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Master by Aurora
Chapter Sixteen-Cassette Tapes and Flying Fur
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Chapter Sixteen: Cassette Tapes and Flying Fur

Giles exhaustedly slouched against the hard brick wall, across from a just as drained but still unwavering Spike. Neither one was giving in. No matter how much pain Giles could inflict, Spike wouldn’t budge. Breathing heavily, the Watcher pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket, wiping the sweat off his brow as he observed the stubborn vampire. Spike’s eyes were closed, his slumped body swaying on its knees as the taut ropes held him up. The skin on his front was red, peeling and chaffed like a son of a bitch. His face was a mélange of blue, purple and crimson with an unsightly black eye making it nearly impossible for him to see. Spike’s once unmarked chest was covered with gaping wounds that had at first bled quite profusely, but were now just painful holes in his tortured flesh. The loss of blood was in no doubt affecting him. The vampire was a picture of agony, but he still wouldn’t surrender and Giles didn’t know how much longer he could keep it up at this ineffective pace.

Spike giggled to himself, oblivious to the other man’s scrutinizing gaze. The ex-Watcher was unquestionably a sick one. He had made sure the hindrance spell messed with all of Spike’s vampire abilities, including his vampire healing.

The few seconds of silence were finally broken by Giles. “Had enough?” he asked, still slightly out of breath.

Spike chuckled as his voice took on a girlish quality. “No, not anymore, Mr. Watcher. I promise I’ll be good. I was a bad vampire and you’ve shown me the light. Please let me go,” he sluggishly replied.

“Patronizing me will only prolong your stay here further,” Giles cautioned as he stood back up.

Spike growled, knowing the Watcher was right. How the bleedin’ hell was he going to get out of this soddin’ basement? He needed to get to Buffy fast but Spike was afraid that if he went along with what Giles wanted, if he lied and told him where Buffy was supposedly ‘hidden’, what would stop the Watcher from plowing a real stake through his unbeating heart? If Spike caved in, Giles would no longer have any use for him. He’d be free to do what he’s been no doubt waiting years to do; he’d kill Spike and Buffy’s fate would be forever sealed.

Spike felt as though he was being torn in two different directions. He couldn’t let Giles kill him but the longer he stayed there, the longer Buffy was unprotected. He hoped that Vincent and Natasha were looking out for her. They wouldn’t turn their backs on him, would they? Damon had, and he was one of the few Spike had first trusted when he had arrived in Sunnydale. He felt like such a moron. Why didn’t he get rid of Damon when he still had the chance? How stupid and blind could he have been these past months to have completely ignored every bald-faced sign that was sent his way? ‘If she dies, it’s all your fault, mate. No matter who you blame, it’ll still be your fault.’

The vampire opened his one good eye and watched as Giles moved back out of the light, quickly returning with a small cassette tape player. Spike quirked an eyebrow. “What you gonna do now? Turn on some Bob Dylan and pull out the good ole switch blade?” he joked as his laughter eventually converted into a fit of coughing.

“No, I’m not. And it was a straight blade, you ponce,” Giles indignantly quipped as he lowered the player in front of him. Kneeling down, he looked into the vampire’s glazed cerulean eyes, making sure that his own pain was evident in his focused stare. “You should remember this. You’re the one who recorded it,” he stated somberly as he pressed the play button.

At first Spike thought that the Watcher had completely fallen off his rocker, but then as the sound of a sweet, soft spoken voice filled the void space of the basement, he knew exactly what it was. It was the tape, the one he’d sent Giles all those years ago. The one with her last goodbye on it.

Giles turned up the volume. He’d heard the tape a million times, played it to himself at least once everyday just to hear her voice again. In the short years he had known Sarah, she had been the closest thing to a daughter, to a family, that he thought he’d ever have. As a Watcher, he had been taught not to allow his emotions to interfere in his relationship with his Slayer but he had quickly learned that that was impossible. With being so far away from the Council’s ever vigilant eye, and with the numerous of unprecedented issues his Slayer had to deal with on the Hellmouth, convention had been thrown completely out the window. Sarah was everything a Watcher, and a father, could have ever wished for. The greatest tragedy was that her death hadn’t even been for a noble cause. There had been no final battle, no honor in her unjust demise. And it was thanks to this one despicable vampire that his Sarah had died so disgracefully.

“Hey Giles,” the girl spoke, fear trembling her timid voice. “I-I guess this is goodbye.” She broke off, choking away a sob. “I’m sorry. I tried to stop it but there were just too many of them.” She stopped again, this time actually crying. “I’m scared, Giles. I-I don’t wanna die,” the voice of Sarah continued as she wept hysterically. “I’m sorry I failed you. I’m sorry. I love you, Giles,” she croaked, crying for at least a minute before finally whispering, “I’m sorry.”

