special about her.

"I donít know if I can do this," Willow said as she approached the 
school, Nikita, Michael and Birkhoff surrounding her. She had been 
preparing herself for the coming meeting since Madeline and Ops 
told her that she was going to be able to help her friends, but as 
the time approached, she found herself growing more and more 
nervous. (How will the react? Will they accept me? Iíve changed so 
much since Iíve been gone, will they even want to still know me) 
The four people were silent as they entered the school, following 
Willowís lead. It was very different from the trip to get to 
Sunnydale.

Michael, Nikita and Birkhoff had bombarded Willow with questions 
about Sunnydale and her past as soon as they left the briefing, 
wanting to know more about what they were about to find themselves 
in. They also wanted to know why Willow had never told any of them 
about her past. When Willow explained that she knew that there was 
a good chance that she would be canceled because they thought she 
was crazy, they understood that. They had seen operatives canceled 
for less. And Walter loved the idea of trying to invent new 
weapons that would take care of the demons and vampires that 
Section was sure to find themselves battling now that they knew 
about them.

"Youíll be fine," Nikita reassured the scared girl. "Theyíre your 
friends. Theyíll be thrilled to see you."

"They love you, Willow. No matter what," Michael said. 

"I know, itís just that Iím not the same person I was when I left 
them. So many things have changed that Iím afraid that they wonít 
be able to accept me for who I am now."

"They will if they care about you," Nikita told her. She felt bad 
for Willow. She knew how tough this must be for the girl, finally 
being able to see her friends but knowing that she wouldnít be 
able to stay with them. Her heart broke for what she must be going 
through. "Besides, you told me that Liam, I mean Angel, would be 
waiting for you, so that should help." 

"Yeah, it does." Willow smiled at the blonde. "He canít wait to 
see you guys. Heís missed you. He felt bad for making you think 
that he was dead but he never even assumed that you would know the 
truth, let alone accept it. You do accept it, donít you?"

"Yeah, it just takes getting some used to," Nikita assured her. 
Michael and Birkhoff nodded. "I never knew Liam as Angelus, 
although Iím sure that was his past was one of the reasons he was 
so good at what he did. In the short time that I knew him, he was 
just someone that I could talk to. Who helped me get over my fears 
of what I was to become."

"Iím just glad that I know how he beat me all the time. Him being 
a vampire gave him an unfair advantage."

"Yeah, thatís it. So whatís your excuse for my kicking your ass 
all the time," Willow grinned at Michael.

"Iíd say, the fact that you had him trying to kill you would be a 
good enough reason to learn how to fight," Michael said as he 
remembered exactly how good Liam was at killing people. He 
shuddered as he thought of how many times Liam had even gone 
beyond what Madeline would consider extreme in order to extract 
information from hostages. Willow stopped as the group reached the 
library doors.

"Here we are," she announced in a hushed voice. Inside she could 
hear her friends laughing at something someone had just said. 
(Probably Xander) Willow grew sad as she remembered her childhood 
friend and everything that he had to go through when she had 
disappeared. She wished there was some way she could make it up to 
him, to all of them, but there wasnít. And the fact that she was 
back would not help any, because she was not staying. Nikita could 
see the hesitation in Willow and went over to her.

"Do you want us to go in first?" Willow looked over at the blonde, 
grateful for the offer.

"Would you mind? I think I need a few more minutes to prepare 
myself," Willow said, trying to will away the butterflies in her 
stomach. She didnít understand it. She worked for an anti-
terrorist organization and had gone against vampires and demons, 
but the thought of seeing her old friends scared her to death.

"No problem. Come in when youíre ready," Michael told her.

"Do you want me to stay out here with you?" Birkhoff asked, 
concerned about Willow. The two of them had had a long talk on the 
trip and he knew how much she was affected by her return to 
Sunnydale. Willow smiled at him.

"No, thanks though. I think I just need a minute to myself."

"Okay," Birkhoff leaned over and gave Willow a small kiss, making 
sure she knew exactly how much he loved her. "Weíll see you in 
there." Willow backed away from the library doors and watched as 
Michael, Nikita and Birkhoff entered. Once the library doors were 
closed, she went back over to them so she could see what was 
happening inside.

"So, does anyone have any idea of what the mayorís next move will 
be?" Cordelia asked, not noticing as the library doors opened, 
allowing the three operatives to enter.

"I have no idea," Buffy said. She looked up and saw the three new 
arrivals. She took in their appearance and felt apprehensive. 
There was something about them that wasnít right. "Can we help 
you?"

"Actually, I believe it is we who can help you," Michael said, 
taking on the role of leader that he always assumed when on a 
mission. "We worked for an organization that has some information 
that leads us to believe that you and your friends are in danger." 
Michael didnít say anything about how they had gotten that 
information, figuring he would leave Willowís name out of it until 
she was ready to face her friends.

Michael, Nikita and Birkhoff looked around the room, putting names 
to the faces that Willow had shown them. They remembered the 
stories that the witch had told them about her life in Sunnydale 
and couldnít believe that this group in front of them, these 
children, had done everything that she said they had. But as 
Michael looked into their eyes, he could see that they were all 
older than their age. There was a hardness in them that reminded 
him of some of Sectionís operatives and he found himself sad that 
theyíre youth had to be given up so that they could fight against 
the demons that others didnít believe in.

"And what kind of trouble would that be, exactly?" Giles asked 
from the door of his office. He had heard the comment Michael had 
made and was curious about the three operatives.

"That a terrorist organization is going to try and attack you so 
that you do not interfere in the mayorís plans," Michael stated 
simply.

"And you would know this how?" Buffy asked.

"Michael has his ways," came a voice from the darkness of the 
stacks. 

"You know this guy, deadboy?" Xander asked, as Angel entered the 
library. Buffy was staring between Angel and the three people at 
the entrance to the library and saw as their faces actually 
softened at the sight of the souled vampire.

"Liam," Nikita said, smiling and running over to the handsome man, 
throwing her arms around her lost friend. "I canít believe itís 
really you. I mean, she said it was you, but I didnít really 
believe her."

Angel laughed at Nikitaís babbling, realizing that it was caused 
by her friendship with Willow. He lifted her off the ground, 
swinging her around, making her laugh like a school girl. "Itís 
me, Kita. Itís me."

Birkhoff walked over to him. "Itís good to see you Liam. It hasnít 
been the same without you." Angel set, Nikita down, taking 
Birkhoffís offered hand. 

"So I heard. Congratulations on your new living arrangements. 
Youíve made her very happy and, from what I hear and see, I would 
say that the feeling is mutual," Angel teased the young man in 
front of him. Birkhoff was like a little brother to him and Angel 
was glad to see him find happiness at last. Finally, Angel turned 
to face Michael.

