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The Worst Betrayal by TwilightChild
Straight Shooter
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Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all characters belonging to the show are not my creations.

Author's Notes: As usual, many thanks to DoS, my wonderful beta and partner in crime for quite a few projects now. Also, many MANY thanks to Tamakin, who has made me a beautiful banner for this story. The banner is mostly the reason for the NC-17 rating, in case you can't tell.

BTW, chapter is named for Kathleen, one of my very loyal and wonderful reviewers.


Only a second after Buffy managed to tackle the vampire to the ground, the air was filled with deadly arrows. She purposefully knocked a table beside him over, so that when they fell, the table granted cover. Metal points embedded into the wood, the tips of some breaking through to the other side. Some of them rained over the two of them, striking only inches away.

The Slayer’s three companions went to work immediately. Danaia took the two humans by the arms and led them into a sprint, crossing to the far side of the room in moments. When she released them, they nearly fell into the book shelves.

Their sudden movements drew the attention of half of the demon guards. They approached, clad in grisly armor of thick skins and rusted metals. Some of them grinned with malicious intent, their fangs protruding over their upper lips.

Danaia gave them a small smile, before pulling something from the bag at her side. She opened her hand.

A tiny, clear pebble rested in the palm.

She slammed it hard into the ground, three feet in front of her. The air seemed to freeze. The stone imploded, and the air thickened, taking on the appearance and feeling of a thick gel. Danaia removed two more pebbles from her pouch, and threw them both.

The thick air spread, soon covering half the library, and completely blocking the entrance. Each demon touched by it was trapped, unable to move far. Arrows were captured from mid-air to spin uselessly, several feet, or sometimes only mere inches from their intended targets.

“Ok…that’s…” Xander stared. “That’s just…” He turned to look at the red-headed witch beside him. “No offense Will, but you’ve *never* come up with something *that* cool.”

“Hey!” Willow frowned at her best friend. “I’ve done cool before…you haven’t seen half of the cool stuff I’ve done!”

The few demons left rushed the three of them, forgetting all about their former targets.

Two of them rushed Xander, and he quickly ducked, drawing his sword and swiping one across the gut. The injured one stumbled into the other, and the carpenter gave both just enough of a shove to send them into the growing mass of congealed air.

Willow watched with wide eyes as one of the demons approached her, drawing a small knife. He looked her up and down with a hungry gaze, before beginning to back her into a corner. “Hey, you know…you don’t look, um…very friendly…” She kept her eyes on the knife, which he was raising threateningly towards her face. “Neither does that…”

The demon moved the blade slowly across her cheek, attempting to intimidate her with the cool touch of the metal. He blinked in surprise when a slow smile appeared on her face.

She shook her head. “Really not gonna work out for ya.” The witch slammed her hand onto his chest, and a pulse of unsteady power sent him reeling back through the air, and straight into the same prison that trapped his comrades.

Willow gasped, the unstable power that she had drawn in pulsing and pounding through her body, until gradually fading away. She frowned, wondering how the unbalanced elements might affect her much larger spells…

Buffy finally rose from behind the table, immediately going into action. She picked an arrow from the ground and sent the tip into one of the demon’s eyes. Before the demon could fall, she used his shoulders to swing up, and wrapped her legs around another’s head and gave a hard twist, breaking its neck. She landed in a crouch as the two fell.

“Is that it?” Xander peered around the library, looking down at the bodies, then over at the ones still entrapped in thin air. “Is that all of them?”

Danaia frowned, also peering around the room. Her gaze went from one body to the next, searching…

The double doors suddenly burst back open, and a crowd of guards came pouring in…only to be immediately stuck in thin air, their mouths wide open in unvoiced protests, and their limbs working in slow motion to continue their attack.

Willow’s eyebrows rose in appreciation. “Nifty. At least we know no one’s going to be sneakin’ up on us that way.”

Spike rose from behind the cover that he’d been forced to take. He shook his head as if in a daze, before looking back behind him…and freezing at the sight of the Master he’d killed. Tilting his head, he took note of the awkward angle of his neck and head.

Buffy stood beside him, looking at the same thing. “That…that was…” She grabbed his arm and turned him around to face her. “That was…idiotic…” She pointed down at the demon, her voice trembling. “And reckless, and…and *foolish* and stupid…” The slayer looked up into Spike’s eyes before flinging herself closer, wrapping her arms around his neck and burying her head against his bare shoulder. “Oh my god, that was so *you*!”

