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Fic: Influence of Demons 14/16

Title: Influence of Demons 14/16
Rating: NC-17
Pairing(s)/Character(s): Buffy/Spike
Disclaimer: I could try to claim them...but I would fail...
Warnings: Explicit sex, mention of past non-con, mention of past drug use
Summary: Goes AU after S5's Checkpoint. Five years ago, Buffy and Spike fell into a portal into a dimension ruled by demons. Finally, reunited, their goal is to get back home. However, the years in the dimension have changed them. Spike's long isolation keeps him distant, and Buffy's enforced life at a brothel has caused her to forget the Slayer she used to be. Somehow, they'll have to find themselves again to defeat a powerful enemy and make it home.

Author's Note: I want to take the opportunity here to direct everyone to the warning for the fic in the header. I'd also like to add a chapter-specific warning for explicit torture.

Please don't hate me.

Also, I have no guarantees that Chapter 15 will be posted this next weekend. Most likely, I'll post it the weekend after (2/18). However, I'm as done as done can be with this one, and it's a bit on the long side (~7,000 words), so let me present it to you to chew on.

Usual credits apply. :)






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Chapter Fourteen: Demons

Buffy had cut her hair. Well, she hadn't done the cutting. She'd gone to a stylist. Not her usual one - or the one that had been her usual one - but a different one she'd never been to named Rachel who had plans to be an actress in LA as soon as she got enough money to get out of her parent's house. Rachel thought Buffy's hair was pretty, but so not taken care of properly, but it was okay because a deep conditioning and some highlights would brighten things up.

Buffy ran a hand through her hair. It stopped a half-inch below the shoulders. She'd wanted it shorter, but Rachel had insisted that this was the perfect length for her. Who was Buffy to argue with Rachel?

She crouched at the foot of the Johnson memorial. The statue of the Virgin Mary loomed over her. Buffy quickly became uncomfortable with the symbolism and walked to the next tombstone.

Everything relied on timing now. Jigal had given the device to someone. Whoever that was was surely going to try to reopen the portal in the next couple days. Buffy intended to stop them.

However, she hoped they would wait until Thursday, when the orb of Thesulah arrived. Then they could destroy the device and bring Spike back, all at the same time.

She had a feeling that circumstances wouldn't be so obliging. That's why she was in the cemetery at three in the morning. Waiting.

Fortunately, the ritual to open the portal was hard to hide. Buffy would have fair warning when it started, what with the chanting and fire and drug trips.

The nights in the graveyard felt more like home than her house did. She was among death and demons, and she was waiting for the one piece to come back to her to make it all complete.

****

No portal. Still, three fledgling vamps dusted, so Buffy felt accomplished by the time she went home.

The house was quiet as a tomb when she entered. The click of the front door closing whipped through the stillness. The long-forgotten familiarity of the act - coming home at dawn after having fought the simple evil of freshly risen vampires - was comforting. It settled in her stomach like a warm meal.

Then she saw Dawn sitting at the top of the stairs. An icy gust cut through the warmth. Dawn wielded the full force of her teenage glare. Buffy fought her instinct to turn around and leave.

"I could smell that coat from here. It stinks," Dawn said.

Buffy brought a hand up to the edge of Spike's leather duster. It smelled like him.

"You're in my way," Buffy said. She didn't know how to deal with little sisters anymore. Especially little sisters that weren't really hers but didn't know it. Buffy only had room for so much interaction she could manage. This wasn't on the list.

Dawn raised her eyebrows. "I want to know what's going on."

"Move." Eye on the prize. If Buffy could get to her room, she would be safe.

"Everybody keeps hiding stuff from me. I'm not a kid, you know. I can handle...whatever it is."

Buffy rubbed her eyes. "Dawn, move."

"You're not my sister."

Buffy snapped to attention. "What?"

"You look older. And you're skinnier. Not, like, hot model skinny but, like, starving drug addict skinny. You can't be my sister. Some demon or something stole your body or cast some spell to make us think you're Buffy, but you're not." Dawn's jaw was firm. "What did you do to Buffy?"

Oh god. Dawn could tell? It was that obvious? Buffy fought to keep her expression steady, but she wasn't doing a good job. Tears prickled at the corners of her eyes, and she felt the ache of held-in sobbing in her throat.

"Dawn, I...," her voice broke.

Dawn's expression faltered. She looked confused.

Buffy ran her fingers through her hair. She had to finish. Avoiding this was easier. This was responsibility. Something she'd been sent by some monks many years ago, and she knew it was something she'd have to face and handle soon but she couldn't now. Not now.

Except that Dawn's eyes were so large as she stared at her, waiting for answers. Buffy couldn't shove Dawn aside till she was ready to deal with her.

"I...I am Buffy, but I'm...you're right." She sniffed. "I'm older and too skinny and not perky and my nose is red and I'm wearing a really smelly coat, but," she looked up. "I'm still the Slayer, and I will still protect you. From anything - everything."

She held Dawn's gaze. Gone was the icy glare, along with the firm determination. Gone also was the confusion. Now there was fear and nervousness. She was making Dawn nervous.

