Levels of Deceit
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all characters belonging to the show are Joss Whedon’s brain matter, not my own.
Author’s Note: Much thanks to all my wonderful reviewers. Don’t worry, the chapters get longer after this. I usually go by plot breaks, not length.
Buffy and Xander both shouted the word at once – and then looked at one another suspiciously. They turned their gazes uneasily back to the female demon standing in the doorway.
“I’ve seen you before…in the Obedience Chamber,” Buffy said.
“And I’ve seen her just out in the hall…”
Buffy narrowed her eyes at Xander. “And you didn’t think to mention this until just now?”
“Am I supposed to point out every demon I happen to notice, in a demon *dimension*?” Xander held up his hands in surrender.
The female in the doorway could not quite hide her smirk of amusement. “I suppose that where you come from, this might be considered formal introduction.”
“There are no introductions necessary.” Buffy made an attempt to take back control of the situation. “You’re *really* in the wrong place, at the wrong time. It would be much better if you just turned around, and left. *Now*.”
She shook her head. “I do not think so, Slayer.”
Buffy’s eyes narrowed, and she very calmly headed towards the bed and hoisted up a sword in her hand, her pointed gaze leveling on the eyes of the female demon again.
The demon just smiled, as she lowered her cloak, revealing her long, full mane of silver hair. “Are you always so quick to violence? I suppose it’s wise, with your occupation… but completely unnecessary, in this case. Yes – I know who you are. Yes - I have been following you since you arrived, and also know why you’re here. However, I must admit I was surprised,” she remarked as she spared Spike a glance, “to notice your intense interest in this particular slave.”
The Slayer’s gaze hardened, and she took a protective step closer to the cage that the vampire huddled in. “He’s not a slave. Not anymore.”
The female demon arched a fine eyebrow ridge. “Really? Does he know that?” She returned her attention to Spike then, suddenly barking out an order in her own language.
“Inta quad noshmid!”
Spike raised himself to his knees without hesitation, head bowed and arms thrust forward and crossed at his forearms. His gaze was blank, locked on the floor directly in front of his knees – clearly waiting to be shackled.
Buffy’s eyes widened and she shook her head, looking from one to the other. “What did you just do?”
“The Trainers are masters of mental manipulations…you will find that, as a result of his training, there are now many commands that he has little choice but to obey.”
Xander had to swallow down some of the bile rising to his throat. “Convenient.”
Buffy’s lower lip trembled as she stared down at the vampire, kneeling in a submissive position. She tried to bring to mind the Spike she had known before, easily seeing his vibrance, his rebellion and easy smirks. There had been something teasing said almost every time they had spoken – something wild and intense in his nature that had always shone through – but now, it appeared that that something had been shattered.
The vampire in the cell had an empty expression, as if he didn’t dare even to *feel* anything. His body shook and trembled with the effort of staying upright, on his knees, despite his injuries.
The female demon studied Spike curiously as she stepped closer to the cage. She looked over her shoulder at the Slayer, raising an eyebrow ridge in her direction. “Did you honestly believe that Durrak had brought you here to *help* the slaves?”
Taken by surprise, Buffy returned her gaze to the strange demon, with an effort focusing her attention on her rather than Spike, for the moment. “He…he, um…” She swallowed hard past an apprehensive lump in her throat. “He wants us to put a stop to this…to save his daughters…they want to enslave…”
The demon was laughing at the Slayer – and so hard that she almost had to hold herself up by the bars of the cage in order to stay on her feet. “My dear, I’m his eldest daughter …and he sold me himself.”
“My name is Danaia,” the demon said. “My father, Durrak, sold me as a slave five years ago. Before my actual training could begin, it was discovered that I did not possess a human soul, and thus I could not be a slave. I was set free, and later married a keeper of records…” She looked around the room. “He used to reside in this office – until he was murdered eight months ago.”
The two humans were stunned into silence, not able to say anything in the face of her startling revelations.
