Arise, little girl
Arise, little girl
Disclaimers: Nothing is mine. NOTHING.
Spoilers: The Wish and School Hard. Sort of.
Summary: Five things that never happened to Willow.
Ratings Note: NC-17. Contains content some readers may find disturbing.
Author's Note: A sequel to "Justice," one of the vignettes in "Five Bastardized Virtues: Xander." You should probably read that first: http://teland.com/bastardvirtue.html
Acknowledgments: To the Spike and Jenn for audiencing. To Kita for issuing the challenge and Basingstoke for inspiring it.
I. Paradigm Shift
It's the screaming that wakes her up.
It doesn't sound right, and Willow has time in the haze between truly asleep and very awake to reflect on that. What, exactly, is a proper scream?
Why is this one wrong?
Just because it's deep?
That doesn't seem right. It seems pretty darned wrong, really, that only girls should get to scream their lungs out. Clearly her mother was right about the effect of popular media on the minds of even the most intelligent youth.
That's her father screaming.
She opens her eyes to something she's reasonably sure she's going to learn about whenever they get around to studying Freud. Her biggest crush, her best friend, and her father.
And that position doesn't look possible. Something snaps, her father... jerks and no, definitely not possible.
But so... fascinating.
In such a strange way.
There's something she's not quite... there's something new here that needs to be savored, but it's all about the flash of the overhead on her father's bald spot, and the pattern of blood on the ceiling, old and new.
Some so old she has to wonder just how long they've been...
Well, torturing is the word for this, isn't it?
She should be upset about this.
And why are her clothes all torn?
It comes back in a long, slow flood of memory so intense her skin prickles. Jesse and Xander, missing for days and now on her doorstep. Smiling at her, eyes like shiny pennies.
Her mother absently lecturing Xander on the statistics about teenaged runaways.
Xander nodding, smiling, and tearing her throat out and Jesse's arms around her and enough time to think vampires before the night began.
Her father gurgles, and snaps her back to attention. When she looks up this time, both Xander and Jesse are watching her. Even as they do that to her father.
Watching her so hungry, and smiling just like they had the night before.
"And here I was beginning to think you were a hopeless slugabed," says Xander.
"Wanna taste?" says Jesse, and yanks her father up by the... scalp.
"You are such a pimp."
"A blood pimp. Always with the 'are you hungry, wanna taste, ooh, I bet she's not anemic --"
"Dude, shut up. Fledges are always hungry."
"The Master. My sire."
"This is all getting a little D&D, don't you think?"
Her father hits the floor in a heap as they argue, and Willow thinks: the carpeting will soak up all the blood.
She really hopes Xander isn't completely gay.
She does want a taste.
Cool air from the open windows on her skin and she's thinking -- no, not entirely gay -- and she's smiling and she's. Crawling.
Jesse and Xander's voices a pleasant and absolutely meaningless hum somewhere above.
Twitching old man on the floor, Ira Ira Ira, such a funny word said all out like that and --
"Oh, God, Willow, no!"
"Shut up," she says, and bites deep.
II. That Thing
She's beginning to think Jesse and Xander have some kind of thing about her clothes. There's nothing left in her closet but rags and shoes.
There's nothing left on her body but rags and shoes.
She goes to look in the mirror, but...
"Most of the myths are kinda dead-on," says Jesse, and he at least sounds apologetic.
"But you look good!" says Xander. And his face... changes. Not in that way all of their faces change now, but in a... it's an adult way, kind of.
It makes her thighs feel hot.
"Really good." Jesse's voice isn't apologetic anymore.
Guess she's not the only one with the sweet and easy emotional ride. But he does sound...
"Hey," she says, because it's the only thing she can think of when Jesse's hands find her breasts.
Not that it's all that hard to do, considering the state of her Hello Kitty sweater, but she'd kinda forgotten about that. They hadn't.