"Protect me from what?"

Buffy looked down. "From demons."

The moment held. Buffy refused to look at it. Dawn broke the standoff by standing slowly. Without a word, she retreated to her room. She paused at the doorway to watch as Buffy finished her journey to the top of the stairway.

"I'm still gonna find out what's going on," Dawn blurted out.

Buffy nodded. "I know."

She didn't bother with a shower. She didn't even bother changing into PJs. Buffy collapsed onto her bed and fell asleep while wearing Spike's coat.

****

Sheer determination allowed Buffy to not let her encounter with Dawn bother her. She had so much else to worry about. She couldn't let Dawn add onto that.

She didn't sleep long. She woke up in the early afternoon. Dawn was in school and her mother was at the gallery. Buffy took the opportunity of the empty house to take a deliciously long shower, even taking the extra time to shave everything.

She left the house feeling refreshed and ready to continue her current mission: Foil Dehevret and get Spike back.

The house had been a minefield lately. Buffy had the dual obstacles of her mother and Dawn, neither of whom she wanted to be around. Dawn reminded her of other responsibilities she had, and her mother made her ache and want to cry.

Reaching the Magic Box felt like she was tagging home base. The bell rang at her arrival. Safe.

Sorta.

Anya slammed down her inventory book and stood ramrod straight at the counter. Everybody - Willow, Xander, Tara, and Giles - were present. That didn't make any sense. It was early in the day. The others had places to be. So why...?

"Hello, Buffy!" Anya said loudly. "It's good to see you not currently under the influence of an illicit substance."

Fuck home base. Buffy froze, steel nerves rooting her to her place. All commands from her brain jumbled together: run, fight, yell, cower, run, run, RUN.

Everybody else sat similarly frozen like a bizarre tableau. Moving would shatter the performance. Buffy longed to stay in this safe, delicate moment before everything started to...

Xander turned to Anya. "Very subtle, Ahn."

The moment snapped. Buffy snapped. Fight it was.

"You two." Buffy looked to Willow and Xander. "You said you wouldn't - "

Willow cringed, looking at Tara briefly before facing Buffy again. "We didn't mean to, Buffy! It just kinda..." She made a strained face and put her hands out in a shrug. "You know?"

Buffy shook her head. She didn't know. She didn't want to know.

"Look, Buffy," Xander tried to use his placating tone. "We weren't expecting you to be here so early. What happened to you...it's a bit much for just Will and I to handle. We're trying to help."

Buffy gaped. "Gossiping about me is helping?"

"We weren't 'gossiping'." Willow frowned.

"Oh, excuse me, talking about my personal business to people when I specifically asked you not to?" Buffy's voice shook. "Tell me how that's helping."

"Hey," Xander said sternly. "It's not fair to expect us to just deal with it on our own, okay? We're out of our depth here. And we didn't go around telling strangers on the street, you know. Anya and Tara and Giles, they care about you, too."

Tara looked down at her hands at the mention, but Anya nodded her head broadly. Giles remained by the stairs, cup of tea in hand. He might as well not have been in the discussion.

"I know they care about me - " Buffy attempted to take a measured tone, but Willow cut her off.

"They do! We all do! And I get that this is all weird for you, but think about it from our side. A couple days ago, you were our friend, Buffy, all normal and stuff. Then you pop in one morning and you're older and moody and wearing Spike's coat and we have no clue what's going on but we're being asked to research on portals and demon dimensions." Willow reached the end of her tirade and petered off. "So...cut us some slack, okay? We're trying."

Xander jumped on the end of Willow's statement. "She's right, Buffy," he said. "We love you, but we're confused and worried. That's all."

Right. Confused and worried. This was all so hard for them.

"And then there's the Spike thing," Anya piped up.

Buffy snapped her eyes to Anya. "What 'Spike thing'?"

Xander waved an arm. "You know, Buff...we're going through an awful lot of trouble and risking our dimension for Spike." He grinned as if he'd told a joke. When he didn't get the reception he'd been hoping, he put a serious expression back on. "We get that, what with the trauma over there, you probably feel, I dunno, grateful to him or something. But you're back over here now."

Willow took the ball. "That's right. You have us, so..."

"So you don't need to bone Spike anymore," Anya finished.

A group cringe swept the room, but nobody offered a counter to Anya's statement.

Buffy's gaze swept the room. A lot of averted eyes. Only Xander and Willow met her stare directly. They met her with a challenge to be mad at them. To stay mad at them. To not relent before their explanations.

Wouldn't work. Buffy wouldn't let go of her anger that easily. She reached back to slam the door open. "Fuck that."

She left.

*****

This was not how she'd expected the day to go.

Buffy peeled Spike's coat off, tossing it onto her bed. She felt a chill throughout her body, a deadness rooted deep. Of course Willow and Xander had told the others. Her personal trauma was a group problem after all.

She yanked her t-shirt over her head and ripped her bra off. It was too big anyway. She stood to undo her jeans and let them drop before stepping out of her panties.

Naked, she climbed into bed and pulled Spike's jacket back over her shoulders.

