“Does anyone else think that they wanted us out of the way for a reason?” Adam asked as he, Xander, and Willow walked out of the movie theater in the town where they were staying.
Xander and Willow both nodded in agreement. “Not that I minded, because I’ve been wanting to see that movie since it got announced that they were making it,” Xander said. “But yeah... I did kind of get that feeling.”
Willow shrugged. She was used to it... being away from her parents... or whoever it was that was supposed to be spending time with her. She had long ago lost count of the number of times her parents had promised to do something with her and then it hadn’t happened. She had lost count of the number of times she was brushed away by her parents so they could do something else... something for their respective careers or even just something that suited their own agenda better. While her father... step-father... wasn’t nearly as bad as her mother, Willow had always known that neither of her parents regarded her as a priority in their lives.
It was why she hadn’t been surprised when John had approached them one afternoon and suggested that, since they would be leaving town the next day, maybe they would like to do some ‘teenager stuff’ and go out for dinner and go and see at a movie since they had been spending so much time with ‘old people’.
While it was a far nicer way of doing it than Willow’s parents had gone about telling Willow that they didn’t want her around anymore, Willow could read between the lines and just accepted the fact that John obviously had found something better to do this evening than spend time with his three youngest children. She had noticed, however, that Dean and Sam had stayed with John... and Willow prayed that her older two brother’s involvement and the exclusion of the teenagers was not an indication that alcohol would be involved. She didn’t know how Xander would handle it if John came home roaring drunk... just like Tony Harris did most nights.
“How long do we have until we’re supposed to be back at the motel?” Adam asked, having forgotten to wear a watch.
“We’ve still got half an hour... plenty of time to walk home,” Xander said. Willow caught the hint of apprehension in his voice but she ignored it. She too felt worried about the idea of walking back to the motel in the dark... even though the route was well-lit. John had offered to lend Adam his truck for the night but Adam had insisted that the three teenagers would be okay walking back to the motel... it was a small town and it wasn’t that far.
Still, as they had walked towards the pizza place where they ate dinner and on their way to the movie theater, she and Xander had paid particular attention to potential vampire hiding spots and Willow knew that Xander had slipped a couple of crosses and some holy water, as well as a few stakes, into his backpack. Willow herself had a stake in her bag but she hoped that it would go unneeded... it wasn’t as if they were in Sunnydale after all.
“Hey... since we have a bit of time, do you want to go and check out that park?” Adam suggested. “I feel like I’ve been cooped up for ages... I want to run around for a bit.”
“I thought you were one of the nerdy kids... like us?” Xander said. “I didn’t realize you were athletic.”
Adam shrugged. “I exercise every day. Dad... John, he really drummed it into me that being fit is important... that if someone tries to grab you, the best bet is being able to run until you get somewhere that you feel safe... no matter how far it might be.”
Willow and Xander nodded in understanding. Buffy had once told them something similar... and it wasn’t like demons and vampires where the only monsters out there... humans could be dangerous too.
“I guess we’ll be okay,” Willow commented cautiously. “I just don’t want to be late... John will worry and I’ve already missed curfew once this year... that’s my yearly quota for rebellion filled.”
Xander and Adam both laughed at Willow before all three of them crossed the street and entered the park. Out of the corner of her eye, Willow noticed Xander flexing his shoulder, as if he was preparing to drop his bag and retrieve the weaponry concealed inside.
Subconsciously, Willow drew a little closer to her brothers. Adam stretched his knees before jogging across the grass of the park, leaving Xander and Willow alone.
“I have a bad feeling about this,” Willow whispered. Xander nodded.
“Trust me, you’re not the only one. Keep your eyes open.”
Willow nodded before, side by side, she and Xander followed their older brother into the park.
Things in the Impala were tense. Sam, crammed into the back seat, had a new appreciation for what Dean went through during Sam’s teenage years when Sam and John frequently clashed.
In the front seat, Dean and John sat in icy silence. Their hunt had proved unsuccessful and it appeared that the thing they were hunting, a vampire… or rather, as small group of vampires, was moving around. The previous night, there had been several attacks in two nearby towns, resulting in the deaths of another two teenagers as well as a middle aged couple that were out walking their dog and a trio of college-aged kids getting high in an alleyway. All of the victims had been drained of their blood.