Xander looks like he can't decide whether to stare at Willow's face for reactions or at what Jesse's hands are...
"Oh..." And that's... mm.
"We didn't get enough time to play before you died on us, Wills..." Xander's voice is closer to a growl than anything else.
"And you weren't exactly, like, all that conscious toward the end there..." Jesse pinches her nipples hard and Willow lets her head fall back against her shoulder.
He smells like blood and boy and death. She wants to rub up against it until Xander has to stop watching and do something. "I'm awake now," she says, and covers Jesse's hands with her own.
Slides them down her chest, over her belly.
Into her curiously whole panties. Hunh. Another look reveals that they aren't the panties she put on yesterday. She grins as Jesse starts playing with her hair, bumps back against him. "You put panties on me?"
"Mmm, not me. All Xander. I was gonna leave you naked and spread-eagled and..." Growl against her throat and blunt-toothed bite. Jesse's hard behind her. Xander's...
"You looked so pretty, Wills... you know I always liked to play with pretty things." Finger tracing over her cheek, down the other side of her neck. Breasts.
And before she can answer Xander's kissing her, slow and easy and... it's like being spoken to. Only it's not like any speech Xander's actually capable of out loud, or maybe he is now, but it's good.
Good all over, warm all over, and she hadn't even known she was cold.
Xander's hard cock pressed to her belly, mommy and daddy's blood filling it up for their baby girl.
Jesse says, "Xandman, you have so many good ideas."
"You don't call, you don't write... and you bring home strays. Really, Jesse, is this what I've taught you?"
'The Master' looks a great deal like a dead rodent. Willow's tempted to be vocally unimpressed, but... everyone here looks at him like someone who can and probably will crush their skulls on a whim. She remains silent.
"... should have asked first, but Willow's a genius and Xander's no slouch and, well. I just really think you'll like them."
The Master taps his sunken cheek with one long, sharp fingernail and just looks at Jesse. If he has an expression on his face, Willow can't tell what it might be. He smells... he smells old. Like museums and, weirdly, certain parts of the high school library.
And then he smiles, a wide, horrid thing that nonetheless makes something deep in Willow's belly curl up and sizzle. Like bacon frying. He waves a hand. "Oh, as if I can resist it when a young vampire shows as much promise and initiative as you do!" The smile falls off his face like water from a flat earth. "Of course, if you do it again, I'll make your death last years."
"Now, since you've got your own 'gang' and all -- so precocious! -- here's something you can do for me. Sadly, not every vampire in the world is your friend, Jesse."
"Oh, it was different when I was your age, all fresh-faced and stinking of humanity... but no. We've spread too much. Bred too much, and sometimes... well, sometimes vampires are made that simply aren't very bright." A pointed look at the cage dangling above him and to the right. "Isn't that right, Darla?"
"Please..." the vampire slurs. She looks starved, and her hair is a matted, filthy tangle.
"Darla used to be my favorite daughter. And then she turned a benighted, ale-addled, Irish lout and decided to run off with him.
"I accepted this. These things happen, after all. Someday, even you will probably want to wander."
"With a walking stereotype? Doubtful. I mean -- ow." Xander reacts more to Jesse's look than his elbow.
Willow bites her lip to hold in a laugh, and knows her eyes look huge and anything but innocent.
The Master raises what would be an eyebrow on just about anyone or thing else. "There rarely is any accounting for taste."
And okay, that's good.
"In any event, one foolish decision led to another and the lout -- now calling himself 'Angelus' of all things -- wound up angering a collection of witches and warlocks. And now? He has a soul." The Master leans back in his chair and waits for this to sink in.
This is clearly supposed to be important.
"Oh, for the love of -- it's what you don't have. Don't children read anymore?"
"Books on the occult? Not so much," says Willow, but... "Not that it doesn't seem like a really good idea all of a sudden. Hunh." She's going to have to think on that.