"So, what about you Michael? Happy to see me, or are you in the 
mood for another fight. See if you can beat me yet," Angel taunted 
the younger man. "From what I heard, youíve been getting soft. 
Letting a girl beat you and all."

"Yeah, well, considering the reason why she had to learn to fight, 
I would say you should be damn proud of her." Michael said, before 
grinning at the man in front of him. "Damn, itís good to see you. 
Itís been too long."

"Iím sorry. I didnít have a choice," Angel said sincerely. He had 
missed his former friends and the time he had sent in Section. He 
was just glad to see that they were all still alive and together.

"I know. Red explained it to us. Sorry about Spike and Drusilla," 
Michael felt the need to say, remembering Willow telling them how 
hard the vampire had taken the loss of his childre.

"Thank you. Iím just glad that she was there or else I would have 
had to have dealt with losing you and Nikita," Angel said, 
squeezing the blonde at his side. He saw Buffy stiffen at the 
gesture, but didnít let Nikita go. He had missed the blonde, even 
though they were only friends.

"So I hear you and Kita here have hooked up. Must have made Ops 
and Madeline so happy," Angel stated, sarcasm lacing his words. 
Michael actually laughed at the vampireís face.

"You know Ops and Madeline," Michael shrugged. "But, considering 
our numbers are up, they are willing to live with it. Anyway, you 
know Red when she puts on her resolve face. Not even Madeline is 
able to resist."

"I bet."

"Excuse me, remember us. Who are you people and how do you know 
Angel and why are you calling him Liam?" Buffy asked. She was not 
happy about the turn of events that had just taken place in the 
library. Especially when Michael was talking about this Red person 
and her resolve face. Only one person had a resolve face that 
Angel knew well and thatís when it hit her.

"You took Willow," Buffy accused the group. At her words, the 
tension in the library increased tenfold as the teenagers quickly 
got into a defensive position. "Where is she?"

"Iím right here Buffy."

"Willow," Buffy shouted as she saw the red head hacker standing in 
the library doorway. She quickly ran over, grabbing the girl and 
hugging her. She was joined by Cordelia, Xander and Oz, all trying 
to get a hold of their missing friend. 

"Umm, guys, still need to breathe here," Willow gasped as she felt 
herself being crushed by her friends. The four slayerettes moved 
back, allowing her to get some needed air. It also allowed them to 
get their first good look at her and what they saw surprised them. 
She wasnít the same little hacker that had disappeared a little 
girl who loved to wear fluffy sweaters and jumpers. In her place, 
was a woman. Willow was wearing a green spaghetti strap tank top 
and black leather mini skirt. She had a pair of black go go boots 
on, along with her trademark leather coat. All but one was unhappy 
with the change.

"Willow, what happened to you? I mean, youíre notÖ" Cordelia 
actually found herself at a loss for words. "You look good. I like 
it."

"I stopped shopping at Sears, Cordy. Nikita hates it there," 
Willow grinned at the ex cheerleader. She saw Giles standing a 
little distance from her and walked over to her former mentor.. He 
enveloped her in a bear hug. "Itís good to see you, Giles."

"Iím so glad that youíre back," he told the girl, his voice 
breaking from the tears that threatened to fall.. He hadnít 
realized how much she had meant to him until she was gone and he 
was relieved to see her safe. He remembered what Angelus had told 
them about the group that had taken Willow, and he had been afraid 
of what they might do to the girl. How they might change her. But, 
despite the outward changes, her eyes still held the innocence 
that was pure Willow.

"So am I, Giles. Iíve missed you all so much." Willow turned to 
face everyone in the library, her eyes catching sight of the only 
person, other than Section, who knew about her new life. "Angel," 
she cried running over to the vampire, who smiled as he picked her 
up, swinging her around, again surprising the slayerettes by his 
open display of affection.

"About time, I actually got to hold you, little one," he teased.

"How many times have I told you not to call me little one?" she 
grinned at him as he finally set her back down on the ground. She 
held onto him to steady herself. "Whoa, head rush." She saw 
Nikita, Michael and Birkhoff smile at her and Angel, glad to see 
her so happy. "Have a good reunion with your friends, Liam?"

"Yes,í he said, looking at the three operatives. "However did you 
convince Madeline and Ops that they should send you? I didnít 
think they would actually go for it."

"Just told them the truth, and they actually believed me," Willow 
shrugged. "Helped that Nikita and Michael had been there when I 
dusted Spike and Drusilla."

"I still canít believe you bested my child," Angel told her. "I 
donít know if I should be upset or proud."

"No you donít," Willow laughed. "Besides you know that I didnít 
have a choice. It was either them or Kita and Michael. I just made 
my choice the way I saw I needed to. Besides, if I didnít I 
wouldnít have found out about Red Cell and their deal with the 
mayor."

"Good point."

"Ummm, Willow, did I hear you right. You dusted Spike and 
Drusilla?" Buffy asked in disbelief. She couldnít have heard her 
friend right. And Buffy was still trying to figure out how Angel 
knew the people that had taken Willow in the first place, not to 
mention why he suddenly seemed to change from the brooding, guilt 
ridden man she had fallen in love with, to someone who was smiling 
and laughing with the new arrivals.

"Yes Buffy. You heard right. I dusted Spike and Drusilla. Well, 
really just Spike, since Dru bit it when the sun hit her," she 
replied casually. Willow walked over to the center of the library, 
seeing out of the corner of her eye that her friends were joining 
her. She went over to Faith and Anya, who were trying to 
understand what was going on and who the people were that had just 
caused such an uproar. They had heard about Willow, but they 
couldnít place the stories they heard about the shy hacker with 
the grown woman in front of them. "Hi, Iím Willow. You must be 
Faith and Anya."

"Hi," Anya said. Faith just nodded her head. "Iíve heard a lot 
about you from Xander."

"Yeah, well, donít believe everything he says," Willow grinned. 
"He has this nasty tendency to exaggerate things."

"How did you know who they were?" Buffy asked, pointing to Faith 
and Anya. "They werenít here when you were."

"Oh Angel told me," Willow replied, off-handedly. She saw the 
confusion on the group from Sunnydaleís faces. "Angel and I have a 
link that was formed when I gave him back his soul. It got 
stronger when I got him out of hell. He told me about everyone." 
Willow really didnít want to go into all the details, so she just 
tried to play the spells off as no big deal. Unfortunately it 
didnít work.

"Wait a minute, you gave Angel back his soul and got him out of 
hell. How?" Giles questioned. He had known that Willow was 
dabbling in witchcraft before she was taken, but he had no idea 
she was as strong as she was.