Still, Sam reasoned there was good reason for things to be tense. John had been relying on the knowledge that the vampires were staying in the one town but now that they had started roaming into other towns, all three older Winchesters knew that there was a chance that Adam, Xander, and Willow could be put in danger. Dean was pushing the speed limit, his hands tightly gripping the steering wheel. Sam could hear John berating himself for letting the kids leave the motel room on their own... and for not making them take his truck with them on their trip to the movies.
For his part, Sam hoped that the teens... his younger siblings... were already safe back at the motel, perhaps laughing and talking about something they had seen during the movie they had gone to watch, blissfully unaware of the danger they had exposed to.
The Impala skidded a little on loose gravel as Dean turned into the motel, skidding to a halt in the parking space beside John’s truck. Sam felt his veins turn to ice as he saw the darkened windows of the motel room.
“Maybe they’ve gone to bed already,” Dean suggested without much conviction as John threw himself out of the car and quickly unlocked the motel room door, throwing the door open and flicking the lights on.
“Adam! Xander! Willow!” John called, both Dean and Sam able to hear the pain, the all-encompassing fear evident in the voice of their father. Sam walked into the motel room behind John, his heart clenching painfully as he realized what John had realized within moments of calling the teenager’s names.
“They... they’re not here,” John said in a soft voice, his voice thick with fear and with pain at the prospect of losing his youngest three children so soon after reestablishing... or establishing, whatever the case may be, contact with them.
“We’ll find them, Dad,” Sam promised even as Dean threw the trunk of the Impala open and began retrieving weaponry. John nodded, determination crossing his features, pushing past Sam to join Dean. Sam closed the motel door, pausing only to leave a scrawled note where the teens would see it the moment they walked through the door.
CALL DAD, DEAN, OR SAM THE MOMENT YOU GET HOME! DO NOT LEAVE THE MOTEL ROOM!
Satisfied that one of the teens would call if they got back to the room, Sam went and got his weapons from Dean before his older brother closed the Impala, locking it securely. John had already left, walking towards the movie theater by the most direct route and the younger two Winchesters ran to catch up.
“They won’t be far away, Dad. We’ll find them,” Dean said reassuringly. “They’ve got good heads on their shoulders... they’ll be okay.”
“They’ve got good heads alright... but they don’t have hunters’ skills... and that’s what I’m worried about,” John muttered in reply.
“We should head back,” Willow suggested to Adam and Xander. “It’s kind of creepy out here.”
Xander made a show of rolling his eyes, even though he agreed completely with Willow. He knew what she was trying to do. She was over a year younger than Adam and she was a girl. Adam was more likely to listen to her pleas than he was to Xander.
Adam sighed but nodded. “Okay... I maintain that we gave you the right name. You really are like a little mouse... scared of shadows.”
Willow swallowed the retort that was on her lips at Adam’s remark. She understood his reluctance to head back to the motel room... even she was beginning to feel cooped up and wanted to go and explore and see places but the remark had still stung. Xander, however, sensed her aggravation and put a comforting hand on her shoulder.
“It’s okay, Willow... he didn’t mean it.”
“Yeah... he did,” Willow replied, brushing Xander’s hand off her shoulder and following Adam towards the road that would take them back to the motel.
Adam, however, stopped when two figures walked into the park towards them. The light from a street light illuminated its face and Willow fought the urge to gulp as she took in the disfigured features on the two figures’ faces... the lumps and bumps, the golden eyes, and the elongated teeth that marked them as what they really were.
“Adam, run!” Xander yelled and Adam turned and bolted back towards his younger siblings. Willow latched onto his arm and started running, pulling him away from the vampire. She looked up ahead at the entrance at the other side of the park, only to skid to a stop, seeing another three vampires blocking it.
“Xander!” She screamed
“Oh, God,” Xander yelped, taking in what had gotten Willow’s attention. He let his backpack slide down his arm, crouching down and hastily zipping it open. Putting herself beside Xander and pushing Adam back towards the brick fence that ran down the sides of the park, Willow reached out a hand, forgetting in her terror that she had a stake in her purse. Xander passed a stake and a cross up to Willow before taking a stake and tucking it into his belt and then taking another stake and vial of holy water in his hands.
“What the hell?” Adam said as the vampires drew closer, smirking at one another... none of their other prey had even tried to put up a fight.
“Now probably isn’t the time to tell you that vampires exist,” Xander told Adam as he rose back to his feet, putting his bag back on his back. “But, hey, guess what, vampires exist.”