She could pretend it was him holding her. So right, he hadn't done much of that, but she could imagine it. Funny that a dead guy would be her lifeline.

Buffy closed her eyes, remembering the angular curves of his body, his lean figure, etched sharp cheekbones, and piercing eyes. His habit of mumbling to himself - annoying at first, endearing later. After she'd...

He always told her the truth, even when the truth was that she was pathetic and he didn't love her. He never held back. He shoved her onto her feet and got her out of that hellhole. How could she not develop feelings?

There was more, though. It wasn't just about what he did for her. It was about who he was - what he was. The reluctant leader at first, the keen insight, the romantic heart. Oh sure, jaded and bitter after all these years, but she could still see it. Glimpses of it when he allowed.

And then a demon with a hangnail of a soul. Her enemy. Everything she hated, now with a vengeance. And being with him would be...

She bit her lip. It would be getting past it, wouldn't it? Not letting what happened keep her boxed in. It would be an ablution.

Not only from the demons but from who she'd become to survive.

When she realized this, she started crying. She held her hand over her mouth, trying not to sob loudly. She didn't want her mom or Dawn to know that she was upset. God, had the others told her mom? They'd said they wouldn't, but they'd proven unreliable in that department.

She couldn't do anything about that. She had to think of something else. Anything else.

Spike. His grin. His raised eyebrow. His tongue. That wicked tongue that had a special talent for making her feel so good.

Buffy grabbed a handful of the jacket to bring it up to her nose and mouth. As she inhaled, she crept her other hand down to her pussy. Already wet. The mere thought of Spike did the trick.

She teased herself, like she knew he would were he here. She traced her finger around her outer lips and sighed in anticipation. With two fingers, she opened herself up, wading one finger into the moisture to slick around her opening.

With a moan, she thrust her hips, then giggled. She was getting impatient with herself - with Spike.

His leather surrounded her, and in her mind's eye she could pretend that he went along with it. That it was his fingers that lightly brushed her clit to hint at what he was about to do. It was his other hand that grabbed her breast and squeezed.

She rolled onto her back when Spike inserted his finger inside her, reaching up her tunnel to stroke her inner walls. Buffy threw her head back and bent her knees, contorting her body so as to allow him the maximum penetration.

He would laugh, then, she knew he would. That low rumbling laugh. Then his thumb found her clit and rubbed with superhuman speed as his finger remained hooked in her pussy, digging at her core.

Buffy bit her lip and shuddered an exhale. Her own fluid drenched her hand. She pressed her palm flat against her vulva, pressing against her clit with the flat surface. As she did so, she thrust another finger.

She finger-fucked herself. Spike finger-fucked her. She knew he would. Just like this.

She felt herself getting close. She threw an arm over her mouth so as to bite down on the leather sleeve. Her index finger hit the pleasure spot inside her, and she braced for the inevitable tidal wave of sensation.

It didn't come.

She didn't come.

Instead, the stimulation kept building until it collapsed on itself. Buffy had tears in her eyes - of frustration, not pleasure - when she realized her clit was hurting and her pussy was aching. There was no release.

She removed her hand, throwing herself back against the mattress.

Fuck.

****

Campfires lit the night outside. Tiny sparks of light that rippled in the thin slice of landscape that Spike could see outside the tent. Would tonight be the night the portal opened? Preparedness tensed Spike's muscles. Whether with an invading army or by himself, he would get home. Well, unless Dehevret sent him off with Ugvan.

The day had been long. After reaching an agreement, Dehevret had retired for the evening. Spike spent the entirety of the ensuing daylight hours back in the supply tent. At one point, a guard had tossed in a rabbit for him to feed from.

It wasn't until the sun went down that Spike was, again, taken to Dehevret's tent. As before, Ugvan sat in the esteemed guest's chair, a tattered hardbound book balanced on his knee.

Spike's shackles were removed. Dehevret dismissed the guards with a wave of his hand.

"So tell me about yourself." Dehevret poured a clear brown drink from a fancy bottle. He passed one tumbler to Ugvan and kept the other for himself. He didn't offer one to Spike.

"Thought you wanted to know more about the Slayer," Spike said.

Dehevret shrugged. He took his place in his throne-like chair, crossing one leg over the other. "I like knowing the wider picture."

"Uh huh. And why's he still here?" Spike glared at Ugvan.

Ugvan looked up from his book. "Oh, I'm just here purely out of curiosity now. Dehevret's doing some exciting things. Don't want to miss it."

"Right."

"How old are you, vampire?" Dehevret interrupted.

Spike turned back to Dehevret. "Over a century."

"That's old for a vampire."

"Not really. Vampires live longer on my side."

Dehevret grinned. "There's an irony there. Vampires live longer on the side with a Slayer than they do on the one without."

"Yeah, well, there are also a whole lot fewer demons and so more humans to feed off."

"And you prefer that? That is why you wanted to go back, isn't it?"

Spike sighed. "This place is a bit shit, if you ask me."

"Don't have to. Many demons would say the same."

"That why you're invading?"

