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Possession
 
The Slave Market
 
A/N: This story is not yet betaed. It was just a plot bunny that grabbed me and wouldn't let go and I needed some feedback, so I figured I'd post it here, since this is where the challenge came from. Once the chapter is betaed, I'll update it.
Italics for thoughts and flashbacks.

Chapter 1: The Slave Market

In some ways Spike had been expecting this day for decades, although this wasn't how he'd imagined it. He'd always known, that some day Dru would get him into more trouble than he'd be able to get out of. Of course that was part of her appeal. He'd just always figured when that day came he'd end up dust, not at the Center being sold as a slave.

It wasn't even Dru's fault this time. His dark princess was a siren that few demons could resist. Spike often had to fight off rivals for her affections, which she gave far more freely than he would have liked. Often Spike simply made these other demons disappear. But that wasn't always practical or possible.

They had been passing through Monte Carlo when Dru was abducted by the local Master's minions. It was a region of Europe where Spike had few friends and allies, so there was no way he'd be able to get her back through bloodshed. She was too well guarded.

He thought he could win her back by other means. Fighting wasn't the only thing Spike was good at after all, and gambling was a known weakness of Fredrico, Monte Carlo's Master vampire. So Spike had challenged him to a game of poker for Drusilla.

The only problem had been that Spike didn't have much of value to wager, so he'd offered himself up for Fredrico to do with as he pleased. It wasn't as if Spike had any intention of losing. He intended to cheat, and he was damned good at cheating.

Unfortunately, Fredrico was better at cheating. He also had no use himself for Spike, but he thought it would be amusing to sell his new queen's old lover as a sex slave at the Center.

The Center was exactly that, it was the center of the dimension Spike had always called home. That was why long ago it had become the center of the demon world. Not only was it inaccessible to human's who didn't know about magic, it was exactly the same distance from anywhere in that dimension. As such it was also the safest place from all other dimensions. Not that dimensional warfare was common, but still, you never knew when something that didn't belong would try and slither through and make a nuisance of itself.

Spike had never actually been to the Center. It was after all run by demons, who tended to look down on vampires as half breeds. Not that Spike was bothered by that, he'd just never really had a reason to go there.

His arms were chained behind his back as he was pushed past rows of humans, vampires, and demons who were all chained naked to strong iron posts. Spike tried not to look at them, or think about the fact that he was supposed to join them soon.

Of course he had no intention of letting that happen. He was slowly, and quietly working his chains loose. Fredrico's minions hadn't done a good job of it, and Spike was confident he could fight his way past his two guards.

He was lead into an office where a short pudgy blue demon was doing paper work. As they entered the demon looked up, and ran his eyes over Spike.

"Ah, yes. The vampire. Hmmm . . . " The demon got up to take a closer look at Spike.

First he put one clammy finger under Spike's chin and turned his head this way and that. "Pretty eyes, nice cheek bones," he noted as if he was going through some sort of mental check list.

Then the demon was sticking his fingers in Spike's mouth and forcing his lips apart.

Without thinking Spike growled and extended his fangs, hoping perhaps to bite off a finger. But the demon was too fast. Obviously he'd been expecting that.

"Yes, good reflexes, has all his teeth, and very nice fangs."

Then in one swift motion he tore open Spike's t-shirt baring his chest. "Yes, very nice," he noted.

It wasn't totally unexpected, but Spike still found himself less then prepared with the demon began undoing Spike's belt and fly. The only thing he could be grateful for was that there was nothing at all appealing about the demon's cold clammy hands on his member, so there was no chance of any embarrassing reactions to being manhandled.

"Ah yes, very impressive, although it's a pity really," the demon shook his head.

He didn't bother to zip Spike back up, he just returned to his desk and addressed the vampires who'd brought Spike in.

"If you'd only brought him to me a month ago. We could have made a small fortune. Male vampires were all the rage then, but well, you know how it is. . . They go in and out of style. It's young innocent human girls right now, and they never go completely out of style. Still he is a very nice specimen. I'll see what I can do."

The demon nodded and Spike was dragged back out of the room. Spike would come back, he promised himself. Someday he'd come back and chop off that demon's hands. But that would come after he escaped.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She had promised herself that she would never end up here again, but here she was. Of course this time she wasn't a slave waiting to be auctioned off. This time she was free, and she intended to stay that way.

Still, it was hard for her to walk past the slave pens, and to see the people and demons chained and waiting for buyers.

I'm the Slayer, she reminded herself. I am the strongest warrior to ever walk into the Circle.

But it didn't do much good. Inside she still felt like Buffy Summers, the scared and confused girl who'd been kidnapped and dragged here years ago.

This couldn't be happening. This couldn't be real. Any moment she would wake up and find out this was all a bad dream. That monsters were not real.

But she didn't wake up. The nightmare wouldn't stop. And Buffy Summers wondered if she'd ever see her friends and family again.

She had stayed late at the gym, to finish polishing the newest routine she wanted her and the other cheerleaders to perform. She'd heard the gym doors open, and had looked to see who it was.

Then she screamed.

There were two of them and they were the most hideous creatures she'd ever seen. They had white skin, and what looked like tentacles dripping from their chins. They wore long black robes, and carried clubs.

Without thinking Buffy ran. She ran faster than she had ever run before. She ran faster than she thought a person could run. But it didn't matter. The monsters followed her.

Too late she realized they had steered her into a trap where more of the terrifying creatures where waiting for her.

When they had her surrounded, they moved in slowly, cautiously, almost as if they were scared of her. Which was insane because they were the monsters and she was just a girl.

Finally they attacked her. She tried to fight back but she'd never thrown a punch in her life.

Even so she was surprised by how well she did. They seemed genuinely hurt when she did hit them. But in the end there were too many. They had overpowered her and beaten her until she was unconscious.

She had woken up chained and inside a cage. There were other cages around her, but none of the occupants were human. They were all monsters. It was as if the whole human race had just disappeared, and Buffy was all that was left.

Not knowing what else to do, Buffy curled up into a ball and cried.


That had been years ago. Buffy didn't cry anymore. She didn't even think of herself as Buffy anymore. She was The Slayer, and she knew that she could easily take any demon here.

But it didn't matter, somewhere, deep inside, a fragment of that scared teenage girl remained, and although The Slayer walked proudly through the slave market, she didn't feel at all confident. She couldn't help but eye the guards with nervous suspicion.

What was worse there was only one person to see for what she needed. Rill'kor. The same demon who'd arranged for her kidnapping and had auctioned her off all those years ago.

She passed into Rill'kor's tent and picked up a list of the demon's that were going to be auctioned off. Then she began to look around. All of the demons were chained up on display so that potential buyers could get a good look at them.

She moved easily through the crowd although she kept her head down. She didn't want to be recognized. This was important for two reasons. The first was she hated signing autographs, and sometimes suffocating crowds of her fans would encircle her. All reaching out for a piece of her.

That was why she'd come to the auction wearing a robe and with her hair and face hidden in a hood. That wasn't all that unusually. She knew most demons would recognize her as humans, and the sort of humans who came here, usually didn't want to be identified.

But the second reason, was that if anyone recognized her, they would most likely try and outbid her on any slave that caught her eye. Her funds were very limited. Her only real hope was to find a demon that had potential that no one else saw. After all, she didn't need a champion her first time out, just someone tough enough to survive a couple rounds.

That's why she quickly scratched several demons off her list. They were obviously perfect for the Circle and everyone knew it. They would most likely be sold for several times what she could pay.

Other's were also quickly scratched off her list, like a Fyarl demon that looked very impressive, but Buffy noticed the slight scar on one side of it's nose that meant that it's mucous sack had been removed.

Finally she had her list of the five demons that would both suit her purposes, and that she thought she could afford.

She left the tent to find a seat in front of the auction stage, but as she was leaving a man suddenly ran right in front of her.

A moment later she corrected herself. He wasn't a man, but a vampire. His hair was so blond it was almost white, and she was willing to bet that wasn't natural.

A black shirt hung in tatters about his body, and he yanked off the rest of it as he ran by, leaving him wearing nothing but his black jeans.

He's well muscled, Buffy absently thought as he ran by. Of course since he was a vampire that didn't really matter. You couldn't tell how strong a vampire was by looking at them. Or so she'd always been told. She'd been taught about vampires but had never actually fought one.

A moment latter two other vampires came around the same corner he had.

The first vampire didn't keep running however. Instead he grabbed a pole from one of the tents and turned to face his attackers.

Since it was going to be a while till the auction started, Buffy decided she might as well watch the show. And what a show it was. The vampire was actually good. He trust one end of the pole through the heart of one of his pursuers, who exploded in a could of dust.

Buffy gasped in spite of herself. She'd heard about that, but she'd never seen a vampire dusted before.

He quickly knocked the other guard down, and was just about to go in for the kill, when he was tackled by one of the slave market guards.

That's when the fight really began. The vampires that had chased their blond comrade, hadn't been very good fighters at all. The market guards were another story, and there were four of them, and just the one of him. Still he managed to hold his own for a while.

The Slayer couldn't help but watch the eye of a professional, and she was impressed with what she saw. The vampire was a dirty fighter, but he was also obviously an accomplished fighter as well.

But he was outnumbered, and it wasn't too long until the guards had him on the ground and were beating him into submission.

Curious, she watched as the guards dragged the beaten and bloody form towards Kira's tent. An escape sex slave, she thought, and shuddered a little. It reminded her that things could have been worse than being sold at Rill'kor's.

The show obviously over, the Slayer shrugged and moved back towards the auction stage, took a seat, and crossed her fingers.

 
The Sale
 
Chapter 2: The Sale

"That wasn't very smart," Kira, the blue demon who now owned Spike, told him. "Escaping like that. Now you've gotten yourself all beaten and bruised. Customers don't like bruised merchandise; they like to bruise you themselves."

Spike tried to look back defiantly at Kira, but since he couldn't even open one eye, he wasn't sure how well he pulled it off.

"Get him ready," Kira barked at the guards. "I doubt we'll sell him soon, but we might as well have him ready in case anyone wants to sample the wares." He stroked Spike's cheek with one clammy hand. In spite of himself, Spike flinched at the demon's touch. "I may even do so myself once the market's closed for the day."

Laughing, the demon left while the guards chained Spike's arms between two posts, like the other slaves. It was hardly a comfortable position considering he had broken a couple of ribs.

Once he was secured the guards left and several workers–or more likely slaves–came forward. They quickly removed his boots and jeans in order to chain his feet as well so that he was spread eagle. Then they dumped water on him, and began to wash off the blood and dirt from his escape attempt.

The only good thing about that was that the water was warm. He soon understood why when a pretty woman approached him. She held something in one hand, and before Spike could see what it was, she had grabbed his flaccid dick and slipped a cock ring on it. She then began to stroke him.

He tried to resist, tried to tell his body that it was not to respond to this little trollop. But she was a damned skillful trollop and his treacherous dick was soon hard. What was worse, as soon as he was fully erect the bitch just walked away and left him like that.

The remaining slaves dried him off, and then began rubbing some sort of oil on his body so that it glistened.

Finally, the humiliating ordeal was over and they simply left him hanging there on display.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Buffy was disappointed and even a little afraid. She had tried so hard to be careful about her bidding. She didn't want to appear too eager to buy any of the slaves she had picked out. She'd even bid on a couple that she didn't want, when she was sure someone would out bid her, hoping that would confuse anyone who was trying to watch her biding patterns.

But then maybe no one cares, she thought bitterly. Maybe she simply had no chance of purchasing the sort of slave she needed. After all she was trying to outsmart creatures like Tain, her former master, who had been doing this for a lot longer than she had. In some cases, for lifetimes.

But what other choice did she have? She had to survive. She couldn't do that out in the real world. Not anymore.

The first thing she'd done when she'd gotten her freedom was to return home, to find her parents. But things had changed in the years Buffy had been away. Her parents were divorced, and barely spoke to each other. Of course when she showed up at the doorstep of her old house they'd made an effort, for her sake. Not to get back together but to get along.

It didn't matter though. Buffy, their little girl, was long gone. Only the Slayer was left. She felt awkward all the time. She'd basically missed most of high school, so her parents had to get her a tutor. And she no longer knew how to talk to anyone her own age. Not only was she behind on all the advancements in pop culture that had happened during her captivity, she just didn't care.

All she could think of when her old girlfriends talked about shoes was that their shoes would get them killed in less than a second in battle. And boys, well they treated her like a girl. She just didn't feel like a girl. Not when she could kill any of them with her bare hands.

Then one day her father had put his hand on her shoulder from behind. He hadn't meant anything by it other than as a gesture of comfort and affection, but it had surprised her, and she had broken his arm.

That's when she had run away, when she had come back here, to the Center. If she belonged anywhere, it was here.

"She looks so small. Are you sure she's really a Slayer?" one of the monsters had asked.

"Oh yes," Rhill'kor replied. "She's the genuine article. I guarantee. I can't guarantee she'll win of course, but she's definitely the Slayer."

"She seems rather damaged, will she hold up in the Circle?" another of the monsters had asked.

This monster was the least frightening of all of them. He was ugly, but then they were all ugly. His skin hung in loose folds around his arms and face. But he had these big floppy ears that kind of reminded Buffy of a puppy. She just wished he didn't have those blood red eyes, and that they weren't looking at her. At all of her.

After her first night in the cage they had stripped her of all her clothing and washed the blood from her beating off of her. Then they had chained her up naked for everyone to see.

But none of the monsters seemed to be looking at her in a sexual way. Which actually seemed worse. At first she thought maybe they were going to eat her or something, that's what monsters did after all, eat people. But they kept calling her the Slayer. She wanted to scream at them that she wasn't the Slayer, she was just Buffy Summers. She was a cheerleader, not a slayer, whatever a slayer was.

"Ah, yes Tain, she does look a little bruised," Rhill'kor agreed. "But here, this is a photo of her when we brought her in last night.

Tain, the floppy eared monster, took the Polaroid and looked at it and her several times.

"Most impressive," Tain agreed.


To this day, she had never quite figured out if Slayer was just a fancy name Rhill'kor had given her to make her sell better, or if it meant something more. Like maybe it was a sub-species of demon. But she had never seen or heard of another Slayer, nor had she ever run into another human who could do what she could do. Who was as strong or as fast or as tough.

Which left her wondering what she really was–if she was human at all.

The problem was she couldn't ask. Tain might have been less repulsive than the other demons, but he was just as cruel. He accepted nothing but perfection and absolute obedience from his slaves. Her years with him had been harsh and unforgiving.

Among his many rules was never ask questions. Another was to forbid the slaves to talk to each other, so she had never managed to find out exactly what it meant when they called her the Slayer.

Once she had her freedom, she couldn't exactly go up to other demons and say, "Hi there. I'm the Slayer. You wouldn't happen to know what that means, do you?"

The best she could figure was that she was some sort of human demon hybrid. Like vampires.

Vampires! The word brought to mind the attempted escape she had witnessed earlier.

It was a crazy thought, there hadn't been a vampire in the Circle for. . . well she didn't know how long, but a really long time. Everyone agreed that vampires were too weak, that they were inferior to other demons, but did that really mean it was true? She knew enough about demon society to know that they were just as capable of species-ism as humans were of racism.

But Tain was in this just for profit. If a vampire could be viable in the Circle surely he would have used them by now, bigotry or not, she told herself.

She rehearsed in her head the fight she'd seen. Two of the vampires had been worthless. But the blond one, the escaping slave. He'd been good. Real good.

The more she thought about it the more she thought that maybe he was just the fighter she was looking for. She'd been looking for a long shot, a demon that the others would overlook, and she may have just found him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Spirit? You know I may have what you're looking for after all," Kira's voice floated across the busy market.

Spike had stopped paying attention, however. At first he'd been hopeful every time a customer began browsing the wares. The sooner he was sold, the sooner his next chance at escaping would come. He knew they had no reason to move him any sooner. As a vampire, the elements wouldn't affect him, and as long as they gave him some blood to drink they could leave him chained indefinitely without it doing any harm to him.

But Kira had not been exaggerating earlier when he'd said that vampires were not in fashion. All of the slaves that had been sold were young human girls. No one had even looked twice at him. No one but Kira, that is.

And then all of a sudden Kira was there with what smelled like a human woman, except that she was obviously a customer and not a slave. Curious he tried to get a look at her, but her face was hidden inside the hood of her long purple robe. In fact every inch of her was covered including her hands which wore long brown leather gloves that disappeared into the sleeves of the robe.

Probably some old witch with a weird kink, Spike decided. She had to be something like that, because she was so small and delicate. He was pretty sure even a human male could have snapped her thin wrists without a second thought.

"We just got him in today," Kira explained to the robed figure. "A very fine specimen as you can see. And definitely spirited. He tried to escape, which is why he's in. . . less than perfect condition at the moment. But don't worry, vampires heal fast. It's part of their appeal."

The woman walked in a slow circle around Spike. He could feel her eyes examining every inch of him, weighing and judging him. For the first time he was almost glad of the cock ring. Without it he thought his cock would have wilted under the old bat's stare.

"So what do you think," Kira asked hopefully.

"Not bad. . ." she said, as if she was indifferent to the whole matter, yet Spike could hear her heart speed up. She wanted him.

But he couldn't smell any arousal on her.

Bugger Spike thought She's probably buying me for parts. Needs liver of the undead for some spell. At least he hoped that it was his liver she was after and not other parts that were currently on more prominent display.

At that moment the true vulnerability of his situation really sank in. Some part of Spike had been unwilling to accept what was happening to him. But now that he was actually being looked at like a piece of merchandise it was becoming all too real.

"How much?" she asked.

"Fifty kittens," Kira proclaimed.

She snorted. "For damaged merchandise? I'm not even sure I should pay you ten."

She put one gloved finger under Spike's chin and looked him straight in the eyes. For the first time he got a look at her face and he was startled. She wasn't old at all. In fact he doubted she was even eighteen yet. Her face was pretty and sweet. She looked more like a prom queen than someone looking to purchase a vampire sex slave.

Except for her eyes–pretty green eyes–that were far too old for her years. Those eyes searched his, and Spike had the impression that this was the important part. That she hadn't really been looking at him at all before now. That if she didn't find what she was looking for in his eyes she'd simply walk away and never come back. And he found he didn't want that to happen.

She's just my best chance to get out of here, he told himself. He'd have no problems overpowering her once they had gotten away from the market. Then he'd be free, and able to figure out a way to get Dru back.

"You're right. He is a little bruised. Forty?" Kira asked.

"I don't know," she said. "He's hair isn't even his natural color. How do I know what I'm really getting? Twenty?"

"He came to us that way. Though it does appear he's a brunette," Kira said gesturing towards Spike's exposed groin. "And just look at that cock," he continued excitedly. "Go ahead, feel free to touch the merchandise."

There was an awkward moment where no one did anything. Then the girl's hand shot out and she gave Spike's cock a quick squeeze. Brief as it was, it elicited a small moan from Spike.

Bloody hell, that girl's got quite the grip. On the other hand, the hesitation she'd showed seemed to indicate that whatever it was she was looking for, sex wasn't it.

That could be good or bad. He didn't really want to be anyone's sex toy, but if that wasn't why he was being purchased, what was he being bought for? Doesn't matter, he told himself. Because once we get out of the Center, she'll be dead and I'll be free.

"See, look how responsive he is, and that vampire stamina really is as good as they say. Thirty?"

"Thirty it is," the girl agreed.

She and the demon shook hands, after which Kira went off to get the paper work.

The woman moved close to Spike and reached inside her robe, and pulled out a silver cord. Then she fastened it around Spike's neck.

"Do you know what this is?" she asked.

He shook his head.

"The cord is magically linked to this bracelet." She held up her wrist which had a thick silver bracelet with several jewels. "With it I can cause you pleasure," she paused as she pressed one of the jewels.

Spike's eyes went wide, and he could feel his balls tighten as a strange phantom pleasure coursed through his body. It was intense and yet distant, as if he couldn't quite identify where in his body the sensations were coming from. But it was good and he realized that he was moaning. Then as suddenly as it had started it was gone.

"Or pain," she continued.

He was still trying to get his bearings from the strange sensations when she fiddled with the bracelet again so it was mostly surprise that elicited a small scream from him.

Much like the pleasure, the pain was everywhere and nowhere at once. It was hardly the worst pain he'd ever been in. It didn't compare to say, holy water or sunlight. But it was enough, and he was sure many demons were easily cowed by the threat of it.

Spike was stubborner than most demons, and if she thought she would be able to control him easily with a mystic carrot and stick then she had another thing coming. He also silently promised himself that that would be the last time she would hear him scream.

"Incidentally, if you get too far away from me, like say a hundred yards, the pain kicks in automatically. The further you get, the more it hurts. The pain is actually enough to kill some creatures, although if I understand vampires correctly it would probably only cripple you. Oh, and I wouldn't try taking off the cord either. They have a tendency to explode when they are fiddled with. Decapitation does kill vampires, doesn't it? I've found it kills most things."

Spike nodded, that he understood. She wasn't half as smart as she thought she was, however. He was willing to bet that the cord didn't care how far he got from her, just how far he got from the bracelet. So if say he ripped off her arm and took it with him, he could go anywhere he pleased.

Kira returned with some papers and a pen. After the girl had signed for Spike, Kira smiled at her and said, "I'm sure you'll be very happy with him."
 
Home
 
Chapter 3: Home

As they left the slave market, Spike was given a set of unbleached cotton pants and a shirt to put on. He was hurried along, and wasn't even given a chance to do anything about the erection that was being maintained by the cock ring. On the other hand, he didn't want Kira volunteering to help with that problem, so he kept quiet about it and simply kept his hands over his groin as he followed his new owner out of the slave market.

Spike was surprised when, instead of heading away from the Center and back to the regular world, the girl led him deeper into the Center.

She didn't speak and she never looked back to see if Spike was following her.

The more he thought about his situation, the more nervous he became. He was operating totally in the dark. He had no idea why this girl had bought him or what she would do with him. All he knew was that every sense told him she was just a regular human girl, and every instinct told him she was more than she seemed.

Nerves got the better of Spike, and without thinking he blurted out, "Good thing the sun's down."

She stopped, and slowly turned towards him. "There is no sun. It's always dusk here."

Then she started to walk again.

Spike felt like kicking himself. Not only had it been a silly thing to say in the first place, he'd just revealed how little he knew about his present surroundings. She, on the other hand, seemed right at home.

Soon they had left the markets behind, and strange houses rose up on either side of them. No two were quite alike, each having been built by a different species of demon. They only shared one thing in common. They were all over-crowded.

The area was quite obviously a slum, and Spike found himself a bit nervous walking through such an area with a human girl. He might as well have been in the middle of a pack of wolves with a nice bit of mutton tied around his neck. Yet to Spike's surprise, no one bothered them.

Finally they stopped in front of a run down looking building. Its walls were mud. It was made from the same sand that covered every inch of the Center. It was square, bulky, and on the second floor, he could see where the roof had partially collapsed.

The only part of it that didn't look old and run down was the front door. It was made from brass and still shiny. It looked more like it should be the door of a bank vault than a house. All it needed was one of those large wheels on the front to complete the look. But it had a much more ordinary handle, and the girl simply pulled it open.

