She struggled, pulling at the metal studded dog collar buckled tight around her throat. She hated that collar and hated the leash that was clipped to it. So she struggled, even though it was useless to pull against the leather and the strength of the hand that so carelessly held the other end of the leash. But struggling was all she had left.
Come on, Pet. I aint got all day. The command was accompanied by a jerk to the leash that send her stumbling down the stairs behind him so that as she fell hard against him, her tired body sliding down to rest against his legs. Stay he ordered.
Curling up on the cold concrete floor, she stayed. She knew better than to move. Knew better than to look up at him. Knew better than to let the other vampires in the room see the bubbling hate in her eyes. But most of all, she knew better than to look in the direction of the other two humans who shared this room. For them, she defied the leash and the collar and the vampires.
Raising her head she met the haunted gazes of Buffy and Giles from where they stood chained against the far wall. She read the horror in their eyes as they saw her, saw the bruises and bites that decorated her body, saw her hacked off, ragged hair, and saw the leash and collar that bound her.
Her defiance lasted only a moment before her master caught her, as shed known he would. She didnt even flinch as he cuffed her, knocking her flat against the ground. This time she kept her eyes averted.
Keep, you eyes down where they belong, little witch, or Ill pluck em out.
Studying the scuffed and weathered concrete beneath her with fixed determination, she murmured a quiet, Yes, Master. As the other vampires in the room laughed, she closed her eyes and focused on the hate.
Satisfied that his new pet was showing the proper respect, Spike turned to survey the half-dozen vampires that lounged around the room. Briefly his eyes traveled over the Slayer and her Watcher. He noted the thickness of the chains that bound them to the wall. They were taking no chances. Her could see fresh tears on her cheeks, slowly soaking into the gag that kept her silent. When she lifted her eyes from his pets huddled form, the hate there was almost a physical blow.
But even her hate was nothing to the rage in the eyes of the Watcher. If Buffys eyes promised Spikes death, the Watchers promised a slow and agonizing one.
Spike, a cheerful voice called from the other side of the room. Turning from the Slayer and the Watcher, he headed over to the vampire whod called him.
His own tone was noncommittal, neither friendly nor unfriendly. Blake was a younger vampire, new to command of his own clan. Spike was older, his status as a Master vampire secure, but he was a guest in another masters lair. That called for a semblance of courtesy.
So, what can I do for you, Spike? Blake tried for nonchalance, but Spike could hear the nervousness in his voice.
Spike grinned in amusement. Blake had good reason to be nervous. As a Master Vampire he could chose to challenge Blake for the leadership of his little clan and try to take the Slayer. However, considering how much this clan had staked on the Slayer, hed probably have to fight them all, which didnt make for good odds as far as he was concerned. This little band had a lot resting on this. Blake and his band were too young yet to have earned a reputation in the demon community. Their upcoming sacrifice of the Slayer and her Watcher on the Eve of Blood would make that reputation. Digging out a cigarette and his lighter, Spike wandered over to the two chained prisoners. Well, mate, its like this, Ive been fighting this particular Slayer off and on for two years now. She and her little friends were a constant thorn in my bleedin side. Shes spoiled my plans, dropped a fucking organ on my head, and all and all ruined a perfect good time. Lighting his cigarette his blew a cloud of smoke into the Watchers face and grinned in appreciation as the Watchers eyes narrowed in impotent rage. Turning back to his audience he continued, But now youve got the Slayer and her Watcher. And funny thing, the Eve of Blood is just around the corner.
A vampire leaning again one wall made an excellent show of confusion.
Whats the Eve of Blood?
