Set 'em Up
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all characters belonging to the show are not my creations, and I take no credit or make any dosh off of writing these stories.
Author’s Notes: Oh MAN I’ve been out of it lately. Watching tv for a week straight tends to send your consintration down the hole. It also kicks your story flow all the hell, which is why I definitely want to thank DreamsofSpike, for helping this chapter flow a little better than it would have. Hope you guys can enjoy!
She was watching him again. She always seemed to be watching him now. Why Spike had suddenly piqued the Slayer’s interest again, he had no idea.
And now – she was touching him.
He tried not to allow his body to shake or tremble, holding himself very still. The wall had become his sanctuary, hiding at least part of his body from the staring eyes of the others in the room. Spike held himself against the cold stone, as she whispered soothingly to him, and touched him with hands that had never been so gentle with him before.
“Tell me what I can do,” she whispered to him softly. “Tell me how I can make this right…”
Her fingertips gently stroked across his palm and he felt hypnotized, just watching her. However, when her hand began to move higher, up his arm, he grew nervous, his body tensing under her soft touch.
“Shhhh…” Buffy kept her voice low as she leaned closer to him, her body almost touching his. “It’s okay…it’ll all be okay, now.”
Spike followed his training, remaining as still as he could while she moved in closer. Soon, one of her hands rested on his chest, while the other reached into her back pocket for something that he couldn’t see.
“I’m doing this for you, Spike. It’s all for you…” Buffy leaned closer to him, brushing her pouty lips softly against his.
He jerked his head back in surprise, wide blue eyes staring down at her in shock.
The object she pulled from her back pocket was a knife.
“I’m going to take it out of you,” she told him. She then raised the knife and plunged it into his chest, ruthlessly carving into him, as if searching for something to cut out. “It’s for your own good…”
Spike gasped and nearly choked on a silent cry of pain, covering his chest protectively with his hands, as he rolled over onto his side. He touched his chest repeatedly, looking down for the wound, only to realize that there wasn’t one. Frowning, he rolled back over to look around the room.
He was alone.
No one was in the cage with him, and for once, the blonde Slayer wasn’t hovering right by the door, either. Instead, he saw the redheaded witch standing there, watching him pensively.
Willow frowned sadly as she watched the vampire in the cage. “Bad dream?”
Spike did not answer, still drawing in hard, unnecessary breaths as he tried to recover.
The witch swallowed hard, moving hesitantly closer and kneeling down in front of the cage door. “You can’t talk, can you?” she finally asked. “I mean, you haven’t…not a word, the whole time I’ve been here…and you know that’s kind of odd, for you…”
Willow squeezed her own fingers, not entirely sure why it hurt so badly when Spike wouldn’t look at her, wouldn’t even shake his head yes or no. There was something so empty in his gaze…
“Those things…they really happened to you, didn’t they? They did those things to you, wi-with the tongue, and the tortures, and…” She looked up, and noticed that Spike had backed even further away from her. She bit her bottom lip. “Dawn figured it out, you know. She’s really worried about you…”
The moment she said the girl’s name, Spike’s eyes were no longer on the floor. They were staring at Willow, through Willow, with intensity like the redhead had never seen before. He narrowed his eyes at her, then tilted his head.
The witch gasped and gave a little jump, then sighed and rolled her eyes at her own tension. She turned to see the Slayer standing behind her. Frowning in worry, she took in her best friend’s haggard appearance and the dark circles under her eyes.
“It’s time,” the Slayer told her.
Spike was led out of the cage. Danaia had told them a command to give him that would make it easier to lead him anywhere, but none of them could stomach the idea of actually using it. Instead, Buffy had tried to gently coax him to come out. When that hadn’t worked, she’d taken him by the hand and led him.
The female demon handed leather packs to Xander and Willow. As the two humans slung the packs over their shoulders, she began to explain.
“Remember, the white is to freeze. The red is for fire. They are like the firestones, but far more delicate. Do not use both at once. And if you happen to fall from a great height and land on them, there will be nothing remaining of you to find and bury.”
Xander stared at her with wide, unblinking eyes. “Comforting.”
Danaia was the one to place the shackles on Spike. There was one for each wrist, with chains attached to the one that went around his neck. He kept his eyes downcast and his hands held out obediently throughout the process.
Everyone wrapped their heavy cloaks around themselves for disguise, except Spike, who was expected to remain naked.
“Are you sure we can’t give him something?” Xander asked, staring at the chained and vulnerable looking vampire. “I mean, come on, the guy’s had to have been naked for a long time…”
“And he cannot wait another day?” Danaia raised an eyebrow.
“She’s right, Xander,” Buffy said. “It would probably draw suspicion, anyway. In case you haven’t noticed, most slaves around here aren’t real big with the coverage.”
Xander sighed, then took a long look around the room. In fact, he was looking anywhere but at the vampire slave. “We’re not forgetting anything important, are we?”
Buffy counted on her fingers. “Weapons, clothes we came with on our backs, magic supplies, Spike…nope, we’ve got everything.”
“Good,” Danaia sighed. “Then let’s stop wasting our time.”