What's the point of a door like that if you don't even lock it? Spike wondered.

As soon as he stepped inside he had his answer. There was nothing inside worth stealing. The room had nothing in it, but a few hooks on the wall by the door, a crude wooden table and chair, a lamp, a mini fridge and a hot plate. The lamp, the mini fridge, and the hot plate were all plugged into a power strip that was connected to an orange extension cord that came in through a hole in one of the outside walls.

A staircase led upstairs, and there was an open archway that led into a big–but completely empty–room. There were two other doors in the room. One of them was a wooden door, that barely hung on its hinges. The other one matched the front door of the house, except that this one had a series of four bolts on it.

The girl turned on the lamp, then shut the front door. As she did so Spike saw that on the inside it also had a series of dead bolts, which she locked into place one by one.

For the hundredth time Spike found himself wondering who this odd girl was. She had money to spend on a slave but she lived in a run down shack where the front door was worth a dozen times more then everything else inside.

The whole house smelled dusty, and although her scent was here, it was new. She hadn't lived here long.

Maybe her furniture hasn't been delivered yet, he thought.

Once she had double checked the locks on the front door she pulled down the hood of her robe and shook out her long blond hair. Then she took off the robe and hung it on one of the hooks by the door.

She was hardly naked, however. In fact Spike couldn't see one more bit of flesh than he had a moment before. The brown leather gloves she had been wearing turned out to be part of any entire outfit. From head to toe she was wearing soft brown leather.

It wasn't, however, some sort of cat suit or dominatrix outfit. Although it mostly fit her figure, it was not flattering. Rather than accentuate her breasts, it seemed to flatten them out and her boots didn't even have a heel. It was–Spike realized–a kind of armor she was wearing.

He supposed it wasn't a bad idea for a young girl in a demon world, but he wondered how much good it would really do her.

The she turned her green eyes on him, and acknowledged his presence for the first time. "Do you know who I am?"

He knew what this was. A test. He was supposed to say something like, 'Yes, you are my mistress.' He had no doubt if he said anything else he was going to get another sample of pain from the bracelet, but Spike had never been one to do things the easy way.

"Goldilocks?" he said instead.

She looked at him surprised, and something that might almost have been a smile tugged at her lips. But it was quickly gone.

"Attack me," she ordered instead.

Spike was both shocked and confused by this non-sequitur. It was a trick. He knew that. She must really be some sort of witch, and if he got to near her an electro shield would appear and shock him. Or something like that.

So he hesitated.

She didn't. And suddenly pain was coursing through his body as she played with a jewel on her bracelet. He gritted his teeth and leapt at her, the pain making him forget his reasons for not attacking her.

As soon as he moved in on her the pain vanished, but so had she. Somehow she had ended up behind him, and she was twisting his right arm behind his back.

He managed to wrest the arm free and swung around hoping to deliver a left hook to her face. But she caught his fist with her hand. He was so startled that she had the strength to stop the force of his punch, that he was caught completely by surprise when her other fist crashed into his nose.

Reflexively his hands reached up to cup his broken nose. She used that moment to sweep his legs out from under him. He found himself grateful that her hovel only had a dirt floor as he landed on his back and his head smacked against the ground.

The next instant she was on top of him, pinning his arms to the ground with her legs.

He had to blink several times to clear his eyes enough to see her. Her long golden hair hung down just above her face, and now she was actually smiling.

Cor, she's beautiful Spike thought in spite of himself. A moment later he blamed it on the combined influence of a mild concussion, the cock ring, and the fact that her legs were open right in front of his face filling his nostrils with the smell of her arousal.

He was starting to think maybe she was a dominatrix after all, when it suddenly clicked into place.

"Slayer," he mumbled.

She nodded and got up off of him. "See I knew you must have heard of me."

He got to his feet as quickly as he could considering he wasn't yet fully recovered from the beating he'd received earlier.

"Yeah, well, I never heard of a Slayer who had to buy vampires in order to dust them."

She just looked at him a little strangely. But she didn't say anything.

"And don't think I'm going to cower and be all scared just because you're the Slayer," he continued. "I've faced slayers before and ki- " Spike stopped himself. He was after all this slayer's slave, however twisted that may be. It was probably not a good idea to let her know that he'd killed two of her predecessors. "Made it out all right," he finished.

"You've seen other slayers?" she asked, obviously curious.

"Yeah a couple, why?" he asked, suddenly suspicious.

For a moment he thought she was going to tell him. But then she suddenly became serious. She opened the other brass door and gestured for him to go inside.

Warily he moved towards the door way. It was nothing more than a simple cell, with a wooden cot in it and nothing else. Obviously it was meant to be his room.

When he didn't go in right away, she gave him a bit of a push. Once he was inside, she began to close the door.

"Hey!" he protested. "Don't suppose I can get some blood?" he asked.

She stopped and looked at him. "Sorry, you'll have to wait till morning. I wasn't expecting a vampire. I was honestly hoping for a Fyarl demon."

Then she shut the door in his face, leaving him in alone in the darkness.

He could hear the bolts being drawn on the other side, and he had no doubt that he was firmly locked away for the night.

He didn't really mind the darkness in and of itself, except that with nothing to do, his imagination began to get the better of him as he tried to figure out what sort of situation he'd ended up in. Pretty as the slayer was, he desperately hoped that he was here for something other than sex, because he didn't think he could deal with a girl whose idea of a good time was a Fyarl demon.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Buffy's fingers trembled with excitement as she locked the vampire in his cell.

He knows about slayers, she thought. He was hiding something, maybe exaggerating, but he definitely knew something. All she had to do now was find a way to get it out of him without letting on to her own ignorance.

For a moment she felt a little guilty about not being able to feed him, but then she was a lot nicer to him than Tain had been to her the day her bought her.

She was grateful when they stopped. After the auction her hands had been bound in front of her and she'd been tied to the back of a carriage.

She'd always associated horse drawn carriages with romance. She'd never expected to be chained to the back of one and have to run to keep up with it or risk being dragged along the sandy road.

She didn't know how she kept up with the carriage, but she never lost her footing, although she was exhausted by the time the driver finally stopped.

As she was brought inside the small fortress that was her new home she spoke to the monster that had bought her for the first time.

"Please-"

Before she could say another word she was struck on the face with a ridding crop. She could feel blood trickle down her cheek.

"You will not speak unless spoken to," Tain told her.

"But I-"

The crop cracked against her other cheek, and she whimpered but kept silent.

Then Tain simply walked away while one of his guards dragged her into the basement. There were a dozen cells down their, each containing a different kind of monster.

The guard opened an empty cell and pulled her inside. Then he chained her to a ring in the back of the cell.

"I just wanted to know where the bathroom was," she whispered to herself.

As her eyes adjusted to the dim light, she could see that her cell had a cot and a small pot that she assumed was her bathroom. The only problem was that they both sat on the other side of the cell, and she was so tightly bound to the ring, that she couldn't get to them. All she could do was cross her legs and hope someone unchained her soon.


Once her new slave was safely locked away, Buffy went to the bathroom to brush her teeth. It had cost so much to have indoor plumbing installed that she had vowed never to have bad hygiene again. Not to mention she'd been spoiled during her brief sojourn to the world outside the Center.

Besides, being able to take care of her personal needs privately and whenever she wanted were reminders that she was free now.

Once she'd brushed her teeth and washed her face, she moved upstairs to her bedroom. She pulled the last of the thick brass doors shut and carefully locked the door, double checking that all four locks were secure.

As she got into bed, her mind wandered once again to her slave. She was a little worried about him. She'd hoped that he'd put up more of a fight.

She tried to reassure herself that she'd seen a fighter's spirit in his eyes. But now that she owned him and couldn't change her mind, all kinds of fears began to surface.

She took a deep breath and told herself, It's all or nothing Slayer. Live or die. That was the mantra she'd repeated to herself every time she stepped into the Circle. Those words had always calmed her, as if it was all out of her hands and all she could do was her best.

But if I fail this time, she thought, I'll wish I was dead.
 
Training
 
Chapter 4: Training

Spike fell asleep a lot easier than he thought he would have. Of course that was in part due to getting rid of the cock ring. Once he'd realized that he was stuck and alone for the night, he'd taken hold of his cock and quickly began to stroke it. The fantasy came quick and hard to his mind. Slayer blood hot in his mouth, and his new owner lying underneath him as he pounded her into the ground. He was going to make her pay for thinking she could own him.

When he was done, a satisfied languor over took him. All he wanted to do was lie back on the cot and get some sleep. He did one thing first however, he got down on the dirt floor, and scraped out a little hole under the cot to hide the cock ring in, hoping that he would never see it again. Then he lay down and let sleep overtake him.

Despite the fact that he fell asleep easily, the sleep wasn't that restful. His body was still sore, and since he hadn't been given any blood, his injuries weren't healing as fast as they should. On top of that, some instinct kept him from relaxing fully, so he was startled awake by the sound of the front door being opened and shut the next morning.

Immediately he got up, honing his senses on every sound in the house. There weren't any. The little chit had gone and left him. His first thought was to try and escape, but then he remembered the collar and bracelet. However she must have left it somewhere in the house, or she hadn't gone far, because there were no signs of the pain he had been told would ensue if the collar got too far from the bracelet.

If it was in the house somewhere, then he could take it with him and get away. The problem was the vault door in front of him. It didn't take much to realize that even with his vampiric strength he wasn't going to be able to budge that door.

Well, if he couldn't use that door, he'd just make his own. The walls of the house seemed to be made out of some sort of adobe or clay. He pulled back his fist and punched the wall.

"Bloody hell!" he roared, as his fist slammed uselessly into the wall.

His knuckles came back bruised and bloody, and he hadn't even chipped it. He didn't know if the walls were enchanted, or if it was simply some sort of demon clay that was harder than steel, but he obviously wasn't going to get out that way either.

Finally he sank back down on his cot, sucking at his wounded fist. There didn't seem to be anything more he could try and do to escape from this room. It was obvious that he was going to have to try and find a way to get away once he was released into the rest of the house.

With nothing to do, he had no idea how long it was before she came back, although to him it felt like an eternity.

He could hear her moving about in the main room. He was debating whether or not he should call attention to himself by banging on the door, when he heard the locks unlatch.

The Slayer opened the door, leaving it wide open for him to pass through. Trying not to appear as eager to get out as he was, Spike moved into the main room. On the small hot plate some unidentifiable gruel was cooking, and on the table was a very large jar full of blood and a cup.

"I don't know how much blood you need," the Slayer said. "So drink what you want and put the rest in the fridge." Then she went to check on the food on the hot plate.

Not needing to be told twice, Spike hurried over to the jar, pouring himself a cup of blood. He was surprised to find that the blood he was being offered by the Slayer was in fact human blood. That was about the only thing good that could be said of it. It was cold, not entirely fresh, and it had come from several different people, all just mixed together to make a less than pleasing combination. But it was blood and he knew he would need his strength if he was going to escape, so he ended up pouring himself three cups before securing the lid and returning it to the fridge.

Besides, it was better than the sludge the Slayer was eating, so he didn't think complaining was likely to get him anywhere. They were done eating almost at the same time. The Slayer wolfed down her food, as if she was expecting someone to steal the plate away from her at any moment. She scraped away the very last traces of the slop she'd been eating, and Spike almost expected her to lick the plate clean.

When she was done she took her plate upstairs. Spike could hear the sounds of running water, and a few minutes later she reappeared with a clean plate. Spike was once again left wondering what his place was in this strange house.

"Follow me," she told him.

She led him into the other room, which Spike had thought was empty. In fact it was only the center of the large room that was empty; the walls were lined with various weapons.

"Move to the center of the room," she told him as she pulled down a staff from the wall.

Warily he did as he was told, keeping an eye on her. His instincts were right, because suddenly she struck with the staff, and he barely dodged out of the way.

"Do you know what the Circle is?" she asked as she tried to strike him again.

Once again he managed to stay out of her way, not that it was terribly hard.

"Sure, gladiatorial games," he said, trying to split his attention between the conversation and the staff she seemed determined to hit him with as she circled the room.

"It's best if you don't think of it as a game, at least not if you want to live past your first battle," she told him.

And just like that she had planted the butt of the staff in his stomach. He stumbled back. It might not be possible to knock the wind out of him, since he didn't breathe, but that didn't mean he liked having his stomach crushed.

At that point the Slayer stopped toying with him, and began trying to strike him in earnest.

"The Circle is full of just about every type of demon," she continued to lecture him as if she wasn't hitting him with a stick. "And most of them have claws or armor or poison, so pretty much, you're screwed. You need to learn not to care about the pain," she said as he blocked a vicious swipe at his head with one of his arms. "And cause them as much pain as possible."

"It's true that killing your opponent will get you an automatic victory, but the truth is most demons have only one weak spot and they guard it well. Maim them, break their bones, disable them, and hey, if you can kill them go for it. But remember, pain is your friend. If you can make them hurt so bad they can't think, then you've won."

By this time Spike had several new bruises. It wasn't that her blows were necessarily always landing where she intended. He blocked most of the ones he couldn't dodge. The problem was he had nothing to block with but his arms and legs.

Then out of nowhere, she swiped his legs out from under him. Before he could get back on his feet, she was on top of him, pinning his shoulders to the ground with her knees.

That's when he became aware of it, the scent of the Slayer's arousal. If he wasn't bruised, battered, and pinned to the floor he might have been amused by it. The other day she'd had no reaction to him being tied up and naked, but fighting seemed to get her motor going.

"Any questions?" she asked, as she looked down at him.

"Yeah," he replied. "Are you really this daft?"

Before she could reply he bent his knees so he could kick his legs up and hook them around her neck. Without pausing he yanked back, pulling her off of him. They both scrambled to their feet.

He expected her to be pissed off. Truth be told, he expected her to use that bracelet of hers to zap him with a bolt of pain.

Instead she smiled.

Then next thing he knew she was flying at him with feet and fists. For a moment he was purely on the defensive, but at the first opportunity he took a swing at her and felt his fist connect with her nose.

As the smell of her blood hit the air he forgot that he was her slave. He was a vampire, she was a slayer that was all there was. He snarled as his face shifted and his fangs descended.

She was like no one he'd ever fought; she even left the other two slayers he'd killed in the dust. She was vicious and precise, and more than anything else, she was having the time of her life.

Before he knew what had happened, he found himself on his back again. This time with her foot against his throat.

"That was fun," she said. "But we have work to do, at least if you want to live though your first match."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Buffy's body hummed as the water from her shower washed away the sweat of her first day of training with her new slave.

All things considered, it had gone well. He was a solid fighter and she was pretty sure that he'd survive more than a couple matches in the Circle. The only problem was his confidence. Confidence was good–important–but she was worried he thought a little too highly of himself and would underestimate his opponents.

But as hard as she tried to analyze his fighting style and figure out a training schedule, she was distracted by thoughts of what it had felt like to fight him. She had felt really alive for the first time in a long while.

And that scared her. If all she enjoyed was fighting, what could she possibly do with herself now that she was no longer a slave? She had already learned that there was no place for her back in the real world.

Of course she could always go back into the Circle herself. There was no rule that said you had to be a slave to fight there, but even that was no longer in her reach. She had won too often, killed too many opponents. No one would fight her anymore. That was the only reason she'd been set free.

Tain could no longer make money by entering her into the Circle so she was no longer worth her upkeep. He might have just had her killed, but he realized that freeing her was a better incentive for his other slaves to fight harder.

She pushed all those worries aside as she relived each blow she had traded with her new slave. She closed her eyes, letting the water wash over. Unconsciously her hand moved down between her legs, to try and relieve the ache caused by thoughts of fighting him again.
 
First Fight
 
Buffy hadn't been this nervous in a long time, not since the first time she entered The Circle. It seemed so long ago. She had entered The Circle as a girl, a frightened cheerleader, but she left as the Slayer. That day seemed almost like the first day of her life.

She wasn't as scared as she thought she ought to be. She thought she should be yelling at them, telling them that she was just a girl. That she couldn't fight demons, but she didn't really believe that anymore.

She had spent enough time being trained by Tain, fighting his other slaves in practice matches to know that she wasn't just a girl. She was something more. What, she didn't know, and that did frighten her.

In fact the whole reason she was standing here was because she had almost killed one of the other slaves during a practice session a few days prior. She hadn't really meant to, and she felt really bad about it afterwards. After all it wasn't his fault. She'd stopped seeing her fellow slaves as monsters, she didn't even think of them as demons–which she had learned was the correct term–they were just other slaves, no different than she was.

It was kind of like Star Wars or Star Trek. All these people who looked funny but were really just people. That's why she felt so bad about almost killing the other slave. She'd almost murdered someone. Buffy Summers was almost a killer. Today maybe she would be.

She had barely stepped into the arena when her opponent charged at her. He was a big fellow, with large wicked looking tusks, with which he was trying to maul her.

She stepped out of the way just in time, but he snagged her arm with one of his tusks, causing her to bleed a little. And then she stopped thinking and started fighting.

It was nothing like the training sessions Tain had put her through. It was dirty and painful and real. She felt her ribs crack and she knew no one was going to step in and stop this. The only one who could make it stop was her.

And she did. She managed to grab one of her opponent's tusks. It was razor sharp and it sliced her hand, but still she gripped it tightly and used it to twist his head and snap his neck.

Some of the crowd cheered while others booed. She looked up at them and she wasn't Buffy Summers anymore, she was the Slayer, and she promised herself that if she ever got free she would kill every one of them.


She hadn't though. By the time she'd won her freedom two years had passed and she'd learned something. Life was unfair, and no matter how many people you killed life was still unfair.

Now she walked up the steps to the owners' box for the first time. Today she wasn't the slave but the owner of a slave. Today she was doing to someone else the same thing that had been done to her, and she would have been lying if she said she didn't care.

The truth was she was kind of fond of Spike. He talked too much, or maybe he talked the normal amount, it was just that she still wasn't used to being allowed to speak. Tain's slaves were always punished for speaking. That was the main reason she let him talk, so that she would become comfortable with talking again.

She had no illusions about how he felt about her. He might act friendly towards her, but all she had to do was look in his eyes. He looked at her like she had looked at Tain, like he would kill her the first opportunity he got.

But that was okay; she wanted him to be a killer after all. She wanted him to want to live so badly that he would kill anything that got in his way.

As Buffy entered the owner's box, all conversation ceased. They all looked at her with hatred and contempt. There wasn't a demon there who hadn't lost a valuable fighter and an even more valuable purse to her. Only Tain didn't seem to be bothered by her presence.

"Ah, Slayer," he said in the too nice tone he always used. "Please, come sit here. You must be excited about your first match, although I don't know what you were thinking entering a vampire."

"He's good," was all she said, and she wondered if anyone else noticed the way she flinched after speaking, as if she was expecting to be struck at any moment.

But no one did. Instead she sat down by the man who had stripped her humanity away and put her through a living hell for two years. The only person in the box who would talk to her.

For just a moment she thought about killing him. It would be so easy, no one could stop her. But she quickly gave up the idea. It wouldn't change anything. It wouldn't make her a girl again.

Instead she let her attention wander to the first match that was beginning below them. It was important that she pay attention to every match. She'd been out of the game for a while now and she needed to know who the current contenders were and what their strengths and weaknesses were so that she could decide who Spike's next opponent would be.

The first two fights passed in a blur, and just like that they were announcing the third fight–Spike's fight. As the announcer proclaimed that one of the next fighters was a vampire there were assorted jeers, boos, and laughter. She didn't care. In fact if anything, she hoped that Spike's opponent had the same opinion. The more people underestimated Spike the better things would go for both of them.

And just like that the fight started. All of her concentration was on the fight below, so that at first she didn't hear Tain speaking to her.

"Hmmm?" she asked.

"I said he talks too much. It's a waste of energy. You should break him of that. If he lives."

"I like his accent," was all she said.

That was all the attention she could spare for Tain. All she could see as she watched the battle below was the mistakes Spike made. She saw a half dozen moments when his opponent could have killed him. Luckily the demon he was fighting wasn't paying as much attention, or was too close to see the opportunities he was missing.

When the demon hit the ground dead, Buffy was startled. She'd quickly convinced herself that Spike was going to lose. She didn't even realize until it was over that she'd been holding her breath. Even as the crowd hissed at the uppity vampire that had killed a demon she kept trying to convince herself that it really had happened.

"That's a nice purse you just won," a voice said from being her.

She turned to see Belef, a demon who looked a bit like a toad that had first been stretched and then squashed back down. He was also the demon who had fronted her the money she'd used to get herself started.

Tain had released her with nothing but the clothes on her back. When she had returned to The Center after her failed attempt to live back in the real world she'd still had nothing. She had tried to borrow the money she needed from several of the other owners, but she had no collateral other than herself, and most of them understood just as Tain had that she was too good to be worth anything anymore.

But Belef had taken her up on the offer. She wasn't sure why, but she knew he's always taken it personally when she'd won a fight against one of his slaves. She was pretty sure that the only reason he'd taken her up on the offer was because he wanted to take out of her hide the value of every slave of his she had ever killed.

"I'll be expecting my first payment promptly," Belef continued.

"You'll get it. You'll get it all soon," she told him.

The money she'd won today wasn't nearly enough to pay off her debt to Belef, but it was one step closer to being free of him. The next couple of fights she put Spike through would still be all or nothing for her. If he didn't make it, if she couldn't make enough to pay off Belef, she'd lose her freedom and maybe her life.

In the end, it was all pretty simple. She just had to make sure Spike didn't lose.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The cell Spike was put in after he won his match was nicer than the first cell he'd been held in beforehand, but it was still a cell. There was fresh blood though, water to clean off his opponent's blood, and some bandages if he wanted them.

He went for the blood first, gulping it down quickly. Next he cleaned himself off. He didn't bother with the bandages though. He'd broken a couple of ribs, but they would heal quickly and none of his other injuries were that serious.

Under any other circumstances he would have been thrilled with the fight he'd just had. It was just the sort of brawl he loved. But fighting because he had to, and to amuse a bunch of eviler-than-thou demons, was not his idea of a good time.

The bastards even had the nerve to boo him. He had rid the world of two Slayers, but did they care? No. All those demon elitists cared about was that he was a half-breed.

Well fuck them. There was no way he was going down in that arena, so they'd just have to learn to accept that a vampire could kick all their asses.

His thoughts were interrupted as the cell door opened and the Slayer entered.

"You fight again in three days. Any serious injuries?" she asked in a business-like tone.

"I'm fine. Thanks for the concern," he snapped back at her.

"Come on," she said as she turned to leave.

"That's it? No good job?"

"You're alive. Isn't that enough? Besides, you didn't do a good job. You were just lucky enough to have an opponent who didn't see all your mistakes."

"You know, Slayer, someone really did a number on you."

She turned on that to look back at him. "You think?" she asked sarcastically before adding, "Tain was right you do talk too much."

"No! Hey!" But he was too late. She reached down for the jewel on her bracelet that caused him pain and he fell to his knees in agony.

"I'm not your friend," she said sternly. "I'm not here to congratulate you. All I care about is how much money you make me, and to make me money you have to win. Which means you have to survive. That's all that matters to me. Understand?"

