He hadn’t got a lick of sleep. Too busy watching over the Slayer while she got as much rest as she needed, which was a lot apparently. Either they’d given her an extra strong dose of drugs, or she really was just that exhausted. Whatever it was, it didn’t bother Spike to stay up the entire night. Vampire, right? He’d kept himself entertained. Playing that human-Angel’s reaction over and over again never got old. The way the vein in his forehead bulged out and his face turned all red. Blood close to the surface and easily accessed. Well, hypothetically. And when he got the chip out, Spike intended to find out just how easily the bloke bled. Still, it was a nice fantasy, and a nice visual. He couldn’t help but chuckle a few times, wondering what other things got that idiot worked up. Obviously, Muscle Boy was interested in Buffy. Enough that the idea of her having a relationship with somebody else- no matter the circumstances of it- got his pulse racing. It was actually kind of funny. That a guy like that really thought he was on the same level as a Slayer. Little boy playing at demon hunter. He had no idea. Even if she ever had given him the time of day, he’d never have been able to keep her. He’d only get in her way, hold her back. And Spike had a sneaking suspicion that soldier boy’s masculinity was pretty damn fragile. She’d emasculate him (probably without even trying), and he’d have a fit, and he’d leave. He’d never be able to comprehend what she was, and what she did. She breathed death. Lived for it. It was her art, and she made it day in and day out. She didn’t need some wanker to help her or save her from the baddies. Something Spike probably should have kept in mind, before he’d thrown himself back into this place. But these guys weren’t normal baddies. No sharp stick to end their existence. And God only knew what they intended to do with her. Pick her apart bit by bit? Stick a chip up in her noggin? Make her one of them? Now there was a frightening thought. Bunch of government idiots trying to control a Slayer. Obviously that was working so well for his fellow Englishmen holed up across the pond. She was starting to wake up. No movement yet, but he was so tuned into her by now, he could pick up the subtle change in her breathing and heartbeat. He tilted his head and watched her. The even rise and fall of her chest, and the way her brow knitted as she started to come more into consciousness. It was weirdly… kind of mesmerizing. He really needed to stop doing that. Not that he could really help himself. What else was there to do? Watch other demons pacing about? Stare at the fluorescents? Twiddle his thumbs? She was the nicest thing he had to look at in that place, enemy or no. And as much as he hated to admit to himself, she did have a certain allure. She was deadly. Full of life and warmth and fire. She could end him in the blink of an eye if he’d let her. Something about that danger had always given him a rush, but now it was different. The kind he didn’t want to have. The kind he didn’t used to have. Before it was always ‘me or her’. A challenge. The fight. Not knowing if he’d come out of it alive. Well, not dust at any rate. He was really starting to miss that feeling, because the new one that was taking hold… it was terrifying. And he knew how wrong it was, to even think about it. She was her, and he was him, and the only thing that should ever pass between them was death. Not a burning desire to have his lips on her throat for an entirely different reason. He hated that the notion had even crossed his mind. Moreso, now that it wouldn’t leave. The slayer wasn’t too happy when her eyes cracked open. She let out a groan and rolled over to push herself up. “I was really hoping this was all just a bad dream. God, I need a shower.” He wasn’t going to argue with that. Her normally pristine hair was tangled and beginning to mat in places. She was starting to look almost feral. Not that it was exactly a bad look for her, but… It would take a lot of work to get those golden locks back to the way they were before. And that was if they somehow managed to get out today, which was pretty damn unlikely. She didn’t have any trouble getting to her feet now, which was a good sign that whatever they’d been pumping her with was finally leaving her system. “Hey! Bill Nye!” She called out into the hall. “What’s a girl got to do around here to get a freaking bathroom break?” Oh. That’s bloody brilliant. One of the scientists responded as he strolled to the front of her cell. “Push on the right side of the most left panel on the back wall. There’s a toilet that rotates out.” Her eyebrows shot up. “Really? Well, that’s just nifty.” “Yeah, well. Nobody was