“We’re just making sure,” Willow grumbled. “Pushy pants.”
Xander took his place beside Spike, taking one of the lead-chains in his hand. The Slayer put a hand on his to catch his eyes, then shook her head. “Would you…give us a minute? Please, Xander? We’ll catch up.”
“You sure, Buff?” The carpenter glanced between the Slayer and the chained vampire uncertainly.
The Slayer nodded, then waited for her friends to file out of the room. She didn’t pay any attention to the chatter between them, or any more of Danaia’s instructions. She couldn’t quite take her eyes off of the vampire in front of her.
How long would it be before he’d be able to meet anyone’s eyes without hesitation, or having to be told to?
“Hey.” She placed a gentle hand on one of his arms. Her other hand moved to his cheek.
He looked up at her without further instruction, though his head remained bowed. His eyes were dull, his gaze lifeless. It sent a chill of dread down the blonde’s spine.
“You know this is only temporary…right?” Buffy put a hand on the chains. “It won’t be for long. When this is over, no one will ever be putting you in chains again.” She blinked at her own statement. “Well, unless you wan…” Looking up at him again, she realized that his expression had not changed once. “Uh…never mind. I-Im sorry…oh, god, that came out…”
*And *why* exactly did you want this moment again, if all you were gonna do was screw it up so badly?*
She shook her head, taking hold of one of the leading chains. Placing a hand gently on his back, she led the reluctant vampire out of the office. “Come on…we’d better catch up.”
“It’s just too weird, you know?” Xander shuffled along beside his friend, keeping his entire body hidden by the cloak he wore. The hood covered his face, and he followed the sight of Willow’s shoes. “But at the same time…it’s suddenly really hard to just hate the guy.”
“Yeah…” The witch sighed softly. “He’s just…is he even him anymore? Or is it, like, the whole Angel/Angelus thing? Or, is he even…you know…sane? At all?”
“Well, so far I’ve seen him injured, indecent, playing with chains, and attacking Buffy one minute and kneeling at her feet the next. I don’t know, he could be the same Spike.”
Danaia barely paid attention to the humans behind her. She led them through the hallways, hoping that they would be wise enough to quiet down whenever they were passed. Her hood remained up, and she carefully scanned the faces of everyone that passed them.
A male half-demon was close. He was walking slowly, dressed in servant’s garb, and staring straight ahead. Danaia adjusted her direction, eyes cast down as they passed… hand reaching out and brushing his fingertips. She slipped a piece of parchment into his hand, and he walked on without glancing at her.
The servant quickened his pace, fist clamped tightly around the parchment. Finally, he turned the corner, glancing around him to make sure he hadn’t been followed. Once he knew he was alone, he unfolded the parchment. His instructions were laid out before him in three words.
‘Signal by Fire.’
All five of them approached the building that housed the worst of the torture chambers. They stood at the base of the tower, and four of them looked up at it with apprehension.
Spike did not look up, but had already begun to tremble. Buffy squeezed his arm softly, trying to be discreet so that no one would see her comforting a slave.
Sighing heavily, she took one side, holding the chains firmly, while Danaia took the other. They led the vampire inside, with Willow and Xander trailing behind. The demon throng was oppressing, and the sounds of suffering could be heard right below their feet.
“Let me be the one to speak,” Danaia advised them.
As they made their way up the winding staircase, they managed to blend in with the other servants. The only difference was that theirs was the only vampire being escorted by more than one. They drew the occasional curious glance, but were not stopped by anyone.
The great double doors leading to the council’s library loomed ahead.
“We sure we’re ready for this?” Xander suddenly asked.
Buffy reached inside her cloak, her fingers closing over the hilt of her axe. Her gaze settled on Spike’s arm. Even there, there were half-healed lash marks, evidence of the abuse he’d suffered. Her fingers tightened on her axe until her knuckles turned pure white.
“Ready or not…” Danaia pushed open one of the doors, leading the group inside.
Two members of the council of owners were sitting in the library. One was silver-skinned, eyes almost pure white and ghostly. His thick horns curved back over his skull, and he was dressed in impeccably well kept clothing. He looked almost like a general, sitting well groomed and regal across from his hunched companion.
The haunting white eyes settled on the group that had just entered. Without being addressed further, Danaia stepped forward and bowed her head. “A slave for your…”
“Danaia,” he interrupted her. “How good of you to join us.”
The female half-demon looked up quickly.
He stood slowly, along with the companion that was sitting across from him. When the other council member turned, Danaia spotted familiar green scales, and an even more familiar and infuriating look of smug satisfaction.
Durrak stood beside the other owner calmly, with his hands folded in front of him.
The other demon continued to address Danaia. “Your father has just been telling me about your latest scheme.” He shook his head, looking disappointed. “Really, Danaia… allying yourself with a Slayer?”
Demons seemed to emerge from every shadow and crevice. They were dressed heavily in thick leather armor, the majority brandishing crossbows. They poured out from shadows, and from the two staircases, surrounding the group by the doorway.
“So,” Xander lifted his hood enough to glare in Durrak’s direction. “Daddy tattled, hah? Funny, considering that he was the one that allied himself with the Slayer, first.”