"Yeah, yeah, life's a bitch and so are you. I get it," he grumbled.

"Good," she said, turning her back on him once again to lead him home.
 
Double Jeopardy
 
Chapter 6: Double Jeopardy

Spike had mistakenly thought that his life couldn't get any worse. But the two days between his first and second fight brought new meaning to the word hellish.

From the way the Slayer treated him, you would have thought he'd lost his first fight instead of won it. She drilled him non-stop and nothing he did was good enough for her.

By the time she called it quits for the night, it was all he could do to drink down his blood and crawl back into his cell to sleep.

By morning, he felt himself again, which was one of the drawbacks to being a vampire. He almost wished that she could work him to death, or at least had to give him some time off.

But the worst part of it all was that she actually knew what she was doing. He didn't know what she thought she was going to accomplish in two days, but he did know that if she kept this up, in a few months he would be twice as deadly as he had been before he met her.

Not that it would do him any good since he'd still be her slave, and if she had her way he'd forget how to talk. She'd been pretty clear on the no talking rule since they'd come back from The Circle. Of course he'd done his best to make it clear that he wasn't going to listen to that particular rule. It had earned him a lot of pain, but he didn't care. At least not much. He had to hold on to some part of himself, because he wasn't going to let this last. He wasn't going to be a slave forever.

But none of that mattered right now. He was back in The Circle and the gate was opening. All that mattered now was getting through the next fight so that he would get his chance at the Slayer's throat.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The crowd cheered, and Buffy smiled as her slave won his second battle. It had been slightly less nerve wracking this time, not that she hadn't noticed another half-dozen things to correct tomorrow during their training session.

"He is good," Tain said admiringly. "Where did you find him?"

"I bought him from Kira," she told him.

Tain laughed loudly. It wasn't something she'd heard before. It almost made him seem okay. Like they were friends or something.

"A sex slave?! You entered a sex slave in The Circle?" Tain smiled down at her. "I suppose it is efficient; why buy two slaves when one can do both jobs?"

The suggestive way he looked at her made her skin crawl and she remembered all the reasons why they would never be friends. If she had been carrying a knife, she would have gutted him right there. Maybe it wouldn't have changed anything, but it would have felt really good.

"It's dumb luck, that's all," Belef interrupted.

"You're just upset because one of the slaves you were entering today got killed last night and you have to forfeit," Buffy replied, grateful for the chance to ignore Tain's last comment.

Belef smiled so widely that it looked like the top of his head might just slide off. "I only have to forfeit if I can't find another slave to enter before the next three fights are over. If your vampire is so good, why not have him take my slave's place?"

"Why would I do that?" Buffy asked. "No one fights two battles in one day, and you're the one registered, the purse would go to you anyway."

"So let's make a deal then. Your slave fights for me, and if he wins I'll forgive the rest of your debt. If he loses. . . well I would have lost that purse anyway."

"Don't be absurd," Tain broke in. "He may be good but he's still just a vampire, and he's already been in one fight today. He'd be fighting a demon who is fresh."

Before Tain had spoken, Buffy had been about to turn down Belef's offer, no matter how tempting it was. But something about the way Tain said, 'He's just a vampire' gave her pause. He was a vampire and she couldn't help but wonder how much any of the other owners actually knew about vampires. She didn't know much herself, but she'd been living with one for several weeks now, and she was pretty sure she had a good handle on the basics. And that's when the idea occurred to her.

"Deal," Buffy said. Once Belef had nodded in agreement, the smile still cutting through his face, she turned to leave. "Now if you'll excuse me, I better go tell my slave to get ready for his next fight."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spike was sitting on the bench reaching for the blood that had been left for him in the victor's cell when the door opened and the Slayer entered. He hadn't expected her so soon. Last time she'd stayed to watch all the fights not just his.

"Don't drink that," she told him.

"Why, someone spike it? 'Cause I could really use a shot of something."

"No, I'm sure it's good. But you have another fight in a few minutes."

"What? Look, I don't know if you know how this works, but then I probably better drink it. Keep my strength up, you know?"

As he spoke, he watched as she took off the robe she wore over her leather armor when she went out and then removed her gloves.

"That's the point. I have something better for you," she said as she pulled the leather top up over her head.

Spike was so startled that he didn't say anything, especially when he saw a pink nipple peek out from below the leather, before the white cotton shirt she wore underneath came loose and fell back down to cover it.

For a moment he forgot who she was and thought of her as just a girl. The sort of sweet young thing that made his mouth water and his cock hard. The fact that she had nothing covering her young breasts but the t-shirt didn't make it any easier to think of her as his bitch of an owner. It just made her look like she should be in one of those "Girls Gone Wild" videos.

Except for the scars that crisscrossed her arms, defensive wounds from a hundred battles against demons who had all kinds of natural defenses where she had none.

Then he saw the red in her cheeks and realized she knew exactly how he was looking at her. Instead of pretending he hadn't been leering he figured he might as well go with it. He was going to get zapped anyway.

"So what, you figure a strip tease is going to make me fight harder?" he asked as he looked her in the eye.

She sat down on the bench next to him and held her arm up in front of his face.

"I think my blood is going to make you even stronger. Or do I have this vampire thing wrong?" she asked.

"No, you have it right," he said quietly as he looked at her offering.

Her skin was almost as white as his. There was no sun in The Center and it was obvious that tanning wasn't one of her priorities. Despite the scarring that ran across one side of her arm, the skin on the other side was soft, young, and untouched.

He couldn't help but wonder how old she really was. Her eyes were old, but he had seen ten-year-olds back in the industrial revolution who had eyes that old. The right circumstances could do that to anyone.

Her voice brought him out of his momentary reverie. "So go ahead. Bite already."

He didn't need to be told twice. His fangs ripped into the delicate skin of her arm. He wasn't gentle. He had too much anger towards her, and it was obvious that the girl could handle a little pain.

Any minor doubts he'd had over whether she really was a slayer or not were washed away with the first taste of her blood. Not that she compared to the girl he'd killed in China. That slayer's blood had been laced with fear and adrenaline.

But after the first few pulls, something else began to sweeten her blood. Her breath began to come in ragged gasps and he could smell her arousal. It was a heady mix, and his mind swam with the vision of her breast.

He was just trying to decide whether he could get away with undoing his fly to relieve the pressure on his straining cock when she spoke. "That's enough."

He couldn't help but wonder what she thought he was going to do once he had his fangs in her. Stopping definitely wasn't part of his plan. It took longer to drain someone from the arm than from the neck, but that was fine with him.

His mind was so overwhelmed by the blood and lust that he forgot all about the fact that she was still wearing the control bracelet until the pain laced through his brain.

He let go of her arm as he yelled in anguish and surprise. This was the most severe jolt she'd given him yet. By the time his eyes could focus again she was a couple feet away from him quickly bandaging her arm.

"I told you to stop," she said unapologetically as she began to get dressed again.

"Yeah well I'm a vampire. Evil, right?"

"Whatever. Just remember you have a fight in less than half an hour so I'd rather not hurt you again if I don't have to." Despite her seeming indifference he could tell how weak and shaken she was.

He waited until she was pulling her robe back on to attack. All he had to do was pin her arm so she couldn't reach the bracelet. Hell, as souped up as he felt right now, he could probably rip it off without even trying.

His body slammed into hers but she was quicker than he was. They both grabbed for her wrist with the bracelet, but she got there first.

"Bloody hell," he moaned as every nerve in his body lit up with pure pleasure.

He barely even felt it when she kneed him in the stomach to force him off of her. The phantom touches that ran across his body were more than his already hard cock could take.

"Fuck!" he yelled as the orgasm took him.

The Slayer let go of the bracelet as she stood up and finished fastening the robe shut.

"I should have said I don't want to hurt you now. After the fight, that's a different story," she said as she left the room.

The reminder that he was about to fight caused Spike to groan. He probably would have been better off if she had gone for pain, at least it would have been less messy.

As he got back to his feet he couldn't help but wonder if that's what she'd meant to do, or if she had hit the wrong jewel by accident.
 
Chapters 7&8
 
Chapter 7: Battered and Bruised

Spike bit off a scream as the Slayer unceremoniously dumped him on his cot. His second fight of the day hadn't gone as well as his first.

The demon he'd been up against was practically a tank. It had hard shells covering every part of its body like a suit of armor a hundred turtles had given their lives for.

The fight had been one of the most brutal he'd ever been in. The truth was if it hadn't been for the extra kick of strength he had from the Slayer's blood, he doubted he would have won. It had been a feat of raw strength and determination that had allowed him to pry off one of the shells on the demon's side. Luckily the pain of having part of its skin ripped away had stunned the brute, because by that point the right side of Spike's body had been pretty much pulverized.

After that it had only taken a few hits to the demon's exposed and sensitive flesh to get his opponent to stay down. Not that he was exactly up himself, but he was closer to standing than the other fellow and that was enough to get himself declared the winner.

"Fuck!" he moaned as what he was pretty sure was a smashed hip hit the hard mattress of his cot.

Without another word the Slayer disappeared out of his cell back into the main part of the house. Not that he cared, he was more than happy to be left alone with his misery.

A moment later she reappeared, and he figured that was all right since she had a large cup of blood with her. She sat on the edge of the cot and lifted his head up to help him drink down the blood.

"You know, you're pretty lucky," she said sympathetically. "You're so thrashed that there's not much point in me punishing you. You wouldn't be able to tell the difference between what I did to you and what that demon did."

Spike thought he was lucky that the Slayer obviously knew nothing about torture. But other than that he was having a hard time thinking through the pain.

"What the fuck did I do?" he asked after taking a large swallow of the blood she was offering.

"You attacked me, remember? And you know what? You'll probably be nice and healed up by tomorrow, so maybe I'll just wait until then to punish you."

That's right, now he remembered. He'd let that Slayer blood go to his head and tried to kill her.

"You know," he said, trying to smile, but he ended up wincing instead from the pain, "a bit more of your blood would help me heal up faster."

Not that he expected her to give him any, but he wanted to make it clear he wasn't worried about whatever punishment it was she had planned for him.

"Yeah, like I'm falling for that," she said, but there was something almost kind in her voice.

And that's when it occurred to Spike that maybe he'd been going about this all the wrong way. Sure she was the Slayer, but she was also a girl. Specifically, a girl just full of hormones. She expected him to attack her, and she was obviously ready for that. What he needed to do was get her guard down. And considering the way her body responded both to his bite and to their training sessions, he had a pretty good idea how to do that.

He tried to smile again, this time with more success. "Can't blame a guy for trying. And I'm sorry, 'bout trying to off you earlier."

"Liar." Her tone was friendly though. "You meant to kill me, and you'll try again. The only slaves who don't want to kill their masters are broken. And I have no use for anyone who's broken."

"Yeah, well, I have several ribs that would disagree with you."

She smiled. "Okay, maybe you're a little busted. Don't worry, it'll be a while until your next fight."

With that she got up and left.

In other circumstances Spike might have been given to plotting the details of his revenge against her. In this case, he simply closed his eyes and hoped that somehow he'd be able to fall asleep despite his many broken bones.

Chapter 8: The Same Routine

It had been several days since Spike fought in The Circle. Buffy had realized that she'd taken too big a risk in entering him in that second fight. Belef had obviously been trying to set her up, and he nearly got her. She should have found out who Spike's opponent was before entering him in that second fight.

But she hadn't and he'd nearly lost. She wasn't going to make that mistake again.

So now she was biding her time. Looking for the perfect opponent to set him up against next. After all, if she really wanted to make money off of him, she had to make sure the crowds were interested in watching him fight. It had become clear to her that he was as unpopular a fighter as she had been, but that wasn't bad. The Circle had its heroes and its villains, chosen only by how the crowd responded to them. If the spectators hated Spike and wanted him to lose, that was okay. It meant that they would pay to come see the vampire fight, hoping that this time someone would take him down. Just like they had paid to watch her fight.

She also wanted to make sure that he was completely rested and healed before she entered him in another fight. It was true that she wasn't in debt anymore, but that didn't mean she had enough money to buy another slave if something happened to Spike.

She was considering all this while eating her typical breakfast of gruel, when Spike interrupted her thoughts. "Don't you get tired of eating the same thing every day?"

She did. In fact she hated the gruel, but there wasn't much in the way of human food in The Center, so she had more or less the same diet she'd had as a slave. Only now she didn't have to worry about anyone taking her food from her.

"You drink blood every day, don't you get tired of that?" she asked.

"Sure. Especially if it's this stuff," he said holding up his cup. "Life's no fun without a bit of variety. To be honest I'd love nothing more than some hot wings, or one of those blooming onions. You ever had those?"

She nodded. She missed good food. Really, really missed it. Especially chocolate. But you couldn't get it in The Center; she'd have to travel back into the real world to get some. And the real world wasn't a place she fit into very well.

"So why do you buy nothing but that sludge? Why not get something a bit more appetizing?" Spike asked.

"Chili's hasn't exactly opened up a branch here, you know. And there aren't exactly groceries stores either." She shrugged. "There's just not much human food available here."

"Don't tell me you don't know how to leave The Center? Is that how you ended up here? Followed some nasty through a portal and couldn't get back so you ended up a gladiator manager or whatever you are."

"I know how to leave," she said angrily. "I can go back and forth anytime I want. I just. . . I don't really blend in the regular world. Not to mention that I don't think Chili's accepts payment in kittens."

"Well you're right that dressed like that you'd stick out. God forbid you be in town at the same time as a comic book convention. Who knows what would happen to you. But if you put on regular clothes everyone would assume you're just a girl. As for the kittens," he shrugged, "you know there are places were you can exchange them for cash. I could show you if you like."

She knew what he was trying to do. He thought if he could get her someplace else that he could escape. Maybe he had a trap set up somewhere with some of his vampire buddies and he was hoping to walk her into it.

But it was tempting. Just to go out and have one regular meal. Eat good food, drink soda pop, maybe have some chocolate cake.

She was almost done with her breakfast, but as she looked down at her plate of heated gruel, she suddenly felt like she couldn't eat another bite. It had been years since she'd last left any food on her plate. When she had been Tain's slave, you ate what you got when you got it, because if you got hungry later no one was going to give you food.

"I guess it couldn't hurt to go out," she said noncommittally.

"'Course, I'll need some other clothes," Spike said quickly. "These are getting a bit bloody and torn anyway. Not to mention this unbleached cotton makes me look pale."

The eagerness in his voice to have new clothes almost made her wonder if this was all nothing more than a plot for him to get something else to wear. She'd provided him with nothing but a second set of plain cotton clothing to match what Kira had originally given her with him.

He'd complained about his clothing before, but she hadn't really cared. The clothes covered him up, and that was all that really mattered. Although after that last fight it had occurred to her that maybe she should get him something more like the light leather armor that she wore, to give him a little more protection when he fought.

But of course that wasn't what he wanted now. He'd stick out just as much as she would, dressed either as he was now, or in the sort of leather get up she imagined him in. He wanted regular clothes.

"So now you want me to buy you clothes, too?" she asked. "Considering where I bought you, you should be glad you get any clothes at all."

Instead of being chastised, he smirked at her. "Well, if my clothing is such a financial burden on you. . ." He pulled his shirt off and tossed it onto the floor.

Her eyes went wide. Sure he'd been naked when she'd bought him, but she'd tried very hard not to look at him. He'd looked too human, and she'd identified too much with his plight. If it wasn't for the fact that she figured she was saving him from a worse fate, she probably wouldn't have been able to bring herself to buy him. That and she was desperate.

But now she couldn't help but look at his chest and admire it.

Then he stood up and his hand dropped down to the top of his pants, and she realized that he was about to take them off too. She could feel her cheeks burning, and her eyes seemed riveted to his stomach as he slipped his fingers in the waistband of the pants.

"Stop," she said with much less force than she had intended. "It's not. . . You can keep your clothes on, and I'll think about the rest."

He smiled and sat back down. But he didn't go get his shirt, and as he sat down he leaned back in his chair placing his hands behind his head. Buffy swallowed as she tried not to look at the way his muscles rippled when he moved.
 
Pandora's Box
 
Chapter 9: Pandora's Box

Spike ran his fingers through his hair. When he'd asked the Slayer for clothes he should have asked for some hair gel too. Right now not having a reflection seemed like a blessing. He knew he must look awful. His hair was bound to have curled up, not to mention that his roots were probably showing.

At least the clothes she'd gotten him, although not great, weren't too bad. A plain white t-shirt and an ordinary pair of jeans. He wondered if he could get away with ripping them a bit, something to give himself a bit of style, but he didn't want her to change her mind about their evening out. It wasn't just that he wanted to go out, but this was the first part of his new plan to seduce and then kill her.

The Slayer's transformation was somewhat incredible. She looked like an ordinary–if a bit preppy–girl. She was wearing a brown turtle neck sweater and a pair of nice jeans. It was simple and yet she looked pretty and sweet. If he hadn't known she was the Slayer, he would have thought she was some daddy's girl who he could lead into a bit of temptation.

On the other hand, the basket on her arm made her look sort of like Little Red Riding Hood, except that every now and then one of the three kittens inside tried to poke its head out.

"This is the place," Spike told her as they came to the door of what looked like a shop that had been closed for years.

"This is the big kitten exchange?" she asked skeptically.

"No, this is the kitten exchange in L.A," he explained. "At least the one I know about, I hear there's a bigger one in Orange County, but who wants to go there?"

She eyed the door a bit nervously and he realized she thought he was leading her into a trap. That he had ten of his best vampire pals on the other side of the door.

If only he did, but the truth was no one was coming for Spike. He didn't know what had happened to his sire, Dru. Either she was still in trouble herself, or she'd simply forgotten about him. And as much as he wanted to believe it was the former, he feared it was the latter.

And besides Dru, who else was there that cared what happened to him? Certainly not his grandsire Angelus, who seemed to have disappeared; and the last time Spike had seen him, the bastard had forced Spike to jump ship–well, submarine–and swim for shore. Somehow Spike didn't see Angelus being very understanding about his current predicament.

And Darla? Well, Angelus' sire might help him if she knew about what had happened, but only so that she could chain him up out in the sun. Darla had always thought of the Order of Aurelius as the equivalent of vampire royalty, and she wouldn't tolerate anyone bringing shame to the order. Besides, it had been eighty years or so since he'd seen her. She'd run off to somewhere in California because the Master had gotten himself buried in an earthquake or something. Although Spike didn't see what the big deal was. The way he heard it, the Master pretty much liked living underground anyway.

No, the sad thing was the Slayer's fears were ungrounded. There was no one out there looking for him; no one was going to help him but himself. It was the loneliest Spike had ever felt.

"No worries, Slayer," he told her. "As much as I wish otherwise, it's not a trap. It's just what I said it was."

She nodded, opened the door, and went inside. Not that the inside was any more appealing than the outside. The walls were lined with unfriendly looking cages filled with mewling kittens.

A green, wart-covered demon looked up from the magazine he was reading as they entered. "This isn't a pet shop; you've got the wrong place lady."

Before the Slayer could respond Spike spoke up. "No, this is the right place. And you better speak with more respect if you don't want my boss to curse you with skin as smooth as mine."

The demon nervously put down his magazine. "Sorry, didn't realize you were a witch."

"Well, that's why I'm here. To smooth things out." He leaned in close to the demon to whisper conspiratorially in his ear, "You know how humans are, give them a little power. . ."

The demon nodded, and Spike set about haggling a fair exchange rate for the kittens the Slayer had brought with her. He was careful not to let the Slayer get a word in edge wise, and after a minute or two she seemed content to let him handle the transaction. Finally, they left with almost two hundred dollars.

"I can't believe he bought that witch thing, and why did you lie about who I am, anyway?" she asked once they were away from the place.

Spike snorted. "Yeah, 'cause he'd be real eager to help the Slayer. He probably would have called in whatever security that place had to throw us out."

"Why? What did I ever do to him?"

"You're the Slayer, it's what you're supposed to do that he's worried about," Spike explained.

"What am I supposed to do?" she asked. She tried to sound like she wasn't that interested, but Spike could tell that it was a facade.

"You don't know, do you? Who you're supposed to be?" He could see her trying to come up with an answer, which only confirmed what he was now figuring out. "Right, I know I'm going to regret this, but. . . You're The Slayer. You're supposed to be a big hero type. Kill demons and vampires, save puppies and kittens, things like that."

She laughed. "That's ridiculous. What makes you think I'm supposed to be some sort of hero?"

Spike took a deep breath to give himself patience. For a moment he wondered why he cared if she knew what she was, but then he figured it out. He was going to kill her, and it just didn't seem right that she didn't understand all the reasons why. After all, he'd want to kill her even if she didn't own him.

"Because you're The Slayer. Look, it's like this: there's one girl in the whole world who's supposed to protect it. That's The Slayer, that's what The Slayer–what you–are. Why do you think you're so strong?"

"I don't know. But that doesn't make sense. One girl is supposed to protect the world? Who thought that up? Stan Lee? And how did I become a slayer? Why me?"

"I didn't make the rules, pet. And I don't know why you, but I do know how. When one slayer dies, another one is chosen. Some sort of mystic lottery or something."

She didn't say anything after that. It was obvious she was thinking over what he'd said, so he let the time pass in silence as they walked to the restaurant.

It wasn't until they were seated and she had a soda in front of her, and he had a beer in front of him that she spoke. "It doesn't make any sense. How am I supposed to save the world or whatever, if I don't know I'm supposed to save the world?"

"I've heard there's some sort of Council that's supposed to train slayers; guess they dropped the ball in your case." He paused for a moment to see if she was going to ask anything else. When she didn't speak, he took the opportunity to ask a question of his own. "So how did you end up in The Center anyway?"

Her eyes snapped up to meet his and he could see the pain in them. "It's none of your business. And I'm not a super hero, I'm just me."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spike had royally bollixed up the evening. Ever since he'd told the Slayer just who she was supposed to be, she'd fallen into a sullen silence. He'd tried to draw her out several times but she refused to talk. In fact the most she'd said once they'd gotten to the restaurant was when she'd ordered her cheeseburger. She barely touched it though. She spent most of the time drawing arcane patters in the ketchup with her fries.

Spike was almost relieved when they returned to The Center. Her quiet was wearing on him. And yet he wasn't quite ready to give up.

"I'm sorry," he said. She looked at him questioningly, obviously unsure what he was apologizing for. The truth was he didn't know either, but experience had taught him that when dealing with women one couldn't apologize too little. "For telling you about being the Slayer. I just thought. . . look I don't want you to start slaying. I just thought you should know."

"I'm not mad at you. I'm just. . . What am I supposed to do? You say I have this big destiny, except somehow I missed it. And it's not like I want it anyway."

"So what do you want?" he asked, genuinely curious about what it was that kept this derailed slayer going.

"I want to be a girl again. I want to not know how to fight and kill. I just want to go to movies and eat popcorn and have a boyfriend and go-"

He kissed her. It wasn't much of an opening, but if his time in The Circle had taught him anything it was to exploit any opportunity no matter how risky it might be.