The Vampire’s back became rigid, and he stiffened under her touch.

“I knew…” Buffy closed her eyes and pressed her body closer to his. “I knew you were still in there, somewhere…”

Spike’s hands hovered at her sides, before he awkwardly placed them on her back. His body shook under her touch, and Buffy reluctantly pulled back to look him in the eye again. But his eyes were not on her, but were instead on the demon – the former Owner that he had killed.

Buffy swallowed hard, before turning to her three other companions. “Do you think you guys can take care of the Owners…Masters…council of whatevers?”

Danaia snorted. “*That* one could likely take care of them on his own.” She pointed at Xander.

“Gee, thanks…” He blinked. “I think.”

Willow picked up a discarded crossbow, quickly loading it. “We can take care of some all-important demony geezers, no problem.”

“Guess we’d better hurry.” Xander watched as two more guards stumbled on the scene and became trapped in the soupy mess. “Before they find another way to get in here.”

Danaia pointed to a small staircase. “This way, children.”

Xander took the lead, hefting his sword up in front of him. He climbed the dark stairwell, keeping a hand on the stone wall to guide him. Willow began to follow after, until Danaia put a hand on her arm and quickly yanked her back.

“Remember,” the half demon whispered. “Once you have hold of the fire stone’s power, do not let go. If you lose control at any moment, you will destroy every slave in the brothel.”

Willow stared back at her, eyes wide as saucers. “Well, no pressure or anything!”

The witch pulled away from their guide and turned, heading up the stairs after her friend. Her fingers were now trembling in apprehension, so she tried hard to keep them away from the trigger.

Danaia watched the two leave before turning to the Slayer. “You do not plan to join them?”

Buffy had remained close to the vampire the entire time. “Not just yet.” She suddenly marched away from them, towards a dark corner of the room. She reached into a small alcove between two of the towering bookshelves, grabbed hold of something that seemed to struggle, then yanked a Thorshosh demon from hiding.

Durrak grabbed the Slayer’s wrists and tried to wrestle free, but Buffy shoved him hard against the shelves. Books toppled down onto the floor and scattered at their feet.

Snagging a discarded crossbow, Danaia quickly approached. She made sure it was loaded before aiming directly for her father’s head.

“Wait.” The Slayer’s voice was cold as she instructed the enraged female. She held a tight grip on Durrak’s throat.

Soon, the male stopped his struggling. He tried hard to breathe past the Slayer’s grasp. He spared a brief glance at Danaia and the weapon in her hand, before his eyes searched the blond Slayer’s.

Buffy waited until he was desperate in his need to breathe before finally releasing his throat. She ignored his relieved gasps and shoved him back hard by the shoulders.

“What do you want?” Durrak asked, once he’d recovered his composure.

The Slayer smiled unpleasantly. “I’m giving you *one* chance to live.”


“Hey, uh, Wills?” Xander slowed his approach once they’d passed the staircase. The double doors loomed ahead of them. “Shouldn’t the daddy-hating-demon-gal be following us? And now that I think about it, why isn’t Buffy?”

“Why?” Willow gave her friend a nudge with her elbow, trying to hide her small grin. “Afraid of striking out on your own all the sudden?”

“No,” Xander immediately denied the attack on his manly courage. “I was just thinking…you know, Slayer here…Slayer fight…green half-demon fight, too. That was the plan.”

“Well, new plan,” Willow insisted. “They’ve already taken out the guards. The guards were the real threats. I mean, what kind of damage could these guys do?”

Together, they forced the double doors open, groaning under their weight. Willow was the first to stop, gasping as she stared into the Owner’s Chamber.

Wooden stocks were situated in the very center of the room. A single female slave was trapped inside of them. Her neck and wrists were bound inside the stocks. Her hair was wild and covered most of her face, stuck to her skin by tears and blood from blows across the face. Her body looked frail and starved, with bruises from hand marks and crops.

And she had been violated.

“Oh, god…” Xander caught sight of the trembling female only a moment after the witch.

“Okay…” Willow swallowed hard. “So, they can do a lot of damage.”


“What are you doing?” Danaia demanded.

“You don’t think I paid attention, do you?” Buffy asked Durrak as she pressed him hard against the bookcase. “You told me that the slaves were captured by independent hunters. It was up to those independents to implant a firestone in every slave before they could be sold to the brothel, right?”