Spike pinned him with a look. Dont blow smoke up my ass, junior. Taking another drag on his cigarette, he continued. Ive always been a bit fascinated with the old ways -- tradition, dont you know. Not many know of the Blood Ritual because its damnably hard to catch a Slayer and her Watcher and keep em alive long enough to perform the rite. The Eve of Blood is in 8 days. Youre gonna sacrifice those two, he added with a jerk of his thumb in the direction of the captives, mix their blood and have yourself a Slayer/Watcher cocktail, complete with transference of their strength into you. Spike threw himself down into a chair and propped his feet up on the table as the vampires milled around nervously. Finally, Blake stopped them with a curt gesture. The Slayer and the Watcher are ours. We caught them. Weve kept them alive. You may be older but youre outnumbered here. There was no mistaking the threat in his voice or the glitter of gold in his eyes.
Spike laughed and used his feet to tilt his chair back, the perfect picture of unconcerned ease. Not to worry, mate. Im not here to try to take em. Theyre your catch. Besides, Ive already had two Slayers. Three would just be gettin greedy. Removing his feet from the table, he let the chairs front legs hit the ground with a bang that startled everyone in the room. I just want to be around for the bloodletting.
Blake studied Spike and considered. Spike was dangerous, unpredictable and uncontrollable. But to have a vampire of Spikes reputation in his little clan, with Spike acknowledging his leadership, would increase his own reputation enormously. Spikes presence brought certain advantages and it wouldnt do to make an enemy of him. At least, not before he was strong enough to take him in a challenge. Still considering, he indicated the girl on the floor, What about her?
My little pet? Getting up from his chair, Spike walked over to Willow. Crouching down he ran one hand along her hair, stroking her in an obscene parody of petting an animal. When you took the Slayer and Watcher you missed her in your little rampage.
He suddenly knotted his fingers in her shorn hair and jerked her head up so she was looking at the vampires gathered around the table. Shes the Slayers pet witch. Or more precisely, she *was* the Slayers pet witch. Now, shes just my pet. Tilting her head so she stared up at him, he added, Isnt that right, sweet?
At her stammered acknowledgment he leaned forward and placed a brutal kiss against her bruised lips before letting her head fall back down to the ground amid the laughter of the gathered vampires.
Little witch thought she could threaten me with restoring my soul. Now I get the joy of stripping hers, one exquisitely painful piece at a time. And watching the Slayer and the Watcher die is going to be very painful indeed.
Blake grinned, having Spike as a guest was going to be fun. Decision made, he snapped his fingers at one of the younger fledglings. Get us something to drink, preferable fresh and young. Its time to celebrate and honor our newest guest.
Spike marginally relaxed as he was accepted into the group. With blood and alcohol flowing freely, he called his pet to his side. She was tired, cold and undoubtedly hungry, but she made no sound as she settled herself on the floor at his feet. A few minutes later he snaked down one hand to rest upon her head. Idly running his hand through her hair, he fingered her cropped locks. Under the soothing caress of his hand he felt her finally relax. With a soft sigh she leaned against his legs to wait out the night as those at the table spent their evening in drink and hair-raising tales of torture and death.
Dawn found them still seated around the table, empty liquor bottle scattered around and the remains of a card game spread across the table.
So, Spike, Blakes second, a large, greasy looking vampire with the unlikely name of Hick began, draining the last of the whiskey in his cup,
why dont you throw your little pet into the pot?
He felt Willow stiffen against his legs, the first sign of movement from her in hours. Hed begun to think that shed fallen asleep. He should have known better. Stretching to work out the kinks developed in a night of sitting, he caught the eye of the Watcher across the room. He noted absently that the Slayer seemed to be asleep in her chains. He watched, amused, as the Watcher strained against his bonds. This was almost to easy. Nothing like a little mental torture to end the evening.
Speaking to Hick, but keeping his eyes locked with the Watchers, Spike growled low in his chest. My pet is mine and mine alone -- body, mind and soul -- to do with as I please.
He swung his gaze away from the Watcher and over to Hick. Touch her without permission and Ill stake you myself.
Silence hung in the room, until Blake cleared his throat trying to ease the sudden tension. Isnt that a bit much? Shes only a human after all.
Her suffering is for my enjoyment alone. He swung his gaze around to the others, letting them see their death in his eyes. She will not be touched.
