Chapter 13, in which Spike and Buffy each do something difficult, and Willow does something easy.
“I’m having trouble figuring it,” Buffy said. “I mean, it’s clear Riley’s lying, but how much? I mean, does he know about the commandos? Is he involved with them? Or did he just deliver Spike to someone, and doesn’t really know any details?”
“Well, it is at Lowell House itself,” Willow said. “Which would make you think that Riley would be more involved than just... here’s a nice vamp for you. Have a nice day.”
“Well,” Tara said. She cringed when everyone looked at her. “Um. Well. I just think... Riley’s not your ordinary T.A. But, have any of you looked at P-Professor Walsh?”
This was the first anyone had said anything about her.
Willow got excited. “Oh, hey, yeah!” she said. “Professor Walsh did have a few papers on the psychology of occult followers.”
Giles rolled his eyes. “I’ve read enough psychological treatises on people who tried to dismiss my life’s work as delusional claptrap.”
“No, but she didn’t,” Willow said. She ran over to her laptop and opened it. “She got into some of the psychology of the myths of demons themselves. She has it all couched in terminology as if they were mythological creatures, but now that I think of it, a lot of her conclusions sounded pretty spot on. Giles, could you get me one of your demon bestiaries?”
Willow pulled up Professor Walsh’s academic papers, and connected the “purely mythological” psychological corollaries to the actual demons in Giles’ books. “See? The sisterhood of Jhe, the Mok’tagar, hellhounds. She’s claiming they’re all symbolic of human hunger or power or social constriction, but all the details are all completely accurate.”
“Okay, so Maggie Walsh has the lowdown on the demons,” Buffy said. “What’s that mean?”
“It means that she knows a great deal more than she’s pretending to in these papers,” Giles said. “And with her own teaching assistant seeming to keep a vampire prisoner–”
“Do we really think Spike’s a prisoner?” Xander interrupted. “Could there be some other explanation?” He sounded more hopeful than convinced.
“I think he’s a prisoner,” Buffy said. “He was before, and he said the compound was on campus. Underground. Do you think it could be beneath Lowell House?”
“It is possible,” Willow said. “I went and looked up the history of the house as soon as I got to Giles’. It’s old, and it was connected to the tunnels. And the old surveyor’s records say something about a natural cave formation under the campus.”
“Okay, so, what do we know?” Buffy said, pacing. “Spike’s missing. Riley lied about bringing him to Willy’s. He seems to be in Riley’s frat house. Riley’s professor knows a lot about demons and vampires.” She looked up. “It’s all coming back to Riley.”
“So what do we do.”
“We’ll sit down and come up with a plan. But first step? I think I have to get close to Riley. Not so close he’d tell me everything he’s doing, just... enough to let his guard down. Maybe I can learn something.”
“Well, how do you think you can arrange for that?” Giles asked.
Buffy looked at him. “Giles? They’re called boobs.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t have anywhere else to go,” Buffy said, her face white. “I couldn’t go home. I... I just had to lie down. Riley... it was... it was... there are no words. We were at it for hours,” she moaned. “He was insatiable. I’ve never known anyone who could take that much in that short amount of time. The stamina on that guy! Even with slayer strength, I don’t think I could have taken much more. I mean, I tried to tell him I was tired, and he just kept pushing and pushing, over and over and over again. And he must have been able to tell I wasn’t enjoying it, I mean, how could anyone not see it? I tried to get away, and I just couldn’t. He just kept forcing it on me, and I could not escape. I’m traumatized.” She half rolled over and looked up at Willow. “One more boring corn-fed story of farm life in Iowa, and I thought my brain was going to melt!”
“Was it that bad?” Willow asked, as Tara started the coffee pot.
Buffy sat up. “He wouldn’t shut up! He wouldn’t shut up, and it was all about him. And, you know, it wasn’t even really all about him, because he was lying through his teeth. And not very well, really. You know that thing I do when I’m trying not to do slayer talk around the uninitiated? When I say something totally random because it doesn’t really match what I was going to say? He does that a lot. And when he does, he just – stops. He can’t even be funny about it. And then, every time, every single bloody time, he goes back to his childhood in god damn Iowa!”
