Disclaimer: BTVS ain’t mine, ok?
Author’s Note: Much thanks to DreamsofSpike, my beta for this story. Also, I definitely want to thank all the wonderful readers that took the time to review my story. It’s very encouraging, and I hope you all continue to enjoy.
Buffy’s voice was little more than a horrified whisper at first. Her horror only grew when the vampire in her arms didn’t respond at all. His eyes were unfocused, staring blankly up at the ceiling. His naked, abused body was finally in full view as the others crowded around the door to the cell, bringing their torches with them.
“Spike,” she whispered his name again, gently shaking his shoulder. Still, he did not move. His eyes did not move to meet hers, nor did his chest rise and fall in the ritual of breath which he normally forgot that he did not need.
“Spike, come on…” She tried to pull him closer to her own body, but her efforts met with resistance. She looked up to see that the shackles that bound his wrists were attached to both the chain that held him up, and another chain embedded in the stone wall. She grabbed it firmly and tugged, trying to pull it out of the wall, but found that it would not budge. Though the bars of the cell were rusted and aged, the chains were new and still strong enough to restrain vampire slaves – and apparently a slayer.
Her arms shook and trembled from the very idea that she might have to leave him in that cell. “Help…” Her voice rose in pitch, as she looked helplessly around the cell, not seeing any way to rid the vampire of his chains. “Help…help me…Xander, help!”
The Slayer had never sounded so desperate, had never before had the need to plead with him for anything, and the sound of it immediately set Xander on edge. He pushed through the demons in his path and marched into the cell. “Buff, what the hell is…?” His voice suddenly broke off in horror.
Xander had never seen the vampire naked before, and he did not recognize the long, darker hair – but the face was unmistakable.
“Oh my god.”
Buffy’s face was pale when she looked up at him. There was a desperation in her eyes that he did not understand, and did not like to see.
“We need to find a key,” she quickly explained. “There’s got to be one around here somewhere…Xander, we have to find it now!”
“Ok,” he nodded, backing out of the cell. The fact that the irritating but powerful master vampire they had all known could be reduced to the devastated slave staring blankly up at nothing was about to blow Xander’s mind completely, regardless of how he might have felt in the past about that particular vampire. “Yeah…I’ll find it.”
He stumbled out into the darkness, but the two twins stood in his path. They crossed their arms over their chests, looking obviously disapproving of the entire situation. They began to mutter to one another in a language that Xander could not even begin to understand.
It was Durrak that translated for him, giving his own view as well with the translation.
“This is ridiculous.”
Xander turned to face him. “Yeah, well…a lot of things we do don’t seem to make a lot of sense.”
“We are going to be heard, going to be found – stopping to free this single slave is going to put everything in jeopardy!”
“Do you want to be the one to argue with her?” Xander spoke quietly, not wanting Buffy to overhear. He knew that Durrak was correct, but somehow felt as if finding someone they knew in the brothel had changed everything. “Look, you guys know this place better than I do. Would they keep a key in here, or not?”
Sighing in exasperation, Durrak opened one side of his robes and withdrew a small key from an inner pocket. He handed it to Xander and nodded toward the cell, still looking less than pleased.
The carpenter did not even want to question why Durrak would have a key to such a place. He hurried quickly back into the cell, where he stopped for a moment and watched as his best friend rocked Spike back and forth in her arms, her head rested on his and her eyes glistening suspiciously.
Deciding to ignore this proof of something that he really did not want to think about, Xander knelt beside the two and set about removing the shackles binding Spike’s wrists.
“Hey, can we hurry this up?” Xander groaned from the back of the group. “I’m getting a little tired of having to look at Spike’s dangly bits.”
Buffy glared at her friend as she walked backwards through the corridor. She held Spike’s upper body, and Xander carried his legs, in an attempt to ensure that the vampire was put through as little additional pain as possible.
It made the traveling slower, but Durrak had assured them that it was not an uncommon thing to see a severely injured slave being carried through the halls. They only had to make sure that the two humans were kept covered by their heavy cloaks – which unfortunately made their own visibility all the more limited.