Durrak watched her with a weary gaze, before finally nodding silently.

The Slayer yanked him away from the bookcase, and slammed him down on a table near the center of the room. Spike, only a few feet away, jumped at the sudden violence. His attention was soon trained completely on them. Durrak spared him a brief glance, before peering back up at the Slayer that had him pinned.

He wanted to rub the back of his aching head, but he dared not move.

“You caught Spike,” she finally pointed out. “You were the one that captured him, so you’re the one that implanted that thing inside of him. Which means –“ She slammed his head back against the table again for good measure. “You’re the one that can take it out.”


The two slowly approached the entrapped vampire. They knew the slave was aware of their presence when she stiffened, then her legs began to tremble in terror.

“Easy…” Willow slowly placed the crossbow down on the floor. She glared at Xander until he put his sword away, and then began her approach again. “It’s ok, I promise…” She tried hard not to sound condescending, but the whole situation reminded her of approaching an abused animal…

She scolded herself immediately for the thought. Despite all of her years on the hellmouth, she still couldn’t imagine such horrible things happening to people…real people…and had no idea how to handle the reality of it.

“Willow…” Xander placed a cautioning hand on her shoulder. “I don’t think we’re about to convince her that everything’s ok.”

“No…” Willow admitted. “But we have to let her out…” She grimaced. “God, look at her, Xander…how could anyone…?”

“Demons,” he pointed out.

“That’s no excuse…”

The witch tried to keep herself calm, not wanting to frighten the female vampire anymore than they already had. She moved even closer, and could soon hear the creature’s panicked, unnecessary breathing.

There was a simple locking mechanism just outside the prisoner’s reach. Willow unlatched it, and was soon able to lift the top-half of the stocks. “It’s ok…we’re going to get you out of here, okay?” She tried to smile reassuringly.

When she tried to place a reassuring hand on the slave’s back, the vampire flinched away violently, stumbling on weak legs.

There was suddenly movement from all corners of the room. Figures that had looked like mere shadows or statues began to move forward, into the light.

“By what authority do you free this slave?” A deep voice suddenly demanded.

Both humans yelped and whirled to face the approaching figures. The pair of friends moved back to back and turned slowly in a circle to take in the sight of each shadowed figure in turn.

“Great googly moogly!” Xander clutched at his heart as he spoke to Willow in a stage-whisper. “I hate it when they can do that!”


“Are you insane?” Danaia no longer appeared calm, her eyes blazing with her fury. “Why would you be willing to trust him for even a moment? Your friend will already be deactivating the stones-!”

Buffy whirled on her, pulling Durrak back into a standing position. “And she could fail! You said it yourself; if she loses control it’s over for all of them! And I am *not* going to take the chance of that happening to Spike!”

The green skinned demon kept his hands up in a supplicating manner. He looked from his daughter to the Slayer. “A wise precaution…I will not hurt your vampire any more than I need to. I will require a knife and a set of chains, however…”

“Chains?” Buffy’s eyes widened. She took a brief look at the vampire in question, and her heart sank to see him pressed against the wall, hunched into himself to try and escape all the screaming and the consequences it might bring him. Swallowing hard, the Slayer forced her attention back to Durrak. “He’s already chained. I’ve already had to do that to him, make him a prisoner all over again. What makes you think he needs *more* chains, more restraints?”

“We have little choice,” Durrak spoke calmly. “He will panic during the process; I have no doubt of it. If he thrashes too hard, I could injure him severely.”

Buffy clenched her fists and tried not to do the same with her jaw.


“You do not belong here.” A red skinned demon stepped forward, eyeing the two humans in the center of the room suspiciously.

“You are but a pair of humans…” A smaller, elderly looking demon sounded amused.

“Why have you come?” A demon with skin as black as pitch asked.

“We’ve come to free the slaves,” Willow announced, chin jutted proudly.

The laughter was unsettling. Xander shivered as he recalled his previous hyena possession. They reminded him of a pack of them.

Each demon was hidden under a cloak of soft, golden fabric. The entire group appeared ceremonial.

Xander took a look at the female vampire, her long hair sticking to her face and back. He noticed immediately that she seemed to be ignored, no longer important, if she ever had been. And yet, the owners seemed dressed up so fancy…he snorted. “Wouldn’t be surprised if there was such thing as a ceremonial rape here…”

The red skinned demon stepped forward, circling closer to the two in the center of the room. “You two would be slaves yourselves, if it weren’t for your fragile natures.”