The Watcher lowered his finger, pushing the stop button. He tried to push back the tears. Listening to it always made him want to break down into sobs but he couldn’t. Not in front of the thing that had taken his Sarah away. He watched as Spike remained perfectly still, his blue eyes still focused on the small black tape player.

“Why the hell would you play me that?” Spike asked, slowly looking up at Giles.

The Watcher was slightly taken aback by the confusion, and what appeared to be guilt in the vampire’s face. In all honesty, playing the tape for Spike had nothing to do with Spike. It was more for Giles, for his own closure. Maybe deep down there was a part of him that wanted Spike to experience the all consuming grief that he was forced to endure day after day but it was all just wishful thinking. Giles knew that Spike could never feel anything, let alone show remorse for what he had done. He never expected this though. Giles had never once imagined that Spike might actually regret what he did. The naturally inquisitive Watcher side of him wondered what had happened to this vampire to make him at least acknowledge his past transgressions and perhaps make him feel guilty about them too. Did it have to do with Buffy? Did Spike truly care for the girl’s wellbeing? Was he actually telling the truth? Was Buffy really in danger?

As Giles contemplated Spike’s integrity, the vampire’s gaze remained glued to the tape player. It seemed like so long ago when he had had that tape made; he had done it to rub salt in the old Watcher’s wounds. Spike even remembered what he had done when he had turned the tape recorder off. He had finally found a way to cure Dru. It was a spell, undeniably that of the black arts variety and he had threatened some shaman with his life if he didn’t perform it. For it to work though, Dru had to drain the blood of a Slayer. So, like the ingenious strategist that he was, Spike drew the Chosen One to the factory, made her think he was conducting some diabolical scheme to destroy the world. The lure had worked and he caught himself a Slayer. He recalled being quite pleased with himself, having killed two birds with one stone and all. Dru was strong again and he had added a third slayer to his list.

It was supposed to be a triumphant and glorious memory but as Spike listened to the tape, he tried to recall the ritual, but all he could see was Buffy tied up, tears rolling down her cheeks as she mumbled frantically against a mouth gag. He knew the Slayer had actually looked nothing like Buffy, but as Sarah’s voice echoed throughout the room, he could only see his beloved pleading for her life. Spike knew from when he had surprisingly saved that girl outside the Lupanar the previous night that Buffy was starting to get to him. He never realized though that she had become his conscience. Guess he could officially say she was his soul.

Giles suddenly snapped out of his inner ruminations and snatched the tape player off the ground, pulling the cassette out and placing it back in his shirt pocket, the one closest to his heart. Spike kept silent, unsure of what the Watcher was going to do next. He hoped the physical torture was over with but he couldn’t help but feel that the old coot was going to try and use some psychological torture instead.

“You ruined my life the day you killed her,” Giles stated, returning to his place by the wall, across from the vampire.

Spike was getting aggravated. The Watcher had some serious issues that he hadn’t yet resolved and Spike was supposed to what? Sit around and play therapist while God knows what was happening to Buffy.

“She was a Slayer, I was a vampire. That’s how the game is played,” Spike responded unemotionally.

“Right, because that’s all anything is to you, Spike. Just a game,” Giles remarked with revulsion.

“Villainize me all you want Watcher. If it helps you sleep at the night,” Spike gruffly retorted.

“I don’t need to make you the villain of this piece, Spike. You did that all on your own when you turned this town into your own little vampire amusement park,” the Watcher gritted out, his rage returning at the thought that he had been stupid enough to believe that the vampire was capable of mustering up even the slightest bit of guilt.

Spike coughed again, peering up at the Watcher. “Let me go,” he demanded, his voice firm but with a detectable note of desperation.

Giles had not expected the sudden shift in attitude but it would take much more than that to even make him consider freeing the vampire. “No,” the Watcher curtly replied.

“She’s going to die if you don’t let me go,” Spike reiterated grimly, feeling like a broken record player.

“She’ll die if I do let you go,” Giles corrected, pushing himself off the wall he’d been leaning against. Gazing down at the clearly distressed vampire, he decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. He wasn’t about to let Spike go but he’d at least listen to whatever fabricated reason the vampire had to validate his release. “If what you say is true, if Buffy is in great peril, why would you even care?” Giles skeptically inquired as he slowly walked around Spike.