“Really... you don’t say. I just thought that they were high on some weird drug, or something.”
“You actually thought that?” Willow asked, thinking of the ‘gang members on PCP’ excuse favored by Sunnydale police.
“Well... what else was I supposed to think? Not all of us automatically think of the supernatural.”
Willow and Xander looked at one another and Xander arched his eyebrow.
“I am so telling Buffy about this,” he told her. Willow gave a nod before glancing back at the advancing vampires.
“Er, maybe we’ll focus on surviving this... then we’ll discuss what we’re going to tell Buffy?’ she suggested.
“Good plan,” Xander conceded, pushing Adam back again safely. Willow passed Adam the cross she had been holding and grabbed her spare stake out of her handbag.
“If one of them grabs you, shove it in their face or press it against their bare skin. It burns them,” Xander told his older brother calmly, as if this was perfectly normal. Well, it was, for Xander and Willow... not so much for Adam.
“Okay,” Adam replied, suddenly realizing as the vampires drew closer and he could see their features more clearly that this wasn’t a prank... this was real. Of course, the blood stains on the vampire’s clothes and the dried blood around their mouths helped with the train of thought.
Hearing the apprehension in her brother’s voice, Willow glanced over her shoulder at him, observing the white-knuckled grip he had in the weaponry he had been given.
“It would be great if you didn’t pass out too,” she told him, observing his pale face. Adam nodded.
“I’ll remember that,” he told her.
“Good,” Willow nodded before returning her attention to the approaching vampires.
“Tasty little things want to fight,” one of the vampires drawled. “I guess they don’t realize that we’re already dead, therefore we can’t die again.”
“Obviously you guys haven’t heard of the Slayer,” Xander grinned before jumping forward, stakes out. The confused expression on the face of the vampire who had spoken would forever be burned into Adam’s mind, especially as the vampire disintegrated into dust mere moments later.
“Oh, my God,” he yelled in shock, jumping back against the brick wall. The other vampires, who had stopped their advance upon their comrade’s demise, lunged forward, jerked out their stupor by the sound of Adam’s voice. Xander began to wrestle one of them while Willow stood in front of Adam, fending off another vampire.
A hard kick to the knee of her vampire gave Willow the upper hand and she took advantage of it, plunging a stake into its heart as it stumbled, taking Willow’s stake with it and coating Willow in vampire dust. The three remaining vampires growled and renewed their efforts. Xander was struggling with the vampire he was fighting, who appeared to be the ringleader of the group of vampires, while Willow dodged the advances of the two other vampires while at the same time staying protectively near Adam. Xander too wasn’t leaving their older brother’s side, since Adam obviously had no idea what was going on... and probably would have little chance of defending himself if one of the vampires did get a hold of him.
Of course, Xander and Willow themselves only had six months’ experience fighting the supernatural... but they had both learned a lot in those few months and Xander felt that even the six months’ experience he and Willow had was better than nothing, like Adam.
Willow and Xander were absorbed in their respective fights and by their mutual desire to protect Adam that they, along with the vampires, jumped as the last vampire, who had been trying to advance on Adam, suddenly dusted, a crossbow bolt having pierced its heart from the rear. The vampire Willow was fighting took advantage of her surprise, grabbing her by the neck and boldly threw her over a nearby picnic table. Willow let out a short scream before rolling on impact as she hit the dirt on the other side of the table, letting go of her remaining stake when her right arm connected with the hard ground with jarring force.
Glancing around frantically, Willow grabbed at a thin tree branch that lay on the ground nearby, obviously having dropped from the large tree that shaded the picnic table. Using her knee, Willow snapped the branch as the vampire she was fighting gracefully jumped over the table. Willow spun around, still on her knees, and lifted the stick she had been left holding, meeting the vampire’s eyes when they widened in shock as she thrust the stick up into its chest, spearing its heart, and dissolving it into dust.
At about the same time, Xander finally managed to defeat his opponent, using a few moves he had learned from watching Buffy in action. He and Willow met each other’s gaze, confirming wordlessly that the other was alright before they looked towards the direction the crossbow bolt had come from. Xander’s eye widened and Willow hastily threw the stick she was holding away when they saw the very surprised faces of none other than John, Dean, and Sam Winchester... all heavily armed.
“Well... I wasn’t expecting that,” Xander admitted in a shocked voice.