“Do you know what they eat at the Iowa State Fair?” Buffy asked. “Butter. Butter on a stick. Deep fat fried sticks of butter. And I thought Spike and the blood was bad. Even hearing about it, I nearly hurled. And he honestly told me I should try it, as if he was promising me a big treat. I’d rather drink blood myself!”
“Try it? In.. Iowa?”
“I don’t know what he was thinking, of inviting me back there with him, or finding some sadistic deep fry cook to make it here, or what,” Buffy said. “I don’t know if he’s already got the dog and the white picket fence picked out, or if this is just his usual come-on with girls, the whole Home Boy routine. I mean, nothing he said was really out of line, it was just... I didn’t care. And I had to keep pretending I did, and fluttering my eyes, and meaningly touching his hand, and... ugh.” She rubbed her eyes. “I am so exhausted. I had to keep coming up with ways of telling him that was fascinating, and please, tell me more of his wonderful life story, and it was all cows and corn and ain’t that America, and... his parents are Republicans. Card carrying Republicans. Not, I liked what that candidate had to say. No, those guys would have voted for the mayor as a snake, if he had a big R tacked on the end of his ballot.”
She leaned forward toward Willow. “And the awful thing is, I think if I hadn’t spent these last six months with Spike, I might have really bought all that bollocks. How it’s really the great American dream to settle down, and serve your country, and love Jesus. I mean, it’s so clean and fresh and sunny and... it’s like the absolute opposite of Angel, and you know I was looking for that. I was buying it! You remember? I was following him out to picnics in the sun, and he was promising to drive me through the country – probably stopping at all the All-American Truck Stops on the way – and I was buying all that tripe! Do you know, he goes to church, every damn Sunday? While I’m sleeping in enjoying a well earned slayer break, that guy is getting dressed up in a suit and tie and poncing off to Praise Jesus!”
Willow frowned at her. “Poncing?”
“I heard more about different kinds of guns and ammo than I ever wanted to know. He really thinks guns are the way to solve the world’s problems.”
“Um... well... you carry a stake.”
“Yeah, but I don’t think there should be open-carry stake laws, and that the only way to stop a bad guy with a stake is a good guy with a stake, so lets give all the random civilians stakes and have an old-west style free for all,” Buffy snapped. She stopped. “And I did just say poncing, didn’t I.”
“Yep,” Willow said.
Buffy fell back onto the bed. “It’s official,” she said to the ceiling. “I’ve lived too long with Spike. I am never gonna be the normal girl. It’s done.”
“But did you get what you needed?” Willow asked.
Buffy sat up. “I think I did, yeah. Not from Riley, from one of his buddies. I kept him talking until after midnight, and I escaped to the bathroom. I think his friends thought I’d already left. There was some really crazy elevator with like some kind of light scanner hidden behind a mirror. There’s something down there, and it’s military. In style, anyway. It’s Lowell House, all of them, everyone in it. They’re the commandoes.” Buffy rolled her eyes. “And even after I’d figured that, Riley wouldn’t let me leave for another two hours! Not without blowing my cover that I think he’s the most boring iron scarecrow in the freaking world.”
“It sounds dire,” Tara said with a small smirk.
“So, we’re thinking covert operation?” Willow asked.
“No! No more military talk. Riley told me all about joining the army before he came to work with Professor Walsh. If I have to hear one more patriotic save the ‘Mericans call of duty speech, I think I’m gonna heave.”
“Okay,” Willow said. “Are we gonna sneak in?” she asked instead.
“I don’t know. I’ll bet they’re armed to the teeth. I can’t come up with a good plan.”
“I think I can,” Willow said. “Giles and I had an idea while you were off Riley baiting.”
“Well, they’re after demons, right?” Willow said. “So I let myself get captured.”
