DISCLAIMER: Everything but the plot is Joss'. Well, the baddies are mine.
OK, Cortina’s mine, too. But everything else really is his. Too bad.
SUMMARY: The Scoobies are in Greece, but waited wrongly at the dock for Daymon’s plane, only to learn that he is landing at his property. Meanwhile, Daymon’s men have used tranquilizer darts on Buffy and Spike in order to subdue them for the arrival.
Her head was killing her, pounding like a sledge hammer, and Buffy groaned as she struggled unsuccessfully to sit up. She was lying horizontally on a hard surface, something heavy wrapped around her chest and legs, pinning her arms to her sides. When she tried to move her hands, the Slayer discovered that someone had even gone to the trouble of binding them tightly, making it impossible to flex or make a fist or even use them in any type of helpful capacity. The soft fabric over her eyes meant she was blindfolded as well, although Daymon---it had to be him---had left her mouth ungagged.
The tingling in her skin told her she wasn’t alone. “I hope this isn’t your idea of foreplay,” she said, knowing instinctively that it was the Greek demon who was with her, “’cause gotta tell you, it’s really not working for me.”
“I am glad to see you’re finally awake,” Daymon responded, ignoring her slight gibe. “I feared my men might’ve misjudged the dosage.”
Buffy felt a slight bump and heard for the first time the engine rumble surrounding her. She was in some sort of vehicle, out of the plane, probably on the way to wherever this ritual needed to occur. And if she was bound this tightly, she knew Daymon wouldn’t have made the mistake again and left Spike free as well. He’s gotta be loving this, she thought, amused, and then stopped, sniffing the air, her heart rate almost immediately starting to accelerate.
“Where’s Spike?” she demanded. “I swear, if you’ve dusted him, they’re going to have to come up with new words to describe how badly I’m going to hurt you.”
The demon chuckled. “Normally, I would be envious of such a bond,” he said. “To know your lover is not even here in spite of being bound and blinded, that is a very rare gift indeed. But today, I do not worry about lacking this, because today, I already have you, and now it is only time that stands between me and my quest.”
Buffy’s heart thumped in her chest, threatening to break free from her ribcage. “But, you didn’t kill him, right?” she asked, desperately trying to maintain some sort of control over the waver in her voice. “I mean, he’s still alive---well, dead---well, undead, right?”
She heard him sigh and imagined he was shaking his head at her. “Yes,” he finally volunteered. “I’m keeping him for some…amusement. Afterward.” Buffy tensed as the dry touch of a scaled hand trailed down her cheek. “It really is a shame we do not have more time,” Daymon said, his voice low. “You are incredibly beautiful. It is so unfortunate I will not be able to enjoy that loveliness of yours after the ritual.”
“You’re not still thinking that’s going to happen, are you?” The young woman laughed. “My friends know all about your plan and they’re probably waiting for us as we speak. They’re very resourceful that way.”
“You are bluffing,” the demon replied. “Brave for doing
so, but bluffing nonetheless. However, if it cheers you to believe that
they will come to your rescue, then please, by all means do so. I only wish
for you to be comfortable for as long as you can.”
“If that’s the case, then why don’t we make with the untying and let me go?” Buffy chirped. “That would definitely make me more comfortable.”
“In due time.”
They rode along in silence, a heavy mantle hanging in the air, and the young woman began flexing what few muscles she could in an attempt to test the limits of her bonds. Whoever had done it had been an expert, because the hand thing was a stroke of genius. She had nothing but her own strength to use as leverage, no way to claw or dig her way free, and even that didn’t seem like it was going to be enough as she strained to lift even her shoulders from the platform underneath her.
“It’s really no use to struggle,” Daymon said. “I’ve ensured that they are more than secure.”
“You’re really not for giving a girl a fighting chance, are you?” She was joking, but the anger and frustration that was already beginning to saturate her conscious crept into her voice anyway. “I mean, the tranquilizer dart was a little overkill, don’t you think?”
“You’ve proven more resourceful than I originally anticipated,” he responded. “How else could I be certain of success?” There was a pause, followed quickly by another insidious chuckle. “You really should have killed me when you had the opportunity, my dear.”
