The Right Thing
Author’s Note: Much thanks to my wonderful beta, DreamsofSpike, and to my many readers, and those that have left reviews.
They were everywhere.
Everywhere she looked, vampires were suffering. She was sure she had only passed a few in the halls, but if felt like so many more, and though they would look no one in the eye, Buffy felt as if each one was glaring at her with painful accusation.
She had only just remembered to put on her cloak, wrapping herself up as if she could hide away. Still, the truth followed her down the long stone corridor. She had trusted the wrong demon, and had almost cost these creatures more pain. And as it turned out, her lover had suffered unspeakable torments because of the very demon she’d made the deal with.
Could any crime he’d ever been guilty of be worth that kind of pain?
Ten years of suffering, of being led around naked in chains, eyes downcast and unable to speak for himself, whether by rule or by injury. Ten years of the humiliation and agony of slavery…
Buffy came close enough to the auction in the main room to see the demons in the fancy dress, and the slaves being paraded. They were naked, shackled at the wrists and the neck. Their bodies were explored by every eye, and the hands of the demons leading them, to better show off their assets.
Bile rose in the Slayer’s throat as she watched one female bent over, her breasts thrust out to the customers waiting to bid while the announcer petted her liberally.
Had Spike been on the auction block? Against her will, her mind summoned images of a broken and empty looking Spike, naked, shackled, being led around like a dog and pawed at by the very announcer that stood on the stage. The thought made her blood boil, and a thousand questions bombarded her at once.
Who had he been sold to? What had been done to him, body and mind, in those ten years? Was there anything left of him? Did he remember her at all?
There he was.
Durrak was entering the building, head bowed under his cloak. He gave a brief glance to the stage, before moving towards the very corridor Buffy stood in. At that moment, the Slayer had only one question, and she knew exactly whom she wanted to ask.
“This is just too weird.” Xander couldn’t help staring at the dark haired vampire.
Once Spike had been allowed relief from his rigid submissive pose, he’d lain down on his side in the cell. His body trembled with exhaustion from the effort it had taken to keep himself upright.
Danaia noticed his stare immediately, and also studied the vampire in the cell. “Weird? In what way?”
Xander shook his head, taking another step away from the cell. He sat himself down on the cramped bed, a sword held loosely in his hands. “You wouldn’t know…not if you hadn’t met him before. Let’s just say, trouble tends to follow him. But this…” He shook his head. “Things like this don’t happen to him. I mean…he’s Spike!”
“And what difference does this make in whether or not he’s a victim?” When the female demon noticed that the human wasn’t willing to answer, she took another step towards the cell and leaned against the bars. “The Slayer seems to care a great deal about this one.”
“Buffy?” He gave a half hearted laugh. “Well…the Buffster cares about everyone we work with. The former bleached wonder used to fight beside us…and even though it wasn’t always his choice, I guess it kind of makes Buffy think of him as one of us. He’s a pest and nothing more, but he’s kind of been our pest for a while. She’d feel just as bad if it were any of the others.”
Spike had finally begun to take more interest in his surroundings. The vampire had pulled himself up to lean against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest protectively as he peered around at the cell and the office on the other side of the bars. He would glance nervously towards them every now and then, but never look them in the eye.
“What will she do with him?” Danaia asked casually.
Xander blinked, his mouth gaping open for a moment. He finally managed to look at Spike again, and when he did he had to fight hard against mental images of the horrors he’d seen on the video. Unexpected sympathy welled up inside him, as well as a strong urge to vomit. He pushed them both away, leaning his head back against the wall so he wouldn’t have to look at him.
“I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it. I mean, he’s dangerous…he tried to attack Buffy! After we rescued him, that’s a little ungrateful…”
She arched a fine eyebrow ridge. “He’s been tortured for a great deal of time. I somehow doubt he even knows he’s been…‘rescued’.”
“Well, yeah, there’s another thing…what if he’s completely insane? I mean, we can’t exactly coddle him and take care of him forever…” Xander shook his head. “He’s not even himself anymore. And who knows if we’re going to be able to get him out of here? I don’t know…it seems almost as if it would be more humane just to…” He sighed as he closed his eyes and bowed his head.
“’Put him down’?” Danaia guessed.
The Carpenter shrugged his shoulders, unwilling to put too much more thought into it, deciding to do what he and the others always seemed to do, and leave the final decision in the hands of the Slayer.
“Buffy’ll do the right thing. She always does.”
The Slayer followed the hooded demon down the corridor. She made sure that the sounds of the auction had faded into mere background noise, and there was barely anyone passing them by, before taking action. She had kept a good distance, not wanting to be detected until she was ready. By the time she *was* ready, her rage was boiling until she could almost feel it right beneath her skin, like a living, pulsing force.