“You mean we wouldn’t last long, the way you like to rape and torture?”

Willow’s voice had a hard edge that Xander wasn’t used to. He’d seen tough Willow more than enough times, but he’d rarely seen cold Willow. He turned, trying to get a glimpse of her face.

“They are slaves,” another of the demons answered, as if it explained everything.

The red demon smirked, letting his head down and giving a better glimpse of his face, and the yellow horns that adorned his head. “How we treat lesser beings are not your concern. The ways of demons-“

“I’m not here to be your judge,” Willow interrupted in a cold voice. “I’m here to be your jury and executioner.”


Durrak placed a hard hand on the back of Spike’s neck, before slamming him forcefully over a table. Buffy and Danaia raised their crossbows simultaneously, keeping the arrows trained on his head.

“Don’t you *dare* hurt him.” Buffy managed to speak through her rage. “Not more than you…have to…”

Spike trembled as he stayed obediently draped over the hard wooden surface. Durrak watched as the vampire clenched his fists, but otherwise did not fight. He nodded to the Slayer to acknowledge her warning, before tugging on the chain connecting the shackles around the vampire’s wrists. He wrapped another chain around it, this one connected to a bolt that had been driven into the stone floor. It kept him positioned just the way he was, and wouldn’t allow him to escape.

“I am ready to begin.” He held out his hand expectantly towards the Slayer.

Sighing, she knelt down just long enough to pull a dagger from her boot. She then handed it to the horned demon, watching him carefully for any signs of deceit.

Durrak took the dagger, then turned it around and studied it while he held the vampire down by the back of its neck. He gave the Slayer a brief smile and wink, before plunging the blade into Spike’s back. He watched as his captive arched his back and let out a completely silent scream of pain.


Their laughter was grating, and Xander was surprised that his friend could stand so stone-faced against them all.

“I am not one to be trifled with,” she told them.

“Uh, Wills…” Xander leaned close to whisper to her. “I thought you said you couldn’t do much magic…you’ve gotta save mojo for the-?”

“Shut up,” she squeaked.

A pointed ear on the black-skinned demon twitched. He grinned, jagged teeth exposed in malicious humor. He turned to the demon beside him and whispered in his ear. That demon did the same.

“A witch,” Red remarked blandly. “And you think you are a threat to us, here, in our fortress?”

The vampire slave that no one had given another thought suddenly leapt from the wall she had been cowering against. She wrapped her legs around the red-skinned demon’s hips and her arms around his shoulders. Her fangs sank into his neck, ripping and tearing and gnawing into golden, foul smelling blood overflowed from her mouth. The demon’s scream was lost in a gurgle of protest, and he flailed as little as he could.

Taking advantage of the shock in the room, Xander drew his sword and charged with a battle cry. An owner with leathery green skin was impaled, and gave a final gasp. The carpenter kept up his charge until he came to one of the massive, open-air, stone window sills. He gave his victim a hard shove, before realizing that the sword was thoroughly stuck on a rib bone.

“Uh oh…” he tried to keep his balance, swaying dangerously before he let go of the sword, and let both his weapon and the victim he impaled tumble to the ground far below.

Willow also took advantage of the distraction. She raised her crossbow and fired at the black-skinned demon. The arrow embedded itself into his throat, and he raised a clawed hand to try and staunch the flow of bubbling black blood that looked more like tar.


Spike pulled hard against his restraints, his mouth wide open in a silent scream of pain and rage. He jerked back and forth, trying in vain to evade the blade that was slowly carving into him, right beside his spine. What little was left of his logical mind attempted to remind him that disrupting the blade could cripple him, but it was a useless thought in his panic.

“Holding him still would be useful!” Durrak grit his teeth in frustration as he tried to cut in a straight line, the incision getting deeper. Blood poured from the jagged wound.

Buffy bit hard on her bottom lip as she watched the vampire’s suffering. His mouth was open in the same expression of agony that had haunted her dreams…

She turned to Danaia, putting her own crossbow down. “Keep that thing pointed at Durrak. If he gets even so much as a sly look on his face, shoot him.”


“Always the dramatic one,” Durrak remarked.

“Shut up and do your job.” Buffy spared him only a single glare before draping herself across the table next to the struggling vampire. She reached up and took his clenched fists in her hands, gently stroking them as she whispered soothingly. She laid her head against the back of his neck, trying desperately to comfort him in his fear.