Dehevret shrugged. "Never hurts to acquire new territory. But I want to hear more about you, vampire. How ever did you become close to the Slayer in that world?"

"Weren't exactly 'close'. Tried to kill each other. Standard thing, yeah? But then I got fitted with this chip that zapped my brain if I tried to hurt anything. Could only fight demons."

"So you fought demons beside the Slayer?"

"Hardly." Spike sneered. "Fought demons on my own for fun. Sometimes, I'd work with the Slayer if it suited my needs."

"And the two of you were fighting together on the night you came through the portal?"

"Yeah."

"Hmmm. I feel for you, vampire."

"Your empathy touches me deeply."

"You're in love with her."

Spike froze, stunned. "I...what?"

"It's easy to tell. It's practically oozing out of your pores. Makes sense. A caged half-breed, drawn to the most powerful and deadly woman on earth. The one person who could utterly destroy you is the one person you can utterly love. That's what love is, is it not? Exposing yourself? Allowing yourself to be destroyed by another?"

"You're giving me lessons in love?"

"Tell me I'm wrong."

Spike couldn't, though he resented the hell out of it.

"That soul you have in you," Dehevret continued. "Softens you, you know. It's a human soul. Means you have some ounce of sympathy for the creatures. Don't need to tell you that that's a liability for me."

"Listen, this damned soul has been a nuisance since I got it. I've gotten in the habit of ignoring the fucking thing. Don't think you need to worry 'bout me not being able to take out a human."

"I'm glad you think so, Spike, I really am." Dehevret made a small gesture. "I just want you to prove it."

As Dehevret finished the sentence, the guards walked into the tent with Avery trailing behind them. Spike felt the steady pulse of uncertainty churn his gut.

Avery didn't give a second's glance to Spike. She directed her defiant gaze to Dehevret, chin raised.

"This is the human woman you stayed with before coming here, correct?" Dehevret asked.

"So? You wanting me to kill her?"

"She helped you and the girl. Don't tell me that human soul in you feels no qualms about hurting her."

"Told you, mate. Doesn't much matter what the soul feels. I'm the one in control."

That much was true, of course. Spike had hated the fucking soul since day one, but no matter how it railed against him, he still pulled his own bloody strings. Not one to take directions from a bit of fuzzy spirit.

"As you say. Then consider this a gift from me to you. A human for you to let loose your demon impulses." He held up a finger. "I don't want you to kill her. I still have uses for a slave with such magic skills." Dehevret smiled. "But please make her bleed some. I could use the entertainment, and this one has been frightfully hard to break. I would be most grateful if you could get her to scream."

Thum. Thum. Thum. Thum.

Spike first thought it was his heart tapping a mad staccato. But no. It was Avery's pulse, racing in repressed panic. It beat in time to the cries of his glow, warning him away from the task Dehevret had set for him.

He looked to Avery, who only treated him to the same defiant look she had given to Dehevret. There was something beneath the defiance of her gaze and the fear of her blood, though. It was a challenge. She dared him to do it and prove that she had been right, after all. Either way, she emerges victorious.

Shouldn't be too hard, right? He and Buffy had had a spot of fun with Jigal. Though that hadn't ended very well. Didn't matter. He was a vampire. Course he didn't mind a spot of torture every now and again.

Except that Avery was a human who had helped them. That made it wrong, didn't it? The soul was screaming as such, but could he trust it?

Did it even matter? If he refused, Dehevret would send him away with Ugvan. Spike would miss the portal home, and end up stuck in this damn world.

Avery's heart continued to beat. Too long a hesitation might reveal his true intentions.

Wouldn't that be right, though? Stopping Dehevret...Buffy could do that on her own. He wasn't needed. The only reason he had to stay was so he could cross over. It was selfish. Like Avery had said. There was no noble motivation here. To get home, Spike had to torture Avery.

Spike closed his eyes briefly, weighing it in his mind. The fucking soul in him protested no matter what he did. He couldn't trust it. The damn thing simply hated being stuck inside a demon. He had to consider a different tack. A different strategy.

What would Buffy do?

He knew. He knew, thanks to her message. She wanted him over there with her. Whatever the means, he knew she wouldn't care.

Fuck right and wrong. He'd never have gotten this far if he had paid much attention to them. Wouldn't even have gotten Buffy from the brothel if he'd played it straight.

The thump of Avery's heart was swiftly drowned out by the sound of bones cracking as Spike fell into his vampire guise. In the pause between heartbeats, Spike shot a hand out to grip Avery by the hair. She flinched briefly before squaring her jaw. Her eyes never left his.

Thumthumthumthumthumthumthum

Her heart or that soul? Neither of them mattered.

He growled to drown out both noises.

Angelus had certainly taught him enough about the art of torture way back in the day. Of course, Spike had always been more for the fight. Brawls and punches and fangs. The refined act of carefully applying pain to a person had never appealed to him. He was always too impatient to get straight to the gushing blood and death cries.

Had to go slow now, though. Make a proper show of it. Make sure she screamed.

He looked at Avery's determined eyes. This one wouldn't scream easily.