"Yeah. Took a lot out of me. Scared the daylights out of Michael, 
Kita and Birky when they found me passed out after the restoration 
ritual. Talk about doing a quick step around the truth. I have 
some major apologizing to do for lying to them." Willow felt 
someone come over and take her hand. She turned, expecting it to 
be Birkhoff. It was Oz. "Oz."

"Hey Willow, Iíve missed you. I was afraid that I wasnít going to 
see you again." He leaned over to give her a kiss and was 
surprised when she pulled back, taking her hand out of his. 
"Willow?" 

"Iím sorry," she whispered softly. Willow walked over to Birkhoff, 
who had a worried look on his face. He knew about Oz and how much 
Willow was beginning to care for the young man before she was 
taken and was afraid that she may still care for him. His fears 
disappeared when he saw the look on her face. Willow gave the 
young man a gentle kiss, reassuring him of who her feelings 
belonged to. She turned back and saw the hurt on Ozís face and 
felt bad for hurting him, but unable to do anything about it.

"What is going on here?" Buffy asked once again, anger entering 
her voice due to the fact that no one had bothered to answer her 
questions. Willow turned to the slayer and realized that the 
reunion would have to wait. There was business to attend to. She 
signaled for everyone to take a seat.

"Well, I guess introductions should be made. This is Nikita, 
Michael and Birkhoff. I work with them." The three operatives 
nodded their heads at the teenagers. 

"Are you the people that took Willow?" Xander asked, as he sat at 
the table facing the operatives.

"Yes, we were there," Michael said in a clipped tone, quickly 
letting the joy of seeing his old friend again disappear. "We 
brought her in and Birkhoff trained her."

"Like she really needed a lot of training," Birkhoff smiled at the 
girl beside him, who returned it with one of her own. "I think she 
taught me a few things."

"And that is saying a lot," added Angel. Buffy turned to him, 
watching as he stood close to Nikita and Michael.

"And you know them how?" She asked her semi-boyfriend.

"I used to work with them," Angel explained, realizing the time 
had finally come to tell everyone about his past. "I was recruited 
by Section when I was accused of murder." Angel rose his hands, 
silencing the questions that he knew would be coming. "I didnít do 
it. Letís just say it was a case of being in the wrong place at 
the wrong time. Anyway, I was recruited and thatís where I met 
Michael and Birkhoff, who were both already there. Nikita came 
along about two years before I left to come to Sunnydale. I was 
with them for ten years altogether."

"And you never bothered telling us you were alive," Nikita 
admonished the vampire. "If you werenít already dead, I would kill 
you myself." Angel and the people from Section all laughed at 
Nikitaís off hand comment.

"Sorry, Kita. Didnít know how to tell you all the truth about me 
without ending up on one of Madelineís tables."

"Understood."

Angel continued his story, "Anyway, when Spike told me about what 
he saw happen to Willow, I knew instantly that Section had taken 
her. I recognized the description of Nikita and Michael. And I 
also knew that there was nothing that you would be able to do 
about helping her."

"Angel, we are so not going to get into the whole Ďthat wasnít 
you, that was Angelusí thing again are we," Willow asked rolling 
her eyes at him.

"Not with you present. Donít want you to kick my ass like you do 
Michaelís," Angel grinned at the red head, who laughed at him.

"Willow kick your ass, yeah right," Buffy commented, not even 
noticing the daggers that were being shot at her from the girl in 
question. 

"She took down Spike," Angel informed her.

"Pure luck."

"Ahem," Giles coughed, trying to get their attention back to the 
problem at hand, before anything was said that would be regretted. 
He hadnít missed the anger and hurt in Willowís eyes at his 
slayerís comment. "You were saying something about terrorists."

"Yes," Willow began after a nod from Michael. "Apparently the 
group known as Red Cell is planning on attacking you to make sure 
that you donít interfere in whatever fun the mayor has planned for 
graduation. If you let us, we can help protect you from them and 
take them out. We are looking for places that they might be using 
for headquarters right now. Birkhoff and I have found a few 
possibilities and are currently trying to pinpoint the exact 
location."

"We donít need their help to protect us," Buffy said snidely. She 
didnít even bother to hide the contempt in her voice at the people 
who had taken her best friend and changed her. "Weíve battled the 
hellmouth more times than I can count, I think we can handle some 
terrorists."

"Buffy, youíve handled demons and vampires. They are a bit 
different from terrorists," Willow explained. "For one, Red Cell 
has absolutely no morals. They will kill anyone and everyone that 
is in their way, including your family. They are ruthless. And, 
unlike vampires and other creatures, they are not limited to the 
night. Not to mention that they donít need to wait for an 
invitation to get into your house. Trust me, Iíve seen what these 
people are capable of."

"So what do you want us to do?" Cordelia asked.

"Right now, let us do our jobs. Thatís what weíre here for," 
Willow told the cheerleader. "I know thatís not saying much, but 
until we have a better idea of what is going on, thatís all I can 
say. We will be there to protect you. Especially Buffy, Giles and 
Faith because Red Cell will consider them the biggest threat. I 
would suggest the three of you stick together for now, as much as 
possible. That way, if something happens, you will all be able to 
handle it much better."

"And thatís your idea of a plan?" Buffy asked.

"Thatís the best that I have been able to come up with, so far, 
considering the limited amount of knowledge that we have. Trust 
me, we arenít happy about this either," Willow stated. "But, we 
will take care of the situation and then be on our way."

"Wait a minute," Xander exploded as he took in Willowís words. 
"What do you mean, youíll be on your way? You arenít staying."

Willow shook her head as she looked at her childhood friend. 
"Sorry, no. Iíll be returning with the others when the mission is 
done."

"And youíre okay with that," Buffy asked, her voice sounding soft 
at the thought of Willow leaving so soon after her return. "You 
donít mind having to leave Sunnydale again? To leave your 
friends?"

Willowís eyes looked at the blonde slayer, sadness in them. "Iím 
not saying that I donít want to stay, itís just that Sunnydale 
isnít my life anymore. Iíve missed you all so much, you have no 
idea. I think I bored Birky and Nikita with stories about you all. 
Itís just that I have a new life. One that includes friends and 
more." Willow looked over at Birkhoff again. Cordelia was the only 
one that understood the look that was in her eyes.

"Youíre in love with him arenít you?"

Willow smiled at the brunette, "Yes. Have been since I first 
arrived at Section."

"Serious?"

"You can say that. Weíre living together." Cordelia smiled and 
went over to give the surprised hacker a hug.

"I am so happy for you. You deserve it."

"Thanks, Cordy." Buffy and the others looked at the two girls, 
trying to figure out what had just happened. Willow had come back 
but wasnít staying. Was working for a group of killers and 
apparently enjoyed her job. And, on top of that, was living with 
some guy that none of them knew. And Cordelia was hugging her. 

"Okay, this is way too much. I think I need to get out of here and 
think a bit," Buffy told everyone.