“Funny,” the Slayer remarked. “I was just thinking the same thing.”
The sun was blinding as Giles thundered over the crest of the mountain, ripping the steering wheel sideways as he skidded around a curve. Beside him, Tara clung to Willow’s arm, who in turn gripped the armrest in her door, knuckles white, her face even whiter. She screeched as a bird flew in front of them, almost hitting the windshield, burying her face into her girlfriend’s shoulder.
“I said, stop screaming!” Giles reprimanded, his face grim as he maneuvered the vehicle around yet another curve. “It’s very distracting!”
“And the last thing we want right now is for him to be distracted!” added Xander from the back. “I’d like to live long enough for Daymon to kill me, fair and square, thank you very much.”
The silence was grim as they careened around another hairpin, the concentration tightening the Watcher’s face, narrowing his already rapt attention. They had lost sight of the airplane over half an hour earlier, and even though it had not seemed that far on the map, the circuitous route they were being forced to take through the mountains was delaying them longer than Giles was happy with. How long would it take for them to disembark? he wondered. If Buffy and Spike put up a fight, perhaps it could slow them down enough so that the gang could arrive with the weapons. He almost laughed out loud as he considered what he’d just thought. If they put up a fight? The idea that they wouldn’t was ludicrous. Both of them were natural survivors, born to refuse conceding defeat without a battle to the end. They would do everything in their power to make it difficult for Daymon; the only question was…would it be enough?
“There it is!”
Giles almost jerked the wheel as Anya’s arm came shooting out from behind him, pointing and jabbing excitedly at the small airstrip that was now lying before them. His heart sank as he saw how deserted the area was; there were no people about, only a lone covered truck parked a short distance away. “We’re too---,” he started to say, only to cut himself off when he saw the two men emerge from behind the plane and head for the only other vehicle. “Get ready, Willow,” he ordered, pushing the accelerator back down to the floor, “and hang on.”
He would never have deliberately chosen guarding a vampire from the duty roster, but considering what his alternative could have been, Nico was grateful for the task he’d been delegated. Anything was better than having to go out to the cave. Since he and Titus were the two who had been instructed to rig up the cage in the back of the truck anyway, it had only made sense that they be the ones to return their cargo back to Daymon’s house. Neither man had been expecting that they’d be transporting a drugged-up demon, but they weren’t arguing. He was harmless, the crew had said. And you’ve got more than enough firepower to take him out should he prove otherwise.
Nobody else was around except for the flight crew and they were all still on board the plane. “You hungry?” asked Titus as they shuffled over to the truck.
“Starving,” the younger man said. “Think we have time to stop for---.” His words became a gurgle as the dog appeared from nowhere, sailing through the air in an effortless leap, throwing him over twenty yards away from the plane so that he landed with a bone-crunching thud in the dust. He started to yell at his partner, only to realize that it was already too late. The snarling beast was atop Titus, its muzzle dripping as it bared its fangs, and Nico realized that the other man had already passed out, although if it was from actual injury or mere fright, he had no idea.
The roar of an engine erupted from behind the young man, and he twisted his body to see what was coming, only to groan out loud when the pain went shooting down his back. It wasn’t until the truck came roaring past did he see the new arrivals. That’s not one of Daymon’s, he thought.
As Nico struggled to sit up, the back door of the vehicle popped open, allowing a young man to jump out, a crossbow already cradled in his arms, training it directly on the Greek on the ground. Behind him, the other occupants poured out, all of them armed, but most of them women…young women…young, very pretty women, he noted. It was only when the driver finally emerged that Nico realized just who exactly was in charge.
The older man wasted no time. “Where is your master?” he demanded in Greek.
“Gone,” he replied, then bit his lip, remembering the warnings that had been passed down to him from the elders about revealing too much about Daymon’s plans.
This obviously didn’t please the leader, who turned to face the young people who surrounded him. He barked at them in some foreign language---English, maybe?---and looked over at the truck before swiveling back to address Nico. “Where has he taken the girl?” he asked this time.