Buffy shook her head. “No. Absolutely not, no.”
“You should hear her out,” Tara said. “It’s good.”
“Willow, it’s too dangerous!”
“They can’t kill me,” Willow said. “I still belong to D’Hoffryn.”
“But didn’t you just lose all your powers?”
“No, I just can’t use them for anything other than vengeance,” Willow said. “So I can’t teleport down there. But if I let myself get captured, go down and learn everything I can, then I can teleport off to a vengeance gig once I’ve learned all I need. There’s always someone wanting vengeance somewhere in the world – I can feel them all around if I close my eyes. I can go whenever. When I’m done dispensing justice, I can teleport back home again, safe and sound.”
“No, Willow, it’s not safe. Riley knows you.”
Willow laughed, and her face fell into its lines of power. They were deeper than usual, and looked pretty hideous. “Does he know me now?” Willow asked.
“Your hair’s pretty distinctive,” Buffy pointed out.
“We can dye that,” Willow said. She went human face again. “Put me in the traditional dark cowl, and they’ll never know it was me.”
“Willow, this is really dangerous. All we know is that they cut into Spike’s head and tortured him a bit.”
“He didn’t say anything about torture.”
“Not while we were questioning him, no,” Buffy said. “He told me later.” Spike was always brushing off all the torture he’d gone through in his life. It had hurt Buffy’s heart when she... loved him... like she didn’t anymore. Couldn’t, anymore. Didn’t want to anymore. It still hurt her heart. “I’m really not sure you should do this.”
“I have to,” Willow said. “I feel really guilty for getting you into this spot with Spike in the first place. I have to do something.”
Buffy frowned, and finally turned to Tara. “What do you think about this?” she asked. “I mean, Willow’s your... I mean... you care about Willow. Don’t you think it’s too dangerous for her?”
Tara seemed to search for words for a minute. “Buffy... I don’t think you know how powerful Willow really is, right now. Yeah, D’Hoffryn’s mad at her, but... really. They’re not going to be able to hurt her seriously. It’s not really dangerous, because... there is no really dangerous. Not for her.”
“What if your amulet is stolen? Broken? Doesn’t that hold all your power?”
“Sort of. But Anya was an idiot for taking hers off,” Willow said frankly. “Everyone in Arashmaharr says part of her really wanted to go be human. She was pretty ancient, for a vengeance demon. Anyway, I’ll just swallow my amulet before I go in. Then they can’t take it off me.”
“That’s kind of icky.”
Willow smiled. “I can just reconstruct it around my neck again the next time I teleport somewhere. You’re really not getting it, Buffy.”
“But what if they have some kind of magical demony... stopping thing.”
Willow laughed. “I’ll be following the call of duty, as your Riley says.”
“He is not my Riley. He is never going to be my Riley! Ugh!”
“Well, anyway. Buffy, if I’m on full vengeance powers, I can reorder the world. D’Hoffryn won’t allow me to be trapped. I can create new dimensions. If they’re trying to stop me from going to do vengeance, I can break everything and everyone in my path. I told you. It’s a lot of power. I’ll learn as much as I can, I’ll do as much damage as possible on the way out, and in the confusion you can go in, and find Spike.”
Buffy frowned. “If it’s just vengeance... couldn’t you extract vengeance on Riley, for lying to me? I mean, we did go on that date.”
“I’m afraid the attack has to be personal,” Willow said. She looked at Buffy a moment. “It isn’t. You don’t even feel betrayed. I don’t think I could do vengeance for Spike or any of their captives, either. This isn’t personal, it’s military. This is war. I can’t do vengeance for acts of war. Riley would have to betray a love or a friendship, something intimate to you. You weren’t close enough when he lied to you. Six months ago, yeah, maybe I could have. But not now.”
“But you can still teleport out of there?”
“So long as I’m going to a vengeance gig somewhere, yeah. And there’s always a vengeance gig, somewhere in the world.”