"Iím with you there," Xander said. Oz just nodded his head.

"Guys, Iím sorry if this upsets you all, but itís my life now. I 
hope you can accept that. Accept me," Willow said, hoping that her 
two friends would be able to look past their hatred of Section, 
but doubting it.

"I know, Wills. Itís just tough," Buffy said. "Xander, patrol?"

"Yeah," Xander turned to look at Willow again, taking in the 
changes that had taken place in his friend. "Later guys." Willow 
watched in silence as Xander, Oz and Buffy all left the library. 
Faith and Anya left shortly after, having almost been completely 
forgotten by everyone else. Giles walked over to Willow, placing 
his hand on her shoulder.

"It is good to have you back, Willow, even if it is only for a 
short time." Willow smiled at the older man as she watched him go 
back to his office.

"Well, that went surprisingly well," Willow quipped to the 
remaining people in the library. She turned to Cordelia. "I would 
have assumed that you would have been one of the first people to 
leave."

"Yeah, well, things change. And so do people," Cordelia told her. 
"Besides, unlike them, I am way curious about your new life. Not 
to mention, your new man," Cordelia smiled as she looked over at 
Birkhoff. "So what say we Bronze it?"

"Are you sure?"

"Sure. I mean, if youíre here to protect us, I guess I better get 
used to having you all around. And I want to hear all about 
Angelís past. Get me one up on little miss cryBuffy. So whatís up 
with the whole Liam thing, anyway?" The five people in the room 
laughed at Cordeliaís question. The laughter continued into the 
night as memories were relived and friendships formed by the six 
people, never knowing how much the lives of the others would 
depend on it.

It was early the next day when Willow entered the library. She had 
decided to come alone this time, wanting this meeting to be 
without the tension she was sure would be present if her friends 
from Section were there. She smiled when she saw Cordelia already 
there. The brunette had surprised her the night before, offering 
her unconditional friendship. Cordelia was the last one she would 
have expected that from, but she was glad for it. It meant that at 
least one person in Sunnydale was willing to accept the new 
Willow.

"Hey, Willow, you got here early. Where are the others?" Cordelia 
asked as she saw Willow enter, causing Buffy and Xander to also 
turn to face the red head.

"Birkhoff is trying to pinpoint exactly where Red Cell may be 
hiding and Michael and Nikita are out getting used to Sunnydale," 
Willow explained. "Almost like a little vacation for the two of 
them." Willow grinned at the thought of her two friends taking 
advantage of the down time before they truly had to worry about 
Red Cell. "So I thought I would come over and see you guys. That 
is, if thatís okay with you."

"Hey, thatís cool with me," Cordelia smiled. She had found herself 
extremely comfortable with Willow and the others the night before. 
Like she was accepted by them. She looked forward to spending more 
time with them before they had to leave. Willow grinned at the 
brunette.

"Thanks," Willow turned to face Buffy and Xander.

"What about the two of you?"

"Sure, Wills, I would love to spend some time with you," Xander 
said as he came over to hug his old friend. "Iíve missed you. We 
have a lot to catch up on. Apparently more me than you." Willow 
smiled at the boy she used to have a crush on.

"Willow, I do want to try and understand what has happened to 
you," Buffy said, still not moving from her spot. "I mean, what 
happened to the shy little hacker that was my friend?"

"Sheís right in front of you, Buffy," Willow told the blonde 
slayer, walking over to her. "Iím still the same Willow, just a 
little more grown up them before. Doing what I do for a living 
kind of makes you that way."

"Then why do you do it?"

"Because I donít have a choice," Willow shrugged. "And I donít 
mind it as much now. I mean, sure the whole killing people thing 
is like ewwww, but they arenít exactly nice people to begin with. 
I mean, they kill people. I mean, when we found Spike, he was 
holding kids hostages for Red Cell. Children. How am I supposed to 
feel guilty for wanting to hurt them?"

"But thatís not who you are," Buffy said. "Thatís not our Willow."

"Iím not your Willow. Not anymore," Willow replied. "Iím my own 
Willow. Iím who I have made myself into. If Iíve learned anything 
since Iíve joined Section, itís who I am. Theyíve let me grown 
into someone that I like. I finally broke free of the restraints 
that have been placed on me by people since I was little. I would 
never have been able to do that if I had stayed here. I was 
already changing when I was taken, even to the point that I was 
one hell of a fighter, but I was always afraid of letting you know 
that. I knew that it would make you unhappy and I didnít want to 
risk losing your friendship."

"But you donít care about that friendship now?"

"I care, Buffy. I really do, itís just that I donít need it to 
survive," Willow told her. "I have other friends now. People who 
respect me for my ability. People who rely on me with their lives. 
Do you have any idea of how that makes me feel?"

Buffy shook her head. "I guess I donít. I had always assumed that 
you were happy with the role you were in. That you liked being my 
best friend. Being our little hacker."

"I did like being your best friend," Willow explained. "And I 
still want that friendship to continue. But if you want it too, 
then you have to be willing to accept me for who I am now and not 
try and make me go back to being the Willow that you knew when you 
first came to town."

"But thatís the Willow I knew. That was the Willow that was my 
friend," Buffy rebutted.

"I know, but arenít you at least a little willing to get to know 
the Willow in front of you."

"I am," Xander answered. Willow turned and gave him a small smile. 
"I mean, any Willow is a good Willow. As long as I know that 
youíre happy and all, Iím willing to at least try and keep our 
friendship."

"Thanks, Xanman." Willow turned to face Buffy again. "What about 
it, Buff, friends."

"Iím not sure. Iím just not comfortable with the whole thing." 
Willow watched sadly as Buffy gathered her books and left the 
library. She felt Xander come over and place his arm on her 
shoulder.

"Sheíll be cool with it. Just give her some time," he comforted 
the red head.

"I hope so, Xander. I really hope so."

Later that night, everyone was gathered in the library. Graduation 
was in two days and the Section operatives knew that if Red Cell 
was going to make a move it would be soon. Buffy had yet been able 
to come to terms with the changes that she had seen in Willow, and 
the hacker realized that the friendship with the slayer had been 
permanently damage by her involvement with Section. Not only that, 
but Buffy was taking her anger out on Angel for his past 
involvement with Section, not convinced that he hadnít had a part 
in them taking Willow in the first place. Never mind, that when 
she was taken Angel was Angelus, all Buffy could see was that 
people from Angelís past had kidnapped her friend and changed her. 

"Okay, we have two possible targets. We have a team moving in on 
the first one as we speak. They will let us know about the mission 
as soon as possible," Michael explained for everyone in the 
library. 

"What happens if no one is there?" Anya asked. She had only been a 
mortal for a short time and didnít exactly relish the idea of 
dying already.