“Shhhhh…Spike, its ok…I swear, it’s going to be ok…” She kept one hand on both of his, but moved the other to wrap around his waist and help to hold him still.

Spike shook his head in denial and bucked, as if trying to knock her off. When the Slayer wouldn’t release her hold, he went suddenly slack.

Durrak waited to see if the brunette vampire would struggle further. When he remained still, he began cutting again, moving deeper and closer to the spine. The only sign of the pain it caused was the shaking of Spike’s body.


The demon looked down at its own hand. Its blood looked like sludge between its fingers. It rolled its eyes towards Willow, and then slowly began to stumble towards her.

It attempted to pull the bolt out of its own neck, but ceased when it only succeeded in spitting up more blood. It held out its hand towards the witch, but fell to its knees, then onto its face before it could reach her. Only when it lay still did the red head allow herself to breathe a sigh of relief.

With a high-pitched scream, the last demon rushed her. He looked like a younger version of the one the vampire slave had attached. His skin was red, and his claws and horns yellow. His claws extended as he brought them down towards Willow.

The witch quickly raised her crossbow to block. The crossbow was cut in half by her attacker’s vicious swipe. Gulping nervously, she quickly backed up and tossed the pieces at him. He ducked and snarled, but quickly charged forward.

“Eep!” Willow turned and fled in the other direction, knowing that she couldn’t possibly get far.

Xander watched Willow flee from the demon, then turned to see the vampire slave. She was still wrapped as tightly as a snake around the Owner she had been tearing into. His blood coated them both. The yellow fluid made them look like a strange, intertwined creatures from an abstract painting.

He glanced from the vampire to the demon that Willow ducked and weaved from.

“Hey!” he suddenly called to her. “Hey, great job, there…you can help us out with that guy, can’t you?”

The female vampire glared at him, idly licking some of the blood on her hands. The younger red demon suddenly lost his interest in Willow, turning his attention to her instead. His eyes burned yellow with rage, and the slave’s body began to tremble as she watched his anger.

Yelping in terror, she disengaged herself from the body. She grabbed at its shoulder and began tugging it towards her, like a long-prized possession.

“Donyash!” The younger rushed forward, snarling in rage at the vampire that dared to harm one of her owners. “You worthless animal, you have murdered my brother!”

The vampire stood quickly, backing up even further and dragging the corpse with her. She soon found herself stepping into empty space, tumbling backwards out the window.

Xander’s eyes widened and he rushed forward to attempt a rescue. He was knocked violently aside as the younger demon dove and caught his brother’s ankle. The slave hung onto the body’s wrist, kicking into empty air.


“I’m sorry…” Buffy held onto the vampire as tightly as she could, placing a gentle kiss on his cheek. “I’m so, so sorry, I had to…”

Spike had begun squirming again as the blade of the dagger sliced further into his flesh, and had begun digging just underneath his spine.

“Spike, you have to hold still,” Buffy begged. “If something goes wrong he could-“

“I have it!” Durrak dug in deeper, gritting his fangs in concentration. He used the blade to dig out the stone that had been embedded in flesh for years. He used his fingers to finally extract it from the wound. “Under the spine is always guaranteed to be difficult to locate, and most affective-“

“Shut up!” Buffy sighed in relief as Spike stilled. He had been crying out silently, and simply watching him in his pain had brought tears to her eyes. “You see?” She finally told him. “It’s over…we can get you out of here now, you’re safe. No more exploding-“

Durrak suddenly lifted the Slayer off of the table by her shoulders and kicked her hard in the gut, sending her slamming into a chair across the room with surprising strength. He yanked hard at Spike’s chains, pulling the restraining metal right out of the ground. He then pulled Spike back onto his feet as Danaia was aiming. He forced the vampire in front of himself and held the bloody dagger to his throat.

Danaia took aim, prepared to shoot through the slave’s chest if she had to.

“No!” Buffy shouted as she brought herself back to her feet. “No, don’t move!”


“Hold on!” Xander shouted. He dropped himself beside the red demon, ignoring the threat as he attempted to reach far enough to grab the frightened female’s hand.

She whimpered as she peered up at the dead demon she held onto, and the live one trying to pull her in to rip her apart. She then looked below, a wistful expression on her face.