"So you're saying we're soulless denizens of the night, doomed to walk the earth bringing pain and suffering to hapless mortals?"
The Master is rubbing his temples. "Yes... Xander, is it? That's generally the idea." Deep, heartfelt sigh. "In any event, a vampire with a soul is a bad thing, as he has all of our powers and now feels the need to use them against us." A pause, and dubious look at all three of them. "That means he's killing us."
Well, he's clearly decided they're the village idiots, which grates, and yet... it could be useful. Willow keeps her eyes big and moony.
"... the Bronze? Man, I was gonna go there the other night."
"And you are going to go there tonight, Jesse. And you're going to bring me back a nice trophy, aren't you? Large, broody, liable to attack you if you try to eat around him -- really, he's difficult to miss." Expectant look.
"Oh. Oh! Well, yeah." Jesse yanks the chair out from under the vaguely catatonic minion that's been eyeing them and kicks him a few times before searching him quickly and thoroughly.
He tosses Xander a length of chain.
He tosses Willow a knife, and keeps still another for himself. Smiles at her and gestures expansively for the sewer exit. "Spike is always way too heavily armed for a guy who just sits around waiting to die."
Xander swings his chain in a few loops. "Overcompensate, much?"
Jesse shrugs, leaps up the ladder. "Supposedly, he was this big tough guy. And then his girlfriend got sick and died or whatever."
Willow tugs on his shirt, earning a smile that could quickly lead to a lot of distraction. But. "I thought we didn't get sick."
"Hunh. Oh, well, I don't have all the details, but she got attacked by some angry mob. Went kinda nuts. Or maybe she already was." Another shrug. "Anyway, he brought her here to the Hellmouth --"
"And can I just say that I never knew Sunnydale was this cool?"
Willow kicks Xander. "Let him finish. This could be important."
Jesse rolls his eyes. "Nah. Just so long as we don't, you know, go psycho and attack the Master. That's kinda life-threatening around here."
She taps her lip with the knife, digging in once just for the hell of it. "Or..."
"Maybe we shouldn't attack the Master without... planning."
Jesse stops in his tracks, shocked and grinning. "Willow, you power-mad bitch!"
Willow licks the blood off her lips and grins, leaning back into the embrace from Xander she can feel coming. "Flatterer."
"So... what are you planning now, O Evil One?"
Shivers happily at the rumble of Xander's voice, just one or two notes above the hunger-voice, all for her. "Well, it all depends on... Angelus."
IV. Show and prove
It takes a minute, maybe more for Willow to truly acclimate to the Bronze. It's louder, brighter, headier than anything she expected.
Young sweat and sex and beer and smoke and the music...
She's dancing before she knows it, Jesse making her feel even sexier when he joins her. Making her want to be wearing something even more revealing than what they'd all stolen for her from Victoria's Secret.
She can feel Xander's eyes on them from just off the dance floor, and it just makes her want to perform even more.
Maybe jump up on stage and... but no.
They have a job to do.
The song ends with Jesse's smile pressed against her throat. They're body to body and the warmth is amazing, intoxicating.
Teasing. She wants a human. She wants a way to bring Angelus out of hiding. Two birds...
She waves Jesse off and stalks after someone vaguely familiar. She thinks he might be in a band. Cute enough. He looks her over like he's never seen anything like her before and thinks he might just have died and gone to heaven.
She hasn't even gotten her arms around his neck before there's a big, pale hand yanking her away. It's a little disconcerting that she hadn't seen, heard, or even felt him coming, but Xander and Jesse are right behind her. Following them... where?
Of course, outside. Wouldn't want to upset the little humans.
"Angelus --" But she doesn't get any further than that before Angelus is spinning her off his arm and against a wall.
Xander growls and moves to attack but Willow manages to throw an arm out to stop him.
"Wait. We need to talk."
Angelus looks at her incredulously for a moment before shaking his head and pulling a stake from his jacket. "No. We really don't."
