Willow wished that people would stop making a fuss. Yes, she was tired, and she was sore, but no more than if she had a particularly difficult work out the day before, and if Hank had gotten in a lucky shot and opened the skin over her eye. To be honest, the stitches bugger her more than anything else. Yes, she’d technically been tortured for sixteen days, but that was what she trained for. No one would make a fuss if Brian had been in disguise for sixteen days, or if Maria had to beat up sixteen bad guys.
But still, despite her overwhelming feeling of irritation, Willow was still a little flattered. They cared about her, enough to want to make a fuss. The boys (Frankie and Joey) were at her side as long as the Matron would allow them to be. Marcy was there literally the whole time not leaving her side for even a second. Matron had tried to make her leave, as well, but there was very little in the world as terrifying and as dangerous as Marcy when she set her mind to something. And when Willow refused to speak up to make Marcy leave, Marcy stayed. Willow knew she probably should have spoken up for Joey and Frankie too, but at the same time, they weren’t nearly as threatening to her well-being as angry Marcy was. If she made Marcy leave, she would never hear the end of it. And that was a fact.
But after about two days, Marcy finally left after a couple of very pointed looks from Joey, and one slightly unsubtle comment about Marcy’s BO from Willow herself, Marcy said she head out for an hour or so, but told Willow not to get too comfortable, because she’d be back. And she’d be back soon.
Marcy needn’t have worried. Joey made sure that Willow didn’t get comfortable at all.
“Come on, Joe. What can we do about getting me out of here? I’m going to go completely stir crazy if I’m confined to this bed for too much longer.
“Sixteen days, Willow. It’s been a while since you’ve been held that long. We all just want to make sure that you are doing all right.” Joey laughed
“I was once held for three and half months, and I was only in this bed for eight days. Shouldn’t these things scale in one way or another? Shouldn’t I be out of here by now?”
“Matron Say sat least one more day, so at least one more day.” Joey patted her carefully on the arm.
“Aw—why won’t you go to bat for me, Joey?”
“Because I want to be sure that you’re okay.”
“C’mon Joe, why would you want something like that?” Willow teased.
“Because I love you.” That stopped them both short. Joey looked like he didn’t believe what he’d just said. Willow pulled her hand out of Joey’s gently, but with a small amount of haste.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to blurt it out like that, but it is true. I love you, Willow. I have for a very long time. Almost as long as I can remember. And I was so scared—will—that you weren’t coming back. And I love you. That’s all there is to it.” Joey leaned back his chair. And Willow frowned.
“Joe. I don’t—I mean, of course I love you but not like that. You’re my best friend, Joey. And I don’t want to hurt your feelings. But no. I’m sorry, I don’t love you the way you want me to.” She folded her hands neatly in her lap. If Joey couldn’t accept this, the next couple millennia were going to get really awkward really fast.
“Right. It’s because of Frankie, isn’t it?”
“No.” There was more bite to the word than Willow meant to put in it, but she didn’t feel that bad about it. “I don’t have to be love with someone else to not love you. And no matter who I end up with or never end up with, I’ve had years to think of you that way, and it hasn’t happened. Don’t go carrying a grudge against anyone or blaming anyone other than me for my lack of feelings. And for the love of god, please do not go on any kind of ‘Win her over’ vendetta because I will kick your ass harder than you could even begin to imagine. Okay?”
Joey at least had the decency to look slightly ashamed of himself. “Okay. I’m sorry.”
“I’ll forgive you, because this is a sucky situation, but don’t think that shit will fly again.” Willow crossed her arms over her chest, but she could already feel her anger melting away. He was her best friend after all. She didn’t want him to be miserable. Why’d he have to drag love into all of this? “Are we okay, Joey? Is this going to become a thing?”
“I’ll—I don’t know—get over it I guess.” The both looked up when the infirmary door opened again to see Marcy come in with wet hair. “I’ll go. You can talk to Marcy.”
“Okay.” Willow reached out as if to touch him but decided against it. “For what it’s worth, I am sorry.”
Joey didn’t meet her eye. “Thanks.”