"Then, we prepare to go into the second one. We have another team 
waiting for their orders," Michael replied. 

"What about the four of you," Faith wanted to know. "I mean, I 
thought it was up to you guys to keep us safe."

"Weíre here for protection only. We stay with you until we know 
that you will be safe from Red Cell," Willow answered. Faith 
nodded her head showing her understanding. While she didnít like 
the idea of anyone protecting her, she knew that the people that 
Section were taken out were beyond what she was used to. For that 
reason alone, she was willing to accept the help. Faith saw Angel 
tense as he cocked his ear, listening for something. She was 
surprised to see him pull a gun from under his coat.

"Michael, we have company." Michael saw Angelís gun and pulled his 
out also. As did Nikita, Birkhoff and Willow. "Giles, take the 
otherís into your office," Angel hissed.

"If thereís trouble, I can help," Buffy complained. 

"Get in the office now," Angel growled, forcing the girl into 
action. She followed the others into the office to await whatever 
was about to happen. As soon as the door to the office closed, 
Angel and the operatives all found themselves a hiding spot in the 
library.

They watched as the library doors slowly opened, revealing about 8 
men, all holding weapons. Willow looked over at Michael, waiting 
for his signal. She saw him raise his gun, aiming for the leader 
of the group. At the first nod of his head, everyone opened fire. 
The men from Red Cell never knew what hit them. They had only come 
prepared to face a bunch of high school kids and, instead, found 
themselves going against Sectionís best. It was over within a 
matter of minutes, leaving the library awash in a sea of blood. 
Once the gun fire ended, Willow walked over to the office door, 
signaling that it was all right for the people inside to come out. 
Michael pulled out his comm set.

"We need housekeeping at the library." He turned to face the 
stricken slayerettes. "Is everyone all right?"

"F..fÖfine," Giles stammered as he looked at the bodies lying on 
his floor. Michael saw where his gaze had fallen. "We have some 
people on their way that will take care of the problem." Michael 
put his hand to his ear as he heard something in his comm. "Well, 
it looks like target one was their headquarters here. It has been 
neutralized."

"Does that mean weíre safe?" Cordelia asked. Michael nodded his 
head. 

"Wait a minute, that means youíre going to leave now," Xander 
exclaimed, not willing to lose Willow so soon.

"We can stay until graduation and help with the mayor, that is, if 
itís okay with Buffy. But yes, after that, we have to leave," 
Willow told everyone. Buffy just stared at the girl she used to 
know. The girl who now carried a gun and wasnít afraid to use it.

"I donít know about B, but considering how you just took out those 
guys, you are more than welcome to help with any problems that 
might come up," Faith told the group.

"Buffy?"

"Sure, you can help. I mean, thatís what youíre good at. Killing 
things that is," Buffy retorted, anger in her voice. She wasnít 
sure who she was angry at, but she still felt it.

"Yeah, like youíve never killed anything before," Cordelia rolled 
her eyes and she walked over to the people from Section. "Please, 
be grateful they were here or weíd be dead right about now." 

"Yeah, thanks." Buffy walked out of the library not even glancing 
back at the people standing there.

"Iíll go talk to her," Xander offered. He and Anya left the 
library, carefully skirting around the bodies on the floor.

"Hey, on the bright side, maybe we can get in some shopping," 
Cordelia said, returning to her normally shallow mode. She wanted 
to do something that would break the tension in the room. "I mean, 
hey, I like the influence Nikita has on you. Maybe the three of us 
can hit the mall."

"Iíd like that," Willow smiled.

"So would I," Nikita answered, glad to see that Willow had finally 
found a friend her own age, even if it was for only a short time.

"Coolness. Well, I donít know about anyone else, but those bodies 
are getting a bit too much for me," Cordelia said. "Iím outta 
here."

"Do you need someone to walk you home. I know you said your car 
was in the shop," Angel offered. He and Cordelia had grown closer 
since she had found out about Xander and Faith, him having found 
her crying form in the park one night. And, with the way that she 
has so willingly accepted Willowís place in Section, he wanted to 
make sure that she was okay.

"Sure, Iíd like that." Cordelia smiled as the vampire led her out 
of the library, both completely missing the grins on the remaining 
people.

"You know, if I didnít know any better, I would say that B has 
some competition for a certain vampireís affections," Faith 
commented.

"I can actually see it," Willow said. She and Cordelia had had a 
long talk that afternoon after Buffy had left the library in a 
huff. She had discovered how much the former May Queen had 
changed. She had known that Angel and she had formed a tentative 
friendship and was pleased to see how close they really were. 
"But, the question is, do they?"

"Doubt it. Knowing Liam, he is completely oblivious," Nikita 
grinned, remembering how many times women actually threw 
themselves at her friendís feet.

"Yeah, and Cordy is still seriously hurt over what Xander did. I 
mean, okay, I admit it, I was at fault for that one," Faith said 
sheepishly, "and I understand why she is hurt. I just hope that 
she is able to let go of it and move on."

"Well, weíll just have to see what we can do about that before we 
leave, now wonít we," Willow grinned. Nikita, Michael and Birkhoff 
all recognized the look in her eye.

"Willow," Nikita admonished, "what do you have planned?" 
"Nothing," Willow replied innocently. "Nothing much, that is. 
Letís just say that tomorrow will be a very interesting shopping 
trip."

Nikita, Faith and the others all laughed as they realized that the 
tiny red head was about to start playing matchmaker to very 
unsuspecting people.

"Willow, why donít you try this one? I bet Birkhoff would love to 
see you in it," Nikita grinned as she held up a green silk nightie 
for Willow to examine. The red head blushed at Nikitaís words even 
though she was used to them by now. Nikita, Cordelia and Willow 
were shopping at the Sunnydale Mall and had stopped in Victoriaís 
Secret, saying that it was only to browse.

"He likes me in a tank top and boxers, Kita," Willow told her 
friend as she watched Cordelia try and hold in the giggles that 
were forming. Willow was glad that at least one of her friends 
from Sunnydale was truly willing to accept her new life. Even 
though Xander had said he would try, Willow could see how 
difficult it was for the boy and didnít want to push him into 
doing something that would be uncomfortable for him. She knew 
that, in the long run, that would destroy any chance they had for 
keeping their friendship intact.

"So, give him a little surprise. You know what a sheltered life 
that boy has had," Nikita continued to tease. She knew that no 
matter what Willow wore, Birkhoff would love her. 

"I know," Willow replied, fingering the silky material. "Well, 
maybe as a little present for him. I mean, I mean, variety is 
always a good thing." Cordelia and Nikita smiled as they watched 
Willow grab the nightie and head to the dressing room.

"I canít believe the changes in her," Cordelia commented once 
Willow was out of sight. "I mean, she is so different from when 
she was here before."

