Angel leant up against the brick wall of the Bronze, watching as teenaged humans walked up and down the sidewalk, chatting amongst themselves. Some of their words were slurred by alcohol, but Angle could understand snatches of their conversation as they made their way to, or from, the popular nightspot. None of the people that passed bothered to look up at him, and wonder why a young, reasonably attractive guy, was standing alone against the brick wall. Angel smiled, knowing that they thought he was just waiting for his girlfriend to show up, or just ignored him.
Angel wasn't waiting for his girlfriend to show up, he was watching for any vampires to show up. It was his nightly routine, hang out around the Bronze, and look for vampires, and then stake them. Angel glanced at his watch, and sighed. He'd been at the Bronze for a couple of hours now, and he'd already staked a couple of vamps. Usually, at this time of night, he moved off and patrolled the cemetery for any newly risen Fledglings, but something was telling him to stay in the area. Something was gong to happen, and Angel knew that he had to be there to stop it from happening.
So, he stayed leaning against the wall, until he noticed a small girl wandering down the opposite side of the street, her eyes wide and tear-filled as she looked around anxiously. Angel watched her. The child didn't look that much older than seven or eight, way too young to be wandering around in Sunnydale at this time of night by herself. No-one else seemed to be paying any attention to her, so Angel did one last precautionary visual sweep of the area, before crossing the road, and following the little girl as she trotted along the sidewalk.
Angel sensed the vampire nearby before he saw it, but it still wasn't enough time for him to run forward and jump on the vampire before the little girl was grabbed from behind.
"Oi, let the girl go" Angel yelled, punching the other vampire hard in the jaw with one hand, and pulling out a stake with the other. The other vamp growled at Angel, before the souled vampire thrust the stake through the vampire's chest, dusting him. Angel picked the little girl up of the ground, where the other vampire had dropped her. Having made sure he hadn't accidently vamped out during the fight, he knelt in front of her.
"Hey, are you okay?" He softly asked. He glanced over the child's body, noticing that she had a shallow graze on one of her knees that had a little blood on it. The little girl whimpered, nodding her head and brushing a strand of her long, red hair out of her face.
"I think so. Thank-you for saving me." She whispered quietly.
"Where is your mummy and Daddy, do they know where you are?" Angel asked, looking around to see if anyone around seemed to be looking for a child. They weren't on the main street anymore, though, and the area was deserted. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a clean gauze bandage that he had been carrying in case he got injured during a fight, and pulled the wrapper off, applying it to the little girl's leg. He then got a roll of tape from another pocket of his long coat, and taped the bandage down.
"My mummy and Daddy are away, and my Nanny has gone home for the day. I was looking for my cat, she got out when my Nanny left, but then I got lost, and I can't find my way back home." The little girl looked like she was about to burst into tears, and Angel felt sorry for her. What were the poor little girl's parents doing leaving her in a place like Sunnydale with a Nanny that left during the night?
"It'll be okay, little one," Angel said soothingly. The girl whimpered, and Angel noticed that she had something in her hand. When the girl saw him looking at it, she gave it to him. It was a photo of the little girl, with her cat in her arms.
"I'm sure your cat will come back" Angel said, though he secretly doubted it. There was no way he was going to tell this little girl that, though.
"Can you help me get home?" The little girl asked. Angel met her bright green, innocent, wide open eyes with his deep, brooding brown ones.
"Sure, do you know what you address is?"
The little girl paused, before shaking her head, "I live near the park, with the swings and the slide and the picnic tables."
Angel nodded his head, "I know where that is, I'll take you there and then we'll see where to go next, okay?"
The little girl nodded, and Angel got up to his full height. The girl suddenly seemed ridiculously tiny, especially when she slid her tiny, warm hand into his large, cold one.
"What is your name, Sir?" The little girl asked as they started to walk together, hand in hand.
"Angel, what is yours?"
"Willow," the little girl said
"That's a nice name" Angel said, not being able to think of anything better to say.
"Xander thinks so too. He's my best friend. He lives next door to me. We went to Kinder together, but we go to big kid school now."
"That's cool" Angel smiled at Willow's talking, "How old are you, Willow?"
