Flavors of Blood
Willow Goes to Harvard
by Sam James
Chapter 4: Flavors of Blood
Oz inched toward the door. Something was strange at this old age home where he was volunteering with Willow and her Harvard roommates. First, a woman who residents swore was witch insisted that Willow accompany her upstairs. Now, he smelled vampires. He had to go warn Willow.
"Sorry Mr. Thornapple," Oz told the elderly man with whom he was playing cards. "I have to go use the facilities for a bit."
"Perfectly understandable," the old man said, "The W.C. is down the hall," he pointed. Oz didn't bother to point out one of the 'benefits' of a wolf sense of smell.
Oz all but bolted out of the recreational room. His head aching from the struggle of trying to filter out the Willow scent from the vampire stench, he barely noticed the vampire coming down the hall. Oz reached into his jacket and pulled out a stake, only to have it knocked out of his hand by the vampire.
"What do we have here?" the vampire was in game face. "Not a fine vintage, but there's something to be said for the flavor of youth." His powerful hands grabbed Oz's head, bending it away from the neck. He bit, tasted, and spat. "Yuck
, dog." He threw Oz down the hall, near the steps.
Oz struggled to his feet. The vampire continued advancing. "Since you're not clean food, no one will mind if I just kill." Oz prepared to leap away as his only chance.
," came a forceful voice with a touch of tremble. "Get away from my boyfriend.
It was Willow. Oz didn't dare turn around to look at her. But he knew her resolve face would be in place.
"With pleasure milady," the vampire mocked. "Suddenly I have a strong desire to start my meal with a light desert wine. A red desert wine."
Then Willow spoke again, not in any language Oz knew. "< Let there be Light
Oz turned and beheld a vision. Willow stood at the top of the steps, holding up a glowing orb. Her hair aflame in the light of the orb, Willow slowly walked down the steps. The light reached the vampire who stood transfixed at the sight. "Noooo", the vampire moaned out as the light engulfed him. It was like sunlight or holy water. The vampire reacted with the glow from the orb and simply combusted from the inside out.
"Nobody messes with my boyfriend," Willow said. "Oz, are you alright?" The two met in the middle of the stairs, in a hug that turned into a kiss.
"Very good," came an elderly voice. Ma'am Tucker, the ancient witch who had offered to teach Willow, moved towards the steps, supporting herself on the steps. "You powerful enough to burn dem."
"I don't know," Willow said, "I've never been able to make an orb light up like that except when I was restoring Angel's soul."
"Da power of true love," Tucker gave a toothless smile. "You saw your love in danger and you reacted with more power den you knew. I remember."
Oz took a sniff. "That vampire wasn't alone. I smell at least four more."
"Dat nose certainly handy." Tucker said.
Willow reached into her bag which she had recovered from Ma'am Tucker's room. She took out three sharpened pencils. "I'm ready."
Tucker's eyes widened. "Pencils?"
Willow smiled and floated one in the air and made it lunge forward before dropping back into her hand. "I've been practicing at the Hellmouth."
"Something's wrong," Oz said slowly. "Five
vampires attacking an old age home all at once? In Boston? We've had attacks in Sunnydale with fewer vamps."
Tucker reddened. "I've been holding dem off for months with da warding spell. Today I sensed I couldn't hold it no more. And den you came."
Willow and Oz exchanged a glance, glad Xander wasn't with them to say, "So you just got Tuckered out."
"But why here?" Oz asked.
"Easy prey," Willow tried to answer all the possibilities. "Many people who have outlived friends and relatives who might wonder what has happened to them. A place where people die everyday as normal part of the life-cycle."
"Dey attracted to death," Tucker interrupted Willow's babble.
"Yes," murmured a vampire, striding down the hall wearing a black trench coat and leather boots. "Blood is like wine. It ages gracefully."
," said Tucker. "Some wine turns to vinegar."
The vampire sniffed. "Yes, a shame. A vintage once potent with magic, now faded. A mere shadow of its former self. And here you stand powerless. I shall..."
He turned to dust as the floating pencil returned to Willow's hand. "Two down."
"Willow," Oz shouted, taking a stake and throwing it in the direction of a vampire who had seen the whole thing. Willow tried to grab the stake with her mind, to direct its course but had never practiced with a pencil that was already moving. She sighed making a mental note. Yet another something to practice. Oz had given it a good effort, the stake flew in the right direction, but the vampire easily deflected it with his hand and then slid down the hallway into the recreation room.
Oz and Willow shared a look. The recreation room was where all the people were.
Inside the recreation room, the games had stopped. In front, on the stage where classic Vaudeville routine were customarily reenacted, stood a man dressed in 19th century English formal wear. "Ladies and gentleman," he gestured with his thin cane. "You called and we have come. No longer shall you suffer from unbearable pains. No more shall you struggle with faltering memories and unreliable bodies. We offer you release. Today is the day you have been waiting for all your lives. The day that you die." He showed his game face.
"Uuuww, who died and made him Kevorkian?" Willow's roommate Rachel muttered, somewhat louder than she intended. The other Harvard students, scared more than they ever had been in their lives, looked at her in shock.
"Ah, yes, the classic dilemma. What do we go for, the impetuous of youth or the wisdom of the aged? The fresh, hot vigor or the well-seasoned experience?" he turned to the vampires blocking the door. "How about both?"
They grinned back at their master.
"Master, Master Hacken," the doorway guardians allowed the vampire from the hallway to enter the room. "There's a slayer in the building."
"Nonsense," Hacken replied. "The Slayer has fled to the Hellmouth. I was there when Trick and the Master left to pursue. She and the Zombie-Slayer killed them both but had a falling out themselves. Still, I would certainly have been told if either of those two were coming here."
"But Master," the other vampire replied. "I saw it. She did something with a light and burned Carlos and then something floated through Tusk."
"Hmm," Hacken went. "Illumination, levitation in a place warded until today. Ivan you idiot
, we're dealing with a witch, not a slayer."