For a moment she tensed up, but then she began to respond slowly, as if she was trying to remember how this was done. He was patient with her. Gently putting his arms around her until she relaxed into him. Slowly he begged her lips to open with his tongue, and then, when she let him in, delicately probed the inside of her mouth. When he felt her hands begin to move up and down his chest, he knew he had her, and he let her mouth go for a moment so that she could catch her breath.

But before he could reclaim her mouth, she was kissing him, pushing him backwards until his back hit the wall. He was fine giving her control if she wanted it. In fact it was better this way. The more she thought she was in control, the more her guard would be down.

He pulled her tighter against his body, no longer worried what she might think if she felt his growing erection pressed against her.

It was a mistake. She pushed back suddenly, eyes wide with fear.

"I-I-I'm sorry," she said with horror, and next thing Spike knew she was all but throwing him back into the small closet that was considered his room. The heavy door slammed shut in front of him, and in the silence of the house he could hear her running up to her room sobbing.

"Bollocks," Spike whispered to the darkness.

He'd thought he'd had her. But it wasn't a total loss. The kiss told him that there was all sorts of desire lurking in her. He just needed to figure out why she was so scared of letting it out.
 
A Battle of Wills
 
Chapter 10: A Battle of Wills

The morning after their night out it took longer than usual for the Slayer to come down and let Spike out for the day. When the door to his cell finally opened, it revealed a Slayer who looked like she hadn't slept a wink.

As she let him out she wouldn't even look him in the eye, so he reached out to touch her shoulder. "Look, Slayer-"

She shrugged off his hand then looked up at him with shame filled eyes. "I'm sorry okay. It won't happen again," she said defensively.

"You won't what? Run out on me again?" he asked.

"No, I won't. I shouldn't have kissed you. It was wrong and I'm sorry. Can we just. . . not talk about it."

She tried to turn away, but he wouldn't let her. "No, we can't just not talk about it. And for the record, you didn't kiss me, I kissed you."

"But I liked it," she protested. "And we can't do that. You're my slave and I shouldn't have forced you to do that for me."

"You didn't force me to do anything!" Spike yelled in frustration. The fact that he'd raised his voice startled both of them and a moment of awkward silence fell between them. "Look," he said more calmly. "I wanted to kiss you. Any fellow who isn't blind would want to kiss you. So what's the problem?"

"But what if I want something you don't want? You can't say no to me. I can have anything I want, and it isn't right."

"Oh?" he asked amazed at this bizarre moral crisis she was having. "And forcing me to fight or die, there's no problem with that?"

"I didn't make you a slave," she shot back.

"No, but you could let me go if you wanted to," he replied angrily. "Don't pretend to care about what happens to me."

"I can't let you go," she said quietly.

He grabbed her around the waist and pulled her body flush against his. "Well then, the least you could do is make my captivity a little more fun, don't you think?"

He leaned in to kiss her again, but she pushed him away. The next thing he knew her fist was smashing into his face. He stumbled back into his room, and a moment later she had shut the door in his face.

It was only once the silence of his tiny room surrounded him that he remembered that he was supposed to be trying to seduce her, not win an argument with her. What he couldn't understand is why she seemed so upset by the whole idea.

He had no doubt she was physically attracted to him, and they seemed to get along well enough considering she had no personality to speak of. Although he had hopes for the girl, if he could only get her to relax, to enjoy life a bit, maybe let her guard down. Of course getting her guard down was the whole point of seducing her in the first place.

But why was she so opposed to the whole idea? Was it because he was a vampire and she was the Slayer? That seemed unlikely since she didn't really understand what it meant to be a vampire slayer. On the other hand, for all he knew she had some built in revulsion to vampires. But she was attracted to him, and that seemed to disprove that theory.

It all came back to the fundamental mystery that she represented. If he only knew how she had ended up in The Center, or what she was still doing here he was sure it would all make sense. Unfortunately it seemed rather unlikely that she was going to feel like sharing any time soon.

He had plenty of time to consider the riddle of the Slayer because she didn't come back for him that day. Even when he pounded on the door and called out that he was sorry and would behave, the door remained shut. It seemed he had been sent to bed without his supper, not to mention breakfast and lunch.

He had no choice but to pace in his small room and try and figure out what he'd done wrong and what to do when he was next let out.

It wasn't until the next morning that the door finally opened.

"Make sure you eat enough to get your strength up; you have a fight today," she told him as she let him out.

As much as he wanted to talk to her, there was a no-nonsense tone in her voice, and he didn't fancy the idea of a battle to the death on an empty stomach.

Greedily he drank down his blood, all the while watching the Slayer for some opening he could use to talk to her. She was giving him the cold shoulder and he figured it would be best to wait until after the fight. He was bound to get a bit banged up after all, and maybe he could use that to get a bit of sympathy from her.

When his turn in The Circle came, for the first time he found himself fighting an opponent that wasn't bigger and stronger than him. The lithe demon he was fighting was faster however, and had some sort of venom in its claws that stung like a bitch.

It was a fight that he might have lost, had it not been for the training he'd gotten from the Slayer. Instead of going for the kill, he went for the pain. The demon tried to lure him into making a brazen attack, most likely because, like Spike he was used to fighting other demons whose main strategy was to smash things.

Spike didn't take the bait though. Instead he waited the demon out, until the demon attacked and Spike managed to grab his arm. Even as its poisoned claws dug into Spike's arm, Spike yanked with all his strength and managed to dislocate the demon's arm.

The demon howled in pain and backed off. Things got trickier after that. Spike's opponent was now more cautious, but Spike didn't let that bother him. He pressed the attack now, not giving the demon any quarter. He still didn't go in for the kill, but he tried to do everything in his power to increase the pain the demon was suffering from his arm.

Finally Spike managed to close in on the demon again. This time he went for the demon's legs, smashing in one of the demon's knees. The demon hit the ground writhing in pain and the crowed booed Spike. But before Spike could move in to finish off his opponent, the match was called.

It was the first time he'd won without killing his opponent. But the crowd didn't seem to care that they hadn't gotten to see anyone killed. Or rather they didn't care that he hadn't killed anyone. It seemed that he wasn't a favorite of theirs. Not that he cared precisely, but it would be nice to think that someone was on his side. If he was going to have to fight for their amusement, the least they could do was root for him.

When the Slayer came to get him after the matches were done, she wasn't much better. Not that he'd actually expected her to praise him; still, at least she could act like she was on his side.

As they were leaving The Circle a demon stopped them. For just a second Spike thought it was Clem, an old poker buddy of his, but then he realized that in fact it was just another demon of the same species.

"Ah, Slayer," the demon greeted her as if they were old friends. "Daryl asked me to speak with you."

At the mention of the name Daryl, stark terror ran through the Slayer. Although Spike couldn't see any difference in how she stood, he could smell the blanket of fear that now covered her and he wondered who this Daryl fellow was to inspire such fear. Whatever Spike's feelings for the Slayer, he did respect her, and if this Daryl fellow could scare the pants off of her, he seemed like the kind of fellow Spike wanted to get to know.

"Tain, you can tell Daryl that I don't have anything to talk to him about," she told the demon as she tried to walk by him.

Tain reached out a hand to stop her. "I understand, and so does he. That's why he asked me to talk to you, and it would be in your best interest to listen." She stopped and waited, although Spike could now see by the tension in her shoulders that she wanted to run. "Daryl wants an appointment with your vampire."

"You can tell Daryl to go fuck himself," the Slayer said with quiet venom. A bit of her fear had dissipated replaced instead by anger.

"I'm not going to tell him that and neither are you," Tain said in the patient voice of a parent explaining something to a child. "Daryl has half the commissioners in his pocket. If you want to continue in The Circle you have to 'accommodate' Daryl's eccentricities, however distasteful they are." She tried to ignore Tain and walk past him, but he stopped her. "Listen to me Slayer, do you think I like it? Do you think I liked taking you to him. You were my best fighter and he nearly ruined you. He has ruined quite a few slaves. But you need to worry about yourself, about your future, not your slave. Besides, the half-breed will probably enjoy it."

Spike growled. He might not be sure what they were talking about, but he knew two things: he was being insulted, and Tain should treat the Slayer with more respect.

For the first time, Tain looked at Spike and he chuckled. "I take it back. You've been training him yourself haven't you?" he asked the Slayer. "From what I understand of vampire mating rituals, he probably thinks you hitting him is a sign of affection. I'll tell Daryl you're considering his offer. And you will consider it. You don't really have any other choice."

With that Tain, or the arrogant-floppy-eared-bastard as Spike now thought of him, left.

"Come on," the Slayer said as she hurried him out of The Circle and back towards their home.

It was only once they were free of the crowd that Spike suddenly realized what it was that Tain had said. The Slayer had been one of his fighters. That meant she had been a slave in The Circle too. And suddenly the pieces started to fall into place.
 
Uncovered
 
A/N: Just to be on the safe side let me re-add my rape warning, alhtough no one is actually raped in this chapter.

Chapter 11:

As soon as they were clear of the crowd of spectators still milling about The Circle, Buffy ran. The feeling of nausea that had been haunting ever since she had come to her senses during her kiss with Spike returned in full force.

But she wasn't aware of her slave, or the fact that if he didn't manage to keep up with her the collar would send horrible pain through his body. All she was aware of was her need to get behind closed doors. To lock herself in her room and hide.

It wasn't until she had run into her room and turned to bolt the door that she remembered Spike at all. He had silently followed her mad flight from The Circle. She should tell him to go back to his room, to go away, to not be anywhere near her.

"It's going to be all right, pet. You're safe," he said as pulled her into a hug. "Not going to let anyone touch you."

It should have been the last thing she wanted, to be touched. Not with memories of her 'appointments' with Daryl ravaging her mind, but instead she found comfort with her cheek pressed against his chest and his hand stroking her hair. But as good as it felt, it also broke down the last of her defenses, and she began to cry.

"That's it let it out," he told her as he gently led her to sit down on the bed. "Just let it all out."

She did just that, letting all the pain from her years of captivity run out of her. It wasn't that she hadn't cried before now, but she'd never cried in front of someone else. She hadn't let anyone see her in pain, and somehow that made all the difference. By the time her tears had run out she felt drained, but better.

"You shouldn't be so nice to me," she told Spike. She felt awful that he was being kind when she was going to allow awful things to happen to him. When she wanted to do awful things to him.

"Funny, thought you were the one person I should be nice to," he said.

"No, you should hate me. You don't realize the horrible things I'm going to let Daryl do to you. And when-"

He cut her off. "He raped you, yeah, I get it. And I'm next on his list."

She felt a chill go through her at the word. She'd never said it. Never really admitted it to herself. And the fact that Spike had guessed this horrible thing about her bothered her. Was she wearing a sign on her head that said victim?

His tone changed from serious to teasing. "Likes the good looking ones does he?"

"It's not funny," she scolded him. "And that's not it. He likes. . . he likes the good fighters. He likes the strong ones."

"Well, still a compliment isn't it?" he could see from her dark look that she wasn't at all amused.

"Look here, pet, I don't need to know this Daryl to know what sort he is. I'm not making jokes because I don't take this serious, but because I can't do anything about it. Truth is I'm completely at your mercy, and-"

"If you think I won't let it happen you're wrong," she interrupted him. "Tain is right I don't have a choice. The next time you fight, if Daryl asks to see you, I'll have to let him. That's just the way it is, and you being charming won't stop it."

"So you think I'm charming?" he asked, a smirk on his face that made her want to punch him.

Instead she kissed him.

She wanted him to take her seriously. Somehow the fact that he refused to understand how awful Daryl was infuriated her. Maybe if she forced him, he would understand.

Ever since the other night when he had kissed her, she had felt awful. She wanted to keep on kissing him. She wanted to do more than just kiss him, but she was his owner. He had no say in what they did, and she knew it was no better than what Daryl had done to her. But right now she didn't care. If he didn't care what other people did with his body, well, then she would be the first to do something to him.

She pushed him down onto the bed, straddling him as she sat up and removed her top. She could feel him growing hard as she did. When she was done and sitting on top of him with her breasts on display, he smiled. The hungry look he gave her sent a thrill through her body, even though this wasn't how things were supposed to be going.

In order to make the point that she was the one in charge she reached down and undid the fly of his pants. Before she could let herself think about what she was doing, she pulled out his cock and wrapped her hand around it. He moaned as she squeezed him and thrust up into her hand.

The next few moments where a flurry of movement as they both hurried to remove as much of their own and each other's clothes as possible. As the last piece of clothing hit the ground Buffy found herself still on top of Spike, with her face just above his.

He reached up to kiss her but she backed away, not wanting to allow him the intimate gesture. As she did so her nipples dragged across his chest, causing her to shudder.

He tried to follow her up, but she pushed him back down onto the bed. She sat back up and once again curled her fingers around his cock as she guided it inside of her. They both groaned as she stretched to accommodate him.

Buffy closed her eyes as she became accustomed to the sensations. She'd never done this before, not like this. Not when she wanted it. Everything was different. She realized how wet she'd been and how easily he'd slid into her. He felt bigger, but it didn't hurt having him inside of her, it was more like he just fit, and she squeezed him experimentally as let herself get used to feel of him.

That caused him to groan and thrash beneath her. "Please luv," he begged. "Need you to move."

She smiled, that was more like it. And since he'd asked her so nicely she did as he asked. She started slowly, letting each sensation wash over her. And then suddenly he hit just the right spot inside of her and she began to move franticly, trying to make him hit her there over and over.

She was only marginally aware of his hands running across her legs until one of them slipped up to the juncture in her thighs and she felt his thumb pressing against her clit.

And just like that she was exploding inside as the world seemed to crash down around her.

As the waves of her orgasm passed she collapsed on top of him, laying her head on his chest. The physical and emotional exhaustion of the last few days began to overtake her and she snuggled against him as she began to drift off into sleep.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spike gently stroked the Slayer's hair as her breathing gradually became more even. He smiled to himself and wondered if he should explain to her that normally when you use someone for sex, you kick them out of your bed afterwards.

When she was finally asleep he let his hand drift down to her neck. It would be the easiest thing in the world to snap her neck right now and walk out a free vampire.

But there was no need to, and all thanks to Daryl. There was no way she would let this Daryl fellow touch him. She was the Slayer, and he knew that kind of cruelty wasn't in her nature. And since, if he understood it right, she would have to either give him up to Daryl or stop fighting him in The Circle, she would have to let him go. So there was no point in rushing his freedom.

Besides, killing her like this wouldn't be much fun. It was always more satisfying to let the do-gooders be undone by their own goodness.

Not to mention that as much as he'd enjoyed their quick little fuck, it had hardly been his best work. The poor girl obviously knew so little about sex that she didn't understand how to let him make it good for her. Now that he'd fucked her once, he simply couldn't kill her until he'd shown her what he could really do. Couldn't have her badmouthing his skills in bed in the afterlife after all.
 
Dea ex Machina
 
A/N: It's my birthday, so I'd really like a review or two :)

Chapter 12: Dea ex Machina

Buffy couldn't ever remember being quite so nervous on entering The Circle. The first time she had ever come here, she hadn't really understood what was happening, and she'd been scared for so long that she wasn't nervous. Even the first time she'd brought Spike here to fight, she'd been fairly calm. She was confident enough that he would win his first battle.

But everything was different now. She had considered putting this off, keeping Spike out of the fights until she had come up with a way to deal with Daryl. The problem was that she couldn't train Spike anymore, at least not without it leading to more.

Since the first night they'd slept together they'd had sex one more time, a day later when they were training. She didn't know exactly how it had happened but at some point they were no longer fighting but grabbing at each other and ripping each other's clothes off.

As good as it had felt at the time, she felt awful about it afterwards. In fact she felt awful about having used him at all.

The problem was the way he looked at her, the sly comments he made, and the continual attempts to get her back in bed. Under other circumstances she might have been thrilled, but Spike wasn't her boyfriend, he was her slave. And although he was the one who kept initiating the physical contact between them, she realized it wasn't because he really wanted her.

He was simply trying to get in her good graces, trying to make her like him more so that she wouldn't let Daryl touch him. It made her feel sick, because deep down she knew there wasn't a way out. She was going to have to let Daryl have his 'appointment' and taking advantage of Spike in the meantime just made her an even worse person than she already was.

So she decided to get it over with. It was better if Spike learned how much he was going to hate her sooner rather than later. She needed him to hate her.

She had made one attempt to avoid Daryl. She'd signed up Spike for one of the first fights. Normally she stayed to watch all the battles, but she figured if he fought early on, she could sneak out early and maybe get him home before Daryl was done watching the fights. But when she got to The Circle she saw that Spike's fight had been moved to the very last spot.

One by one the fights dragged on, but Buffy was unable to focus on any of them; all she could think about was seeing Daryl again. The same image played over and over in her mind: she was naked and being strapped down to the table in his room.

And then it was Spike's fight. Suddenly time sped up again, and before she knew it the fight was over. She hadn't really seen any of it, all she knew was that he had won.

She left the owners' box and ran for the holding cells hoping that she could beat the crowds and get Spike away from The Circle before Daryl could find them.

She had no such luck. Word had obviously gotten around that she was now fighting her own slave in The Circle, and it seemed keeping her face covered by her hood was no longer enough of a disguise. Several demons surrounded her and barraged her with questions about what she'd thought about the fights and a few requested autographs.

It only took the few moments she was overwhelmed for Daryl to find her.

"Excuse me folks," he said. "The Slayer would love to talk to all her fans, but right now she and I have some business to discuss."

Reluctantly the crowd parted. It wasn't that there was anything particularly intimidating about Daryl, he was an only slightly overweight middle aged man. Buffy had once heard that he was supposed to be a very powerful sorcerer, but that wasn't the reason everyone let him have his way. He was one of the five commissioners of The Circle. He could decided to ban anyone he liked from The Circle, or give anyone he liked special privileges.

As the crowd melted away from her and Daryl, Buffy found herself wishing they would stay. Of course she and Daryl were hardly by themselves. There were demons moving all around them, but she felt horribly alone.

"It's good to see you," Daryl told her. "It's been a while." When she didn't say anything he continued, "I'm sure Tain told you about my proposal?"

"I can't. . . I mean Spike can't. I'm not interested," she managed to say.

"Now, now. Don't be so hasty," he told her, smiling. "I intend to pay you well for your slave's services."

"I know. . . that you pay. It's just. . ." she quickly tried to find an excuse and she was torn between telling him what he wanted, which would get her away from him quicker, or trying to find some reason to keep Spike away from him.

A woman's voice came from behind Buffy. "It's just the Slayer and I are currently in negotiations over the purchase of her slave and I need him. . . untouched."

As Buffy turned to look at the newcomer her first thought was that this was the woman she should have grown up to be. Like Buffy, she was small and blond. Her long hair was stylishly trimmed, her nails her perfectly manicured, and Buffy was willing to bet that her shoes were the latest designer brand. She wasn't much older than Buffy, and in her blue sun-dress she looked like a sorority girl.

"And you would be?" Daryl asked the woman as he openly leered at her.

She walked up to him smiling and extended her hand as if she expected him to kiss it. "Darla, Mistress of the Order of Aurelius."

"Mistress, eh?" Daryl chuckled. "Well, I can hardly see how it would matter to you if he was 'touched' or not."

Darla's laugh was light and sweet. "You misunderstand. I'm not that sort of mistress," she shrugged. "Well, at least not any more. In any case, should the Slayer and I be unable to come to an agreement on price, I'm sure she'll be more than happy to come to an arrangement with you. I'm sure you understand?"

Daryl's tone stopped being nice. "You're the one who doesn't understand. He fights in The Circle and I have rights to him. Whatever agreement you and the Slayer may or may not have is irrelevant."

Darla moved even closer to Daryl, and placed ran her fingers down his lapel. Buffy wanted to scream at this poor woman to stop. To warn her how dangerous Daryl was. But she couldn't seem to speak.

"And there's nothing I can do to change your mind?" Darla asked. When Daryl shook his head she sighed and said, "That's really too bad. I'd hoped to be civil about this."

Just like that her hand shot up and grabbed Daryl's head, twisting it violently. There was a loud snap and when she released him he fell to the ground, dead.

"You killed him," Buffy said incredulously.

"I'm sorry," Darla said, addressing Buffy for the first time. "I forgot you're the Slayer, you're supposed to protect people."

"What? No. I mean, I guess maybe but that's not it. I mean, you can't just kill people can you? Besides I thought he was supposed to be some sort of really powerful sorcerer?"

Darla smiled and reached down to pull an amulet off of the corpse. It was one Daryl had worn every time that Buffy had seen him.

"A sorcerer, maybe, but not so powerful. This," she said holding up the amulet, "is an old trick. It makes the person seem. . . tougher than they are. And I might have felt intimidated by him too, at least if I didn't recognize the amulet."

"Oh," Buffy said. She couldn't quite believe that Daryl was dead, that she would never have to see or worry about him again. She couldn't stop staring at the body that lay on the ground. It seemed like a dream. "Um, thanks."

Darla looked a little surprised, but shrugged and smiled. "You're welcome. Now, is there some where we can talk?"

"About what?" Buffy asked, still staring at Daryl's corpse.

"About my purchasing Spike," Darla said.
 
A Family Affair
 
Chapter 13: A Family Affair

Usually after a battle Spike was relaxed, but then usually he had nothing more exciting to look forward to afterwards than following the Slayer home.

Not today. Today he didn't know what was going to happen. He was still mostly confident that the Slayer wasn't going to give him over to this Daryl fellow. Mostly. She had been keeping him at arms length, despite the fact that she was obviously still attracted to him.

She had given in so easily to the passion of the moment during that one training session, that how could Spike know that would be his one chance to dazzle her? Instead he'd let himself get caught up in the fun of the violent fucking.

And now it seemed like it was taking the Slayer a really long time to come and get him. He had been the last fight, she should have been at his cell by now. Instead he found himself pacing back and forth like a tiger in a cage.

As if to annoy him further, there was something tugging at the back of his mind. A vague sense of something familiar that he couldn't quite put his finger on, like a couple words of a song he couldn't remember the tune to anymore.

Finally the cell door opened to reveal a rather thoughtful looking Slayer. But she barely registered in his mind, it was the figure behind her that caught his attention.

"Darla?" he exclaimed as his mind tried to process the shock of seeing her.

Darla brushed past the silent Slayer and placed a finger under Spike's chin.

"Look at you, William," she said with a tone that he would have described as concerned if it had come from anyone other than Darla. "You always were getting into trouble, but this. . ." She brushed one of his curls out of his face with a familiarity that they had never shared. "I suppose it's my fault really. I left you and Dru on your own much too soon. But you were always so insolent, and I just didn't think you'd last long in the Master's court."

"What the bloody hell are you doing here?" Spike finally managed to ask. The caring Darla routine was freaking him out. Darla was many things, caring wasn't one of them, especially about him.

"William, Spike, I'm here to buy you of course. To set you free. I could hardly allow a member of the Order to be a slave, now could I?"

The Slayer finally joined the conversation. "This Order of Oreos thing that you're the Mistress of, does that mean you can pay, because Spike's worth a lot and if I decided to sell him, it won't be for cheap."

Spike had seen a look of annoyance pass through Darla's eyes at Buffy's mispronunciation, but she still managed to smile as she addressed the Slayer, "Order of Aurelius. And yes, I assure you, price isn't an issue."

