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Previous Chapter: Affectation
Next Chapter: Contemplation

When Willow had called to tell him that Tara’s vision had finally yielded results, weeks later, he’d hardly believed it. Something as simple as a knitting pattern had led them to a suspect. Well, a knitting pattern, a sorority party, and some suspicious behavior. Barely enough to say ‘that’s our man’. But when it was fully explained, Giles had not a doubt in his mind that the young man now tied to a chair could lead them to Buffy. 

He was Walsh’s teaching assistant, and they seemed to have a close personal relationship. He’d also expressed an interest in Buffy, just before she’d been taken. Despite the ethical concerns of trying to date someone when he graded their papers. He’d tried to earn her trust, asked Willow about her, and the like.

Giles spent hours, watching and waiting for the young man to awaken, considering all the things he might have to say. And the more he thought, the more those dark tendencies seemed… logical. Understandable. Unavoidable.

If Riley was directly involved, especially. 

There were no lengths Giles wouldn’t go to for his Slayer. He’d seen her through her own prophesied death, watched her avert more than one apocalypse, trained her and guided her from adolescence into adulthood. More than her watcher, he liked to think of himself as, well, a father. As much as that cunt of a woman Walsh wanted to say otherwise, and would soon know.

Buffy was everything to him. And he was going to get her back, whatever the cost. The time for researching and hoping for a clue was over. Action was needed. And if the action required to secure her safety was the torturing of one Riley Finn, then it was a small price to pay in comparison to the things that had already been done.

Giles would deal with the personal consequences of his activities later. His Slayer needed him, and he would not fail her. Not this time. And not ever again. 

He’d been meticulous in the set up of his instruments of persuasion. The ritual of it was what would help him find his center, maintain his self control. It always had, back when he had still been in an official capacity. He laid them out on the desk, perfectly aligned, cloth beneath them to catch any stray fluids once the bloke eventually woke up. 

A truth spell may have been more straightforward, but… 

But this is more fun.

That, he couldn’t deny. Something about the righteous feeling of making sure somebody got exactly what they deserved. And anybody involved in the Initiative, with Buffy’s capture… deserved no mercy.

The soldier took in a ragged breath and moaned, finally starting to come to. Good. Enough time had been wasted as it was. It was bloody well time to get some answers.

“Ah, there he is.” Giles approached him, smiling warmly. “I was beginning to think you’d sleep the night away.” Riley’s eyes fluttered open, his head lolling back and forth as he regained consciousness. “Would say I’m terribly sorry about that welcome I gave you, but… well, I’m not.”

“Where am I?” he asked, looking around the flat with a look of utter confusion on his face. “Where’s Willow?”

“Call it an interrogation room, for all intentions. I believe you have information I want. And you will give it to me.”

The younger man blinked a few times, his brow furrowing. “I don’t know… what you’re talking about…”

Giles knew he hadn’t hit the man hard enough to cause a concussion or memory loss, or any real damage for that matter. The fact that he felt good enough to lie was evidence enough. With enough study, the tells of an untruthful person became quite clear to the practiced eye. And Giles could tell…

He’d find out what the boy knew, one way or another. 

“Mm. Well, I’ve got intelligence that says otherwise. You do indeed know, and you will tell me. That is not a polite suggestion.”

It had been years since he’d really given in to his darker desires. Not since Ethan had made those bloody chocolate bars, but then he’d been focused on enjoyment, not revenge. Now though, with his focus solely on what it would take to bring Buffy back to him, back to Joyce, those dark desires had taken a turn to places he’d never fully allowed himself to go.

It pulled at him, the desire to just let go and give in. It was who he had been for so many years of his life…. The part of himself he’d tried so hard to rein in and deny. If he just let go, let it out on this one foolish man who had taken his girl….

He took confident strides to the table, and picked up his most favored item on the line up. He slid his fingers through the metal rings, loving the feel of the cool metal against his skin.. His specially crafted brass knuckles. Though, they weren’t really brass. Iron, engraved with a series of runes that did all kinds of nasty things to the target. Especially effective against vampires, all sorts of demons, and the like. He couldn’t help but wonder, what would they do to an average human?

“Something very precious was taken from me…” his words were practically a growl as he approached his captive.  He raised Riley’s chin, forcing him to look into his eyes. He could see the fear there, but underneath… “You know where she is.”

“Who… I don’t even know who you are! Who’s she?”