The two half demons walked ahead of them, and Durrak took up the rear. Durrak had been unusually silent during the entire trip, while the twins up front had not ceased their bickering. They made sure to talk only in their own language, but it was obvious to Buffy and Xander that the argument was becoming more heated by the minute.
“Hey Tim, Slim!” Xander called out to the two. They immediately stopped their arguing and cast twin glares at him over their shoulders. “Why don’t you guys do something useful, and get the door?”
The office was finally in sight.
The two males sped up their pace, but not without a resentful look in Xander’s direction. He ignored them, instead studying the very few demons that passed them on their way. Only five had really come close to them so far, and three of them had been holding leashes, attached to very subdued vampires who followed, with their eyes carefully cast down. They were silent, obedient – and very naked.
Xander tried not to pay too much attention to the nakedness of the vampires – especially not the nakedness of the one that he was helping to carry.
His attention was suddenly drawn to another figure, passing closer to them than the others had. Unlike the others, she looked directly at them – specifically, at him, Buffy, and Spike. Her gaze met his for a moment with a knowing smile.
Before any alarm bells could ring in his head, the thought that she looked like one of Durrak’s kind struck first. Green scales could be seen along her elegant features, and just a bit of silver hair draped down her shoulders. Her face and hair were the only features he could really see past the cloak.
Before he could call the attention of the others to her presence, she turned sharply and headed down another corridor. Blinking away his confusion, Xander returned his attention to the task at hand.
Tymok opened the door to the office, ushering the others in ahead of him. Slimosh opened the door to the cell, obviously expecting Spike to be carried inside.
Buffy glared daggers at him for the very thought. “No way in hell,” she declared.
She and Xander carefully lowered the injured vampire onto the fur rug, where they had slept the night before. Buffy knelt down, wrapping an arm around him and returning to her position of cradling him close, positioning his head to rest on her shoulder. To her relief, his eyes were closed now. While Buffy was not quite sure whether or not that was a good sign, it was at least less disturbing than watching him stare blankly into nothing.
Durrak waited until he had slammed the door shut behind him to begin his tirade. “This is insane! You’ve ruined our plan, and all for the sake of a single vampire slave that cannot even walk on its own!
Buffy’s eyes were like green fire as she glared up at the demon in seething defiance. “You do not want to have this argument with me right now. Just give me time to…”
“You’ve *wasted* our time!”
“Fine. Then just get out of my way.” The Slayer’s voice was colder than Xander had heard it in a long time.
The demon’s eyes narrowed. He and his two sons looked upon the humans with harsh suspicion for a few moments longer, before finally, Durrak nodded to the other two males and turned, leaving the office without another word. The half demons followed, closing the door silently behind them.
“Ah, Buff,” Xander sounded nervous. “I don’t think that was a good idea…”
“Not now, Xander.”
Her gaze had already returned to Spike. She was gently stroking his matted hair, looking over his injuries, now that they were cast in better light from the candles that had already been lit around the office.
Lash marks covered his entire body, instead of just the back side as she had seen in the cell. The Slayer gently traced her fingertips across some of the lashes on his chiseled chest. She was grateful to at least see that though he’d lost a lot of blood, he did not seem to have been starved regularly.
*Probably to keep him as pretty as possible while they used him…*
A shiver of disgust ran through her body at the thought. Reality threatened to hit hard again, and she closed her eyes against it. “Oh, god…” Forcing herself to open her eyes, she gently traced her fingertips across the hollow of his cheek. “Spike? Spike, can you hear me at all?”
One side of his body was nestled against the unfamiliar sensation of warmth.
For once, it was not the never-ending cold of hard stone and other dead bodies around him, nor was it the insufferable heat of some demon species pressed up against him. He was held gently against the soft warmth of a living, breathing human.
His demon threatened to rise, his fangs itching to come forward at the instinctive knowledge that there was fresh human blood available, to help heal his wounds. And yet, it only took moments for his gentler side to speak up in defense of the human’s life.
