Buffy hung from her chains, biting back the moans that wanted to emerge from her battered throat. Her shoulders were screaming from hours of holding the weight of her body, and she was sure that even if she was released, she wouldn’t be able to lift her arms for days. It was blissfully quiet and empty in the room – Glory having stopped in mid-beating to shudder and scream “No!” as she changed before Buffy’s eyes into a good-looking young man. A man that Buffy remembered seeing somewhere recently. While she racked her brain for where she’d seen the very flustered man, he struggled to get out of the much-too-small dress that was barely covering his body.
He had given Buffy an apologetic smile and shrug, before running out of the room in his thong underwear. Since then, no one had come in. Buffy eyed the water pitcher across the room hungrily, trying to moisten her lips with a dry and swollen tongue. Shaking off the thirst and pain, she began to once again, writhe and swing, hoping against hope that the chains would pull out of the high ceiling.
The sound of glass shattering had her head whipping towards the only outside wall, to see Spike reaching in and unlocking the balcony door.
“Hello, cutie,” he said cheerfully as he stepped into the room. “Miss me?”
“Took you long enough,” she grumbled, unable to hide a grateful smile.
“Yeah, well. Made a few stops on the way – had a drink at Willy’s, met a nice bird and—“
“Spike.” Buffy’s voice told him she’d played their little game as long as she wanted to, and he quickly dragged a table over to where she was dangling. Placing her legs on the table, he held her until she got her balance, allowing her arms to drop with a groan of relief. Without thinking, he began to rub her shoulders and arms briskly, until she nodded and indicated that the feeling had come back into them.
“Right then,” he said, jumping down and beginning to search for the key to the manacles holding her bloody wrists. “D’you know where the bint put the key?”
“Over there.” She gestured with her chin. “Right next to the water pitcher which, by the way? Would be really appreciated right now.”
“Stupid git,” he muttered to himself, snatching the water and the key and running back to her. “I’m sorry, pet. Too busy being all ‘knight saves the damsel in distress’ to think about what you needed. Drink up and let’s get you out of here and find some medical help.”
“Medical — That’s it!”
“What’s it?” He handed her the pitcher, smiling in approval when she tipped it up and poured water down her throat. He got sidetracked watching the smooth skin on her throat moving with every swallow she took, and it took her attempt to set the pitcher down to remind him that he held the key to her chains. With an apologetic smile, he quickly unlocked the manacles and helped her sit down.
“What’s it, Slayer?” he repeated, watching carefully as she cradled one bleeding wrist in the other hand. He hadn’t realized that his fangs had dropped and his eyes had shifted until Buffy didn’t answer him right away. He ran his tongue over his lips, felt his fangs, and immediately understood why she wasn’t responding. He glanced up aplogetically, expecting her to hit him; instead, she held one wrist out to him in a gesture that could only mean one thing.
“Where I’ve seen that guy before. The one Glory turned into.” Buffy watched carefully as his head lowered to meet her arm, his awed eyes never leaving hers.
“Where’s that, love?” Forcing himself back into human face, he touched his lips to her wounds, licking gently until the blood had stopped and the cuts were pulling shut. Without conversation, she held up the other wrist while she answered him.
“The hospital. I think he works there.”
Spike had finished licking the second wrist and couldn’t prevent himself from brushing his lips across it in what he thought he could always deny was an actual kiss if Buffy called him on it. Which she didn’t. She slid to the edge of the table and gingerly dropped her feet to the floor, allowing him to support her while she tried to stand up.
“Are you gonna be alright?” The way he was running his eyes over her face and body, a frown of concern easily visible, told her that she probably looked as bad as she felt.
“I think so,” she said. “I guess I don’t look so hot, huh?” Her lips twisted in a wry smile.
“I think you look bloody beautiful,” he said with no attempt at his usual snark. “Was afraid we might be comin’ to collect your dead body.”
Trying to ignore his words as well as the look on his face, she blushed and asked, “We?”
He nodded, reluctantly releasing her arm as it became obvious that she was regaining her strength quickly.
“The cavalry’s right behind me somewhere. Didn’t want to wait for them – I was afraid...”
“You were afraid? For me? What kind of a Big Bad are you?” Her gentle teasing was belied by the warmth in her voice and the smile on her face.
“One that—” Whatever he was going to say was cut off as the outer door flew open and Glory’s minions poured into the room. From the shouting behind them and the sounds of battle, it seemed that the rest of the Scoobies had arrived.
“She’s loose! Get her! Glorificus will boil us in oil if she gets away!”
“Showtime, pet,” he murmured, freeing up his sword and handing it to Buffy. “Are you gonna be alright to fight?”
She took an experimental swipe or two and nodded. “My shoulders hurt, but they seem to be working okay. But where’s your weapon?”
“Brought mine with me,” he answered through his elongating fangs.
He leapt into the first wave of minions, teeth and claws ripping and tearing, his battle roar echoing within the big room. Buffy turned her back to him and used the sword to hold the next wave at bay, decapitating them as often as she could. Stabbing, it turned out, would slow them down, but it didn’t kill them. From the way Spike was snarling and biting without a twinge from the chip, it would have been clear that the minions weren’t human, even if Buffy hadn’t seen them survive multiple stab wounds.
Gradually, the flow of minions was slowing as more and more of them were killed or incapacitated. When Giles, Xander and the two magicians had worked their way to the door, they found Spike and Buffy fighting back to back, moving almost in tandem as they took out Glory’s remaining helpers. It was obvious that neither the slayer nor the vampire needed or wanted any help, as Buffy took out her hours of pain on the creatures responsible for much of it. Spike was enjoying the first full-out battle that he’d had in years so much that he almost looked disappointed when the last minion succumbed to his fangs.