Danaia continued, “My two brothers do not have souls either, or they would have been sold into the same fate I almost met. Unfortunately, my younger sisters do have human souls. Two of them have already been sold into slavery, while the others have fled. They’ve left this dimension, and I’ve yet to find out where they’ve gone.”
She paused for a moment, before informing them quietly, “Durrak is not a record keeper…he is one of the brothel’s owners.”
She seemed almost amused to find them now gaping at her in stunned disbelief.
“He brought you here to fight his little war…it was never about the slaves.”
“But…but why?” Buffy shook her head. “If he’s one of the owners, why would he bring us here?”
“Because he wants to be the *only* owner.” She smirked. “My father is quite the gambler…and he’s acquired a great deal of debt. Because of his great debts, the other owners wish to take his share of the profits, and leave him with nothing. A greedy man like my father, he cannot have that – so he brought you here to eliminate his partners. Once that was accomplished, all of this would have been left to him.”
The Slayer could seem to say nothing, looking more than a little shell-shocked by the deceit. It was Xander who spoke up first.
“So, uh…guess we’ve been fighting for the wrong team this time?”
“There is more.” Danaia had barely taken her eyes off the Slayer, gauging each reaction cautiously. “When one is in a great amount of debt, one of the easiest ways to be rid of a good deal of it is to become a slave hunter. The brothel gives a great deal of money for their vampire slaves – especially those with well-known reputations.” Her gaze settled on the vampire still kneeling, waiting, before moving quickly back to the Slayer. “I’ve brought you something.”
She lifted one side of her cloak and began to rummage inside. Seeing her reaching for something, Buffy raised her sword, settling it mere inches from the demon’s neck.
Danaia gave a quick eye roll that seemed surprisingly human, before pulling out a thick folder. She held it up against the tip of Buffy’s sword. “It’s a file…these records are public.”
“File…record of what?”
She nodded towards the cell. “Your vampire’s file. I thought the very first record written for him would be of interest to you.”
The half demon offered her the file, holding it out to her with a sort of challenge in her eyes. Buffy swallowed hard, suddenly finding herself very reluctant to look at what was in that folder. It would be like the horrified shock of discovering Spike’s fate, all over again.
She hesitantly put the sword down, then licked her dry lips and wiped imagined sweat off her palms. She took the folder, marveling somewhat at the thought that it looked just like any other office folder, except that the paper seemed thicker, and was a sickly yellow color.
Buffy hoped that the yellowing was not from age.
Opening the folder, she scanned the first sheet. Not surprisingly, at the top, it was labeled clearly: “William the Bloody”. She had no idea why her heart suddenly sank within her, at the simple confirmation of the terrible truth she had already known.
Swallowing back her dread of what the file held, Buffy steeled herself, and began to read.
The form went on to describe Spike fully: height, weight, skin color, eye color, full history…she blushed when she came to descriptions of things that she had already had intimate knowledge of.
Finally, on the very bottom, she caught sight of what she was suddenly sure she was supposed to see. It was listed there: the name of the one who’d caught him, sold him to the brothel. Durrak’s name was signed in bold lettering, and the sight of it made Buffy’s hands tremble. Her sight wandered to the floor, unable to look at it again. She handed the folder numbly back to Danaia.
“Xander…” she tried to summon strength and authority to her voice, but she felt as if there was no more strength to summon. “Watch her…take the sword, and watch her, make sure she doesn’t try anything…and don’t let her go anywhere near Spike.”
Her friend looked clueless. “Buffy, what’s going on?”
“Just do it. I’ll be right back…” She stood in the doorway of the office, looking out at the stone corridor. She hesitated a moment in her step, then stopped all together. She cast a glance over her shoulder, her eyes locking on Spike, who still knelt in submission. His body had begun trembling harder. “Just tell me one more thing, Danaia…how long? How long has he been here?”
The half demon took a glance through the papers in the folder, before looking back at the Slayer. “Ten years. Your friend has been a slave here for ten years.”
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