There were a hundred questions Spike wanted to ask Darla, the first that came out was, "Does the Old Bat know you're calling yourself Mistress these days?"

"The Master is no longer concerned with this world," she explained. There was a slightly wicked gleam to her eyes which Spike actually found comforting. It was more like the Darla he knew and loved. "He finally succeeded. I was at his side when he opened the mouth of hell so that the Old Ones could return." She shrugged. "What can I say? I looked into hell and I didn't like the view so-"

"So you Hansel and Greteled the old codger," Spike finished for her. He shared her grin, "Can't say I blame you. Rather fond of the world the way it is myself." He never did understand why Darla, who was so fond of the finer things in life, would ever have tolerated the Master in the first place. Spike wasn't that surprised that she'd finally turned on him, even if he was her Sire. Which reminded him, "Have you heard anything about Dru lately?"

Darla gave him an apologetic smile, "She's in Finland, for some reason. I've been trying to getting her to come stay with me, but. . . you know how flighty she is, and I've been too busy to drag her home myself."

Hearing that Dru was okay was good, and yet it just compounded the fact that she'd gotten herself free and hadn't come to find him. Darla of all people was the one who had shown up. And although he wasn't sure he bought all of this nonsense about family and the Order, she was here and that counted for something.

Finally over the shock of seeing her, he looked at Darla for the first time and something caught his eye. He brushed her hair away from her neck to reveal a fading set of familiar bite marks.

"Getting the band back together are we?" he asked. "And just where is tall, dark, and forehead, and why couldn't he be bothered to come?"

And just like that, Darla's kind easy going manner vanished. For a moment he thought she was going to hit him. The Slayer obviously thought the same thing, because she moved away from the corner where she'd been watching the exchange and started in on Darla. But Darla restrained herself, although there was a great deal of emotion flashing in her green eyes.

"Angelus isn't well," she said softly enough to mask whatever emotion it was she was feeling. "I really have to be going. I have too many responsibilities. Think over my offer," she said to Buffy. "I'll be back in a few days to find out your decision."

And just like that Darla walked out and left, as if she hadn't just turned everything upside down.

"So that's your family, huh?" Buffy asked him after a few moments of silence.

"Guess so," Spike said. Just when he felt like he was starting to get a handle on what had just happened, her last words came back to him. Angelus isn't well.

What the hell could that mean? Vampires didn't get sick, and the thought that someone could have done something to Angelus disturbed Spike. He hadn't seen or heard anything of his grand-sire since WWII, but Spike had always assumed that Angelus was out there someone, making some poor sod's life miserable and generally being a dick. It was just one of those constants of the universe. The idea that Angelus was unwell shook Spike deeply. Angelus was simply too mean to be hurt, or so Spike had always thought.

"Are you okay?" Buffy asked. He nodded. "Well, we should get going then. Not that there are police here, but. . . I don't want to be around if they start asking questions."

That piqued Spike's curiosity even more, but he had the good sense to realize that this wasn't the place to ask about it. As much as he wanted to distract himself from worrying about Angelus, he forced himself to wait until they had made it back to the relative safety of the Slayer's house to ask her any more questions.

"So what's going on? Why were you so keen to get out of The Circle?" Spike asked.

"Darla killed Daryl," Buffy said matter-of-factly. "No one really seemed to care though. Why didn't anyone care?"

"Never met the fellow, luv. But demons tend to mind their own business," he said as helpfully as he could. Daryl's death was just one more reversal in what was becoming a rather topsy-turvy day for Spike.

"He wasn't a demon," she explained. "Or do you mean everyone else?"

"Oh, well in that case. . . Not many demons are going to get their panties in a twist of a vampire killing a human. Kind of a food chain thing. Does that bother you? That she killed Daryl?"

"Not so much. He was pretty awful," she admitted. "It's just. . . I don't know. She did it because he didn't want to leave you alone, so that was nice of her."

Spike fought hard not to laugh at the description of Darla as nice. "Well, I suppose there's that aspect of it too. If anyone did give her a hard time, she could always claim her right to defend a member of her clan."

"So you guys are close?" Buffy asked with obvious curiosity.

"Close? I wouldn't say that," Spike replied automatically, before he thought on it for a moment.

Darla's skin seemed almost golden as the firelight reflected off of it. It was winter in Russia, and although the cold couldn't hurt the vampires, they still enjoyed the warmth of a nice fire.

Darla grabbed the bottle of scotch and took a large swig. She'd been drinking ever since she and Angelus had had a hell of a fight. He was supposed to take Darla to the ballet that night, but instead he'd taken Drusilla promising her that she could eat prima ballerina after the performance so that Darla would never get to see her perform.

Spike was left to endure the enraged vampiress' temper. So far it hadn't been too bad. She'd hurled several things at him, and he was bleeding in a few places where he'd been hit by a stray piece of china, but she then she had decided to drink away her anger.

"The fire is so nice and warm, isn't it?" she said with a bit of a drunken giggle.

Spike only nodded, not wanting to draw too much attention to himself in case Darla needed a scapegoat. Beatings from Angelus he could handle, after all there were certain areas of his anatomy that he knew Angelus would leave alone. Darla on the other-hand couldn't be trusted to keep to that sort of gentlemen's understanding.

Darla put down the bottle, and her fingers began to undo the buttons on the front of her blouse. Spike was debating whether he should run for it while Darla seemed to have forgotten about him, or whether he should stay and watch the free show. It wasn't as if Darla was exactly modest. She could hardly blame him for looking could she? All right, she could, but that was hardly fair.

She tossed away her blouse revealing her corset and the pale breasts it bound. She leaned forward towards the fire, eyes closed. "It makes my skin so warm. Almost like being alive." She opened her eyes and looked right at Spike. "Would you like to feel?"


"Although," Spike added. "Darla and I have had our moments."

"Do you miss her? Do you miss your family?" Buffy asked.

"To be honest, I'm a bit pissed off at most of them, but yeah, I miss them."

Buffy nodded wearily, "I miss my family too."

Spike was about to ask her a bit more about her family, about where they were, and how she had ended up here, but she must have seen the questions in his eyes because she cut him off.

"It's been a long day," she declared. "You must be tired."

Despite his protests, she hurried him into his room and locked the door, leaving them both alone with their thoughts.
 
Women of Business
 
Chapter 14: Women of Business

Buffy tried very hard to pay attention as the slaves were brought up one by one to be auctioned off. She had decided that if she was really going to consider Darla's offer, she had to know about how much she should ask for Spike. She was doing a cost benefit analysis, at least she thought this is what a cost benefit analysis was. Her dad had always gone on about cost benefit analysises, and she figured that if she was going to be a responsible business woman she needed to do one too.

But she couldn't seem to concentrate on the auction. The truth was she didn't want to sell Spike, she didn't want to think about selling Spike. In that strange disconnected moment when Darla had killed Daryl an image had popped into Buffy's head, and she couldn't shake it.

She and Spike sat on the couch in her parent's living room. She was half sitting on his lap as they kissed and made out. In front of them the light of the TV flickered as the movie they had started watching played on despite the fact that no one was paying any attention.

It was a completely absurd idea. She wasn't that girl anymore and Spike could never be her boyfriend. He was her slave, and as fond of him as she had grown, she also knew that he must really hate her.

But a silly fantasy about having a boyfriend again wasn't a good enough reason to turn Darla down. Just because she was eighteen didn't mean that Buffy was some silly teenage girl. She was an adult and a business woman, and she had to make a smart decision. At least that was what she kept telling herself.

But as the slaves continued to be paraded in front of her, she couldn't help thinking about the fact that if she did sell Spike and buy another slave, she would be sharing her home with that slave. Would any of them talk as much as Spike did? Would they just growl at her, leaving her all alone again?

She tried to focus.

Every slave she saw was an untested entity. Even the toughest looking of them couldn't be guaranteed to be a good fighter. Spike she knew was a very good fighter. In fact, she thought he could be as good as she was. Which made him even more valuable. But what if she could convince Darla to give her enough that she could get two slaves? After all, even though Spike was good, she'd only fought him at the lower levels of The Circle. Something could always happen to him, and having two slaves would give her a bit of insurance.

She turned all the possible arguments both for and against through her head, but the one thing that she couldn't stop thinking about was that Spike had a family. That was one of those things she had tried not to think about. It was one of those things that reminded her that she had been a slave, and it made her feel like an awful, awful person.

And there was no doubt in her mind that Spike and Darla were family. She had seen it in the way they talked together. It wasn't just that they shared a common past and obviously knew the same people. It was the way that they didn't exactly get along but seemed to still like each other. If that wasn't family, Buffy didn't know what was.

It made her think of her own family and feel homesick. She wished she could go home, that she could be their little girl again, but she just couldn't make herself fit there anymore.

Would that happen to Spike? What if he was as good as she was. What if he fought so well that eventually she had no choice but to let him go the way she had been let go? And what if it was too late for him the way it had been for her?

Spike was still pretty much the same as he had been when she had first bought him. On the other hand, he didn't quite talk as much as he used to. She had been like that. She'd been a real chatter-box when she had first been captured, but now she rarely spoke unless she had to. Was that happening to Spike?

It had taken her a couple years to earn her freedom. In a couple years time would Spike be as broken as she was? Would he be unable to go back to his family?

She didn't want him to end up like her. She wanted him to stay loud and rebellious and obnoxious.

And that's when she made her decision. She was scared of losing Spike. He made her feel like a person again and she knew how alone she would be without him. But she couldn't stand the thought of him ending up like her. And it wasn't as if she was being selfless. She would make Darla pay, and pay a lot for Spike. So it was a good business decision too, even if it did make her want to cry.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As Spike buttoned up the blue silk shirt Darla had brought him, he couldn't help but feeling a bit confused. He should be happy. He was finally going to be free, and yet some small part of him didn't want to go.

He tried to tell himself that it was just because he didn't trust Darla. He knew her well enough to know she was up to something, and he didn't know if he really wanted to be in the middle of whatever that was.

Or maybe it was just that it was anti-climactic. He had always known he'd be free again, but it was supposed to end in the Slayer's death. Somehow just leaving her here all by herself seemed wrong. It wasn't supposed to end this way.

But then that was the whole problem with being a slave, he had no choice in the matter.

And somehow being sold this second time was worse than the first time. When the Slayer had bought him he hadn't known her or the demon who was selling him. It was cold and impersonal. But he knew both Buffy and Darla, and he didn't enjoy being passed from one blond to the next.

At least the clothes that Darla had brought him were halfway decent. He never would have chosen the shirt, but the black jeans and boots made him feel a lot more like himself than he had in awhile.

Dressed properly for the first time since he'd been sold, he left his cell for the last time. In the main room Buffy and Darla were going over the final details of his sale.

This time Darla hadn't come alone. Standing nearby and glaring at Spike was a big neanderthal of a vampire. At first Spike had thought that he was just one of Darla's minions that she'd brought along as a bit of muscle in case she had trouble with Buffy. But when he and Darla had first arrived he had taken one look at Spike and said doubtfully, "This is William the Bloody? We can't really need him."

Darla had sharply reprimanded the vampire whose name was Riley, and Spike had realized that he must be her childe. Darla would never have tolerated a minion who spoke back to her like that. That caused Darla to fall in Spike estimation. She could have been forgiven for choosing big, dumb, and Irish for a childe once, but twice was a little too much.

On the other hand, it seemed further proof that something must be terribly wrong with Angelus. Spike couldn't imagine his grand-sire tolerating this new-comer to the family.

It was an uncomfortable thought, and one that made Spike glad to be gaining his freedom. Angelus had practically been his sire, his Yoda, and if something was wrong with him, Spike wanted to help. Even if he was only likely to get a kick in the teeth as thanks.

"I guess that's it then," Buffy said blankly.

Ever since she'd announced her decision the other day to sell him, Buffy had avoided him. Now she walked up to him and put her arms around his neck. For just a second he was startled by the gesture, mistaking it for something more intimate than it was, at least until he realized that she was removing the silver chain she used to collar him.

As the chain fell away, Darla caught his gaze. The look she gave him was clearly one of warning. She didn't want any trouble, and was not interested in any need for revenge he might have.

"Well, I'd say it's been fun, but it hasn't been," Spike said to Buffy.

He saw her flinch at his words and he immediately regretted them.

"That's that, then," Darla said. "Thank you so much for being so understanding. We'll just be on our way now."

Darla headed for the door, her new boy toy in tow.

Spike stared at the Slayer for a moment more, trying to figure out what he should say.

"Bye," was all he came up with.

"Yeah, bye now," Buffy responded quietly as he turned and left.

Once he was outside of the small house that had been his home for the last few months, Spike took a deep breath. It was good to be free, even if he wasn't sure just how free he was. Whatever else she was, Darla was a clever bird who was used to getting her way. The sooner he figured out why she had sprung him, the better.

"So?" he asked her. "Why'd you really come for me?"

"What?" Darla asked innocently. "You don't think I did it out of the goodness of my heart?"

They both smiled at that.

"You've got about as much goodness in your heart as hair on your chest," he told her. "So why not tell me what this is all about?"

Riley growled. "Don't speak to her like that."

Spike grinned. He didn't like Riley, even though he didn't know the first thing about the young vampire. Maybe it was because the fellow seemed to be trying to take over Angelus' space in the family. In any case teaching the fledgling some respect seemed like just the sort of fun Spike could use right now.

"I'll speak to Darla anyway I like," Spike told Riley. "Not like she needs a nancy boy like you to defend her honor anyway. Not like she has any."

It was something of a lie. There was a limit to how far he would insult Darla. Getting her angry was not a good thing. But he also knew he well enough to know that she wouldn't take offense at his comments. Darla might like to play the fine lady in human society, but among family she reveled in being thought of as depraved.

Riley obviously either didn't know her as well, had a mistaken view of his place in the world, or maybe both because he took a swing at Spike.

Spike was ready for that however, and easily ducked under the blow. His own fist slammed into Riley's gut, and as the bigger man doubled over in pain, Spike's knee found Riley's nose. Riley fell to the ground but that didn't stop Spike. Normally Spike would have waited for Riley to get back up, but something had opened up in Spike.

All of the restraint that had been forced on him over the last few months as a slave was gone. He was in charge of the violence for once, and it wasn't a power he wanted to give up. He continued to kick and hit Riley, letting out all of his frustrations on the nearly prone vampire.

It was only when Darla put a gentle hand on Spike's shoulder and pushed him away that he stopped.

"That's enough," she told him. "I'm sure there will be another chance for you to teach Riley some respect, but if he can't walk home, you're going to be the one to carry him."

Spike nodded. As the beaten and bloody vampire struggled to his feet, Spike felt a tinge of regret. This fellow hadn't really done anything wrong, just asked for a bit of respect for his Sire. Spike reached down to offer Riley a hand up, but the young vampire snarled at him and struggled to his feet on his own.

"You two will eventually have to learn to play nice however," Darla said once they were on their way again.

"And just why is that?" Spike asked. "I know you must want something from me, mind telling me what it is?"

"Of course. I need you to be my champion," she said as if it was the most ordinary thing in the world.

Spike stopped dead in his tracks. He was dimly aware of Riley growling, probably because he felt it was his place that Darla was offering Spike. He had the sudden urge to start hitting the young vampire again. It was clearly Angelus' place Darla was asking him to fill. Maybe once upon a time that would have thrilled Spike, but now it only filled him with dread.

Although most Master vampires appointed some sort of second in command to take care of more trivial matters, not every Master had a champion. The champion was a Master's enforcer. The one who dealt out punishment for disobedience, and who fought any rivals for the Master's powers. And when a vampire clan found itself in a territory dispute with another clan or a group of demons, it was the champion who acted as general for the Master's forces.

No, not every Master chose a champion, but Darla was the sort who would. Although she had never used the title of Mistress while her Sire was still around, in the old days the four of them had always operated as if Angelus was her champion. Whenever their travels had taken them into another vampire's territory, it was always Angelus who had fought for their right to stay.

Darla had not stopped to wait for him, and Spike had to jog to catch up. By the time he did so they were at the stones where portals to the regular world were opened, and Darla was busy with the simple incantation that would open the doorway to where ever she was calling home these days.

Spike followed the two other vampires through the portal she opened. As he stepped through, the first thing he noticed was the strong pull of evil. It was like some great power calling to him from the very ground. It sent a thrill through his demon as if he had somehow come home.

The next thing he noticed was that although they seemed to be inside, there was a distinct draft coming from above them. He looked around at the strange room they were in. It looked rather like a library except that all the shelves were now empty of books. A great gapping hole was in the ceiling through which he could see the night sky, and the marble floor beneath their feet was cracked. It was as if a giant pole had been dropped through the roof and smashed into the floor.

"You might want to call your decorator," Spike commented to Darla, "and let them know they didn't finish your skylight, luv."

Darla looked up at the hole, and anger flashed across her face. "Richard did that," she said angrily. "And if he ever slithers out from whatever dimensional rock he crawled under I'll make a pair of boots out of his skin. Almost a hundred years we were allies, kept this town under control, not to mention the small army I gathered for his ascension, or the help I gave him gathering his tithes. You'd think the least he could have done was warn me about the government."

Her little diatribe didn't make much sense to Spike, but Spike figured who ever this Richard fellow was, he best stay wherever he was because Darla was obviously mad as hell at him.

"Where are we anyway?" Spike asked as Darla led him deeper into the library. She opened a hidden door among the book stacks that led down into the ground and the darkness.

"Sunnydale."

"The Hellmouth," he finished for her. That would explain that special evil buzz he felt in the air. He'd heard of this town, although he'd never been himself.

As soon as they entered the passageway, they were confronted by a couple vampires who seemed to be carrying rifles. Spike raised an eyebrow at that. They were obviously some of Darla's guards, but they raised even more questions. First, why were they armed with guns, and second, what was going on that had driven Darla underground. Whatever her situation it must be desperate if Darla's lair wasn't in the lap of luxury. Spike remembered how long it would take for them to find a home whenever they travelled to a new city. Darla was extremely picky, and whichever house they took over, she always made sure that she liked the view before she declared it a suitable place for them to live.

"Right," Spike said with frustration. "How about you tell me what's going on, and what the hell has happened to Angelus."

"What's going on," Darla replied wearily. "Is that we're at war. I know the rifles are a bit. . . silly, but that's why I need you to take over for Riley. He just doesn't understand how to fight like a vampire. As for Angelus. . . it's best if you see for yourself."
 
Rats
 
A/N: I noticed from some of the reviews from last chapter that it wasn't clear to everyone what The Center was, either because I didn't explain it well in the beginning of the story, or maybe because I started this story so long ago. In either case, The Center isn't a different dimension, it's the mystical center of the one this Buffy and Spike are in. Sort of like the heart of their dimension or the center of the earth. So there isn't another Buffy for Spike to meet back in Sunnydale. As for Buffy I promise, she'll be back in the next chapter.

Chapter 15: Rats

Angel woke up to the sound of his own screams echoing off the cold stone walls of his room. As his eyes opened, he could see nothing but the darkness and that comforted him. In his nightmare, he had been in the White Place, and it was never dark there.

But he was safely locked away in his room. It was dark and underground and the floors and walls were just stone, but that was okay, because he was dead and he belonged in the earth.

However, there were a lot of rats. Angel didn't mind the rats except when he was hungry like he was now. Rat didn't taste so good, but it was better than nothing. The only problem was he couldn't eat rats anymore, not since they had done something to him in the White Place.

But he didn't want to think about the White Place, so he reached for his pencil and pad of paper. Drawing made him feel better, although sometimes Darla asked him about the things he drew and he didn't like that. When she asked him questions she often became Darla of the Hard Eyes. Darla of the Hard Eyes hit him, and said cruel things to him. Not like Sweet Darla who sat in his lap and let him drink from her neck.

His pencil scratched across the paper as he drew one of the people with clipboards. There had been many of them in his nightmare. He had been strapped down naked to a table. They shaved his head and stuck little circles with wires to his skull.
Then people with clipboards would hurt him in different ways.

He was a vampire, so some of the ways they hurt him he liked. Then the people would shake their head and scribble things down on their clipboards. But most of the ways they hurt him he didn't like, especially when they burned him with holy water and crosses. Then the people would chirp excitedly and compare the things they had written on their clipboards.

He could feel Darla coming near. She had been gone but now she was back. Maybe that was why he had had the nightmare. It was easier to forget about the White Place when she was around.

He hoped it was Sweet Darla that was coming to see him. When he first got away from the White Place he had gone to Darla, because he was hurt and hungry and he didn't know where else to go.

There had only been Darla of the Hard Eyes then. She beat him and said mean things to him. Then she chained him up in a different room and let the Strawberry Girl play with him. That wasn't as bad as the White Place. And as long as Darla didn't throw him out, it was okay. He just didn't want Darla to make him go away again because he had nowhere to go.

So when the Strawberry Girl would cut and burn him and call him Puppy he didn't mind too much, because when she did so she would begin to smell sweet. Sometimes a boy with brown hair would come and watch. Then he and the Strawberry Girl would fuck, and that was good too because Angel got to watch.

But it was better when she came by herself. She would rub him then until he got hard, if the torture hadn't already done it. Then she would ride him.

It became a race then. If he came first she would get very angry, and she would hit him and beat him, but he didn't care because the sex was worth it. If she came first though, she would tie him back up so he couldn't touch himself and leave, and he didn't like that as much.

It had gone on that way for a while, he didn't know how long, although he had gotten very hungry then because he couldn't feed. They didn't keep him alone in his cell; they put a pretty human girl in with him, and kept her well fed so she would taste healthy if he decided to bite her. He didn't want to bite her because he didn't do that anymore, but even if he wanted to he couldn't. Not since they had done something to him in the White Place.

But he figured out one day that the Darla of the Hard Eyes didn't know this. She didn't know about the White Place, and he had to tell her. He was scared that the soldiers in the White Place would get her like they got him. Then they would hurt her like they hurt him, and he thought they would do worse things to her. Darla of the Hard Eyes was very pretty. Even when she hit him he liked to look at her, and he remembered what the last soldier he had seen had said to him. "It's too bad we don't have any female vamps, but you'll do in a pinch."

The soldier had raped him then. Angel had tried to fight him, but whenever he tried to hurt the solider it felt like his head was exploding. The soldier thought Angel was helpless, that he could do anything he liked to Angel. But Angel was smart, and he remembered being Angelus, and he knew how to be mean and tough and hurt people.

He waited until the soldier was done, and lazy, and satisfied. Then Angel hit the soldier as hard as he could. Angel's head exploded all over again, and he nearly passed out, but then it started to pass. The soldier was unconscious, and Angel had to fight the urge to kick the solider. But his head still throbbed and he knew this was his only chance to get out of the White Place.

He ran then. There were lots of other demons in cells just like the one Angel had been in, but he ignored them. He didn't care about them, he just wanted out of the White Place. Luckily there weren't many of the soldiers about, only some of the people with clipboards. And when he showed them his other face and roared at them, they ran away, even though he couldn't hurt them.

So he didn't want the soldiers to get Darla. They would all think she was pretty, and they would try and touch her, and she wasn't theirs to touch.

She was getting closer now and Angel could hear her voice, which meant she wasn't alone. That was bad. Sweet Darla always came alone.