This was more than just a meal, it said. It was a living, breathing, human woman, whose soft and gentle arms he was being held in. That simple fact alone was almost enough to overwhelm him. It could not be real, of course; it seemed like a far away dream that had come to comfort him.
Gentle fingertips, now. Soft touches and a rocking motion that brought attention to some of his wounds, but also brought comfort on a deeper level.
He did not want this dream to end – not just yet.
Then the voice came. It was softer, gentler than he had ever heard it before, directed at him – and still it sent a bolt of terror through him. His body stiffened, screaming in a protest of pain at any attempt to move – but he *had* to move!
Buffy felt him beginning to stir in her arms. She held her breath, eyes wide and nervous.
How long had it been for him?
His head turned, his nose brushing against her neck. Spike’s body was automatically trying to move closer to her, even as he hissed in pain at the movement.
“Shhhh,” She held him up against her, trying to comfort him with her presence. “It’s all right. Try not to move, ok?”
Spike’s body stiffened. He stopped moving completely, except for the sudden, sharp breaths he was taking. His nostrils flared, and his eyes opened, blinking repeatedly in an attempt to focus.
Green suddenly met blue, and Buffy tried to smile reassuringly – before she realized that those blue eyes were quickly filling with agonized recognition. Next came fear, as he violently jerked away from her.
“Spike? Spike, it’s ok…”
He pulled away from her hard, finally gathering more strength. He could not quite pull himself to his feet yet, so instead he crawled backward away from her, and right into the cell on the other side of the room. He didn’t stop until his back hit the stone wall of the cell, his breathing harsh and ragged, his eyes wide as he stared at the Slayer, not even acknowledging her companion.
And then, fear began to melt away, in a moment, replaced with blinding rage. Blue eyes melted into yellow, and his strong emotions gave him enough strength to finally pull himself to his feet.
Xander’s eyes widened, seeing the threat before Buffy did.
She was still sitting where she had been, staring dumbly at her former lover, who had scrambled away from her in horror – and now seemed to be preparing to attack.
Spike curled back against the wall for a moment, before he leapt into the air toward her. Xander dashed into action, moving forward and kicking the door of the cage hard so that it swung back into place, the lock clicking shut as soon as it impacted. Spike reached it just as it closed, grasping onto the bars and slamming his feet against them repeatedly, his fangs bared and mouth wide open in a roar…that was completely silent.
Though deafening to all of them, the silence seemed to ring loudest to the enraged vampire.
Hearing nothing from his own throat, he seemed to remember all at once who and what he was.
All life left him, and he slid down the bars to the floor, back onto his knees. His hands followed, and he backed away again, the fear returning to his eyes. His body shook and trembled under the weight of his pain, and the added fear of even more pain to come, as punishment for his defiance. He crouched against the wall, arms wrapped around himself and head bowed until it was almost touching the floor.
He would not look at them.
Buffy was beyond stunned. She crawled towards the cage, keeping low to the ground. As she neared the cage, she reached through the bars, but Spike shrunk away from her, closer to the wall. He was just out of her reach – in more ways than one – and the thought nearly brought tears to her eyes.
“Spike…its ok…it’s us…” Her voice broke for a moment, but she was determined to stay strong. “I know you’re in pain…I know you’re afraid, an-and…” She shook her head, feeling helpless. “No…I don’t know, do I? But it’s ok now…I do know that. We’re going to get you out of here, bring you back home…”
“Buffy, get away from him! He just tried to attack you!” Xander tried to take hold of her arm and pull her away, but she yanked her arm from his grasp.
Spike hadn’t responded at all to either of them, except for a wince at Xander’s harsher tone. He turned his face away, moving closer further back against the wall, as if in an attempt to somehow disappear inside it.
“Spike,” Buffy whispered softly. “It’s Buffy…do you know me at all?”
“Am I interrupting?” A female voice suddenly joined the general chaos of the scene.
The two humans whirled around toward the office door, taking in the sight of emerald scales and long, silver hair, under one of the familiar dark cloaks.
The female demon Xander had seen in the hall was now blocking the doorway.
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