Chapter 27: Liberation.
Buffy took the front, leading the group through the tunnels and towards one of the many hidden entrances to the Initiative complex. Giles, Willow and Xander followed in a line behind her, with Angel taking up the rear. As they neared their entry point, noises from within began to reach their ears.
Lifting a hand to still the movement of the group, Buffy whispered over her shoulder at Angel. “How many?”
Angel’s vampiric hearing allowed him to eavesdrop with ease on the small group of vampires that were standing sentinel just around the corner from where they were hiding in the shadows. He counted the voices, hearing three but it was possible that there were more.
He lifted a hand with three fingers extended, and then shook his hand from side to side. Buffy understood what he was trying to explain and nodded, acknowledging his response before she signaled back that the two of them would take them out.
Angel swept passed the others, directing them with a look to stay behind. Speaking with each other in sign the pair quickly separated, Buffy sticking to the shadows of the tunnel whilst Angel walked right out into the open.
The sentinels spotted him immediately eliciting a chorus of ‘heys!’ which echoed down the tunnel as the moved forward to investigate.
When they passed Buffy without realizing, she leapt out from the shadows. The five vampires were effectively caught between her and Angel now. As recognition of the slayer dawned in their eyes, mouths turned up into snarls and fists began to swing.
Angel’s own face shifted into game and as one, the slayer and the vampire attacked. They needed to dispose of the guards quickly and quietly. If their presence was detected by any of the vamps in the inner compound it would make their attack less of a surprise and more like walking into a trap.
Buffy took out her frustration on the face of the first vampire to charge her, slamming her stake into his chest even as his hands flew up to cup his broken and bleeding nose. The second vampire caught a right hook to the cheek followed by a roundhouse kick to the midsection, which sent him flying into the vampire that Angel had been pounding on. He proceeded to stake both vampires that were now on the ground, only to be tackled by a third.
Left with only one opponent, Buffy made quick work of him. But not before she slammed his face into her knee and practically dislocated his shoulder.
Seeing the compromising position that Angel was in, currently being straddled and pinned by his opponent, Buffy stepped forward and slammed her stake into the back of the female vampire. She offered a hand to Angel through the dust of the combusting vampire that was still swirling in the air.
Signaling to the others, they crept towards the entrance to the compound.
Spike’s head lolled to the side as he struggled to stay conscious. Darla had done a right good job of messing him up. When she had plunged the make-shift stake into his chest he thought he was done for, that it was all over. At that precise moment an image of Buffy floated through his mind and he had lost consciousness with the comfort of knowing that her face, even if only imagined, would be the last thing he would ever see.
And then he had woken up, and he had almost wished that the bitch had staked him. Blood was pouring freely down his chest from the gaping wound, care of Darla. He knew that if he didn’t feed soon, or if the bleeding from his wounds wasn’t slowed, he wasn’t going to live much longer. Decapitation, sunlight, holy water, wood through the heart… these were all effective in killing his kind. A little known fact was that they could also die from extreme blood loss.
He didn’t think he had much time…
They breached the inner sanctum as stealthily as possible, Xander, Willow and Giles taking up position just inside their entrance point. The activity in the main cavern was minimal, which worked in their favor. But there were still enough vampires on guard that their presence would be detected almost instantly once they stepped out from their hiding place.
“There’s no easy way to do this.” Buffy whispered, stating the obvious as she searched for a route less populated.
“I’ll create a diversion, you just get to Spike.” Angel said calmly as he began to rise from his hiding place.
“Angel!” Buffy hissed. “What if you run into Darla? She has the dagger, you can’t just…”
“I’ll be fine.” Angel said cutting of her worried little rant. “Just get him out of here.”
Before she could argue Angel leapt from their hiding place behind the large shipping crate which hid their entrance point, and ran towards the first guard and staked him from behind. The shout of pain that slipped from the vampire’s mouth as he dusted alerted the others to Angel’s arrival, and as one the group converged on him.
