Title: Beautiful New World
Summary: How I imagine "Welcome to the Hellmouth"/"The Harvest" might have gone in the Wishverse.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Thanks to: tkp and garnigal for the beta-work!
Xander was interrupted from his misery by a knock at his front door.
He opened it to find both Willow and Jesse on his doorstop, greeting him with smiles as if nothing were out of the ordinary. He glared at them angrily, though feeling a slight note of relief at seeing them.
"Where the hell have you guys been?" he demanded. "You weren't at the Bronze last night, you weren't in school, you haven't been answering your phones this afternoon, and you don't look sick. What's going on?"
By this point, he was ridiculously angry at them for abandoning him with no explanation. The previous night, he'd let them off the hook, knowing that he'd shown up later than usual in the first place. But leaving him, without a word of warning, in school today to deal with the hell that was high school all alone? That was less easy to forgive. Especially if they were perfectly healthy but playing hooky without him, which might be expected of Jesse but was completely out of character for Willow.
"Well, actually, we were both feeling sick. Probably something we both caught at the Bronze before we left – I mean, you must have been pretty late, man," Jesse pointed out. "And anyway, we're both feeling so much better now."
Xander found an eerie feeling running up and down his spine as Jesse spoke. It was a feeling he'd been trying to shrug off all day, a feeling that told him that something was off in the world today – something was wrong, something was missing. He just had no idea what it was.
"Was school completely brutal?" Willow asked sympathetically. Xander gave her a pointed look. "Sorry. I promise, we'll make it up to you. Aren't you going to invite us in?"
Xander rolled his eyes. "Because we're suddenly so concerned with polite courtesies." He added, with a sarcastic, exaggerated lilt, "Do come in, my friends."
Xander caught a shiver as both of his friends gave him a strange, unreadable smile before stepping inside. "Thanks, bro," Jesse responded, giving Xander a light, friendly punch to the shoulder.
Walking through to the living room, where Mr. and Mrs. Harris would normally be parked on the couch in front of the television, Willow seemed to determine that they had the house to themselves. She nodded in satisfaction and turned back to the boys who'd both followed. "So, Xander, Jesse and I were talking on the way over here, and we were thinking we could play a little game. You interested?"
Xander looked in confusion between Willow and Jesse. Something was very off about this situation, and Willow's manner was particularly strange. Her tone of voice and stance exuded a sort of confidence he wasn't used to seeing in the usually mousy Willow, and this suggestion of 'a game' didn't fit into their usual hanging out pattern. He peered closer at Jesse. "Are you sure you're not still sick? You're looking kind of pale, dude."
"Some of the symptoms are still with me, probably, but I'm feeling way too good to stay at home in bed," Jesse answered coolly. "Now do you want to play, or not?"
Xander gave them both one more curious look before giving in and shrugging. "What's the game?"
Willow grinned, her face shifting into a monstrous sight, fangs gleaming. "It's called, 'you run, and we catch and eat you.'"
Xander instinctively backed up, trembling in fear, and stumbled over an ottoman before straightening and turning helplessly to Jesse, whose face bore the same disfigurement. "What – what's happened to you?"
"We've come alive," Jesse answered, and began approaching him menacingly.
Xander, instinctively knowing that he'd be powerless if it came to a fight, broke into a run. He hadn't even made it out of the room before he was stopped by Willow's hand grabbing his throat.
She pulled him to her, and her teeth slid into his neck. The sensations flashed through him quickly: pain, ecstasy, and then perfect peace. It was just as the blackness began to take over him that he heard Willow's whisper in his ear: "I've wanted you this way for so long, my love."
Xander stirred and opened his eyes to find himself feeling, as Jesse had said, that he'd come alive, renewed. He looked around and acknowledged that he was lying on the ground in some sort of dark, underground cavern. Only a second after he'd opened his eyes, Willow sprang at him and straddled his waist.
She leaned down over him provocatively, the demure, fuzzy sweater now replaced with clingy leather. She grinned as she purred, "How does it feel, baby?"
Xander raised himself up on his elbows before running one hand through her hair and roughly gripping the back of her head. "I like this game," he responded, and yanked her down for a fierce kiss.