real keen on excrement detail, and we didn’t want to have to deal with the smell in here, you know.” He made a mark on his clipboard and wandered back off nonchalantly, checking on other demons as he went. She caught Spike’s gaze as she pressed on the panel, then looked quickly away. The poor girl. How dehumanizing it must have been for her, to have to try to hide herself from prying eyes when there was no shelter to be found. Spike had that feeling welling back up again. Damned possessive, protective calling. Not that he could do much from across the hall, but… he could at least get her some semblance of privacy. Spike looked at the other demons within eyesight, staring each of them down individually, a low growl emanating from his throat. They all got the message. His Slayer, not for them. One by one, they found something more interesting to look at; the floor, the wall, their hands, until they had all averted their eyes. Spike turned away from her, making a point to stare just to the side of the bright light above him. He was a lot of things, but a peeping tom was not one of them. And for whatever reason, he’d make sure nobody else around them was either. He hated getting that feeling. Those thoughts. He cursed the chip once again. If it weren’t for that stupid thing, he’d have been at her throat by now, and on his way back to Brazil. Now he was becoming Pavlov’s dog. He still very much wanted to sink his teeth into things, but he knew better by now than to think about it. And the less he thought about it… “Thanks, Spike.” The slayer’s voice floated over to him, and he huffed a sigh. “Don’t make a thing of it. You’ve had enough to deal with in here,” he paused, trying to decide if he wanted to turn around and meet her eyes. He decided against it. He already knew they’d be big as moons and make him want to be soft. He wasn’t stupid. He knew what helpless ladies brought out in him. Poncy William. And he’d be damned if he acted that way with the Slayer. “How you feeling, pet? Better today?” Her feet shuffled on the floor, coming just a bit closer. “Hungry as hell, mostly. A little thirsty. But no more weird druggy feeling, so that’s of the good,” she sighed shakily. Yeah, she might be trying to act tough, but Spike knew better. “What about you? Holding up okay?” That irritated him for some reason. He didn’t want her concern and pity. She didn’t have any the first time he’d been in here, and the only reason she cared now was that she was in the same boat. She didn’t care about him, or any other demon in this place. She just cared about having somebody to cling to until she got out. Then what? She’d go back to kicking him around and using him as a punching bag. Not that that bothered him, right? “I’m fine, Slayer,” he snapped. Maybe it was the hunger, or the fact that his ribs still hadn’t set right, or the sleep deprivation. Whatever it was, he wasn’t in the mood for her to offer her sympathies to him. He wasn’t in the mood for anything but getting the hell out of there and getting down to Willy’s for a pint of something fresh. “You’re all bad moody. You sure you’re alright?” Was she… pouting? Certainly sounded like her pouty voice. “Listen to me, you stupid bint. I have never been in a good mood with you. We aren’t chums, remember? In case you forgot, I want to rip your throat out with my teeth. Don’t think for one second that any of this changes that.” “Now now, you two. I think that’s quite enough.” Walsh spoke lightly as she approached. God, Spike didn’t even want to sink his teeth into her at this point. He wanted to twist her head off and throw it at her little boy assistant that was always flanking her. Riley. He even had a wanker name. “Seventeen, you should show a little more concern for your lovely fiance. She’s off for more evaluations today.” She smiled, and it made Spike’s skin crawl. Pretty impressive, for a human. Buffy’s pulse had picked up. “You really think I’m letting you throw me back in that room with more demons and no weapons? You’ve lost your mind.” What? That’s what they’d done to her? Thrown her into Thunderdome? No wonder she’d been in such rough shape. But she’d barely had time to recover. They couldn’t really expect her to be ready for more of that. And with no weapons? She’d be killed for sure. Wasn’t hard to get a lucky hit when your opponent was half dead to begin with. It didn’t matter how good she was. His stomach dropped. “You’re not taking her off to kill her. Over my dead body.” He let the bones in his face shift, brought his fangs out. If he had to take another beating for her, he would. But she was not dying today. Not by their hands. “If I’m not mistaken, your body is already dead. There’s just a pilot in