Without a warning, Spike kicked at Avery's kneecap with the flat of his foot. The bone snapped, her joint bending backward. Avery fell down, teeth gritted in pain.

Spike looked to Dehevret, thinking of those campfires scattered across the landscape outside.

"Need some fire, mate."

****

Speedy's Billiards and Games was an establishment that had opened down the street from The Fish Tank two years ago. The two bars subsequently competed to out-sleaze each other. Speedy's won due to its seemingly peppy facade. The neon sign outside the building blinked with a large smiling face. The "billiards and games" tagline almost made it appear to be a family place. That is, if you ignored the line of motorcycles and smoke streaming from the door.

It was a dive bar filled with billiard tables and half-functional electronic bar games. When The Fish Tank had gone under, Speedy's had acquired all of its games. As such, the bar sported a variety of electronic fishing games.

Every evening stood a guy in the back by the emergency exit, behind the billiard tables.

Buffy was the Slayer. Of course she knew where the drug dealers hung out in Sunnydale. Oh, she never paid them much mind. Human criminals weren't her purview. However, they were usually ripe victims for vamps, so she had the transaction spots down for patrol.

She wasn't patrolling today.

She knew she shouldn't be doing this. It was wrong. It was backwards. It was bad, bad, bad.

But she needed it. Needed it like she needed air. She'd tried so, so hard to make it through the day, but everything kept piling on top of each other until she couldn't do it. She just couldn't do it.

So she would do this.

The guy's name was Oscar, and he peddled at Speedy's on the regular. He kept his hoodie down as Buffy approached, probably thinking she was going for the bathrooms nearby.

She didn't.

She stopped beside him, casually looking around. A gaggle of bearded metal-heads broke a new billiards game.

"How much?" she asked quietly.

She could feel him inspecting her. He must notice her twitchiness, her red eyes, red nose. She'd pass inspection. She had to. Otherwise she might have to resort to less friendly methods.

"Sixty a gram."

Shit, that was a lot. She didn't have much. She'd taken some money - not all of it - from her mom's wallet. She was going to pay it back, of course. And she'd only taken half, so her mom wasn't left with nothing.

It wasn't enough, though.

She knew what she was going to do even as she didn't want to do it. Unfortunately, her mind was already coming up with dozens of excuses.

She leaned in to Oscar. "I don't have enough cash. Could pay you another way."

He met her eyes with raised eyebrows. She nodded.

Oscar looked around before he turned and motioned for her to follow him out the emergency exit and into the back alley. Buffy had never felt so small. So horrible.

This wasn't wrong, right? It was just sex. It didn't mean anything. It's not like her body hadn't ever been used as currency before. No big.

She stripped Spike's coat off and tossed it to the ground before Oscar stopped and turned to her.

"On your knees, then," he said.

Buffy complied.

Why was she doing this? For the drugs. Right, the drugs. Bad day, after all. She deserved it. If Willow and Xander hadn't blabbed to the others about everything, she wouldn't be here. So in a way, it was all their fault that she was on her knees in front of a sturdily built drug dealer as he zipped down his pants.

Spike couldn't begrudge her that.

Well, he wouldn't begrudge her anything. He didn't love her. And this was why.

Her heart snapped, and Buffy remembered exactly why she needed these drugs. This wasn't sex. It was a business transaction.

Then Oscar's hand was in her hair and she surged forward to take him in her mouth.

Like riding a bike. She'd never forget how to do this. She had even perfected the art of doing it as quickly as possible so as to finish things up. She did so then, sucking as hard as she felt possible with her Slayer powers without hurting him.

She was startled from her task by the low chuckling of two men coming down the alley. Buffy released Oscar and looked up to see two vampires approaching.

"Fuck!" Oscar yelled, zipping himself up. He obviously hadn't seen their deformed faces. "Go away! Can't you see we're busy?"

Buffy stayed on her knees. She was about to lose her drugs. She'd beat the baddies and he'd run away and she'd get nothing. She'd stuck his dick in her mouth for nothing.

She stood up and put a hand out to the vamps. "Stay right there!"

They paused in surprise, looking at each other in confusion.

Buffy turned to Oscar and grabbed at his hoodie. "Give it to me."

"Hey! Hey!" Oscar protested as she frisked him. "What you doing, bitch?"

Nothing. Nothing. He had nothing. She shoved him against the wall, "Where's the coke?"

"Bitch, I don't carry it on me. You pay me, I hook you up with a runner."

Buffy frowned. Right, she hadn't had to deal with all this shit on the other side. Her pimp had hooked her up. She didn't know the game over here.

Somebody tapped on her shoulder. She turned and ended up face-to-face with one of the vampires.

"Gonna suck our dicks, too?" he asked.

"Vampires! Fuck!" Oscar yelled upon seeing the vamps' faces.

Buffy didn't hesitate, though. She threw a punch, connecting with the vamp's nose. His partner growled and tried to pull her towards him, but she broke his hold by swinging her arms up. A firm kick sent him flying across the alley to hit the opposite wall.

The sound of frightened footsteps filled the alley. Oscar had run. She sighed. So much for scoring some drugs.