“Back him up!” Buffy directed to Giles as she shot out from behind her point of cover and ran towards the entrance to the laboratories.
Giles lifted himself to the elevated height on top of a small packing crate and began firing into the crowd of vampires that were amassing in the atrium with his crossbow.
Buffy met her third obstacle just inside what used to be the high security section of the laboratories of the compound. The pair of vampires were quickly disposed of, but not before she received a good hit to the head, which momentarily stunned her. Slightly dizzied she continued down the hallway.
An alarm sounded, ringing loudly throughout the complex. Someone must have tripped it. Knowing that her time was now limited she began sprinting down the corridor, shouting as she ran only slowing to check the doors.
She threw open a door and was met with an empty room. She tried to next and found it empty also.
“SPIKE! WHERE ARE YOU?”
The third door she tried was locked. She twisted the handle as hard as she could but there was no way she was going to be able to bust through the reinforced steel. He was in there… he had to be. Almost certain that she had found his cell she took off at a sprint further down the hallway in search of someone who might have a key to the door.
She didn’t have to travel that far. A few feet ahead of her, walking out from another room, was a very familiar face.
“Jake.” Buffy snarled when she recognised him.
The vampire turned at the sound of his name, shock at the sight of the slayer before him, stunning him for a moment before a weak smile crossed his face. “Buffy? Hey. How’s it going?”
Buffy took two steps forward and slammed her fist into his face. “KEY. Give it to me, NOW.” She demanded.
“Key?” he repeated, trying for ignorance.
That was a big mistake.
Buffy’s fist shot out again, slamming into his jaw, the hit sending him flying against the wall behind him. One hand reached out and grabbed him by his throat and pinned him there, whilst the other held a stake pressed hard against his chest.
“Key. Give it to me, now.” She said more calmly this time, her tone threatening.
Jake didn’t doubt for a second that she would do it. “Key, right.” He squeaked out, finding it hard to speak considering that his voice box was currently being crushed beneath the grasp of the slayer.
Buffy relaxed her hold on his throat, gripping him by the collar of his shirt instead. “Unlock the door, now.” She ordered as she dragged him towards the door in question.
Jake gulped as he fumbled in his pockets for the key. Darla was going to be furious. No, furious was an understatement. If he lived past the next few minutes, he was going to have to try and convince his mistress that the escape of the captive was not his fault.
“The guards, what happened to them?” he inquired as he slid the key into the lock.
Buffy raised a brow in response as if saying what-do-you-think?
“Just wondering why you didn’t take their key from them before you dusted them.” He continued as he twisted the key in the lock and pushed the door open.
With all of her strength Buffy shoved Jake head first at the wall, feeling momentary satisfaction when the smart ass collapsed to the ground unconscious. She had the mind to dust him, and was preparing to strike when a pained cry came from within the room just opened. All thoughts of vengeance fled her mind as she rushed into the room.
“More bolts!” Giles demanded as he thrust a hand behind him towards Willow.
Willow scrambled for the requested items and handed a couple of them to Giles. She was worried for Buffy, and hoped that she was okay. And she was also worried for Angel. He was greatly outnumbered and if not for Giles’ excellent marksmanship with the crossbow he would likely have fallen.
Please hurry Buffy…
“There has been a breach!”
Darla rolled her eyes at the minion who appeared at the doorway to the room that she had nested in. The sounding alarms had alerted her of that fact. She was certain it was the slayer and her band of hangers-on that had stormed the complex, and the fact that they were here indicated that they knew a lot more than she had hoped.
It also meant that she had to get out of here quickly if she wanted to make her escape alive. Pointing at her belongings the pair of vampires who were standing guard at her door instantly stepped inside the room and gathered her possessions.
Deciding it was best to arm herself Darla reached for her weapon and loaded it up. The slayer had fired one of these at her the last time they had met. She figured it was time to repay the favor.