Metal and magic connected with ribs, singing the material of his shirt on contact. Riley let out a yelp, recoiling. Giles wasn’t bothering with a slow and steady increase in pain. Why pull punches? The faster Riley figured out that he wasn’t going to receive any mercy, the faster he would talk. Hopefully.

Ripper was not known for his patience, and he was chomping at the bit to be let out to play. Giles could feel the careful control beginning to slip. This man in front of him knew Buffy. Knew where she was. How to get there, and how to get her out. The more he denied it, the worse it was going to end.

It already wasn’t going to end well.

“I belonged to a group of international experts on the supernatural. Magic. Demons. Vampires. I know how to deal with them all. I was fired from that organization because of how far I was willing to go to protect the girl you took. Now give her back to me, before I burn your world down around you.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about! Just let me go!”

 Riley struggled against his bindings, not realizing how futile it was. They’d been magically reinforced. Knives, scissors… Nothing would break them. Certainly not the squirming of a young man.

“The sooner you tell me what I want to know, the better it will be for you. You seem to think that holding out like this…will frustrate me. Make me lose focus, perhaps. The more you resist, the more creative I get.” 

He knelt down in front of Riley, a mocking smile on his face. Then very slowly, he pressed the runes into Riley’s thigh, allowing the magic to burn through the material and into his skin.

He didn’t stop when the boy started screaming. Or when he started thrashing, trying to get away. Only when he finally started to beg, to cry, Giles removed the metal from his skin. 

“See, this was a gift from an old friend of mine. Arthur. He said that, for a man of my skill, such an item would have many uses in my lifetime. I daresay he was right.”

He gave Riley a few minutes to compose himself as much as could be expected, taking the time to wipe the burned skin carefully from the metal. Perhaps now, with a taste of what was to come, he’d come to see how pointless all the protesting and lying was.

“The most painful part of the body to be burned is the feet. Did you know that, Mr. Finn?”

“Please, sir. Please. Please don’t do this.”

“I wonder…” Giles mused coldly, as he removed a boot from the younger man, “Has she asked your lot for mercy? Begged you to stop what you’re doing to her?”

The scent of burning flesh and echoing of screams filed his ears, but somehow… he found himself entirely unaffected by it. Ripper wanted blood, and he would have it.

 

***

 

Ethan went in, quiet as a mouse, to check on how things were coming along. He knew from personal experience how persuasive the ministrations of Ripper could be, whether for pain or pleasure. Ethan looked over to the table, surprised to see just how much of the arsenal had already been used. Obviously, the young man didn’t know what was good for him, and wasn’t talking just yet. He would soon, though. Ethan would make sure of it.

He glanced over Riley, assessing just how bad things were. His wounds weren’t overly grotesque, but something about what had been done to the boy’s face…. With all the random bits of swelling, he almost didn’t look like the same person he’d seen earlier. Ripper had been a busy man, indeed. He’d guess as much, from all the screaming over the last few hours, but this… This was a work of art.

The muscle bound soldier bloke was positively painted in his own blood. Tiny little cuts up and down his torso, it must have hurt to even take a breath. There were oddly shaped little burn marks here and there. Sort of square, but all in a row. A rather interesting pattern, really.

Ethan walked over to the armchair and rested against it, crossing his arms and watching as Ripper wiped his hands clean of blood. He could see it. In the way he carried himself, the way he set his jaw, the almost hidden half smirk, the tousled hair. Giles was taking a backseat. Shame for the poor young man, who probably had no clue what he’d unleashed with his refusal to talk.

“Enjoying yourself, darling?” he emphasized the last word, playfully mocking the nature of their relationship.

“Oh, hardly. I’ve only just begun, he took so long to wake up.” Ripper moved on to cleaning his tools, tucking each one into its place once it was free of whatever gore clung to it.

“Who are you people?”

Ethan clapped his hands, grinning broadly at the bloke. “Excellent question! I’m a worshipper of chaos. A powerful mage, actually. And him? Well, he’s-“

“Just getting started. Tell me what I want to know.”

Ethan needed to get this to end quickly. As much as he loved chaos, death was not on the list of enjoyable things. Death wasn’t chaotic. It was the only thing more assured in life than taxes. But getting one of their own to flip? Getting him to tell them everything he knew? That would cause chaos in itself. Ethan walked slowly, deliberately, circling the room until he came to stand just behind Riley. He knelt down, until he was only an inch away from his ear.

I am trying to help you.”

“What you see is a… Stuffy old librarian. Calm, collected, meek at times. But that’s just a cover, and a good one. Nobody ever suspects the things he’s done. In my experience, the quiet, meek sorts – like, say, a former high school librarian – are only quiet because they’re busy imagining your slow and agonizing demise.”