Jesse is nowhere in sight, but there's something like certainty that he's nearby. Waiting. She has to be careful. She can do that. Doesn't she have a lifetime's training? "You aren't the only one who wants the Master dead."
Narrowed eyes. "I'm not interested in some fledge's power-play."
Willow grins, but Xander gets there before her: "I think you are. You can't bring down the Master alone. You can't make the world safe for humanocracy while he's alive. You need us."
"What makes you think I don't have my own allies?"
A blur, and Jesse lands on Angelus from above, knocking the stake from his hand and the two of them sprawling. When Angelus regains his feet he's got his demon face on. He grabs for Jesse and Xander slips behind him while he's distracted, wrapping the chain around his throat and yanking him up on his toes.
And there's no time to gloat, because he immediately flips his feet up and kicks Jesse hard in the chest, sending him flying.
And nearly wrestles the chain out of Xander's hands before Willow retrieves the stake and sets it against his chest, bracing a leg between Angelus' own so he can't repeat the move he did on Jesse.
Learning from one's mistakes is a necessary part of life. "The Master didn't say outright that you were pretty tough..."
Jesse comes up beside her, brushing boot-prints off his t-shirt. "But we kinda figured it out. What with him sending all of us."
Angelus continues to struggle, stake against his chest notwithstanding. She doesn't think Xander will be able to hold him for much longer, lack of blood reaching the guy's brain or no. She's not going to let that show on her face.
Abruptly, he stops. Willow nods over his shoulder to Xander, who loosens the chain with something like relief.
"You've made your point," he says. "So why do you need me?"
"The Master wants you as a trophy, dude. He's going to be psyched to see us bring you in, and he's never gonna expect us to turn on him then." Jesse grins and makes jabby motions at Angelus' chest with an imaginary stake.
"You'll be tied, but it won't be anything you can't --"
Angelus reaches up, grabs the chain, kneels, and throws Xander over his head and into Jesse, barely giving Willow enough time to duck.
" -- escape. Hunh," she says. "Case in point."
Angelus dusts himself off ostentatiously. "And the other minions?"
"As close to the Master as we're gonna get? Don't worry."
Jesse gets up and pulls Xander with him. "Yeah. Weirdly, we're his faves. There's irony there."
"Or possibly tragicomedy."
Angelus blinks at them before focusing on Willow. "Do they ever shut up?"
"Only when you give them something better to do with their mouths. Me? I find it oddly soothing. So are you in?"
"How do you know I won't kill you all as soon as the Master's dead?"
Xander advances on him. "Because we'll be the ones making sure you get out of the sewers alive, soulboy."
Humorless snort and Angelus turns to walk away from them. "Only a fool would take this offer."
"Angelus." Willow makes her voice as low and even as possible. Signals Jesse and Xander to flank him.
"What now, kid?"
"You either go in as a fake trophy or a real one. Your choice."
Angelus pauses, eyes them, and puts his hands out to be tied.
Walking in with Angelus is like being security for a celebrity.
A slumped over, apparently well-beaten celebrity, true, but a celebrity just the same. All the other vampires are either silent and gawking or pointing and whispering. 'Scourge of Europe' gets said a lot, like it's something she should know.
Well, she already knew she'd be doing some extracurricular reading.
Jesse and Xander look like keyed-up cats, or maybe it's just that from where she's positioned she can see the tension in their back muscles, the way they walk like running, leaping, is just a step away.
She wonders if she looks any different.
She wonders at the smile on her face, and if its glitter feels false to anyone watching.
The thing is... it isn't.
Willow's genuinely happy about this. About doing this, being something more than the person who reacts, the girl who hides, the nonentity in the corner.
She's never felt more alive.
Gradually, the crowd thins, and the air gets that museum stink that she's already getting more accustomed to than she wants to be. Like stained bone, like dust under a layer of paint.