There had been no Sweet Darla, not until he had tried to bite the girl they had left with him in front of Darla of the Hard Eyes. Then she had seen what they did to him in the White Place, and she became Sweet Darla. Sweet Darla got angry too, but unlike Darla of the Hard Eyes, she wasn't angry at him.

She would say angry things and stroke his hair, and then she would let him bite her and feed. At first this had bothered Angel because he knew the blood she drank was human. But after a while he didn't care anymore. He just wanted her to come so he could touch her.

After she became Sweet Darla, she had moved him to another cell. No one but her came to see him in this cell, and she gave him paper to write on.

"It's not to keep him in," Angel heard her explain to someone. "It's to keep he others out, to keep them from hurting him."

The door to Angel's cell opened and there was Darla of the Hard Eyes. But it was the person behind her that had Angel struggling to his feet and growling.

Spike.

He didn't like Spike. Spike was pretty, and knew how to say pretty things to women. Women liked it when you said pretty things to them, even Darla, and Angel wasn't any good with words. Besides something funny had happened to Spike's hair and it made him even prettier. That's when Angel realized that Spike must be here to take Darla away from him.

He tried to charge at Spike, but he was weak, and Darla was between them. She easily pushed him back to the ground. Then she did something strange, she grabbed one of the rats that was trying to scurry out of the way of the scuffle.

Darla didn't like rats, and normally she would never touch one. But now she was crouching in front of him holding the rat up to his face. He knew what she wanted and it surprised him. As cruel as Darla of the Hard Eyes could be, she had never tried to hurt him in this way. He turned his face away. He wasn't going to bite the rat; he didn't want to make the thing in his head hurt.

"It's okay," she told him. "Spike needs to see what they did to you. He's here to help."

Angel thought about that for a moment. He didn't like the idea of getting help from Spike. On the other hand, he didn't want Spike to end up in the White Place either. Spike was too pretty to go there. He didn't want the soldiers touching Spike any more than he wanted them touching Darla.

Reluctantly he complied with Darla's wishes and tried to bite the rat. His fangs barely got near the rat before the pain exploded through his head. He gripped his head in pain, and whimpered as he waited for it to pass.

He heard a thump and a squeal as Darla discarded the rat, and then Darla was holding him, running her hands through his too short hair.

"It's okay," she told him. "You see what they did to him? He can't fight, he can't bite, he can't even defend himself. They experimented on him, they took the last of his sanity. This is what they want to do to all of us."

She gently lifted his head and brought his mouth to her neck. Without any further prompting Angel sank his fangs in. He'd forgotten about Spike, about the White Place, about the soldiers. Darla was the only thing in his world. The only thing he needed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spike shuffled his feet uncomfortably. When Darla had first led him down here, he'd been angry at her. After a hundred years she'd finally told him about the gypsies and the soul. He should have known sooner, maybe he could have done something, found a way to help Angelus. At the very least he could have hurt those gypsies a lot more instead of just snacking on them.

Now, the anger was gone, replaced by a feeling of embarrassment. Watching this beaten-down, half-mad Angel feed from Darla was disquieting. It was rather like being forced to watch your parents fuck, and he wanted to be anywhere else.

In fact he wished they were fucking, that he could deal with. That was pretty normal for them, in fact he'd seen the two of them go at it hundreds of times. When they were away from human eyes, Darla and Angelus lost all sense of propriety and modesty.

But this was different, this was intimate. The truth was he'd never really thought of Angelus or Darla having any feelings for each other. They were more like two hedonists who found the other one was very good at scratching their itches. But Spike had never thought there was anything deeper.

In fact the two of them had always denied any such feelings. They liked to brag about the time Darla had left Angelus to die, as if it showed they were more evolved or something of the sort. But as Spiked watched this pieta, he could see they were just as tainted by love and tenderness as he and Dru had been.

Of course maybe part of him had always known that Darla and Angelus weren't the pure demons they claimed to be. And as uncomfortable as he felt right now, he knew this was worth something. He would be Darla's champion for as long as it took to get Angelus back on his feet. And then, they would all pretend none of this had ever happened.
 
Plans
 
Chapter 16: Plans

Buffy walked slowly through the streets of The Center on her way home after another wasted day. For almost a week now she'd been looking for new slaves, but none of the ones she saw were right. None of them had what she was looking for. None of them were Spike.

Part of her knew that she had to let him go–that she couldn't go on waiting to find someone like him–because no one was going to be like him. And what if by some chance she did finally find a slave she liked? Wouldn't she just go through the whole thing all over again; confusion, guilt and all?

Her paradox of loneliness continued to swirl through Buffy's head until she approached her front door. Then all thoughts of Spike were driven away by the intense feeling that something was wrong.

She wasn't sure exactly how she knew, but some instinct told her that someone had been inside her house, and was probably still there.

Cautiously and quietly she opened the front door. For the first time she wished that she locked the door when she left, at least that way she would have known if she was just being paranoid.

"Oh! It's you!" she said, all attempts at stealth lost as she saw Spike sprawled out in her one chair.

He looked different. His hair had been bleached again, and his curls were gone, held in place by hair gel. He wore a black t-shirt and jeans, along with a leather biker jacket. He was playing with one of her knives. His whole demeanor was as if he was the one who owned the place.

"Are you here to kill me?" she asked looking at the dagger. She didn't want to have to fight Spike, at least not like this, but she would understand if he wanted her dead. She'd often wanted Tain dead.

Spike cocked an eyebrow at that. "Finally figured out the whole slayer-vampire dynamic, have we?"

"Huh? No, I just thought, you know, with the slavery thing. . . you might be upset."

He nodded, then shrugged. "That's good. That you haven't decided to go all black and white on me, I mean. No guilt about watching that Daryl fellow get killed?"

He didn't seem to be here to kill her, which made Buffy's heart leap up in her throat. Of course that didn't mean he didn't hate her, but maybe. . . What? He'd ask her to the prom? She'd missed her prom, at least she thought she had; it was hard to keep track sometimes.

"No. Daryl was. . . " 'A bad man' seemed like an understatement, and 'evil' seemed to fall too neatly into Spike's ridiculous Saturday morning cartoon view of the world where there were heroes and villains. "He kind of deserved it. Why are you here?"

"Because you shouldn't be." He got up from the chair, his body bristling with energy as he began to pace about the room. "You don't belong here. You're not happy. Haven't even got a new slave I see." He didn't wait for her to confirm or deny any of these assertions, he just kept going. "You know why that is?" He didn't give her a chance to answer. "Because you can't be happy here, with this." He waved his hands around. "You need more. You're not a fighter, you're a warrior. What you need is a war, a cause, something to fight for."

He looked at her expectantly, and it looked like it was finally her turn in this odd conversation. "Um, okay? But I don't have one. I've told you, I'm just me."

"But you're not supposed to be. Look, Slayer, here's the deal." He grabbed the chair and swung it around so he could straddle it and lean his arms on the back of the chair. "I have this–well he's not a friend, but he's family. He sort of. . . you can never repeat this to anyone, but he taught me everything I know. His name's Angelus. Thing is, he hit a bit of a bad spell and the government came along and decided to do experiments on him. Not just him though, any demon or vampire they could get their hands on. Now that's not right is it?"

"No?" she said, hoping it was the right answer.

He got back up out of the chair and began pacing again. Buffy half expected him to start literally start bouncing off the walls. There was something a bit odd about the way he was talking. It sounded half rehearsed, and half like he was trying to convince himself.

"Exactly. They shouldn't do things like that. No right to go poking about in a bloke's head. So what do you say? Are you in?"

"In what?" she asked, still not sure what this all had to do with her, although Spike's enthusiasm was a bit infectious. She wondered if he was always this bouncy when not chained up.

"In the fight of course. You and me, and okay, maybe a few other vamps against an army. The army actually. Or at least a rogue branch. I'm sure they're rogue, definitely not the good guys. Experiments and all. Thing is, we could use you. So what do you say?"

It really wasn't much of a question. He was right, her life was pretty empty. It had been for some time, but it hadn't seemed to matter as much until Spike had come along.

Fighting a war, however, wasn't really her idea of a good time. On the other hand she did miss fighting, and that's what he was offering her wasn't it? A fight that actually meant something–had a purpose. The more she thought about it, the more she liked the idea.

"I'm in?" she answered hesitantly.

He gave her a wolfish grin that sent shivers down her spine. "I knew you would be."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I'm sorry what was that?" Darla asked Harmony, realizing that she had completely tuned out everything the young blonde was saying as she applied Darla's makeup.

Darla knew the other vampires thought her antiquated for still keeping a lady's maid. But then, the reason she knew they thought that was because Harmony had told her so. Having a gossip like Harmony around was an effective way for Darla to keep close tabs on what the minions were thinking. The only problem was she was so distracted about the idea of Spike bringing the Slayer into their lair that she couldn't concentrate on what Harmony was saying.

Spike's plan was crazy. There was no way it was going to work, and yet, Darla's simple and elegant plans had already failed, so what was there to lose?

Turning Riley Finn had seemed like the perfect way to destroy the Initiative. He was the leader, and making him her childe should have exposed them to her like a turtle turned upside down. The only problem was it turned out that Riley was not the least bit in charge. Some woman named Maggie Walsh was, and although Riley had given them some good information on the basic defenses and layout of the Initiative, it turned out he had no idea what was really going on in their underground lair, and that he was very expendable.

Still, Spike's plan could so easily go wrong in so many ways.

"I bet she tastes like chocolate, all rich and creamy," Willow said from where she was reclining on Darla's bed.

Darla shot the red-head an angry look. "You are not to so much as even think about the Slayer's blood, at least not until after we've dealt with the Initiative."

Willow pouted, and Darla thought the she was probably the single weakest point of Spike's plan. The girl was going to have to behave and stop trying to prove to everything that moved that she was the wickedest in the land.

Luckily Darla knew how to hit Willow where it hurt. She looked at the girl affectionately and said in a soft caring voice, "This is for Xander, okay? You want revenge for him don't you?"

That got Willow's attention. When Willow had first been brought to The Master's lair, she was only supposed to have been a quick meal for him. But she was so sweet and innocent that The Master just had to corrupt her.

One of the first things the newly risen childe had done was to find her childhood friend and high school crush, Xander. She tortured him until he told her that he loved her, and then turned him. The young couple had been inseparable, until Xander's brashness had caused him to be one of the first casualties to the Initiative.

But even if Darla had gotten Willow back in line for the moment, she knew that Willow was going to be a problem. For Spike's plan to work, Willow would have to spend a lot of time with the Slayer. That meant she would have to behave.

Then again, maybe this would work out for the best. Having the Slayer stake Willow wouldn't be all bad. Although Darla was rather fond of her little sister, and Willow had many delightful qualities, Darla also knew that someday Willow was going to challenge her and try and take over. The girl was just too power hungry not to. And underneath it all Darla could sense there was power hidden in the girl.

But that was a problem for another day.

"Shall we girls?" Darla asked her companions.

She didn't wait for an answer, instead she headed to the "throne room" where she would greet the Slayer and welcome her into their lair. She didn't bother to look back; she knew the other two girls would be following her because right now Darla had the power, and in the end, that was all that mattered.
 
The Mall
 
Chapter 17: The Mall

Buffy couldn't help but reflect on all of those times Spike had told her he was evil and she hadn't believed him. But now she knew that he'd been telling the truth the whole time. He'd lured her out from the relative safety of The Center back into the real world with tales of epic battles and glory and honor. What she got instead was homework.

"I can't do this," Buffy said in frustration.

"Yes, you can," Willow told her. "Look, you won't have to actually figure out how to hack into the Initiative's computers; I'll be telling you what to do. But you have to know enough that you don't look out of place in Professor McDonnell's computer class."

"But if you know how to do all this hacking stuff, why do you need me?" Buffy asked.

She didn't really like Willow, or know how to talk to her, and she got the feeling that the young vampire hated teaching her as much as she hated learning. Not to mention that she got this distinct feeling when she was around Willow or Riley that they saw her as lunch.

"Because Professor McDonnell's office is protected by a highly sophisticated set of motion and heat sensors," Riley explained. "No vampire can get in there without setting off alarms that would bring the whole Initiative running. But you're not room temperature so you won't set off the alarms. McDonnell is the systems administrator for the Initiative, which is why his office on campus is the only computer outside of the Initiative compound that is part of the network. It's our only chance of getting into the Initiative files without having to actually break into the base."

Buffy sighed as Willow directed her attention back to the computer screen.

"Now, start by bringing up a shell window," Willow told her.

It didn't take long for Buffy's eyes to glaze over. Just when she thought she couldn't take one more Unix command, Spike strolled into the impromptu classroom.

"That's enough of that for tonight," he declared. Both Willow and Riley started to protest but he waved them off. "Doesn't matter how smart you make her. If she shows up on campus looking like Xena's sidekick, no one's going to believe that she's just another student. Time to do a bit of shopping."

Buffy's face lit up at that. If there was anything she missed about the real world it was the mall. And nothing was better for recovering from learning than a bit of shopping.

Willow and Riley were obviously unhappy with the suggestion. Buffy didn't understand everything that was going on in this vampire world she'd stumbled into, but she did know that Spike had a lot of power here, and that both Willow and Riley resented it.

Not that Buffy particularly cared. If it came down to it she would side with Spike over Willow and Riley any day.

Right now she wasn't worried about any of that. She was just excited by the prospect of shopping. Not to mention that this would give her some alone time with Spike; something she'd been wanting ever since he'd come back into her life.

She hurried through the strange set of tunnels that made up the vampire lair to her 'room'. It was actually a cave, but all things considered a rather comfy one. The truth was it was better furnished than her entire house in The Center had been, and Darla was constantly asking if she had everything she needed. Buffy found that a little creepy. It was almost as if she was some exotic pet lizard who needed a carefully constructed habitat.

Buffy quickly changed out of the leather armor that felt like a second skin into the more normal clothes she had bought for the night out she and Spike had shared. She always felt a bit naked without the protective leather, but she knew Spike was right. She'd didn't exactly blend. And she was too nervous and excited to really care.

As she left her room, she found Spike waiting for her, but much to her disappointment he wasn't alone. Standing next to him was a perky blonde vampire.

"Oh, hi. Harmony, right?" Buffy asked.

"Yeah, that's right," the blonde beamed. "Are you excited? I'm so excited. It's been simply forever since I've been to the mall. I mean, I don't think I've had a single pair of new shoes in the last three months. Three months! Can you believe it? But Darla's all, it's too dangerous up there and you might get caught by the Initiative, which would suck, although maybe not so much if they're all as hunky as Ril-"

"Harm! Quiet." Spike barked. "You ready, Slayer?"

"Yeah," Buffy told him as they headed out to the surface and the Sunnydale Mall.

Despite his orders, Harmony couldn't keep quiet for long. After his third attempt to shut her up, Spike apologized to Buffy. "Sorry about blondie here. Thing is, I know more about undressing than dressing coeds."

Harmony giggled at that, and suddenly Buffy wondered if Spike and Harmony were sleeping together. Just like that, Buffy became aware of the fact that Harmony was much more endowed than she was, and wondered if maybe they could add a push-up bra to her new wardrobe.

The thought made her blush, but Spike didn't notice–he just kept on speaking.

"And Darla said Harm's up on all the fashions and whatnot. So here she is. Sorry about all the chatter."

"It's okay," Buffy told him. "I don't mind."

She hated how meek and conciliatory her voice sounded, but it was true. She didn't mind Harmony's constant chatter. For one thing, it meant Buffy didn't have to think of anything to say. And she suddenly realized that as much as she wanted to spend time alone with Spike, she had no idea what she would say to him.

But it wasn't just that Harmony effectively filled all awkward silences. Harmony's incessant talking was kind of familiar. In fact Harmony was a lot like Buffy's old friends from L.A. As they moved through the mall putting together Buffy's new wardrobe, she began to feel comfortable, like she was back in her element in a way she hadn't felt since she'd first been kidnapped and taken to The Center.

When Buffy had tried to reintegrate with her old life after gaining her freedom, she hadn't been able to stand the chatter of her old friends. It had seemed empty and hollow. Or at least that was what Buffy had told herself. Now she realized the problem had really been that at every moment Buffy had felt like she was playing a role. Like she had to hide who she really was, because she knew her friends and parents would think she was crazy if she let anything about The Center slip.

But Harmony more or less knew about all of that. She was, after all, a vampire, and so Buffy didn't feel like she had to pretend to be someone else. Somehow, that made it feel okay to just be a girl again.

Although Harmony vetoed the first few things Buffy chose for herself, it didn't take long for Buffy to start to get a feel for what was in again. As they went from store to store Buffy found herself slowly inserting herself into Harmony's running dialogue.

"Are we done yet?" Spike complained as they left their third shoe store. Considering he was the one stuck carrying the numerous shopping bags they had accumulated, Buffy couldn't blame him.

Harmony sighed. "I suppose the mall will be closing soon. And since Darla said we couldn't st- I mean we just have one more store we need to go to. But you have to wait here," she told Spike.

"Yeah, that's not happening," Spike told her. "Someone has to keep an eye out, in case any solider boys show up."

"Well, we're going in there." Harmony pointed at a lingerie store and Buffy could feel her cheeks starting to burn. "So you're just going to have to keep an eye out from here."

Spike laughed. "Yeah, I'm definitely not waiting out here. Someone's got to tell you if it fits or not."

Buffy was suddenly sure that her face must be as red as the lace bra and panty set the display mannequin in the window was wearing.

"Oh my God!" Harmony gasped as she slugged Spike in the shoulder. He straightened up and Buffy thought he was about to drop everything and hit Harmony back, when Harmony continued. "Have you been paying any attention tonight? I so almost had the hidden cool girl out of Buffy, and now look, she's all embarrassed and freaky shy girl again. We are so hitting two more stores now. And you are waiting here."

Spike shrunk back down and looked apologetically towards Buffy, which only made her feel worse. She was absolutely horrified when Harmony pointed out her embarrassment; however, she didn't have much time to dwell on it because Harmony grabbed her hand and roughly pulled her into the lingerie store.

"Don't mind him," Harmony assured Buffy. "He's just such a guy. Now let's see what we can find to maybe make those study sessions with Riley a bit more fun?"

"Riley? I don't think. . . I mean. . ."

Harmony laughed. "I know, I'm kidding. Sure he's got that sort of football player cuteness about him, but that's so High School. So. . . who is it?"

"Who is what?" Buffy asked, even though she was pretty sure she knew what Harmony was getting at.

"You know. Who do you like? I mean now that we have you some proper clothes the guys are going to be all over you."

"You think?" Buffy said nervously. She didn't really want the guys to be all over her–well maybe one guy.

"I know. So who do you have you eye on?"

"Well, I mean, I guess Spike is kind of-"

"I knew it!" Harmony interrupted with a little clap of triumph. "He is kind of hot, isn't he? He is supposed to be some major bad-ass too, but I also hear he can be a total sweetie. He used to date this girl, Drusilla, who was like a total psycho. But I guess he was always taking care of her. Of course he's a total fixer-upper. I mean hello, just because you're a creature of the night doesn't mean that you can only wear black."

Buffy nodded in agreement, grateful that once again Harmony didn't need her to actively participate in the conversation. On the other hand, there was a lot of trying on of stuff. Buffy didn't really know her bra size anymore, and Harmony wanted to be sure that everything fit her correctly.

Buffy did end up with more than one push-up bra, although she wasn't sure if she would really be comfortable wearing them, since she felt like her chin was about to hit her breasts when she was wearing one.

Soon they had a large pile of lacy things.

"Don't you think this is enough?" Buffy asked.

"Just one more thing. You know, just in case," Harmony said as she pulled Buffy further into the store.

In case what? Buffy wondered, until Harmony brought her to a stop in front of several bustiers hanging on the wall.

"Isn't that a little. . ." Buffy wasn't sure what it was, but she couldn't imagine actually wearing the black 'corset' she was looking at.

"Oh, not that one. That's way too Willow. I mean talk about having something to prove. No, I was thinking something softer, something more like this."

Harmony directed Buffy's attention to another bustier which was much frillier than the one she had first seen. It was also mostly pink although the ribbing and the laces were black. As Harmony searched for Buffy's size, the Slayer wondered if she really could get away with wearing something like that, and what Spike would think if he saw her in it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Darla could hear the excited clack of Harmony's shoes and the rustling of bags long before the young vampire appeared in her chamber.

"Thank you so much Mistress for letting me go out. It was such a blast. And Buffy, she's kind of cool. Or at least she could be if she doesn't spend too much time with Willow."

"I take it everything went smoothly?" Darla asked.

Harmony kept digging through her bags as she answered. "Completely. And you were so right. Ah here they are!" Harmony triumphantly produced a shoe box and handed it to Darla. "I saw these and I was like, Darla would look so love these."

Darla took the gift, knowing that it was better to let Harmony get to the point in her own time.

As she opened the box, a huge smile broke on Darla's face. The new Prada heels that Harmony had picked out really were fantastic. The girl did have great taste when she wasn't shopping for herself.

Darla eagerly slipped on the new shoes to try them out.

"Those would look so good with your black dress. You know, the lacy one," Harmony said. "Anyway, you were right. Buffy has a complete crush on Spike. Of course, I think she's too shy to really do anything about it. When we-"

Darla smiled, only half listening to what Harmony was saying. Since she had first met the Slayer she'd been fairly sure that the girl had some romantic notions about Spike. Still it was good to have it confirmed. It was a dangerous game having a slayer in the midst of so many vampires. But if the girl was busy day dreaming about Spike she was less likely to cause any trouble.

The only thing that worried Darla was that the feelings might go both ways. The Slayer was a valuable, but ultimately disposable weapon. But Darla wasn't sure Spike saw her that way.

Darla had expected Spike to take his place in her bed when she had made him her champion, but he hadn't. What's more, he hadn't taken up with any of the other vampires. She hoped that he was simply pining for Drusilla. That was, if not normal for a vampire, at least understandable.

But Darla was beginning to be afraid that Spike's plan was less about defeating the Initiative, and more about finding an excuse to be around a certain young blonde. And there was too much at stake to allow Spike's latest obsession to undermine all their plans.
 
The Challenge
 
Chapter 18: The Challenge

Spike patted down his pockets, sure that somewhere he must have another cigarette hidden away. He'd taken to smoking a lot more recently. He tried to tell himself that it was because of all those weeks spent in The Center when he hadn't been allowed to smoke, but the truth was he felt just as bottled up here as he had as a slave in the Slayer's house.

He wasn't the only one. Every vampire in Darla's little domain was feeling just as edgy as he was. They all yearned to get out and hunt, but Darla and Riley insisted that only a few of them ever went out at a time. They didn't want to lose more of their number to the Initiative, or worse, lead the government back to their lair. It was one of the only things that Riley had gotten right.

Still it was making them all irritable. And having the Slayer around seemed to make things worse. Spike was just starting to realize how much her presence was adding to the general tension in the air.