The young Greek shook his head. “I can’t. Daymon will kill me.”
Before he could react, the older man’s foot had shot out, driving into his stomach, sending a crescendo of pain radiating throughout his body. He screamed, curling up into as tight a ball as the injury would allow, not noticing the worrying looks the younger people were throwing at their leader.
“I’ll ask just one more time,” the man said. “Where has he taken the girl?”
It was excruciating, hurting more than anything ever had before in Nico’s short lifetime. “The…cave…” he finally managed, and groaned. He would be punished for sure now; he only hoped that it would be quick. His eyes were squeezed shut from the agony, but he heard the babble of voices as they seemed to be arguing amongst themselves. Please go away, he thought. Maybe I can still make a run for it…
“You’re going to take us to him.”
That opened the Greek’s eyes faster than anything else the older man could’ve done, and he stared at him, appalled. “You must…be joking,” he sputtered.
“Do I look like I’m joking?”
It was a rhetorical question, because they both knew that his demand was a serious one, but it didn’t stop Nico from trying to get out of it anyway. “He’ll kill me,” he whined. “If I take you there, I might as well be signing my own deathwish.”
“And if you don’t, you’re dead already.”
The drugs were wearing off. Although his head was hurting more than if the chip had just gone off, Spike was grateful for the pain because it meant one thing…he was still in this world, which meant that he could still help Buffy. His eyes fluttered open and, although it was dark, it was by no means the void he’d been experiencing earlier, merely shuttered from any outside light. He could see the faint outlines of iron bars along the walls, covered with what looked like some sort of heavy black fabric, and the vampire knew at once that he was in sort of mobile cage, being shielded from the outside sunshine so that he didn’t combust. Although the daylight certainly threw a spanner into the works, Spike was determined not to let that hold him back. He couldn’t. Buffy needed him.
Gingerly, the blond vamp sat up from where he’d been thrown on the floor, being careful not to jar his aching muscles, before using one of the bars as leverage to pull himself to his feet. The world swam before him, but he closed his eyes and waited, knowing the dizziness would pass. Soddin’ drugs, he thought irritably. One of these days, I’m goin’ to find the bastard who invented ‘em and pound him into the ground.
The voices he’d heard earlier were long gone, and Spike had been beginning to wonder if he’d just been left to rot when the sound of an approaching car roared into his consciousness, followed quickly by a lot of slamming doors. More Greek, and then…was that English? He stumbled in the direction of the new arrivals, pressing his ear against the fabric. That one was a girl, and the dulcet tones that followed were yet another female…Tara? Which could only mean…
“Hey!” He’d meant for it to be a long, loud shout. Instead, it came out as a croak, barely audible even in the confined space of his cage. Spike tried again. “Hey!” This time, it was louder, but he didn’t think he’d managed to grab their attention yet, as the conversation didn’t seem to be stopping. Grabbing onto the bars, he began rattling them with what little strength he had, screaming, “Giles!”
That brought a halt to the talking outside and the vampire struggled to pick out the sounds of light footsteps, running, approaching his confinement. They stopped, and were immediately followed by, “Spike?”
“Red!” The flood of relief that suffused his body was greater than he expected, and the vamp slumped against the bars. They’d found them. Somehow, some way, Giles had led the Scoobies right to where they needed to be. Not going to slag off Rupes anymore, Spike vowed. Not when he was now giving him the best chance he’d had in days to save Buffy.
The fabric was thrown aside, allowing the sunlight to knife through the air, instantly brightening the cage and sending the blond vamp scuttling backwards to avoid bursting into flame. Willow’s broad smile greeted him as he blinked against the radiance. “You’re alive!” she exclaimed.
“Not for bloody long, you keep lettin’ in the light like that,” he grumbled. His squinting eyes relaxed as she let the fabric fall slightly. “And it’s about bleedin’ time you showed up,” he added. “Everything’s gone all pear-shaped.”
