Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all…oh, hell, you all know its not mine, right?
Author’s Notes: Much thanks to my beta, DreamsofSpike, who has made this chapter bearable to read. Also, much thanks to all my lovely readers and reviewers, and much much MUCH thanks to whoever nominated this story at the Fang Fetish Awards! ^_^
The air crackled and split. The two witches crouched on the ground with the teenager between them could feel the change immediately, and the former vengeance demon wasn’t far behind them in figuring it out.There was a bright flash of light, and then everything appeared normal again, before the space in front of them began to ripple, like water and a sweaty and dirt-smeared Xander stumbled back into their existence.
“Xander!” everyone seemed to shout at once, as they immediately got to their feet.
“Willow!” Xander replied, barely acknowledging the others.
She spared a brief glance at Dawn’s tear-streaked face, even as the teenager attempted to wipe the evidence away, before focusing on her friend. “Xander, what’s going on? You haven’t even been gone for…!” When Willow rushed forward to meet him, he grabbed her by her arm and began dragging her back towards the portal. “What are you…? Xander!”
“Sorry, Wills, we need you.”
“But, with what? Research? But, my books are over…” She tried to turn and head back toward Tara and Dawn, but he continued to tug her toward the portal.
Tara was about to follow, but they immediately disappeared into thin air, and the sharp crack that followed informed them all that the gateway had closed again.
Danaia kept her head bowed as she walked among the servants. The obedience chamber was already mostly rebuilt, with rumors buzzing about who was responsible for the destruction. She made her way to the very back, where four slaves were lined up, each naked and kneeling, chains around their necks and wrists.
A guard stood beside the small group. He was waiting for the servants to step forward, each in turn, to be handed the chain of one slave each. Danaia was given a female vampire with black hair and dark eyes that stared down just as blankly as the others. She did not attempt to meet the slave’s gaze as she turned and made her way down a dark corridor, then up the wide stone staircase, leading to the tower.
Up they all went, passing personal chambers on either side. Finally, they reached a library. The double doors were opened for them by two guards, and the servants and slaves filed inside. Three council members sat at a heavy table in the center of the room.
They looked up as the servants entered.
Danaia chanced a quick glance around the familiar room. Shelves lined each wall, each shelf piled with scrolls. Some looked relatively new, while others had gathered dust and cobwebs.
“Bring the slaves forth,” one of the council members commanded.
His skin was a muddy brown, thick and leathery in appearance. He had no horns, simply large swollen places on his face that looked like boils. Each one was filled with an acid that gave the boils a green tinge.
The servant in front of Danaia brought a male slave forward. His skin and eyes were dark, and his head shaved.
“This one is the center of a dispute between two masters,” the servant explained. “They are no longer partners, but he was property of both. They wish to take the case before the highest court.”
“Tell his masters to appear here tomorrow, to plead their cases.” He waved his hand dismissively, and the slave was led from the room.
Danaia stepped forward next, leading the slave with a sharp jerk of the chain. “This one was abandoned by her master. He has forfeited his ownership.”
A dark haired demon with red skin leaned forward beside his fellow council member. He studied the female vampire, eyeing her up and down. She was thin, her hair hanging lank around her shoulders. “Take this one to the council’s chamber. She will serve us until she can be resold.”
Bowing her head with respect, Danaia led the slave towards the back staircase through another set of double doors. She quietly made her way up, sparing a brief glance over her shoulder to be sure that no one else was following after her.
The chamber of the Council of Owners was situated at the very top of the tower. It was a completely circular room, with massive windows on every side. What few torches were on the walls weren’t enough to chase away the never-ending blackness outside. In fact, most of the light came from a pit in front of the south window. The pit in the floor was filled with many blood red stones, each of them shining with a spark of orange at the very center. Leaning over the pit, Danaia watched the flickering lights from the gems dance like flames.
The slave beside her whimpered.
It was the first sound she had made. Her nervousness was betrayed as she shifted her weight from one foot to the other, but still she avoided looking up.
“Shhhh,” Danaia attempted to sooth the slave with a gentle hand on her arm, before leading her by the chain to the wall.
The vampire knelt as she knew she should, and Danaia attached her chain to a hook in the wall.
“You will remain here until one of the owners has use for you,” Danaia explained.
Once the slave was taken care of, the female demon began to explore the chamber. She gave another glance toward the pit of Fire Stones before heading towards the altar at the opposite side of the room. The old stone was cracked and engraved with symbols of five different dialects. Crouching down in front of it, Danaia traced them carefully. She then stood and made her way to the shelf behind the altar, quickly sweeping up the rarely used, but somehow most important scrolls. She hid them carefully in her cloak, her layers of servant’s garb concealing her load well.
