Buffy, in the meantime, was doing her best to sneak quietly through the woods and make her way around the parking lot so as to approach the factory from the back. Her bag full of extra stakes, cross bows, and holy water kept catching on bushes and yanking her backwards to the accompaniment of muttered curses. When she realized that she was making enough noise for a normal human to hear her, never mind a creature with super-hearing, she stopped and set the bag down with a sigh. She glared at it, as though she could intimidate it into being smaller and less unwieldy, but the bag just sat there looking large, heavy and lumpy. With another sigh, she opened the recalcitrant bag and pondered what she really needed. Her favorite sword was already hanging over her shoulder, so she reluctantly decided to abandon the cross bow and it’s quiver of wooden arrows. She tucked a few more stakes in and around her clothing and put a water pistol filled with holy water in her front pocket before patting the bag fondly and saying, “Wait here. I might need you again.”
Now relieved of the bulky object that had been impeding her progress, she resumed a much more stealthy path through the trees and around the building. The closer she got, the stronger the vamp vibes became, until she felt like she was immersed in a sea of vampires. And yet, she saw nothing as she crept up to a closed door that had a small window in it. Grumbling, not for the first time lately, about her lack of height, she jumped up and down, trying to see through the window and into the lighted interior.
Giving that up as a bad job, she walked along past the windows, noting with interest that none of them were darkened the way they were on the side that overlooked the Master’s ‘throne room’. She crouched down and peered into one window, flinching back when she found a room full of people. A second, more cautious, peek showed her what appeared to be humans in various stages of illness. A closer look at the listless people lying around below her revealed that they all had bite marks and makeshift bandages scattered around their bodies, as well as bruised and bloody arms and wrists.
As she watched, the door to the room opened; two vampires came in, looked around, and pointed at two young women who appeared to be slightly less anemic than most of the others. Crying softly, the two girls obediently followed the two vamps out the door and into what Buffy presumed must be the area where the draining took place. Every slayer instinct that she had was insisting that she crash through the window and rescue the two girls from what she was sure was going to happen to them. However, she was able to smother the urge to charge in, stakes flying, and she moved down the row of windows, searching for more information. The last window was covered with dirt, and clearly did not look into a frequently used area. She knelt down and scraped some of the dirt away, catching her breath with a gasp as she stared into the small cinderblock room below. Hanging from manacles that were bolted to the wall, was a bloody and seemingly unconscious, blond vampire.
If Buffy had thought it was hard to resist charging in to the room full of partially drained humans, she was literally digging holes in the windowsill with her fingernails as she stared at Spike’s abused body. Just as she was about to throw caution to the winds and break the glass, the door opened and Vamp- Willow slinked her way into the room.
“Wakey, wakey,” the red-haired vampire said cheerfully. “I want to play some more.”
“Sod off,” Spike croaked out, raising his head just enough to be sure that she heard him.
“Oh, now see, that’s not cooperative. I know I explained to you how important it is that you be cooperative.”
There was no response from the chained vampire, and Buffy clenched her teeth as Vamp-Willow walked back to the door and shut it tightly. She strolled back to Spike and purred, “We don’t want to be disturbed, now, do we?”
When he didn’t respond, she grabbed his hair and yanked his head up until he was eye to eye with her.
“What happened to Alex?” Willow snarled, her fangs only inches from his face. “And where is that slutty little cheerleader?”
Spike remained silent, only the snarl that escaped his lips when Willow slashed his already bloody chest with her nails indicating that he even knew she was there. When her hand went to his belt and she began to unbuckle it, saying “Let’s see what you’ve got in here – and how attached to it you might be...” Buffy gave her own silent snarl and sat on the ground, her legs drawn up and feet facing the window. As Willow continued her taunting, taking Spike’s balls in her sharply taloned hands and holding them loosely, Buffy took a last look around to be sure that she was alone on the back side of the building.
“Now,” Willow said with deceptive mildness, “why don’t you tell me what the deal is with you and that bottle-blonde wannabe slayer? Huh?” Her tone changed as she dug her nails into Spike’s scrotum, wringing a strangled howl from him. “Where can I find her? I don’t want to wait for her to show up here. I want her now!”
“Be careful what you wish for, Red,” Spike gasped, having spotted Buffy from the corner of his eye. The sound of breaking glass accompanied the Slayer’s feet-first entrance to the room. She landed lightly in a shower of glass and fell into a fighting stance.