The witch nodded. “We know. Buffy’s already on her way to the cave. We think that’s where Daymon’s going to do the ritual.” She straightened. “And for your information, we’ve been in Greece longer than you have. If anyone should be complaining about a certain someone being all tardy, it should be us about you.”
Spike just looked at her, his dark eyes hooded. She flushed, beginning to squirm, then turned to look over her shoulder. The vampire’s gaze followed hers, and he watched as Giles approached the truck. Right, he thought. Buffy said the Watcher knew, not goin’ to back down from it. He doesn’t like it, he can just sod off.
“Are you all right?”
It was probably the last thing he expected to hear from the ex-librarian, and Spike cocked an eyebrow as he tilted his head, looking at the other man in amusement. “It’s been a crackin’ day, thank you for askin’,” he replied. Giles’ jaw tightened, and the vampire felt an edge of guilt for being so flip. Don’t be such a prat, he chided himself. You don’t have time for it right now. “Bastard’s men used tranquilizers to knock me and Buffy out,” he added. “That’s how they separated us.”
The Watcher nodded. “He’s prepared,” he said. “He’s allowed for all contingencies.”
“I’ll lay money he hasn’t allowed for you,” the vamp countered. “We can still get him, Rupe. He’s not expectin’---.”
“There is no ‘we,’ Spike.” Giles looked down at the redheaded witch at his side. “Go help Xander tie those men up, Willow.”
“But Anya’s the one who’s the bondage expert,” she argued, then stopped, her eyes widening, as she realized what he was really saying. “Oh. You’re getting rid of me.”
“Obviously, not very effectively, but yes, I’d like for you to go. I want to have a word with Spike alone.”
Willow waggled a finger at the older man. “Play nice. For Buffy’s sake,” she said, casting one last look at the blond vampire in the shadows. “That goes for you, too,” she added, before spinning on her heel and disappearing from view.
Spike couldn’t help the smile that curled his lips. So Red was on his side. Not that it surprised him much; she and her girlfriend were the soft touches of the bunch. Giles, on the other hand…
“How much did Buffy tell you about the prophecy?” he was asking.
The vampire shrugged. “Just the basics. Demon comes out of Daymon, demon goes into Buffy. End of story.”
“There’s more to it than that,” the Watcher said. “I don’t have the luxury of having time to explain it to you, but trust me on this. You cannot come along with us. Buffy’s life could very well be in even graver danger should you do so.”
“And trust me when I say, there is no way in hell you’re leaving me out of this!” The rage boiled in Spike’s head, thrusting him forward to the edge of the shade, as close to the other man as he dared without bursting into flame. “If you think I’m just going to stand back while Buffy needs me, you’re not nearly as smart as I thought you were, Rupe.”
“I know you love her,” the older man said tightly. “And I know she loves you. That doesn’t mean I like it, or that I even condone it, but it does mean that I know to what lengths you will go to protect her. I know your history, Spike. I’ve read about what you’ve done, about some of the things you did for Drusilla. Out of love. And I’d be a fool to believe that that might somehow change because you’ve transferred those feelings to my Slayer---.”
“Our Slayer, Watcher. Our. Slayer. She’s mine, just as much as she’s yours. Something happens to her, and we’ll both suffer. Some how, someway, I’ll get to Buffy, and I’ll do my damnedest to save her. Now, that would be a helluva lot easier if you just took me along, but if you’re still so blinkered that you can’t see what’s staring you in the face, then I’ll do it on my own. If I have to rip this cage apart bar by bar, and burn in the bleedin’ sunshine the entire way, I’ll do it. Because I love her.” He paused. “She’s everything to me. You know that, right?”
There was a long moment as Giles regarded the vampire, blue eyes narrowed behind the lenses of his glasses. “You can’t leave the cage,” he finally said. “I’ll take you with us, but you have to promise to stay out of it. That’s the only way I’ll allow you to come.”
His heart leapt at the chance. “Whatever you say,” Spike promised. “Just don’t leave me behind.” He watched as the older man turned away, calling for Xander. One step closer, the vampire thought. Hang on, luv. I’m on my way…
To be continued in Chapter Thirty-Four: Rituals…