As she reached down to rustle through Spike's pockets to grab her stake, the two vampires had regrouped.

The taller one approached from behind while his ballcap-wearing partner attacked from the front. Buffy needed only a quick step to the side to send them colliding into each other.

Not the brightest of demons. Probably why they preyed on druggies.

Buffy grabbed the back of Ballcap's shirt and tossed him against the building. She drew her arm back to stake him, but Tall Guy snatched her elbow and twisted her around. He went straight for the bite, greasy hair falling into her mouth as he tried to gnaw at her throat.

She wanted to retch. She punched him in the temple. He staggered. She plunged her stake into his chest.

By that point, Ballcap had recovered. Buffy didn't waste time. Withdrawing her stake before Tall Guy even dusted, she swiveled to face Ballcap. He looked terrified.

Good.

Buffy used his hesitation. She grabbed his arm and swung him back against the wall. He collided face-first into the brick. She ripped his stupid ballcap off and gripped her fingers in his hair. Then she pummeled his face into the wall again.

And again.

She repeated until the body stilled.

But she knew the threat was still there, so she kept beating his dead head into the bricks. Speckled drops of foul blood rebounded onto her arms and neck.

She finally stopped when her hands started shaking too much to continue. The body collapsed against the wall, pulpy flesh where the face had been.

Buffy sat down next to it. Her stomach wrenched. She turned away to expel the taste of Oscar from her gut.

When she was finished, she staked the faceless vampire. The body exploded.

Great. Now she was covered in vampire dust.

****

Avery lay face down with Spike on her back. Her legs sprawled in front of him, one badly broken with white bone showing through at the knee. Spike ignored that leg. The pain from the fracture would overcome anything else he could do to it. Instead, he set his attention on her other leg. Her foot.

He snatched it toward him and pressed the red-hot poker to the sole. Burning flesh hissed.

Still no scream from her. He hadn't expected one so soon.

Spike put the poker down and fetched one of the small metal needles he'd found while gathering supplies. With gentle care that Angelus would be proud of, Spike stroked Avery's foot, avoiding the burn. Her breath came out in harsh rasps.

He was glad he couldn't see her face. Only her legs. It made it more impersonal. Easier to ignore what he was doing. He wasn't enjoying this. It was necessary, though, and the soul screaming inside him could shut the fuck up about it.

Spike grabbed her foot again. Holding it tight, he pushed back the fleshy skin behind her toenail. Then he stabbed the needle behind the nail.

She jumped. Her leg flew out of his hand and her foot hit the floor. He knew that would only make things worse for her. A high-pitched, muffled shriek almost escaped from her.

Watching on, Dehevret and Ugvan chuckled.

"You have some talents," Dehevret said approvingly.

Spike gave him a smirk he didn't quite feel. Grabbing at Avery's foot again, he shoved the needle further in.

"Fucking bastard!" Avery spit out from beneath him.

Spike turned, pressing his full body down against her and holding her head to the ground.

"Hush now, pet. Know you're just jealous I was fucking Buffy and not you."

Avery pushed her upper body up enough to twist herself around and spit in his face.

Ugvan cackled.

Spike couldn't let that go without punishment. It would show him as weak in front of Dehevret. Fucking bitch had to make everything difficult, didn't she? Would be easier on both of them if she stopped fighting back and gave a scream or two.

Spike stood and wiped his face. Without his weight on top of her, Avery curled in on herself as best she could with a broken knee and a tortured foot.

He pulled her to a standing position and turned her for display to the two demons. He held her against him, her back to his front. He had to support her weight as she couldn't do it on her own. He gripped her by the throat.

"Spit all you like, luv," Spike stage-whispered. "Not gonna change who's calling the shots here."

He shoved her down so she fell on all fours. Well, on threes. One leg was still useless.

Before she could attempt to stand back up, he knelt down and pressed a hand at her back to keep her down.

"You're such a tough chick," Spike said. "Keep yourself up. If your arms give out, I'm gonna give you a red-hot fucking with that poker."

He told the soul he didn't mean it, but the soul didn't care.

He patted her cheek and reached for the poker again. He brought it to the bottom of her foot, right above the earlier burn mark.

Avery dropped a couple inches. Her head fell forward and she made a straining noise through her teeth.

Spike was interrupted from his next act as a page entered. The torture paused as a message was handed to Dehevret. The demon page didn't even spare a second glance for the human on the ground, nor for Spike kneeling behind her.

The soul must have settled in his stomach. It sat there, heavy, churning, making him nauseous. In front of him, Avery's arms shook a vibrato as she struggled to support her weight.

Dehevret relayed instructions to the page. The opening of the tent flapped in the evening breeze. Spike's attention zoomed to the thin wedge of the outdoors he could see.

Why wasn't this fun? It should be fun. He was a fucking demon. The soul didn't change that.

Demons get off on the pain, the torture. They don't get upset stomachs at it.

What was wrong with him?

His demon should have thrived in this world. It was the point, wasn't it? No Slayer, no limits. Only the bloodlust and rage.