“Were you looking for me?” Buffy cocked her head and gave a smile that didn’t reach her eyes.
“Oh, isn’t that cute?” The surprised vampire tried not to look as shocked as she actually was. “She’s come to rescue her pet vampire.” She released Spike and took an unafraid step towards the small angry blonde facing her. “You know,” she said conversationally, “you might be taking that whole ‘slayer’ thing a little too far, coming here like this. Even a real slayer couldn’t get out of here alive – and you’re not a real slayer, are you, Muffy?”
“It’s Buffy, and, news flash – I AM a real slayer. All Chosen and everything. I put your Master out of our misery a couple of years ago, and I’ll do it again.”
A moment of doubt crossed the vampire’s face, before she drew herself up and said haughtily, “Well, you’ll have to get past me to do that, won’t you?”
“Oh, I’m counting on it,” Buffy growled, risking a meaningful glance at Spike. “That’s going to be the fun part.”
“I don’t see a stake in your hand,” Willow hissed, crouching for an attack.
“Did you miss the part where I said getting around you was going to be the fun part? I’m not ready to stake you, yet. You’re not getting off as easy as your horny friend did.”
“You staked Alex?” With a roar, Willow launched herself at the Slayer, only to find that Buffy had side-stepped at the last second. As Willow flew by, Buffy’s foot caught her in the stomach, the force of the kick multiplied by the vampire’s momentum. Before the gasping vamp could straighten up, Buffy was on her, an uppercut to Willow’s jaw bringing her to an upright position again. Willow hadn’t even registered that she’d been hit twice already without drawing any blood from the slayer, before she found herself on the receiving end of a flurry of punches that drove her back until she was pressed up against the very vampire that she had been torturing. Immediately, Spike struck, holding the snarling vampire in place with his fangs, which were buried in the muscle on the side of her neck.
Buffy walked up to the now frightened vamp that looked so much like her best friend and took a stake from her pocket. “That stake you didn’t see?” She held it up in front of Vamp-Willow’s face. “Here it is.” She drove the stake in, being careful not to strike so hard that she accidentally drove it into Spike also. They stared at each other as Vamp-Willow’s dust drifted to the floor, Spike in awe, Buffy with great relief at finding him alive and relatively uninjured. After a few seconds, Buffy turned away to search for the key to the manacles.
“You shouldn’t have come here, love,” he growled as she picked the key up from a table by the door. “It’s a trap. “
“Of course it is,” Buffy said blithely. “Do you think I’m stupid? How do you feel? Can you fight?”
“Buffy, old Bat Face wants a chance to see if you’re really a slayer before he kills you. He’s got half the vamps in the city on their way here to give you a welcoming party.”
“Only half? Against the two of us? Pffft!” She waved her hand with more confidence than she actually felt. “I almost feel sorry for them.“
As Buffy released his arms, he brought them down around her, pulling her into his bloody chest.
“Sweetheart, I love that you came for me. You have no idea what that means to me. But I really wish you hadn’t done it. If something happens to you because of me—“
“If something happens to me,” she interrupted, putting a gentle finger against his lips, “It will be because I’m the Slayer and things happen to slayers. It won’t be your fault. It will be because that ugly old bat out there is evil.”
“He’s not touchin’ you.” Spike’s snarled promise would have been more impressive if he hadn’t been leaning heavily on her for support. Although he had no serious injuries, he had lost a great deal of blood and was weak. Buffy frowned when she felt him swaying, then lowered him gently to the floor.
“What’s wrong? Did I kill that bitch too fast? What did she do to you?”
“Jus’ lost a lot of blood, pet. If I can get to their supply...” He stopped and shook his head. “Not much chance of that, I guess.” His head dropped between his knees as he growled, “Can’t be much help to you like this – got to think of somethin’. I’m not sendin’ you out there alone...”
While Spike was talking, Buffy had been absently tugging on her sleeve where the shattered glass had ripped it as she came through the window. With a gasp, she realized that she was bleeding from a small cut on her arm – a cut that she hadn’t noticed in her eagerness to kill Vamp-Willow and free Spike. She quickly ripped off the sleeve and held out her arm, waving it under Spike’s face until he looked up.
“Here! No sense in wasting this on a ruined sweater.” She continued to hold her arm out and waited patiently for him to notice.