there that keeps it moving.” She smiled coldly at him before addressing the Slayer. “I think we may have got off on the wrong foot here, Buffy-” “Oh really? And what would possibly make you think that?” There’s my girl. She was definitely back to herself. No hesitation to be sarcastic, standing her ground. Like a Slayer should. “You have to understand our position here. From what I’ve been told, you are what’s known as a Slayer? We thought you were a myth. If we’d had any inclination of your true identity when we brought you in-” “Did ya think to ask me? Maybe look in a book? Ask any demon in here, they’ll tell you exactly what I am. And I can guarantee, they’re more afraid of me than they are of you. So go ahead, Walsh. Run all the tests you want, and you still won’t know what I am, or what I can do.” Buffy glared at the old bitch, fire dancing in her eyes. God, she was furious, and that face of wrath was really something to behold. He reigned his demon in, letting his human face come back. He didn’t need to defend her, he reminded himself once again. He wouldn’t be able to even if he tried. Walsh cleared her throat, clearly not used to being interrupted. “I’m trying to extend an olive branch here. You don’t have to be locked up here with these creatures. You can come with us, peacefully. Join our cause. Be a part of something greater.” Buffy grinned. Not the happy-yay-I’m-not-a-prisoner-anymore kind of a grin either. It was the kind you gave somebody right before you took their life. Very slowly, she raised a fist, then her middle finger. “Extend this, bitch.”
Worth it. Push, relax. Push, relax. The shoulder presses were actually kind of a welcome task. Mindless, repetitive. After getting hit with that stupid taser yet again, the exercise took the ache off. Got her muscles back to doing what they were supposed to, and not being seized up. She’d done so many different reps at this point, they were all starting to blend together. Whatever ‘evaluation’ Walsh was doing with the gym routine, Buffy didn’t exactly care. They wanted to know how strong she was? How much she could lift? How hard she could hit? The only way she was ever letting that on was when she could eventually show them all first hand. She wouldn’t bother holding back then. Riley mirrored her actions on the other side of the glass. He was a control subject, Walsh had said. So they, what, wanted to see if she was stronger than him? If he was their best operative, Buffy wasn’t impressed. He was covered in sweat, and straining and making disgusting guttural sounds. Ugh. I can’t believe I almost dated him! It made her stomach turn to even think about it now. Would he ever have told her? Would he have lied to her the entire time about it? Would he still have gone along with taking her prisoner? “You know,” Riley panted between presses, “we don’t have to be enemies. We can help each other.” Yeah, right. She had all the help she’d ever need. Her friends, Giles, her mom. Even Spike, sometimes. She’d rather call a truce with the guy who’d tried to kill pretty much everybody in her circle at least once before shaking hands with the Initiative. She wasn’t an operative. She didn’t want to be one, and she certainly didn’t want to be their lab rat. “You know something, Riley?” She asked, not panting and not sweating. “I really think we do. The whole being enemies thing, that is,” she added, just in case all his disgusting grunting kept him from fully following the conversation. “Buffy, come on. This -” he took a heaving breath, “this was all just a huge misunderstanding. At least hear Walsh out. You might change your mind about us.” He’d stopped doing the presses and was watching Buffy with a pleading look in his eyes. She didn’t stop. She wanted him to see that she was stronger than he was. She wanted him to know that she was absolutely not struggling with this work out crap. She glared at him through the glass, rage building inside her. “I will never change my mind about you. You kidnapped me. You shot me with a taser. You’ve kept me drugged and docile as a kitten. You let that creepy ass scientist cut my shirt off me! And then you got offended when a vampire offered me the shirt off his back.” “That’s not-” “Don’t interrupt me!” She jumped to her feet, the anger she hurt finally bubbling over. “This entire operation is despicable. You. Walsh. Graham and Forrest too, I’m guessing? You’re all disgusting. And you know what the real kicker is?” She tilted her head, staring at Riley through the glass divider. He took a few steps forward. Very stupid, naive steps. She imagined kicking a nice big hole in that glass, stepping through, and giving him a good throttling before his buddies busted in and