That's not what had happened, though. Instead, isolation. Despair. Loneliness. A world overrun with demons meant that humans were a rarity and vampires reviled. Instead of being able to revel in his demon urges, Spike had had to lay low and repress to survive. Alone. The only true companionship he'd had in five years had been with a human.

Buffy. She'd changed him more than the bloody soul.

Not for the best, though, was it? After all, he wouldn't even have this broken woman laid out in front of him if he weren't trying to get back to Buffy. She provided the motivation and the punishment.

Fucking bitch.

When the page exited, Spike's concentration was broken. He turned his head to see Dehevret watching him again. Waiting for the show to start back up. Avery's torso had lowered, her chest nearly touching the ground. Her elbows looked a feather-touch away from giving out.

No help for it. Whatever changes he'd gone through, whatever his demon felt, this was necessary. Anyone could see that. Spike couldn't back out now.

Spike called on every 'lesson' Angelus had given him. Every methodical bit of torture in his seldom-used repertoire. All of the needles he found were used, buried deep behind Avery's toenails, so he switched to more of the hot poker. There was blood. A lot of blood. Spike's nose tingled, and bloodlust fought the sickness he felt inside.

There it was. A tiny thrill. Somehow, it made things worse.

Dinner came, and Dehevret and Ugvan ate off trays as if they were watching TV.

Finally, when Spike introduced the poker to the fleshy tissue between Avery's fingers, she screamed. It was a withered scream of concession. She'd given up.

Spike should have felt a triumph, but he only felt as shaky as Avery looked. There was no pride to be found.

Spike stood and stepped away from his victim. Dehevret motioned for one of his guards to come forward.

"Have the human taken to Ugvan's tent," he ordered. He turned to his neighbor. "A small present for you, Ugvan."

"Delicious," Ugvan replied.

Spike watched the guards drag Avery's broken body from the tent. One gripping an arm on each side. Her legs hung uselessly to the ground.

After their departure, Ugvan retired to his own tent, leaving Dehevret and Spike alone together.

"You're very talented," Dehevret said.

Spike swallowed down the protestations of the soul inside him. He nodded instead. He didn't trust his voice.

"Would you like Buffy?"

Spike's head snapped up. "What?"

"In exchange for your help. When we cross over and defeat this Slayer, you can have her to do with as you will." Dehevret grinned. "I'm sure you can think of some uses for her."

Right, he was mad at Buffy. Mad enough to torture her. Make her scream. Then take her to his tent for an evening or forever.

"You are very generous," he said, trying to make it sound convincing.

"So," Dehevret leaned back, indicating that Spike should take the seat that Ugvan had occupied. "Tell me what we should expect when we cross over."

****

Back at the cemetery. Back where the portal would appear. Somehow, it felt better than going home.

Buffy startled when she heard footsteps behind her, but she stilled when she realized who it was.

"Giles?"

She didn't know how to react to him. He'd been present at the scene this morning, but he hadn't said anything. He hadn't judged her, but he hadn't stood up for her either.

Giles took a place beside her and held out a pack of cigarettes.

Buffy frowned. "Will it help?"

"I've no idea."

She took one. Mimicking Spike's habits, she stuck it at the corner of her mouth and leaned forward as Giles produced a lighter.

The acrid smoke burned as she inhaled. It had the faint sensation of familiarity. It would do.

"I think Willow and Xander, good as their intentions may be, are reacting poorly to your situation," Giles said.

Buffy carefully flicked the ash from the end of her cigarette, the small gesture covering for the tears that welled in her eyes.

"What happened to you is none of my business," Giles continued. "However, I assure you - as a friend - you have my word of discretion should you choose to confide in me."

Buffy nodded. "Right." She couldn't think of any other words to say.

With that, the air was cleared, filled only with cigarette smoke. Giles motioned toward the portal area, "Wonder what's keeping our unknown demon from making the trip back over."

Buffy shrugged. "Maybe he saw the brochures and changed his mind?"

"Yes, I can't imagine the Zagat's guide recommends it too strongly. O course, it might also be the Slayer sitting out every night keeping watch over it."

"What are you saying?"

"I'm wondering if a change in strategy may be prudent once we get the orb of Thesulah. For now, your presence appears to be deterring our would-be world-crosser from carrying out the ritual. We won't want that deterrence for long, however."

"Right. Cause we need him to do the ritual so we can piggy-back on with our spell," Buffy finished Giles' thought.

"Precisely."

Buffy sighed, smoke riding on her breath. "So how do we monitor the area without letting him know we're monitoring the area?"

"That is something for us to consider." He sighed and shuffled his feet. "I'm reluctant to broach the topic, but I feel I must let you know that I have some concerns."

"About?"

"The spell Willow is planning on doing to bring Spike over...it will have the same stipulation that Angel's had. Spike's soul wouldn't be anchored. A simple moment of happiness would unroot it."

She nodded, quickly seeing where he was going. "And Lord only knows what would qualify as a perfect moment of happiness for him." Being able to watch a soccer game, a really good plate of wings at The Bronze, a mid-day masturbation session. All would probably qualify.

"You told me earlier that his chip is gone," Giles said.