Without conscious effort on his part, his fangs dropped and his tongue snaked out to lick the cut. He looked up at Buffy, his adoration plain, as he carefully licked every trace of blood off her arm.
“That’s not enough,” she said firmly, shoving her arm at him. “Go ahead and take some.”
“Don’t argue with me. How are you going to watch my back if you can’t stand up? Now, come on. We’ve got evil vampire butt to kick. Start sucking.”
Never taking his eyes off her face, he put his lips over the cut and began to suck as gently as he could. He immediately stopped when Buffy unconsciously winced, but began again when she glared at him. The elixir that was the blood of a slayer more than made up for the pig’s blood that Willow’s attentions had caused to drain from his many wounds and he soon felt his strength coming back. He took his mouth off the cut, kissing it softly and licking it closed.
“Thank you, love.”
“Are you okay? Cause you still look kinda—“
“We heal from the inside out, pet. Might take a while for all these cuts to heal up, but they won’t bleed any more.”
“So, are you strong enough to fight?” She looked at his ravaged body dubiously.
“Feel like I could take on a whole army of slayers – that’s how strong I am,” he said with a smirk.
“Yeah, well, army of slayers probably not happening...So I guess it’s just you and me.”
“Buffy...” He put a hand on her arm as she went to stand up. “We could just leave, pet. Go back out that window and slip off into the woods. Even if they come lookin’ for us, we’d be able to pick ‘em off a few at a time.” His eyes pleaded with her to take the safe option, even as his heart told him that it wasn’t going to happen. She didn’t disappoint.
“There are people here, Spike. People being bled every day so that your ugly old cousin—“ “Great, great grandpa,” he interrupted. “...so that your grandpa – and ewwww – can act like...like some kind of evil, famous person,” she finished lamely. “We have to help them. I have to help them, Spike. It’s what I do. It’s what I am.” Her eyes pleaded with him to understand.
“Know that, love,” he soothed. “Jus’ wanted to be sure you knew there was another option.”
“Not for me, there isn’t.”
Instead of answering her, he pulled her closer and kissed her, holding the kiss until she melted into him and sighed contentedly. When the kiss ended, he stood up and pulled her to her feet.
“Alright, Slayer. I’ve got your back. Let’s see what you’ve got.”
“I think you’ve already seen everything I’ve got,” she muttered, earning a muffled laugh from the vampire as he put his ear to the door and tried to figure out if there were any minions close by.
“Alright, pet. I think it’s pretty clear. How do you want to do this?”
“Um – find the old guy and kill him?”
“Not bad as plans go, love. Bit more specific?”
“I don’t know. You’re the one who’s been inside this place. Where are we?”
“Wasn’t really conscious when they brought me in,” he growled. “I know we went through the blood dispensing area. Think it’s on the other side of the hallway out here.” He nodded to the still-closed door. “Don’t know where old Bat Face is, though.”
“I do,” Buffy said grimly. She pointed to the west end of the building. “The victims are in a big room right next door to us. And he’s in another big room at that end of the building.”
She chewed her lip for a minute, then said, “If we release all the prisoners first, and I tell them where to find my bag with the extra stakes and holy water, that will create a lot of confusion. But I don’t want to get them killed,” she worried. “Right now, they’re pretty safe...”
“Once you take out the Master and some more of his minions, they aren’t gonna be all that safe. All those vamps that are already brassed off about having to buy blood from the old fart are gonna head right for that holding area for an easy meal. If we let ‘em out, at least they’ll have a chance.”
She nodded her agreement. “Okay, let’s go. That room first.”
Before Spike could open the door, a sound from outside froze him in place, and he held his hand up for silence. They watched as the knob turned far enough for the hand outside to realize that it was locked.
“Willow? Are you in there? The Master wants you. He says to leave your new toy and come back to his quarters.” When there was no response, the minion outside rattled the doorknob again, repeating, “Are you in there? Willow? Open the door.”
With a nod at Buffy, Spike yanked the door open and pulled the minion inside before he could yell. Buffy’s stake was in his back before it even registered that Spike was free; his dust was still floating to the floor as the two blonds stepped silently into the hallway. In just a few long strides, they were at the unguarded door of the holding area and one kick from Buffy’s foot pushed it open.