Buffy considered it. It really did seem reasonable, if Willow had as much power as she said. “You really think it’ll work?”
“Trust me. These guys don’t know the first thing about demons.”
“The demons of the vampire class are a study in contradictions. They are supposedly dead human corpses, reanimated by demonic energy, but you see the amount of life and vigor they frequently display? They sleep and mate and can even eat human food. They are immortal, stronger than humans, and at the same time astoundingly fragile. Half of every day must be spent in seclusion, hidden from the sun. It does not merely hurt them, it will completely annihilate them. The entire world is their lethal poison. Their presence is, in some ways, inimical to life, but the world itself is inimical to them.
“Now, the question arises: Are they intelligent? In some, their intelligence echos human patterns. In others, the demonic side clearly takes precedence. These are little more than animals, speaking in rudimentary language, unable to plan beyond see, want, attack. Subject 17 is clearly one of the former. The Initiative allows the captured HSTs to retain the trappings they themselves don, to illustrate this fact. In most cases, the vampires dress themselves, a vestige of humanity they seem unable or unwilling to shake. But in many cases, the creatures are unable to maintain the dignity of dress, unable to keep said clothing clean or in repair. The average VC takes the common appearance of its demonic nature, its eyes yellow, its face contorted, and camouflages itself in human guise only to stalk its primary prey, humanity.
“There are some VC’s, however, who seem to retain, or display, more humanity. Their natural behavior is to live in human guise, their faces at neutral, and display fangs and demonic affect only when actively feeding or attacking. Their clothing and their dens reflect human tastes. Their intellect, when interrogated, seems to follow human patterns.
“Subject 17 is a prime example of this latter behavior. Records of neutral behavior in captivity show him at rest in human guise. This is rare – only one out of ten of the captured VC’s on record seem to follow this behavior. Are these human-like behaviors learned? Do they arise over time? Is it age that creates this, or is it something more innate? Is it intelligence? Breeding? They are clearly of the same species, but are these humanoid vampires of a different strain? These questions have never been answered scientifically, and it is the role of the Initiative to research, and hopefully find answers.”
Maggie Walsh looked out the glass wall at the arena below. The blood and viscera of the last study had been properly cleared away, and the prototype waited in standby. She paused a minute to admire her handiwork. Adam was her masterpiece. Adam – the first man, the alpha, beginning. She was rather proud of her creation. She was glad that she had not accelerated the 314 project, as she had been tempted to do. Those last five months had been key to the project. She had discovered some residual demonic tendencies in the prototype, which had since been purged or replaced completely, leaving the creature more controllable.
The trouble was, its fighting style appeared to be somewhat predictable now, something the violent demonic implants were supposed to counter. Since the prototype’s initial function – the one Maggie told the government about – was supposed to be for use in combat, Adam’s lack of ingenuity and aptitude in actual combat situations threatened the project. They were attempting to rectify this flaw in the arena, using various demons to train the prototype on different combat methods. Subject 17 had been one of the most useful subjects for this retraining, a VC skilled in rough hand to hand combat, and Maggie Walsh had been careful to preserve it. She was so proud of Riley for having captured the creature. It must have taken true resourcefulness to track its movements.
Walsh pressed the button on the intercom as soon as the workers cleared it, and left the prototype his weapon – in this case a stake. “The arena is secure,” she said to the operatives. “Send in subject 17.”
While Spike fought worse. He was getting so weary. He closed his eyes and searched for his strength... and there she was. A lithe, dancing, evocative form, her sweet body sweating under the exertion. The four of them at the Bronze, himself, Buffy, Xander and his bird, taking a well earned night out. His hands on Buffy’s hips, half on the fabric of her skirt, partly on her hot skin, pulling her against him as they swayed in the night. That night. That hot night, as the music pulled them closer and closer until finally he dragged her to a dark corner against the wall, and teased her into another kind of dance, all hidden in his coat, keeping his movements with the music so that anyone who wasn’t looking too close could think they were still just dancing. She’d been so flushed that night, so shocked, so wildly turned on by this all-but-public act which she’d never have allowed herself with any but the Big Bad....