"Wow, that's really big," Angel said, and Willow beamed up at him.
They walked in silence until they reached the park. Willow pointed down a street.
"That's the street Xander and I live in," She told Angel, who nodded, and still held her hand as they walked down the sidewalk. Willow stopped in front of a large, clean looking house. It looked like it was the best house in the street.
"This is my house." She said, looking up at Angel, who was looking at something that was sitting on the front porch.
"Hey, Willow, look what's sitting on your front porch' He whispered, crouching down beside Willow, who turned towards her house. She gave an excited Squeal, which Made Angel internally flinch. Children and vampiric hearing did not go together.
"Muffin" she giggled, sliding her hand out of Angels and running down her front path so she could pick up the cat that was sitting at the front door. She picked it up, cuddling it, as Angel slowly followed her down the front path.
"You should go inside, Willow, and get Muffin something tasty to eat after its adventure."
"Okay," Willow said, getting up and pulling a key from her pocket. She put it into the door, and unlocked the door, opening it and stepping through. She turned and faced him.
"Do you want to come in, Mr. Angel?" she asked, and Angel shook his head.
"No thank-you Willow. I have to get home too. Here's your photo back" Angel held out the photo that he realised that he was still holding. Willow paused, before shaking her head.
"Its okay, Mr. Angel. You can keep it. I have another copy in my room, and Mummy and Daddy won't miss it."
"Are you sure, you don't want to get into trouble." Angel was touched by Willow's generosity.
"Yes, you can keep it if you want. It's something for you to remember me by."
"Alright then, Willow. Thank-you" Angel began to walk away, but turned back at the sound of Willow's voice.
"Mr. Angel, will I ever see you again?"
Angel paused, considering this. "What does your heart tell you? He asked. Willow pursed her lips, a serious expression on her face.
"Yes, I think we will." She said confidently, and Angel nodded.
"I think we will to. Stay inside now. Until we meet again, goodbye" Angel bowed at Willow, who giggled, before curtseying awkwardly, considering she was holding onto the door with one hand, her cat in the other arm, and she had a bandage on her leg. Angel smiled, moving off down the front path, relaxing as he heard Willow close the front door, then lock it securely.
He looked down at the photograph in his hand, and smiled. Maybe there was some good left in the world.
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The next night, when Willow went to bed, she noticed that there was a piece of paper wedged beneath a rock on her balcony. Pushing the balcony door open, she picked up the piece of paper, rolling the heavy rock off of it first. She smiled when she saw it. Someone had sketched a very good likeness of her, and of Muffin, exactly as they appeared in the photograph she had given Angel the previous night. In the top right hand corner, there was a stylised 'A" signature, and there was a note paper clipped to the picture.
Thank-you for the photo, here is something for you to remember me by. Until we meet again, Goodbye
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Years later, Willow lay on her bed, flicking thorough a book on demons, having been told to read it by Giles. She randomly thought of that night in Sunnydale, when Muffin had gotten out, and put down the heavy book, reaching down to her bedside drawers, and opening the bottom one. She picked up the large, topmost envelope, and opened it up, as it was not sealed. She carefully pulled the drawing out; admiring the way the Artist had captured the youthful innocence of her face, and the texture of Muffin's soft coat had been bought to life. She smiled. That night had been a night of destiny for her. It had been her first taste of Sunnydale at night, her first encounter with a Vampire, her first near killing by a vampire, and, of course, her fist encounter with Angel. Yes, that night had only been a taste of what was to come.
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Angel leant back in his chair and Angel Investigations, thinking back to that night when he had first met Willow. Reaching into his coat pocket, he pulled out his wallet, flipping into the back of the photo section, and pulling out the now battered photograph. He kept it hidden from prying eyes, whom would want to know why exactly he had a photo of a very young Willow in his wallet, but for him, it served as a reminder that despite how bad the vampire or demon situation was like, there was still innocence.
That photo reminded Angel that there was always hope.
A.N. I hope you enjoyed this story. I was attacked by a plot bunny last night, and wrote this out, which also kind of explains why it might not make sense in some parts. It was written at Twelve o'clock at night. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it, please review.