Durrak smirked and shook his head, but otherwise ignored the comment. “Did you know that the Slayer brought along human children to aid her in her fight, Kaushal?”
Buffy pushed back her hood. She stared hard from one demon to the next, then took in the numbers surrounding them. She still kept one hand on the hilt of her axe, while the other tightened on the chain in her hand.
“And a slave…” Kaushal noted. He strode towards them confidently, stopping only feet in front of the Slayer and the vampire beside her. “And an interesting slave she has grown attached to…”
Spike kept his gaze focused intently on the floor. Buffy hadn’t seen a single emotion pass across his normally expressive face.
They struck too quickly to be stopped. The guards swarmed closer around them, and despite the human’s protests, they were grabbed and restrained. The Slayer barely paid attention to any of them, because Spike was suddenly taken from her, led forcefully away by Kaushal.
“No!” Her eyes were wide, and her jaw set. “Don’t touch him!”
Xander watched Buffy for signs of a signal. Willow stood silently in the back, lips pursed in worry. Danaia kept her narrowed eyes straight on her father across the room, one hand hovering over a leather pouch at her side.
The demon guiding Spike by the collar turned to regard the Slayer. He shook his head and sighed. “I hold a great deal of shares in this brothel. Tell me, why would I not touch what is essentially my property?” He turned back to Spike, reaching out to push long, dark hair away from his downcast face. “Intra quad noshmid!”
Spike fell immediately to his knees, head bowed and arms thrust out and crossed in front of him. His stare was directed at the floor, and eerily blank.
Buffy gave a brief struggle against her captors, but they had her firmly by the arms, and she wasn’t sure what it would cost her friends if she went to Spike’s rescue. She swallowed hard, feeling sick inside as she watched the vampire in his submissive pose.
“Don’t you dare…”
“You care for the creature.” Kaushal circled slowly around the kneeling vampire, even as he addressed the Slayer. “Odd, how protective you are of something that exists only to serve. Odder still that you would choose this slave…”
“He’s not a slave…” The Slayer nearly growled in fury. “Not anymore.”
The demon raised an eyebrow ridge. He stood in front of Spike, then reached down and grabbed a handful of dark hair. He yanked it back, forcing the vampire to stare straight upwards, his gaze not even showing a flicker of pain.
“Did you hear that?” Kaushal asked. “You’re not a slave anymore.”
The vampire’s gaze remained empty. He stared past the demon that clutched his hair in a cruel grip.
Kaushal released his hair and shoved his head down so that it touched the floor, putting him in an even more submissive pose. “This one is dangerous,” he informed the Slayer, ignoring the heated glares and the way her fists clenched with the need for violence. “I’m not sure what a Slayer would want with one of our slaves…couldn’t you have captured a vampire yourself? No need to steal one…
Spike’s body trembled as Kaushal’s hand moved slowly over his back. “So, you’ve come to, what?” he asked the Slayer. “Free all the slaves? Why would a Vampire Slayer concern herself with the well-being of vampires?” He laughed at her look of indignation. “Your kindness will be your downfall, just as it was for this slave’s last mistress.”
No one noticed Spike’s gaze as it shot up from the floor, and straight at Kaushal’s back.
Kaushal approached the Slayer and her group, tilting his head and studying the blonde with milky-white eyes. “Did your cohort not explain his crimes? The things he’s done to his owners?”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “How about what they’ve done to him? ‘Cause somehow, I can’t seem to find an ounce of sympathy for them.”
“A slave must be tamed with a firm hand. Discipline is essential, if they are not to get out of hand.” Kaushal made his way away from the Slayer, circling around Spike’s form before standing in front of him again. “His last mistress was lenient…even kind.” He faced the group, turning his back on the slave behind him. “She was a fool. She was ignorant when it came to beasts like these, and she paid for it with her life, at the hands of this very creature you’re leading around like a favored pet.”
None of them were paying his words any attention anymore. The captors didn’t look at him, but instead behind him, their eyes widened. The human male even looked as if he was about to speak.
Spike rose slowly to his feet, his former position of submission abandoned. His eyes blazed yellow, and his fangs descended. When Kaushal realized he no longer had the attention of the entire room, he turned. Staring back at him were demonic eyes full of pure hatred and rage. The demon was frozen, staring in shock, even as the vampire reached forward and grabbed him by the chin and the top of the head, giving a violent twist.
The sickening sound of snapping bone shocked everyone into silence. The silence lasted as Spike released the dead body in his grasp and watched it crash to the floor, sprawled in an awkward position. He watched it as if thinking it would move again, his fangs bared in a silent growl, his breathing heavy.
After the long moment of deafening silence, the demons surrounding them all seemed to realize that a slave had murdered an Owner.
“Kuonosh min!” one of them shouted.
Spike’s vampire visage immediately melted away to his human features. That familiar blank look in his eyes replaced the fury that had filled them moments before. He stared idly towards the demons as each and every one raised their crossbows, directing them at his heart.
“Spike!” Buffy took advantage of the distraction and yanked away from her captor. “Get down!” She quickly tackled the vampire and sent them both to the floor, just as the arrows were released.
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