"Section has that effect on people," Nikita answered gruffly. 
"Most times its not for the good though." Cordelia looked over at 
the blonde. She could hear the contempt for Section in her voice 
and felt bad for her new friend. Cordelia had discovered herself 
actually liking the people that had taken Willow, understanding 
why the hacker had allowed herself to grow close to them. They 
have all seemed to thrive under the strict conditions that they 
were placed under. Even Angel was different around them. Unlike 
his time spent with the scooby gang, which was filled with guilt 
and angst, when around his friends from Section he was almost 
happy. Smiling and laughing often at something said or done. 
Cordelia liked him like that.

"Why do you do it then? I mean, I understand the whole not having 
a choice or dying, but I mean, if you hate it so much wouldnít 
death be a better alternative? And that so did not sound good did 
it?" Cordelia said, slightly flustered at how her question came 
out. Nikita eased the girlís discomfort with a smile.

"I know what you mean. And as for why," Nikita shrugged her 
shoulders, "I canít say. I guess we do it because, in some way or 
another, we are all fighters. We donít like what we do, but weíll 
do it because we want to stay alive, no matter what. And, now, I 
have someone to fight for."

"Michael."

Nikita smiled, "Yes, Michael. But also Willow and Birkhoff. Weíre 
a family, in a strange sense. We care for each other and I donít 
want anything to happen to any of them."

"Sort of how the scoobies are. Well, at least, how some of them 
are." Nikita could hear the sadness in Cordeliaís voice. Before 
she could say anything, Willow rejoined the group having heard the 
last part of the conversation.

"Cordelia, you know they care about you," she told the brunette.

"Yeah, but not like they do the others. Iím the outsider now. 
Xander has Anya. Faith and Buffy are the slayers. Giles looks 
after Faith and Buffy. Even Oz has them look after him because of 
him losing you and the whole werewolf thing," Cordelia told them. 
"I donít have anyone there. They just put up with me because they 
need the extra car and the warm body for research."

"Well, what about Angel?" Willow asked, deciding that it was time 
to see exactly how the former cheerleader felt about the vampire. 
"I mean, it looks like the two of you are pretty close."

"Yeah, well, he was there when I really needed someone to listen 
to me, but heís still all hung up on Buffy," Cordelia sighed.

"I donít know," Nikita said. "I mean, I might not have seen Liam 
in a few years, and I donít know how much he has changed since 
then, but if he was all the happy with that little blonde," Nikita 
refused to say Buffyís name because of the way the slayer was 
treating Willow, "then he wouldnít be the brooding person that you 
all seem to know. Thatís not the Liam I remember." 

"Yeah, there is a difference between Angel with Buffy and Angel 
with you. Like he is two different people," Cordelia smiled again 
at the memory of Angelís smile. She had always thought that the 
vampire was handsome, but when she saw him smile and laugh, she 
realized he was downright sexy. "I like him better with you guys."

"So do I," Willow admitted. "Who would have thought that our brood 
boy would have such a wicked sense of humor."

"Well, considering how much he and Walter used to hang out, you 
should have expected it," Nikita grinned.

"So true." Willow turned to Cordelia again. "So, exactly how close 
are you and Angel anyway?"

Cordelia shrugged. "I donít know. I mean, he walks me home 
sometimes or heíll join me if he sees me at the Bronze. We just 
like to talk and all. I love listening to him speak about thingís. 
I mean, the stuff that he knows is amazing."

"It is, isnít it," Willow replied, smiling inwardly as she saw the 
dreamy expression on Cordeliaís face as she talked about Angel. 
(Oh yeah, sheís got it bad. This shouldnít be as hard as I thought 
it would be. Just hope Michael and Birky are having as much luck 
with Angel.) "So, I take it you like him."

"Of course I do," Cordelia said, a bit too quickly. "I mean, heís 
a great guy and all, what isnít to like about him?"

"Well, some would say the whole vampire thing would be on the 
downside," Willow pointed out. "Not to mention the whole brooding 
thing."

"Yeah, well, those people are idiots," Cordelia fired back. "I 
mean, so heís a vampire, itís not like he actually kills people. 
At least, not anymore," she amended. "As for the whole brooding 
thing, well who cares. I mean, if youíre actually willing to get 
underneath the whole angst there, you can find someone who is 
really a great guy to be around. I mean, youíve seen it these past 
two days. Heís completely different."

Willow held up her hands in mock surrender. "You donít have to 
tell me that. Iím glad to see him happy. I think that after 
everything heís gone through, he deserves it."

"So do I. I just hope it continues even after you guys leave," 
Cordelia said, for once wishing that Willow and her friends didnít 
have to go so soon, knowing how it would affect the vampire. "I 
mean, once youíre gone, Buffy and the rest will have him back to 
being all broody again and I donít think I can deal with that 
again. Not after seeing him laugh and everything."

"Yeah, I know what you mean," Willow agreed. "Buffy isnít really 
happy with the whole Angel, Section thing is she?"

Nikita snorted, "I donít even know the girl and I could have told 
you that. I swear, if looks good you would be looking at a corpse 
right now."

Willow and Cordelia smiled as they both thought about Buffyís 
reaction to the other blonde in Angelís life. "Tell me about it," 
Cordelia said. "I still love the reaction she had when Angel 
picked you up the other night in the library. I have never seen 
that girl so jealous in my life."

"Really," Willow asked, "damn and I had to miss it. Figures."

"You know she actually had the nerve to corner me and try and warn 
me away from Angel," Nikita informed them as they headed out of 
the store after paying for their purchases. 

"She didnít," Cordelia exclaimed. "Her and Angel arenít even going 
out anymore, what made her think she had the right to say 
anything?"

"This is Buffy we are talking about Cor," Willow reminded her, "I 
mean, she can date anyone she wants, but Angel has to stay single 
forever, remember."

"I know and I hate it," Cordelia admitted. "I mean, Angel deserves 
someone in his life that will care for him and give him all the 
love he deserves. Especially since that stupid clause doesnít 
exist anymore." Willow grabbed Cordeliaís arm.

"He told you about the clause?"

"Yeah," Cordelia said sheepishly, "it was right after I found out 
about Xander and Faith."

"Does Buffy know?"

"No, just me," Cordelia admitted, actually pleased that the 
vampire trusted her enough to tell her about it. "I donít think he 
actually plans on telling Buffy either. Doesnít want to open the 
can of worms that would come with it."

"But he told you," Willow emphasized again. "You know what that 
means, donít you?"

Cordelia was confused, "What?"

"That he likes you," Willow said excitedly.

"Of course he does. Heís my friend."

"No, he likes you as more than a friend," Willow elaborated as she 
saw the hope in Cordeliaís eyes at the thought of Angel liking 
her, but Cordelia refused to consider the possibility.