Sure, Spike. Your pet is yours alone. Standing suddenly, he stretched his arms wide. It has been a long night and the sun is coming up. I suggest we sleep. Come on and Ill show you to your room.
Blake lead them away from the common room and then down a long hallway until they came to a door at the far end. Guest accommodations, he said with a grin.
Opening the door Spike stepped inside, tugging sharply on the leash to pull Willow in behind him. The room was larger than he expected it to be. Simply furnished -- bed, table, dresser, a couple of chairs. He could see a connecting door leading to a bathroom. The room would do nicely for his needs. Tossing a casual Thanks, mate, at the other vampire, he closed the door.
Blake stood listening on the other side of the door. He grinned as his patience was rewarded a few seconds later when something heavy landed hard against the door, making it shiver in its frame.
From the other side he heard Spike growl, So, slut, trying to attract another one, are you?
Her voice soft with fear, he heard her stammered, P-Please Master. I d-didnt.
Dont lie to me, my little bitch. You think you can get Hick to fight me for you? You think hell set you free? Or maybe just give you your death? Think again. Youre mine.
Blake felt his own arousal as he heard the human begin to sob, tears making her voice husky.
No, please, Master. Dont. Ill be good. I promise.
The laugh that answered her was cold enough that even Blake felt its chill through the heavy door.
Oh, youll be good, pet, of that I have no doubt. Now get to your knees like a good little dog.
The girls broken sobs continued for a few moments more only to be abruptly cut off. Blake chuckled, his imagination filling in the reason why her sobs had stopped. Reaching down he rubbed his own half-erect cock. Maybe he ought to find himself a nice human pet. Still chuckling, he headed back down to the hall to his own rooms.
Vivid imagination notwithstanding, Blake could never have conjured the true scene on the other side of the closed door. The body that had slammed against the wood was Spikes, who was currently wearing a grin of malicious humor, as he listened to Blakes retreating footsteps down the hall. Willow was not kneeling, nor did her eyes reflect the fear contained in her voice. Instead, there was captured there an emotion more akin to Spikes deviltry than to any terror. Her bearing was straight and bore no relation to the cowering slave that had been in the common room earlier. The only thing that connected this Willow to the cowering girl known simply as Pet was the dog collar that still encircled her neck and the leash that lay like a thin leather snake down the front of her body.
Wankers gone. Spike finally said, as he pushed himself away from the door. At his words an almost imperceptible shiver traveled down her thin frame. He had only that subtle warning to brace himself before she threw herself against him, her arms locked tight around his neck and her toes dangling several inches above the floor. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he pulled her warm body tight against his own, and for just a moment indulged the fantasy that she was hugging him, Spike, and not just overcome with her joy and the desire to share it with someone, even if that someone was him. Her words shattered his fantasy as she finally pulled slightly away from him. Oh Goddess, Spike, theyre here. Theyre alive. Alive! I told you. I told you it would work!
It hasnt worked yet, he cautioned. We might have found them, but we still havent freed them. He felt almost guilty for dashing the joy from her face. It was the first time hed seen real happiness on her face since theyd started this hare-brained scheme of hers. He saw the light die in her eyes.
Youre right, she agreed solemnly. Finding them was easy compared to freeing them. But, Spike, she added, resolve clearly read on her face, we will free them.
He forced undead lungs to heave a long-suffering sigh. Well get em. he grumbled, his enthusiasm somewhat less than effervescent.
Stepping back out of his arms, she tried to keep tight rein on her bubbling hope but she couldnt control the slight bounce in her step. They had searched so long for Buffy and Giles. She had begun to lose her belief that they would find them alive. Even facing the odds against them now, she couldnt quite dampen her good spirits. Leaving Spike to his muttering and grumbling, she unsnapped the leash from her collar and tossed the hated thing onto the bed. The collar stayed locked around her throat, a small brass padlock giving testament to its permanence.