Angelus tenses hard, then relaxes visibly, hands working back and forth in the ropes. Willow moves closer, just in case anyone decides to take a closer look.
They enter the Master's chamber in a rough wedge, Jesse and Xander flanking Angelus, Willow behind.
One of Darla's arms is hanging out of her cage, swinging in the light, rank breeze. Spike is nowhere to be seen. The Master is sitting on his... well, it's a throne. And there's definitely something Kingly about him in this moment, in the triumph that's written in his very posture.
He's even backlit.
Angelus tenses again, and this time he doesn't relax.
"I see my children didn't mention I had your sire here."
Angelus looks up slowly, very obviously not looking at Darla. Says nothing.
"I always knew she'd come back to me eventually, but coming as she did, bearing tales of her boy gone wrong..." The Master clucks his tongue, a dry, harsh sound. "Such a disappointment."
Willow backs up against the door, shooting the heavy iron latch. He's expounding loud enough to cover the sound. The door is iron, too. If the Master eventually screams, it won't matter.
"... didn't expect you three to do quite so well."
Jesse grins, slips further to Angelus' right. "I thought you'd be pleased."
Xander slips to the left, widening the wedge. "But mostly? We thought you'd be surprised."
"Well, I have to admit --"
"You always talked too fucking much." And that's all Angelus says before dropping the rope and leaping for the Master, knocking over his throne and sending them both to the floor.
A roll and Angelus is briefly on top, punching the Master repeatedly before being tossed like a rag doll.
And Willow has just enough time to wonder if this was wise before Angelus is running for the Master again, getting in close enough to grapple.
Jesse and Xander are watching her, waiting for a cue and she wants to tell them to go for it but she knows it's too soon. One mistake and they're screwed.
She watches the Master and Angelus instead, waiting for the moment, flinching involuntarily from a brief (and enraged) glance from the Master.
Angelus takes an elbow to the eye and staggers. A kick and he falls, and she has to grab Xander by the t-shirt to keep him from attacking right there and then. The Master sees him move, though, and steps toward them.
Which is just enough of a distraction for Jesse to throw Angelus at the Master.
It's not the most powerful throw, but Willow's pretty sure the Master didn't see it coming, what with hitting the floor like that. She wouldn't have seen it coming, either.
Angelus, for his part, gets with the program, beating the Master's head against the floor and pinning him as best as he can.
Willow doesn't think they're going to get a better chance than this. Nods to Jesse and Xander and they move in. The broad expanse of Angelus' back is briefly mesmerizing, muscles shifting and flexing beneath black silk, male in a way she hasn't considered before.
She thinks as she drives the stake home: there'll be other men.
By the time the dust settles they've positioned themselves over the master's major arteries, and if they don't bite down in unison, it's close.
And, oh, so intoxicating. Better than the first time, when it was Xander and Jesse. She doesn't know if it's because her tongue was human and stupid then, or if it's because the Master is so old, so powerful --
His blood is electric, slick and sweet-hot, thrumming with power and memory. He's struggling beneath them, and someone is moaning, but none of it matters. The only important thing is getting everything, every drop, glutting herself on the power before her (brothers) friends can get it all for themselves.
She thinks, maybe, she should be shocked for her greed. But when the fount finally runs dry, she can only find vague mourning.
They kneel up as one over the Master, who's now semi-conscious and flailing in slow-motion. A drowner on dry land. Jesse is swaying, Xander is glassy-eyed.
"You know," he says, "we don't have to kill him right away."
"Mm?" It's all she can manage.
"We could put him in that cage..."
Jesse snaps to attention. "Ohh. Feed him just enough so that he can..."
"Feed us whenever we wanted it." Willow smiles, replete and pleased, and strokes the Master's chest. "I always wanted a puppy."
The Master sucks in a rattling, utterly un-Kingly breath. "How... sharper than a serpent's... tooth..."
"Dude," says Jesse, "shut up."
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