"No he doesnít. He loves Buffy," Cordelia said, trying to convince 
both herself and Willow of what everyone else has always said. 
"Remember?"

"I remember he used to love Buffy, but a lot has happened in the 
relationship," Willow told her. "Besides, it has to mean something 
if he told you something that personal. Itís not something that 
comes up in casual conversation."

"True."

"So, do you like him too?"

Cordelia hesitated before slowly nodding her head. She saw Willow 
jump up and down from excitement. "I take it you approve."

"You could say that," Nikita grinned. There was something about 
the brunette that she liked and realized that she and Angel would 
be good together.

"Well, what would you suggest I do about it?"

"Well, letís work a bit on that shall we." Willow grabbed 
Cordeliaís arms, giggling and laughing as she told them her plan. 

"So how long do you think the girls are going to be?" Michael 
asked as he joined Birkhoff and Angel in the kitchen. Angel had 
offered to let the group from Section stay at the mansion with him 
and he realized how nice it was to have them there.

"Knowing them, not until the mall closes. Cordelia can put Nikita 
to shame when it comes to shopping," Angel said, grinning at the 
thought of the brunette who had become his friend. Michael and 
Birkhoff looked at each, realizing that once again, Willow was 
right. Angel had a thing for the girl.

"You know, thatís saying a lot," Michael replied. "Nikita can 
usually out shop almost everyone."

"Yeah, well, youíve never seen Cordy at Christmas. The girl 
refuses to let anyone get in her way."

"So, tell me about her," Birkhoff asked. He liked the former 
cheerleader for her support of Willow and him. He knew that 
Willowís other friends didnít accept him as part of her life, 
still believing that she and that Oz person should be together.

"She okay," Angel shrugged, but the other men could tell that it 
was a half hearted movement. "On the surface, all you see is 
someone who is blunt, sarcastic and shallow, but if you dig a 
little you can find someone who is really bright. Surprisingly so. 
She just acts that way because she knows thatís whatís expected 
from her. And, because, it usually gets her what she wants."

"Doesnít hurt thatís she extremely pretty," Birkhoff added.

"Yeah, there is that also," Angel smiled. "But itís the whole 
package you know. The other kids donít see it, but that could be 
because, now that she is no longer with Xander, they donít really 
care to see it. Sheís just there, you know what I mean. I think 
thatís why we get along so well. Weíre both outsiders."

"But what about you and Buffy," Michael asked.

"What about her," Angel replied. "Thereís nothing there, at least, 
not for me anymore. Buffy keeps trying but I can see that she will 
never be able to get past my actions after I lost my soul. I think 
thatís one of the reasons that I never bothered telling her that 
the clause is gone."

"So no one knows about that?"

"Cordelia does. I told her about it one night when we were 
talking," Angel stated, not noticing the grins on Michael and 
Birkhoffís faces. "I donít even remember how it came up. We were 
talking one minute, the next I was telling her about my soul being 
permanent. Just felt right, her being the only one to know."

"It couldnít have anything to do with the fact that you like her, 
could it?" Birkhoff said. Ever since he and Willow had gotten 
together, Birkhoff had become more aware of what other people 
around him were feeling. 

"Of course I like her. Sheís a great girl."

"You know what I mean, Liam," Birkhoff said. "You like, like her." 
Angel looked down at the mug in his hand, mumbling something to 
himself. "What was that?"

"Well, maybe, a little." Angel set the mug down on the table in 
front of him, running his other hand through his hair. "I mean, 
she accepts me for who I am. She wants to know about my past. She 
doesnít let me sit around and brood all day, which is a lot more 
than I can say for Buffy and her friends."

"So have you ever thought about doing anything about it?" Michael 
asked, realizing how much the acceptance shown to the vampire had 
meant to him.

"No. She doesnít see me that way," Angel told them. "Iím just a 
friend and I donít want to risk that. Iíve already lost too many 
friends."

"Liam, I would say that you wouldnít be risking all that much. I 
mean, has she told anyone else about your soul?" Angel shook his 
head as Michael asked the question. "Well, that should be a good 
indication that she cares about you, otherwise she would have told 
the others. Not to mention, Iím sure that Buffy isnít too happy 
about your friendship with her." Michael hadnít missed the 
jealousy in the slayerís eyes, not only when Angel was hugging 
Nikita, but also when he was talking to Cordelia at the Bronze the 
first night in town.

"No, she isnít. Sheís actually asked me to stop hanging out with 
Cordy."

"I hope you told her no," Birkhoff said, his dislike for the 
blonde growing.

Angel smiled, "Yeah, I did. Told her since the two of us were no 
longer going together, that it was none of her damn business who I 
hung out with."

"Okay, so Cordelia is willing to risk the wrath of her only 
friends to be with you. I would say that would be a sign that she 
cares for you as something more than a friend," Michael finished, 
hoping that his old friend would listen to him. 

"Okay, fine, if I concede to you that Cordelia might like me like 
that, what would you suggest I do about it?"

"You donít have to do much, not if Willow and Nikita have done 
their job right." Angel looked at Michael in confusion. Michael 
saw this and told Angel about Willowís plan to get Cordelia to 
admit her feelings, just as Angel had. Angel smiled at the thought 
of the red headís attempts of matchmaking, guaranteeing himself 
that if it worked, he would find some way to repay her.

Graduation came and went. Buffy, along with the help of the 
Slayerettes, Section and the rest of the students, defeated the 
mayor, stopping the Ascension and destroying the high school at 
the same time. There was still a lot of tension between the group 
from Sunnydale and the operatives from Section. It only increased 
when Buffy and the others found out about Willow, Nikita, Michael 
and Birkhoffís roles in getting Angel and Cordelia to finally 
admit their feelings for each the night before. The Slayerettes 
were not happy about the changes that had taken place in their 
lives due to the interference of Section. Buffy felt personally 
betrayed by the hacker for her role when she realized that Willow 
was the one that instigated the whole match making scheme. 

"Willow, can I talk to you a minute?" Buffy asked. Everyone was 
sitting around Gilesí living room, getting some much needed 
downtime before having to say good bye to Willow once more.

"Sure, Buff, whatís up?"

"Outside," Buffy opened the door, not even bothering to wait and 
see if Willow would be joining her. When she heard the door close 
behind her, Buffy turned to face Willow, anger in her eyes. "How 
could you?" She hissed at the surprised hacker.

"What?" Willow asked, confused. "What did I do?"

"Donít act all innocent with me, miss anti-terrorist hacker 
witch," Buffy spat out. "I know it was your idea to hook up Angel 
and Cordelia. What, you donít want me to be happy so you thought 
you should hook up the man I love with a girl I can barely 
tolerate."