They slipped inside, closing the door behind them and holding up fingers to their lips for silence. Buffy pointed to the window and made a shooing gesture, huffing with irritation when most of the people in the room just stared at her apathetically.
“Okay, people,” she said to the few that seemed to have enough energy to appear interested. “We’re breaking you out of here.” She gestured for some of the more alert-looking people to come closer and explained in a whisper, “You can get out that window and run into the woods. There’s a bag out there, near the road, with weapons – crossbows, holy water, stakes, stuff like that.”
A large man with bite marks on both sides of his neck and one crudely bandaged wrist, asked, casting a suspicious eye at Spike. “And why are you helping us?”
“It’s my job,” Buffy said shortly. “I save people.”
A sound behind them and the frightened expressions that flew across the faces of her audience had her spinning just in time to see Spike pulling a surprised vampire guard into the room. Moving with inhuman speed, he snapped the minion’s neck, then grabbed the one still outside the door and threw him towards Buffy, who calmly impaled him on her stake before she turned back to the astonished humans watching.
“Oh yeah,” she added cheerfully, “and I slay vampires.”
She bent over the one with the broken neck and quickly added his dust to that from the unfortunate second guard. Spike pushed the door closed again, leaning against it while he waited for Buffy to finish explaining.
“How did he do that?” The people who had begun to cluster around Buffy began backing away as Spike’s pale skin and obvious strength gave away his non-human status. “You’re not here to help us!” a woman whimpered. “He’s just another vampire.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “I don’t have time for this,” she snapped. “He is NOT ‘just another vampire’. He’s MY vampire; and he’s going to help me get you out of here and take down the demons that put you here.”
“I don’t trust you,” another man spoke up. “We’re safe here. They need our blood, they won’t kill us.” There were nods of agreement and muttered assents as many of the victims moved back to their places on the floor.
Spike’s roar and shift into game face changed the complacent looks to expressions of terror as he snarled at them.
“You bloody idiots! You are dying. You’re just doing it a bit at a time. And if you don’t think they’re goin’ to kill you once they can’t bleed you any more, you’re even stupider than you look.” He strode through the cringing humans to the window, grabbing the frame and ripping the entire window out. “Now get off your arses and get out of here. Find the slayer’s bag of tricks and get some of your own back, or just run away. Don’t much care what you do, but you’re not stayin’ in here to distract my girl while she’s tryin’ to fight!”
Days and weeks of obedience to their captors had programmed even the most anemic of the victims to do whatever they were told by vampires, and Spike’s snarling orders reached them in a way that Buffy’s pleading had not. They shuffled towards the window staring up longingly at the sky visible outside. Taking advantage of their fear, Spike continued to snap orders while Buffy went around the room assisting the weaker people to their feet and urging them towards freedom.
Spike stopped one of the more vigorous-appearing men and pushed him under the window. “You first,” he barked. “You can help pull people out. And you,” he continued, grabbing another muscular young man, “You take this and keep watch.” He handed the bewildered man one of Buffy’s stakes, then turned back to the first man, picking him up effortlessly and pushing him through the now-gaping hole in the wall. Before the other man’s feet had even disappeared, he was throwing the stake-holder up to the exit, nodding in approval as the first man rolled over and grabbed the other one’s arms.
As soon as the first two were free, the others began to crowd around the wall where Spike and Buffy took turns lifting them up to where the people outside could pull them to safety. Spike nodded in approval as two men wearing the remnants of police uniforms moved to the back of the line and began to assist weaker prisoners. When they were the last two left in the room, Buffy described as best she could, where she had left the weapons bag. They nodded and waited for the small blond woman and her vampire to help them reach the opening to the outside world.
“Crossbow’s gonna be your best bet from a distance,” Spike growled as he pushed the last of the prisoners out the window opening. “Give the women the holy water and give the stakes to the strongest men. Takes a bit of force to drive a stake home if you’re not a slayer.”
The man bent down and looked in at the two small, but incredibly strong blonds. “What are you going to do?” he asked, looking back and forth between the two. Spike looked at Buffy and shrugged.
“Whatever the Slayer wants me to,” he replied easily, “It’s her show.”
The brawny cop turned his curious gaze on Buffy, who said flatly, “I’m going to slay vampires.”
With a final wave, the two rescuers turned away and began walking towards the door that led to the rest of the facility, moving with a grace and athleticism that was clearly more than human.
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