“You are Hostile 17,” said the calm voice of his Terminator-esque opponent. “My orders are to eliminate your eminent threat.”
“Your witless banter leaves a lot to be desired, tinman,” Spike said. He sighed. “What I wouldn’t give for a stupid pun.”
“Guess it’s time to give those commandoes a little demonstration,” Buffy said.
Tara and Willow frowned at her. Xander shook his head.
“Not clever enough?” Buffy asked. “Was it the delivery?”
“Look, I know my part,” Willow said. Her distinctive red hair had been washed in temporary black dye, which hadn’t taken right, and seemed to make a rather sickly green. It looked absolutely gruesome, but it didn’t look like Willow, so they’d all figured, just go with it. “But can you pull off yours?”
Buffy sighed. She’d put the largest weapons she could fit into her backpack – a mace, her smallest crossbow, and a couple of stakes – and put on her favorite slaying halter. She opened her eyes wide and tried to look stupid. “Um... is... is Riley here? Um. I just... could I wait for him? I won’t be any trouble. I just... I just wanna see him.” She slightly pouted her high-glossed lips. Tara giggled, remembering Buffy’s ire of the night before. “Good enough?” she asked. “I’ll hang out in the hall, looking like the abandoned girlfriend, and when I get the signal, pow.” She punched an invisible doorway.
“So, have we figured out what the signal is?” Xander asked.
“If it isn’t you coming back with a new perfect plan,” Buffy said to Willow, “I’m betting it’ll be alarms, screaming, or gunfire.”
“I’ll do as much damage as I can,” Willow said. “But if they just let me go, it might not be much. If you get no signal at all, just wait! That’ll mean I was just allowed to pop off, and they’re still just as armed and dangerous as ever. I’ll try to find a really quick vengeance and get back to you as soon as I can with all the info I got. It might take anywhere from five minutes to an hour.”
“Gotcha,” Buffy said.
“I just can’t believe we’re going to all this trouble for Spike,” Willow said.
“He’s different, Will,” Xander said. “Love tempered the guy. Made him... well, I won’t go so far as to say nice or anything, but he had his moments. Few of them, and far between, and they always made me blink and go, huh? But they were there.”
Buffy knew this was just Xander being a guy. He and Spike really had had their moments in the last six months.
“Yeah, but... mortal enemy and all.”
“Hey, that bit I get,” Xander said. “Remember Cordelia? I could have slaughtered her no trouble at all.”
“So could I,” Willow muttered, and then looked guilty. She really had slaughtered people in the last six months. She turned around and lifted her cowl. “There,” she said. She turned back completely demoned up. “How do I look?”
Xander, who had cringed, gulped. “Um... you look great, Will. Remind me never to get on your bad side.”
“My bad side is fine. Don’t get on anyone else’s,” Willow said. “I do remember Cordelia.”
“Enough memory lane,” Buffy snapped. “Xander, give her the walkie-talkie, so I can know if they’ve even caught her.”
“They’re after me!” Willow announced, testing it.
“Wait until they are, Will,” Buffy said. “Okay. Places.” Buffy hugged Willow tightly. “Thanks for doing this,” she whispered in her friend’s ear.
“Thanks for letting me,” Willow said.
“Time to rescue Spike,” Xander said. Then he shook his head. “Could someone pinch me? I’m pretty sure I must have dreamed saying that.”