Going over to dig onto the oversized leather duffel bag that held both of their possessions, she grabbed a small case and her sleeping clothes. Im going to take a shower.
As Willow disappeared into the bathroom, Spike flopped down onto the bed and rubbed at his temples. This whole plan was completely insane. How in the bloody hell was he going to get the Slayer and her Watcher out without getting himself and Willow killed? Muttering curses under his breath, he rolled off the bed and pulled his own clothes off, absently running through various liberation scenarios in his mind. Each one seemed to end in a disaster just a little bloodier than that last. Tossing his clothes into a pile on the floor, he climbed back onto the bed clad in nothing but a pair of black silk boxers, though they were more for Willows modesty than for any concern of his.
Fifteen minutes later he had the beginnings of a plan. A rough plan. A plan that he wasnt liking in the least. The only problem was, he wasnt seeing any other options. Fuckin Hell, he swore loudly just as she stepped out into the room.
Ignoring the vampire on the bed, Willow puttered around the room, checking for a phone jack for her laptop and to make sure that the blinds and heavy drapes over the windows in their room were secure. The wooden boards nailed on the outside of the windows reassured her. It had become a night-time ritual with her, partially to project herself and in a way to protect Spike as well, though he could certainly take care of himself. Nevertheless, she prowled their rooms each night, no matter where they stayed, checking for anything that could jeopardize their safety. Satisfied that the coming dawn would bring no danger, she returned to the bed where Spike still lay stretched across the slightly dusty, faded comforter.
He had the heels of his hands pressed into his eyes and hed slipping into what sounded like German. Willow had grown used to Spikes quiet cursing over the last two and half weeks theyd been together. Shed discovered that he swore and talked to himself when he was thinking hard and planning. Hed even taught her a few of the funnier curses in a variety of languages. In his past two hundred years, hed learned a lot of them.
Shed also learned that he didnt like being interrupted, so leaving him to his imprecations, she set about putting their small room to rights. There were 8 days left until the vampires planned on sacrificing Buffy and Giles, so there was every possibility that they could be living in this room for awhile.
Digging back into their duffel bag, she pulled out clean clothes and other assorted belongings and began putting them away in the small battered dresser. Pulling out her spell book and her laptop, she spent a few moments looking for a hiding place. She had no doubt that their room would be searched at some point and had no desire for their vampire hosts to find either of these items. She finally settled on prying up a floor vent. The bend in the vent kept the computer and book from sliding down and it would hopefully be the last place anyone would look. That done, she picked up Spikes dirty clothes and tossed them, along with her own, back into the duffel bag. They were going to have to hit a laundry mat soon and get things washed.
Her evening chores finished, she stifled a jaw-popping yawn. Flicking her eyes over Spikes form stretched out across the bed she checked to make sure that his eyes were still closed and then indulged herself for just a moment, firmly telling herself that there was absolutely nothing wrong with looking. Just so long as she remembered that she wasnt to touch. Noting the long lines of his legs and the smooth muscles that made up his arms and chest, she wished with just a trace of wistfullness that she wasnt who she was, that she wasnt the wearer of the original pair of goody-two shoes. She wished that for once in her life she could do the irresponsible thing. Smiling ruefully at her own foolishness, she shook her head and banished those thoughts. If her life wasnt tied to his, she had no doubt that hed kill her in a heartbeat.
Spike? she called softly. When his blue eyes snapped open to pin her with a fierce glare, she said simply, Im tired.
She didnt ask about his planning and he didnt say anything. Shed also learned that he would tell her when he was ready and not before. She would wait.
He opened his eyes to see her standing by the bed clad in one of his black t-shirts and a pair of ratty looking boxer shorts. Shed washed off the makeup she used to enhance the dark circles under her eyes, though truth be told they didnt need much to enhance them. Shed lost weight during this misadventure of theirs and he could clearly see the bruises along her arms and legs that hed deliberately inflicted on her to establish their cover as master and human slave. Right now she looked more like a lost child of twelve rather than the determined 18 year old young woman shed been just a few weeks ago.