As for him, although the Slayer didn't put him on edge the way she did the other vampires, he found her presence unnerving in other ways. The little shopping excursion the day before hadn't helped. Just the thought of Buffy in something frilly and lacy made his cock twitch, and he didn't have any way of relieving that bit of tension. Not unless he wanted to risk his balls in a trip to Darla's bed. Darla was probably willing, but Spike was willing to bet that she would catch on to why he might want to take her from behind, and that she wouldn't appreciate being a stand in for the Slayer.

Finally Spike was forced to admit defeat. He was out of cigarettes. That meant he was going to have to endure another one of Riley's 'when I was in the army' lectures without the aid of nicotine.

That didn't last long.

"No, one gives a flying fuck about your sodding army manual," Spike finally said.

"At least I'm willing to fight instead of let some human girl do it for me," Riley retorted.

Spike was about yell back when he suddenly realized a way to ease all their tension and provide a bit of entertainment. "I suppose you think you could take her?" Spike suggested.

Darla, who had been studying her nails, suddenly shot Spike a warning glance. She only attended these strategy sessions as a reminder that she was the one in charge here, but the truth was she was old fashioned and preferred to leave the battles to the men.

"Are you kidding me?" Riley laughed. "Does she even weigh a hundred pounds? I could snap her in two without even trying."

Spike wanted to whack Riley upside the head. The truth was he'd love to beat Riley into a pulp himself, but that wouldn't teach the young vampire anything. Riley's whole problem was that he was still playing by the old human rules. He just didn't understand that in a vampire's world size didn't matter much.

In fact if it was a question of raw strength, Darla most likely had them all beat. Four hundred years was an impressive age even for a vampire, and as Spike understood it, it probably wouldn't be long until she began to permanently take on the features of the demon. He half hoped he'd be around to see that. On the other hand, as vain as she was, maybe it was best to be far away when that day came.

No, what Riley needed was to have his ass handed to him by a certain tiny blonde, and a good spot of violence would go a long way towards relieving some of the general tension in the lair.

"Well, you certainly talk big," Spike baited the fledge. "Too bad that's all it is, talk."

"I don't see you backing up your claims that this Slayer is actually good for anything other than feeding."

Spike growled, his eyes flashing gold. There was no way he was ever letting Riley near the Slayer's pretty neck. This fellow had no right to the ambrosia that was slayer blood.

"What did you have in mind?" Spike asked, returning to his original plan.

"How about a little wager. I fight your Slayer, and if I win you give up your place as Darla's champion."

Spike snorted. He wasn't surprised, Riley hated taking orders from Spike.

"And what does Spike get if the Slayer wins?" Darla asked, obviously amused by the idea.

The fact that she didn't seem to mind Riley trying to overturn her own choice implied that she didn't think Riley had a chance. Darla never made bets that she couldn't win.

Spike smiled his best Angelus smile as he sized up the former soldier. "If the Slayer wins, then Captain Cardboard here spends the next week wearing a dress of my choosing."

Spike could only wish that his grand-sire was there to see him, and not locked up half-crazy. If Angelus had ever taught him anything, it was that sometimes the best torture could be simple humiliation.

"Well, Riley?" Darla asked. "What's it going to be? You're not afraid of this girl are you?"

The goading of his sire was too much for him. Riley stood up, his demon flaring to the surface. "I'm ready anytime."

"Good," Darla said clapping in her hands together in excitement. "Do gather everyone together in main room, Riley. Spike, go get your Slayer; this should be fun."

Spike couldn't agree more. Watching the Slayer mop the floor with Riley was going to be a blast, not to mention it should get him into the Slayer's good graces. It would be another break from her lessons; a chance for her to mix it up a little. And who knew, once she'd finished beating Riley to a pulp, maybe Spike could turn her excitement to his advantage, get a look at some of the unmentionables that Harmony had helped her purchase.

"Guess what?" he exclaimed as he burst in on the Willow and Buffy. The two girls looked up at him startled. "You get to fight Riley."

Much to Spike's disappointment Buffy didn't instantly share his enthusiasm.

"Why would I want to fight Riley?" she asked.

"Because hitting him would be fun," Spike answered. "Besides, we've got this bet going, see. You win, and he has to wear a dress for a week."

Not only did this not garner the Slayer's enthusiasm, she actually looked hurt.

"What if Riley wins?" Willow asked.

"Not going to happen," Spike assured the red-head. "But if he did, then he'd take my place, be in charge again, well after Darla of course."

Even that didn't seem to catch the Slayer's attention. Maybe Buffy didn't understand the significance of this, Spike reasoned. Here he was so certain that she was going to win that he was risking his entire position, not to mention having to take orders from Riley.

"Do I have to?" she asked.

Spike's face fell. He couldn't actually force her to fight, but if she didn't he'd end up looking like a fool.

"You don't have to," he said. "But you don't want that git Riley thinking you're a coward do you?"

"I'm not afraid," Buffy said. Her voice wasn't defensive though, it was more as if she thought this should all be obvious to Spike and it wasn't. "I just. . . never mind. Sure I'll fight him. Might as well. That's why I'm here isn't it?"

"Well, yeah," was all Spike could think to say. He couldn't understand this lack of enthusiasm from the Slayer. She was a fighter, she should be as anxious for a bit of violence as the rest of them were.

She let him lead her into the main room, where the rest of the Order was gathering. Spike took his place by Darla's side while the other vampires started making their own bets on the fight.

"Something wrong?" Darla asked him.

"Nah, it's just. . . I thought she'd be more into this. She used to always get off on it when we'd fight."

Darla smiled knowingly. "I'm sure she did."

"What? You know what's up with her don't you?"

Darla laughed lightly. "Isn't it obvious?"

"No. What is it?" Spike demanded.

"Now why should I tell you? I think it'll be much more fun letting you puzzle it out for yourself."

"Bitch," Spike said under his breath, knowing full well that Darla could hear him.

She only laughed.

"Your boy's going to lose, you know," Spike shot back at her. This wasn't turning out to be half as fun as he had thought it would be.

"Of course he is, and it'll be good for him." It was Darla's turn to frown. "It should be you down there."

"What, fighting the Slayer?" Spike asked, finding Darla as mystifying as Buffy.

"No, fighting Riley. He should have challenged you directly, and long before now."

"What would have been the point?" Spike asked. "He wouldn't have won."

"Of course he wouldn't have but. . . Did I ever tell you about the first time Angelus met the Master?"

It took a great deal of self control for Spike to only nod his head and not to roll his eyes. Darla was annoyingly nostalgic these days. Even Dru never went on about Angelus as much as Darla now did.

"A girl doesn't like to be taken for granted." That brought a smile back to her lips, although Spike got the impression that Darla was laughing at him.

Shrugging it off he turned his attention to the center of the room where Buffy and Riley were squaring off and the fight was about to begin.
 
Single Combat
 
Chapter 19: Single Combat

Angel studied the drawing of Spike he had made before crumbling it up and throwing it away. Things had gotten better for him since Spike had come back, even though Angel had only seen him that one time.

Darla came to visit him more often, and she was almost always Sweet Darla. He thought about it a bit and realized that she must have come to see him almost every day since Spike's arrival because he didn't go hungry anymore.

He could do that now, figure things out. His head had begun to clear up a bit, nourished as much by Darla's attentions as by the regular feedings.

It wasn't always a good thing. Before, in his addled state he had simply been grateful for her presence. But now he began to pick out other scents on her person, scents mixed with the musk of sex. Like the Strawberry Girl's. Angel didn't mind that one so much, just like he had never minded when Darla played with Dru; in fact he often liked to watch that. But there was another scent, an unfamiliar male scent that clung to Darla like a parasite.

Somewhere, another man thought he could make Darla his mate. It made Angel bristle, but then he would remember the White Place–the lab, he corrected himself–and he wondered if maybe Darla wasn't better with someone who could protect her.

Angel was deep in his brooding on the subject when a new scent came to him, sharp and strong. The smell of blood.

There was nothing unusual about that. He knew there were many vampires in the tunnels around him. He smelled blood both human and vampire all the time. But this was different. This was powerful, like sunlight and goodness. He had smelled blood like this once before.

Slayer.

Spike.

The thoughts came hard, one on top of each other bringing painful memories.

Darla praising Spike.

Darla sending Angel away.

Panic gripped Angel. Spike was killing another slayer, obviously so he could claim Darla as his mate and have Angel driven out again. That was more than Angel could bear, and for the first time since he had been put in the cell, Angel tried to escape.

With a roar he brought the demon to the front and slammed his body against the door to his cell. The wood splintered and cracked. He only had to throw his weight against it two more times until it gave way completely. It had been intended to keep the younger vampires out, not to keep in the two hundred and fifty year old vampire glutted on the powerful blood of his Sire.

Once he was free, it was easy to find the others. They were all gathered together, his family and the Slayer whose blood called him like a siren's song. He moved quickly through the tunnels until he found the main hall where everyone was gathered. The other vampires were too wrapped up in the proceedings to even notice him.

In the center of the room was the Slayer. He could see the slight trickle of blood run down from her nose. She was fighting a large vampire–named Riley, judging by the cheers of the crowd. Angel's nostrils flared. It was him, the man who was fucking Darla. Angel had gotten it wrong; it wasn't Spike who was trying to drive him out but this other vampire, this Riley.

Angel roared again as he barreled into the center of the room, slamming into the rival vampire with the force of a steam roller. The both hit the ground hard, but Angel was prepared for it whereas Riley was caught completely by surprise.

Immediately Angel's fists slammed into the other body while he tore at the vampire's flesh with his fangs. Riley tried to fight back but he couldn't seem to recover from the initial ferocity of Angel's attack.

And then out of nowhere a tiny fist slammed into Angel's face with a surprising amount of force.

He was knocked back off of his opponent's body, only to look up and see the Slayer standing menacingly over him. For a moment he was confused, then he realized that she must simply see him as another vampire, another threat.

"Run," he croaked, his voice weak from lack of use.

She looked at him defiantly and before he could react, her foot connected with his face.

He rolled with the force of the blow coming to his feet, but before he could try to encourage her to escape again, Spike was there. For a moment Angel thought that Spike was going to try and kill her, but instead he pulled her gently away from the fight.

"This has nothing to do with you, pet," he told the girl.

Angel didn't have time to puzzle over this strange behavior. His first opponent had recovered and this time it was Angel who was knocked to the ground.

The two men rolled about, savagely ripping at each other's flesh. Angel wasn't used to fighting anyone as big as he was, while his opponent was an accomplished wrestler.

Then Darla's voice rang out above the cries of the crowd, "Darling!"

Both men turned to look. She had risen from her couch and held a sword up in front of her. Her eyes flashed, encouraging both men to further acts of violence. Then she reversed the sword and tossed it, hilt first, towards the two combatants.

Riley reached for the weapon, releasing his hold on Angel. That gave Angel the opening he needed to get free. Instead of scrambling for the sword, Angel grabbed his opponent's left arm and yanked hard, pulling the arm from its socket with a loud popping noise.

The vampire yelled in agony, his fingers releasing the weapon a fraction of a second after they had closed about it. While Riley curled up in pain, Angel grabbed the sword and with one sure blow brought it down on the other man's throat.

Angel didn't wait for the dust to settle. He dropped the sword, which clattered heavily on the stone floor, and moved swiftly up to the dais from where Darla had watched the entire battle. He grabbed her roughly by the arms and forced her down on the ground, climbing on top of her.

Fabric tore as he and Darla ripped away each other's clothing. Then he was inside her. She cried out eagerly at the violence of his entry as he buried himself inside her wet depths. She offered him her throat, not in the pitying way she had fed him in his cell, but as an equal.

Angel's fangs pierced her delicate skin and he could feel her fangs sliding into his neck as they reclaimed each other as mates and renewed the bond that had nearly faded from a century of neglect.

When their bodies finally came to rest he released her throat to look up. One by one he met the eyes of every vampire in the room, and one by one they turned away, submitting to his gaze. All except for Spike.

The two Master vampires stared at each other for a moment. Then Spike tilted his head slightly. It wasn't much, certainly not submission, but there was respect. Spike wasn't going to challenge Angel, and that was enough.

Angel looked down into Darla's contented face, and he couldn't have been happier. He was strong and safe, the head of his family once more, and Darla had taken him back.

Everything was perfect until a sudden pain hit his chest. It was as if someone was ripping his insides out. He threw his head back and screamed.

When his head had cleared, Darla looked up at him in wonder. "Angelus?" she smiled as she flung her arms around him in a tight embrace.

Angelus smiled wickedly, "That's right baby," he replied hoarsely. "I'm back."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Buffy moved quickly away from the scene of violence and sex, feeling confused and hurt. She didn't understand what was going on, or why no one seemed to care that the strange vampire had killed Riley and then. . . done that to Darla.

Her only guide was Spike, who'd told her not to interfere, first during the fight and then afterwards when the big vampire had started using Darla. Of course he hadn't been much help other than that. He hadn't even looked away from what was happening when he spoke to her, telling her she could go if she didn't want to watch. That might have hurt, if she wasn't already feeling so bad about him setting up the fight with Riley in the first place.

That had shattered all of her illusions, all of her silly day dreams. Spike had no interest in her. All she was to him was a fighter, a weapon, just like she had been to Tain. The only difference was that whereas she hadn't had a choice in how Tain used her, she didn't have to let Spike treat her like this.

She hurried back to her room. She felt a little guilty about taking the clothes that the vampires had bought for her, but she needed to be able to blend in.

She wasn't going back to The Center. Spike had been right about that at least; there wasn't anything for her there. She needed, wanted more. She wasn't really certain exactly what that more was, but it was a big world out there, there had to be a place for her in it somewhere, and maybe even someone to share it with.

Her few things packed, she made her way out of the tunnels. Before she crossed over into the sunlight, she looked back, wishing Spike would appear and tell her that it had all been a mistake, and that he wanted her to stay. But no one was there. No one had even noticed that she was gone.
 
The Runaway
 
Chapter 20: The Runaway

The three older Aurelians had retired from the main hall to Darla's chambers so that she could find something a little less torn to wear. Now she sat in Angelus' lap, wearing a black lace dress like some devil's bride, as Spike explained his plan to Angelus.

"Turning the Slayer against the ones she's supposed to protect? Not bad, boy," Angelus said clapping Spike on the shoulder.

Spike tried very hard to look annoyed, but secretly he was rather pleased. Angelus was not one to give praise easily. And Spike had waited for that praise for longer than he was willing to admit.

"Still," Angelus continued. "Now that I'm back, you won't have to worry about strategy anymore."

"Oh?" Darla asked, perking up. "You intend to replace Spike as my champion?"

Angelus chuckled indulgently. "Of course not. You don't need a champion anymore, or to worry your pretty head about any of this. Now that I'm back, you don't have to play at being Master anymore."

"Play at being Master?" Darla said, her voice dangerously sweet and even. She only spoke like that when her temper was about to break.

Angelus didn't seem to pick up the warning signs. He just cupped her cheek and smiled at her. "Of course you've done a fine job, but it's best for the family if I'm Master."

Darla's hand darted between their bodies and Angelus' screamed in pain. Spike winced, making a good guess as to what exactly it was that Darla had gotten her claws into.

Her voice was icy when she spoke. "I spent almost a century taking orders from a castrated vampire who couldn't hunt on his own. If you think I'm going to do that again. . ."

Angelus whimpered and Spike grinned. Watching the old fart get taken down a peg was the best entertainment he could think of.

Almost as if she could hear his thoughts, Darla fixed her gaze on him. "Don't you have something to do?"

"Right, I'll just let you two get reacquainted," Spike said to excuse himself. As much as he wanted to watch, he knew that Darla's wrath could be a sloppy thing, and he didn't want any of it spilling over onto him.

As he left the not-so-happy couple behind, he couldn't help but smile at what a brilliant plan luring Riley into a fight with the Slayer had been. Wanting to share the moment with someone, he set off for the Slayer's room.

To his surprise he found she wasn't there. Shrugging he began to follow her scent through the tunnels. With each step it became more and more obvious which way she had gone, as he got closer and closer to the surface.

Cursing he realized that the guards must have gone to watch the fight too. He'd have to talk to them about that. Not that they could have stopped the Slayer, but still.

As he passed by the two sentries who were joking about Angelus' return, he growled, and made sure to remember their faces for later. Right now he had to find the Slayer before she got into who knew what kind of trouble.

He began to hurry. He wasn't sure why she had left, but none of the scenarios he came up with comforted him. He caught up to her as she was passing a park, and immediately noticed she was carrying a duffle bag that looked full.

"Buffy," he called out as he approached.

She turned at the sound of her name, but she didn't look happy to see him.

"Go away," she said.

"Not a chance," he told her, as he started to walk beside her. "What's with the bag?"

"I'm leaving," she said refusing to look at him.

"Yeah I picked up on that, what with the having left and all. But why? Thought we were having fun."

"Fun?!" she stopped and turned on him. "Learning computers is not fun. And fighting people so you can win bets is not fun. And watching strange vampires kill and. . . you know, is not fun."

Actually, except for the first part, it all sounded like a bit of a blast to Spike. Then it occurred to him what Angelus and Darla must have looked like to her given her own past.

"Look, I'm sorry, pet. Didn't realize that Angelus might bother you, he's kind of. . . Look don't worry about Darla, she had the time of her life. Always liked it rough and they go way back."

"Yeah, well. . . that's not the point." She started walking again.

"So what is the point?" he asked her, exasperated.

"It doesn't matter."

He grabbed her arm, pulling her to halt, which was not an easy thing to do. "Yeah, it does matter. At least to me it does. You're upset and I can't make it better if I don't know why."

The way she looked at him, he could tell that he was getting to her, that she was on the verge of telling him what had gotten under her skin.

"You just want to use me to fight for you." She was trying to sound defiant, but he could hear the doubt in her voice.

He was starting to break through whatever wall she had thrown up. And it was becoming clearer and clearer what was wrong.

"Not for me, with me," he corrected her. "Come on, I know you loved sparing with me. Think of what it would be like, you and me, back to back, together against the world, or at least the army."

"Yeah, that's what you said before," she shot back. "But that's not how it is. There's no fighting and there's all these other people, and a plan I don't think I can do, and it's all too complicated."

He half expected her to stomp her foot in frustration, and he understood. Things weren't exactly the way he would have made them in a perfect world. Seeing Darla and Angelus back together made him realize that he'd outgrown the family. Too many years of just him and Dru he supposed. He'd stay to get Angelus sorted, because they were family, but then he was going to be off. He wanted things simpler too.

"I know," he brushed a strand of hair away from her face. "Truth is I'm starting to get fed up with all this planning and strategy stuff myself. Maybe we should just storm the castle. That'd be fun, huh?"

She nodded.

"Look, if it was just about me, that's exactly what I'd do. But Angelus, he's the one I told you about remember? The one they did the experiments on?" She nodded again. "I got to think about him too, and the rest of them. They're family, if they weren't, hell I'd say let's you and me run off, have some fun. I promise, just hang in there a bit longer, and I'll show you a real good time, okay?"

Before she could answer, something clattered at their feet. They both looked down to see a metal canister with gas pouring out of it.

"What the fuck?" Spike asked, unalarmed. He was a vampire, and he knew the gas wouldn't affect him. It took him a moment to remember that Buffy did need to breathe.

"You all right?" he asked, putting an arm around her to move her away from the rising gas.

She coughed and shook her head.

"Let her go!" a man ordered.

Spike looked in the direction of the voice, and saw man with a gas mask in camouflage, holding a gun. Obviously one of the Initiative soldiers.

"Bugger," Spike said as he tried to figure out the best way to get Buffy away from both the gas and the armed man.

That's when he realized that they were surrounded. He'd been so wrapped up in trying to coax the Slayer back home, that he hadn't been paying attention to his surroundings. He couldn't risk fighting his way out, not if Buffy wasn't a hundred percent.

He was about to pick her up and make a run for it, when he felt a slight electrical shock go through his body. It was painful but not too bad, although it caused him to drop Buffy.

Then the soldiers were there. One of the soldiers grabbed Buffy, pulling her away, as one of the others hit him again with one of the taser like guns. This time the jolt was about ten times greater.

His legs gave way, as his muscles refused to respond. He could hear the soldiers speaking around him just before he blacked out.

"Graham, stay with the girl, but keep out of sight. We don't want another HST to try and make a meal of her, and she shouldn't remember any of this. No one in this town ever does."
 
Plan B
 
A/N: Thanks for all the feedback on the last chapter. Just to clear something up, the gas they used on Buffy doesn't cause people to forget, it's just sleeping gas. I was trying to refer to the way the typical inhabitant of Sunnydale blocks out anything supernatural that they see. And sorry this chapter is a bit short, but I figured you guys would rather have a shorter chapter that let you know where things were going, than a longer one that would take me twice as long to write.

Chapter 21: Plan B

Every step Buffy took was a little stronger than the last, so that by the time she had returned to the entrance of the lair the last traces of the gas had worked its way out of her system.

She ran past the sentries, shoving them aside as she headed for Darla's chambers. The Initiative had Spike and it was all her fault. She hadn't even tried to stop them. The gas had weakened her, and the shock from the taser had muddled her thinking for a moment. Still, she could have done something to help Spike, but instincts from years as a slave took over. She pretended to be unconscious hoping that it would cause them to underestimate her, to let her get the advantage.

She supposed it had worked, just not in the way she'd expected. They thought she was just a regular girl, so they took Spike, loaded him into a van, and left her behind.

As the strength had seeped back into her limbs she had considered running after them to figure out where they were taking Spike. Then she realized she already knew. They must be taking him to the lab that Riley had talked about below the local college campus.

She also knew that if she chased after them, there wasn't much she could do. There were too many of them for her to be able to grab Spike and be in and out before they could gas her again. She needed help, which meant returning to the lair.

"Spike!" Buffy yelled as she burst into Darla's room. "They've taken-" Before Buffy could finish, she found herself dodging out of the way of Angelus who'd been tossed across the room.

Darla stood on the other end of the room, fangs bared, snarling at the big vampire as he picked himself up off the floor. Angelus smiled, showing his fangs, and wiping a bit of blood away from his mouth.

Darla's attention shifted to Buffy, her golden eyes gleaming with anger. "Don't you knock?"

"It's a cave," Buffy pointed out. "There's no door–just some hanging beads. And it doesn't matter. We need to get everyone. And weapons, we should have weapons."

"For what?" Darla demanded, although she never took her eyes off of Angelus.

Buffy wondered if she should step in. Obviously Angelus was still attacking people, but Darla didn't seem worried. And Buffy was more worried about Spike than anything else.

"Spike," Buffy explained. "There were these soldiers and they kind of gassed me and took him. We have to get him back."

Angelus spun around to face Buffy. For a moment she thought he was going to attack her, but he only asked, "How long ago? How many were there?"

"Um, I don't know," she admitted, confused by his concern for Spike. "Fifteen minutes ago, maybe. And there were lots, but I didn't really see. They took him in a van, but if we hurry, maybe we can rescue him before they do anything bad to him."

Angelus nodded and turned to Darla, "How many minions are there?"

"Hold on," Darla said. "I want to get Spike back too, but I won't–"

"You're in charge," Angelus interrupted her. "I'm okay with that. Look I've had nothing but the occasional sappy pity fuck out of you these last few months." He slowly moved closer to her. "And you were being too sweet, so I thought if I challenged you I could get a good hard angry fuck. You know. . ." his voice softened, "I've always thought you the most beautiful when you're angry and covered in blood."