“No!” Xander cried, stretching out further beside the demon that was still ignoring his presence. “No, don’t! Just climb!”

Green eyes peered up at him sadly. She mouthed a silent ‘thank you’ before releasing her hold and plummeting towards the ground.

“Xander, move!”

He looked over his shoulder to see Willow behind him. When he turned back around, the demon beside him took a swipe at his chest, knocking him back with a vicious blow. He gasped for air as he writhed on the floor, looking down at himself to make sure nothing was cut open. “Oh…good…” he gasped as he felt his bruised ribs. “Demon fist…not…so much…the claws.”

Willow approached the demon that was now pulling his brother’s body back into the tower. In her hand was a metal rod she had found. From the signs of blood on it, she had guessed that it was used for punishing slaves, or simply causing them pain for amusement.

She brought it down with a hard swing against the creature’s foot. He howled in pain as the smaller bones broke. The witch quickly did the same with the other foot, feeling the heel break under the heavy metal.

“Xander, help me!” She dropped the rod and began shoving at its back with her foot, trying hard to push it back towards the edge.

Immediately catching on to her plan, Xander stumbled back to his feet, before taking a running leap and curling up, bowling into the demon as it tried to recover. It quickly lost its balance, and with a curse and a scream it fell from the windowsill, spinning through the air in a deadly dive.

Willow held onto Xander by the shoulders as he almost went over himself. They both scrambled away, falling to the floor and gasping in relief.

“See?” Willow made a face as she lifted her hand out of black blood that had spread across the floor in a pool. “Demon geezers, not so tough.”

“Disrespectful little worms…”

The voice made both humans turn as swiftly as hey could manage while sprawled on the floor. They scrambled backwards, moving towards the safety of the wall as another demon walked calmly into the chamber.

“Oh, god…” Xander winced in disgust, still clutching his ribs.

The demon had earth brown, leathery skin. It also had boils that spotted its entire body, and each one was filled with a putrid green liquid. Its eyes held a green tinge.

“You shall be taught proper respect for your betters…”

As the two watched, the demon seemed to contort and become even more deformed. Its boils inflated further, making it look as if parts of its face and body were swelling and it would burst at any moment.

Finally, they did burst. And just as they did, the air froze.

A clear jell seemed to form around the demon, entrapping him and his ooze in a slow-moving bubble. What little of the green liquid had escaped fell to the stone floor, and smoke rose from it as it bubbled.

“Acid.” Willow nodded, holding up a second clear stone, hoping she wouldn’t have to use it.

Xander smiled at her. “You know, in a moment of complete panic, I kinda forgot we had those.”

“Yeah,” she nodded, looking down at the pebble in her hand. “And I say again, these are downright nifty.”


Buffy circled Durrak, ready to strike the moment she got the chance.

“What do you think will happen if you hurt him?” she asked. Her voice nearly trembled with rage. “Do you think for a minute that I’ll let you get out of here alive?”

“Just let me shoot,” Danaia insisted.


Durrak laughed, pressing the dagger harder to Spike’s throat. The vampire remained utterly still, staring up at the ceiling as if the events taking place were common and undeserving of attention.

“Still holding a grudge, my dear?” Durrak smiled almost tenderly at the half-demon.

“Do not speak to me.” Her voice was as hard as stone.

“Do you hurt?” he continued to taunt.

“Do not speak!”

“You may not have a soul…but you’ve always been far too…” He studied his child’s face with something akin to pity. “…human.”

Buffy suddenly struck, coming at him from the side. She grabbed the hand holding the dagger and yanked back his thumb, immediately breaking it. He snarled in pain before shoving Spike into her, sending them both on the floor before turning swiftly and backhanding Danaia. When she hit the floor he fled towards the stairs leading to the top chamber of the tower.

He jerked forward with a gasp. He took a jerky step forward, then another, still trying to flee even as one hand reached back to touch the arrow buried in the base of his skull. Durrak’s tongue lulled out and his body jerked again, before he fell face-first onto the floor.

Buffy sat up, pulling Spike close to her body. He practically huddled on her lap, his eyes closed and his jaw clenched. She stroked his long hair softly before looking up at Danaia, who still had the crossbow raised. Her gaze would not leave the body.

“That was wrong,” the Slayer suddenly said. When the half-demon looked at her in surprise, Buffy merely stared down at her lover, watching as he recovered from his confusion and rage. “It was too quick…”

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