They had barely begun their new game of dueling tongues and questing before they were interrupted by Darla's voice a distance away. "Glad to see you having fun, children, but it's time for you to meet the Master. We have a lot to do before the Harvest."
Willow crawled off of Xander's body reluctantly, and they both moved to stand in front of Darla. "But I did well for my first time, didn't I?" Willow asked, running her hand down Xander's face and neck attentively before turning back to Darla for approval.
"He'll do nicely," Darla agreed. "But we really need to focus on the matter at hand right now, rather than congratulating ourselves."
Jesse spoke up from behind Xander and Willow, "What's the Harvest?"
Darla smiled. "You'll see. The Master will explain everything. We're going to make a beautiful new world."
The trio looked at each other, pleased with the promise in that statement, and followed the older vampire through the underground pathways to their new life, the start of this beautiful new world.
Willow and Xander stuck close together on the way to the Bronze for the Harvest. Xander noticed Willow continually stealing glances towards Darla and Jesse, who were both keeping to the head of the pack. He nudged her.
"Feel like sharing?" he asked in a voice so concerned and sincere that he almost sounded like the old Xander.
Willow shrugged and pouted. "She's the Master's favorite."
"You mean Darla."
"Yes, I mean Darla," Willow clarified impatiently. "And she likes Jesse better. Before you know it, it's going to be those two standing at the Master's side ordering us around."
"Well, we can't have that," Xander murmured, his eyes trained on the couple ahead who were now clearly competition.
"No, we can't," Willow responded. "Things would go so much better for us if they weren't around."
Xander quirked an eyebrow and continued looking curiously at the two up at the front before returning his attention fully to Willow. "Are you suggesting we make that happen?"
Willow smirked devilishly. "You know me so well, lover."
Luke stood proudly on the stage and bellowed, "Ladies and Gentlemen! There is no cause for alarm." He smirked. "Actually, there is cause for alarm. It just won't do you any good."
In the crowd, Willow frowned and turned to Xander. "So we're just supposed to stand here and control the quivering masses – and we can't even take bites – while Luke has all the fun?"
"That's the plan, baby," Xander responded, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. "The fun for the rest of us comes later. And once the chaos begins, we can work on our own little plan."
"Whatever," Willow responded, brushing his arm off. "Bored now."
She looked through the crowd, hoping for some entertainment. Her attention was immediately drawn to a man, tall and dark, stepping forward hesitantly and looking around as if he was expecting someone to stop the ritual.
She walked straight towards him and grabbed his arm. "No savior's coming tonight, sweetie. You just sit tight until it's your turn to donate."
The man looked at her intensely, as if he were debating what to do, before a resolute look filled his eyes and he took action, attacking her brutally and forcing her several feet away with a single shove.
The attack drew attention from all around. Luke, on stage, hesitated before continuing with the ritual. Darla's eyes widened and she walked over to the man.
"Angel," she whispered, almost reverently. "I didn't expect you to be here."
Angel looked back at her coldly. "I didn't expect to be here." He punched her in the face. "But I can tell when I'm needed."
Xander walked over to where Willow was still sprawled on the floor. As he leaned down to help her up, he whispered in her ear, "Everyone's focused on them. I think we could use this opportunity. Should I step into their fight and 'accidentally' stake Darla while you go after Jesse?"
Willow held up a protesting hand. "Let's just do Jesse. We can let this guy take care of her." She looked over Angel with admiration and what appeared to be a touch of lust as she licked her lips. She rubbed her shoulder where most of his attack had impacted. "He's strong."
They got up and approached Jesse, who was watching Darla get pounded sympathetically, yet made no move to help her.
"So this is the path to our beautiful new world, huh?" Xander said in greeting. Jesse nodded, grinning. "I love it. The three of us, more powerful than ever, together – forever."
Jesse's grin grew. "We're going to rule."
Willow smiled, and stepped closer to Jesse seductively. "You know the thing about threesomes, though?" She pulled out the stake from behind her back. "Someone always gets pushed aside."
She shoved the stake through his chest, and he barely had a chance to look betrayed before he evaporated. No one even noticed their kill, everyone's attention either on Luke or the commotion with Angel and Darla.