“Because she belongs to me,” Spike angrily answered, his cobalt eyes following the Englishman as he circled around him.

“So you don’t want someone else profiting from your investment?” the Watcher continued to ask, taking off his glasses and placing the tip to his mouth.

“You’ve got me right pegged, Inspector Clueso. Now let me the fucking hell loose!” Spike insisted as he wrestled with his binds.

Giles stopped in front of the vampire, glaring down at him. “And why the bloody hell should I?”

“How many soddin’ times do I have to tell you? He’s going to kill her!” Spike declared, letting down his defenses by showing the Watcher the desperation in his eyes. The vampire’s body shook, partly from frustration by also from conviction. He was tired of running around in circles and he needed Giles to see he wasn’t lying. Buffy needed him and he’d be damned if he let some pissant, washed up Watcher stop him.

Giles saw it. At first he thought that he had been mistaken because there was no way in hell that he would have ever expected to see what he’d picked up on in Spike’s behavior. This wasn’t a monster looking to reclaim what he thought was his stolen property. It was the actions of a man who was beside himself with worry for the woman he loved. The thought nearly knocked Giles off his feet. It also made him sick to his stomach. What perverse delusions did this vampire have that he thought could even resemble love? Vampires were incapable of feeling true love, and were especially unable to express it. The Watcher stared down at Spike as though he had grown another head, his mind trying to wrap around the concept that this monster could ever genuinely care for someone. It was just too much for him. Giles needed to get away. Without another word, he turned and walked out of the light, leaving a puzzled Spike to continue to fight with his restraints.

Opening the basement door, Giles nearly plowed into Xander and Oz, who had been heading downstairs after grabbing a bite to eat. Obviously rattled, the Watcher had forgotten about the time. Avoiding the young men’s concerned stares, Giles offered a nod in ‘hello’. “Xander, I need you and Willow to watch over both Spike and Oz tonight,” he instructed as he moved past them.

Both seemed perplexed by their mentor’s strange behavior. “You alright, G-man?” Xander asked as Giles marched up the stairs.

“I’m fine,” the older man mumbled back, not slowing down in his retreat.

Xander turned to his friend, even more troubled by the Watcher’s actions, yet it was Oz who said what the brunette was thinking. “He didn’t yell at you for calling him G-man,” he concernedly noted.

“I know,” Xander agreed as he stared up at the stairs. Shrugging off the incident, he gestured toward the basement door. “C’mon, let’s get you downstairs before you start growing claws.”

The two hesitantly made their way down the wooden steps, never taking their eyes off the vampire, who appeared to be passed out at the moment. Careful not to wake Spike, Oz tiptoed to the cage, and with Xander’s assistance, locked up for the night. Xander turned on another light above the oversized dog pen before he pulled out two chairs, sitting on one while waiting for Willow to come down. Within a few minutes, the witch was slowly making her way downstairs, smiling at her best friend who was clearly nervous about watching over both a vampire and a werewolf for the night.

“Hey Xander,” she whispered as she handed him a tranquilizer gun, quickly running to the cage to kiss her boyfriend goodnight.

“Thanks,” he said as he took the weapon, holding onto it tightly, watching as Oz got ready to transform.

“Sorry but I didn’t have enough time to make you those magic ear plugs you wanted,” Willow sheepishly apologized as she took her seat next to Xander.

“Don’t sweat it. Captain Peroxide’s out cold for the night anyway,” he shrugged as he pointed to their seemingly unconscious prisoner.

“Oh,” Willow squeaked, as she covered her mouth with her hand. She’d noticed Spike on her way downstairs, but after having a good look at him, the redhead was a little disturbed by the condition he was presently in. “Giles did all that?”

Xander sighed. “It’s called torture for a reason, Will. What’d you think all that screaming was about? Giles wasn’t spending the whole day down here tickling him into submission, that’s for sure,” he seriously stated as he stared at the badly beaten vampire.

“I know that, Xander, but saying it and actually seeing it are two totally different things. It’s kinda giving me the serious wiggins,” Willow dejectedly replied.

“Gotta agree with you there, Will. Definitely not one of Giles’s finer moments,” Xander commented.

The two friends’ ears perked to the noise of Oz’s changing, the small man letting out a small shout before his body conformed into its werewolf manifestation. Willow cringed slightly as she watched, inching closer to Xander as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders in moral support. No matter how many times she saw it, it always got to her when Oz went through his metamorphosis. She was just thankful it was the third night of the full moon. They wouldn’t have to worry about it again until another month from now.

