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Twisting the Harvest

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She disappeared inside the dilapidated mansion, third time this week by his count. It wasn’t like little Willow to keep secrets and if she was somehow hurting Buffy... there was a reason that slayers worked alone. Angel grimaced, thinking about the lanky, over-talkative pest and the shy redhead that had somehow joined together with Buffy, treating the entire slayer gig as a joke, infuriating him. They treated everything as a game; foolish little children who didn’t realise that their lives were in danger, didn’t realise that they were fighting a battle with a very real cost.

Angel thought of the tall, darkhaired kid, barely out of diapers, that followed Buffy around, lusting after her, and growled quietly. Every time he approached the boy he could smell the lust pouring of him in waves. Buffy was his! She was the kind of redemption a monster like him could only dream for, the light that would bring him out of the darkness. Some teenager with greasy hair and acne wasn’t going to take that away from him.

Angel made his way to the mansion, quietly slipping in through the door and following Willow’s scent down the winding corridors till he reached a small room, standing in the doorway and waiting to see what the little redhead was doing. He breathed in the different scents; the nauseating stench of a barbeque occurring a few houses away and the smells of the old mansion, dust, the faint smell of the previous inhabitants and of children who occasionally came to here on dares, paint, the rusting of metal, the smell of sweet shampoo and innocence that Angel associated with Willow and a different smell. Something rotting, the rancid smell of the grave and of blood and death and Angel gave a start, quickly peeping in through the door, fangs bared and in game face.

Stupid, stupid little girl.

Willow was on her knees before a grubby boy, her own age probably when he was turned. He was in game face and drinking from a blood bag, gulping down each drop as though it was ambrosia, lips tainted red as copper eyes slitted in pleasure. A manacle was locked onto his foot, a chain leading from it to a rocky wall leaving him effectively imprisoned with little room to move. Beside him were empty blood bags and comic books and as Angel watched Willow reached into the satchel she had with her and deposited a few more comics beside the fledge, who had finished drinking and was now eagerly pawing through the items Willow had brought him. Angel listed in on the conversation, the fledges voice pitiful and rasping in his excitement as he flipped through page after colourful page of comics.

“Did you bring it? You promised me, Wills. I have to have it... need to see it.” Willow took out a photo from her satchel, clearly taken a few years back in which Willow, Jesse and this boy were standing in the sunshine, carefree and laughing. The boy grabbed at it, holding on to it as though it was the most precious thing in the world. He stroked Jesse’s face in the small photo, his eyes watering; body miserably huddled in on himself.

“He doesn’t want to see me, does he Willow?” the boy asked, a few tears escaping and making their way down his pale face, which had begun flicking between his vampiric features and those of the scared young boy he was. The kid was too young to control his gameface and Angel felt disgust at this pathetic creature.

Willow looked sad, gently stroking the boy’s hair and wiping away his tears, ignoring his question. She stood up, the boy watching morosely as she turned to leave.

Angel hid in the shadows, hearing her pause beside the doorway.

“I’ll see you tomorrow Xander.”

The boy sniffed and then called after her: “Tell him I’m better... tell him I’ll be good, for him, for you both. Please Willow... tell him I’m still me... please... we have to still be friends.”

But Willow had already left and didn’t hear him.