“Spike!” Buffy called a second time as she rushed into the room and fell to her knees by his side. He was unresponsive.
Her eyes filled with tears when she took in the many wounds that he had been inflicted with, most notably the gaping hole in his chest. She needed to stop the bleeding before she moved him. Scrambling to her feet she threw open the solitary cupboard which was situated by the door, throwing the contents over her head and onto the floor in her search for a bandage of some sort.
But there was nothing there. Suppressing the urge to scream in frustration she moved back to his side. His arms were manacled over his head, which would only be increasing the amount of blood that was seeping from his many wounds. There were deep cuts in a crosshatch pattern all over his chest, and several stab wounds on the underside of both arms.
His face was bruised and beaten, his left eye swollen over and his lip was split. And his skin… she gasped when she realized that it was much to pink for a vampire’s skin. And it wasn’t because of bloodstaining. No… he had been burned.
Moving him was going to be incredibly painful for him, but it had to be done.
Her hands flew to his left arm, tugging on the manacle. Adrenaline coursed through her as her panic increased. It wasn’t going to give way with just pulling on it. Her eyes scanned the room and fell to the tray of what were obviously torture implements. There, in the middle of the tray, was a small gold key.
Grabbing it from the tray she slid it into the lock on the manacle, holding her breath in hope that it would work. When it did a gasp of surprise left her lips and she slowly lowered his arm, which fell limply by his side. She made quick work of releasing his other arm.
Now that he was free she had to do something about that chest wound. Since the room was void of any medical supplies, she was going to have to make do with what she had on her, namely a long sleeved shirt. Grabbing at the shoulder of it, she tore at the seam, the material sliding down her arm. She repeated the process on the other side and then ripped them both in half lengthways so that she had four long strips. Tying them together so that she now had one long piece of material, she quickly began wrapping it around Spike’s torso.
Her touches must have pained him because a gasp left his throat and a moment later his eyes fluttered open.
“Buffy…” he mumbled in disbelief.
Angel grunted in pain when a random fist connected with the side of his jaw. He was greatly outnumbered, and the ringing of that damned alert siren was doing his head in. He just hoped that Buffy was okay, and that she would be coming out soon.
He didn’t know how much longer he could hold off the vampires that were attacking him.
“Yes Spike it’s me.” She confirmed. She finished tying the makeshift bandage, sorry that the pressure was causing him pain. It was a temporary fix, and the wound would need to be treated properly, soon. But right now it would have to do.
“No…” he shook his head in disbelief. He was dreaming this. She wasn’t here; she was a figment of his imagination. “No, no you’re not… I’m dreaming…”
“No Spike, I’m here. And I didn’t come alone.” She informed him. “The others are here too.”
“Others?” he repeated, a moment later decided that it wasn’t important. She was here. Really here. Panic swept through him when he realized what that meant. She would be in danger if she stayed here any longer. She needed to leave, the sooner the better. “Buffy… you need to get out of here… Darla…”
His face contorted in pain as he felt himself being lifted from the floor. Buffy was by his side, holding him up, most of his weight leaning on her. A second later he began to slip from her grasp as his knees buckled beneath him.
“Leave… Buffy just get out of here. I’m too weak...”
He tried to push her away from him but said weakness made his intended shove come out as more of a nudge.
Buffy lowered him to the ground softly and knelt before him. He was right. He was too weak. And she wouldn’t be able to carry him out here by herself. She was left with few choices, but Buffy knew what she had to do.
Reaching at the tray again she grabbed a scalpel and pressed the blade into the palm of her hand, a short cry of pain escaping her lips as it dug into her flesh.
Spike smelled her blood instantly, his face shifting into its vampiric form involuntarily. “Buffy what did you do?” he gasped.
She lifted her palm towards his face but he turned his face away from her.
Realizing that time was an issue here, and that she needed him to co-operate she grabbed his face with both her hands and leaned forward, pressing her lips against his in a gentle kiss.
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