He opened his eyes to find the tinman lifting him up by the shirt. Got clocked in the head again, had he? At least Buffy was there behind his eyes. If he’d ever see her again in front of them. Tinman prepared his stake and plunged it in to the hilt, tearing through Spike’s heart, making him scream. He waited for the dust... damn. Plastic again. Sadistic bastards. Spike himself had torn people to shreds, feasted on their still flowing blood, chained them up and killed them slowly. But he had never killed the same person over and over and over again, and made notes on the effects. Even Angel hadn’t been that cold about it all. Creepy Nazi wannabes! He could see them in their little protective bunker, with their pretty glass shielding them from the rank stench and the worst of the noises, watching without either horror or relish, like he was some kind of crappy documentary. He would have preferred it if they’d at least gotten off on his pain. He’d have understood that. But no. This wasn’t something they enjoyed. They barely even cared. That lame-ass vamp he’d used as a shield the night he escaped had been right. He was just a lab rat.
He groaned and reached for the face of his terminator-like opponent. He waited for the traditional closing lines of this mucked up shadow play. “This has been a test. Had this been an actual battle, you would be dust now. Please return to your cell.”
Most of the time Spike was tazed up and dragged back to his cell by the scientists’s assistants, completely unable to crawl back of his own volition – and they’d wised up enough to know to check he was really unconscious before they approached him unbound. But before tinman could open his mouth he tensed, his head cocked as if he had heard something. Then he froze, dropping Spike, sinking as if his clockwork had run down. Spike would have been really thrilled by that development if his pain chip hadn’t just fired stronger and harder than ever before, firing through his system so hard he felt like he was burning. He screamed as tinman dropped him, and kept on screaming in agony as every light in the compound winked out.
They dragged her in in a body bag, as if she were dead. Buffy had warned her not to talk. The commandoes had no idea how intelligent demons were, and she wanted them to think Willow was nothing but an animal. She didn’t want them to start torturing her for information.
If any of the soldiers who had captured her had been Riley, she never saw his face, and he made no sign of recognition. Finally they’d poured her into a bright white cell, and a handful of scientists set about trying to identify her. Finally one of them hit on a match. “Here it is. It’s a D’Hoffrynian. Called upon by jilted lovers to exact vengeance.”
“What’s that mean?”
“The mythology says they hold the power of the wish... but all powers are completely eliminated by removal of their amulet of power...”
“We didn’t see an amulet of power. It did have some kind of black box, but it threw that away as we caught it. Don’t know where it got to.”
“It must have the amulet hidden on its person somewhere,” said the scientist. “They’re pretty unkillable the manual says. Fill the room up with cyanide gas, we’ll strip it. Search its body while it’s out.”
“I think that’s my cue,” Willow said. She stood up and tried to teleport out. Buffy was right. They had a dampening field. She could feel D’Hoffryn’s rage through her amulet – in this instance a burning sensation in her stomach – as his agent was prevented from dispensing justice. Power flushed through her, more than she usually needed, and Willowankha raised her arms and called on the dampening field to be lifted. Their field wasn’t magic, of course. It was some kind of electric field, or maybe something like a farady cage. That made it more difficult. Though she knew computers, she did not know random technology.
Hm. Random technology could be disrupted by an electro-magnetic pulse. Willowankha raised her arms again, this time calling on D’Hoffryn’s name to give her strength, and blasted the entire compound with an EMP. Or, something like an EMP, really, because she actually had no idea how EMP’s really worked. She just had some idea in her head that it shorted out every electronic connection and microchip in a given area. It blasted the whole campus, because she had no idea how big the compound really was, and every light went out, and two of the soldiers in front of her screamed, clutching at their chests.
It was really easy. She didn’t even break a sweat. She didn’t have much time to reflect on what she had done, though. She was in the north of France, looking at a nineteen year old girl whose boyfriend had slept with her sister. “What’d he do?” Willow asked quickly. “How do you feel? Isn’t that just awful. What do you want done to him? Make it quick! I got things to do!”
If you are under the age of 17, please use your head and do not read fics that are labeled "NC-17". Parents, I cannot control what your children are reading, so please be advised that the majority of the fics archived here are NOT suitable for those under the age of 17.
I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I am in no way making any profit from this site. This is for pure entertainment purposes only.
Concept: (c)bringonthebloodshed.com (2004), Code & Design: (c)Diabola (2006), Graphics: Selene & Always