saved him. “Spike has been trying to kill me for three years,” she spoke quietly, beckoning Riley to close that last bit of distance. “He’s kidnapped my friends. Almost killed Giles. Then you guys happened.” “He can’t kill you now.” He was trying to sound reassuring, she could tell. Like somehow, Spike not being able to kill her erased everything else they were doing. “Spike couldn’t kill me before, but that’s not the point. He and I? We want each other dead. That’s the way it’s been since the night we met. Thanks to you guys, we’re on the same side now.” Riley scoffed. “Yeah, right. That’s why you two were arguing when Walsh and I came to get you. That’s why you said that thing about you two not being friends. Right? Being on the same side and all.” “We’re not friends. If it weren’t for you idiots, I would have killed him when he came back here. But you went and made him all harmless, and it generally goes against my code of ethics to hit something that can’t hit me back.” Well, maybe not to hit him. She’d still do that. But she wouldn’t kill him. “If he can’t hit you, that makes you human, right?” She really could not believe it took that to make Riley understand that she wasn’t a freaking demon. Was he an actual neanderthal? Whatever. This whole conversation is just ridiculous. He’s trying to get under my skin, get me to go to the dark side, and that’s not happening. And really, kind of getting tired of the whole grunt routine in here. “Look, I’m tired. Can we just focus on whatever the hell it is we’re supposed to be doing here so we can get it done faster? Because no offense-” You know what, screw him and his feelings. “Actually, no, totally ALL of the offense intended. The smell of your sweat is coming through these little breathing holes, louder than your voice is. And let me tell you- it’s freaking rank. So the sooner I can get out of this room and back to my cell, the better. At least the neighbors there don’t smell as bad.” Either literally or metaphorically. She didn’t say that part, but he seemed to get the subtext. His face screwed up in all the disgruntled rage he could muster before he threw his hands up and walked away. He stormed through his conveniently unlocked exit, slamming the door behind him. Must’ve made him feel masculine or something. Why did men always want to slam doors anyway? She waited, seemingly for an eternity, before somebody came to take her back to her cell. Graham, thankfully. He at least seemed level headed. More so than the others, at any rate. He didn’t shoot first. He let her walk freely, mostly. As free as one could be with a taser gun pressed against their spine. She could have taken the opportunity to make a run for it, and she wasn’t sure why she didn’t. Maybe because she wasn’t sure where the exit was. An elbow to the temple, grab the taser and use it on whoever tried to stop her. It would have been really simple. Punch and run. Maybe if she kept acting agreeable, he’d eventually let his guard down and she really could escape, with Spike in tow. He hadn’t left her, so how could she leave him? Even if he was a bipolar vampire. And what had all that been about earlier? He’d been almost nice, until she asked if he was okay. Was that it? He didn’t want her to be worried about him? How could she not be? Whatever crap they were feeding him wasn’t very helpful. It wasn’t healing his wounds like it should have been. Most of his bruises were healed, but his lip was still split. There was still the nasty gash in his forehead. He was starting to get pale and thin and sick looking. A lot like he had when he’d come to her for help. Buffy had been so lost in thought, it barely registered that they’d arrived back in the containment area. She could feel the demons’ eyes on her as they walked, watching her hungrily. She stepped in front of her empty cell, waiting to be let back in. The taser left her back, and she expected the door to slide open. But it didn’t. “No,” Graham spoke from a few feet away, drawing Buffy’s eyes to him. “Walsh wants you over here.” She looked at where he was indicating, and her stomach flipped. He stood with his gun pointed at Spike, key card ready to open the door. To Spike’s cell. He was putting her in Spike’s cell. With Spike still in it. What the hell was this? A punishment for giving Walsh the finger? Or telling Riley that he smelled like a locker room? “You’ve got to be joking.” “Oh, balls.”
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November 18, 2020 19:55
And another great job on the scene between Riley and Buffy. That's just like him. "Well, we captured and did horrible things to you, but we're totally the good guys, so you just need to immediately forgive and work with us!"