Though he appeared to be out for the count, Spike was actually wide awake. Well, more like fuzzily conscious. After Giles had stormed out of the basement, the vampire had been left to do nothing but worry. When he had heard footsteps heading downstairs, he decided to pretend to be asleep. He really didn’t feel like dealing with anymore humans at the moment. Spike picked up on the scent of the werewolf, which surprised him. He couldn’t help but smirk at the irony. One of Giles’s demon hunters was actually part demon himself. He could sense the other two humans as well. The stink of magic was strong around one of them. ‘Great. Now the Watcher’s got his witch to be my sitter.’

Spike tried to pick up on the whispering that he was hearing. The sudden and strong urge to scream at the top of his lungs was getting harder to suppress. He couldn’t hear anything. He’d been stripped of every advantage being a vampire gave him. ‘The witch is a strong one,’ he reflected as he briefly opened his only functional eye to stare down at his crotch. She better‘ve not messed with any other certain aspects of his vampire constitution. ‘‘Probly can’t even hold my liquor like I used to,’ Spike bitterly thought, feeling a little groggy. He tried to stay awake but the loss of blood was finally taking its toll. Spike soon feel into an involuntary sleep.

Willow and Xander sat quietly, their focus alternating between the dormant vampire and, for now, the composed werewolf. Willow exhaled a short breath. “Let’s hope it’s a quiet night.”

“Don’t jinx it, Will,” Xander reprimanded in a whisper. “Cuz as much I feel like Captain Willard with this gun, I so don’t wanna have a reason to use it,” he rambled nervously.

Willow however lost interest in what he was saying, her attention centered instead on the vampire. Holding her hand up to silence the bumbling brunette, she asked, “Do you hear that?”

Xander feared the worst. “Hear what? I don’t hear anything. Are you picking up on something? Is it some kind of witchy, high frequency distress signal? Or is it-”

“Xander, shut up for a sec and listen,” Willow scolded as she slapped her hand over his mouth.

Leaning a little forward, Xander picked up on what at first sounded like mumblings. Mumblings that were coming from Spike. Pulling his face away from the witch’s hand, Xander seemed a little blasé. “He’s just dreaming, Will.”

“No really?” Willow sarcastically responded. “Listen to what he’s saying you doofus.”

“I’m not a doofus,” Xander indignantly defended as he perked up his ears. Straining a bit, he heard what it was that had gotten Willow all huffy about.

“Buffy….” Spike groaned. “Don’t hurt….Damon…don’t hurt her…” Spike incoherently muttered in his sleep, the worry for his girl weighing down hard on his subconscious.

“What’s it mean?” Xander asked in a whisper, getting instantly shushed by Willow.

“Lemme listen,” Willow said as she leaned in further, trying to make out what the vampire was saying.

“Buffy…’m sorry…don’t hurt…Damon don’t….no….Buffy…love you so much…never meant…’m sorry” Spike uttered, choking out a sob as his nightmare progressed, mirroring his worst fears.

Xander fell out of his seat as Willow gasped in shock. “Did I just hear what I thought I heard?” he bewilderedly asked as he got up off the floor.

“He loves her,” the witch repeated the vampire’s words, still completely stunned.

“He’s lying,” Xander instantly blurted out, unable to believe what he had just heard.

“Xander, he’s asleep,” Willow rebutted with an unimpressed expression on her face.

“Are we sure? I mean, he could be faking it, you know, make us feel bad for him so that we’d let him go,” he tried to reason.

Willow shook her head. “No, he’s definitely having a nightmare. And I think he really loves her,” she resolutely stated.

“You can’t be serious? Will, he’s a vampire. He’s the vampire.” Xander tried to convince his best friend.

“And Oz is a werewolf,” Willow countered thoughtfully.

“Big difference. Monumental difference. As different as the Pacific Ocean is wide kind of difference,” he exclaimed in a harsh whisper.

“I think we should tell Giles in the morning,” the redhead stated, ignoring her friend’s rant.

“You know he’s not going to believe us,” Xander remarked as he leaned back in his seat, getting comfortable again.

“I know, but we still gotta tell him,” Willow said as she sadly glanced over at the tormented vampire who continued to mumble in his sleep. She just couldn’t explain it but she truly believed Spike loved Buffy. Willow had no idea where this sympathy for the vampire, who was basically considered to be public enemy number one, came from but she knew how blurry the ethical line could be. And being a girl who was in love with the most unexpressive man in Sunnydale, she knew when a guy was genuine when he said he loved a girl. And Spike without a doubt loved Buffy.