Willow wrapped her arms around Xander's neck and rubbed her body against his. "You and me, babe," she murmured. "We're going to rule."
She teased him with a few almost-kisses before pulling away and looking back towards the other fight. Angel now had Darla pinned to the ground, but hesitated in staking her. He looked back to Luke and saw how far the Harvest had progressed, and this seemed to firm his resolve. He plunged the stake into Darla's chest without further faltering and headed towards the stage to stop Luke.
Having seen Darla's defeat, however, all of the other vampires in attendance were now wary of the new enemy in their midst and the potential effects he could have on the ritual. They all attacked en masse, and though he fought well, there were too many for Angel to handle.
As Luke drained his final offering to the Master, Angel was beaten until he could no longer fight back. He just curled up on the floor as the fifteen vampires surrounding him continued pounding into him.
The Master entered the Bronze only minutes later, grinning victoriously and praising his minions on a job well done until his attention was drawn to Angel.
Angel was now standing, but he was weak and held in place by two other vampires. As the Master approached him, he stood up straighter and looked prepared to fight despite his obvious disadvantages.
"Angel," the Master greeted cheerfully. "I must say, I didn't expect to see you here. How's that soul treating you?"
Angel roared and, with a burst of adrenaline, ripped himself out of his captors' grip and lunged at the Master. The Master quickly grabbed a cue stick from a pool table nearby and firmly embedded it through Angel's belly. It wasn't a fatal blow, but Angel was held immobilized.
"You missed the heart," Angel whispered, chuckling derisively even through the pain.
The Master cocked his head patronizingly and reached out to additionally hold him in place by the throat. "If I had intended to kill you, believe me, I would not have missed the heart." He paused and looked around. "Where is Darla?"
Willow stepped forward and looked down obediently as she informed him, "He killed her, Master."
The Master took a moment to look appropriately shocked and grieved by the news before he regained his composure. He gave a sharp twist to the stick still embedded in Angel's torso and Angel cried out.
"Well, then," the Master responded, still looking displeased by the news but not enough to stop his plans. "I guess there's not much for me to do with you." He pulled out the cue stick in order to stake Angel.
Willow stepped closer quickly and raised her hand in a request for him to stop. She questioned, in a hopeful tone with a tinge of wickedness, "Could I keep him Master? I've always wanted a puppy."
The Master regarded her curiously for a moment and then laughed loudly. "I suppose it wouldn't hurt for you to keep him – if you keep him locked up properly. For safety reasons, of course. He can be a nasty one."
He shoved the cue back in Angel's middle and handed him off to Willow. Willow smiled. "I will. I'm good at taking proper care of my pets."
The Master gave her one more long, curious look. "What was your name again?"
She smiled, lifting her head up proudly. "Willow."
"Willow," he repeated thoughtfully. "I'll remember that." Turning away from her, he clapped his hands, pleased, and looked around at the room which still contained several trembling, fearful humans. He gave an approving nod. "I like this place. I think I'll keep it. Well, what are you all waiting for? Feast! The ritual is done. This is our world now."
As the Master began to walk through his new lair, Xander approached Willow and her new pet.
"So this is our beautiful new world," he remarked, then yanked out the cue stick and shoved it back in a slightly different position.
Willow nodded and gave a harsh bite to Angel's ear. "I think I'm going to like it here."
"… and you will train at least six hours a day. You will be home-schooled, in my home, so there will be no more attending public high school. That means no cheerleading, no homecoming, no prom–"
"Oh, come on, you have got to be kidding me."
"I assure you, I am quite serious. I am your Watcher now, and you will obey my rules. From what I've heard, Merrick didn't push you nearly hard enough, a fact which I'm sure contributed to your inability to prevent his death. You and I will do things differently. Now, there will be no socializing with civilians for pleasure. You will cease contact with your family. You will always be…"
Buffy tuned out her new Watcher, listlessly looking out the window. More than his harsh new rules and military agenda, she couldn't shake the feeling that ran deep down in her bones that told her that things were meant to be different. There was something very, very wrong with the world today.