Buffy struck quickly, grabbing Durrak by the arm and twisting it behind his back, until she heard a pop of complaint from his shoulder. To prevent him from crying out, she slammed his face into the stone wall. She then spun him around, throwing him hard, right into and then through a wooden door.
The wood splintered under Durrak’s weight, and he rolled across the floor. Buffy stepped calmly inside after him, finding herself in a large storage room. The chains, collars, and instruments of torture around her only made the anger boil hotter.
Durrak had climbed to his feet, trying to keep calm. He held his hands up in a placating manner…until he saw the face of his assailant. His eyes widened, and for a brief second there was a flash of white light from his pupils. “What…? Slayer! What the hell are you…?”
She had grabbed him by the throat before he could go on, tossing him back and into a pile of chains.
“How?” She suddenly asked. “I want to know how. I don’t want to know why you did it, or any ridiculous excuses about demon morals or ways of life…I just want to know how.”
There was an unfamiliar trembling to her voice.
He stood again, wiping blood from his nose. His steps were shaky as he tried to keep his distance from the torture instruments around them. “I do not know of what you speak…”
She lunged forward with such speed that he did not have time to prepare. She sent a hard punch into his jaw, causing him to stagger back. “Don’t lie to me!”
It looked like he was going to straighten again. Instead, he lost his calm and kicked hard at the Slayer’s gut. When she doubled over, he took a swing, sending her into the pile of chains he had fallen into earlier.
“Insolent child! I have no idea what you’re talking about!” He grabbed her by the arm and hauled her up to her feet.
She grabbed his wrist and twisted it hard. After she’d had the satisfaction of hearing his loud cry of pain, she slammed his head into the wall again. She heard the cracks of some of the horns on his face. When she turned him to face her, he was swaying on his feet, the small horns across one cheek broken. Buffy then grabbed one of the sets of chains hanging from the wall and wrapped it around Durrak’s neck, tugging hard.
The demon’s eyes widened and he grasped uselessly at the chains. His legs kicked out just as uselessly, and he found himself pinned between the wall and an enraged Slayer.
“Tell me,” she hissed at him as she tightened her grip. “I want to know!”
He could only shake his head helplessly.
“Spike,” Buffy clarified. “His name is SPIKE! William the Bloody…you should know that name at least, since it’s the one written on his file!”
His eyes widened in a telling manner, and the Slayer knew she had hit the mark.
“You’re going to tell me…I want to know how you did it.” Her voice was trembling, and she loosened her grip on the chain, only enough for him to barely breathe, and only possibly talk. “He was a master vampire…I want to know how you could have *possibly* captured a *master vampire* and brought him to this place…”
She frowned. Buffy was reluctant, but she loosened the chain a bit more to allow him to respond. “What was that?”
He gasped as he finally received a little more air. Durrak’s vision was spotted, and he didn’t bother trying to get away from the wall. “Police…” he said again. “An alley…he was in an alley, behind the human’s police station…it’s where we found him…” He took another gulp of air.
Buffy’s face paled.
“He was…beaten, bloodied…he was too injured already to move well on his own…he could not open his eyes, didn’t remain conscience for long…” He shook his head, trying to keep the Slayer as calm as possible. “He never saw us…never knew what was happening, until he was already here…and we didn’t know what a catch we had until after the psychics had torn apart his mind…”
The Slayer couldn’t hear him anymore. Buffy’s mind had stopped absorbing what her captive was saying after he’d mentioned the alley, and Spike’s beaten and bloodied state. She felt suddenly weak, and she lost her grip on the chain completely. It clattered to the ground, leaving Durrak free. Her knees gave way, and she sank slowly to the ground, her hand still trying to grip the demon’s clothes to stop her descent.
Durrak stared down at her in confusion, but was quick to take advantage. He slipped easily out of her grip, and half limped, half shuffled to the splintered door. The demon retreated from the storage room as quickly as he could.
Buffy barely noticed when he was gone. She stared blankly ahead, even as she crawled towards the door. She wanted to put up the litany of denial again, but it was torn away by the image of Spike’s face in the alleyway, after she had beaten him. He hadn’t fought back. She had walked away from him without a glance over her shoulder…
If she had glanced over her shoulder…just *once*…would he have been there? Could she have stopped it all?
The wall broke. She wrapped her arms around herself, but it was no comfort as the agonized scream ripped from her throat. It felt as if she was screaming for the vampire who could no longer do it himself; screaming in absolute horror as she realized her lover was in that horrid place because of her.
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