She quickly buttoned her cloak, hiding as much of herself as she could, before heading back towards the double doors. Danaia stopped just long enough to glance at her last object of interest – the gateway.
Most of the gateways were located in the smallest building in the center of the brothel. There was only one gateway outside of that building, right there in the council’s chamber. It wasn’t activated, sitting dusty and idle, but was kept specifically for the purpose of evacuation, or hiding the all-important owners of the slave brothel.
The beginnings of a plan were taking shape in Danaia’s mind.
The blood was slowly washed away with a warm, wet rag under a gentle touch, as Buffy carefully bathed Spike’s abused body, wishing that her touch alone could somehow take away the pain. The lash marks weren’t healing yet, despite the blood he had been fed a few hours before. The faded bruising across one of his cheeks glared up at her like an accusation, reminding her of her own crimes.
Warm, soapy water was in a large bowl right beside her, and Danaia had told her that she would bring more, so that Buffy could also bathe. The Slayer could only hope that they weren’t being deceived again.
“Its going to be ok, you know,” she told the vampire. “We’re going to get out of here soon, and then you and I can experience a real bath again. We both need it…” With gentle caresses with the washrag, she cleansed his arms of the dried blood that covered them, trying to ignore the deep gouges from the shackles that had been around his wrists. She washed his chest next, taking in the chiseled muscles and hard planes of his body all over again. “I bet it’s been a really long time for you…you know…to just enjoy a warm shower or something…” His abs were next to be cleansed of the dried blood, before she hesitantly moved lower.
Once, a week before he had disappeared, Buffy had crept into his crypt while he was still asleep. She hadn’t wanted to rush, and hadn’t wanted to deal with his mouth while it was active (and not in a good way). The Slayer had simply watched him as he slept for a while, then had removed the blanket from his naked form and gently explored his body with her fingertips.
Ever since their first night together she had been curious about every little (and not so little) detail. When her fingers had found a particularly sensitive spot, his body had arched off of the bed to meet her touch. His pleasured sighs and groans had driven her into a frenzy of lust. She’d moved her teasing fingers between his legs, fondling his sack before stroking his raging erection. She had then proceeded to wake him up with a firm hand and teasing tongue.
Now, when she moved her hand between his legs to clean him, he closed them with an urgent terror that sent a sudden pain to her heart. His eyes opened suddenly, and he rolled away from her, immediately awake and alert.
He pulled himself painfully up on his knees, crouched on the other side of the cell with his back to the wall, apparently trying to keep himself as close to the wall as possible.
“Spike…” She put the bloodied rag down in the warm water. “Spike, its ok…”
His shaking disturbed her, but at least she knew it wasn’t from hunger this time. Buffy knew that he still had to be in a great deal of pain. He also had to be absolutely terrified. She had never seen the vampire so afraid, and it tore at her deep inside in a way that she didn’t want to think about.
The once cocky and arrogant vampire wouldn’t even look her in the eye.
“Spike…” She crawled slowly closer. Buffy made sure to keep almost as low to the ground as he was, trying not to intimidate him. “It’ll be ok…you don’t have to be afraid.”
His head remained ducked, and he was on his knees, but he didn’t seem to be backing away from her any more. He lowered himself further so that he was on his hands as well, drawing himself into an even more submissive pose.
Shaking her head, Buffy gently reached out to him. She touched the back of his cool hand, stroking it softly with her thumb. “No…Spike…can--can you look at me?”
When he did not respond or raise his head, Buffy spoke in a much firmer tone.
“Spike, look at me.”
Finally, he raised his head from its bowed position. His blue eyes locked onto hers, and for a moment it seemed as if neither of them could look away.
Buffy stared into his eyes breathlessly. There was more weariness than fear there now, and his gaze was much clearer. He was looking at her…actually looking at her, and seemed much more aware of his own surroundings.
Of course, now that he was actually looking straight at her, for only the second time since they’d found him, all her well-thought-out words of comfort flew from her mind.
“Hey…” She tried to speak anyway, smiling softly. “Hey, handsome.” She lifted her hand from his, then placed it gently against his cheek.
Spike’s body tensed from the touch, but he didn’t pull away this time. He stared at her in confusion.
“Do…do you recognize me, Spike?” She traced her thumb gently across his bottom lip, then over his cheekbone. She moved it slowly back and forth, stroking tenderly. “Do you know me, at all?”
The vampire did not nod or shake his head in answer, but instead closed his eyes. His expression was guarded, but still, Buffy could see the beginnings of awe on his face. He tilted his head, leaning into her touch, practically rubbing his cheek against her palm.
No more games. No more mind games.