"Flatterer," Darla said, smiling. "Although, how many times do I have to tell you, if you want me to struggle and fight, all you have to do is ask."

Darla threw her arms around Angelus' neck and practically climbed him, so that her legs were wrapped around his waist, and her mouth tore away at his.

"Hello!" Buffy broke in. The last thing she wanted to witness was more violent sex between the two of them. Besides, Spike needed her. "Can we do the creepy making out later? We have to save Spike!"

"It's not that simple," Willow said from the doorway. She had been listening from her own room to the sounds of Darla and Angelus fighting, hoping that she would be invited to join the fun. "Sorry, Mistress, I heard the ruckus and I thought maybe. . ." Darla nodded that it was okay for Willow to come in, although Angelus looked at her coldly. "The Initiative has too many alarms. They'd know we were there before we got past the front door."

"I have a plan," Buffy insisted. "Well, actually it's sort of Spike's plan, except with less waiting and being cautious and more rushing in."

"More rushing in than a plan Spike came up with?" Angelus asked. "I'm not sure that's possible."

"No, you see," Buffy explained, "instead of having me break into the Initiative computers to find information on. . . whatever it was I was supposed to find out, we have Willow do it. She'll do a better job, plus-"

"I've told you," Willow interrupted. "I'll trigger the alarms, if I even walk into the office."

"Yeah, that's the point," Buffy argued. "I mean if that computer is so important then a whole bunch of them will rush over to the campus to stop you. So once you've hacked in, you can leave, and while they chase you, the rest of us break into the main compound and get Spike back."

"It won't work," Angelus said. "Breaking into the compound isn't enough. The cages they keep the demons in can't be smashed through, or ripped off. And the locks are all computerized."

"I could open them," Willow said. "There's no reason it has to be me that breaks into the office. Any vamp will trigger the alarm. The trick would be to keep them chasing you once the general alarms go off in the main base."

"So I'll do it," Angelus said grimly. "They have every reason to chase me. They're sure to want me back, since I have this piece of hardware in my head."

"Angelus," Darla implored softly.

"I'm not going to fight them," he told her. "Just keep them busy chasing me. I'm not letting those bastards torture Spike. That's my job."

"Of course, darling," she told him. "That's why I'll go with you. You need someone who can kill, and be generally distracting. And I'm good at both. Now, let's go get the minions."

Buffy looked around the room at the three vampires. They were creepy and Buffy didn't really like any of them, but they were Spike's family, and they were willing to risk themselves to help him.

It just made her feel worse. If she hadn't run off, if she'd just waited to talk to Spike, then none of this would have happened. All she had thought about was herself and Spike, and she hadn't really cared about the fact that his whole family was in danger.

Buffy promised herself she was going to put that right. She was going to free Spike and make sure the Initiative never harmed another vampire again.
 
The Initiative
 
Chapter 22: The Initiative

Slowly Spike came to, blinking several times as he tried to see in the unnaturally bright environment. His whole body still ached from the tasers the Initiative had used to capture him.

The pristine white walls that reflected the harsh fluorescent light made it seem as if the light was coming from all directions at once, and it gave him a throbbing headache. All he wanted was to crawl into a nice dark cave, sewer, or even a dungeon. Somewhere a vampire belonged.

As his eyes adjusted, he noticed there was one thing breaking up the flat surface beneath him, a hospital blood bag. Thinking a bit of blood would help his headache, he reached for it.

"I wouldn't drink that, it's drugged," an unfamiliar voice said.

Spike looked up. In a matching cell across the way was another vampire. He was young looking, a teenager when he'd been turned, and had rather floppy brown hair.

"Yeah?" Spike asked. "And who are you?" He squinted at the other vampire. There was something familiar about him although Spike couldn't recall seeing him before. Of course it was hard to think about much of anything at the moment.

"I was going to ask you that," the other vampire replied.

"Well I asked first," Spike snapped back.

He closed his eyes against the painful light. It helped him focus the rest of his senses. Which wasn't much help because the only thing he could smell in the sterile environment was himself. However, that other sense, the feeling in his bones that came from the demon, did clue him in on a couple of things. The other vampire was little more than a fledge, and he was also another member of The Order of Aurelius.

That wasn't all that surprising considering this was Darla's domain, and had been the Master's before her, so most of the vampire population in Sunnydale would be of the Aurelian line.

"You're not from around here," the annoying young git, as Spike was beginning to think of him, said.

"Aren't you bloody Sherlock Homes?" He decided it wasn't worth trying to argue over who said their name first. Besides the kid had probably heard of him, and that would make thing easier. "And the name's Spike."

"That's lame. I'm Xander."

"Hey! I'll have you know I'm legendary. I've killed two slayers, cut a bloody swath through Europe and done lots of other things that I can't think of with that damn light on."

"Yeah, well. None of that's really going to matter here. And you better get used to the light, it never goes off."

The lights blinked out.

"You were saying?" Spike snickered, sliding into game face to see in the darkness.

Xander didn't reply. As Spike watched, the brunette started to hurl himself against the plastic door to his cage. From both sides, Spike could hear other demons who were also trying to use the power outage to escape.

"Hey, genius boy," Spike yelled over the racket. "The light's being out isn't going to make this stuff any less strong. Which way does it open?"

"Left to right," Xander called back, as he stopped pounding on the plastic and tried to slide the door open.

Spike mimicked Xander's actions, trying every which way to force it open, but the smooth surface wouldn't budge.

"Bugger," Spike cursed. "The things must have gotten stuck locked when the power went down."

"Well, yeah," a familiar girl's voice said. "Otherwise any interruption in the power supply would result in a complete prison break."

"Wil?" Xander called out.

"Xander!" the red head cried out excitedly as she pressed her hand against the transparent barrier.

But Spike's attention was on her companion.

"Hey," Buffy said. "Sorry about the whole getting you captured thing."

"Tell you what," Spike said, hoping that he sounded his usual snarky self. "Get me out of here and we'll call it even."

The truth was Spike was feeling a bit emotional. He vaguely remembered the soldiers leaving Buffy behind, and although he had hoped for a rescue, he hadn't been counting on one, especially not this quickly. Or maybe he'd just been unconscious for a lot longer than he'd thought.

"Not a problem," Willow said.

She had what looked like a camcorder bag slung over her shoulder along with a pair of jumper cables. As Spike watched, she pried off the locking mechanism of Xander's cage, then she hooked one end of the jumper cables into her bag, which he realized held a car battery. Then she hooked the other end into the wires she'd exposed in the wall.

Sparks flew from the end of the jumper cables and the doors to every cell on that side jerked as the locks released. Demons shoved the doors aside and flooded into the hallway.

"That way to get out guys," Willow called out pointing to the direction she and Buffy had come from.

There was a momentary stampede, and a continual roar as the demons on Spike's side continued to rattle their cages.

"Hurry up," Buffy prodded Willow.

"Don't worry," Willow assured her. "It'll take them awhile to round up all those demons."

"Yeah, and that'll also be time for them to block off the entrance, so get a move on, Red," Spike demanded impatiently. He wasn't at all happy that Xander had been let out first.

"You know," Willow complained as she pried off the plate to his cell's lock. "You'd think you'd be happy that we went to all this trouble to rescue you, especially considering you were the one who was supposed to be the big champion and bring down the Initiative."

"Wait, you're here to rescue him?" Xander complained. "I've been in here for over a month, and you come for the bad dye job?"

"We thought you were dead," Willow said apologetically.

Then she shorted out the locks on Spike's side like she had on Xander's side.

"Think maybe this can wait until we're out of here?" Spike said, as he started to follow the new stampede of escaping demons.

"Hold on," Buffy said, pulling him against the wall to allow the demons to pass.

"Shouldn't we be escaping?" Spike asked.

"We will, just wait a moment," she told him.

Once the last of the demons had fled down the hallway Willow started heading in the opposite direction.

"I thought that was the way out?" Xander asked pointing the way the demons had gone.

"It is," Buffy told him as she followed Willow. "At least it's the main exit, so if we're luckily that's where the Initiative will try and stop all the escapees."

"So we're headed. . ." Spike prompted.

"To the cafeteria," Willow answered.

"You mean the blonde isn't a snack?" Xander said.

"Don't even think about it, whelp" Spike snarled at Xander. "And why are we headed to the cafeteria?" he asked Willow.

"Because it's next to the kitchen," she explained. "Which is next to all the food storage which is right by the loading dock."

"And that's our way out," Buffy finished. "There should be enough distractions that there should only be a few if any guards." She turned smiling to Spike. "Neat plan huh?"

"Not bad, Slayer," he agreed. "Not bad at all."
 
Sparks
 
Chapter 23: Sparks

This was bloody brilliant. In fact the more Spike thought about it, the more it almost made getting captured by the Initiative worth it. It was all he could do to hide his glee as Angelus sat nervously in an old stone chair that the Master had once used as a throne. He was only wearing some old sweats with an elastic waist band, and he watched careful as Willow finished her preparations.

"Couldn't this, I don't know, fry his brain?" Buffy asked Spike quietly.

He could tell from the expression on his grandsire's face that he was thinking much the same thing.

"No worries luv," Spike told her, unable to pass up the opportunity. "He doesn't really have much of a brain to fry."

"Boy!" Angelus growled.

Spike ignored the older vampire. Now that Angelus was more or less his old self, Spike found the urge to irritate him overwhelming. And Angelus clearly was back. While Buffy and Willow had been breaking into the Initiative's holding pens, Darla and Angelus had been keeping a good section of their forces busy above ground.

Angelus might not have been able to directly hurt the human soldiers, but he was able to distract them while Darla attacked, and led them into a series of deadly situations.

As Darla had later recounted with all of a Sire's pride, Angelus had left a string of soldiers dead or maimed. He had been able to trick them into using their weapons on each other, managed to get a couple hit by oncoming traffic, and many more had been misled into some of the more dangerous demon dens in Sunnydale.

Angelus and Darla hadn't been the only ones to enjoy a bit of carnage. As they fled from the holding cells, Spike, Buffy, Willow, and Xander had run into a few small detachments of soldiers. Spike had somewhat changed his estimation of Xander as he watched the fledge tear into the soldiers. The kid had potential even if he was a bit sloppy.

Spike had worried that Xander's viciousness would upset Buffy, but it didn't seem to faze her. Although her fighting was more controlled, she didn't hesitate to use deadly force when necessary. She did stop Xander at one point, but only because their opponents were all dead or disabled, and she pointed out that it was more important for them to get out of there than for Xander to have his revenge.

"Remember," Angelus' voice brought Spike's attention back to the present. Angelus was holding Willow's head back by her hair and generally doing his best to intimidate her. "Even with this chip, I can still hurt you, so this better work."

"It will," she assured him. "I just feel silly I didn't think of it before. The chip is a very delicate, if highly sensitive, electronic device. And it's pretty small and in a tight place," Spike snorted, a variety of comments about how much space there might be in Angleus' head coming to mind. "So I'm thinking they didn't have room to put in a surge protector. It does make you wonder how it's powered though. I mean, does it have tiny batteries? Or is it somehow using the brain's own electrical impulses to keep going? You know, if you'd just let me cut open your skull. . . "

"Get on with it!" Angelus ordered.

Willow hurried over to grab the ends of her jumper cables. As they were escaping the Initiative it had occurred to her that a high voltage current should disable the chip in Angelus' head. And Spike thought that electrocuting Angelus was just too good a show to pass up. He'd even dubbed Willow 'Electra'. After all Willow wasn't exactly a terrifying name for a vampire. And considering Darla's love of the classics, he felt that it had a fair chance of catching on.

As they all watched with morbid curiosity, Willow clipped one of the cables to Angelus' arm–Spike had suggested that the obvious place to connect the cables was Angelus' nipples, but that suggestion had been shouted down–then she touched his other shoulder with the remaining cable.

"Fuck!" Angelus cried as his back arched and his eyes went wide.

A moment later Willow broke the connection and the current.

"Angelus?" Darla asked with concern as she approached her lover.

"Yeah," was all he said as he pulled himself to his feet.

"So how do we know if it worked?" Xander asked.

Angelus smiled as his eyes fixed on the Slayer. Spike could feel a chill go down his spine at the wicked look in the Scourge of Europe's eyes.

"No," he said firmly, stepping in between the Slayer and Angelus' gaze. "Don't even think about it, mate."

"Think about what?" Angelus said in an innocent silky voice that invariably meant he was up to no good. He took a few steps towards Spike and the Slayer.

"Don't play games. I wasn't turned yesterday," Spike said moving forward a couple of steps to intercept Angelus.

Spike was so intent on Angelus that he was taken completely by surprise when he was pulled back by a small hand.

"What's the big deal?" Buffy asked. "He punches me, and we find out if the chip still works or not. It's not like I can't take a punch from him."

Spike hadn't taken his eyes off his treacherous grandsire, and he could see a hint of gold at Buffy's last words. Angelus didn't like being dismissed so easily.

"Luv, this isn't about-"

Before Spike could continue trying to talk some sense into the Slayer, Angelus interrupted him. "Come on William, my boy. She's the Slayer, she can certainly take care of herself. Doesn't need you watching out for her like a mother hen. Do you girl?"

"Whatever," Buffy said. Spike wasn't sure if she was oblivious or simply not all that interested in the show of power between the two men. "Look just take a swing at me and let's get this over with."

Buffy and Angelus moved in towards each other and Spike tried to get between them again, but Buffy was faster, and threw him back against the wall. Before he could get his feet back and intercede, it was over. Angelus took his swing at the Slayer, his fist crashing into her face. Buffy's face was forced to one side, but neither she nor Angelus cried out in pain.

"See boy?" Angelus smirked. "That wasn't so bad. The way you were acting you might have thought I intend the girl some kind of harm."

Spike growled, "You just keep it that way, mate."

Angelus smirked, and Spike had no doubt whatsoever that his grandsire already had some grand and gory plan for the Slayer. No doubt it galled him that Spike had two Slayers under his belt and Angelus had none.

There was only one thing to do. Spike was going to have to find away to get Buffy away from here before Angelus had a chance to act. Luckily the one virtue that Angelus did possess was patience, and that meant that Spike had at least a little time.

 
24
 
Chapter 24:

Previously. . .

Angelus smirked, and Spike had no doubt whatsoever that his grandsire already had some grand and gory plan for the Slayer. No doubt it galled him that Spike had two Slayers under his belt and Angelus had none.

There was only one thing to do. Spike was going to have to find away to get Buffy away from here before Angelus had a chance to act. Luckily the one virtue that Angelus did possess was patience, and that meant that Spike had at least a little time.


Spike’s attention was all on Angelus, and so he was startled when Buffy bumped into him as she turned to leave. The action confused Spike. He couldn’t imagine her running into him on accident, and she hadn’t apologized for it. If she had been a guy he might have thought she was trying to remind him how tough she was, but in his experience that was part of a male language that women thought beneath them.

He turned to follow her as he tried to puzzle it out. He didn’t like the idea of her wandering the lair now that Angelus was himself again. In the few moments he had stood pondering her actions she had moved swiftly down the tunnel towards her room. He almost had to run to keep up with her.

“What’s the rush?” he asked. “You’re not thinking of leaving again are you?”

She stopped and turned around to face him. He could clearly see that she was angry. “What if I was?” she asked.

“I. . .” Spike wasn’t sure exactly what was wrong, so he didn’t know how to make it better. The best he could do was stumble over a neutral question. “I’d want to know why?” he asked weakly.

“Doesn’t really matter does it? We pretty much destroyed the army guys. So you don’t need me anymore.” She turned away from him and started down the tunnel again.

Acting on instinct Spike grabbed her hand and said, “What if I do need you?” As soon as the words left his mouth he cursed himself for being a ponce.

She had stopped and turned halfway back to him, when he took her hand. He could feel her squeeze his hand gently, but she was looking at the floor avoiding his eyes.

“For what?” she asked quietly.

Spike didn’t know exactly what was happening or what she wanted from him. But he could feel that if he said or did the wrong thing she was going to walk away. So he did the only thing he knew how and went all in.

He used the hand that was holding hers to pull her closer, and the other hand to turn her face towards him. Without giving her time to react he kissed her, praying that it was the right thing to do.

The moment their lips touched she leaned into him, moulding her body into his form. They exchanged a series of gentle brief kisses. Both of the testing the other, neither quite ready to push further forward.

After a few minutes they pulled back slightly. Spike looked down into her clear green eyes and said, “Maybe we should get out of here.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“I’m not doing this,” Buffy complained through the bathroom door.

“Come on, luv, just open the door and come out,” Spike asked her.

“No,” she said firmly before adding, “why do we have to go out anyway?”

“Because that’s what people do,” Spike replied. There was a slight pause. “How about if you come out, we don’t have to go anywhere?” he asked hopefully.

Buffy considered that option. The problem was, it wasn’t the going out that was bothering her, although she wasn’t sure why they were going out, or what they were doing period.

After Spike had kissed her, things had gotten kind of dizzying. Before she really knew what was happening, Spike had her packing and next thing she knew they were headed to L.A.

It had all seemed like a good idea at the time, but as she looked at herself in the mirror, the dark caves beneath Sunnydale felt more and more like home. Spike had told her they were going out and had handed her a red tank top and a pair of black leather pants.

The pants were fine, they felt comfortable and reassuring to her like her old armor. But she had only bought the red tank top because at the time it had been easier than arguing with Harmony over it; she had never meant to wear it.

As she looked in the mirror the only part of her reflection she saw was the scars that ran up and down her arms, vivid reminders of the years she’d spent fighting for her life in The Circle.

She was hideous, and there was no way she could let Spike see her like that.

“Look, luv you have to come out sooner or later. . .” Spike started.

“Says who?” Buffy insisted, stubbornly.

Again there was silence from the other side of the door.

Buffy sighed with relief, it seemed like Spike had given up. Then she heard a loud snap and the door swung open, the broken doorknob rattling slightly.

“Hey!” she yelled as she grabbed for a towel, hoping to cover up her arms before Spike saw.

Spike tried to stop her, but she managed to cross her arms firmly over her chest and he couldn’t pry them apart.

“What’s the matter, luv?” he finally settled on asking.

At first she refused to answer him or look him in the eye, hoping that he’d just give up and go away. But Spike was stubborner than her, he just stood there patiently waiting for her to speak.

“I’m not pretty,” she finally said, pouting.

He barked out a laugh, and she would have hit him if that wouldn’t have required her letting go of the towel. Instead she kicked him lightly in the shin.

“Hey!” he shouted. “I wasn’t laughing at you,” he insisted. “Well, okay I was,” he admitted. “But only because you’re either daft or blind if you don’t realize just how pretty you are. In fact I’d have to say you’re gorgeous, luv.”

“Liar,” she said softly, although she wanted to believe him.

He put his arms on her shoulders and turned her so that she was facing the mirror.

“You’re not there,” she gasped surprised.

“What? No course not. Vampire, no reflection, but that’s not the point. In fact, it’s rather perfect, ‘cause it’s you I want you to see.” He ran the back of his hand down the side of her face. “Look at yourself, luv. You’re beautiful.”

There was a party of Buffy that knew he was right. A part that remembered what it was like to be the head cheerleader and the most popular girl in school. But it was hard for her to see that girl.

“No,” she said, softly, “I’m not.”

She let the towel fall to the floor, revealing the criss-cross of scars on her arms. If her face was still pretty it was mostly because she’d learned quickly that it was better to stop a claw or blade with your arm than let it reach your head.

“What? Because of these,” he asked. He bent down and kissed one of the scars on her upper arm. The gentle brush of his lips sent shivers through her. “These aren’t ugly. They’re marks of honor, pet. You shouldn’t hide them away.”

She turned in his arms to face him right as he bent down to kiss her arm again. The movement forced him to pull back a bit and left his face only inches from hers.

“You’re kind of a freak, you know?” she asked gently.

“Probably, luv, but it’s better than being normal.”

“I don’t want to go out tonight,” she told him.

He smiled and leaned in to kiss her lightly on the lips. “I think I could be convinced to change my plans,” he said.
 
Chapter 25
 
Chapter 25:

Spike was aware of nothing but sweet yielding flesh as he and Buffy kissed and moved back into the bedroom. They tumbled gently onto the bed, and Spike was just starting to reach for the hem of Buffy’s top when she stopped him.

Silently, Spike cursed whatever god seemed to want to keep him from being laid.

“Something wrong, luv?” he asked gently.

She nibbled nervously on her bottom lip completely unaware of the way that teased him.

“Are you sure you’re okay with. . . this?” she asked.

“Pretty sure,” he said and leaned into kiss her again.

But she stopped him again. “But I mean after everything that happened back when you were. . . you know my slave, how can you . . ?”

Spike could help but laugh a little, which he knew was wrong, but her nervous guilt was almost endearing, except for the part where it was keeping him from getting what he wanted.

“Luv, have you been paying attention at all the last few weeks? I’m a vampire. Dominance, violence, and sex are part of the package.” He could see she was about to object. So he switched tactics. “Doesn’t mean we can’t be gentle though.”

Before she could form her objection he kissed her, letting his tongue slowly explore her mouth. As she began to relax into his arms he lifted his leg and gently pressed it up between hers, until little moans escaped her throat.

Once he was sure that she was thoroughly occupied by the kiss and that the last of her resistance had faltered, he pulled back.

“Maybe it’s time the two of us got a fresh start, yeah?” he asked. “A new life. How does that sound?”

She closed her eyes for a second and licked his taste off her lips. “That sounds good,” she agreed.

Smiling at having won this little battle, and satisfied that there wouldn’t be any further interruptions, Spike leaned down to begin kissing her again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spike brushed a lock of hair away from Buffy’s face as she slept. The gentle movement of her chest as she breathed in and out was enthralling to him, as was the heat that seeped from her body into his. In fact he was enraptured by all of her.

It was too bad they couldn’t stay in L.A, he thought. He could have shown her a good time here. But the longer they stayed, the easier it would be for Angelus to find them. They had a few days he was pretty sure. Now that Angelus was free of both the soul and the chip, he would indulge himself in a massacre or two. Luckily the old sod liked to take his time with his killing, so even if he noticed that Spike and the Slayer had left, he probably wouldn’t chase them down right away.

Spike bent down to kiss Buffy’s exposed neck, and smiled as she snuggled deeper into his arms. This Slayer was his, and there was no way he was letting Angelus touch a hair on her head.

New York would be a great place to take her, he thought. There was a lot of fun he could show her there, bring her back out into the world. On the other hand, the mid-west was rather boring, and it was between them and The Big Apple.

Maybe they’d head south instead. Carnival was only about a month off, and that might be a good time to teach the Slayer how to indulge in life.

He played over various scenarios in his head, ignoring all the complications that might arise in life between a vampire and a slayer. Spike was sure of one thing only, this wasn’t a chance he would get again, so he would hold on as tightly as he could for as long as possible. Someday he’d go back to his family, face up to whatever punishment Angelus would cook up for him. But for right now, all he wanted was to share some fun with the girl in his arms, and teach her that it was the moment that really mattered.

The End