Buffy stared at the end of the cigarette as the paper burned into ash.

"I'm not trying to dissuade you from your goal, Buffy. I'm merely being cautious about the situation into which we're about to be thrust. A Spike with only a precarious hold on his soul, without a chip..." Giles shook his head. "I'm sure you don't need me to lecture you on the dangers of soulless creatures after where you've been for the past years."

She tensed. Dangers. Spike without a soul had loved her once. Now, with a soul, he didn't. Maybe - this was a stupid thought - maybe he'd love her again if he went back to being soulless.

Maybe it took a soulless creature to love her. Not just now, because of all the...things that had happened. But before, too. Because she was the Slayer.

Oh, Angel had loved her. Not enough, though. His love had left along with his soul. Other people's love for her was never anchored. It always left.

Giles was expecting an answer. He was worried about other people, but Buffy couldn't stop thinking of Spike and herself because they were the only two people Buffy cared about now. Especially after that fiasco at the Magic Box earlier.

Buffy attempted to look certain. She threw down her cigarette butt. "I'm ready for that."

Well, it wasn't a lie.

tbc...

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This entry was originally posted at http://gabrielleabelle.dreamwidth.org/360642.html. There are comment count unavailable comments on the DW side. Comments are welcome on either side. Due to massive SPAM issues on LJ, anon comments are only on the DW side.

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
rahirah
Feb. 7th, 2012 04:46 am (UTC)
Even assuming that the plan goes perfectly (and when do they ever?) Buffy's problems aren't really the kind that Spike can solve, and sooner or later she'll realize that. This should be interesting...
gabrielleabelle
Feb. 7th, 2012 06:27 pm (UTC)
I hope it'll be interesting. :)
kikimay
Feb. 7th, 2012 09:43 am (UTC)
I quote the comment above: Spike can't solve Buffy's problems. She's still acting like a survivor - which is comprensible - and I'm curious to know how she can find herself again, it seems almost impossible. She reminds me more cave!Buffy then Buffy season 6.
gabrielleabelle
Feb. 7th, 2012 06:28 pm (UTC)
:)
norwie2010
Feb. 7th, 2012 09:47 am (UTC)
I didn't comment lot, but wow! Crack stuff you write!
(But making us wait another 10 days? Cruel...)
gabrielleabelle
Feb. 7th, 2012 06:28 pm (UTC)
I often am. :)
ever_neutral
Feb. 7th, 2012 09:54 am (UTC)
Haha you did not lie, this was torturous. ;)

That's what love is, is it not? Exposing yourself? Allowing yourself to be destroyed by another?"

AHHHHHH this line gives me ALL OF THE FEELINGS.

Other people's love for her was never anchored. It always left.

WAHHHHHHHHHH

In other words, yay angst.
gabrielleabelle
Feb. 7th, 2012 06:29 pm (UTC)
I KEEP MY PROMISES!!!

I'm gonna give you all the angst, dear. ;)
treadingthedark
Feb. 7th, 2012 03:05 pm (UTC)
Not gonna lie, the torture was hard to get through. Still love the story!
gabrielleabelle
Feb. 7th, 2012 06:30 pm (UTC)
The torture was hard for me to get through too.

Glad you're still enjoying. :)
kudagirl
Feb. 8th, 2012 12:12 am (UTC)
Buffy and Spike both had major moments of soul searching in this chapter. Buffy felt rejected by her family and friends so she gave into the lure of drugs and using her body to get them. Spike fought his soul to do what he needed to do. Neither of them were happy about what they did. It was interesting how each thought over how the other would view their actions.

Well done.
gabrielleabelle
Feb. 8th, 2012 04:10 am (UTC)
Thanks. :)
gingerwall
Feb. 9th, 2012 02:37 am (UTC)
Wow. Trigger warning to end all trigger warnings. You weren't kidding.

I loved the section where Spike is trying to make a decision about how to proceed, and I wonder if that's what Buffy actually would have wanted him to do. She'd at least be very conflicted about it.... I kind of feel like she wouldn't be able to stomach the torture herself if she were doing it in Spike's place, but could maybe justify him deciding to do it if it means he can return and also help defeat Dehevret. I dunno. Well-written/plotted story -> ambivalent feelings.

Cannot wait for the next chapter. (And the sequel!!!)
gabrielleabelle
Feb. 9th, 2012 04:19 am (UTC)
Glad you're enjoying. :)
sarian71
Feb. 9th, 2012 04:02 pm (UTC)
*sits and stares blankly at the screen*

Damn, that was bleak and grim and very, very dark. Not to mention incredibly brutal!

You're not pulling any punches torturing Buffy and Spike and the readers, that's for sure... :)
gabrielleabelle
Feb. 9th, 2012 04:54 pm (UTC)
*gives you cake*

:)
relurker
Mar. 13th, 2012 09:20 am (UTC)
I may have started this chapter five times before I had the stomach to finish it.
I don't know what to say! Except that I'm very involved with this story, and with this fragmented soul, and I haven't got a clue as to how you're going to put it all back together; can you do it after all this?
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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