Ethan’s gaze met Ripper’s, a knowing look there. He made sure Riley saw it, too. If he didn’t talk soon, Ethan had very little doubt he’d be helping hide a body before daylight came. It was, therefor, in everybody’s best interest that he told them whatever he knew, and quickly. A point he was trying very hard to drive home to this very stupid young man.

“You see that little glint in his eyes? You think this is the first time he’s tortured somebody? Or the second? No. And he enjoys it.” Ripper threw a punch, not bothering to hold back, emphasizing exactly how little he cared for Riley’s life at that moment. Ethan didn’t even flinch. “You took the most precious thing in the world from him. And I’m sorry to say… Mercy and forgiveness are not strong suits for him. I would know.” 

He held a wrist up where Riley could see it, the marks from the handcuffs still easily visible. Still angry and red. “This is what he does to an old friend. Just think what he’d do to the likes of you. Don’t look to me to help you. I’ve done all I can for you by being his earlier punching bag. That may have taken just enough of the edge off to keep him from killing you… Too quickly, anyway.”

Riley slumped a bit in the chair, his head dropping.

“Don’t…don’t kill me. Please. I’ll tell you what i know. All of it. Just, please. Don’t let him kill me.”

 

***

 

Small kindnesses. That was all the bloody git was getting, and only because Ethan was providing it. All of this was his fault. Every last bit of it. The weeks of Joyce worrying for her child. The wondering if she was alive or dead. The searching and hoping and… Every last bit. He’d been the one to tell Walsh of Buffy’s abilities. He’d been the one to lead the team that took her in. The same team that had initially captured Spike. 

Ethan had had to stop Giles from committing a murder. It was a bad day when that was the face of reason. He’d had some time to… adjust. Just slightly away from homicidal parent, and settling on slightly unhinged. 

The only thing that was keeping him stable was that they’d need the soldier to get into the base, and to get to Buffy. At least he seemed willing enough now. It wouldn’t earn him his freedom just yet. Not until Giles had some time to look over the maps he’d drawn and the information he’d given them.

He was still trying to process everything he’d been told. Because when that wanker had finally spilled, it had been like a floodgate opening up.

Buffy was very much alive, and in fairly good health. Minus a wound from an axe, but that should be healing nicely. She’s always been a fast healer, even for a Slayer. She was no longer being continually dosed with sedatives, so she’d have clarity of mind and body to be able to run when she needed to. Thank goodness for that. And since an unfortunate accident in one of their secure laboratories… Buffy was being treated far more humanely than before. 

It seemed Walsh had plans for her that required her to be alive, as horribly disturbing as that was.

Into every generation a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is the Slayer. 

For thousands of years, that one girl had done as destiny demanded, and sacrificed her life to keep the world safe. No life of her own, no future, no distractions. And Buffy had been the one to break those traditions, and carve her own destiny out, and to thrive. A miracle, really. And those bleeding idiots had her caged like a lab rat, without any idea or care as to the consequences of their actions.

Then there was the matter of Spike, who’d seemed to have taken a particular interest in Buffy since their incarceration. Riley hadn’t wanted to be very forthcoming with details on that. At first. Then the things he’d said we’re hardly believable.

Spike had been recaptured, of all places, just outside Buffy’s cell. He’d gone into the Initiative after her, which made not a lock of sense no matter which way Giles looked at it. Moreover, he’d been protecting Buffy. Keeping the other soldiers away from her as much as he could. He’d taken beatings in her stead. Tending her wounds, making her comfortable. He’d gone so far as to give up his beloved duster. What was more… Buffy didn’t seem to mind, according to Riley. She seemed to be growing attached. Dependent, almost.

As far as Giles could tell, Spike was doing it to gain her trust. Get close to her, and get her to let her guard down around him. So that when he could attack again…

She’d never see it coming. And he’d have his third Slayer. 

But the initial why he went in after her in the first place remained a mystery. Spike was impulsive on his best day, but… It still made no sense why he would be putting himself in peril initially. The whole situation was a migraine waiting to happen, and Giles didn’t have time to ponder the why part of it.

First and foremost, he’d have to get some rest. Tomorrow was another day of Buffy in captivity, and there was much groundwork to lay for her rescue. He’d deal with Spike, and Riley as well, once she was safe and the Initiative effectively shut down.

 


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Previous Chapter: Affectation
Next Chapter: Contemplation

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