Willow, you look like shit! You need to get some sleep.
She gave him a tired half-smile. Thank you, Mister Vampire, she replied, sarcasm thick in her voice.
Chuckling softly he rolled up off the bed and padded silently across the room to get the light while she got into the bed and slid under the covers. Their sleeping arrangements had made her uncomfortable when theyd first set out to find Buffy and Giles. Shed never shared her bed with anyone except for the occasional girl at a slumber party. To share a mans bed had made her extremely nervous. The fact that that man was also a vampire had kept her awake almost the entire day the first time theyd had to share. Now, knowing Spike was just an arms length away gave her a weird sense of security. Hed never once strayed from his side of the bed. Then there was their physical sleeping arrangements. She didnt know if it was because of their deal or maybe something to do with protecting Drusilla all those years, but Spike always slept on the side of the bed closest to the door. Whatever horror came through that door, it would have to go through him first before it got to her. And though neither of them said anything about it, she was grateful for that small courtesy on his part, no matter what its origin.
Getting comfortable, she murmured a sleepy good night and was almost asleep before Spike finished climbing back into the bed.
Settled back into his own pillow, Spike stared into the dark and went over his plan one more time, not liking it now any better than when he first came up with it. He snorted softly to himself so as not to wake Willow.
The two of them had a history with stupid plans, he didnt see how this one should be any different. His mind turning over ideas he thought back to the original stupid plan that gotten them into this in the first place.
Do you have any idea how idiotic this plan of yours is? he yelled. I thought you had more brains than this?
The scorn in his voice pushed her over the edge she been so carefully clinging to ever since the night of the attack. Now all the anger and fear came boiling up to the surface. Once released it could no longer be controlled and Willow Rosenburg let it go with a feeling almost akin to relief, for having found her target, she spared him no mercy.
Her voice steadily rising, she lay into him. Damn you, Spike, dont you think I know this plan is stupid. But right now its the only one I have. Buffy and Giles have been taken. I dont even know if they are still alive. Xander and Oz are both in the hospital. I cant find Angel and Cordelia, neither one is answering their phones in LA. Im it, you stupid vampire. Im the only one left. So, Im going to do this and you are, by the Goddess, going to help me.
Look, little witch, I like you, but Im the demon here, not the hero. Ive helped the Slayer these past weeks cause I had no choice. Now the Slayers gone and Ill be leaving too. He was halfway across the destroyed library when she spoke again.
No, you wont be leaving.
Something in her tone stopped him in his tracks. If Spike didnt know that it was the harmless little witch who stood behind him, he might have felt a stab of fear. He turned slowly, body tensed for a fight.
Dont make me kill you, Willow, he growled. You know I will. She nodded and swallowed hard. I know. But if you dont help me, Ill restore your soul.
He made a rude noise in the back of his throat. Whats to stop me from just killing you here and now, before you cast the spell?
Her eyes flickered down to the floor and then around the room before finally coming back to met his. The . . The spell has already been done . . . cast b-but not complete. She paused and then added, I tied it to a trigger.
A trigger? What the hell are you talking . . . He stopped. She was the smart one. Smarter than the others often gave her credit for being. Fool that he was, hed fallen into the same trap. Hed forgotten that a very dangerous mind lurked behind the sweet smile and innocent eyes.
Bloody hell, you tied it to your life.
She confirmed his suspicions. If I die, the spell releases . . . and you get your soul back.
Youll go after the Slayer and her Watcher whether or not I go. It was more statement than question.
Youll get yourself bloody well killed.
Not if you keep me alive.
He looked hard at her. Willow, do you realize exactly what you are asking me to do to you?
He could see the fear clearly in her eyes when she answered, though her voice was firm. Yes.
He tried one last time. This is beyond stupid.
Youd look lovely with a soul -- all bright and shining in your eyes.