"Buffy, you had nothing to do with my wanting Angel and Cordelia 
together," Willow tried to explain. "You never even entered the 
equation. All I saw were two people who cared about each other and 
I wanted to help them get together. Iím sorry if that upsets you, 
but last I heard, the two of you werenít even a couple."

"Thatís besides the point. Angel is mine, you had no right to try 
and take him away from me." Willow started to head back into the 
house, not wanting to listen to anymore of Buffyís hysterics. 
"Donít you dare walk away from me you bitch." Buffy grabbed 
Willowís arm, intending on turning her around and making her 
listen to her. She didnít expect Willow to fight back, pushing 
Buffy face first into the wall of the apartment.

"Donít you ever call me a bitch," Willow hissed at her former 
friend. She had known that Buffy was angry about Cordelia and 
Angelís blossoming relationship, but she refused to allow Buffy to 
take it out on her. "You have no right. You donít know anything 
about me because you refuse to see me as anything as what I was. 
Your little follower. I am only going to tell you this once, so 
listen good. You had nothing to do with Angel and Cordelia getting 
together, except for the fact that she was there when you refused 
to be. She was able to distinguish the difference between Angel 
and Angelus, while you just held onto the hate. Both of them 
deserve to be happy, and whatever role I had in bringing them that 
happiness I am glad for." 

Willow released Buffyís arm, letting the girl fall away from the 
wall. Buffy looked at Willow, taking in the woman before her, 
suddenly realizing that no matter how much she wanted it, her 
friend was gone and there was no getting her back. Willow saw the 
recognition in Buffyís eyes for what it was and smiled sadly.

"Iím sorry Buffy," Willow said softly, before turning and going 
back in and joining the others who had heard the argument outside. 
Birkhoff walked over to her, taking her in his arms and holding 
her close.

"You okay," he asked. She smiled up at him.

"Iíll be fine," she told him as she watched Buffy enter the room 
and walk over to Giles, a look of sadness on her face. "Iím just 
happy to be going home soon."

"When do you leave?" Xander asked, not happy about seeing Willow 
leave so soon but knowing that he had no choice in it. He just 
hoped that she wouldnít e permanently gone from his life.

"First thing tomorrow. There are a few things that have to be 
taken care of and we are needed back there as quickly as 
possible," Willow told him.

"Will you be back," Giles wondered, "or is this the last time we 
will see you?"

"I donít know, Giles," Willow replied. "I canít make any 
promises."

"Well, things will definitely be dull around here without you and 
your friends causing so much tension," Faith quipped. She had 
loved watching the way Buffy and the others had gotten so angry 
and jealous at the easy friendship that had formed between the 
members of Section and Angel and Cordelia. Anything that upset 
Buffy made Faith a happy person.

"I donít know, I think seeing Angel and Cordelia together will 
cause enough tension to last awhile," Anya said before being 
quieted by Xander. She just looked at him, "What? Like you all 
didnít think of it."

"Actually," Angel started, "Cordelia and I wonít be around." The 
people from Sunnydale looked at Angel and Cordelia while the group 
from Section gathered around them, giving Angel the added support 
for telling them their plans, having already heard about them.

"What do you mean, Angel?" Buffy asked, scared. Even though she 
knew that Angel may have had feelings for Cordelia, although she 
wasnít happy about them, she was still hoping that they would be 
able to work things out eventually.

"I mean, when Willow and the others leave tomorrow to go back to 
Section, Cordelia and I will be joining them." The room exploded 
as the five people who had not known of the plan screamed out 
questions.

"What?"

"Are you insane?"

"What were you thinking?"

"There is no way Iím letting you take her with you."

"How could you do this to me?"

Michael whistled, startling everyone into silence. "Go ahead 
Angel."

Angel looked over at the man, grateful to him. "I said, Cordelia 
and I are going back with them. Iíve already made the 
arrangements. I had already been planning on returning as soon as 
I heard that Willow was coming back. It you think about it, it is 
really for the best. None of you have been really comfortable 
around me since I returned from Hell, that is if you were ever 
really comfortable with me. Besides, I think I can do a lot of 
good with Section, especially since they now know about demons and 
everything. I can be a real asset."

"And Cordelia," Xander asked. While he may be dating Anya, he 
still cared about his ex-girlfriend and didnít like the idea of 
her becoming involved with the organization that had already taken 
his best friend from him.

"I want to be with Angel," she stated simply. When Xander went to 
argue with her, she held up her hands, silencing him. "I know what 
being involved with Section means. Nikita and Willow, not to 
mention Birkhoff and Michael have gone to great lengths in 
informing me of what will be expected of me. And, before you blame 
Angel for me leaving with him, donít. He did his best to try and 
convince me that I was insane, but it didnít work. I think that I 
can do some good there and I want to try."

"And your superiors went for this?" Giles asked of Michael.

"Yes," he shook his head. "They are very pleased with having Liam 
back within the fold. They know that the only way to get him to 
come back was if he did so voluntarily. If that also means 
Cordelia comes with him, they are willing to work with that." 
Giles took Michaelís words for what they were. He knew that there 
was no way to stop any of this from happening, he just hoped that 
the two girls would be okay. He looked at them, both holding the 
hands of the men that they loved, and realized that they would be. 
Michael could see the emotions that were playing on the older 
manís face. "Theyíll be all right, Giles. You have my word on it." 
Giles nodded his head.

And that was the night that the scooby gang lost two more of their 
members. Buffy, Giles and the others left shortly after Angelís 
announcement, telling their friends goodbye, knowing that by the 
morning they would be gone. Willow promised to keep in touch 
whenever she heard about something that she felt that Giles and 
the rest should know about, but knowing that the friendships that 
she had loved were truly dead. She looked over at the people in 
the living room. Nikita and Michael lay together, enjoying their 
last night of freedom, well not really freedom. Angel and Cordelia 
were cuddled on the couch, still exploring their feelings for each 
other, knowing that their relationship was going to take a lot of 
work but that it would be worth it. Willow settles back into 
Birkhoffís arms, allowing him to envelop her with his arms, 
contentment on her face. She was happy. She couldnít have asked 
for anything better. She couldnít believe that all this came about 
because she had attracted the attention of Section and they felt 
the need to recruit her. It had to have been the best thing to 
happen to her, because if it hadnít she wouldnít be were she was 
now.

"Hey, what has you so deep in thought?" Birkhoff asked the girl in 
his arms.

"Just thinking about my life."

"What about it?"

"That I wouldnít change it for anything. This is where I am meant 
to be," she told him. "This," she motioned to the other two 
couples, "is the family that I always wanted." Birkhoff smiled 
down at Willow before lowering his head to hers, giving her a 
kiss. Yes this was definitely how life was suppose to be.

END