He had hoped, pleaded with powers that never listened for it to be over. Spike had been sure that they were finally going to give him his end.
Instead, they were playing the same old mind tricks. But, it was different this time. Different made it more dangerous. Things were unexpected, which meant that they might be trying to make the pain catch him off his guard, maybe even break him one more time.
She stared back at him with eyes full of compassion and a sadness that he couldn’t figure out. Why would she be sad? And why had she still not aged a day?
*See? More tricks…that’s all it is…*
His thoughts were in scattered pieces, flitting in and out of the darkness that he let himself fall back into most of the time. As long as he retreated to the dark, the pain was always less. She couldn’t touch him, there in the dark. She was pure light that was only occasionally sent to burn him.
But not in any time, in all of his memory, had she ever looked at him like that. And then, she’d touched him, so very softly.
He’d felt a soft touch from her before -- and it was always deceitful.
Spike forced himself to follow his training, and not move away from her. He held still, letting her take and touch as she wanted. But her hands were not violating, and were not hurting.
He wasn’t a fool, of course.
She’d hurt him when she chose, when she decided to drop the game.
But by all the stars that no longer seemed to exist – her touch was so *warm*. There was a gentle heat that belonged only to her that he hadn’t felt in so very long. It swept away pain and gave warmth to what was dead in him, even as it only touched his cheek.
Even as he cursed himself for a fool, he couldn’t help but lean into it.
The Slayer and the Thorshosh demon stood stiffly side by side, both naked and washing with what little warm water and soap they had.
Buffy was grateful for the chance to bathe. Danaia had even brought food for them. Still, thinking of returning to her gritty, sweaty, and grimy clothes right after washing herself was keeping an almost permanent sour look on her face.
Danaia, meanwhile, was watching Spike, which kept Buffy watching Danaia, even as she tried not to watch the female bathe.
Spike was sitting up, his gaze clearer and less fearful as he cast the occasional curious glance in their direction. Every time he did, the Slayer attempted an encouraging smile, and tried to ignore the disappointment as he quickly looked away from her again.
“He is quite active, for a slave,” Danaia commented.
Buffy smirked. “If you want to see active, you should see him when he gets better. He’s not the type that can normally hold still, even if his life depends on it.”
“Here, it usually does.”
The comment was casual, but still sent a chill up Buffy’s spine. What little good humor she had found in the light of Spike’s return to partial sanity had fled. She turned to Danaia, dropping the rag she had been using back into the warm water.
“There’s something I have to say,” she informed the demon. “And I’m only going to say this once.”
Danaia turned towards her, raising an eyebrow ridge nonchalantly.
“I don’t know you,” Buffy said. “I don’t trust you. I don’t care to, either. I’m not going to pretend to know why you’re doing this, and I don’t want to hear some sob story explaining it all. I don’t care about your motives, or about what you really want. If you get in my way in any way, I’ll take you out of it. If you betray us for whatever reason, you won’t last long enough to brag about it, or for it to get you very far.”
Before the Slayer could continue her tirade, they both heard the lock of the door. They turned swiftly towards it, and Buffy grabbed her rag like a weapon and held it above her head, water flinging from it and dripping everywhere.
The door opened wide, and Xander was soon standing in the doorway. “Rejoice! For I return with…” His eyes had gone wide, and his jaw slack.
Green eyes just as wide, Buffy quickly brought her makeshift weapon down to cover her chest. Of course, it didn’t change the fact that Xander had just gotten an eyeful, and was in fact still ogling her. “Xander!”
Harris couldn’t help it as he took in the sight of the girl that he had fantasized about since high school. Her body was wet and glistening. And whether he wanted them to or not, his eyes then wandered to the demon beside her.
Though Buffy looked horrified, Danaia was staring evenly back at him. She stood tall and proud, more than comfortable with the fact that her body was on complete display. And why wouldn’t she be? She was fit and exotic, with long silver hair and soft, human looking skin, except where green scales framed her large breasts and trailed down her sides and her hips. When Xander found his gaze wandering down to silver curls between long, slender, but strong looking legs, he forced himself to look away.
“Sorry…uh…I’ll just, uh…go…” He motioned towards the door as he stepped back out of it. “…think about my wedding.” Within moments he had disappeared back out the door.
The redhead walked in next, an expression of confusion on her face. “What’s going…?” Her eyes widened as she caught sight of the two. “Oh, Goddess.”
Buffy’s face flamed red, but she was relieved to see that her best friend’s stare was mostly directed at the half-demon.
Xander suddenly appeared again, grabbing Willow’s arm firmly. “You’re gay, you have to leave too!”
As he dragged her away, he made sure to close the door so there could be no more peeping. Both of the females in the office could hear the witch protesting.
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