A sudden loud bang pulled Willow out of her inner reflection. For some strange reason Oz was becoming extremely agitated and was roughly throwing himself against the cage door. The abrupt noise of metal clashing pulled Spike out of his short nap, making him groan groggily. “What’s a bloke gotta do to get a few winks,” he whined as he slowly came to, his face dropping when he realized where he was.

Oz growled menacingly at the vampire, thrashing against the steel bars of the cage, and unbeknownst to everyone, dislodging the door’s weakened hinges with every crash. Spike vamped out and growled back at the werewolf, unsure why the pup was suddenly acting up. “Quit your barkin’, you mangy mut!”

Willow and Xander slowly stood up, remaining completely still like deer caught in headlights as they helplessly watched Oz collided against the cage door. With one final crash, the werewolf was suddenly free, springing toward the vulnerable vampire.

“Xander, shoot him!” Willow screamed.

Fumbling frantically with the gun, Xander dropped the weapon as he tried to load the dart. He quickly tried to recover, but his nerves were making it hard to get the thing working.

Meanwhile, the werewolf had lunged at Spike, ferociously biting him in the shoulder as the vampire tried to unsuccessfully fend him off. “Get this fucking thing off of ME!” he yelled, roaring in wolf’s face as he thrashed beneath the beast.

Not liking the taste of dead meat, Oz lost interest in the easy target, his attention gradually diverting to the two other people in the basement. Slowly pulling away from the vampire, the wolf stalked toward the Xander and Willow, growling as he readied to attack.

“Xander,” she whimpered fearfully. “Hurry up.”

Finally having loaded the gun, Xander pulled the trigger but it wouldn’t shoot. “It’s stuck,” he announced in a frantic high pitched voice.

“Well, fix it,” the redhead ordered as they slowly backed away from the approaching werewolf.

“I’m trying,” he cried out as he shook the gun.

Oz roared loudly, crouching as he prepared to pounce. Willow’s eyes flew from a still struggling Xander to her wolf boyfriend who was about to eat her to the amber eyes of a pissed off vampire. Willow knew what she had to do. She knew he was their only hope.

“Libero.” The words were out of her mouth before she even had time to contemplate what she’d done.

It was like a bolt of lightning had hit him. All the energy that had been drained out of him all came back in one sudden rush. Effortlessly ripping off the ropes, Spike stood up and turned to the wolf. He grabbed its hind legs as it leapt through the air, stopping the beast just short of a few feet from two helpless humans. Holding on, Spike sent the werewolf flying, brutally tossing him against the steel cage. The wolf instantly rebounded, back on its feet, growling at the vampire who stood between it and a good meal. Spike stood on guard, waiting for the beast to lunge, baring his fangs as he growled back a warning to the oversized dog. Oz coiled up his body and pounced on Spike, who was expecting the attack. With cat-like reflexes and swift maneuverings, he locked his arm around the wolf’s head in an attempt to hold him down. “Do it now! Shoot him!” he yelled to Willow and Xander.

Xander finally got the trigger unstuck; he raised it up and aimed it at the two unsteady demons in front of him. He couldn’t get a lock on Oz; he was moving and thrashing too much. Spike kept on spinning around with the werewolf, trying to keep the upper hand he had on him. “Pull the fucking trigger already, you git!” Spike hollered at the boy, his hold on the wolf waning.

“I’m trying,” Xander squealed. “It’s just really hard to-” The first dart hit Spike in thigh. “aim.”

Spike staggered back a little, pulling Oz along with him. “Not me! Shoot the fucking dog!”

Xander aimed again, this time getting Oz in the back. The werewolf continued to struggle against Spike until he fell to the ground, the tranquilizer finally taking its desired effect. Spike, however, staggered to the two people tensely standing in front of him. Fighting the drug that was flowing through his veins, he ungracefully yanked the dart out of his leg and handed it to Xander. “Makes s-sure you aim a lil’ better next time.”

“Sorry,” Willow meekly apologized as Xander stood completely dumbstruck.

Spike drunkenly waved off the apology. “S’nothing.” He then collapsed to the ground, unconscious.

“What just happened?” Xander asked in utter disbelief.

“I undid the spell and Spike saved our lives,” Willow answered just as surprised.

Xander stared down at the sleeping demons, his eyes flicking between their deceptively passive faces. Staring back up at Willow, an expression of sheer astonishment on his face, he said, “Giles is so not gonna believe us.”

For those who are unfamiliar with the film Reservoir Dogs, the Bob Dylan reference is actually from a torture scene in that movie.
Also, Captain Willard was the main character in one of Xander's favorite movies, Apocalypse Now.
*There are also a few lines from Lies My Parents Told Me
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