Spitting out the blood with a shudder, he turned to watch Buffy dispatch the last scabby little creature in front of her. He shook off his game face, so that when she looked up to meet his eyes, they were the same bright blue ones that had looked at her so warmly before the attack. Wrenching her gaze away, she turned to greet her watcher, her eyes narrowing with suspicion when she saw who was with him.
“Ethan Rayne,” she growled. “What are you doing here?”
“Well, that’s quite ungrateful, Slayer,” he huffed. “Considering that I am solely responsible for your rescue.” When everyone turned stunned eyes on him, he amended quickly, “Well, perhaps not solely responsible, but I assisted. Without my mirror they wouldn’t have known how important it was to get to you quickly.”
She looked to Giles for confirmation, which he gave with a reluctant nod. “It was of some value, Buffy. And he has brought us important information about Glory. For instance, she can change—“
“Into a man. A man who works at the hospital. Yeah, we got that memo.”
“Oh. Well then. You seem to be up to speed,” he muttered, eyes fixed firmly on the ground near her feet.
Beside her, Buffy could hear Spike’s steady growl and she looked at him in confusion. “What?” He didn’t answer her, just continued to glare at Ethan and Xander, his growl just audible to those closest to him. Buffy was suddenly aware that her shirt had been so destroyed by Glory’s interrogation that the shreds had fallen off while she was fighting. She was now wearing only an also-much-abused lacy bra that was hanging on by one strap. Her hands went up to cover her chest just as Spike’s “here” gave notice that he was shoving his shirt into her hands.
With a grateful smile, she pulled the shirt on and buttoned it securely, then turned her own glare on the unabashedly leering sorcerer and an embarrassed Xander. Before she could remonstrate with them for ogling her abused body, they heard a piercing shriek from the elevator at the end of the hall.
“What the hell is going on here?”
“Oops!” Willow said. “I think she’s back.”
“Time to mount up.” Xander looked around the room for another exit, and saw nothing but the balcony, which dangled six stories over the parking lot.
Spike grabbed the chains and he and Buffy, pulling together, were able to yank them out of the ceiling. Quickly handcuffing them together, they began adding drapes and sheets off the bed until they had something that would get them close enough to the ground that they might be able to drop safely. The sounds coming from the hall indicated a need for haste and Giles began to work his way down the makeshift ladder muttering the whole time about being ‘too old for this”. Ethan whispered in Willow’s ear, waved his hands at the doorway and then followed the watcher over the railing. Xander was next, imploring Willow to come with him.
The witch, however, faced the open door of the apartment and began chanting. As they watched, a glowing barrier began to form just inside the door. Suddenly, on their side of the barrier they saw Buffy hanging from her chains, apparently unconscious, while minions scurried around the room. As soon as Willow was satisfied with what she and Ethan had created, she bolted out the door and scrambled down the chains as quickly as she could, eyes shut and repeating rapidly, “I am not afraid of heights, I am not afraid of heights.”
“After you, pet.” Spike indicated the balcony and Buffy nodded, then stopped. “What is it?”
“My shoulders,” she said. “The adrenalin kept me from noticing in the fight, but when I try to hang by my arms...”
“Alright. Let me go first. That way, if you lose your grip, I’ll have you.”
He leapt over the railing, waiting until she was right above him before starting down. When he realized that she was grimacing and wincing with each movement, he paused and waited until she was between him and the chain.
“Just hang on with whatever doesn’t hurt, Slayer, and let me support you. I’ve got you.”
He wrapped his legs tightly around her thighs, holding her in place while he carefully worked his way down the chains, making sure to keep her close enough to it that she could grab it if either one of them slipped. When they got to the balcony where Spike had seen the naked woman, he paused and was rewarded when the woman, who had come out onto her balcony to watch the ragtag group of people shimmying down the side of the building, recognized the vampire and smiled warmly. Spike blew her a kiss, before sliding down quickly out of her sight.
“Who was that?” Buffy’s calm tone was obviously forced, and the vampire smiled to himself as he purred, “Jus’ some bint I met on the way up. “Course she was naked at the time, so it was a mite more interesting than--”
Spike resisted the urge to rub himself against her as he responded with a cheerful, “That I am, pet.”
There was no response while he continued to work his way down to the waiting Scoobies. When they reached the end of the would-be ladder, still a good fifteen feet off the ground, he stopped and held her tightly while he asked, “Are you ready, Slayer? Bit of a drop, but if the whelp didn’t break both his legs, I’ll wager you’ll be fine.”
He wrapped one strong arm around her waist, and hanging by the other hand, unwrapped his legs. Lowering her as far as he could, he gave a little squeeze and then released her to drop to the ground. As soon as she had rolled out of the way, he let go, landing lightly on his feet. The humans, all of whom had landed hard and rolled to the ground, glared at the grinning vampire.
Giles pulled up in his car, urging everyone to get in quickly before the glamour and barricade that Willow and Ethan had erected was overwhelmed by the god’s power and she figured out what had happened. Her shrieks of rage at not being able to get into her apartment were clearly audible to the ears below and they spurred the humans to pile into the car. With Giles and Ethan in the front seats, and Buffy squeezed between Willow and Xander in the back, there was no room for Spike and he was preparing to walk home when, to his surprise, Xander pulled Willow onto his lap and Buffy scooted over, smiling an invitation at the vampire.
Shaking his head in disbelief, he quickly jumped in beside the Slayer, barely getting the door shut before Giles was speeding out of the parking lot and back towards Restfield Cemetery. With their shoulders pushed together, it was obvious that everyone was cramped and uncomfortable, so Spike very carefully raised his arm and draped it across the back of the seat, allowing Buffy to fit into the space now available at his side.
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